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

Week 10 - Oklahoma City - Sept 10, 2012

Mi Querida Familia,
It's been another great week in the South. Our key indicator numbers weren't that high, but we had some great experiences nonetheless. The first of which was the Branch Talent Show!
What a fun night! It took a lot of stress leading up to the event, but once performance time hit, everything ran very smoothly. Elder Chapman and I sang a little song about La Doctrina de Cristo while my companion played the ukalalie. It goes a little like this:
Me encanta aprender el Evangelio.
En nuestras vidas, es el proposito.
Empieza con la fe, con la fe , con la fe,
crees in las cosas que no ves, que no ves que no ves,
pero sabes que existe.
Y con esta fe, tienes que cambiar,
y contra malavidas, tu puedes conquistar, si hermano,
Arrepientete Arrepientete, arrepientete
Com dice Dios Arrepientete
Por que nadie es perfecto
El es nuestra Ejemplo, lo seguimos en todo que hacemos
tal como el bautismo y todos otros convenios
como el Espiritu, Espiritu, Espiritu
Como companero, Espiritu
Te guiara en lo que es bueno
Sigue mi hermano, a Dios y haz lo justo
Sigue, Sigue por la vida,
Es la Doctrina...De Cristo!
y trae salvacion, y trae la vida eterna.
Good song. I 'll have to see if I can get the video file from someone.
We also did a little skit as a District. We basically acted out a typical day in the mission field, in a sort of silent film style with a piano playing in the background. The Branch got a real kick out of it! We included scenes such as door apporaches, getting chased by dogs, getting our bikes stolen, getting Dear Johned and getting a referral. It was awesome. I also played a little John Schmidt for them as well as accompanied a member of our Branch that sings opera. I'll have to see if I can get the recording to you guys, it was a really a lot of fun.
But even better, Elder Chapman and I were able to get one of our investigators to come to the activity. He's an older man named Pancho who's wife left him a few months ago. He's pretty lonely, so it was great to see him come out and have a good time. The Elder's Quorum President did an amazing job in fellowshipping him. While me and my companion were out an about performing, the EQP jumped right in and made sure Pancho was included. The EQP introduced him to a few other members and it turns out...Pancho was old friends with one of the members! It was so touching to me to see what a big difference members make in missionary work. Hopefully this experience helps him feel more comfortable and willing to come to Church.
Overall, the Talent Show helped solidify Branch relationships with eachother as well as with the missionaries.
On Saturday, I also got special permission to go up to Stillwater and accompany President Taylor's son for a musical number in a Stake Conference he was speaking at. So I got to leave the city for the first time in my mission and ride up with President and his family. They are such an awesome family and were very kind.
I also got a chance to work with my old companion Elder Black for a little bit before the meeting. We got to sit in on a great lesson as well as try a few houses. It was great to see him and catch up on all the work going on in our areas.
And then time came for the musical number. I was so grateful for the opportunity to perform and share my testimony with the congregation through music. The President's son is an amazing singer who plays most of the lead roles in his school musicals. We literally didn't practice beforehand and pulled off and incredibly powerful song.
Spending time with the Taylor family was nice, but also a little nostolgic. I was remeinded of my family and the great bond that we all share. There really is nothing more sweet than the relationships you have with your family. I am learning that more and more, as I travel through the months without seeing my own family. I'll admit I got a little home sick, but I know that when I get back, our relationships will still be their and even twice as strong as they were before.
Now as for actually missionary work. Jose, the golden investigator we found a few weeks ago came to Church again on his own. Had a great time, the members fellowshipped him, and he even participated yet again during Gospel Principles. I later learned that his wife is actually not interested in the Gospel; however, this hasn't shaken Jose the leastest bit. He has a little trouble understanding the Book of Mormon, but he shows incredible faith and desire to learn. He prays for the ability to understand. It's so incredible to witness the Gospel really affect someone's life.
Now, you're probably wondering about all those incredible finding experiences I've mentioned in my past emails. I'm sad to report that we've been un able to really contact those people in any meaningful way. I'm learning very quickly that it's very easy to find people and set appointments, but nearly 85% of all first contacts turn into failed return appoinments and we're stuck trying to re-contact them at random times during the week. Half the time we don't see them. Patience and dilligence are some attributes that I'm having to learn and develop a lot more fully.
As usual, my understanding of the Gospel is growing each and every day. Every day I witness the love of God whether its through spending time with my companion, teaching a great lesson, seeing an investigator coming to church, or having a simple prayer with a stranger, or having a prayer by myself. I feel my Saviors Love!
Some great things are in store for our area. We met this awesome family this week where the Grandmother is very open to the idea that God speaks to prophets in our day. Mainly because she said she has seen God, but that's a whole other story. Anyways she is very religious and wants to hear our message. We hope to teach some of the families of her children as well. They all live on the same street, so it'll be easier for us missionaries to keep ttack of them.
Anyways, Oklahoma is cooling down and things are continuing to go well.
Con Amor,
Elder Powley

