Pictures - Andrew Powley - Christmas and New Years

Week 29 - North Oklahoma City - January 21, 2013

Mi Querida Familia,

This week has been very productive. We were successful in getting quite a few member presents this week and then on Sunday, we had quite a little miracle. For the first time in about 3 transfers, we finally had an investigator come to church from our area!!!!! Elder Mendoza and I were thrilled. The man's name is Aruldo and he has a small son and a wife. He liked the services....he wasn't completely converted, but he was fellowshipped by the members and he had a positive experience. More than anything this is a positive step in the right direction. Investigators just don't progress until they come to church. We were very happy and we hope to meet with him tonight and start setting some more concrete goals. 

We also recontaced some investigators that Elder Morrell and I dropped last transfer because they moved out for a few weeks because they were renovating their house. WE talked with Fabian on Saturday and he still wants to be baptized  WE are going to meet with later this evening as well and hopefully set some baptismal dates. These people could really progress; we need to do our part as missionaries and help them set goals and make plans. 

This week I've really gained a testimony of this principle of set goals, make plans, mainly because I've been studying this chapter in Preach My Gospel. I applied this goal especially to my language study. I'll admit that for the past transfer my language studies have not ben quite as productive as they should have been. While reading PMG I felt prompted to make a plan for my language study. I did so and the difference has been night and day. My Spanish has improved, and more than that, I feel so much more in control of my life. I've been praying recenlty for the Lord to bless me with confidence and faith....the answer came in the form of setting goals and making plans. 

This week we also had a great member present where I think the members were blessed more than the investigators. We took out two brothers this week to come teach who were recent converts and less-actives. the less-active at first was apprehensive to come at first because he was afraid of not knowing what to say. We read him some sciptures and testfied that it would be given to him in the very hour what he should say. As we came away from the appointment, he was very motivated, he mentioned how he could feel the words coming to his mind about what he should say. I'm so glad we were able to bring him out with us. Sometimes we use the members to help strengthen their testimonies as well as bring others into to church.

I'm so excited for this next week. We have a lot of appointments set due to diligent tracting and work on our part. We are starting to see the fruits of our labor here in the North and we have high hopes and faith for a baptism in the coming transfers. 

Like I said it's been a great week. Next Sunday are transfer calls, Elder Mendoza and I kind of think we are going to stay another transfer but, no one really knows until day of. Thank you so much for your prayers and support. It means the world to me. 

Have a great week everyone!

Con Amor,

Elder Powley

Week 28 - North Oklahoma City - January 14, 2013

Mi querida familia,

It's been a great week here in the mission. I can't beleive its below 0 out there in Utah, we've started to complain when it reaches 30 degrees. I guess we don't have much to complain about anymore. My companion and I are blessed with a car so we don't have much room to complain anyways.

We had some interesting experiences this week. One of our investigators invited us to what they call a Rosario. It's a tradition in Catholicism especially with hispanics, that is actually quite similar to Family Home Evening in our chuch. They recited memorized prayers and sang a few songs. The more interesting part was where they passed around a baby Jesus and took turns kissing it on the forehead (my companion and I respectively declined not to offend anyone but simply because it seemed to violate the 2nd commandment) It was different; the Spirit wasn't quite as strong since the prayers were memorized and repeated over and over, but you could definately a sense of unity in faith. After they finished praying, they had refreshments and everyone had a great time socializing and talking with each other. We were kind of hoping they'd let us share a passage from the Book of Mormon, but it didn't really work out that way. 
If anything, we got to see our investigators and help solidify relationships with them. One of the men we are visiting didn't seem too interested in the Rosario and in fact asked me what I was reading when I brought out my Book of Mormon. We have an appointment with him and his family tonight. This is the Galvin Family that I think I mentioned a few weeks back. We're going to try and have church tour with them tonight with a member family. I pray it works out, we still need to master the art of making effective plans and then following through with them. Planning and communication are incredibly important here on the mission. God plans and communicates with us thorugh the Spirit. If we aren't listening or if we ignore spiritual promptings, he can't carry out his plans that he has for us. I'm still working on not ignoring spiritual promptings, especially when it seems like the prompting might be inconvenient or awkward. It's a skill that takes developing and I've seen many results from following impressions. Even when I don't see results I still feel good when I act on a thought that I receive. 

For example, remember that family that dropped us last week that I was feeling kind of down about? My companion and I felt prompted to go visit her again even though she mentioned that she wanted to stop the lessons. We never talked to her directly, and so we felt like some confrontation was necessary. So we stopped by, she wasn't angry to see us or anything. We greeted eachother and we sincerely expressed that we felt a little sad that she didn't want the lessons anymore for her family. We talked a little, she opened up about a host of concerns from her childhood how she and her friends used to flirt with the LDS missionaries and how she didn't want her daughters following the same path as she did. We testifed that this gospel would bless her family. She beleives us. Ultimately the problem is that the Jehova's Witnesses got jealous that were visiting them. She didn't wanted to upset them because they were the ones to talk to her first and a bunch of other excuses. WE kindly asked her to pray about this decision. WE're following up tonight and hopefully she prayed with a sincere heart.

Other than that, we haven't had too much else happen. Our numbers weren't so good this week, we still havent set any baptismal dates for a few weeks. It's not that we aren't inviting, people just don't seem comfortable to make commitments with us quite yet. WE hope tonight will change with this church tour we are planning on doing. 

