Week 26 - North Oklahoma City - Dec 31, 2012

Mi Querida Familia,
It's been a great week here in Oklahoma. It's getting really cold and I just count my blessings every day that we have a truck to drive. We try to bike at least during the first part of the day in order save on miles, but once the sun starts setting...we cave in to temptation and drive the truck usually.
Elder Mendoza and I have had some great appointments this week. We had an appointment with the Galvan family and we taught the Plan of Salvation. The parents were interested and want to learn more. WE're going to try and have church tour with them this Wednesday with a member family, we are just still trying to get a hold of them.
We met a new family this week as well. The Mom was actually baptized in texas as well as one of her daughters. We taught them all the Restoration and it was interesting how they accepted it. The husband was very non-involved, the mom was remembering everything, but still unwilling to come to church. What made this lesson awesome was how well the four daughters accepted the message.  There was one little girl thats about 10 or so who payed attention to the whole lesson. I asked her how she felt during the lesson and she said very sincerely "Happy and excited!" I almost started to cry. The spirit was icnredibly strong in this moment. I pointed her out to her mother and said simply, this is the holy Ghost that your daughter is feeling. We then gave this girl a Book of Mormon and we challenged her to read the first chapter. She said ok and then immediately started reading it. Before the lesson was over she said that she liked the Book and wanted to keep reading.
I'm not sure if she read it that closely, but the principle demonstrated here is the same. If anyone is going to accpet this Gospel they must become humble enough as this little girl we met. People often dismiss these feelings of excitement that children get as foolish and not of any consequence, but this is such a vain notion! Often times I think children are more spiritually receptive than adults.
We then had a lesson with the Vazquez family. What a bitter-sweet nightmare! WE went in expecting to teach a lesson, but the husband just went off on a million tangents trying to be philisophicaal telling parables and such. He asked us probing questions such as "Is it worse to drink coffee or use the computer?" I felt like I was one of the apostles being questioned by the Pharisees in the time of the Bible. You could tell this man's agenda was to try and use his intelligence to outsmart us.
But here's the kicker, he hasn't read the Book of Mormon. We bore testimony and he was honestly stumped. He argued that the Book of Mormon was just another book. Well, he'll never know unless he reads it.
During the lesson however, we tried to gear ourselves on talking with the wife. She is way more huimble, childlike and willing to accept the Gospel. It was incredible to see the difference. and the difference is that she is reading the Book of Mormon and feels that its true. She even found a scripture and said it literally directly to her husband. 2 Nephi 33:4! It was powerful. It talks about people hardining there hearts that they have no portion of the Spirit with them. She read this aloud at the end of the lesson, and it was very cool.
We are seeing lots of things happening in this area. The Spirit is working with people in small and simple ways. I think the Lord calls this work a "marvelous work and wonder" because of how incredibly he uses small and simple means to bring to pass great and eternal purposes. It's incredible to watch the mission unfold.
Well I'm almost out of time for today. I love this Gospel and our Savior Jesus Christ! There is no other way under heaven that we can gain peace of mind in this life and in the life to come. Remember to stay humble. We can't stay complacent, because that's when we start to forget the miracles that the Lord has shown us in our own lives.
Feliz Ano Nueva!
Con Amor,
Elder Powley


Week 25 - North Oklahoma City - December 24, 2012

Mi Querida Familia,
So President Taylor allowed us to have email time today even though its not P-day. I just wanted to thank you all for the wonderful phone call and the many pictures and videos you sent. Out of all the gifts in the world, hearing your voices yesterday was the best of all.
I don't have much time to write today because I've been busy watching the videos from Christmas Eve, but here is a quick little update on our area.
I have a new companion, his name is Elder Mendoza and he's from Ecuador. This guy is a such a fun companion. We don't have too much in common, but we are really able to connect when it comes to the missionary work. I've found that as long as I focus on the work, its impossible to have a bad companion. And Elder Mendoza has a lot of optimism and faith. Literally after every lesson that is in the least bit successful, he comes away saying "they are going to get baptized." Its awesome!
I am going to relate two lessons to you all that we had this week: the first was with an awesome family, very religious and have great values when it comes to church. The were very accepting of having us come in and teach them, even on a Saturday Morning. the lesson was by the book, Preach My Gospel worthy, and the Sprirt was there testifying,  but something was slightly off. We invited them to baptism and they flat out rejected it. As the lesson came to and end we realized that they weren't really interested in looking for a new church. Oh and we taught the lesson in English.
Later that weekend, we taught another family, in Spanish. Right off the bat, something was different. We got to know the family before the lesson started, we asked them questions such as what the kids liked to do and such. We taught the Restoration and as i related the Joseph Smith story, the Spirit especially testified to everyone in that room. The parents were interested, the accepted the baptismal invitation as long as they knew these things were true. the father asked a question about the trinity, and we were ableto answer his concerns using the Bible, and they came away understanding the doctrine of the God head and accepted it.
What do we learn from these two experiences? Apart from the fact that teaching in Spanish is a lot more effective than teaching in English, we learn that it doesn't matter how effective we explain the Gospel as missionaries, it always boils down to the agency of the people we visit. The Spirit can only truly testify when the investigators are listening with an open heart and mind, humble enough to accept that there is something better out there in this world. I've taught many Restoration lessons on my mission, and the latter experience I realted ranks probably as the best discussion I've been a part of. We are super excited for this family and hope they will progress.
Anyways that's all I have time for today. I love you all and wish you a Happy New Year! Jane is such a cute little sister! Make sure you let her do stuff on her own though ok? Let her excercise her agency a little bit.
Have a great Christmas Break. I can't wait to get back to work and start seeing a few more miracles this next transfer. All of it depends on whether or not we will get members out with us.
Con Amor,
Elder Powley

Week 24 - North Oklahoma City - Dec 17, 2012

Mi Querida familia--

This week....we had in a total three lessons and only one of them was a member present. A lot of our appointments fell through because of lack of communication our part and also because we honelty aren't a priority in anyone's lives right now. Its very hard. I've really been trying to develop my faith in the people we teach more. President Monson counseled us to "see men as they can become" but I'm finding that this is something that is very hard for me to do. It literally means putting an eternal perspective on everyone we meet and seeing everyone as God sees them. It's hard!
And honestly the only way to combat doubt is to simply not give up. You keep on fighting and planning for appointments (even though they will most likely fall) and then teaching as genuinely as possible, inviting people to be baptized without fear, and eventually we'll see results.

Some examples of trials we've seen: for nearly and entire transfer and a half, we've had 0 investigators come to church, and as of now we have 0 bapitsmal dates, investigators we felt were inspired and golden the week of Mission Tour with Elder Bowen have been dropped because they've either moved or we've lost contact.
Needless to say, I feel my faith being tried every day.

However, we did have a great teaching experience this last week. We met with the Vazquez family again and taught them the Plan of Salvation. Elder Morrell and I centered every doctrinal point on their family: ex. Before this life, you lived as a family with your Father in Heaven, you're purpose in life is to keep the commandments as a family and come closer to Christ so that you can live as an eternal family in the Celestial kingdom. Before we used to teach in the first person (using we or in Spanish, nosotros) but we've found that there is more powere speaking in the direct 2 person form (YOU are a child of God).
Anyways during the lesson we invited the father to baptism. He straight up said no. He still didn't quite trust our message. He's kind of stuck in this mind set that you don't need religion as long as you've got God in your home. I straight up told him that this was a lie from Satan. I love Spanish because it forces me to be blunt and bold simply because we don't know many words. Then I went in a bore testimony and he didn't have anything to say. I might have offended him, but he still accepted a return appointment.
But now we know his concerns. If we aren't bold as missionaries, the people we teach will never progress or talk about their doubts and concerns. It's interesting to see that the longer I serve, the comfortable I am with being blunt and straightforward. We are representatives of Jesus Christ. If people don't accept this Gospel they will never return to live with their Father in Heaven. The priesthood authority we hold and the fact that our church is Christ's one and only Restored church is the only thing that seperates us from the rest. We have evidence through the Book of Mormon as the word of God and the Holy Ghost testifies of it.

I can't wait for tomorrow when we get to teach them again. Elder Morrell and I are going to prayferally study what needs to be said. The Lord will bless us with the words we need to say in the moment they need to be said. That's another thing I love about being a missionary. As long as you know and understand the doctrine, you don't have to worry about what you will say. The Lord will give you the words to say. It's his work and he knows what people need to hear.

On that note, this week is transfers. Elder Morrell is leaving and I am staying here another transfer. I'm going to miss this guy so much. We've really become great friends and we worked together really well. My new companion's name is Elder Mendoza who is a native Spanish speaker who has been learning English out here in the Mission field. I look forward to working with him and improving my Spanish 10 fold these next 6 weeks.

