Week 55 - Clinton, Oklahoma - July 22, 2013

Mi querida familia, The biggest news for this week would have to be that Armando passed his interview and will be getting baptized this coming Saturday! We are so excited! Estamos muy animados para el! We had a cool experience with him this week. As we were heading to an appointment, Cindy (Armando's mom) texted us and said that ARmando was super angry---cussing and throwing stuff. Normally, I think I would have texted back and asked if it would be better to come a different time. But, Cindy insisted that it was still ok. so we came by. Armando wasn't there so we started teaching Cindy and her daughter Angie. All was going well until Armando walked in. You could tell he was angry. I tried shaking his hand, but he kind of looked at it and shook his head and walked into the other room. After a while you could tell he was upset about something. He came back in and we asked if we could share a scripture with him. He sat down and we shared D+C 121 where it says "My son, peace be unto thy soul for thine afflictions shall be but a small moment." The spirit just flooded the room and you could tell the spirit was calming him down. We expressed our love for him and we talked about some of his concerns...including getting angry. We taught how it's our choice to be angry. I shared an experience with a time I was super angry (high school drama where the girl I liked started dating another guy). I couldn't get rid of those feelings of anger and jealousy on my own.... I needed the Lord. After the lesson, I gave him a big hug and we left and the spirit was felt very strongly. 30 minutes later, I get a text from Cindy saying how Armando gave her a hug after we left and said he was sorry. The Spirit can soften people's hearts. Dad thanks for what you wrote about faith being like a domino effect. When you believe in someone else, the believe in themselves. When you show your faith, others will start to show theirs. I think of Christ and how he had the upmost faith in everything he was doing and how billions are drawn to him because of his example. He paid the Atonement...the ultimate act of faith and love for all of us even though we are unworthy at times. Because he believes in all of us, we can believe in ourselves. His love motivates us to change and exercise faith. In other news, our investigator Jesus is slowly progressing as well. He came to our Bible Study on Thursday and after the lesson we had a church tour. after the tour, he opened up to us a host of concerns that we didn't know about. His main concern is how he wants to know exacltly what he's getting into before he gets baptized. He worries about committing to something and then finding out down the road there's more stuff he has to do. We explained that this church is an active church and how he will be expected to keep staying active. He accpeted it and he loves how honest and sincere we are. Honesty and openness dispels all doubt and confusion. What else? I had personal interview with President Walkenhorst on Friday. He said a lot of interesting things one of which was how you can't change other people, but you can change yourself. He applied this to member missionary work. I realized that if I wanted to see more member activity, I need to stop waiting for them to do something, but rather take initiative myself and start exercising my faith in them. Then I believe progress will follow. I am learning a lot out here about myself. This week I am going to try and focus my testimony on Jesus Christ rather than how Joseph Smith restored the true church. I think Jospeh Smith even said something about how the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the center point of our religion, everything else is simply an appendage to it. Jesucristo es el salvador del mundo. Su Expiacion nos anima a cambiar y arrepintirnos. Nuestro salvacion es tan importante, y eso es porque Jesucristo establicio una iglesia por conducto de un profeta. Le invito a encontrar por su mismo si esta mensaje no aumenta a su paz y entendimiento en su vida. Que pasa un buen semana! Tendre fotos del bautlzmo la proxima vez que les escribo. Siga adelante! Con Amor, Elder Powley

