Week 95 - Quail Creek, Oklahoma - 28 April 2014 (Happy Birthday!)

Mi querida familia, 

Thanks for everything! Liz, you look absolutely beautiful in your prom picture! I love you all so much. 
I did end up getting a 10 day extension so this will not be my last email home, but next week will. I'm pretty excited that get to tarry I little longer in OKC. We have two baptismal services planned for the next two weeks, one from the sister missionaries and then the Clements family on May 10th. The service will be at 10 am and then I fly home at 3:15. It will be a crazy day. I still get to go to the temple this Wednesday with my MTC group and spend the night at the mission home, and then Thursday I head back to my area to keep working. Elder Beus and I (much to Elder Beus' dismay) will be in a trio with Elder Collins. Let's just hope we all don't self-destruct in 10 days from cramming into a small apartment. Just kidding, I'm sure we'll all be best of friends. 

We had such a crazy weekend. Saturday was probably one of the most incredible/stressful days of my life. Elder Beus and I went to Paul's Valley to go see a family get baptized that Elder Beus helped teach and find. It was one of the most spititual experiences of my life. The husband and two sons got baptized, the mom (recently reactivated) gave a talk, the sister missionary that originally taught and baptized the mom and grandma 20 years ago came back, and it was just very apparent that the Lord's hand was in it all. The main theme that kept coming up was how we need to be willing to make sacrifices and hard decisions in order for God's plans to come to pass. The sister missionary was the only convert in her family, and right before she left on her mission, her mother (not a member) was diagnosed with cancer and was going to die. Her family begged her to not go on a mission, but this sister missionary decided that serving the Lord was more important than anything, and perhaps that includes family. And this sister missionary met a young mother with her daughter who got baptized, and then we just saw the baptism of the daughter's family.  I was just so astounded. This Church is true. God's hand is in it. The REstored Gospel saves families from the calamities and temptations of this world if we will just listen to the Holy Ghost!

Anyways great baptism, and Paul's Valley is beautiful, it reminded me of Vernal.
Then later that day, Elder Beus and I walked through one of the most intense/stressful experiences of our lives. It was John's birthday, but it quickly turned into a huge fiasco. John got angry at something and it all blew up, no one was happy and we showed up right when everyone was at the peak of anger. John was crying. And I just felt so sad. Satan is so tricky. If he can one person angry enough, he can destroy the happiness of 10. We must be mature enough to forgive and not be easily offended and avoid contention. Elder Beus and I went to buy a birthday cake to help cheer John up and that helped a ton. 

Then part 2 of the fiasco started. Michelle and her three kids were living in an apartment with a less active who was doing bad things (bad enough that would risk Michelle losing the three kids). So Tammy, the mom, enlisted our help to go move all of Michelle's stuff out. So we went, we assumed that we'd put all the stuff at Brother Holman's house. Then we get to the less active member's apartment and emotions just blew up. Anger filled the air, Tammy was mad at this less active member. We ended up moving all of Michelle's stuff to our apartment because Brother Holman didn't have room at his house. And then yesterday we moved all of Michelle's stuff to a member's house.

I just gave you the watered down version, but now Tammy isn't sure about being baptized, Michelle is homeless, and we aren't  sure if we will have a baptism on the 10th.  

Don't choose to be angry! It does absolutely no good. I'm grateful that the mission has taught me to be patient with people and love them even if they offend you. 

So even with the stressful weekend, I'm still hopeful and happy. Some of the missionaries surprised me this morning with coming to our apartment to decorate the door and our truck for my birthday, and I'm just overcome with gratitude for these last two years that I've had to change and repent and become a better man. I hope that these next few weeks will all work out. Even if they don't, my happiness does not depend on the good or bad decisions of others; it comes from living a life of consistent, true principles. Sure I rejoice when are baptized into the Church, and I grieve when others don't accept the message, but I know that I've made sacred covenants that if I keep, the rewards of eternity will outweigh everything.

I love you all! Have a great and I pray that you enjoy the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I gave a talk yesterday in church and I think the best way to not sleep through the Restoration is if we always strive to follow the promptings of the spirit and stay from anything that will hinder the involvement of the Spirit in our lives (selfishness, addictions, competing priorities, see President Uchtdorf's talk from Priesthood Session.)

