Week 77 - Quail Creek, Oklahoma - Dec 23, 2013

Mi querida familia, Feliz Navidad a todos! Life is great! It was a little slower this week since Elder Kennedy got strep. But the Lord still provided for some wonderful teaching experiences. We had a "freezing rain" this past week. This is where it rains in the evening, and then freezes completely by morning. There was literally 2 inches of ice on our car! Yet it was cool to see all the trees and plants covered in ice. I was looking a tree last night just as the sun was going down and the sun the ice on the trees glistened in the sun, almost as if it had Christmas lights on it. It was a great sight. This truly is a beautiful world. Donna is doing well, she is getting baptized this next Saturday. Please include her in your prayers so that everything will go smoothly even though the baptism is smack dab in the middle of the holidays. We had a great Christmas Conferance on Saturday. One thing that stuck out to me was a training that Sister Walkenhorst gave us. She gave a talk about Christmas and the best gift that our Heavenly Father can recieve. She told a story about the father of a small family who received a gift from his son. The gift was a small scout journal. Every page had the letters GT on it, and most had an x through the letters. The father's son wrote a note explaining that every time he did a Good Term, he marked it off in his journal. The father then exclaimed "This is the best gift I've ever received." It got me thinking. The best gift a parent can receive is an assurance that their child is doing good. The Lord commands us to love our neighbors and so when we do good terms daily, he is happy. When we share the Gospel, he is pleased with our efforts. When a soul makes a special covenant with him through baptism, he is so joyful (D&C 18). I get a taste of that when I hear that investigators I've taught in the past are still doing good. I was talking with the Elders who are serving in Clinton at this time and I heard news about Cindy, who was a past investigator. She had still been attending church. Her work hours changed and she is determined to get a new job so that she can still attend church and eventually be baptized. It's little things like that that make the mission worth...seeing those you care about staying on the straight and narrow. So the best gift we can ultimately give to our Savior is to keep his commandments. When we do so, we are blessed and the Lord is happy. Cool teaching experience: WE were teaching a man named Deandre. During the lesson we talked about convenants and while we were teaching, he just opened up about how he was feeling about the Gospel. He is reading and praying and he believes Joseph Smith was a prophet, but he has problems with thinking the man who baptized him in the past didn't have authority. He loves the church but he is waiting for an answer. In the lesson I asked him "If I gave you a way to recieve an answer, would you do it?" "He looked at me said, jokingly, "if it's to be baptized then no." I laughed and so "No. Come to Church with us." and he paused and said that he would come to church! Miracle! I think that was the first time we got a solid commitment to come to church from him ever. The Spirit can change people's hearts. I am constantly praying for it to change mine, so I can continually become more like Christ. I love this Gospel and I am so grateful for the Restoration. Next to the life and Atonement of Jesus Christ, the Restoration of the Gospel is one of the greatest gifts to the world from our Heavenly Father. He's called prophets in our days! He's revealed so many great and marvelous things and they are available to all who dilligently seek and humble themselves. Our Eternal Family is such a gift! We must share with others! I love you all and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. I will call home at 1pm Oklahoma time. Can't wait to talk to y'all! Con Amor, Elder Powley