This weekend I went on exchanges with Elder Fales. It was a good experiences, he's helping me replace doubt with faith and I'm really grateful for his example as a District Leader. We had a great lesson where we had a young man from the branch who is preparing to go on a mission accompany us. He had such a pure testimony that connected with the people we visitited, it made me glad to see the youth headed in the right direction. 

Anyways, those are a few experiences we've had this week. Life is good out here in Oklahoma. Just got a haircut today from Elder Dalia.
Remember to keep reading the Book of Mormon! As missionaries we get soooo excited when we hear people are reading the Book of Mormon. When they don't we feel very sad. You cannot progress in the Gospel without reading the Book of Mormon. I reccomend reading it and highlighting every where it mentions the Atonement, it will really help you connect with Jesus Christ and how central his role is to each and every one of us.

Con Amor,

Elder Powley

Week 27 - North Oklahoma City - January 7, 2013

Mi querida familia,

It's been a crazy emotional roller coaster ride this week out here in Oklahoma. We've found a lot of new investigators to teach, and we've been teaching the Restoration a lot. Elder Mendoza and I do a pretty good job teaching. We need to work on being a little bolder because we haven't set any baptismal dates in this area for the past 3 or 4 weeks. It's been hard. WE also haven't had an investigator come to church for the past 2 and a half transfers. 

On the plus side, like I said we find people to teach every week, so we actually have appointments set most every night. Most of the time they fall, but at least we're not spending our evenings tracting a whole lot. Knocking doors at 8 o'clock at night is not very effective in Oklahoma.

We've had two referrals from other missionaries and the area and they've both turned out to be rather solid investigators. I'll let you know if they start progressing by next week.

Now, let me tell you about last night. Remember that family with the kids who I said were really solid in wanting to learn the gospel, but how the parents were not very solid? They ended up dropping us last night. Correction, the dad passed on a message from the mom that she wanted to stop our visits. This is a lady that was baptized a member of the church in Texas but has since gone inactive. In short, she decided to go with the Jehova's Witnesses. We tried to set up an appointment so that we could at least have an opportunity to get the last word in, but it was  to no avail. 

My companion and I walked back to the car in silence. We sat there for a bit just utterly shocked by what just happened. I think this is the first time in the mission where I've felt the true pain the comes wit rejection. What pains me the most is that the daughters really were sincerely interested. There were even reading the Book of Mormon. But know because of the mom's decision to reject the Gospel and the Dad's decision to not even care about religion, we can't visit them anymore. It is my most fervent prayer that these young women will continue to read the Book of Mormon. right now its their only hope, and maybe one day down the road they will accept te Gospel. 

the rest of the night was a disaster as well. We got dropped by another investigator because they were too busy, another appointment fell because the lady we were visiting decided to spend the night with her boyfriend, and then earlier another man we talked to really went off on attacking what we believe. 

I know these trials are really miniscule to some of the things I'm hearing about back home, but nonetheless, last night I felt pretty miserable. But, now I'm over it.

Here are some excercises I did that helped me overcome this night of despair. Apply them as you will.
1. I started to count my blessings. 
2. I talked with my companion and asked for his advice. Talking with anyone, a friend, district leader, mom, dad, family member. Just the simple act of venting what you feel instead of keeping it bottled up in side of you really helps you realize how much more possible it is to overcome that difficulty.
3. Sincere prayer. I know it sounds simple, but honestly, there is no better person to vent to then your Heavenly Father. He knows you personally and knows how to help you. I didn't feel an overwhelming presence of the Spirit. The pain didn't leave immediately, but I can testify that without prayer, it is 20 times more difficult to regain the spirit of hope after a hard night. And you don't have to wait until night to pray. Pray at the exact moment when you think there is no hope...and you will find it. 
4. Read the Book of Mormon with the specific question in mind: "How can I better deal with rejection?" I did that this morning, and it was incredible. I read the exact verses that I needed to read in Mosiah 3:9. King Benjamin is talking about Jesus Christ and after he lists all the amazing things that Christ did for us he states "even after all this they will see him as a man and say he has the devil and then crucify him". Even after Christ did everything for us, he was still rejected by even his closest of friends. The way we bear it is through patience and hope. Sounds vague I know, but I promise there is hope. 

And don't think that feeling sad is a bad thing. People talk about how you shouldn't feel sad when you get rejected and get discouraged. I respectively disagree. For at least a little while you should feel sad. Its the natural outcome. To pretend not to be painfully affected by a trial or rejection is foolish. It's ok to feel devestation for something or someone you care about. 
So my motto is feel sad for a little while and then apply the 4 things I talked about before and then gradually the pain will disappear. As I write this email, I can testify that the pain I felt last night has been completely eradicated. I am filled with hope and faith in the Lords work. 

Anyways that's my spiritual thought for the day. This week is going to yield better results I just know it. We will set a baptismal date. Someone will be ready to accept the Gospel. The Lord wouldn't put missionaries in an area he didn't have work to be done. 

I hope everyone will find strength in the Lord when they are going through trials. Don't keep it bottled up in side, let the Lord help you out; and then go and serve someone. 

I love you all and I know this church is God's kingdom on the Earth. The Book of Mormon is the evidence; if you ever doubt the church, read the Book of Mormon, NO ONE can deny that is the word of God.

Con Amor y hasta la proxima semana,

Elder Powley