Week 59 - Clinton, Oklahoma - August 19, 2013

Mi querida familia! Oh what a great week! We had a trainer's meeting and I am super excited to train again starting this Wednesday. I just learned my companion Elder Hirschi is going to Texas to open up an area. He's going to the Deep South part of the mission which means I won't see him again for a really time. Awe, I'm gonna miss him! He's been such a fun, uplifting missionary to serve with for the past few months. We'd gotten to the point where we are on the same wavelength on many different subjects. I'm s o grateful that all of my companions have been fun to serve with and I haven't had one that has really ticked me off or made my mission miserable. The biggest thing this week, is our success we've seen with member presents. We've had quite a few members come out with us and participate in lessons. And the spiritual impact has been more beneificial to members in my opinion moreso than the investigators. You can see their testimonies grow and strengthen when we have lessons with them. For example, just yesterday we had an older man in our ward come out to a few appointments with us. We visited a family which I guess you can describe as a "welfare case." They weren't too educated or mature, but they were humble and willing to accept our message. The member that came with us later mentioned after the lesson how he had received revelation while we were teaching this family. In the past he had trouble with helping people such as the ones we visited because of their situation, and then it dawned on him how much Heavenly Father loves them just as much as he loves us. He realized that as servants of the Lord we taught these people essential truths for them to gain exaltation. The member was humbled, and you could see the spirit working with him. And we've had similar experiences like this one all week! The Lord uses us missionaries as tools in perfecting the saints as well as preaching the Gospel. This is something that is very humbling to see. The Lord sometimes wants to build the faith of the church in one area before completely blessing them with baptisms and growth. I'm gaining such a new perspective on the mission. Miracles don't jsut happen with the lives of the investigators but with the members we serve with. Other miracles this week: I was with Elder Taunteang on an exchange (he's from Kiribati, an island close to Fiji) and we were out trying a few potencials. He had a thought to try one house that we were passsing by. I'd tried the house multiple times, so I didn't want to try it again. But I asked Elder Taunteang if he felt prompted to try the house. He said yes. So we knocked it and met a mother with 4 daughters. We had a prayer and set up a return appointment...woah!!! I'm not the only one recieving revelation! Both companions recieve revelation. It was a learning experience for me, because I realized that when I rely on my companion, I open up more possiblites for miracles. Think about it: you literally double the chance of having miracles if you follow revelation from other people you associate with. I'm having such a great time out here! I'm excited to stay another month and a half in Clinton. WE have so much work to do! I'm finding that as I talk to more people and share my testimony, my personal testimony of the Restoration grows stronger and stronger. If this church wasn't true I don't think my tesitmony would keep growing. It's like Alma 32, when you feel these swelling motions and see the seed beginning to grow, then you can know that the seed is a good seed. you must experience the Gospel in order to gain a testimony. Once you stop experiencing, testimonies start to dwindle. I love this gospel, and my mission. I only pray for more miracles! They are gifts from Heavenly Father if we do what he asks!!! Que Dios les bendiga! And to all my cousins, brothers and sisters, good luck with school! Rely on the Lord with all your studies! When you fail a test, pray to heavenly father for help to make-up for it and improve. You will see success! Serve your friends, express your appreciation to them that you are their friends. Tell your friends you love them! It will strengthen your relationships with them. and if saying I love you is too wierd, find other ways to show your love. Have a great week! Con Amor, Elder Powley

