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