Con Amor,

Elder Powley

Week 94 - Quail Creek, Oklahoma - 21 April 2014

Mi querida familia,

This has been one of the best weeks of my mission, it's just so fitting that it's the same week as Easter as well. (Watch "Because of Him" if you haven't yet).

We've had some lovely rejection this week from tracting, nothing new. Jesus Christ was rejected and he dealt with it with dignity, so should we.

The most exciting thing was how on Wendesday we set a baptismal date with Michelle and Victoria(John's older sisters). The Spirit was so strong and then she came to do a church tour with some of the members and she seemed to really like it. The members did a great job helping her not to feel self conscious about her three kids coming to church. 
And then right after the church tour, we get a call from Tammy (John's mom) where she leaves a message saying that she has something to tell us (Elder Beus and I were besides ourselves). We call her back and she said that she just had a lesson with the missionaries and our Mission President in the area she moved to and that she is GETTING BAPTIZED ON MAY 10th!! She said that President Walkenhorst just opened up the scriptures and made it just so clear (good lesson for all of us to use to scriptures). 

This is such a miracle, 2 or 3 months ago I NEVER would have guessed that she'd be baptized. She went from completely disinterested in the Mormon church to "I'm not sure" to "I'm just waiting" to "Yes I'm ready to be baptized!" Oh my word, the Lord is in control. We just have no idea who the Lord is preparing or has prepared to receive the Gospel. We know nothing in comparison to Him. We just need to be dilligent and obedient and the the Lord can use us to perform mighty miracles in his name. 

Our calling as missionaries is real. there is just no way we could help people receive the restored gospel if we were not endowed with authority from on high. Oh my word I love my mission. I get to see a family be baptized on May 10th. We'll see if I get an extension, but I am just on cloud 9 right now! The Gospel is so true!!

And then yesterday I had the most memorable Easter of my whole life. There was no Easter egg hunt, but it was just purely focused on Christ. WE went to Sacrament meeting and then right after we left to go to another "non-denominational" church where an investigator invited us to come to their Easter Drama. This was the first time I've ever attended a "mega church" type atmosphere. It was out of control. Music blaring, pastor yelling, lack of authority, and in the midst of it all I did see pockets of truthful messages. It was so interesting. I felt awkward. the people were nice, but you could just tell that authority was not present. 

and then that evening we attended an performance organized by the Church (involoving different faiths) called "The Lamb of God" composed by Rob Gardner who I think is a Mormon. 
It was incredible! Some of the best music I've heard in two years. Tammy came, John came, and then Chris (the investigator who invited us to the Easter Drama) came as well. The spirit was definitely there even as we sat on hard metal chairs. I just love music so much! Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World. 

Life is just amazing right now. I can't wait for the coming weeks. I am so grateful for my mission and how I've learned about the love of God in a way that just isn't possible outside of missionary work

have a blessed y'all!

Con Amor,

Elder Powley

Week 93 - Quail Creek, Oklahoma - 14 April 2014 + pics

Mi querida familia,

What a week! The Holy Ghost is so real. There have just been some great experiences this week that confirm to me that the Holy Ghost, God the Father and Jesus Christ are truly living and guiding this church, and even our own individual lives.

We had a baptism on Saturday for John! It was a crazy/wonderful/stressful event. Everything worked out great though. The service started off with the priesthood ordination of one of a returning less active in the ward, Brother Holman. Elder Kennedy and I were working with him ever since I came to Quail Creek and we always knew someday he'd get the priesthood, but it was amazing that we actually got to see it happen. He was so happy to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. And then Brother Holman shortly after got to baptize John! It took a few times for him to get the words right, but eventually he got it and it was a wonderful experience. 

John's mom, Tammy, and sister, Victoria sang Amazing Grace. It was out of tune and she forgot the lyrics, but at the same time the spirit was there! Why isn't Amazing Grace in our hymn book anyways? 

Then they all came to church the next day to see John confirmed. He looked like a new man in his suit (that Elder Beus and I acquired from a local thrift store) and tie. I'm excited to see him progress, he doesn't have much to do so we'll be able to take him out teaching with us (he's been begging us the whole time we've been teaching him to let him ride in our truck). 

