Monday, February 27, 2017

Week 67

Hello Friends and Family!

This has been a pretty good week. We have continued to stay on our bicycles because we are still out of miles. Nevertheless, the work moves on and we managed to find a couple of new investigators. I am pretty excited. The work is starting to pick up which I am grateful for. Instead of doing hours of trackting we have been trying to set up more Active Member lessons. It has been really neat watching the spirit of missionary work enter into people's lives. I love it. 

As for my studies this week, I had this urge to accept a challenge from President Baker. He used to be Methodist and so he grew up believing in the trinity, which he never understood. In one of his stake conference talks he invited the stake to read through the New Testament marking all the verses that could denote a Trinity in one color and all the verses that could denote three distinct personages in the Godhead in another color. Being up for a good challenge, I began reading through the New Testament. In 4 days I am half way through Mark and It is obvious that Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Ghost are 3 distinct personages. Out of the 30+ verses I highlighted, only 3 could I rationalize to support a trinity. The remainder support the Godhead as three distinct members. I am quite excited to finish this study.
We were able to go on exchanges with the APs, which was really fun. Since there were 3 of us and a youth came out with us, we went on splits while on exchanges. We were able to teach several lessons that night and then we participated in Family Home evening with a member. It was a lot of fun.
Zone Conference was also this week. It was about chapter 10 of Preach My Gospel. President Weed is trying to pass have all the older missionaries pass on their institutional memory. It was kind of weird being on the giving side of knowledge instead of the receiving side. President Weed also showed us a fantastic presentation about unfulfilled prophecies in the New Testament. He explained that for centuries people have been confused by why many of Christ's prophecies seemed to never come about. Especially Him establishing his Kingdom on the earth within his generation. He then explained that this prophecy was later fulfilled by Christ's visitation to the people in America where he established his Kingdom and the people lived in an extremely righteous manner. I wish I knew more of the details, but if you want to learn more there is a beautiful report called "Saving Christianity" written by a lady in North Carolina. 

I know that this church is true!
-Elder Shill


Monday, February 20, 2017

Week 66!

Hello Friends and Family!

This has been a pretty good week. The work here is quite a bit harder than the work in other areas I have served. We have been talking to literally everyone because we have been on bikes for the past couple of days. Elder Collier and I are working the hardest we have worked but we haven't seen any numerical success yet. All the lessons we taught were to members, most of which were active. Despite the numbers, we still feel like successful missionaries because we are recognizing promptings and we are obeying them. If anything, this last week has shown the Lord that we are here to work no matter what he asks us to do. It is extremely rewarding to see how God has guided us to be at the right place at the right time or to say the right thing.

I think its really funny how well we teach together. During roll plays we cant seem to figure out how to teach in unison. We each stop awkwardly and say things that don't transition well. However, during a lesson the Spirit begins to teach and Elder Collier and I masterfully teach together as if we had refined our lessons through a lot of time and experience.  It's neat to watch the way we teach change to fit every person's needs. I know that the Lord is in this work.

We had the opportunity of planning Zone Meeting this week. MLC (Mission Leadership Councel) is on Wednesday and Zone Meeting is on that Friday, which does not give us a lot of time to plan. We were able to quickly and prayerfully put everything together. One of the training's we were asked to give was about meals with members. Boy were we struggling to come up with a way to present everything. Finally we came to the conclusion that we should ask God for some direction. The moment we finished our prayer we remembered the story of Amulek feeding Alma and from that we built a simple lesson structure. The training went perfectly.

Last night we biked to one of our investigators house. She had not been returning our calls or texts so we needed to stop by to see if she was still interested. It has been several weeks since the last time we saw her. When we got to her house, neither of us were sure if it was the right thing to do. It was dark, Sunday night, and we did not want to infringe on her personal time. The last thing we wanted to be was obnoxious. As we began to bike away we decided to pray and ask God if he needed us to knock on the door, or if he needed us to knock another time so we wouldn't offend her. Soon after the prayer, our concerns were still there but our fears were not. We decided to knock at the late hour. She was surprised to see us, but was excited to set up a return appointment for later in the week. 

