Week 73 - Quail Creek, Oklahoma - November 18, 2013

Mi querida familia, D'Quan was baptised and confirmed this weekend! Wahoooo! It was such a great service. The ward support was incredible, one of the members baptized him (his name is Jace and he's actually from Vernal but working her in OKC) and another member and I did a musical number. It was very simple and calm. D'Quan gave a powerful testimony at the end of the service and we are pretty positive that he will serve a mission one day. It's been a great week! We didn't any new investigators but we had a quite a miracle in finding an inactive member of the church. My companion and I were out looking for names on the roster. We knocked on this one man's house, he answered thanked us for coming over but wasn't too interested in coming back to church. We left a little disheartened, but then we decided to knock on his neighbor's house. A man anwers the door and invites us right in...super friendly. And then he asks us "So what ward are you in?" Looking surprised we told him which ward we were in and then we asked if he was a member. He invited us to sit down and listen to his story. He was a convert since 1996 or so, baptized in Idaho. His work had moved him around a lot. He mentioned how whenever he moved, the missionaries would find him within a month so. But when he moved to Oklahoma, it had been perhaps 6 years since he'd been in contact with the church. We talked with him, nd he still has a pretty strong testimony. He knew that God had led us to his door, he always knew one day the missionaries would find him. In act he'd always look out his window and see missionaries riding their bikes and he'd always think to himself "Oh, they've almost found me!" It was a great visit. We didn't even have to invite him to church. As we visitied, the Spirit just worked with him and he told us that he knew that he wanted to come back to the Church. WE assured him that we would be there to help him out. He goes out of town for a few weeks, but when he gets back, we'll get to work on helping come back to the fold. After this encounter, Elder Kennedy and I were just astounded. We knocked on just one door, and it just happened to be one where someone was prepared to receive us. Moral of the story: DON'T ignore a door prompting! You just never know when it's going to yield a miracle. Later that week (we were really pumped to go tracting since this experience) we were knocking doors in a neighborhood. No one received us, but after we knocked this one door, we were placed in the path of this lady walking her dog. WE must have startled her as two young men in dark suits walking up to her. He offered to come by and share her a message... she didn't quite accept it. Then we offered to a say a short prayer with her. She aggreed and asked us to pray for her father who was in the hospital. WE prayed, and after we prayed it was like the Spirit had broken down the thick wal between us and we were able to talk about the Gospel with her more in depth. She consented to give us her number and we might be able to get an appointment with her this week. Miracles all over the place! This mission is so critical because it helps develpe the spiritual sensitivity that we all need in this world that is down-spiraling into temptations and doubts. Have a great week! I'm out of time! Hopefully I can send a picture real soon of the batpism. Con Amor, Elder Powley

Week 72 - Quail Creek, Oklahoma - 11 November 2013

Mi querida familia, I don't have too much time today, but I just want to say that I am very grateful for my mission. I've a had a few experiences today that I'd like share that have really boosted my testimony of the Gospel. First off, if you thought D'Quan was awesome last week for bearing his testimony in Sacrament Meeting...hold your breath for round two! We took him out teaching with us on Friday to go teach Lisa (the one lady we found last Sunday who lives two houses down). It was probably one of the most powerful Plan of Salvation lessons I've ever been in. It wasn't necessarily because the doctrine was so new or exciting, but it was because of the simplicity and sincerity of D'Quan's testimony. During that lessons, there were a few moments that I just want illustrate. 1. We open up to 2 Nephi 2 and read the verses that explain why Adam and Eve had to fall. As we read those verses, Lisa's eyes just lit up and she was astounded by the simplicity of the Doctrine. She kept repeating over and over "It just makes sense." 2. We invited Lisa to be baptized on Dec. 14. She declined based on that she didn't feel ready yet to make the commitment. And then D'Quan chimes in "that's exaclty what I said 2 months ago! And now I'm getting baptized this week!" 3. D'Quan testified of the improtance of coming to church. He said to Lisa "Now, there will come a time when you do commit to baptism and you'll all the sudden have a panic attack. You'll start wondering why you're doing this, if it's even right and if you're even up for it. When this happens...just go to church. The same thing happend to me, and when I went to church, all those doubts were just wiped clean." He went on to say that those feelings of doubt were from the adversary. Elder Kennedy and I were just stunned as we watched D'Quan bear simple testimony without ever having been taught how to teach. The Spirit converts even the most humble of men and causes them to speak as if with the tongue of angels. During this lesson I felt like what Alma the Younger must have felt like to see Amulek get up and testify to the city of Ammonihah about the Gospel after only been converted for a few months. I learned something that day. We are not in control of what's going on here. As missionaries we are part of something so big that we don't even comprehend the Lord's plan completely. The Gathering of Israel is so amazing and I am in awe as I witness the elect come unto Christ. The only thing we really do have control over is our will and obedience. I also learned that we must allow those we teach (whether it be our children, of investigators) to have their own spiritual experiences. When investigators have their own experiences they will become more converted. Great lesson! Other highlights, we got to go to Catholic Mass, This was my first time going. I won't go into to too much detail, you need to experience it for yourself:) But I loved singing in the chapel there. The congregation is singing almost nonstop. The Spirit was there in that room. I am learning so much, and I can see the Lord's hand. I wish I had more time to share what I've learned, but we've got to get going! Have a great week everyone! The Church is true! We must follow Christ in order to change our natures. Con Amor, Elder Powley

