Week 43 - Clinton, Oklahoma - April 29, 2013 (Birthday & Pics)

Mi querida familia,
Great week full of many bitter and sweet experiences. We taught a lesson to a solid family from the Marshall Islands. The dad is solid and took the lessons well. The teenage sons that we met, Danrick and Eric, are super solid teens as well. They are future missionaries for sure. The only hold up is the mom. She doesn't speak a ton of English, and we have the slight feeling that she is skeptical of the church. Which is strange because she has an uncle who is a member and branch president somewhere. We have a lesson with them tonight and we're giong to try inviting them to a specific baptismal date. 
We also a cool Follow the Spirit experience. It was late at night and we were nearing the end of the normal proselyting day. All our plans fell through, when I felt prompted to go try this one house that we'd passed by several times. So we biked over, and we see a man with his wife and kids parked in the front of the house. The man's head is down on his steering wheel and he looks at us, and then he looks down. At first, I thought he was maybe trying to avoid us. I looked to Elder Beus and we both agreed that we should go talk with this man. So we apprached him, and found out that he was having a really rough time, on the point of actually going back to jail. We were able to pray with him and share some words of encouragement and get some contact information. He had been prepared to receive the missionaries. He actually mentioned that he had been praying, and when he looked up, he saw us as missionaries walking towards him. It was an uplifting miracle that just shows how the Lord puts us in the right place at the right time, but we have to be willing to follow those small impressions that come to our mind.
Saturday....probably had one of the most trying experiences of my mission. I was on exchanges with Elder Jenkins in Elk City, a city 30 minute west of Clinton, and I felt prompted to try this one house. We start talking with this lady, and what started out pleasent deteriorated into an attack on Joseph Smith and the Church. Soon she started attacking us as missionaries. "You will one day have to stand accountable for leading people astray." Then I'd bear my testimony and she'd flat out respond with "You're wrong." I felt terrible. Everytime she opened her mouth, I just felt terrible. We quietly left the door and I felt soo angry and bitter. How could she be so closed hearted? She was more willing to trust and anti-mormon DVD than actually read the Book of Mormon! I could feel Satan attacking me with doubt anger. So my companion and I did the only thing you can do in situations like that...pray. We offered a prayer asking for comfort, and there are few experiences where I've really strongly felt the Lord's love and this was one of them. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, I know Joseph Smith was a prophet, and I know I am one of the Lord's representatives here on the earth today. We're supposed to be rejected. I felt my testimony grow 10 fold that day. I am so grateful for my testimony of the Book of Mormon. A testimony of this book is what can serve as an anchor to all the attacks made on this church based on Joseph Smith, polygamy, or other stances made by the Church. We must keep reading this book daily to keep our testimonies strong, or we might find ourselves doubting and giving in to the subtle temptations of the Adversary.
The sting of the experience on the doorstep with that lady has been aliviated; I especially relieved as I partook of the Sacrament renewing my covenants. Renewing convenatns worthily also helps rekindle testimony.
And even better, I now feel a lot more comfortable talking with everyone I see. Every time you contact someone through OYM, you feel more confident the next time. It's a continual cycle, and I can see an increase in my capacity to love every time I engage in a conversation with a complete stranger. It's such a great feeling! I'm so glad to be a missionary or else I would never have this experience to increase my capacity to love.
I had a great birthday yesterday! It's so wierd to be 20 years old. this mission has really helped me grow up and understand more my purpose here in life. Looking back to myself before the mission, one of the biggest changes I've seen is in my capacity to love. You really start to learn how to love people here on the mission, even those you don't know on a friendship basis, and even to those that curse you.
I love my mission. My year mark is motivating me to step it up a bit more, be more bold, talk to more people, be more creative. I only have one more year to introduce myself as a representative of Jesus Christ and speak with power and authority from on high.
Have a great week! Todavia puedo hablar espanol!!
Con Amor,
Elder Powley

Week 42 - Clinton, Oklahoma - April 22, 2013 (Pics!)

