Week 86 - Quail Creek, Oklahoma - 24 February 2014

Mi querida familia,

This past week was great! We had a few miracles on Friday with follow-up appointments today and tomorrow. I pray the Lord has continued to soften their hearts since then. 

We had a lot of meetings this week. Elder Beus and I taught a training on Tuesday to our whole Zone on Establishing Expectations with our investigators using How to Begin Teaching, specifically using the 10th How to Begin Teaching Point (see PMG chapter 10) In essence we practiced how to establish the expectation of baptism in the first lesson. A comment from one of the missionaries in our zone has led me to a new realization... the baptismal invitation is the keystone for all other invitations. Why do we invite people to pray, read the Book of Mormon, and come to church? It's because we ultimately want them to be baptized for the remission of sins and into the Lord's kingdom so that they my gain eternal life in the Celestial Kingdom. People must know that our purpose is for them to be baptized. If we beat around the bush, we do a disservice to those that we meet with. And let me assure you, there is a way to present baptism in a non-pushy, aggressive manner. When done out of love, and solemnity of heart, we do not need to fear being offensive. Oh i love being a missionary! Where else do you get such an opportunity to invite complete strangers to be baptized? Oh it's just great. It's frustrating at times, but just endure faithfully until the Lord works his miracles. 

Our mission is fasting for 70 baptisms in March, and I believe we can make it. We already starting to see the Lord preparing the people here. Let me account two experiences:

Friday evening I was on exchanges with Elder Corbin. As we were trying potential investigators. We came to this one house. It was super dark and the house was actually in the back yard of another house. So we walked into this barely lit alley to get there. As we approached the stairs to the front door, a lady opens her curtains and sees us outside. We smile and wave and she closed the curtains. When we got to the door, she had already come outside and said as a matter of fact "Latter Day Saints." We said yes that's who we were. we mentioned who we were trying to visit. The man wasn't home, but this lady introduced herself as Linda and then said that we could come back to visit her. We were pretty surprised. so we set up an appointment, and the whole time we were talking, she was just in awe and amazement saying over and over "ask and ye shall receive." We prayed with her and left a Book of Mormon. She was close to tears by the time we left. We're going back tonight with a member! I hope and pray we can help her out!

Then just yesterday, a young couple came and sat next to us in Sacrament meeting. The young man was a member that just moved in and the lady sitting next to him was his non-member girlfriend. The talks were all centered on missionary work, and after the meeting, the member turns to us and introduces his girlfriend saying that she was interested in baptism! They lived in the sisters' area so we introduced them to the sisters. Turns out that this lady is just obsessed with the church at this time! The sisters have an appointment with her this evening. 

This is why I titled the subject "Looking forward to this next week" The Lord is preparing the vineyard for a great harvest in the month of March. Get excited! We just need to repent a little bit and stay diligent so that we can have the privilege of being a part of the miracle.

I love this gospel, and I know that the Lord is directing this work! I'll admit it's been slow and at times I've felt distant from God because of my weaknesses. But this is nothing new. We just need to endure faithfully and hope for a brighter future. My companion Elder Beus and I have had a common obsession for the musical "Annie" that past week, we'll often be caught singing from memory some of the songs together including "It's a hard knocked life for us" and "the sun will come out tomorrow." Life is great! 

I love you all!

Que dios les bendiga!

Con Amor,

Elder Powley

Week 85 - Quail Creek, Oklahoma - 17 February 2014

Mi querida Familia,
We had a pleasant week here in OKC. Elder Beus had a cold so we had to stay inside for a good chunk of time. Nevertheless, we were able to schedule appointments and visit those that we needed too. 
Interesting thing happened this week. W have a recent convert named Candice. She is awesome! She was formerly a Catholic but she went through a miraculous conversion because of a friend she works with. But funny story with her I-pad. On her i-pad she had both the Gospel Library app and also an E-Bible ap. In the past few weeks, she had been receiving e-mails from the E-Bible app that were targeted against Latter Day Saints. How they knew she was Mormon, we don't know. Anyways she decided to delete the E-bible app, and when she did, something happened where all the software on the Gospel Library app just disappeared, and when she went to click on the app, the icon just fizzled away...weird. Satan is using any means to be able to try and break our testimony of the restored gospel, because he knows how much eternal joy this gospel can bring us.

We've had a lot of success this week with less-actives. Sister Wickwire, whom Elder Kennedy and I were working with for a few weeks came to church yesterday! We were very excited to see her. D'Quan also came. It's just always good to have him in gospel essentials class; he has the most unique perspective on things. We were talking about the Fall of Adam and Eve and how Adam was also Michael the Archangel in the Pre-existnce, and he commented on how faithful Adam must have been to accept the calling to be the first man on earth. Think about it, he was the leader of millions of brothers and sisters, someone who had a lot of power and recognition and he had to be the first man on earth, and basically give up his standing as an Archangel and be on earth with relatively few people. You have to be there in class to hear him explain himself, it's hilarious! He's got such a great attitude about life. 

