June 28 2012 letter

Well, this last week has been kind of crazy. Starting Saturday, we had about 110 new mission presidents and their wives come live at the MTC for their Opening Seminar. It was great to have their Spirit present, but there were some difficulties. Primarily, they had to close of half of the cafeteria to accomodate eating arrangements for the MTC presidents. On top of that, the MTC is pretty much at maximum capacity with missionaries already. Needless to say, the lines were huge! It was like a Pioneer trek just to get a bowl of cereal on Sunday morning.
But, I can't complain. We had some perks as well. The MTC presidency gave us a very nice treat. We got to watch "The Other Side of Heaven" on Saturday night! Now it may not sound that exciting, but considering the past two months we've only been allowed to watch either "The Testaments", "Legacy" or "Joseph Smith:The Prophet of the Restoration", it was really awesome! Not going to lie, once the movie turned on, it was the equivelant of being at the Midnight premier for "Dark Knight Rises"---everyone cheered and gave eachother high fives! It was great. And even better, the movie really reminded us about how important it is to see other people, especially those that belong to a vastly different culture, from the eyes of God. He truly loves all of his children unconditionally.
Another interesting fact about the Mission President Seminar this weekend was that we were also in the midst of many of the apostles at the MTC. Now, they weren't really walking around the MTC campus all day, but you could feel something. And then we had a Devotional on Tuesday (we called it a Super Devo) where 10 of the 12 apostles were present! Once they walked in, it was incredible to witness the change in atmosphere. The Spirit was truly testifying that these men were called of God to help lead Christ's church here on Earth.
Elder L. Tom Perry privelaged us with a wonderful talk. It was actually a little out of the ordinary, he started of by simply stating: "The Doctrine is the same, in fact, Eternal" and then proceeded to not talk about the doctrines of the church, but rather a statistical presentation. Accoriding to surveys done by Pew, the Mormon community on a whole is happier, more healthy, have 40% less clogged arteries compared to people in the US (which is because of fasting once a month), and more family centered. LDS teens are among the top groups who are least likely to engage in risky behavior, Mormonsare the number one religion who have know the Bible, and actually practice their faith as a lifestyle.
Anyways, he was a lot more specific than what I laid out, but needless to say, the Church as a whole is an amazing organization that would not be possible if it were not God's kingdom here on the Earth. Elder Perry also noted that the only way to eliminate prejudices and misconceptions about the Church is through members being good examples to the world and letting their good works show--not necessarily a missionary discussion on the "Restoration". And if you think about it, people are more drawn to the type of person. People were drawn to Christ because he genuinely loved them unconditionally and with perfect charity. I only hope to develop that kind of love while out on my mission.
After the devotional, Elder Holland and Elder Scott blew tender kisses out into the audience of missionaries. The gesture really impacted me because it me realize how we stand shoulder to shoulder with the apostles of the Lord in building the kingdom of God on the Earth.
Really quick, I want to share an insight I've had this week. It mainly has to do with something a protestor said outside the MTC gate this past Sunday.  But first, understand this: The main tempation that Satan has for each one of us is that every day he is subtly trying to get us to "doubt our divine potential". When Christ fasted for 40 days, this "doubt" was the primary temptation. "If thou be son of God, turn these stones into bread." The "if" is important. If Christ had turned the stones to bread, it would have meant that he himself doubted that he was the Son of God. James E Talmage explains it better in "Jesus the christ" but ultimately remember this: don't doubt your divine potential. Don't dwell on doubt. Sure, we don't have perfect knowledge of everything, but that's what faith is for. And the best way to avoid doubt is to consistantly pray and read the scriptures and attend church and be obediant to the commandments.  It's incredible how much you learn out here!
I've learned so much here at the MTC, and it's quite exciting to think that by this time next week I will be in Oklahoma City proselyting for the Lord. I actually fly out July 3 at about 6 am. Just a heads up my mailing adress will be different by then. Here's my new adress,
416 SW 79th St. Ste. 210
Oklahoma City, OK 73139-8121 USA
Man I just can't explain how excited I am! However, it's a little daunting as well. I'm going to be working with real investiagtors. No more practice, it's time to really put my faith to the test. I know I'm inadequate. I'm only a 19 year old college boy who barely knows Spanish, yet the Lord calls me to preach hope, repentance and testify of the love of Christ. I know that through the Atonement of Christ, I can do all things and become whoever th Lord wants me to be.
Stay strong in faith. don't let doubt get you down.
Con Amor,
Elder Powley