Mi querida familia,
Que bendicion que estoy serviendo en Clinton! La ciudad es muy pequeno, pero tamiben es muy hermosa! Clinton me recuerda de Vernal, Utah mucho. Muchas personas son bien humildes, no hay muchos edificios grandes, y todavia hay personas quien hablan espanol. Entonces, no voy a perdir mi abilidad para hablar espanol! Tengo muchas gracias por eso. De hecho, he dado cuento que es un don de mas valor aqui, proque soy el unico elder que habla espanol sufficiente. 
I love this new area! It's a such a contrast to go from a Spanish Branch to an English ward.
So let me tell you about this past week... its been an incredible week and so much has happened.
I'll start off with one or two quick experiences I had the last few days I had with Elder Pierce. We had some great appointments! One was with Celia. We shared a message about the "Famliy: A Proclamation to the World". Oh she is so solid! But her husband is super anti religion. It's frustrating, but this lesson with Celia was a breath of fresh air because her husband wasn't there. We shared a message with her and she was very grateful because the day had been especiallly stressful and it felt good to have a lesson with us. The Spirit truly helped give her peace of mind for a moment.
Then that evening, all our plans fell through. We still had 20 minutes left...and I had a sudden impression to visit a certain house. For my entire 4 and half transfers, I've passed by this house on my bike but people have never been home, or we've been in a hurry to another appointment, or some other excuse came up. But EVERY time I passed this house, I'd felt prompted to visit it.
So this evening Elder Pierce and I went by to visit. We met the mother named Monica, and all her kids were home. She invited us in to say a prayer. We found out that her husband was in Honduras trying to figure out the legal papers and other stuff, but there was a possibiblity that he wouldn't be able to reutrn until next year. Needless to say she was stressed out with being a single mom.
She was humbled, and prepared. We had an excellent prayer where the spirit truly was in abundance, and we set a return appointment to teach the Restoration. Monica also mentioned, if it had been any other time in the past few months, she probably wouldn't have let us in.
The Lord is truly guiding this work.
Wednesday: I met my new companions Elder Beus and Elder Masters! Elder Beus and I are co-training Elder Masters who is currently waiting for a visa so he can go to Argentina where he was originally called. Don't let that decieve you, Elder Masters is a full-time missionary serving in OKC as of now, and he has definately showed that he is willing to work here. He's a great a missionary, super humble and willing to learn. Fun coincidence: turns out he was in the same district as Hermana Hall, one of my best friends from highschool and college.
First day in Clinton: Elder Beus informs us that on Saturday we have a baptism! So I guess I got to walk right into a bapitsm in this area. It's been a long time since I've been involved in a bapismal service. Her name is Rose and she is about as solid as can be! She loves the gospel! She knows that baptism isn't the end and that she'll have to keep on reading the scriptures and going to church. I can't adequately describe the spirit that was there as we taught her these past few days.
Saturday: Elder Neil L. Anderson of the 12 apostles came and spoke to  our mission!!!! It was so cool! He mentioned some very insightful things including missionary work in the United States. He metnioned how the shurch could not stand in foreign lands if the church was not first super strong here in the US. This land is a choice land and very central to what the church is doing.
He spoke about miracles, and how EVERY missionary isentitled to witness miracles on their mission. This really impacted me because before I had always thought, that I didn't need to see any miracles because I figured: I don't need to see miracles to know this church is true. I now know how very wrong I was. I am entitled to witness miracles. I need to actively seek them. That applies for everyone.
More than anything I was impressed by the presence of Elder Anderson. He was so funny, kind and serious! It wasn't shocking, or trembling to be in the same room as him. I didn't feel this wave or anything incredibly different about him being in the same room. I simply felt comfortable. I wanted to be around him more and more as I got to know him. I felt like the people in the Americas when Christ said he had to go visit other people.. a little sad, because it was just so pleasant to be with him.
He was also very relaxed, even though he was pressed for time. I can tell you right now, that I know he is an Apostle, mainly because when we were in his presence, I felt like I was in the presnece of the Savior.
Later that day, we had the baptism for Rose. Again...very simple.
Great week! I want to write more, but there is no time! Clinton is very flat and beautifual and I'm excited to be here for the next 6 weeks..perhaps longer.
Que Dios le bendiga!
Con Amor,
Elder Powley


Week 41 - North Oklahoma City - April 15, 2013

Mi Querida familia,

Tengo translado...Nooooooooo! Once again I've grown too attached to this area. I've been here for the past 4 and half transfers and I can't even begin to describe the change I've seen this area go through. Lets just say when I came in, the area had a record of nearly 0 investigators at church for two transfers. That record continued until January, and then just yesterday we had three investigators come to church...and one of them (Jose) is super solid. 