We had a lesson with our investigator Michael yesterday and it went well. But I came out of that lesson with a question: what does it mean to be saved? I did a personal study with that question in mind this morning and I found some interesting insights. I invite everyone to do the same because in order for us to help our brothers and sisters who are Christian and aren't yet members of the church we need to understand what the word "saved" really means.

And to be honest it can mean quite a few things. One instance I read about is the story of King Lamoni's wife. After being unconscious for a few hours, she wakes up and proclaims, Oh blessed Jesus who has saved me from an awful hell. She mentions how Jesus had saved, but up to this point she had not been baptized. She had simply exercised simple faith and repentance. so in a way, you can be saved by simply exercising faith. You can be saved from going down the wrong path. The problem is, is that being saved is not a one time deal. It's a process that you have to keep on applying. Unless a man endure to the end he cannot be saved. 

So when people mention that they've been saved, they are correct. Accepting Christ into life even with not by the proper authority can save you from a life of misery and sadness. However, salvation in the Celestial kingdom and the sanctification required to become like HEavenly Father requires a little more: ordinances, covenants, enduring to the end, changing your nature etc..

I am so grateful for the restored Gospel which helps save me not only in the short term, but in the eternal perspective of things. I can change my nature into one more similar to Christ if I keep his commandments and learn how to love others. 

Anyways, it was a good study and I plan on pondering a little more on what it means to be saved. I love how the Spirit can teach us through the scriptures. there are so many doubts that can be resolved we will just study it out in our minds and apply the things we learn! The Book of Mormon is so true and brings us closer to Christ!
Have a great week everyone!
Con Amor,
Elder Powley  
PS -- a little about some of the duties of a Zone Leader -- some of you asked:
Being a Zone Leader is very rewarding. Some of the most rewarding experiences are to go on training visits with the other missionaries. I love the opportunity to lift encourage and inspire missionaries on a personal level.
Usually, as zone leaders we train the whole zone about once a month. We sit in on District meetings and give advice on the concerns other missionaries have in their areas. 
Some of the trainings we've done include principles such as "teaching when you find", working with members, and tomorrow we are giving a training on our purpose and the importance of establishing expectations for baptism in the first lesson. We find that investigators are more able to progress when they understand our expectations and there's no misconceptions. A lot of times missionaries will find people to teach but not even bring up baptism and then after a few lessons, they don't invite and their visits become more of just talking about the word and less about inviting people to action. 
So there's a little bit about what we do as Zone Leaders. In a few weeks, our mission is getting evaluated and we'll have a leadership council with the President of Mission Headquarters. Can't wait! 
Have a great week!

Week 84 - Quail Creek, Oklahoma City - 10 February 2014

Mi querida familia,

And so begins another transfer here in Quail Creek.  The cold has really slowed us down. Not many people let us in. Oh well. We'll just keep on working until someone does let us in:)

I want to really quick bear my testimony of the power of priesthood blessings of comfort and counsel. I've had the chance to give a few here on the mission, but this last Tuesday I think was the first time I ever received a blessing on my mission. I asked Elder Kennedy to give me one the night before exchanges because I was worried about taking on more responsibility with a larger zone and such, and I just want to so that as he gave the blessing I felt like I was in direct communication with my Father in Heaven. The counsel I received was so real and inspiring and exactly what I needed. To all those who are stressed out back at home, if you haven't in a while, ask for a priesthood blessing. You'll feel the love of our Heavenly Father in such a powerful way that you will receive the strength and guidance you need. If you are serving a mission, don't feel afraid to ask for a blessing as well. I think i had it in my mind that I didn't need priesthood blessings while on the mission. But that is just not true, we need to feel God's love at all times. 

We haven't been able to teach a lot of lessons the past few weeks so I don't have as many teaching miracles to share this week. It's strange having a larger zone, we do a lot more planning than we would do otherwise. This last friday we drove out to Edmond to go to a district meeting out there. I got to go on a quick exchange with one our new district leaders Elder Adamson. It was such a great exchange, we actually had a cool miracle. We tried visiting a potential who wasn't home. As we were walking away, I saw this lady walk out of her house. Made eye-contact and we waved and said hi...note to self, if anyone you're walking by does enough to say hi back to you, it means you need to go talk to them more. So that's what we did. We went over and talked with her and offered to say a prayer with her. she gladly accepted. We prayed and she wasn't interested in hearing more about the church, but she referred us to another house where there was another person who needed prayer. So we went there. We knocked and a young man answers the door named Martel. We mention who we are and that we were sent by one of his neighbors. He tells us that his aunt was the one really stressed out but she wasn't home. We offered to pray with him and he allowed us right into to his warm home. We talked for a bit and we knelt done and prayed together. And it was such a great prayer. We talked afterwards about the Restoration and gave him a Book of Mormon and set a return appointment for tomorrow. Hopefully Elder Adamson and his companion will see some progress out of it. 