Week 76 - Quail Creek, Oklahoma - Dec 16, 2013

Mi querida familia, I have so many insights to talk about this week and I wish I had time to explain all of them. We've had some great experiences and miracles this past week. We hadn't seen D'Quan for the past two weeks and this Sunday he came to church! (Sigh of Relief!) He's doing well and he has a story to tell us tonight during our lesson. Can't wait, he always has the most interesting stories. Transfer calls were yesterday, I am staying here a third transfer with Elder Kennedy (which is going to be his last). I'm excited, Elder Kennedy is one of those missionaries that is not going to let up and I can't wait the see all the miracles the Lord has in store for us. This could possibly be my last area the more I think about it. We had an awesome finding experience last wednesday! It was 8:45 (the best finding miracles always happen at 8:45 I don't know why). We stopped by a less-active house and then we felt prompted to try a few doors. We came up to this one house with a sign that said "Beware of Dog1 He eats whoever I shoot!" So my companion knocks and an old grizzly- looking man opens the door and my companion says "Hi we're representatives of Jesus Christ hoping we don't get shot or eaten' the man laughed and asked what church we were from. WE said "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints" and then the man answered "Come on in!!" We then had some great lessons with him this week. He gets very emotional about his wife that passed away and he asked us the quesiton "Will my wife recognize me in heaven?" What a wonerful opportunity we had to bear testiomony of the restored priesthood authority. During one of our lessons with Gordon (this man we met) we invited him to be baptized. He said he already had. And then we explained the authority a little more in detail. He then changed and said, I'll have to think about it. The Spirit has such great power when we teach true doctrine! When we teach pure doctrine with confidence and love, we can see the Holy Ghost work his wonders! I'm learning so much about having to rely on the Lord. There is no way you can preach the gospel of the Restoration with just your own knoweldge and understanding. The Sprit has to be there. We had another experience with Donna (who has a baptismal date for the end of this month keep praying for her bytheway). Earlier last week we taught the Law of Tithing and she had some issues with paying it. She understood the principles but simply lacked faith. We had a priest with us and he bore a powerful testimony on tithing with his family (let me invite all you holders of the Aaronic Preisthood to go out with the missionaries, the Lord will use you in miraculous that you can't even believe, you don't have to wait til you're called and set apart as a full-time missionary). Even after that lesson she still had issues, until yesterday. We were teaching her yesterday and she brought up all her concerns. We used scriptures, conferance talks, everything we could to teach the correct principles, but it didn't seem to do much. Then we just bore testimony about how the Lord was going to change Donna into a better person. Promised her that the Lord has so much in store for her if she will keep the commandments. And she started to cry. We asked what she was feeling and she felt that everything was going to be ok. She felt the Holy Ghost! We then got a more solid commitment from her. The Spirit converts, the spirit converts! It's a miracle that we don't have to rely solely on our own abilites to do this work! The Lord will change us according to our obediance and faith. Other great experience: we were teaching a young couple last night in our ward mission leader's home. The lesson was the very picture of how missionary work can happen. The missionaries can either find random people to teach (which I love because the Lord leads us to them) or the members can prepare people to be taught. The latter yields more spiritual experiences. The Lord must be teaching me something about what I need to do after the mission. Anyways have a great week everyone! Thanks for the package! The sweater fits nicely and is perfect for this brisk Oklahoma weather! To my mom and all my sisters you look beautiful, and to dad and my brothers, you look very "large in stature" due to the priesthood, keep up the good work. Con Amor, Elder Powley

Week 75 - Quail Creek, Oklahoma - Dec 9, 2013

Mi querida familia, Wow, what a week. So on Thursday we had the first real snowstorm of the year...2 inches of snow! We were talking to a member about the weather conditions and she said the Oklahoma was in a state of emergency. So I thought to myself... hmm 2 inches of snow = state of emergency in Oklahoma and then my companion and i laughed (since we're both from Utah and Idaho). We soon ate our words when we found out the danger wasn't the sonw but rather...the ice. Oh my word, the streets were frozen! And Oklahomans don't know how to drive on the ice. There were so many accidents on the freeway and there aren't any snow plow systems like there are in Utah. Basically only the main roads got plowed and all the residential areas were iced over. Needless to say, all vehicles were grounded. Well, my companion and I didn't like the idea of staying inside, so we went old school and walked around the near by neighborhoods. People thought we were crazy, we didn't get too much success. This one guy we talked to started preaching against us and we got an opportunity to bear a powerful testimony on the Book of Mormon.It truly contains the same gospel as the Bible (the same good news that Jesus is the Christ) and is such a powerful tool in helping us come closer to Christ. I've really learned how to avoid arguing with people about religion while on the mission. although the message we share is true, arguing will never bring the spirit, only bearing true testimony and showing sincere love, and praising other people for their faith in Christ. Life is great. Donna is progressing really well! She came to church again and she's read up to Alma 55! Please pray for her to help her keep the Word of Wisdom! We did a fun service activity on friday. sicne the roads were iced over, my companion and I decided to step outside the box a little. So we rounded up some shovels and we went tracting to go offer to shovel peoples driveways. We had some great service experiences including one older gentleman who had a pacemaker and couldn't shovel snow himself. We also got a lot of the same responses from many people than if we were knocking doors offering to pray with them. "No thanks, we're ok." Wow, rejecting free service to shovel driveways. It reminded me how it is a humbling experience to accept help from others. Remember to accept gifts with graciousness. giving is important, but receiving with graciousness is just as important. I also learned that asking permission to serve is not always the best idea. For example if you ask, "Will you let us shovel your driveway for free?" People are more inclined to so "No thanks, we're ok." But if you rather see that the driveways needs shoveling and just do it, then you get the service done and people are generally grateful for it. Obviously follow the spirit, we don't want to impose on people too much. But if you know someone that needs service, you don't always have to ask for permision. i've learned so much this weekend. Merry Christmas everyone! Feliz Navidad! I love you tons! Let's get Jane some piano lessons she's sounding like a pro! Con Amor, Elder Powley