Another time this week, we were walking to as less actives house when Elder Collier felt like we needed to knock a street. Amazingly almost every single door we knocked on opened and we had the opportunity to talk to almost everyone on that street. No one was interested, but the Lord gave us plenty of opportunities to share the gospel. Usually only 30% of the doors actually open. 

Promptings usually come an inconvenient times. On Saturday we were racing home because we had a member coming to pick us up for dinner. As we were biking a man walking his dog happened to be in our path. We decided to talk to him. We learned that he was technically Methodist but he really had more agnostic views. He posed this question to explain his concern: "If an alien (because they would have no bias) came to earth and was given an encyclopedia of World Religions which one would he say is the correct religion? All of them have an important person, a sacred text, and a geographical region." This is probably one of my favorite questions! From his initial question we established the base that a God who governed the universe and created all things, in short a God of order, would have one church and one religion and he would want people to know what it was. We also agreed that He would want the whole world to be apart of His religion. From there, we explained that the difference between our church and all the other churches is we believe in The Book of Mormon, which is another testament of Jesus Christ. Without this additional witness, Christianity blends into the other religions. With this witness an alien would see two nations on opposite sides of the world testifying of the reality of Jesus Christ. Both of which claiming to have seen and talked with Him. The records of these completely isolated nations seamlessly weave together as if they had been corresponding with each other. 

I know that The Book of Mormon is the word of God. It is an undeniable witness that Jesus is the Christ and this is his church. I know that the Lord answers sincere prayers. 

I love ya'll,
-Elder Shill

Monday, February 13, 2017

Week 65

Hello Friends and Family!

This has been an incredible week! I am loving being in New Bern and Elder Collier is absolutely incredible! He has been out for 17 months and is from Washington State. He and I are getting along extremely well. I am excited to learn form Elder Collier this transfer. 
New Bern is beautiful. There are huge bridges and a smaller city area. There are statues of bears all over the place because Bern in German is Bear. Im going to try and take a picture with them all. The ward is fantastic! Everyone is so loving and friendly. The missionaries are pretty integrated into the ward fabric. I can tell we are going to know the members quite well before we leave.

We have had so much success this last week and we don't know were it is coming from. We only taught 5 lessons, which is a big jump from the 20+ in Kinston, but that in know way represents the quality of work we did. 

One of the lessons was with a new investigator who was invited to investigate by a friend. The spirit was powerful during the lesson and we noticed our phraseology and teaching styles completely change so we could teach in a way he understood. Another person we are working with called the Bishop. Once again we noticed the Lord's hand in His work that we get to help Him with. Another time, we were prompted to stay in an area and tracked. Later a member saw us and talked to us for about 10 min. The spirit was definitely present and we each came away from that meeting edified and with stronger faith. Early in the week we gave a priesthood blessing to an older lady. She and the rest of her present family were astounded how we expressed that God was pleased with her note taking during church. Unknown to us, she had been the ward historian and was one of the oldest and first members in the area. The spirit was definitely present. One night we prayed and asked God who we needed to stop by. Almost instantly we had people come to mind and every one of them were home. Divine guidance is real! During church we were able to participate in the Primary. After church we heard a child ask her mother when they could have the missionaries come over. The spirit was still present. 

Stemming from Elder Oaks talk this last conference, our Stake vision for member missionary work is to have every member pray with real intent. Because we are the ones who bring this vision to the members we decided to live it our selves. We made our transfer focus: Because we love Christ, we humbly submit our will to His by praying with real intent and acting on the first answer we receive. The only thing I can contribute our success too is God. He has been answering our prayers. There is no shortage of promptings when we humbly seek our Heavenly Father's council. Each prayer we give we give God our commitment to act if he will tell us what to do.  He loves us because we are His children and he wants us to return home to live with Him. He wishes to guide us through our lives. I have learned from experience that praying with real intent brings blessings. 

I know this church is Christ church.

