The End

Hey everyone! I had a great experience on my mission; it was everything I thought it would be as far as refining me spiritually, but some unexpected medical issues came up recently and it was decided I wouldn't be able to continue my mission at this time. So I'm home in Maryland again, at the least for six months to recuperate and get the treatment I need, so I won't be posting on this blog for a long time. Thank you for all the support!

General Conference - A Really Great Weekend

Conference was amazing of course, being a missionary and all. I loved parts of all the talks, though I was writing so much revelation on things that I don't think I paid attention to any of them all the way through EXCEPT Elder Corbridge's, the seventy who visited our mission several months ago. He is an incredible speaker, I thoroughly enjoyed his testifying talk. He's just so UMPH in the way he presents it. He's so weary and laborious but it works. I also really liked the focus on Family History, and the idea that we cannot have eternal life without our ancestors, but eternal life IS to live with our entire family for eternity, all those who through their agency choose it. I loved the comment that those who learn about the stories of their ancestors will make much wiser decisions, and I've found that for some reason the stories and lessons learned by the members of the Rawle line (being the only stories I know well) stick more to me and have a more profound effect on me than if those same stories were from another's lineage or just told in Conference. They stick with me. I felt in Conference a very strong connection with Richard Simmons Rawle who I looked up on when I was getting some training on how to show investigators familysearch. I felt that connection in conference, as well as for all my ancestors. So I understood at least then very clearly the full Spirit of Elijah for finding these people, because we knew them very well before and have a duty towards them as their friends.

Anyway, there's a pair of senior missionaries out here who are working primarily on how to incorporate family history more into missionary work, because they feel very very strongly that the work of salvation is FOR family history work, because the reason we have the Gospel in this Dispensation is so that we can offer it to all our ancestors who lived in Apostasy. So an investigators main motive for joining should be out of duty to their ancestors, which they will start to feel as they do their family history work. So I really want to use that with pretty much everyone on the street: do your work, study the people. They're still alive.

So I thoroughly enjoyed that. I really enjoyed Elder Utchdorf's comments on gratitude, Elder Oaks' clarification, and several others that were really good, I'd have to check my notes. And Elder Holland's at the beginning.

So as far as missionary work this week, the most exciting thing was talking with A.N., the nonmember in a part member family who is willing to sit in the discussions with T.N. the wife. He's very active in the discussions and has a lot of great questions. We promised him as representatives of Jesus Christ that if he reads the Book of Mormon every day this next week and prays every day that he will know with assurance that the Book of Mormon is true, and all the implications of that towards Joseph Smith and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He committed to be baptized when he finds out it is true. Yea!!! And he and his wife watched general conference this weekend at her mother's home, so hopefully he paid attention to the talks about baptism or Elder Corbridge's.

I'm feeling very well since General Conference. There's been a great outpouring of the Spirit between my companion and I and the whole missionary district. We're having a really great time actually. 
Note from Mom:
General Conference is held by our Church twice a year over a weekend.  We are blessed to hear addresses from various leaders of the Church, including a living prophet of God.  Michael has asked that I add a link to Conference for any who would like to listen or read these addresses.  See the side bar for the new link.


I'm doing really well actually, I was having a bit of trouble last week but I've been strengthened again, so I'm learning all the things the Lord wants me to learn, so its good. My companion was sick for a few days so I had to stay in, which was actually relaxing, but he's better so we're out working again. A lot of good stuff has happened. 

So the boyfriend of one of the ladies we've been teaching is apparently an former church member who regained his testimony at some point before dating her and wants to come back, but didn't tell us until we brought bishop along. So miracles are totally possible. Alma the Younger.

I haven't told you about the M family have I? Man you would have an interesting time with the them. They're a recent convert family, husband and wife, grown up kids are still thinking about it. Hawaiian. They're a hoot. I'm not sure how to describe why though.

Okay, miracle for this week.... we met another Hawaiin less active who wants to come back to church, and he has some family living with him that may be interested in taking the discussions again, so it sounds like there's some promise there to help people.

So here's my week...

So here's my week: we've been over visiting the P. family a lot, particularly the member wife.  She is a fireball. Very strong spirit. Has blond reddish hair, wavy, a face very very weathered by a very very hard life and bad decisions. She's far too old for her age. A real tough woman. But I love her to death, I'm pretty sure she thinks of us as her sons in a way. She reminds me of a hardened Scottish lady. Taken it upon herself to mother us a little. Not in a weird way at all, but she likes to make us desert and talks with us a lot and tells us to be safe. We knock on her door and her four beagles that she rescued from various bad situations all raise a devilish chorus and she comes shouting and hollering at them and opens the door and all tired she says "Hey come in guys (huff puff)". We gave her a priesthood blessing one of our first meetings with her, for her health, because I was given the authority to do that from my Dad who received it from a line back to Peter restored to Joseph Smith. When I was done the room was peaceful and the husband and son and one of the teenage tennants there especially could sense it and came into the room seeking the light and they were all just glowing with peace and didn't want us to go, just talking with us. We go back by frequently. We're trying to teach our message to M. and gave him a Book of Mormon, but we haven't been able to see him recently.