Week 70 - Quail Creek, Oklahoma - October 30, 2013

Mi querida familia, It makes me happy to see missionary work happening in our home ward. Congratulations to Sister Place! We also had a baptism this weekend for a man named Mike. I don't think I've mentioned him that much in past emails, allow me to relate the story: Mike had been dating a member of the ward the past few years. She had resolved not to marry anyone who didn't hold the priesthood. At first, Mike didn't really want to investigate the church, he had been baptized as a Baptist before and wasn't to interested in Joseph Smith being a prophet. Then one day, he had an awakening where he realized that he was fighting the promptings of the Holy Ghost. He decided to investigate and has been converted ever since. I came into the area on the latter end of his conversion. But it was amazing for me to see and hear his testimony. This last week we had a few lessons with him and his newly wed wife, and he was really nervous for his baptism. He requested a priesthood blessing and so Elder Kennedy and I ministered to him and the Spirit truly touched his heart. On Saturday, he was baptized, and his mom also came (though not a member). She was fully supportive and enjoyed the service. It was one of the most sincere services I've ever witnessed. He took a few minutes to bear his testimony at the end, and the spirit was so strong coming from this native Oklahoman. Simple language, without eloquence but with power. We ended the service with "How Great Thou Art" (a common hymn that most all other denominations cherish) and it was just great. We also had D'Quan come to church this week. He is progressing so well. During Gospel Principles, he participated and offered an insightful comment. He is starting to feel comfortable with the ward and the members are really reaching out to him. I've said it before and I'll say it again, it feels so good as a missionary to see the ward take one of our dear investigators under their wing. That way, the baptism belongs to the ward and the Lord, rather than just the missionaries. Those were the happy experiences this week. We had a few more interesting experiences. First of which, we visited the Stavinoha family this week. We had a great lesson where we read from the Book of Mormon. I had sort of an epiphany. A lot of times, I think as missionaries we fall into the trap of just assuming that people will read the Book of Mormon and recieve an answere to its truthfulness that we forget that the Book of Mormon is not always easy to understand the first time around. Bro. Stavinoha mentioned how he didn't know who was Nephi, who was talking or why Jerusalem had to be destroyed all from the first chapter. This things he didn't understand, restricted him from feeling the true spirit of the Book of Mormon. During our lesson, we explained the details, and as we discussed it with the family, you could see the Spirit working with them and they understood more. Another interesting experience we had on Saturday. We met with an inactive member. I was shocked and amazed by this experience. He invited us right in. He was so kind and loving, I honestly thought we were mistaken and was actually active. But as we talked, even though he was kind, it became evident that he had lost his testimony. This man had served a mission Australia. He loved his mission. But he had lost his testimony of the Book of Mormon, and even worse, he lost his testimony of Jesus Christ. He wants to be back in church. He has a desire at least. But right now he has all these doubts in his head. I just wonder how things like this can happen? I know the answer, but it still just amazes me how someone can lose a testimony if they aren't careful. I worry about myself. what if I become like that after the mission? So many less actives we meet treat us as young men who don't seem to know anything about life, and that if we had more knowledge we would see more clearly (at least that's the feel I get). Nonetheless, I have more than a testimony. I'm converted to this Gospel. The next morning at church I was assured and taught by the Holy Ghost. I realized that I need to stop measuring conversion by activity in the church. Sure, activity is important, but church activity is a manifestation of our faith in Christ, willingness to repent, how much we understand the sacred convenants we've made, and how much we listen to the promptings of the Spirit, and stay obedient. If there's one thing I've seen on my misison is that doubt is replaced by faith when we turn to the Lord. Doubt doesn't have to weigh us down if we don't want it to. We will experience doubt because we must know opposition. but these moments will help convert us if we turn to God in prayer and keep the commandments. I love my mission. It's like panning for Gold. I don't see the effects immediately, but little by little I get those flecks of golden spiritual moments, that have added up over the last 18 months or so. Have a happy Halloween everyone! Con Amor, Elder Powley