Week 54 - Clinton, Oklahoma - July 15, 2013

Mi querida familia, Another fantastic week here in Clinton. There were a few days during the week that were really slow and full of rejection, but they all seem overshadowed now because of the miracles we saw yesterday. First off, Cindy and Armando are still doing well. They all came to church and Armando seemed to be bonding well with the young men. Cindy also had a great experience reading the Book of Mormon in 1 Nephi chapter 8 about the tree of life. She read it, understood it and found her own personal insights from it. The spirit is really working with her. Yesterday she gave Elder Hirschi and I thank you cards. We came to her door at the perfect time in her life to accept the Gospel and she is so grateful. The Lord really is mindful of all of our needs. Then after church it started to rain really hard. So we stayed in our apartments for a bit studying Spanish and waiting to see if it would clear up. It didn't. After I fixed my flat tire (I had got one the day before) we headed out into the rain. We had called all our appointments: one of them cancelled, another didn't answer and the third confirmed that they would be there. And real quick, before we headed out, we said a prayer, and I remember finishing the prayer and then feeling prompted to pray again and this time ask specifically for a miracle in finding someone to teach. And then we met Jesus (not the real Jesus but a new Hispanic investigator) We introduced ourselves to Jesus and he invited us in. We shared the first lesson with him and his wife. He was intrigued! He loved how simply and clearly we taught and he said that the way we taught was better than any preacher he had ever heard, just because it was simple ad straightforward and the spirit was there really strong as well. So at the end, we invited him to baptism...he accepted. Then we challenged him to a date (keep in mind this is the first lesson) and he accepted again! It was incredible, he was very well prepared. He expressed some concerns about tithing and going to church being commandments because he doesn't like to be forced into doing things; we explained that commandments are there to bless us and he seemed to get it. Then we invited his wife to read the Book of Mormon and she started expressing doubts about God. She had had two miscarriages in the past and was wondering why God let bad things happened to good people and how could he allow irresponsible people to have kids. So we turned to Ether 12:6 and explained that god gives us trials to try our faith. She didn't answer or respond, but you could tell the spirit was working within her. It's incredible how every time you apply the principles in Preach My Gospel how miracles happen! Pray for miracles! When you finish a prayer and feel like its incomplete, don't feel embarrassed in opening up another prayer and starting over. Also, Jesus was a back-up plan that we made the evening before. Planning ahead of time is just as inspired as spontaneous decisions. I'm learning so much. I'm still weak and I know there's more to my potential. But I can see growth, and according to Alma 32 that is all I need. When the seed starts to sprout, this is evidence that your faith is true and then after patience and diligence you will see the fruits of your faith. I only pray that miracles will continue happening. I really like what Brother Eakins said about the mission being more like a sprint. The way we can see a mission more like a sprint is to expect miracles right of the bat. That was my mistake at the start of my mission, I don't think I actively searched for miracles as much as I should have. But now I'm learning and I'm so much more happy. Another miracle happened on Saturday. After I got a flat tire on my bike (this happens very often unfortunately) we went over to a member's house to pump up the tire. As we were in the driveway, a man drives up and asks us for a pamphlet. We gladly give him a book of Mormon and a restoration pamphlet. He said he likes learning from the scriptures. he asked us if we owed him anything. We said no but rather we would like to come and visit him. He like that and gave us his address. I don't know if he'll progress, but at least we have a new area to go explore and find. Oh life is great! The only thing we can improve on is inviting more members to come out with us. Keep on expecting miracles even if you aren't on a mission. Then take the moment to recognize and count your blessings (another word for miracles). You'll find a boost in your morale and much lighter. I love you all and hope you have a great week. Con mucho Amor, Elder Powley

Week 53 - Clinton, Oklahoma - July 8, 2013

Mi querida familia, Que semana loca! I don't know where to start. First off, Clinton is crazy. They didn't even have a firework show on the 4th of July, they waited until the 6th of July (they just do things differently in western Oklahoma I guess:) We didn't go to a firework show, but since Oklahoma is so flat you can stand anywhere and see a firework show, even if it's at your apartments. I'll start with updating on Cindy and Armando's progress. It turns out that Cindy could not set a baptismal date. We invited her and she accepted, but then she told us that she was not legally married to the guy she's living with for 14 years. We explained that she would have to be married or separated in order to be baptized. She then said that she couldn't be baptized. I couldn't explain the extent of her concern, but I will say that the adversary is very tricky. Just when you get so excited for someone to get baptized, we find another hang-up. But we are still hopeful. Cindy knows this Gospel is true, and she and her daughter Angie came to church again yesterday. They love it! Cindy actually knows one of the members from her work and they are good friends! Now let me talk about Angie. She is one of the biggest miracles this week. The first time we met her, she totally avoided sitting in on the lessons. In fact, she tried to argue with us about gay marriage and such. We never would have guessed in a million years that she was ready for the gospel. When she came to church this last sunday, her demeanor completely changed. We set a date with her for the same day as her brother Armando!!! And she is progressing. When you listen to her life story, you realize how the Lord has slowly been preparing her for this moment in her life to hear the Gospel. It's been nothing short of miraculous to the Spirit actually working in people's lives and to see people receiving answers to their prayers! We will need to be patient with Cindy. There are issues beyond our control, the Spirit has to teach her what to do and we just need to teach the doctrine clearly and simply so that she can understand the Lords will. The spirit then will do the rest. We don't have to convince anyone that our message is true. In fact I've found the more you try to push someone to see the truth, the more they turn away, even if you are teaching correct doctrine. You have to simply present the truth clearly, and then people have to choose to follow it or not. Just yesterday we had a cool lesson with a man named Roy. He keeps saying that he's set in his ways and won't convert to our church. Instead of trying to take the "our church is the only one with authority" route we decided to teach the Doctrine of Christ. We asked him what he thought it meant to be saved. He told us. We then turned to 2 Nephi 31 and showed him what Jesus Christ said about being saved. It takes more than faith in Christ. As we expounded on the scriptures and clarified things like "why we need to be baptized, why Christ needed baptism, how enduring to the end was essential, why the sacrament was essential" then he started to understand. At the end of the lesson we asked what he learned, and he only uttered one word.... "baptism." you could tell that the Spirit was his real teacher. All we did as missionaries was explain the scriptures. Life is great! I'm learning so much. We often have discouragement. And then we get discouraged because we don't want to feel discouraged because it might mean we are weak. But we have to just keep working. We had President Walkenhorst talk to us on Thursday. What an inspired man! As I listened to him speak and share experiences I had no doubt that he was the man called specifically for our mission. He actually didn't serve a mission at age 19, he waited a few more years simply because he didn't feel like the time was right. Now, he was still active in the church, had a testimony and wasn't sinning or anything like that. He just felt like it wasn't his time. His main theme was how we need to live worthily in order to have the confidence to summon down miracles from heaven. Obedience lets our confidence wax strong in the presence of the Lord, confidence turns into faith, the stronger your faith, the more you will act, the more you act the more miracles you can witness. I can go on and on, but this email is already pretty long. I ask for you to pray for Cindy. Pray that she will find the guidance in life that she needs so that she can have the faith to act. It's the hardest thing to seem someone with a testimony of the truth not progress simply because of one little hang up on obedience. I love you all. Elder Powley

