Week 38 - North Oklahoma City - March 25, 2013

Mi querida familia,
This week has been chock full of little experiences where we've followed the Spirit every so closely and we've been put in the paths of people to talk to. I'm starting to enjoy tracting.
Honestly, I think I'm starting to realize that you can meet someone ready to hear the Gospel in almost every position you're put in. Expect to find people, and then you find them! I guess its a principle of faith. 

I think I'll just relate a few experiences that I've had this week in order make up the majority of my email. On Tuesday, we had an incredible appointment with a new family that just moved in from El Salvador. They don't know a lot of people, so we've been able to welcome them into the neighborhood and introduce them to the members. We had a great first lesson with them. They all accepted the baptismal invite when they know our message is true. We'll work on setting a more specific date this week. We don't want to shove too much on them too fast, because they just moved in and they'll want to get settled before making one of the biggest changes of their lives. But the family is wonderful. The parents are married and they have a 12 year old daughter who is very intelligent and loves to study. There's a member family with a 13-year old living nearby so if we can just help establish a good relationship, we'll start to see them progress more quickly. 
and we met this family by following a prompting from the Holy Ghost. 

On Saturday, we found a few English families. We were visiting a potencial hispanic investigator. She ended up not being home, but I looked over at the house next door and I said to my companion, "If no one's here let's go try this one over here...I think I remember it being hispanic." So we went and knocked on the door and we met Darren. He actually wasn't hispanic, but he allowed us to share a prayer with him. He didn't talk a lot but we learned that his mom had recently passed away. We were able to testify of the Plan of Salvation and have a spiritual experience with him. We shared alma 40 with him and he was pleasently impressed. We set a return appointment for this Tuesday. We met him by following the Spirit.

Later that day, we went over to try a former investigator. Apparently they had moved, but again I felt prompted to visit the neighbor's house. I knew they were American and I'd passed by their house many many times...and I'd felt prommpted to visit them, but for one reason or another, I didn't do it. But today, I felt more confident and we went and knocked on the door. We met Terry. He invited us right in and we were able to get to know him. He actually really respects the Mormons. Back in the 80s his car died about 4 hours outside of where he was going, and a member of our faith gave him a ride and helped him out. He remembered that experience for nearly 20 years. He agreeed with most of our doctrine, and he's actually very golden. So we stated our purpose. I think I even told him that we would like him be baptized. He smiled at the thought and accepted a Book of Mormon reading assingment, and we're going to try and set up an appointment this week. We met Terry, by following the Holy Ghost. 
Just yesterday, we finally followed a referral from the English Elders to go try and knock doors on this one street. we knocked maby 5 doors and met 3 solid potencials. One of them being two brothers (17 and 18 years old) from Guatamala and completely open to the Gospel. I'm reminded of how Grandad was a teenager when he heard the Gospel for the first time. I guess I kind of hope these two young men will join the Church and their whole families will follow in their footsteps. We met them by following a referral which had been given to others by the power of the Holy Ghost.

I hope you see a common thread here. Elder Pierce and I are really starting to trust our instincts and thoughts that come in our heads. Most of the time they end up leading us to people to talk to. It's incredible. And what makes it so enjoyable is that my companion is so willing to trust my instincts, and I trust him as well. Unity in a companionship amplifies the ability of the Holy Ghost to lead us exactly where God would have us go. 

One more experience. Just today, we decided to go get haircuts. We each talked with the hairstylist doing our hair. And naturally we got the chance to share a bit about our church, Turns out she had a friend who was Mormon. I told her, if you have any questions feel free to ask. She then proceeded to ask about our beliefs. The anwers came so smoothly. I knew exactly what to say and how to say it. The Holy Ghost gives us the words to speak. 

I am so grateful to be a missionary. How often to you get the chance to share your testimony with the person cutting your hair? We're just so noticeable as missionaries, and so we get these opportunities if we allow them to happen. I'm kind of bummed we only get this for two years! I guess that means I need to step it up and talk with everyone I can. 

It's been a great week. We had less actives, and 1 investigator come to church. Our area is sooooo much better than when I first came in. The Lord truly does take his time to develop people and mission areas. But when you finally see the results....it leaves you amazed and wonder-struck. 

I hope everyone is doing well. The handbook just changed rules. We can email anyone now apparently, including friends, as long as they are not mmebers of the opposite sex living inside our mission boundries. I'd love to hear emails from more cousins, friends and family members if its more convenient! 

I love you all, and I can feel my faith increasing. I can still see I have a ways to go (Elder Pierce is such a great example of faith to me) but I know that just like excercising a muscle, my faith can be excercised until it becomes massive and unstoppable.

Les quiero mucho. No hay ningun otra obra en el mundo come este obra. 