Week 9 - Oklahoma City - Sept 4, 2012

Mi Querida Familia,
I'll be honest, this week has been a little slower than the past few weeks. Almost all of our baptismal dates dropped simply because we haven't been able to contact any of them. Just goes to show how the little things such as communication, or a text message or a phone call are so critical. Without communication, nothing gets done. I think it's the same with our Heavenly Father. When we fail to communicate with him, we cease to grow spiritually. He can't let his Spirit guide us if we don't try to talk to him. That's one of the things that I've noticed about being a missionary: we pray almost constantly. We pray right when we wake up, for every meal, to start and end our personal studies, to start and end our companionship studies, before we leave the apartment, during each lesson, each door contact, for every meeting, every day we do a role play for our investigators, and finally every other time in between when we don't have anything to do. Needless to say, us missionaries say many prayers; let's face it we need all the help we can get.I think the mere fact that we openly try and communciate with our Father in Heaven contributes to the whole experience.
We didn't see too much success as far as numbers go, but I've still had some great experiences. The first of which was an exchange I went on with one of our Zone Leaders Elder Aliifua (an exchange is where you switch companions for one day). I had a great learning experience with him. He's almost finished with his mission and he has so much wisdom and knowledge that has really helped with me. He bore his conversion testimony to me, and my testimony of the enabling power of the Atonement has increased 10 fold because of this guy.
I also had one of the most meaningful teaching experiences with him. We were teaching a lady named Juana, her daughter Tania, and her son Oscar. Juana had been a former investigator in our area but for one reason or another, the last missionaries stopped teaching her. So Elder Chapman and I found her record and began the teaching process over again. Juana is very kind, speaks only Spanish and loves hearing the missionaries...but she is not one to make commitments.
So going into this lesson without a companion who spoke Spanish was a little daunting. However, I found that I was given the gift of the interpretation of tounges for this one lesson. I understood almost everything she said, not perfectly but enoght that I could answer her concerns. It was truly a revelatory experience that the Lord will make sure that whatever situation I'm put in, as long as I have faith, He will provide. For some reason, I was able to communicate with Juana and teach the Gospel of Christ all in Spanish. It was so cool! And I could feel the Spirit testifying just as strongly. Juan then invited us to come back on Sunday.
Elder Chapman and I then got to meet with her on Sunday, but this time we took a different approach. We decided to include the daughter Tania in on the lesson. It's actually kind of a sad situation with the mom and daughter. Tania speaks English while her mother speaks Spanish. Both can understand a little bit of eachother but neither can tlak to each other very effectively. But Elder chapman and I decided to focus on Tania. And as we did, we noticed that Tania had a great curiosity for things about God. The fact that we included the child in on the lesson, in my opinion is something that touched Juana more than anything.
We then taught them again last night using the same apporach with the Plan of Salvation and I was astonished by the wisdom of a little child. We were asking her some very pointed questions and she answered them simply and profoundly. It was amazing, and again the mom was touched.
It just goes to show, that when you teach a child, adults will understand and learn more effectively. I've heard it said that the true mark of a genius is one who can a very complicated idea and explain it so that a child can understand it.
In other experiences, Elder Chapman and I were looking for new investiagators when we ran into a man named to Miguel. We had a very nice prayer with him and he asked us to come back on Tuesday (which is today...woah). At first I was like "Ok cool we have a new investiagator. I'm excited." Then Elder Chapman asked me if I noticed anything strange about Miguel. I said apart from the fact that his apartment was pretty clean, no. He then asked me if I saw the tracking bracelet around his ankle. I said No, I must have missed it. We are apparently meeting with a convicted criminal tonight. Not too scared becaue we definately felt the spirit during the prayer, but this is gonna be interesting.
I've run out of time to write, but things are going pretty well out here in Oklahoma. We had a Talent Show coming up this Friday with the Spanish Branch and I'll be performing a little piano song by Jon Schmidt called "Onward Christian Soldiers" (sound familiar?) and also accomompanying an opera singer in our branch. I'm excited, and hopefully we'll be able to get some investigatores to come as well and start involving the branch members in fellowshipping them.
Hasta proxima semana!
Con Amor,
Elder Powley