Well that's about all for today! Merry Christmas and I'll talk to you all next week! Love you.

Con Amor,

Elder Powley

Week 23 - North Oklahoma City - Dec 10, 2012

Mi Querida Familia,

It's been a great week out here in Oklahoma. No snow, but last night was probably one of the coldest nights we've had out here. Elder Morrell and I are the only ones in our District that have a car, but we decided to bike last night anyways because we felt like it. I prefer biking to riding in the car any day. There is just something about sitting in a car that makes you lazy and less excited to get out there and work, But when you're biking, your blood starts pumping, the suit coat blows in the wind behind you, the wind bites at your face, you can wave at everyone you pass by and give a big warm smile even though you're freezing....and most importantly at least for me, I feel more like a missionary when I'm biking. 

And I think biking outside it the bitter cold humbled me a little more than usual and I felt more in tune with the Spirit of my calling. There was one house we passed by and I remember the specific thought coming to mind to stop at this one house. At first I ignored it, but then the thought came again. I then reasoned that if I didn't stop at this house, i would feel guilty about it in about 10 minutes. So we stopped by and met a very nice lady who was home alone. We couldn't go inside, but we were able to have a prayer with her at her doorstep. After Elder Morrell said the prayer, she said amen and we could see her wiping away tears. She then expressed how grateful she was for us to stop by to remind her how much God loves her and is still watching out for her. It was very touching. She mentioned that she already went to church but she was interested in having missionaries stop by later that week. 

Now with this said, I've had many experiences like the one mentioned above and after about a few weeks, these potencials slowly start to fade in interest due to work and other excuses. The only way for an investigator to progress is if they keep committments. You can have all the spiritual encounters you want with someone, and they won't be any more converted than when they were before you met them. The ONLY way to become converted to the Gospel is through "excersing faith unto repentance". The word "exercising" is important. Unless we act and do the things we are commanded, including going to church, reading and praying, then our testimonies start to dwindle. You can receive no revelation of any spiritual truth if you are constantly breaking commitments. 

This is why Elder Morrell and I were devastated when this family that we've taught and come to love (Celia, Luiz, Dayana, Kairo, Melany) didn't come to church yesterday, when they committed to. The more weeks that go by without coming to church, experience has shown me that investigators start to digress and lose interest, and forget the Spirit they felt when they were keeping commitments. We've made very specific plans to help this family realize that they need to come to church this Sunday. 

In other news, Elder Morrell and I are really starting to grow as missionaries. I can tell he wasn't the same guy I knew back at the MTC, and our teaching together has improved as of late. And the reason we've seen improvement is because we've set goals and made plans to practice teaching the concise principles of the Gospel. We were out with a member this week and said we really need to focus on teaching the Gospel simple and concisely and allow the people we're teaching to find out what it means to them. 

Another fun experience we had this week happened while we were...yet again...riding our bikes. We were stopped at an intersection when a man in the car next to us rolled down his window and asked if he could talk to us. We gladly obliged because we had 5-10 minutes before we had to leave to our next appointment  He was genuinely curious about some of the things he's heard. Soon enough after we were talking, a third man drove up and joined our conversation. Now before you get excited and start thinking that this is one of those miracle stories where the men get baptized 3 weeks later-- let me explain that this experience was not one of those. The men were definitely not interested in learning about the gospel. In fact third man that walked in was one of those people who thought organized religion was wrong. He went as far as to start preaching to us that in essence we should denounce the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and simply preach about Christ. He must have said the same thing over 50 times in the course of 20 minutes. He then starting showing us these pictures he drew and how they were revelation. 

It was weird  And honestly Elder Morrell and I just sat there in silence and let him talk. Once he finished, I felt impressed to simply my testimony. I didn't argue, or try to prove him wrong (even though I could have cited scripture about to contradict everything he said). 
And as I spoke, I could feel the words flow as if they were I part of me for hundreds of years. I know Jesus Christ lives and is my Savior. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God called to restore Jesus' church. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. 
I could feel the Holy Ghost testifying very simply and very calmly. What I said didn't change these men's opinions about anything, but there was a difference between our testimony and the man's urge for us to forget Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. 
What was the difference? The Holy Ghost testified as I spoke rather than when he spoke. 

We parted ways, and nothing else happened. We invited them to hear more, but they declined. I'm reminded of the great and spacious building and how it represents the wisdom and pride of the world. We need to rely on wisdom from God rather than wisdom from the world. I recommend reading Alma 37 and Mosiah 2 to learn about what it means to have wisdom.

Anyways, that was a great experience for me this past week. I'm loving the mission right now and the growth that I can see happening. I am so excited for Alexandra to serve a mission and I can't wait for both my brothers to serve as well. In fact, I can't wait for all my siblings to serve. You have no idea what's in store for you until the moment you enter your field of labor. I do the best to explain what I'm feeling, but you must actually come out here and commit to serve until you can truly understand what it means to be a representative of Jesus Christ. 

When you start to feel inadequate, the only solution is to get out and work. It's only when your out there doing something that the Holy Ghost manifests itself to you. 

I love this Gospel and I know this work is true. and when I say its true I mean that literally God is preparing the world for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and that he is gathering his sheep. 

Con Amor,

Elder Powley

Week 22 - North Oklahoma City - December 3, 2012

Mi Querida Familia,

We've had some awesome experiences this week. The highlight event would have to be the Temple Conference we had on Friday. In our mission, we have the privilege of attending the temple twice a year. This past Friday was the first time I've been to the Temple since leaving the MTC. Wow, it felt soooo calming. I'd almost forgotten how strong the presence of the Spirit is there in the Temple and how its able to help clear our minds and give us comfort. One of the insights I realized is the the Lord is very patient with each and every one of us. Even when we sin, he still is holding out his arms for us to come back to him. This past week I'd been a little frustrated with myself because I haven't felt like I've been measuring up to what the Lord expects of me, and when I went to the temple, I just got this overwhelming sense of peace and comfort and love. I know my Father in Heaven loves me and is patient with my shortcomings. This mission is the best time for me to grow and I  can feel myself being stretched every day.

President Taylor instigated a new study program during the conference. By next May, our mission is going to experience a 65% increase. This means more areas, more missionaries, more companionships, more apartments and more biking:) There was a great sense of excitement as President made this announcement  The number of sisters in our mission is jumping from 17 to 56, and our mission size is jumping from about 135 to 216 or something like that. 
And so to prepare for all of the incoming missionaries, who will be spending less time at the MTC, we all need to be ready to train. So President Taylor is going to have us read the whole Book of Mormon and Preach My Gospel from now until March. 

Which brings me to a fun little analogy President Taylor used during the training he gave us. He asked us a serious question: "If I told you I had a book titled "How to Find the Woman of your Dreams in 90 Days" would you read this book? We all sheepishly nodded yes. He asked us if we would study it in depth, taking notes and really applying the principles taught in the Book. We all enthusiastically nodded yes. He then pulled out Preach My Gospel and said, this is that book. It has everything from Recognizing the Spirit, making commitments, and coming closer to Christ to Daily Contacting, careful planning and so forth. It was awesome. Needless to say, we're all very geared up to become Preach My Gospel Missionaries. 

As far as our week goes, Elder Morrell and I have been trying a little harder to do Daily contacting as prescribed by Preach My Gospel. Obviously we haven't been able to keep in contact with all of our investigators. It's been hard to see some of the people we thought were strongly progressing two weeks ago stop having time to see us. It's been hard.

But nonetheless, we met the Vasquez family this week... and we've made it a point to contact them whenever we are in their neighborhood, even if its not a full lesson but just a few minutes to say hi... because honestly we love this family and desire them to come closer to Christ. We contacted this family 4 out of the 7 days last week in person and the difference has been incredible. Our trust with the family has grown immensely and the kids even go as much to ask when we will be coming back the next time. 

That's another thing, we also focused on teaching the children. We had a lesson with this family and taught them the 10 commandments using the hand signals and we involved the whole family. The effect was very warm and delightful. And we established a stronger relationship.

And then it gets better, we've successfully had a member present at every lesson so far we've had with them. The members have made the difference. The father of this family really connected with two members of our branch when we brought them over. I'm starting to see that the role of the missionary is partly to help members meet people outside of the branch. Once members start meeting people, the missionary work starts to have meaning for them and they want to come out and help. 
We plan to invite the primary president to our next appointment this Wednesday and hopefully we can start seeing the mom gain a few friends. Needless to say, we are really excited for this family and hope to see them progress. So far Elder Morrell and I are trying to really apply "Preach My Gospel" to this family because we don't want to lose them. 

In other news, the sister missionaries in our district had a baptism yesterday. It was a great experience for the Branch because I don't think the Branch has had a baptism for quite some time. Hopefully this will help kick start the missionary effort in this area a little bit. 