Con Amor,

Elder Powley
P-day with the District at the Zoo in Oklahoma City

Week 37 - North Oklahoma City - March 18, 2013 (bonus pictures!)

Mi querida familia,

What a week. Elder Pierce and I have been busy. We've been working on punctuality a lot this week and sticking to our plans and we've seen quite a big difference. Not necessarily with the number of appointments we have, but rather just how much more of the Spirit we have. I think there's something very key in being punctual. When you are, I think the Lord starts to trust you more and then the Spirit can more fully consecrate what you are doing. 

Anyways, we've met some great people this week. Spanish is becoming more of a joy. I've felt the gift of tounges really start playing more of a role in my time here in Oklahoma.
I've found that I've been able to start connecting more with the Hispanics that I teach and communicate more than just on a Gospel level. 

Most of the experiences we've had this week have been preceded by simple thoughts or ideas that pop into our heads. Last Monday evening, it was nearing the end of the evening and we put on our list of back up plans to go try this one potential family. I distinctly remember two thoughts. "It's too late, almost 8:30 there wouldn't be time for a lesson anyways and besides they said they'd call you." 
And then as I dwelled on this thought, a 2nd thought popped into my head, and this one I said aloud to my companion "Oh what the heck, why not?! We're really close to their house." Elder Pierce liked that and we went on our way. The man and woman living there happened to be home and we had a great first lesson with them. 

Now, experiences like this don't happened every time we have a thought to visit someone, but they do happen, and it depends on what the Lord's plan is, and on the agency of the investigators. 

Another experience: WE just finished having a lesson with a lady named Nancy. After leaving, Elder Pierce and I started walking to our car. While walking, we were discussing the Spirit and Gospel matters. After a few blocks we realized that we had had been walking in the complete opposite direction of where our car was. Feeling ridiculous, and kind of joking that perhaps the Spirit led us this way for a reason, we started heading back.

Suddenly, a young man not too much louder than us called out from a side street "Hey are you LDS missionaries?" We turned and said yes. We went and talked with this man and he introduced us to his new wife of a few weeks. They were smoking, but they had felt prompted to call us over. We had a great talk, gave them a Book of Mormon and got their phone number. We still haven't been able to get a hold of them, but that's a little beside the point. The point is that the Spirit is guiding our companionship in small ways and it feels great. 
I've really felt my faith grow this past week. I am so grateful for Elder Pierce and his excitement. I can't wait to see what's in store for this next week. 

I'm loving this mission. Thank you so much for your letters of encouragement. Sounds like our family is doing great. Congratulations Alex, by the way on winning the state solo choir competition! You better send a recording of your song (as long as its mission appropriate:) Keep up the good work. 
Que Dios les bendiga. La mision es increible y le trae muchas bendiciones que sean requisitos para superar esta vida dificil. Siga el espiritu. Tenga la fe y valor para hacer las cosas que quizas no son faciles. Dios no puede efectuar ningun milagro hasta que despues la pruebe de nuestra fe. Todavia yo necisito ejercer mas fe para que yo puedo ver milagros. Pero el milagro mas grande de todo es el cambio al dentro de nuestros mismos, y el cambio en los demas.

Les Quiero mucho!

Con Amor,

Elder Powley

I've really felt my faith grow this past week. I am so grateful for Elder Pierce and his excitement. I can't wait to see what's in store for this next week. 

Week 36 - North Oklahoma City - March 11, 2013

Mi querida familia,

What a week! I met my new companion on Wednesday, and things have just took off to a running start. President Taylor lined us all up in two lines; trainers on one end, and new missionaries on the other. He then called out the new companionships one by one. It soon came to my name when President announced I would be training Elder Pierce. We embraced and immediately hit it off. This is going to be an amazing transfer. I can feel this wave of new, fresh faith radiating from being in the presence of this Elder.

That evening, the Lord blessed us with two lessons, one of which we found two new investigators. It was incredible to see how prepared Elder Pierce was to teach. We taught one lesson in English and the next one in Spanish. It was great to see him get excited about the work. 

One of the things about training new missionaries is that you start to notice your own weaknesses as well. This past week I've learned a weakness that I have. My weakness happens to be a strength that Elder Pierce has. He truly has faith in the converting power of the Gospel for our investigators. It's not that I lack this faith, but I will admit that the past three 3 and 1/2 transfers have somewhat diminished by expectations for this area. I had fallen into a sense of complacency. 

 And so I sincerely brought this matter to the Lord. I asked: How can I develop faith in the converting power of the Gospel for my instigators? That morning during personal study, the answer came as clear as crystal...."Work on punctuality." 