I love ya'll,
Elder Shill
P.S. I forgot my camera again... but I do have pictures,
P.P.S The mission bought some new cars and now we are driving a brand new 2017 Malibu. It has Wifi :) ... but we dont have anything to connect to it...

Monday, February 6, 2017

Week 64 Transfer to New Bern

Hey Friends and Family!

This was a pretty good week! We got our transfer calls on Saturday. I will be going to New Bern to serve as a zone leader there. I am pretty excited for the opportunity I have to go to a new area. I actually had a mini-missionary from their so I hope I will be able to run into him again. I have absolutely loved serving in Kinston. The members here are fantastic and the work is flourishing. I loved it and I will definitely be visiting this place again. My new companion is Elder Collier. I have only briefly met him at zone conferences but from what I have heard, he is an incredible missionary. I am quite excited to serve with him!

We have had a lot of learning experiences this week. Unfortunately we had to drop one of our investigators who was not progressing. I am amazed by how much I have learned to love the people here. It is a bit depressing investing so much into someone and not seeing them progress. It just helps me remember that I am not the teacher. The Holy Ghost is the only teacher and if people do not do the basics of the gospel, then they can never receive a witness from God that it is true. Sometimes I think that if my testimony is strong enough then I can push conversion into someone. I wish that was true. I can only bring the spirit to the heart. I cannot bring it inside of their heart.

We have another investigator who gave us a really good question about being the only true church and how that isn't fair to the rest of God's children. First of all, I am so glad that she is actually listening and legitimately investigating the church and not just listening to us blabber! I have had so much fun discovering the doctrine of universal salvation in the scriptures, which includes the doctrine of baptism for the dead. I have astounded how plainly the scriptures teach. Every time we roll play the lesson another scripture pops into our head. Second, I am grateful that her philosophies about God match the doctrine of the church. She just doesn't know it yet! :) 

We received a couple of referrals I am pretty excited about. There is an un-baptized youth that just requested a set of scriptures for her birthday. That is incredibly impressive. Hopefully Elder Vranes can help her get baptized!

I love yall,
-Elder Shill

P.S. I did take pictures this week, but our car is currently in the shop and we left the camera in it....

Week 63

Hello Friends and Family!

This has been an incredible week. Transfers are coming up this week and I think I might be leaving. We will find out officially on Saturday. I love this area and all of the people here. I have had so many fun experiences! For P-day today we went to Greenville(my last area) to play football and go bowling. I was amazed at all of the memories that flooded back to my me as I saw a house, recognized a corner, or reminisced about the people. There is no doubt that the people I meet and places I visit will forever hold a special place in my heart. 

We went out biking again this week. I think the bike is 1000% better than a car for missionary work. It is so much easier to talk to people. We throw our bikes on the back of our car and drive 15 miles out and spend the day biking and talking to everyone we see. Unfortunately there were 30-40 mph winds the day, but that didn't stop us. Our quads were killing us by the end of the day. One of the neighbors of our investigator was out in their yard picking up insulation that had blown all over. We spent the next hour picking it up.

We were able to get into a lot of less active families homes this week! One of our appointments fell through so we were stuck with a member for another hour until our next appointment. Luckily we had done our planning. The first couple houses didn't open up. The last backup we had lived out in the middle of the boonies. With nothing better to do, so we made the long haul to their house. Around 8pm we finally arrived and carefully knocked on their door. Visitors at that time of night and in such a secluded area is pretty uncommon. The husband was so relived when he realized it was just us( Apparently there had been some robberies a couple weeks ago). He warmly let us in and we shared the Restoration with him and his wife, who is a non member. They both seemed interested!

There is also another family that we have been trying to visit most of my stay here in Kinston. Finally we were able to visit their home and we were able to bring a member of the Ward Counsel with us.  

Our progressing investigator wasn't able to come to church this week, but we did see her after church. I planned on teaching the Word of Wisdom, but as we were following up with her commitments the conversation shifted to Home teaching. The spirit brought back scriptures the explain the doctrine and then we explained how it works. She was amazed by it! 

I love ya'll,
-Elder Shill