It was probably one of the best Sundays of my mission. The branch was very impressed as well, they all seemed to be a lot more happier and willing to participate in the classes. Hopefully, yesterday helped provide an increase in testimony for the members. Elder Pierce and I analyzed what we did different this week that really helped investigators come to church, and the answer we came up with was that we were relentlessly following up with people. Following is so key when you are in a leadership position. People are imperfect, and area always getting distracted. Good leaders need to gently remind and recommit people to invitations. Elder Pierce and I were joking around a little about this would apply to after the mission and we joked about how we'll have to follow up every other day with our future fiances after we commit to marriage. Probably not, but I think we should always be renewing our commitments that we make every so often. Kind of like how we need to take the Sacrament every, it's kind of like the Lord following with the commitments we made at baptism. 

This past week has been incredible. We committed Jose to baptism. He'd been holding out on us for the past few weeks, but we finally explained to him the purpose of the Sacrament and how after we are baptized we continue to grow and repent, he seemed a little more relaxed and committed to the 18 of May. We'll se what happens, he might move to Housten. 

So this next transfer I am headed to Clinton, OK. It's a rural city about 40 minutes outside of OKC. It'll be an English speaking area. However, its a bit of a wierd situation. I'll be in a trio with an English companion (Elder Beuss I think is his name) and then we will both be training a new missionary in Spanish. This new missionary will be a temporary missionary because he is waiting on a visa to go to Argentina where he was originally called. I'm excited. Mostly, I'm excited for a change of scenery. I hope I get to see some lightening storms more in the rural areas, they've got to look a lot cooler. 

Ok, fun experience last night. We had about 30 minutes left in the day til we had to return to our apartments. We had planned to visit a potential investigator  and so we thought it wise to follow-through with our plans. We pulled up to this house only to see a few Hispanic people outside blasting loud mariachi music. At first, we felt a little scared or doubtful. I've learned that when these feelings enter your mind you need to just grit your teeth and do it. Because God did not give us the spirit of fear but of faith and power. So we boldly approached the house. A few hispanics, happily greeted us and we started a conversation. We met a guy named Cruz who was drinking bottled water. He was solid. The other men were all holding glass bottles of beer and were all a little tipsy.

They even offered us a beer. Especially this one man named Omar. He was very happy to see us, but he was very out of it and kept trying to give us a beer while we had to keep saying over and over "No tomamos!" It was fun. I don't think I've ever been offered a beer before my whole life, let alone have someone try to shove one in my hand. It felt good to stick to my standards and boldly tell them "No tomamos, es mal por su cuerpo. Uds, no deben tomar tambien." We'd tell them kindly that they shouldn't drink and they'd all chuckle in agreement. It was a fun experience. 

Throughout it all, even though it was a hostile venue, we were able to maintain our image as missionaries and I think that made an impression on them. Omar specifically told us to come back when he was less berracho. We got information for a few other potentials as well. Overall, it was a very fun experience. As long as you have the Spirit and have a strong sense of your purpose you don't have to fear. 

I think that's it for this week. I'm excited to train again this next transfer. Apparently there's a lot of Spanish speakers in Clinton as well, maybe we can get something started who knows?
This past week I've especially gained a very strong testimony that the Doctrine of Christ is what propels us to change our nature. As I've applied the DoC to myself, I've seen change take place. I also know that change does not happen very quickly. Just because it doesn't happen quickly doesn't mean that change isn't happening. You've got to stay strong and diligent. I used to not be able to speak or understand spanish very well, but after a year of practice, I've seen a change. 

The area I'm leaving was considered to be a slow area...now it's starting to pick up. All because of applied faith in Christ, repentance, baptism, holy ghost and endurance to the end, the Lord is able to work miracles. 

And if it works for a simple proselyting area, it'll work for every situation no matter how small, or silly it may seem. Counsel with the Lord in everything you do. Pray earnestly. Always seek for improvement. If we don't seek improvement, improvement won't happen. 

I love you all, and I hope everything is well at home. 