It dawned on me that I had not been taking our appointments too seriously in the past...I'd been used to going to appointments late. Most of this comes from bad habits I formed early on in my mission. I was told that the Hispanic culture was naturally always running late so we could as well. Then I realized, when we aren't punctual, it's as if we don't have faith that our investigators truly will convert to the Gospel. We need to be where we plan to be, at the time we say we will. So this transfer, I'm really going to focus on being on time to things. 

I've really felt rejuvenated from serving with Elder Pierce. He is so excited to be hear, and committed to being the best missionary he can be. In some ways he is better than me. But that's ok, I think the Lord intends me to learn from this training experience as much as he expects me to teach. 

In other experiences for this week: Elder Pierce and I have had a lot of contacting opportunities  We're finding lots of people to teach and just this past weekend we set two new baptismal dates, which we haven't done in a really long time. Miracles happen every day. Their names are Vanessa and Alvaro. They are a young family with a 6 month year old daughter. Vanessa has a desire to learn and go back to church, and Alvaro has a great understanding of our message. We are really hopeful. The lesson we had with them actually wasn't planned. Our appointment for that hour fell through and I felt prompted to go try this old potential of ours that we hadn't seen in a few weeks. We were there at the right time. We met Alvaro and he let us right in to share a message. It was great! 

Just last night, we were working and all of our plans fell through. Elder Pierce felt the impression to say a quick prayer. I offered one specifically letting the Lord know that our plans had fallen through and that we humbly didn't know exactly what to do. We then felt prompted to try visiting an investigator's house in the area. The investigators weren't there, but we met a friend of theirs that was living in the same place. We talked to him and it turns out he knows of our church and said he would like us to stop by another time. So we set an appointment and now we have a solid potential. 

Life is great! I mention the subject of this week entry as "New missionary fire" because I really can feel the difference Elder Pierce has brought to this area. In fact, half our district is made up of these new missionaries. There is a new spirit in the Branch, more hope, more faith... something I don't think I'd really felt in a while. 
Expect great things from us. This will be a transfer of miracles if we do everything right. I plan to become more punctual and more hopeful, and re gain that new missionary fire I used to have.

I hope everything is going well at home. I'm glad to hear about Mark's mission call! He'll be a great missionary. 

I love you all and I love this Gospel. It's true. siga adelante!

Con Amor,

Elder Powley  

Week 35 - North Oklahoma City- March 4, 2013

Mi querida familia,

It's been a great week here in Oklahoma. We had a "blizzard" last Monday. It's in quotation marks because everyone got really hyped up for this huge blizzard with 12 inches of snow but it turned out to be a weak snow storm in the evening with not even an inch of snow. The rest of the week has been cold and sunny and we've had some good experiences. 

First off, we had the Trainer's meeting this past Monday and it was really inspiring. President Taylor gave a great training on what we're expected to do, and then the APs did something quite out of the ordinary. They called the mother's of all the new missionaries coming in this week (our future sons and daughters in the mission) and asked them questions about what they expected of their son's our daughter's trainer. They then recorded all of their responses and put it on a slideshow with inspirational music in the background. It was very touching to say the least. We suddenly felt the weight of what it means to be a trainer. We are the first companions to these new missionaries in the field and we have a responsibility to help establish good habits early. We have to help them get adjusted to the mission culture.  

As I listened to the responses these parent's gave I was touched by how much these parents really love their children. I was reminded of how much my own parents love me and needless to say I started to cry a little bit at the end. I think if we take into to account that we are serving people who have a loving mother and father back at home, it makes you think more deeply about how you should treat them. 

Quick sidenote, I remember back during Temple Conferance, I took a specific question to the Temple: What do I need to do to prepare to be a trainer? At the end of the temple visit as I was sitting in the Celestial room, one word came to mind.....patience. Heavenly Father is very patient with us in our own lives and eternal progression, my own parents were patient with me (especially during those drama-filled teenage years), my trainer was patient with me....likewise I need to be patient with this new missionary. I also need to be careful to not stifle his spiritual impressions. If he has an impression, I need to support it full heartedly. 

I could go on and on about the lessons I learned this last Wednesday, but I'll have to save it for another day. I'll look forward to realting more things I learn during this next transfer. I am 100%  positive that eve thought I'm training, I know the Lord wants me to learn something during this next 6 weeks. I'm so excited!

This week we've also had some great lessons with the families we are teaching. We taught Luiz again (the one that doesn't believe in Eternal Life) and we simply read out of the scriptures. He honeslty had no comeback. There was a moment in the lesson where we showed him scriptures that testified of eternal life and Luiz simply asked "So how do I gain eternal life?" I was reminded of the Jews on the day of Pentecost when they asked Peter "What shall we do?" the lesson went well. We made the mistake of using an analogy during the lesson with him. Little word of advice to those that like using analogies in lessons. DON'T use them unless people really don't understand the principle. Use the scriptures. Nothing can dispute the scriptures, they are the ultimate authority on the the Doctrine. Anyways, I used some analogy with Luiz and he twisted the analogy to fit his way of thinking. 