Week 58 - Clinton, Oklahoma - August 12, 2013

Mi querida familia, Que semana hermosa! We had a great time this week. It's been a little slow, but I've had to privilege of seeing quite a few miracles. The first miracle: The internet capabilities at the church aren't working. Usually, we do all of our emailing at the church but this past week we've had to use the library. So on wednesday, we were taking our "mormon.org" time for 30 minutes, and while we were finishing up, my companion and I sat down at a table in the library to run over our plans real quick. As we sat down, a young man from Guatamala came up. He said he recognized who we were because he had a friend who was a mormon as was serving a mission in Peru. He introduced himself, and said he wanted to take English classes. So we set up a time and today we are going to teach him English. I have no idea how to teach English, but I think we are mainly just going to practice doing a job interview with him. We'll see how this works. Hopefully he can turn into an investigator soon. He's very friendly is living here with his whole family. Then today, we came to library again to do email, and literally just an hour ago, we met a man who knew who the missionaries were from Texas. He lives in an apartment complex close to the Church and he said we could come by and visit him and his wife. That appointment is for to tomorrow. Who'd of thought? This library is turning into a great place. This week I also got to conduct a few baptismal interviews for a companionship up in Woodaward. What a neat experience to here the testimonies of 3 baptismal candidates. They were all ready, and two of them were baptized on saturday. They were a middle age couple that had been married for 44 years. Two of their kids were members of the church. As I interviewed them, I could see the Lord's hand in preparing them their entire lives for this moment. Both had grown up in different churches, but gradually their hearts softened to accpeting the Gospel, mainly with support from their family. They mentioned the last name of some of their kids was Despain and they were from Sandy, UT. If I remember right, I thought we some Despains in our ward, but I'm not sure. It's an interesting experience to interview people for baptism. The spirit is super strong, and it's basically a huge tesimony session. I'm so glad I got to meet them. Then I interviewed this young man from Haiti. What a treat! He was a little hard to understand, but his knowledge and understanding of the gospel was so incredible. He liked to use analogies a lot. One thing I found interesting was how he rarely looked me in the eye. I think I might have intimidated him, because when I'm talking to someone I look at them dead in the face. He must have noticed because he mentioned how in Haiti, his mom taught him to never look people in the eye because the eyes can decieve. He taught me how when you don't look at someone in the eye, it forces you to listen to what they are actually saying and listen with your heart. That's their culture. And it makes pretty good sense. He has a solid tesimony too. He literally prayed for God to send him a message about which church to join and then the missionaries showed up. Miracle!!! Things are great here in Western Oklahoma. I got a call from the APs a few days back and President wants me to train this next transfer!!! Wahoo!!! I love training! New missionaries have so much faith and desire to learn and it's always a rewarding experience. It also helps me stay motivated to be a little more diligent and a little more obedient then perhaps i was before. That's all for today. Our investigators are still progressing. Oh one more miracle...on wednesday we found a new investigator who committed to be baptized on the first lesson. We actually contacted her 1 month and half ago and have been trying to see here ever since. Just this last week we met and taught her. The lord's timing is never what we expect, we just have to willing to put ourselves out there, excercise faith, and then the Lord can use us to accomplish his work. I love you all! Keep up the Spirit out there at home. The gospel is true and the spirit really does teach the humble in heart to accept the message of the Restoration. Con Amor, Elder Powley

Week 57 - Clinton, Oklahoma - August 5, 2013

Mi querida familia, Another great week full of miracles. The biggest news for this week has to do with the Temple Conferance we had on Wednesday with President Walkenhorst. First off, the temple was amazing. It's always very insightful to remember the sacred convenants that we've made in the House of the Lord. I think each time I go, a different part always sticks out to me and I suddenly understand the impact it has on my life. That happened several times on Wednesday. President Walkenhorst issued a new vision for the month of August...you ready? brace yourselves...100 baptisms for the whole mission for the month of August!! This is a huge stretch for us, last month we had 28 and it's been hovering around that number for the whole year. And he's not just saying this number to set a goal...he truly believes that there are 100 people ready to be baptized this month. We are really excited! This is going to be a good month. It means we have to work twice as hard as last transfer. Obviously if we don't change anything, then we won't reach a higher goal. He focused a lot on receiving revelation. He talked about three ways revelation comes: 1) It comes very gradually with trial and error and work on our part, 2)all at once when we aren't looking for it, or 3) all at once when you specifically ask for it. He stressed that the first way was more common. Ok a few experiences for this week: Armando received the Preisthood, at first I thought it was a little rushed to give it to him so quickly...but now that I think of it, this is what he needs. The priesthood gives him that opportunity to participate in the duties of the priesthood and thus giving him more ways to increase his faith and testimony. We met a solid new investigator! WE met her a few weeks back and I may have mentioned her last week. But Carolina is awesome! We had a lesson with her and Brother Poteet this Wednesday and we just taught her about faith from the Book of Mormon. The spirit was very strong and she mentioned how when we came over she felt at peace and that her problems didn't seem that stressful anymore. Brother Poteet also connected with her because they both were active in Amway (a multi-level marketing company or something like that). They established a good friendship and after the lesson, you could start to see his excitement for missionary work grow as well. I'd always thought that missionary work was strictly between investigators and missionaries, but now I'm seeing that it effects all members of the church. We had a lesson with Cindy this week in which we invited some members who had just moved in. They were such a great source of testimony. The mom and daughter who came did a great job. And in this case I think they benefited most from the experience. You could see the spirit working with them:) A little sad news... our golden investigator Jesus from a couple weeks ago dropped us over a text message. Ever since we explained that becoming baptized involved a little bit of commitment, he started declining. It makes me sad and frustrated because he told us himself that our message made sense and we know he felt the spirit. I wanted to call or text him back and try and save him from dropping us, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he had used his agency to not accept the message...and there's nothing more you can do in those situations. We'll try back in a few weeks though. I can't imagine we found him for no reason at all. Also our recent convert Sister Lonebear from a few months back is going through some struggles as well. She hasn't been coming to church... and literally every single week, she's had someone in her family go to the hospital. Satan is working so hard on her and it's difficult to watch. We don't want to lose her to inactivity. It's crazy how much you start caring about these people you interact with. I can feel my capacity to love expanding and I've never been happier. I'm running out of time but have a great week. Pray for all the names I've mentioned here in the email. They are so close to finding the truth, they just need to follow the small whisperings of the Holy Ghost and endure to the end. Con Amor, Elder Powley