Well, that's about it for this week. If anyone has any fun ideas about how to teach the Plan of Salvation, the Restoration or the Gospel of Jesus Christ to children, let me know. 

Con Amor,

Elder Powley

Week 21 - North Oklahoma City - 26 November, 2012

Mir Querida Familia,

It's been a week of ups and downs for me. When I don't see results I often get a little down on myself because I don't feel like an effective missionary. Nonetheless whenever we actually start talking to people, my attitude immediately starts to change. There are so many interesting people out here. This week we've met quite a few that have tried our faith a little. Literally we tracted into a man who told us "I'm atheist and I don't believe in your God...there's no proof he exists...pray for yourselves because you guys are crazy." We responded with a simple testimony and then went on our way.

So the first part of our week was hard but then, we had an awesome Thanksgiving. We aren't allowed to proselyte on big holidays because we don't want to annoy people with their familes, but we got approval to go have a touch football game in Edmond.
And wow, I'd forgotten how much fun football was. I don't I'd played football in like 8 months. It felt good to go out there and score a few touchdowns, burn a few calories before the meals we had lined up for the day. Elder Dalia and Elder Fales both are elders in our district (Elder Dalia is the African American in the dinner picture, and Elder Fales is the blond one sitting by him) and both played college football. Elder Dalia actually has a full-ride to play at BYU when he gets back.

For Thanksgiving, we had dinner at a few members' houses. Their dinners were sooo good!. Hermana Olea cooks some incredible pork. The dinners were a little more humbler tha the ones a remember at family reunions, but nonetheless we were very satisfied with our meals.

Later that evening we went to visit a less active who lives alone and didn't have any plans for Thanksgiving. His name is Hmo. Grimaldo. Out of all the members in the branch, he's the one who has the most zeal for missionary work. WE shared a message with him, and talked about life with him. He's such an incredible member, but unfortunately other branch members judge him so he stays less active (but he did com to church this week!).

The weekend was great. We didn't quite meet our goals this week, so on Sunday Elder Morrell and I had a special fast on Sunday to find success in our area.

And then on Sunday, we ran into a Jehova's Witness. His main premise was that because we believe Jesus died on a cross our religion is faulty because apparently he didn't die on a cross but rather a torture stick. He invited us to google "cross" and "christmas" and then come back and talk to him. We had an interesting discussion, he wanted to talk with us but only if we met his terms and studied the history of the cross and Christmas.

And he was flattering. He respected us and admired our intellect and purpose. In the moment, we ended up stating our purpose that t was to invite to come unto Christ by living the gospel, not to necessarily have Bible studies.
All in all, we realized that if his intentions to learn were really sincere, he wouldn't have set terms for us to talk with him.
But then again that's what we do as missionaries. We set commitments, and if the investigators don't follow through, we stop visiting them. Part of me says, its not worth your time, and part of me says that maybe he really is interested and this would be a great opportunity to share the gospel.

Ultimately, nothing will happen of it, because we can't visit google anyways.

But these few experiences have really helped me grow my testimony of this Gospel. I shouldn't have to prove my testimony to anyone. I know these things of myself, and no one can take that away. I was reading some of the testimonies of the prophets in the Book of Mormon. Jacob is contending with Sharem and all he does is state simple testimony: Christ is our Savior and the scriptures testify of him. I know these things because the Holy Ghost has manifested the truth of it unto me. This church is the restored Church of Jesus Christ here on the earth today, and Joseph Smith was a prophet. I can't deny the Book of Mormon is the word of God.

And then we had success later that evening. Hmo. Grimaldo brought a friend to com meet us who wasn't a member. She was very interested and has potential to join the church. She lives in the South, but that's ok, the other missionaries in the South will have a solid potential investigator this week:)

It's been a great week. The only sad part is the fact that we haven't been able to keep in the best contact with our solid investigators that we found last week (such as Inaki, Fabian and Yohola). We've done our part, but due to the instigators' phones going out of service and not showing up to appointments, things have been hard with keeping contact.
To fix that, Elder Morrell have talked about trying harder with daily contact with our investigators. We've been a little weary about daily contact before because we don't want to annoy people, but it's proving to be harder to keep connected with them if we don't keep contacting them.

This area is still hard, but still tons of hope. This Christmas season will be tough without spending time with you all back at home. But there's no need to worry. The Branch is very loving and we'll be taken care of. I'm espiecially excited for this week because we get to attend the Temple!!! It's been such a long time and I'm so excited to worship in the House of the Lord for the first time in 5 months.

Con Amor,

Elder Powley

Week 21 - Pictures at Dinner in the Spanish Branch - Nov. 24, 2012

Week 20 - North Oklahoma City - Nov 19, 2012

Mi querida familia--
I forgot to mention something in my last email. We got some pretty exciting news from our Mission President. With the new age limits on missionaries, we will be gaining 86 new missionaries in the next 6 months. Literally, our mission is going to increase quite substantially.  It's pretty exciting and I can't wait to be a part of this work out here in Oklahoma.
So the big highlight of this week has been the inspiring Mission tour we had we Elder Shayne Bowen from the presidency of the 70. If you remember, he actually gave an excellent talk during this past General Conferance. And let me tell you, he was incredible! 
First off, I had the privilage of playing the piano for the meeting. He came up and shook my hand and then pointed me out to the audience, "Now here's a young man who listened to his mother!" I laughed, but it's so true. I must attribute much of my piano talent to my mother who lovingly persuaded me to stick with learning the piano...at least until I learned all of the hymns. Thanks Mom for encouraging me learn the piano, it's been an incredible blessing in my life.

Elder Bowen gave an inspring gospel discussion. It was centered on obediance, faith and work; but he spent most of the time talking about where we came from and who we were. Why? So that we will act accordingly. We are literally from the seed of Abraham and have been foreordained to be a part of these latter days. When you hold the Melchizideck Priesthood, there is just a certain lifestyle that you must live by simply because any less is not worthy of holding the authority to act in our Father in Heaven's name.

I could go on and on about what I learned, but needless to say, I'm going to look back on this night as one that changed the mission forever in my eyes. It filled me with a lot more faith and hope for this area we are working in. President Taylor talked to Elder Morrell and I for a little bit after the mission tour and mentioned that this transfer was a time for us to grow. I've definately felt myself gaining more experience this transfer with following the spirit and taking responsibility of things.

Now, for the few finding miracles we've had this week. Last Wednesday, Elder Morrell and I were tracting and we felt prompted to talk to this man working on a door in his drive way. He said he was busy and told us to talk to the lady that lived there. We talked with the young woman who said we could come back a week later when her husband was home. It's important to note that very few return  appointments a week in advance actually end up working out. I go as to say maybe 1 in 3. But this one worked out. AFter mission tour, we went to this appointment we set, and we were greeted by the young lady's partner. He was very excited to see us and he invited us right in. Turns out he had been investigating the church 5 years earlier while living in Utah, and that he had been looking for the church in Oklahoma but he couldn't find it. Now, here we were. We had a first discussion, and set a baptismal date with Fabian and Yohola. WE are so excited for this young family! there may be some law of chastity issues we need to work out but there is no doubt we were led to this house. 

I only worry, that this family will become like the dozens of families we've taught earlier. After 2 or 3 weeks they fall out of contact with us because of work and lack of being available. I pray for the organizational skills to keep this family investigating the gospel. We're going to do all we can to make sure we get them aquainted with the Branch members and coming church. The Lord has given us responsibility over this family to teach them gospel and we can't mess this up.

Then just the other night we were heading to an appointment at an apartment complex. We passed a Hispanic man doing his laundry, we said hi and continued on our way to the appointment. After the people were scheduled to meet cancel on us, I felt the distinct impression to go talk with the man who was washing his clothes. 

Just as he was walking off the other direction, I took a chance and called him over. We talked for a bit and asked if we could share a prayer with him. He gladly let us. Turns out he had also investigated the church before when he lived in guatamala and knew where our building was. Woah! 

So those are the highlights of the week. Things are happening in this area! I'm so excited to be a part of it. I hope these potencials we've found will stay active investigators. In the hispanic culture work seems to get in the way a lot. We just need to have them come to church and meet the branch. the social conversion is essential for even the spiritual conversion to take place. If you think about it, people followed Christ because he was kind and loving. They liked being around him. The same is with us as latter day saints. 

The work is progressing. Faith, obedience and diligence bring about the miracles. I'm gaining a greater appreciation for the Savior every minute I'm out here serving him. It mustn't have been easy for him to preach his own Gospel to his own people, but nonetheless he knew he was the Son of God. I love John chapter 8 where he boldly proclaims that he is the life and light of the world. Immediatley after, people reject him, but Christ stands firm and says "I know my record is true" and I know who I am. When we are faced with rejection from the world, we must remember that our testimony keeps us grounded...specifically our testimony of the Book of Mormon. You can't deny what you know. When you deny this Gospel it's because you've stopped trying to stay close to Christ through going to Church, reading the scriptures and praying. If you are consistanly doing these three things and magnifying your calling, you will not have to worry about falling away.
I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. As far as I know, for Thanksgiving we need to work on setting appointments with the members in the Branch to share messages. We aren't supposed to go tracting on Thanksgiving for some reason....