Con Amor,

Elder Powley

Week 40 - North Oklahoma City - April 8, 2013

Mi querida familia, 

Rain, rain ,rain! It literally rained for two straight days here in Oklahoma on Tuesday and Wednesday. This is a good thing for us because this means that many of the hispanic men who work roofing and construction can't work...and so we find them at home and get to talk with them! We had a cool, tiny miracle happen during the midst of the down pour. Wednesday morning, my companion and I were debating about riding bikes in the rain. At first, it wasn't raining that hard so we thought, well let's ride bikes and get some attention from the community:) Bad idea...well it was good in some ways, but we were soaked by the time we got bike to our apartments. 

Anyways as we were riding, we drove past an investigators house. We hadn't contacted her in a long time because we had a bit of a weird situation with her. But as we rode past their house,  I saw this lady out of the corner of my eye...it was our investigator. We drove passed her, but then I felt prompted to turn around and go talk with her. We did so and we have a great conversation. Turns out she had been waiting to talk with us for a long time to explain the situation from a few weeks back. The situation had improved and she was still open to our visits, and also that she had a new boyfriend that she wanted to present to us. 

One step at a time, some law chastity rebuking will come later, but we took this as a blessing. And then later that night we taught her boyfriend. It was a great lesson, he listened very intently and we have an appointment with them tonight. 

And we never would have talked to this lady if we hadn't been riding our bikes. 

We've also been receiving some referrals. We got a media referral (which means someone requested the missionaries through the internet or by some other means) that we followed up on. The actual referral wasn't their, but Preach My Gospel especially emphasis with media referrals that you need to knock doors in that area. Sometimes the Lord just leads us to areas that we would otherwise not visit. And this area is in our area, but super out of the way from our main proselyting neighborhoods. We knocked on a few doors, and we met a man named Jose. We get to talking with him and it turns out he has a daughter who is Mormon and serving a mission in Texas. We aren't sure how reliable his sources are, but if his daughter truly is a member serving a mission. this will be quite a miracle. 

General Conference. I don't know how the rest of you feel, but the topics surrounding this Conference seemed to be centered on "keeping the commandments" and "remembering that we are children of God." To me, the Spirit seemed to be saying "buckle down, stick to your guns, because there's going to be a wave of temptation coming in the future." 

My favorite talk was honestly President Monson's talk in the Sunday Morning session. Mainly because I love his humor and optimistic attitude...and because I realized something that is kidn of starting to impact me as a missionary. The principle I realized can be summed up as this: "It is only when we are keeping the commandments, that we are able to find truth. If we are breaking the commandments, we are shielded from the truth." Our investigators, need to learn obedience to the commandments. If they don't, then they literally can't receive a spiritual witness of the truthfulness of the Restoration. 
And it's the same as all of us...the minute we stop keeping the commandments, the Spirit retreats in some degree. This includes not keeping the commandments to pray and study the scriptures daily. If it becomes a habit, we lose our testimonies. 

I also really liked L. Whitney Clayton's talk about marriage. Don't laugh, but I found myself finding things I definitely want to apply in the future when I'm married. Apart from that, I found that some of the things he mentioned applied to a missionary companionship. 
For example, holding effective companionship study builds unity. I've especially seen that in the mission. As I've opened up about the things I learn from the scriptures with my companion, we both feel spiritually edified and learn new things. Unity is built. 

Also, it helps to just be open with your companion. No secrets! It applied this a few nights ago, when my companion said something that kind of bugged me. I didn't want to keep that feeling of "being bugged" inside of me, so as we closed our Daily Planning session, I kindly mentioned what he had said and how I felt slightly offended. Now for this to work, you have to not make a huge deal about it and really explain how you feel. I was amazed to see that my companion opened up as well and listened to me. Even though it was such a small detail, he took concern with it . Immediately, that tension that built up when he said something that bugged me was released. And now we are more unified.

So it's best to just tell people when you've been offended! Tell them kindly and in a loving manner and how you simply want to make them aware of how you felt. If done in a loving, humble manner, people will be humbled and problems can be resolved: most times they just don't know they said something wrong. 

Be open. Be honest. It builds unity. I have a testimony of that. And while we're on the subject, just as we should be open with our friends, we need to be open in our daily prayers with Heavenly Father. The more honest you are with him, the more he can help you. 

We have another great week ahead of us. I can't wait to give you an update. Next week is transfer calls and I hope I'll be here another transfer. 