Week 52 - Clinton, Oklahoma - July 1, 2013

Mi querida familia,
We've had a bitter sweet week up here in Clinton. A missionary that we all knew and loved went home early (ask Dad if you have questions, I don't want to go too much into it on this email) But at the start of the week, many members of our district were feeling very down. We know that the adversary was trying to discourage us. Elder Hirschi and I resolved not to let this event slow us down so we went out and worked. We talked with people. We prayed with them. We worked. I found that the more I worked and focused on the Lord's work,the more happier I felt even though we had this trial going on.
The natural instinct for us as human beings is to turn inward when we face adversity. But...we need to realize that the best remedy for adversity is just the opposite of what we think. We must turn outwards and worry about other people. We must turn outwards and rely on the Lord. That's what Christ taught us. The more charity we have the more we can overcome hard situations. I've felt the Lord strengthen our companionship this week...and likewise we've witnessed quite a miracle!
We are teaching a mother and a son right now: Cindy and Armando. We love them so much! This week we met with Armando and he opened up saying that he'd recieved an anwser about the Book of Mormon...HE KNOWS ITS TRUE! He knows that what we are teaching is true. We were able to set a baptismal date for July 27 and we are excited to see him progress.
LAter that week we had another lesson with Cindy and Armando...but this time we had Sister Hansen (the relief society president) come with us. Again we had a great lesson on the improtance of obedience and the word of Wisdom. It turns out that Armando and Cindy have hard time accepting the need to give up tea. Sister Hansen is a convert and she remembers having to give up sweet tea so her testimony really helped break the barrier. We then challenged Armando to pray about whether or not he needed to give up tea.
Now thorughout this experience, we were more focused on Armando. We knew that Cindy was taking a little longer, for the whole week she seemed hesitant on whether or not she knew this church was true.
But then yesterday...she came to church for the second week in a row! She stayed for all three hours this time. I was talking with her and she starting telling me about how she had been praying for the past two nights straight...sincerely asking if what we were teaching was true. SHE RECIEVED AN ANSWER!!! She expalained because of prayer she felt like she needed to come to church. She is even willing to give up tea!
I was speechless!!! I'd rarely seen people receive such sure answers to their prayers while on my mission (except for myself). It is such a great feeling to have when you see the Spirit working with those that we love and care about. I guess that's how parents feel when they see their children gain testimonies for themselves.
And on top of that, Cindy even brought her daughter to church as well (who is about 17 or so). The daughter actually knows one of the members. She also stayed for the full three hours.  I'd met the daughter during the week and she was very closed minded to what we were teaching, but now i think she might be more open.
The Spirit is working with the people of Western Oklahoma! I am so excited to see this family progress.
Another quick miracle: We are teaching a hispanic family, and this week we met with the mom. Even though her husband and son were gone we felt like we should share a message about faith. We did so and it went really well. Turns out this lady has an aunt in Mexico who converted to the Church. She was talking with her aunt and her aunt encouraged her to keep listening to us!!! Woah!
The spirit of a God like a fire is burning!!! Now we just need to be diligent to keep it burning. We need to work with the members more and get them involved. The thing with Cindy and Armando is that they have great member support right now. Armando went to Young Men's. cindy has Sister Hansen, and because of these members they feel comfortable at church and are progressing.
Everyone is needed for the missionary work to move forward!
I love you all. I'm sorry I don't get to write each of you inddvidually more often. Life is busy, busy, busy.
Que dios les bendiga!! Hasta la proxima semana.