Pasa a buena semana. Feliz Dia de Gracias!

Con Amor,

Elder Powley 

Week 19 - North Oklahoma City - November 12, 2012

Mi querida familia,

Wow, I think I'd almost forgotten what it looks like to have snow. Still hasn't snowed yet here in Oklahoma. From what I've heard. we don't get too much snow, but instead we get ice storms. Apparently a few years back Oklahoma got hit with this huge ice storm that blocked people in there homes for a few weeks. I even heard a few missionaries literally got frozen into their apartments and couldn't leave. Hopefully that doesn't happen this year.

This week has been a struggle. A lot of our investigators aren't progressing or coming to church. The main problem is the lack of support from the branch, and I'm slowly realizing that the missionaries literally have to lead out the member missionary work here. Otherwise it won't get done.

Another problem is that many of our investigators aren't at our appointments when we set them. We've had some sad experiences this week like yesterday. We had an appointment set with this family earlier in the week that fell through, so we decided to stop by the house this yesterday. The lights were on, the family was inside, we knocked twice and each time the mom or dad would look at the door and pretend they didn't see or hear anything. It was a little hard since we thought they were pretty solid.

Nonetheless, we've had some great teaching experiences. Saturday we met with a single mom who I actually met back in the South when I was with Elder Chapman. She was home with her kids and also her nephews and nieces. The kids actually remembered me from when I visited them in the South so it was really cool. Everyone gathered around on the porch and listened intently to our message. The kids were especially curious...man, there must be a reason Christ says except ye become as a little child ye cannot enter into the kingdom of God. In order to accept the Gospel you have to be humble and willing to accept that your will perhaps is not what's best for you, but that your Father in Heaven knows whats best and that his will should be your will. Luckily this lady was also very humble. I can't wait to come back the next week and share the Plan of Salvation with them.

and then yesterday, we had an awesome lesson with another family. We had a prayer with the mom a few days earlier and she specifically asked us to help prayer for more unity in the home. Our lesson with them was amazing. It wasn't one of those huge hit-you in the head spiritual moments, but it was simple. I think what touched the mom most was the fact that we were patient with her kids who kept running around screaming. We assured her that we understood, and I mentioned that I come from a family of 7 and that I know how hard it is to keep everyone under control (Now I understand the purpose of all those Family home talks about sitting still when the Home Teachers are over).

We also had a cool experience that happened as we were biking. It's another testimony to Elder Nelson's talk during General Conferance. We were riding our bikes and this guy in his early 20s on the side of the road started a conversation with us and asked "Why would you guys rather ride bikes?" I answered "Well its so we can get to talk to people like you!" So we walked over and introduced ourselves. Turns out he was actually an inactive member of the church and that he had just barely moved in. He mentioned that he'd been thinking a lot about going back to church. We had a prayer with him and I mentioned to him "You know, it wasn't just a coincidence that we drove past you today." And he answered "No, it probably wasn't" and smiled a little bit. We got his information sent it over to the English elders to help get things organized.

If we had never run into him, no one might have ever known he was a less active because there was litttle chance his records got transferred.

Overall, this week has been nice. I've trying to develop my faith a little more. Write now, I'm realizing that my faith in finding people is ok, but then my faith to actually see those people I find start progressing is pretty weak. I pray for the strength to love these people and actually start expecting them to progress. It's hard, it takes a lot of organization and patience. You very rarely find people completely ready to hear the gospel. Those miracle stories that hear at conferance or in the Gospel Principles class are rare. A lot of missionary work is preparing people to make that step into baptism. And that usually doesn't happen in one transfer...it takes a while.

Faith in the people you teach is important. Imagine how much faith God has in each us. We're each his progressing investigator and he has to wait many years to actually see us progress.

Elder Morrell and I are together for another transfer and I'm really excited. He is such a great companion for me, he teaches me about enduring to the end and having patience with people a lot. I really hope we see some success in this area.

Have a great week! I'm glad to hear that everyone's doing well. I have not received any halloween package. I don't think the mission office can forward packages I can call them to see if they have it.

This week should be fun and I can't wait to report about it next week. We have Mission Tour and a lot of set appointments. And we're going to try a new finding technique: offering our services as ordained clergy at a local funeral home :)
Onward! Ever Onward! Listos! Siempre Listos!

Con Amor

 Elder Powley

Week 18 - Nov 5, 2012 - Pictures- Andrew's Mission in OKC

Pictures Andrew sent from his first area in South OKC:


Picture with Jose! He's the guy on the far right. We found him and he was our golden investigator that moved to texas. He came to church literally the day after we met him. I hope he gets baptized one day!

Hmo Pimentel. He was the opera singer that I accompanied for the talent show and he was probably the first one in the Branch  I actually carried on a full conversation in Spanish with :)

The Church Sign was a trademark of our area in the South and I think it sums up Oklahoma the most concisely. This is me with Elder Vance 

Andrew and Elder Chapman

This is a picture of our whole District before I got transferred. I've made some lifelong friends here. The two children were converts, and I had the privelage of conferring the Holy Ghost for the boy.
From Left to right (E. Vance, E. Chapman, Me, Hma Garcia, Hma Hortin, Hma Jenkins, E. Curry, E. Reese)

this is a picture of my district for the past few weeks up here in the North OKC area. They have been so kind and awesome friends. Elder Morrell is the guy to my right. and he's awesome!!!!

 I got to know this family pretty well. Hmo Fabela was one of our most solid member presents and a great friend of mine (he's the tall guy) and he was very easy to understand Spanish with.

Week 18 - North Oklahoma City - Nov 5, 2012

Mi Querida familia
As the numbers show it, this week was not to successful. It's been hard for us to get member presents, not because people aren't willing to come out with us, but rather because none of our appointments are working out. Part of it has been because we need to call people to remind them of their appointments. We'll have to work on that. Also, we need to work on being bolder when we tell people our purpose. We ran into to one of our investigators this week who mentioned to us that he wasn't quite sure what our intentions were. We're realizing slowly that our purpose is more than just share the gospel, it's more about helping them recieve it by inviting them to KEEP COMMITMENTS! If we never invite people to "do things" they'll never progress and our lessons are just some nice "feel good" experiences.
While looking back on a lot of our lessons, the moments where the spirit is strongest our when we invite people to be baptized and they either say yes or no.
I went on exchanges this weekend with our District Leader and we had some pretty good teaching experiences. We were teaching this one lady, and near the end I was listening to her talk about how she wasn't sure about baptism because she didnt' feel ready and that she didn't want to commit to anything so suddenly. She mentioned that God knows the goodness of her heart and that as long as you have good intentions, he understands.
While listening, I felt impressed to share with her Alma 34 where it says "do not procrastanate the day of your repentance". It was bold, but as this lady heard the scripture she said it really spoke to her and that she finally understood that she needed to act.
We've been trying to use the scriptures more in our lessons because of the authority and power that comes when you read the words of truth.
In other news, on Tuesday I recieved an awesome announcement....Tania was going to be batpized!  So on Saturday I had the privilage of being able to attend her baptism and speaking as well. It was an....interesting experience to say the least. Tania ended up getting very scared and nervous when she started seeing the crowd of people show up to her baptism. The Spanish Branch in the South did an excellent job supporting her, but Tania got a little spooked. So she ended up sitting out in the hall and watching from the side with Hma Garcia (one of our member presents). Then for the baptism she requested that sliding doors be closed because she didn't want a huge crowd watching her. So the two witnesses went back in the side are of the baptismal font and watched her get baptized while the rest of us got to "hear" a baptism.
It was still incredibly beautiful. It reminded us that a baptism is very personal: between the individual and the Lord.
I'll admit that I'm a little worried about Tania; mostly I'm jsut worried that her mom will still support her in coming to church. Because the thing that scares me most is baptizing a less active. I want Tania to have the Holy Ghost with her at all times and the only way that is possible is if she stays active in the church.
Well, this week runs the end of another transfer. I just realized that Nov. 2 was my 6 month mark. Kind of a slap in the face for me to kick me into another gear. I'm only here for two years to literally represent the Lord and have the calling of preaching the Gospel. I really don't want any regrets here.
Anyways that's all I have to write about today because I really want to send you all these pictures. I'll include little captions as well to explain the significance.
Con Amor,
Elder Powley