Week 74 - Quail Creek, Oklahoma City - Dec 2, 2013

Mi querida familia, We had such a great week! I think I was feeling a little down yesterday, but when you take the time to count your blessings and look on the good things that happen, those moments of discouragement really do seem to fade away into nothing. I guess that's the power of the Atonement. I am so excited for this month. Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year where we get to focus on Christ a little more. The Nativity story has taken on so much more meaning on my mission. I am so greatful for my testimony of Christ. I take it for granted so often, but I realized just this morning that my faith in Christ is what has ennabled me to overcome so many doubts, fears, and inadequecies. This past week we had Thanksgiving. We didn't get to proselyte much, so spent most of the time with the members. We joined the ward at a local elementary school for a Turkey Bowl. I was sore for the next day, who knew all those muscles you use when you play football. IT was a great day to reflect on what I'm grateful for. It's strange, but I realized that my list of things that I'm thankful for has changed from before and after the mission ever slightly. I think I'm more thankful for spiecific people rather that specific things. I'm grateful for the Book of Mormon, but moreso I am grateful for the prophets who gave everything to make sure that those sacred testimonies of Christ were perserved. I am grateful for my mission, but I am more grateful for the companions that I've served with. They've helped me become who I am today. I am grateful for my family and the assurity the Gospel brings that we will be together for eternity. This knowledge makes me want to perserve those relationships the best I can. Ok, miracle for this week. Our mission president set a vision for our mission for this month...50 baptisms by the end of the month. A week ago, we had no baptismal dates and my companion and I were a little discouraged because we want to contribute to the mission vision. So we prayed and planned and organized the members and we had a miracle on Friday. We met and taught Donna the Plan of Salvation. She is a single older lady living at home. She has studied with another church in the past but has disagreed with most of their doctrine. WE taught the Plan of Salvation, and it basically answered all the questions she had from studying with the witnesses. She had also read up to 2nd Nephi 15 in the Book of Mormon and so far believes it's true. Then we invited her to be baptized on Dec. 28th. She paused, and said "Oh man that's really soon....ok I'll do it!" Woah! She said for 20 years she has been praying for God to show her her purpose and what she should do and this is it! We are so excited! She came to church yesterday and enjoyed it as well. Here's another insight: My companion Elder Kennedy and I were doing a REAL Play (which is basically where one person teaches and one person takes the role of the investigator) and while we were teaching, my companion (who was this lady that we found) asked me why I went to church. Then I taught her about the sacrament. As we talked we felt really impressed to talk about the sacrament during the lesson. So we brought it up in the lesson and...Donna just opened up about how she disagreed with the church she's studying with in that they don't allow everyone to partake of the sacrament (unless you are one of the few elect going to heaven). We taught her and let her know that no one was forbidden from taking the sacrament but that it was a reminder for those who have been baptized and made sacred covenants. When we taught her this piece of the Gospel, her eyes lit up and she felt the spirit. You could tell that this was "that portion meted unto every soul" that she needed. God gives us more revelation when we plan and prepare beforehand. The church is true! The doctrine is so sound and answers the questions of those who are honestly searching for the truth. Have a great week everyone! I love you all and hope that you see miracles this week. Con Amor, Elder Powley