Con Amor,

Elder Powley

Week 39 - North Oklahoma City - April 1, 2013

Mi querida familia,

We had kind of a slow week in terms of having set appointments with member presents, but the big this week is that we are starting to talk to a lot more people on the street. Since the the weather has imporved immensly in the past week, more people our outside creating perfect OYM opportunities. 

Easter Sunday was great! We didn't get an Easter egg hunt unfortunately (although I did find one of those old plastic eggs you sent for the 12 days of Christmas in December, I guess that counts). We had a companionship fast for a few of our investigators with some trials that really can't be overcome without some help from Heavenly Father. Remember the Lemus famliy we found a few weeks back? The father, Luis, was feeling really down this week because his wife and daughter left to Houston without him (because they wanted to put the daughter in school over there). It was sad because he'd only been with his family for about week, and he hadn't really seen them in long time before that. Basically, he opened up to us about he feels like an unworthy father and husband, he feels guilty of things he's done in the past and for that he doesn't think that he can be baptized. We listened and we both felt real sympathy for him. Especially Elder Pierce because he's had similar feelings of guilt before. I felt a little different. Honestly there was a point in the lesson where I realized that I truly don't understand where Luis is coming from. All I do know is where Luis can go for comfort, and that is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
So we invited Luis to church. That night as we were planning, we felt the impression to go by his house to make sure he was coming to church. Sure enough we went by, and he had been sleeping. So we rang the doorbell, greeted him with an enthusiastic "Feliz Dia de Pasqua" and he started getting ready for church:) An hour and a half later, we saw him at the chapel. 
I'm realizing that as missionaries, we have to be the source of enthusiasm for the Gospel. We have to get excited about what we're doing! 
Hopefully, Luis will continue to progress, the members now know him a bit and we will hopefully start to see progress. 

Other fun experiences: An old lady ran out of gas in the middle of a one lane, two direction road right at a stoplight. Promptly, Elder Pierce and I pulled over and offered our assistance. She resisted a little bit, but after calm assurance she let us push her car to a nearby parking lot. Ha ha we win! She was very grateful afterwards. We didn't get a chance to give her a card or anything, but it just felt good to do a good term daily. 

We talked with an investigator named Remijio a few days back. He's jsut moving into a new house. We were talking and he mentioned how he has plans to build a fence. I then tried something a little different. Usually, we say "Do you need any help?" or "Is there anything we can do to help?". These questions usually don't merit any responses. So I tried something a little different. I asked "Nos permitira a venir y ayudarle?" Will you permit us to come back and help you?" He kind of paused and smiled for a sec and then asked, "what day?" 

I was on exchanges with Elder Finnie this past weekend. We were riding our bikes past a house. We'd knocked it before and talked with the people. They were'nt to interested but said we could come back. So as were passing it I felt impressed to stop and try again. So I stopped Elder Finnie and said we needed to try this house. As we were locking our bikes us. A older man and a younger woman pass by. We exhange hellos and then I felt like initiatign a conversation. The best way to do that is extend your hand and introduce yourself. So we did so. WE talked a bit. The lady was very nice and asked us about what we believed. I went right into an expanation of the Book of Mormon. I always get so excited to talk about the Book of Mormon, because its something I really have testimony of. She seemed intrigued. She then explained that she was a recovering addict. I then testified that a sincere study of this book would help overcome any addiction. She seemed touched, so we gave her a copy of the Book. I left our number in the book. And we left our seperate ways. 
I guess it wasn't that huge of an encounter, but when you have these small experiences, you really start to notice the Holy Ghost in your life. If anything this mission is really helping me realize how the Holy Ghost communicates with me. It's so subtle...if you are too focussed on yourself, you can't really hear it.

I guess when it comes to helping people, you have to be willing to take initiative before it's asked for. It was a good lesson and I hope I can let it become more of my nature to see a need and fill a need. 

March just flew by. I can't believe how fast the months are going. With my year mark coming up, I've been reflecting a lot on my mission so far. This area I'm serving in has really improved since I first came in October. The branch trusts us more (as evidenced by our full dinner calendars) and we have more people to visit. 

Life's good! glad to hear everyone is doing good.
Love you all. Remember that it's because of what happened on Easter yesterday that its even possible for our family to be resurrected and live for eternity together. I am so grateful for Jesus Christ and what he's done for me and my family. I only hope I can find one family out here in Oklahoma, or future family to recieve the Restored Gospel.

Con Amor,

Elder Powley