Week 17 - North Oklahoma City - 29 October, 2012

Mi Querida Familia,
If I were to describe this week...I would say it's been like stepping out of a nice warm jacuzzi and jumping into a freezing pool of ice.
This has been my first area change during my mission ever since leaving the MTC. I've been serving in South Oklahoma City for the past 2 and a half transfers that it had started to feel a little bit like home. Leaving the South was a tender experience for me. I said good bye to some great friends. You'll have to forgive me, I brought my camera today to send pictures home but I forgot the connector chord from the camera to the computer. But i've got some great pictures.
I'm going miss my companions Elder Vance and Elder Chapman. They've been great examples for me and I've learned so much from them. We'd become quite the team.
The South Spanish Branch has been incredible as well. They've been actively helping the missionary work progress. One of our best member missionaries has been Hmo Fabela. He's a recent convert from earlier this year from April and it's been amazing to have him bear his conversion story and testimony with the people we meet. I'll send a picture next week.
Now, I'm serving in the Northern half of Oklahoma City. I've noticed a few key differences. First off, the neighborhoods are Very much more wealthy than the South. And honestly its a lot harder to tract in neighborhoods with nice houses. They just seem to have an aura about that screams "don't bother me, I've got everything I need." I've felt thrust out of my comfort zone tracting in the North
The second main difference is that there are a lot more English speaking people. I never thought this would be a problem, but one of my biggest difficulties this past week has been speaking in English. I am a lot less comfortable sharing the gospel in English and offering prayers to people in English. Who'd of thought?
I've been so used to simply skipping houses that speak English because there were plenty of Hispanics to work with in the South. Now I have to pluck up the courage to start talking to people in my native language, and let me asure you...there is a HUGE difference. Because in Spanish you have this cushion of safety because people understand you are trying to learn a different language. Rejection has been a lot more common here in the North.
To give an example of how different the people are here let me relate one experience. Elder Morrell and I were tracting and we came to this one house. We knocked a few times and a man answered. We introduced ourselves as representatives of Jesus Christ and he immediately asked us to leave because apparently the last time we were there, he got robbed. We were kind of surprised because we'd never heard this excuse before. I tried to shake his hand, and Elder Morrell tried to offer a passalong card, but he simply blew us off and we walked away. As we walked away, he jumped off his front porch like he was cop or something and just stood in the middle of the road...staring us down as we walked from house to house. He then pulled out his phone and it looked like he was calling the police or something. Nothing happened, but gosh...why are white people so wierd sometimes?
But it turns out that the experience happened to be a blessing in disguise because when we knocked on his door, the people we had planned on visiting weren't at home. As we finished tracting that neighborhood, literally right as we were about to leave, the husband of the family arrived at home. If we had blown of this guy's house and left earlier than we had planned, we never would have had a chance to talk to the husband of the family. We had the opportunity to sit down and teach him the first lesson; this is significant because before hand, we had only been teaching the mom. Now, we've got the whole family in on the discussions and we hope that we can see progression soon.
Amongst many things, I've felt that I've adjusted pretty well. Even thought the north has been hard, I've felt the Lord strengthen me to have the courage to open my mouth and talk to random people on the side of the street. It's a work in progress, but I can see a difference between my confidence at the start of my first transfer to my confidence starting this new area.
i've been able to connect with the Branch pretty well. Their meeting starts at 8 am (which really hinders our numbers for investigators at church). But I got the chance to play the opening hymn for the congregation. We sang "How Firm a Foundation" and needless to say I played as loud and lively as I could to help animate the audience. It was pretty fun.:)
My new district is awesome! Elder Fales is our district leader and he actually was the guy who took me tracting my first week in the mission and he was also trained by Elder Black. That literally makes him my brother.
Elder Morrell is my companion and he is awesome! He was my MTC companion and it's cool to see how different he is from when we first met at the MTC. His spanish has improved as well and his zeal for obediance is something I can emmulate a bit more. He actually likes to listen to Motab, which is awesome! My last companions didn't have the best taste in music (still love them:)). and he is very focused.
I'm excited to serve up in the North. We get new transfer assignments this upcoming Sunday so it will be interesting to see if I stay here or go somewhere else or if Elder Morrell leaves. I hope not! I can't imagine serving here without Elder Morrell. I hardly know the area.
My testimony is still as strong as it was before and it has giving me great strength in coping with rejection. We know our message is true, and we know that very few are going to accept it. Our job is to work dilligently, uplift the Branch and look for those that sincerely desire to accept the restored gospel. Actually, that's not wholly correct: Our purpose is to INVITE others to come unto Christ by helping them recieve the restored Gospel mediante Fe en Jesucristo y su Expiacion, el arrepentimiento, el bautismo, la recepcion del don del Espiritu santo, y el preseverar hasta el fin.
Gracia por toda de su apoyo. Esta iglesia es verdadero. El poder del Espiritu Santo y Sacerdocio son real y pueden llevar a cabo muchas milagros. El norte tal vez es un poco despacio en relacion de otras areas, pero hay esperanza. Tengo fe que el Senor me ayudara y fortalecerme con mis affliciones. Como evidencia, yo he visto a El darme fuerza en una manera que yo no imaginaban antes mi mision.
Que Dios le bendiga! Hasta la proxima semana!
Con Amor,
Elder Powley

Week 16 - Oklahoma City - Oct 22, 2012

Mi Querida Familia,
Bueno, this is has been a crazy week. A few things have happened that have stuck out to me.
One of our progressing investigator families unfortunately told us we were welcome to come back but that they weren't interested in our church. We asked the father if he had read the Book of Mormon. He said yes and that it was interesting. We asked him if he'd prayed about the Book of Mormon. And he said no. This is a common denominator. Every investigator that drops the missionaries is not reading or praying about the Book of Mormon or is not coming to church. When investigators fail to keep their commitments, their testimony wavers and they reason that they don't need the missionaries and that they are content in their own way of life.
In a way it's the same with members of the church. If we don't keep our commiments that we made at baptism or continually nourish ourselves with the word of God through the scriptures, church, and prayer we lose that spiritual strength and the spirit ceases to be with us.
Anyways, getting dropped by an investigator isn't the worse thing in the world. Honestly, we have our testimonies and nothing can waver them. And right after this family dropped us, we felt impressed to go try another family that we ran into earlier that week. We talked to the father, his name is Saul, and he was very gracious and wanted us to come back.
Let me back up for a second. a few days earlier, my companions and I were leaving our apartment complex. While I was locking our apartment door, Elder Vance saw a man sitting outside by his apartment complex looking kind of depressed. He promptly walked over and started a conversation. The man was definately high, or drunk or mentally ill, but he opened up to us about his life and the struggles he was going through. So the three of us missionaries sat down next to him and just listened. We didn't preach too much or offer the discussions (he honestly wasn't open to changing anything) but we testified of Christ's love for us. And after a while the man's grandmother came and picked him up, she thanked us for our kindness and then that was the end of it. We didn't think much of the experience for a while.
Back to this man Saul that we were talking to. Turns out, he actually drove by in his car at the exact moment he saw us ministering to this drunkard in our apartment complex and recognized us as the missionaires that came to his house a few days earlier.. Saul mentioned that this touched him and really wanted us to come back.
Elder Vance was definately prompted to talk to this man in our apartment complex. Even though nothing came of it initially, our companionship witnessed that the Lord works in infinate ways to soften the hearts of men and prepare them to hear the Gospel.
Then, after we finished talking with Saul, I felt prompted to visit this one house that we'd passed many times. It was poor house, but i knew that a hispanic family lived there. So we went and knocked on the door and met 4 adorable little hispanic children who could only speak Spanish. WE later met the single mother that was taking care of them. We shared a prayer with them, and we prayed for each child by name (they loved it:) I can't expalin everything that happened, but I felt really good about this family.
We then followed up with this family (the mother's name was Juana and the children were Helen, Juanito, Karla, Jose) yesterday and shared the Restoration with the mother. The kids were playing around a lot. I tried to entertain them with some of the pamphlets that had pictures of Christ , that only got them more excited and hyper. It was so adorable! At first the lesson didn't seem to spiritual, but we invited the mother to pray. At first she seemed a little aprehensive, but then elder Chapman lovingly assured her that a prayer was nothing more than expressing our heart to God and that we close in the name of Jesus Christ. She accepted to pray. After she finished her simple, yet heartfelt prayer, she started to cry. She mentioned that this was the first time she'd prayed before. It was touching and we are very excited to see this family progress. It'll be hard getting them to church, but I think the Spirit will work with this mother as she prays and reads the Book of Mormon.
Now.... I must tell you of the recent development in the story of our golden investigator Carlos: the guy I've been talking about for the past few weeks. Elder Vance and I went on splits with Hermano Fabela to go visit Carlos in a park. He specifically told us that he wanted to meet at this park so that he could be in a little more secluded place in order to say a prayer for his repentance. So we met him at the park... he brought us water bottles.
It was such a bizarre teaching experience but in a good way. He cried because of the guilt and shame he felt from accidentally hitting a teenager with his car and that he thirsted for God's forgiveness. He must have said a least prayers that evening. Hispanics often break down in the middle of lessons and offer prayers at random. It's a little wierd coming from a Mormon culture, but honestly it's what Carlos needed.
And then the sad part. Carlos told us that he couldn't be baptized in two weeks because he would be moving to Kansas the next morning. I was initially sad, but Carlos explained that it was because he needed the work in order to earn money to send to his family for his son's funeral. Honestly,we can accept that. He promised to return in 2 months and get baptized.
You'd think we'd be frustrated. and honestly, we were a little because we wanted to have baptism this transfer. But, we must take into account Carlos' situation with his poverty and family. And to be honest, I'm completely ok with Carlos leaving. This is the Lord's work not ours.
It's been a good week to finish off the south. I had the privilage of giving a recent convert of the other elders in our district the Gift of the Holy Ghost. This was the first time that I've ever given the Holy Ghost to someone, and I did it in Spanish!!! I felt the spirit so strong during that blessing. This kid is going to be a strong member of the Church. I was so thankful for the opprotunity to meet him and help asisit his growth.
And now I have to say good-by to this wonderful Spanish Branch here in the South. I truly have grown to love these people and I've met some very good friends. I remember at the beginning of my mission I could not connect to the members because of my Spanish. And now I have witnessed the power of the Atonement help me obtain the ability and the confidence and the love to be able to connect with the Hispanic culture. It's been such an incredible experience to spend my first 2 and a half transfers in such a wonderful Branch. I'm sending a few pictures of the people i've met.
I'm going to miss this place. Mostof all I'm going to miss my companions Elder Chapman and Elder Vance. We've had our tense moments talking to eachother about our problems, but ultimately I've come to love these guys. I think I'll look back on this companionship at the end of my mission and regard them as some of the best companions i've ever had.
Well I'm out of time for today. I'll be sending more pictures next week because today the three of us are going to take pictures at some of our memorable places. And thencome Wednesday morning, I'll be moving to the North OKC Spanish Branch and be serving with Eldeer Morrell, my old MTC companion. I'm both excited and nervous to be moving to a new area. It'll be my first time switching areas and I hope I can gain friends in this branch as well.
Have a great week and I love you all!
Con Amor,
Elder Powley