Week 71 - Quail Creek, Oklahoma - 4 November 2013

Mi querida familia, Happy Halloween! We didn't have much happen this year. Cars were grounded at 6:00 so we couldn't go out and work. But we had some appointments beforehand that were really good. The real miracles that happened this week happened these past few days. I'll start off with yesterday. D'Quan stood up and bore his testimony. Elder Kennedy and I were glowing with pride as we saw him stand up and stroll to the pulpit. He introduced himself as a new member, or almost new member and he announced his intenions to be baptised. He bore a powerful testimony of forgiveness and how he felt Heavenly Father's hand in saving him. He bore testimony of how he'd been led to the church and how his family thinks he's wasting his time, but nonetheless he knows its true. It's a miracle to see how comfortable he feels in the ward. Then Mike (who was baptized last week) got up and bore his testimony. There is nothing more pure than the testimony of a true convert. Our ward has two solid baptismal dates coming up in the next month. We're excited! I am starting to realize how personal conversion really is. When new converts are baptized, I don't think we often realize the spiritual preparation process that took place before. The Spirit prepares people in such a delicate way, it's almost impossible to describe. D'Quan met missionaries for the first time a year ago and then fell out of contact with them. He was found again by Elder Kennedy. And now we are teaching him. He also has had many spiritual experiences beforehand that have helped him learn what it feels like to be led by God. That's how he's been able to recognize the truth of our message. I was on exchanges this week with one of the APs and we felt inspired to knock on this one house. A wonderful lady jumps outside and we learn that her name is Lisa. She was very enthusiastic to learn about the Gospel. We prayed with her. She mentioned how she had moved from Dallas and how before she moved she worked at a gas station. Missionaries would stop at the gas station to get a treat or something every now and then and she would talk about the scriptures with them when they came. She was prepared and just yesterday we taught her the first lesson along with 2 other ladies living with her. They also live literally two houses down from D'Quan. Member support! Heavenly Father is directing the missionary work. There are people prepared. We just need to filter out the rejection and hope that yes God will eventually lead us to those who are ready. I read in D&C 3:3 this week that It is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of man. Frustration only comes when we don't see things go our way. We can choose to not be fustrated and hope that God's work will always triumph. WE can continue in good cheer and do whats asked by the Holy Ghost. We also had a great lesson with the Stavinoha fmaily where we watched the First Vision. Once again, they felt the spirit. Slowly but surely they are feeling the spirit of the message. Keep praying for them. The Spirit has to direct what we are doing. Looking back, absoltuely nothing has happened because of something I did on my own. Miracles happen because I humbled myself enough to follow the spirit. This church is true. Missionary work is less of trying to drag people to the church but rather shines as brilliant rays of Christ-like examples (constantly inviting) and then sitting back and watching as people flock to the truth. Have a great week everyone! Look for opportunites to share the gospel. They can and will occur acourding to the desires of our hearts. Con Amor, Elder Powley