June 21, 2012 letter

The past week has really sped by. I can't believe I'm heading into my last week here at the MTC. The lessons I've learned have been so valuable, and my testimony solidified.
My Spanish is progressing, we've been working really hard on Subjunctives (which are statements where the speaker implies judgement, doubt, emotion, or influence on another person ) during our classes. It's amazing how one letter can change the entire meaning of a sentance. It's interesting to see how Spanish is actually an easier language than English. In Spanish there are many rules and few exceptions whereas in English, there are as many rules and Thousands of exceptions. I love Spanish, I've actually started saying most of my prayers in Spanish now.
This past week has been hard, but has yielded some really cool insights. We had a Sunday devotional this past week from Sister Sherrie Dew ( former member of the Relief Society presidency and CEO of Deseret Book) and she gave some very interesting advice.
Ask the Lord to tutor you.
Have you every specifically asked the Lord in your prayers to teach you how to feel or follow the Spirit? I've been trying that this past week and it's actually helped me gain a keener awareness of the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.
Likewise, I was listening to past MTC fireside with Elder Bednar and he gave some profound advice on how to recognize the Spirit. Simply this: "Don't worry about it." Most of the times in the moment, we will never know if the Holy Ghost is prompting us to do something. The holy Ghost does not always make thoughts or impressions obvious that they are from him. Elder Bednar mentioned that as long as you are keeping the Commandments, keeping your convenants and being a good girl or boy, you will naturally be lead to the things which you shall do. Remember Nephi and how he was led "not knowing beforehand the things he should do". You probably won't recongnize that it was the Sprirt leading you until maybe 20 years down the road.
Man, I am so grateful for living prophets and apostles. they open up the Gospel in plainness and truly have the Spirit with them. This week is actaully the beginning of the New Mission President seminar so this means, that a lot of apostles are going to be here in the week training the new Mission Presidents going out. This also that next Tuesday (we call it Super Devo Tuesday because we get out of class early) we will hear from an Apsotle of the Lord Jesus Christ!!! So excited!
I also had a cool teaching experience this week. Our teacher pretended to be an investigator with one of the most common and difficult concerns to address: the Trinity. During the lesson, my companion and I tried to explain to our teacher the concept of the Godhead, or the fact that HEavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are three seperate beings. The Bible and the Book of Mormon back the idea that God, Christ and the Holy Ghost are one in purpose and three spepearte beings. So I took an initial approach of trying to use the Scriptures to prove my point.
Didn't work.
I could've used as much scriptorial evidence I wanted and nothing would have helped the investigator understand.
The best evidence that we have of the God Head is by our belief that Joseph Smith truly saw God the Father and Jesus Christ standing side by side during the First vision. We learned that it's best to testify that we know that the God Head is real because we know Joseph Smith was a prophet. And we know Joseph Smith was a prophet because we know the Book of Mormon is true. It all links back to the Book of Mormon and whether or not you've read and prayed about it.
Siblings-prayer truly helps. You may not feel comfort at precisely the moment you want it, but over time, you gain the SPirit of the Lord simply because you were willing to open up to him. The same applies to Mom and Dad. I remember moments during Jr. High and High school where I just needed to open up to Mom and Dad about my concerns. Although, you may initially think its awkward to talk to Mom and Dad about your problems (which is a lie from the Adversary), I promise and bear witness that talking with Mom and Dad, in conjunction with prayer to your Father in Heaven, truly heals whatever emotional or spiritual problems you may be facing.
And for some reason, I always seem to forget this concept mainly because sooo simple. And my small and simple things are great things brought to pass
The Church is True and I love you
Keep strong!
Con Amor,
Elder Powley