The whole baptismal service, as stressful as it was reminded me how the Gospel is for the imperfect. Even though the service didn't run quite as picture perfect as some other one's I've been to, the Spirit was still present recognizing the importance of the ordinance performed.

In other news, I want to mention about our STM we had the last week with our zone. We focused on the baptismal invitation and how to properly prepare someone to receive it. It takes three ingredients 1. Teach the doctrine of baptism, 2 testify of the importance of priesthood authority, 3 promise specific blessings. From the STM, I had a cool epiphany about the importance of promising blessings. I've noticed that during lessons, the Holy Ghost testifies especially strong when we promise specific and meaningful blessings. For example when we talk about baptism, we should always accompany it with promising that when they are baptized they will receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost which will help them make decisions, warn them of danger and so forth. 

Another cool experience we had this week was with or investigator Michelle. She is a little closed off, by open to listening to us teach. She had bad experience with her family while growing up in her church, to the point that she's lost almost all faith the God loves and cares about her. There was a point in the lesson where we were talking about how awesome God's love is in our lives and I had the distinct impression that she does not know what God's love feels like. I asked if she'd ever felt God's love in her life, and she said no. WE found a concern. If she has never recognized the Spirit in her life, how can we invite her to find out if what we are teaching is true? So we counseled with her for a bit, and after the prayer she piped up and said I think God's love is that feeling when you are alone in a wilderness and it's just complete peace all around you. We smiled and said "yes that is how the Spirit communicates with you." Michelle felt the Holy Ghost during that lesson. Those feelings from God inspire us to repent. 

We had another teaching experience where I was on exchanges with and Elder and in both our lessons that day we ended up just reading the Book of Mormon and explaining what it is. I'm starting to recognize that unless investigators start feeling the spirit from the Book of Mormon, it's hard for them to accept any other doctrine. We should be spending a lot of time as missionaries really explaining the Book of Mormon (it is not the Bible and yes we believe in both) and helping them understand the story at the beginning of 1 Nephi. It takes a lot of time, but in the end, it's worth it when people start receiving revelation from the Book of Mormon for themselves. 

I love my mission. I'm learning so much about how to be a teacher and how to help people turn to God. I'm grateful for my companion Elder Beus who helps me recognize my weaknesses and push me to do better. I'm excited to finish up here in a few weeks and start applying everything I've learned. Keep praying for our area!

Con Amor,

Elder Powley


Week 92 - Quail Creek, Oklahoma - 7 April 2014

Mi querida familia,

So this week was a lot calmer than last week. No more gun threats, thanks for your prayers. We haven't had too much of anything happen this week. John is still progressing towards baptism, and we're excited for this next weekend. The hard part is just going to be organizing rides and everything since neither John nor the member he's living with have a car. 

Conference was amazing this past weekend! I loved Priesthood Session the most. Thanks for the pictures, looks like y'all had a great time. I loved Elder Hollstrom's talk. He said that one of the most dangerous statements is "That's just the way I am." Who we are is not who we can become. The mission has definitely taught me to not be content with my weaknesses. I've found it very helpful to always confess your weaknesses in prayer and then actively seek for ways to improve. The Lord can help us overcome our weaknesses and transform our natures. 

Then I loved it when President Uchtdorf talked about Rip Van Winkle and asked everyone "Are you sleeping through the Restoration?" I felt like he was speaking right to me when he said that. It's so tempting when you near the end of your mission to adopt a sleepy attitude. I'm trying hard, but I would be lying if I said those temptations never came to me. So I'll be seeking to apply the remedies that President Uchtdorf presented including loving the Lord. And I truly do love him and this work. The Lord is working so many miracles with John. 

I also think there was a common theme during conference to avoid the trap of worrying about popularity. We need to always be willing to act in courage and stand up for our beliefs. We need to be willing to suffer persecution for standing up for our beliefs. I've been reading in Acts about the apostle Paul. He stood before kings and literally said to their faces "I know that you believe in the prophets." (see Acts 26:27-28).

I also gained a more profound appreciation for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without the Resurrection, Jesus was just an ordinary prophet. But we have the testimonies of the New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants to confirm that indeed Christ was Resurrected! The Gospel is so true. 

 I hope everyone has a great week! I'd love to hear what everyone thought of Conference! 

Con Amor,

Elder Powley