Week 15 - Oklahoma City - Oct 15, 2012

Mi Querida Familia,
Ok first off, I just got off the phone with my mission president...turns out I'm getting transferred into a new area in two weeks! Kind of took me off guard, but I'm not the least bit worried. When President said where I was going, I had no doubt that it was what the Lord has in mind. I'm excited and can't wait....it also means I get to take the Defensive Driving course and get permission to drive! That's pretty exciting. I'm going to miss this area and my companions, but I think this new new change is going to motivate me to work a little harder these next few weeks.
this week has been very....wet. Saturday, it rained all day. It was like walking out into a waterfall at one point. And to make matters worse, elder Vance got a flat tire. since our truck is in the shop getting fixed, we had to walk from about 50th to 89th in the rain with our bikes on the side of the road. It was actually pretty fun. At one point we even broke out into singing "Army of Helaman". It was awesome. Except all our appointments fell through, but hey, that's norman:)
As for this past week...we've had some awesome experiences where we've definately felt the Sprit guide our lessons rather than our own intellect.
First off, we had two lessons with Juana this week. During both, we really focused on trying to invite her two baptism. Both times she backed down. As of now, she has not gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon and we are trying really hard to help her. She can't read and understand what she is reading very well, and The Book of Mormon as clear and simple it is with the Doctrine, is not quite Dr. Seuss. So we invited the children's story adaptation of the Book of Mormon along with the actual Book of Mormon. The children's version has pictures and will make it easier for her to understand. I pray she can find that inner desire to find out if the Church is true. We've met with her so many times and she herself has mentioned that she feels a certain power when we come into her home when we teach. I jsut want to yell at "It's the Spirit! Get Baptized!" and to an extent that is what we do minus the yelling part.
We found the perfect friend for Juana's daughter Tania. Last night we brough a member family to have a lesson with them and their little daughter Mayra is actually very similar to Tania's personality. It was so funny, when we were introducing eachother at the start of the lesson, both girls froze up and weren't willing to talk and introduce themselves. I felt the sudden prompting to play the Prophet activity with everyone. So before we started the lesson I said, "Ok we're going to play a game" I might have explained this activity before but if not, here it is: there is one person standing behind a group of people (this is God) and then there's one person standing in front of the group of people (the prophet) the point of the activity is that only the prophet can see God because everyone else is facing the prophet. The prophet then continues to mick whatever actions God does and the people have to "follow the prophet". It's an excellent MTC patented activity that really gets the point across.
Anyways the real magic the happened with the activity is that at one point Mayra and Tania played the parts or God and the prophet. The activity broke the ice between the two. And while my companions and I were having an intense discussion with the parents and Juana, the two little girls ran off and played together. INSTANT FRIENDSHIP! So cool! I love having members come to lessons with us.
And now for our incredibly instense lesson this week with Carlos. This man has been through soo much. I don't know how much to include because it's all incredibly personal. But basically, his 9-year old son who lives in El Salvador died this past week in a car accident while he was riding his bike. The irony and the karma was very apparent in his countenance when we came to visit Carlos. And this man has nothing...not even chairs to sit down in or a truck to drive to church. No job, no documents to travel to El Salvador, and no money to send to his family.
We went into the lesson planning to teach the Doctrine of Christ, but as we talked we all felt impressed to share something other than we had planned. I pulled out Alma 36 and talked about repentance and how the Atonement can replace our pain with exceedingly great joy. Elder Chapman shared the scripture in D&C when Joseph Smith was in Carthage jail. Elder Vance shared an experiance about when his mom died when he was kid. All three of us can testify that we did not go into that lesson planning on saying anything that we said that night. The spirit was there testifying, comforting and helping Carlos. He said very little, and we only taught for 30 minutes. But it was the most comforting 30minutes I've felt in a long time.
and then, the unthinkable. Carlos was still up and ready to attend church the next morning. He witnessed a great fast and testimony meeting and is excited for our lessons to continue. The branch is really jumping in to help find him a job and we're all excited to see him progress. It's a crazy situation, but whatever happens tonight, my companions and I all trust that the Spirit will let us know what to say and how to say it.
what a week. I could keep going with little spritual experiences I've had, but I've run out of time for today. all I can say is that I am witnessing a change of perspective with myself, a change of heart. I can't really explain it with words, but I am so glad I am on a mission right now.
Con Amor,
Elder Powley