It is better to just teach the Doctrine! It might be boring, but it's the safest way to go. Analogies are last resorts, and they honestly don't convince anyone of anything and often times distract from the Spirit. 

Another cool learning experience: I went on a brief exchange with one of the Zone Leaders and we talked with two people. the first was a lady who was very bitter towards God and religion. She used to be religious but had ceased to believe because of the many problems she had in her life. We had a great conversation where we testified and were kind to her...we definately made her think twice. But I'll always remember her countenance...sad, angry and no hope. She treated her daughter as she would a high school aquaintance. It was sad for me.

We then talked to another lady who was of another faith. The difference was incredible. She had faith in Christ, believed in God, went to Church and had a happy family. She had the light of Christ, it was obvious. Nothing much happened out of the exchange, but the contrast between someone who believes in Christ and one who doesn't was very apparent. 
Faith in Christ is they key. and when I say faith I include the rest of the points of the gospel as well (repentance, baptism, HG and endure to the end...you cna't have one without the other).

We had a great week and these are a few of my experiences and insights. 

I love you all! I'll be sure to send pictures next week of transfers and mi hijo amado. 

siga adelante con esperanza en Jesucristo. El evangilio es verdadero. 

Con Amor,
Elder Powley 

Week 34 - North Oklahoma City - February 25, 2013

Mi Querida Familia,

It's been a great week up here in the North.
This week, we've been finding lots of people to teach. We've had a lot of first lessons and we've found a few families that seem to be showing interest. I've really seen an improvement in my teaching abilities both in English and Spanish. It's incredible how when you apply the skills taught in Preach My Gospel, the promise that you will become a more effective teacher of the Gospel comes to pass. 
For example, we came into a home where the enviroment was a little loud and crazy. We applied principles found in PMG and took control of the situation. We invited everyone to sit down quietly and listen to the message. Once everyone had calmed down, we estalbished our expectations and started the lesson. In the past 9 months of my mission, I've really my confidence wax strong in the strength of the Lord. And I testify that with this family we were teaching , there was a profound difference during the lesson and after than when we started. The Spirit truly does testify to what we say. 

We also had a Zone Conferance this past week a well. President Taylor was inspiring as usual. His main training was about Trust and specifically gaining trust with the members. He related a story of how he was young lawyer when he interviewed to be in charge of all the details of a major company going public on the stock market. He made an excellent point: as misionaries we are here to serve the members. The missionary work we do is not for us as missionaries but for the purpose of strengthening the area we are working in. we in essence are being hired by the ward and branch. President Taylor told us a story about how when he was a bishop of a ward in Utah, he literally banished a few missionaries from wroking with their ward because they were so disobedient. 

Just being a missionary does not gain the trust of the members. You have to demosntrate it through your conduct and obedience. I realize I could do a little better at communicating with the people in the Branch. 

He also said there was a difference between trust and love. Just because you love someone does not always mean you trust them. God loves all his children but he does not entrust just anyone with his priesthood authority...you have to be worthy. 

These are a few insights I had.

Now for the big news of the week....I'm going to be a Dad! Let me explain this a little bit before you all freak out. In our mission we have a tradition that when you train a new missionary you become their "dad" so to speak and they become your son. For example Elder Black was my dad in the mission.

So in other words... I'm going to be a trainer this next transfer!!!! Wahoooo! I am so excited. I've been anticipating this moment for a while because I felt an impression that I would train in the coming months since Temple Conferance back in December. I know I'm not ready but I've gained a testimony throughout my entire life that the Lord will qualify everyone in the assignments they've been given as long as they are humble and desire to do the Lord's work. 

I can't wait to train. Most likely i'll stay in this area but who knows? 

The only sad part is that Elder Mendoza won't be my companion. i've been with this guy for two months and I'll admit i've become a little attached. He's been an awesome companion. He's helped me relax, have fun and at the same time take the work seriously. I'll miss him. 

Well that's about it for this week. Pray for our investigators and to soften the hearts of the members so that they can come out with us to work. 

Life is great! I can't wait to hear about Mark's mission call! Let me know where he goes.

I love you all and the gospel is definately true. No doubts. 

Quick story I forgot to mention. We had this fun lesson with an investigator where he absolutely refuses to be baptized (but he knows the book of Mormon is true..he's read nearly half of it). He doesn't quite understnad authority yet, but we issued him a challenge. He mentioned that he thinks every church should accept the Book of Mormon. So we invited him to give a copy to his pastor to read. He accepted. I look forward to see where this leads. 

Anyways, have a great week! We're having a blizzard right now so I might get some extra time to write letters to you all. 

Que dios les bendiga!

Con Amor,

Elder Powley