Details...Bleh...Stuff Happened

Alright, here's the scoop! The full blown scoop! I'm in Lake Tapps, that's a lake in the Puyallup stake, I'm not sure about how many miles around but it takes about four hours to bike around the whole thing or so. Maybe less. And there are two islands in the middle, Tapps island and Snagg island, where the rich and hte richest live, respectfully. Our bishop lives on the very tippy tip of Snagg island. To get to either island we have to pass through security, so I always feel like I'm in a heist movie of some kind when I do it. The rest of the area is pretty rural. There's another island, inlet island. For the middle class ish. Sort of of. All the rich people live on the lake access and all the less rich people live across the street from them.
My companion is Elder G, about five foot seven and stocky and cool and calculating as James Bond as I've said. He's great. We do well. I'm actually follow-up training him but he's very very good so its not really training at all. He's taught me cool tricks like how to use a lighter to burn all the lint off my socks. You go "snap" at the bottom of your heel and the flames leap up all around your foot burning off all the lint and leaving your foot nice and toasty. Thats pretty neato and cool looking and I promise I won't do it in front of Mom.

The best thing has been whats happened at the P. home. The young man did sit in with us, and we explained about the Spirit that he felt and how He works and talks to us. He had one experience where he was praying that other people wouldn't suffer the same illness he was suffering at that time, and he suddenly felt warmth and peace over him and felt tingling all over. That's the Spirit. It comes in different forms at different times to say different things, but once you come to recognize it you know what is really the Spirit and what's not. Anyway we talked about that and we offered him a Book of Mormon to review and to pray about and to see if the Spirit testifies of it and he gets those same feelings telling him its true. So we hope he does it. I've never met a person who has said they've both honestly read and honestly prayed about the Book of Mormon and not gotten an answer. If you really want to know and are willing to change your life if you were to find out it was true, you will feel the Spirit. 

We did a service project chopping up a tree. Used a logsplitter. Had some good memories there.
A lot of missionary work is driving around looking for people these days. I don't like those days. We're trying to help the members learn how to share the gospel in natural ways so eventually we only have to teach and baptize.

Why are individuals baptized? I've wondered about this immensely: its because God, knowing everything, has never told His children to do whatever they wanted. He's always asked they make a promise to Him to keep those commandments He gives them for their benefit. He does not give a commandment unless it betters us and protects us. So He asks us to give up our own wisdom in favor of His wisdom and promise to keep His commandments. Does this brainwash us? Of course not. The commandments don't dictate much at all about your hobbies, interests, style of dress, personality at all. Just watch the I'm a Mormon videos. You shouldn't have a hobby of drinking on Saturday nights obviously, but you could have a hobby of drinking root beer on Saturday nights if you really wanted to. Anyway. God requires covenants for certain things.

Anyway, I'm trying to talk about my week but I'm not very good at it. Details. Bleh. Stuff happened.

Family History and the Spirit of Elijah

Sorry, I'm going to make sure I send you a meaty email about whats actually happening over here next time. I've been good though. Just figuring stuff out. I have so much to tell you though about Family History as a teaching tool and stuff: listen, you ask about their family, you get them to realize that their ancestors may not have had the knowledge they've had, that their ancestors depend on them for work to be done, they don't even have to understand what you mean necessarily, the Spirit of Elijah will begin to testify to them that they have a responsibility to their ancestors, and then they start looking in the church to find out what they can do, and then they get baptized with the Temple already as the ultimate goal. We're still working on it but its the new training starting to go around along with other things. Yes. So things are working out. We're figuring it out.

Praying with works!

Note from Michael's Mom:
Michael was moved to a new area last week.
My new area is not much different from my last area actually, in fact it seems quieter than the last area and yet missionary wise its hoppin'. We've got several hopeful baptisms lined up this month and EVERYONE keeps telling me about how wonderful the ward is.

My companion is cool and collected and has been out for one transfer. I'm actually follow-up training him -- but he has to run the area basically because I don't know anyone. But he's very good, very cool-headed and able. Thank heavens.

Praying with faith. It works: my last district leader told a story about how they were doing office work and needed a dresser, so first they prayed that they'd be able to find one at the stores, because they were having no luck. Finally they got to a store and they said "Oh yes we have one" and brought it out, but it was way too small. So they prayed again and asked very specifically for a dresser with this size and this many doors, and they found one to the precise specifications. It was much better when they told it though. The principle I think is to pray specifically so that you know what you're looking for, because if you pray for general vague things Heavenly Father doesn't know where to put His energy because you yourself don't know what you really want.