Week 56 - Clinton, Oklahoma - July 30, 2013

Mi querida familia, Armando got baptized! This is the biggest news of this week. We had a great service, tons of members came and supported. Armando's whole family and a few friends came. Funny story. One of his little sisters didn't quite grasp the whole reverent aspect of the service and apparently thought the baptismal font was a swimming pool. And she took my companion's suit coat swimming with her...hm. But the service was wonderful. I had the privilege of performing the ordinance and it was such a wonderful feeling to utter the baptismal prayer and exercise priesthood authority. Armando bore his testimony at the end. It took him a lot of courage to get up there and say "I think these things are true,, I think what this church teaches is true." It was simple but very sincere, and the spirit was very strong. His mom Cindy was very appreciative as well. She provided dinner for everyone afterwards and it was neat to see the ward really fellowship her and Armando. Now we pray that he will be able to endure to the end. The friends he has in Clinton aren't the best influence, but I trust things will work out. Also, Armando's father came to the baptism as well! We didn't get a chance to talk with him, but it was cool to see him there even though he'd been avoiding us during our past lessons. Hopefully we can start seeing some progress here. We met a really solid young couple this week: Caroline and Rudy. They are super nice and are very open to the gospel. Caroline felt the spirit super strongly when we told about Joseph Smith's experience in the Sacred Grove. She accepted the baptismal invitation when she receives an answer for herself. Rudy was a little more reluctant, but he agreed to read the Book of Mormon. I'm really excited for this family, they are in a great position to receive the Gospel. But they need member fellowshippers or they will start to lose interest really fast. Not that I lack faith, but it's just simply what happens. While on exchanges, I also had the chance to teach a full-out atheist lady. She was open to our message, but it was interesting to have to adapt our teaching style to teaching someone who doesn't quite believe in God. Her biggest argument was "Why would God allow evil people to live and inflict pain on righteous people?" This is where we pulled out the Book of Mormon and testified about agency and how God can't force us to make right decisions. This has really stuck with me. Because as much as agency applies to decisions between good and evil, it applies just as much to choices between Good Better and Best. We can make a lot of good decisions, but miss out on the blessings of making better decisions which maybe require a little more faith. The lesson was very interesting, the most powerful moments were where we taught about the Atonement and Jesus Christ and bore testimony about how God has answered our prayers. I am so grateful for my testimony that God exists and that Christ performed the Atonement. A testimony is a precious gift. You can lose it through careless time wasting, or you can perfect through making small diligent acts of faith every day. The Gospel is true! I love it so much. I'm finding myself in a routine sort of mode right now. There's a whole other level of missionary work that I want to attain right now, but I'm lacking in so many areas. This week we have a temple conference and I plan to ask Heavenly Father for revelation on small things I can do to improve. Have a great week! Con Amor, Elder Powley