June 14, 2012 Letter

Dear Family--

Another normal week at the MTC has gone by. My conception of time is becoming more skewed every day. It might be because I don't have a watch to wear, but in the mean times, I never really know what the date is. Its like the MTC has its own time zone. Time goes by quickly, I just realized that I only have 3 weeks until I head out to Oklahoma. Man, I'm excited!  My district has 13 people (5 sisters and 8 elders). We all get along really well; six of us including myself are all going to Oklahoma City the same day so we're all excited about that.
We had a devotional this week from this Russian or Swedish Elder from the Quorum of the 70 (can't quite remember his name) but he was really quite hilarious yet inspiartional at the same time. One of the biggest insights I got out of this devotional was the importance of planning. Now before you zone out because the word 'planning' sounds like business jargon that you hear in Business Management 101, let me explain why I personally find "planning" essential to increasing your ability to learn... even Spanish and the Gospel.
Before the devotional, my Spanish had been digressing. I was falling asleep during personal study, and personal language study. However, i realized the problem was that although I was praying for help in increasing my knowledge, I was not sufficiently planning. I firmly believe that God cannot bless you with his Spirit unless you yourself have made a significant plan.
It reminds me of the Story of the Brother of Jared. The Lord couldn't bless the Jaredites with light, until the Bro. of Jared put forth a plan to the Lord: Touch these stones that I have gathered and make them burn brightly. Only when the Brother of Jared showed an organized plan to the Lord, was the Lord able to bless him with a miracle.
In the case of learning Spanish, or for any subject in school or the gospel for that matter, this same principle applies: the Lord cannot help increase our knowledge if we aren't organized and focused ouselves. This insight really hit home and let me tell you, the difference is incredible. I've been able to stay awake, my Spanish speaking has increased even more, and most importantly, I am able to understand the Gosple more fully. All you have to do is write down a physical plan, present it to the Lord and ask him to consecrate it. If you give Him the tools, He will work the miracle! For example, I was in a meeting with a pretend investigator and he asked a very tough question: "If Joseph Smith was able to receive a vision, why not me?" I can't really explain it but the answer came to me as clear as day, and it came to me in Spanish: to be honest, we don't know the Lords ways, but we know one thing...God the Eternal Father and Jesus Christ truly did visit Joseph Smith. And we know this because we know the Book of Mormon is true. If this book is true, then Joseph Smith truly was a prophet. Not to mention, in the Book of Mormon Laman and Lemuel saw an angel, and both of them ended up denying the Spirit. Visions do not convert people, the still small voice of the Holy Ghost coverts people.
It's amazing to see the Lord's hand in bringing people to Christ. I really am just an instrument in his hands. I'm here to do his will.
Anyways I hope things are going well in the outside world. Keep praying. God exists and wants to help you, but first you have to trust him.
I love this Gospel and encourage everyone to learn about it.
Con Amor,
Elder Powley

June 7, 2012 - Letter


Things are getting pretty routine here at the MTC. Wake up, moan, sing in the shower (I got a pretty nice ovation for my rendition of "Hey Jude"), study the scriptures for an hour, teach a pretend investigator, have group language instruction, followed by lunch, personal language study, 3 more hours of class, dinner, gym, additional study time, and ending with daily planning. Just the other day, BYU shut down all the electrical power for five minutes, this included a black out at the MTC. Probably the most exciting that's happened here for a while. Everyone got out there flashlights, did their best Gollum impressions, and we were basically like little kids for a bit.

 Fun stuff!

On a more spiritual note, our teachers are especially effective at maintaining the Spirit and everyday yeilds new insights.

For example, I learned that the "Word of Widom" is NOT a health code. The "Word of Wisdom" is a means by which we can come closer to Christ. It's also a commandment, and following the commandments and being obediant brings and increased measure of the Spirit.

I had some pretty awesome teaching experiences this past week. One of such was with a progressing investigator named Antonio. We explained the commandments by doing a hands on activity, So we told him to close his eyes, and then we would give him instructions with our voices. He had to follow our voices in order to know where to go. We did this in Spanish to, and for the first time I realized that speaking Spanish can be used for fun things as well as spiritual discussions ( I know shocker, right?) Anyways we likened this to our lives in that being human, our vision and perspective is limited; we don't have a perfect knowledge of eternity or what bad decisions will do to us in the future. But there is someone who does...our Heavenly Father. He gives us commandments through his prophets; without those commandments, we remain blind and lost in life. However, if have faith and yield to the promptings of the Holy Ghost by following the commandments, we don't have to be lost, we can remain on the right path.

Antonio had an "aha" moment. He finally understood the "why" behind keeping the commandments. And that's critical for anyone; once we understand the "why" we find the INNER motivation to do whats right. The INNER motivation is what brings us to repentance, not outward pressure from other people.

It's amazing how the Spirit works. While Elder Morrell and I were explaining the concept, Antonio didn't understand us, mostly because of our weakness in Spanish.

But at some random moment, it clicked. The Spirit manifested the truth, and Antonio felt it. It truly is the Holy Ghost that teaches eternal truths, not man.

Great stuff is happening at the MTC! This work is true and I encourage everyone to seek these truths. It brings a measure of happiness and knowledge that you could never believe achievable.

Con amor,

Elder Powley