Week 14 - Oklahoma City - Oct 8, 2012

Mi Queirda Familia,
WOAAAAH! Conference just blew my mind!!! It was quite a sight. All of the missionaries in our district were watching conferance together and when President Monson made that announcement about the change in age for when young men and young women can go on missions. It was like the opening night to Harry Potter 7. All the missionaries literally cheered and were really excited. For the rest of the day, we were just awe struck. Think of the implications of what this means. The Lord must incredibly trust the youth of this Church.
Watching conference as a missionary was an incredible experience. I don't know if we realize, but General Conferance is an incredible opportunity to receive revelation for our lives. Almost every topic addressed would have answered one of the concerns of each of our investigators. It's fun to watch it with other missonaries. It's like anticipating a sports event a little bit. "Oh Elder Holland is up next, get ready for some loving chastisement." or "Here comes Elder Oaks. He's got some real bold sauce." Oh man I love conferance!!! My testimony was especially strengthened.
If I could I would write down every little insight that I wrote down in my Personal Study Journal. But I think I'll just stick to a few. First off, I loved Elder Nelson's address about "Ask the missionaries, they can help you." More than just what he said impressed me. The apostles of the world and including the prophet have such incredible confidence in us. I was really touched. Elder Nelson's comments gave me confidence that we can truly make a difference and do the Lord's work. I'll admit, a little earlier this week I was feeling really discouraged because our companionship wasn't seeing a ton of success. I was too focussed on the numbers that I failed to look at the many blessings we've been given. We have two solid baptismal dates. That's two more people brought unto Christ and a third one is well on the way. He also said that "the decision to go on a mission will shape your spiritual destiny." Look out how he phrased that: the DECISION to go on a mission will shape your spiritual destiny. Are we deciding to go on a mission for the right reasons? If our motives are anything other than a "desire to serve God" (D &C 4) then we need to change something. Don't decide to go on a mission for your girlfriend, for your parents or even for yourself. I say don't go on a mission for yourself because if you think that by going on a mission because it will somehow magically change who you are and make you a better person you've missed the point. Sure, you will be changed on the mission for the better, but our motives can't be self-centered. It must be because we love the Gospel and desire everyone to partake of it.
I also really enjoyed President Uchdorf's talk during Priesthood session. He made an excellent analogy using an airplane. Sometimes the passangers on a plane complain about the size of the peanut bag while they are soaring through the air...high above the clouds. Sometimes us missionaries get frustrated with not getting enough new investigators that we forget we've been called by God to build his kingdom on the earth and be literal representatives of Jesus Christ. As long as we have faith and dilligence, we can help inspire people to change their lives. President Eyring also addressed this point in Priesthood session. From what I got out of his talk, we have a responsiblity to help others realize their divine potential. So we must compliment others, encourage them and tell them that we believe they are of worth.
There were so many gems to be found in General conferance. If you missed it because you were tired or busy....Watch it! There is spiritual power to be gained.
I also loved Elder Oaks talk. Not necessarily because of what he said, but because of how he said it. The apostles have real authority and power to address problems of the world and say what needs to be done. They truly are inspired men.
Ok, we had some great experiences this week. Remember Carlos from El Salvador that we met last week that I mentioned called us over while we about to ride off on our bikes? We learned that he actually attended our church back in El Salvador but decided to forgo baptism to go into the military. He has regretted that decision for his whole life and believed God cursed him for it. He went through many trials in the army and almost died at one point. He lives in poverty now: has no car, no lightbulb his living room...no chairs. We had a very spiritual lesson with him sitting on a few old buckets covered by his shirts. We committed him to a baptismal date and he actually came to Priesthood session this weekend. He's met a few of the men in the branch and is making friends.
How marvelous it is to be involved in giving this man a second chance to accept the Gospel and be baptized into the throng of God. He is even preparing his finace to listen to us. I am so excited to help this man progress. I pray he doesn't give into temptation. As missionries we are helpless to keep him from making mistakes or rationalizing that he doesn't need the Gospel. We can only bear testimony and show him the way, he must choose to follow it. That's how it is with every one of us. I've really come to understand how God feels when we choose to follow him and his son Jesus Christ...its exaclty how I feel when I see an investigator I've come to love decide to be baptized... it's exactly how I feel when I see my siblings decide to get baptized go on missions and serve other people...its exactly how a parent must feel to see their child choose the right...except God's feelings are magnified 100 fold.
We also had two powerful teaching experiences this week. My ability to teach in Spanish has gotten so much better and I know the Lord has been strengthening me. I can understand investigators concerns and address them. I've realized that when I make a conscious effort to speak the things put in my mind by the Holy Ghost, I can speak with more power and when you speak with power and the Holy Ghost backing up your words...you can physically feel it. You feel more confident.
Juana and Tania are still progressing. We taught them the Law of Chastity and Word of Wisdom this week. I don't think we'll have many problems there. Juana actaully fed us hot chocolate and bread with her nice china when we came over Friday. We really love this family and we need to invite Juana to be baptized so that she can be baptized with her daughter. It will happen we just need to find the right moment when the Spirit is strongest.
Anyways the mission is giong great. Oklahoma is getting colder and riding a bike keeps sounding less and less attractive. But we need to ride bikes in orderto make ourselves available for people to ask us questions.
I'm so excited for this work to progress.
Have a great week everyone!
Con Amor,
Elder Powley

Week 13 - Oklahoma City - Oct 1, 2012

Mi querida familia,
Thank you soooooooo much for the pictures and videos! They really brought a smile to my face today, and I actually got to watch the videos. It means so much to me to see that everyone is staying so united as family back home. You all look like the best the best of friends. And...I really miss that. I'm glad everything is going well. Happy Birthday to Matthew once again and I'm glad he got my letter. I am for sure going to be sending everyone a personal letter for their Birthdays.
This week has been very awesome with Elder Vance joining Elder Chapman and I. He's from Holiday Utah and has been out for about a transfer. He's a swimmer and is very interested in photogrpahy. He actually has this one photo of one the many lightening storms we've been experiencing out here in Oklahoma and it's AWESOME! He's been an incredible strength. He has a great attitude and he keeps things very lively. Su espanol es un poco feo pero pienso que eso es uno de sus fortalezas. This Sunday he gave a blessing in Spanish to one of the ward members, and I learned something very significant. Even though he didn't know a lot of words and he messed up on the grammer (instead of saying you will have health he said, you had health) the Spirit was just as strong as if from a someone who spoke the language fluently. I even saw the member wipe his eyes a little bit. It's incredible how even with our weaknesses, Our Father, Christ and the Holy Ghost qualify us for their work. We truly can make do with whatever intelligence we have. As long as we're trying our best and many times we feel our best isn't good enough, the Lord will make up the difference. I've witnessed that time and time again.
This past week has been incredibly wet and stormy. Lightening Storms in Oklahoma are the coolest! Saturday, we got to put our raincoats on and bike around our area for a full day! Despite the weather, I found it rather enjoyable. there is something about Oklahoma rain that is just very calming and soothing, and I don't know it makes it fun. We had an interesting finding experience. We had been knocking doors. I had felt the Spirit prompt me to knock on a few doors and none of them turned into anything special. They either said come back later or were'nt there.
But then I realized the purpose behind knocking on those doors. Right after we were finishing tracting in that area, a man suddenly walks out of his house and calls us over. He's from El Salvador (meaning his Spanish is incredibly difficult to understand) and he wanted to talk with us. He knew we were Mormons and mentioned that he had experience with the Mormons back in his country. He had to hurry off to work but he asked to exchange numbers and then we could come back in a few hours. We were shocked and so we complied. We actually didn't end up meeting with him that day, but we contacted him the next day which was Sunday.
Now Sunday, just happened to be this activity that our ward mission leader had been planning. Yesterday, we had an activity in the evening wherein we had a short devotional and watched "The Testaments". We invited our investigators;threee of them showed up: Carlos (the guy we met from El Salvador) and Juana and Tania who we've been teaching for the past month now.
Now the movie and the testimony were great...but more than that the members of the Spanish Branch are what touched me the most. With Juana, she only knew one member of the Branch before and that member didn't happen to be at the activity. But, our recent convert Maria (the mother of Alberto who Elder Black and I baptized my first transfer) jumped right in and fellowshipped Juana. Maria invited Juana to sit by her and then spent the rest of the night talking with her.
I often reflect on the experiences that bring me the most joy and one of them is watching the members of the branch fellowhship the investigators we had grown to love. I can't explain how happy I felt. It was simple, and felt very warm. This must be how our Heavenly Father feels about us and when we show charity to our fellow neighbors. The scripture "When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God." took on a deeper significance for me last night. We are all children of our Father in Heaven, and just as it fills me with joy to see our family staying united and having fun with each other, the same must betrue when our Father In Heaven sees us trying to be friends with our fellow neighbors. He loves each of his children.
And other members fellowhipped Carlos as well. Without us even asking! I like what Dad said in his last email. We are helping facilitate friendships between members and non-members. Not in a factory like way, but we are helping the Lord place people in the paths of others and give people the opportunity to develop lasting friendships. This work is so incredible! I am so greatful to be in the Branch for another transfer.
I am loving this gospel more and more every day. It's frustrating sometimes because it seems like we teach the same principles every day and they don't seem to sink in right away into the hearts of our investigators. But nonetheless, patience has become a virtue that I've come to treasure. We don't have to have miracle baptisms that occur three weeks after we meet someone. Sure that'd be great, but we have to remember that it's through "small and simple means are great things brought to pass".
Anyways, I'm glad I got to write you all today. WE actually just got a DVD of the Branch Talent show that happened a few weeks ago and I'm hoping to copy the numbers that I was in and then send them in a package our something back home. You get to see me sing in American-Gringo- Spanish! It's very fun.
Keep on being the awesome family that you are to me. I thank God every night that I've been placed in such a loving family. You've been such as strength to me, helping me remember the reason I'm out here--to help other famililes recieve the Gospel and feel the joy I've felt having you all as a family.
I love you all and keep on praying reading and going to Church!
Con Amor,
Elder Powley