The Spirit leads and guides us according to our faith. Kind of like the Liahona... 

I do have faith, I just forget at times because I can only see things based on the present time, but God has eternal perspective and I truly believe that if I focus on the baby steps, what I need to do today, then I can avoid a lot of stress and move forward confidently. 

Pray! It works! You can receive revelation when you pray. I am so grateful for a knowledge that god listens and answers prayers in his own time. I trust him so much and I hope I can be accoutned as worthy to be an instrument in his hands to complete his will here in Quail Creek.

I love you all. I pray daily for you and I am so grateful for my family. You all influence me so much. 

Que Dios les bendiga! Que tenga milagros en sus vidas! Oren cada dia a fin de que Dios puede hablar consigo! 

Con amor,

Elder Powley

Week 83 - Quail Creek, Oklahoma - February 3, 2014

Mi querida familia,
The 7 week transfer is almost over, and yesterday we got transfer calls. I will be staying here in Quail Creek (que bien!) with Elder Beus (who was my companion a little less that a year ago back in Clinton) and Elder Kennedy is getting transferred....to Idaho. Yep, his 2 years are up this Wednesday. It's been very interesting to see what it's like for a missionary during his last transfer. Aside from all the "trunky" jokes that we all tease him with occasionally, he has remained very diligent and focused on the work. He's got such great charity. I used to think that it doesn't really matter too much if a missionary says good-bye to the people in his area because people shouldn't be getting too attached to the missionaries anyways, but my perspective has changed quite a bit. A simple good-bye means a lot. It's an act of love a charity when done properly. It's a good way to seal the friendship you've formed and bear your testimony to them. Sure, people aren't supposed to get solely attached to the missionaries, but there is some level of attachment that has to happen I guess. This work is a work of love and we're supposed to form loving relationships with those we serve. Good lesson for me, because I tend to try and avoid getting to personal with people because of fear and shyness.
The week was slow. We called and set up so many appointments in advance, scheduled members, and they all fell through. It's interesting, even though we didn't see the desired results, I don't feel as discouraged as perhaps I would have felt a few years ago. Failure doesn't seem to matter any more. We did our part. Maybe we could have talked to a few more people, but it's all in the Lord's Hands. We share the burden with him.
Went on exchanges with Elder Finlinson! ( from Brighton and our stake)  What a great missionary! His spanish is incredible and he has some massive bike-pedaling legs...I could hardly keep up with him:) His got wonderful charity for the members of the Branch. I'll try and send pictures.
One of the highlights this week for me was a lesson we taught to our recent convert Candice. What an incredible lady! She is formerly Catholic, but she had a Mormon friend that invited and fellowshipped her into the Church. And she is solid. A few days back we taught her the Plan of Salvation but this time going a little more in depth with the more unique parts of the Gospel (Pre Earth life, Spirit World, Exhaltation etc) We used the Pearl of Great Price (I love the Pearl of Great Price, it ties up so many loose ends and answers so many questions) and Candice just loved it. It was a great experience for me because sometimes people criticize the truly unique aspects of the Doctrine, but as we taught and testified, I truly felt the Holy Ghost backing up our words. We were teaching truth. We did exist with our Father in Heaven before this life and this life is a probationary time for US to se if we will be faithful and live up to the inheritance that our Father has in store for us. Jesus Christ makes it possible through his Atonement!
I'm looking forward to next transfer and I'm also a little nervous. Our Zone is getting dissolved and we are merging with another Zone. Elder Beus and I will have responsibility over 25 missionaries instead of 15 from the past Zone. A lot more logistics...ahh! But a lot more people to love which is great! Keep me in your prayers because this next transfer is definitely going to bring some growing pains for me:)
Happy Birthday to Jane! She is such a cute dancer I hope she will want spend even half as much time with me as she does with you all. You are such a wonderful family to me. I was especially touched with the video of Jane blowing out her candles. She had some trouble and at one point almost gives up on the second candle....yet someone kindly encourages her to "blow harder" and she took courage and blew out the last two candles! It's such a small detail, but I think it's packed with significance. Christ is our older brother and he is always just encouraging us to "blow a little harder" endure a little longer and we will be successful.
I know this gospel is true. Progression is God's plan. This church is truly the Lord's kingdom on the earth.
Con Amor,
Elder Powley