Week 12 - Oklahoma City - Sept 24, 2012

Mi Querida Familia,
Another great week in the mission. We had a lot of success in finding new investigators, one of which was a member referral family of about 6. They are such an awesome, strong that were very appreciative of our prayer. The father is very opinionated, but very respectful. Unlike many hispanics he actually has a schedule and if we're late for an appointment we miss the opportunity to really teach him. He also just recently switched religions and strongly believes in his faith. That's ok though...so did Saul in the Bible. That's one of the great things about missionaries. Our purpose is solely to invite people to experiment with our words and help them recieve the Restored Gospel. We do that by strongly testifying. It's so great. I don't have any fear going into appointments, because we are solely here to help...no gimmicks. I've found that when you really have a spirit of love, you don't need to worry about barriers such as being shy, or not knowing the language. When you truly love the people you serve and do your best, the Spirit makes up the difference.
So cool experiences for this week. I was on exchanges with a missionary who was with me in the MTC. His name is Elder Reese and we had an awesome teaching experience on Friday. It was with Juana and Tania who I mentioned last week. Turns out they actually liked Church (although they didn't come this week we're going visit them tonight to see whats up). Juana actually is really starting to progress. We had an excellent lesson in which we reviewed the Restoration by watching the DVD of Joseph Smith's First Vision. Believe it or not, the DVD actually works miracles and brings the spirit into the home in a way that other means can't. The little girl Tania was asking questions about who were the people that Joseph Smith saw, and it felt so cool to be able say, "It's God and his son Jesus Christ" and then see her eyes light up. We started talking after the DVD and we starting explaining how the Holy Ghost manifests truth. Juana really opened up and mentioned how there's something different when she talks to the missionaries. SPecifically she mentioned that we have a sort of power  and authority when we speak (it's like we're called of God or something), and that when she looks at us she feels happy. It was interesting to realize that when we teach the Gospel, we really do have the light of Christ inside us, and people see it. The light of Christ is what really helps us have success. We really do know the truth and the Spirit testifies.
We invited the family to baptism. Tania accepted. She started asking questions specifically about what the Holy Ghost was. I explained it to her that it was a Spirit that can be with you at all times that can help you feel happy and make good decisions. She then asked if it was like a best friend. I can't explain the joy I felt when she said those words. Yes the Holy Ghost is a friend; Tania really liked that and then asked if I had the Holy Ghost. I said yes and that he was here with me at that very moment. You feel power when you testify of truth. I can't quite explain it, you have to feel it for yourself.
Juana is going to take a while. She needs to act and read the Book of Mormon to really recieve an answer. Right now she isn't making the connections between the good feelings she feels when she's around us to the Holy Ghost. But she's progressing.
WE also set another baptismal date with a new investigator. His name is Michael and he's extremely humble young man about our same age. He lives in Moore but visits our area to help take care of his little brother and mother. He is so awesome! I can't wait to keep teaching him. His work schedule is crazy, but we can work with that.
This weekend we also had a Mission Conferance. Elder Collister from the presidency of the 70 spoke and Elder Roberts and area 70 spoke as well. They were very spiritually uplifting. They made some excellent spiritual insights. I wish I could go into to detail but I can't. But I will ask this question: Were Laman and Lemual obediant? Think about it and study the scriptures, the answer might not be what you think.
Yesterday we found out our assignments for next transfer. I'm staying in the same area with Elder Chapman! I'm so excited, there must be some unfinished work that the Lord needs us to carry out. We are also gaining a third person in our companionship, so we're going to be a trio. This will be interesting because I've never served in a trio before. But the new Elder is named Elder Vance. I' actaully had the privelage of taking him tracting for his first time when he arrived in Oklahoma a month ago. He's way cool and I'm excited for our new district. 4 members of my MTC district will actually be serving in the same District here in the South, including myself. It's going to be a blast!
Anyways, got to go for now. Keep strong!
Con Amor,
Elder Powley

Week 11 - Oklahoma City - Sept 17, 2012

Mi Querida Familia,
Ok where to start for this week. First off, I can't believe BYU lost this week by a field goal! Sounds like they could use a little Doctrine of Christ in their lives and actually endure to the end of the game.
Anyways, I've had another great week here in Oklahoma. One of the higlights of this week is that we got three investigators to come to church. I'll quickly tell you about these people and the fun lessons we got to teach them this week.
First off we have Pancho. He's an older man who lives by himself. His woman (not really sure if it was a girlfriend or wife) left him a month back and he's really enjoyed our visits. we had a lesson with him this past week on the Doctrine of Christ and it was really cool to hear him open up to us about he's seriously felt a difference in his life before and after he met us. He truly believes that the Book of Mormon brings the spirit into his life and it helps fill the pain that he felt before. In reality, he hasn't really read the Book of Mormon, he can't read that well, but he knows that he feels good whenever he tries. I hope histestimony will continue to grow. Right now he sort of considers more of a "good luck charm" rather than inspired revelation that provides the evidence that Joseph was a prophet and that this is the true Church.
Quick story about our last lesson with him. We actually we'ren't planning on visiting him that day, but as we were riding our bikes past his house, we heard a whistle. We kept riding, but my companion and I looked at eachother and wondered if that was Pancho who whistled at us. We both felt strongly to turn back and visit him. We did, and it turns out that it was Pancho who whislted and he was very excited and wanted to tell us something. We went in, and he started telling us how much he loves the Book Mormon, how it's brought so much happiness into his life...because the other night he got engaged:) So my companion and I were happy for him. Pancho doesn't know when, and it reality the woman it question never said yes to anything...yeah we'll see what happens. But the bottom line is that he's happy, and believes it's because of the Book of Mormon! He then came to church yesterday, all by himself and said that he liked it. He's really starting to progress, hopefully iif his engagement doesn't work out he'll still have testimony of the Book of Mormon.
Our other investigators that came to church are a mom and a daughter. The mom's name is Juana and the daughter's name is Tania, and she is about 9 years old. We had an awesome member named Hma Garcia accompany us to a lesson this past week. She did a great job in helping fellowship the mom, and Hma Garcia brought one of her sons to help friendship Tania. It was a long lesson, but all-in all it was worth it because we helped fellowship our investiagtor. And then Hma Gracia actually took it upon herself to pick up Juana and Tania for church. What an awesome example of member missionary work!
so Juana and Tania came. I'm not sure how they liked it because they left kind of quickly, but I'm optamistic that they flt the spirit if nothing else.
We did have kind of a down side this week. We taught Jose (our golden investigator who came last week to church) an awesome Plan of Salvation lesson with one of our members present as well. He agrees with everything, Pre-life, Spirit World, Three kingdoms, and all. However, he is a little uncertain about baptism. He feels the Spirit, but he honestl felt a little nervous about commiting, mainly because his wife is Catholic and he doesn't want to split his family.
Unfortunately, ever since that lesson, we've been unable to contact him by phone or by door contact, and even worse, he didn't come to church today. I hope he's still porgressing. It just goes to show how much a lack of communication can really cause uneasiness and doubt.
In a way, that must be how our Heavenly Father feels when we fail to pray as often as we should. Think of how worried you must be when a child fails to call home on a Friday night, or a least text. It's the same with how we feel when we can't contact our investigators and its the same with our Father in Heaven. Sure, he's all-knowing but when you fail to talk to him, he must feel worried...its our eternal life at stake and he desperately wants all of us to return home safely to his presence.
This week I am especially grateful for my companion Elder Chapman. I was feeling kind of down last night, a little stressed out because I had no clue how to plan for the next day. I was trying to feel the Spirit and follow promptings, but I kept second guessing myself. I voiced a concern that perhaps I didn't have the spirit with me and stuff like that. Then Elder Chapman taught me a very good lesson.
God does not always tell us what to do when we ask him. Sometimes we have to use our agency a little and make a decision NOT based on whether or not we feel prompted...but rather based on reasoning through our own knowledge and understanding, and past experiences. I was shocked! Of course it makes sense: how else can we grow as children of God if we don't get a chance to make our own decisions. If God made sure we knew exactly what we were supposed to do all the time, we could never make mistakes and learn from them. Imagine if you're a parent and your child keeps asking for directions on what classes to take, what groceries to buy, what to do on the weekend...would you tell him/her exactly what they should do? Of course not. They would never learn how to be independant. The Lord asked the Brother of Jared to come up with a solution for the lack of light in the barges, rather than fixing it for him.
Now I'm not saying we should learn how to become so independant that we forget to rely on the Lord. We should always rely on the Lord to help us and work miracles....only AFTER we've done all we can do. the AFTER is key. without the AFTER, we don't have any motivation to work and grow.
It was a great insight for me this week. It gave me greater confidence that I can use my own knowledge to make worthy decisions, and then the Lord will work with me to make sure that His work gets done.
Great stuff, and I highly reccomend everyone watching Elder Bednar's recent three part Mormon Message online. He does a great job of explaining how the Spirit works in all of our lives.
Anyways, there's my doctrinal rant for the week. I feel like I'm repeating some of the stuff I've explained in other emails, but it just goes to show that we keep re-learning principles over and over and each time they take on greater meaning that help us apply them for every day life.
I wish I could keep writing, but I've got to eat lunch. Hope everyone has a great week. Tell Matman not to worry about the election, class officers don't do much anyways in Junior High, I would know. Make sure he continues to be friends with everyone and then he can run for SBO in 8th grade!:)
Also, I thought Alex was going to Homecoming with David Peterson or someone like that not Alex Ingrebretson. Did something happen?
Have a great week and I miss you all! ( Los echo de menos)
Con Amor,
Elder Powley