Monday, January 26, 2015

26 January 2015

Transfers brought lots of fun changes to our District.  Elder Kummerman and I stayed the same so I'm excited to finish up his Training this transfer and watch him continue to grow.  I pray that I can continue to develop patience, which is an attribute of Christ that I've always struggled with.  I'm excited for the opportunity I have to still be a District Leader for such an awesome district this transfer.  Last transfer our district was just us and Lincoln Spanish.  This transfer 3 other companionships were added to our district, so now we have the Trendwood Elders (Elder Johnson and Elder Royal), the Yankee Hill Elders (AKA the Zone Leaders, Elder Lambert and Elder Lloyd), and the Holmes Lake Elders (Elder Waite and Elder Myers).  Over half the Zone is in our district now, which is a little intimidating, but I'm excited for the solid group of missionaries that I'll have the privilege of serving with this transfer.
This week was pretty slow actually.  There was a LOT of driving from one side of Crete to the other trying to find at least one of our investigators who was home and available.  Elder Kummerman said that we were like Forrest Gump going from one side of the city to the other.  But one of those nights I learned a very important lesson of diligence.
As missionaries, the time for us to be done and go home every night is 9:00.  We're not supposed to be home before that or else  we'd just be wasting the Lord's time.  8:00 PM rolled around and we had just spent the last hour and a half driving across Crete trying to find someone at home.  I knew we would be able to if we kept our heads up and kept diligently looking.  
"Lets just call it a night.  No one is home," said Elder Kummerman
"Not yet.  We're still on the Lord's time," I replied.
"We're just wasting time right now.  We could probably do more good at home planning for the next day and getting a little extra sleep."   He said.
"Not yet."  I replied and kept driving.
8:20 we had the same conversation
8:35 we had the same conversation
8:40 I also began wondering if we should just call it a night.  But something inside of me (The Holy Ghost) kept saying, "Just keep going.  Just wait a minute."  So I did.  We turned a corner, and there was one of our new investigators cars right outside of his house with all the lights on inside.  "Well there ya go"  I thought.  I parked the car and we walked up to the door.  
Our investigator, Carlos, answered the door and said, "Man you guys are lucky.  I just got home.  Come in."  We went in and had one of the very best lessons I've had since I got to Crete six months ago.  We read the Introduction with him, walking him through it.  He expressed some questions that he has about Joseph Smith and we talked to him about them.  In the end we gave him a Restoration pamphlet to read and pray about.  Before we left we told him we'd like to have a prayer with him and invited him to say it, asking if the things that we'd taught were true.  He gave one of the greatest prayers any investigator has ever given in one of our first few visits with them.  You could tell how much he really wanted to know if these things are true or not.  

And to think that none of that would have happened if we had just gone in early....
I know this work is true.  I know this is the Lord's work.  His plan is so much better than ours.  Our responsibility is to be obedient and diligent and to follow the Spirit, which "will show unto you all things what ye should do." (2 Nephi 32:5) 
I hope your week is good! The one we've got coming up is going to be pretty fantastic, with our first exchanges with Holmes Lake on Tuesday, District Meeting on Wednesday, and SPANISH CONFERENCE on Thursday (I could not be more excited!)
I hope all is great!  Have a great week!
Lots of Love,
Elder Zack

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Week of the Road Trips

Trainer Trainee Meeting (pic by Sis Weston)
Trainer Trainee Meeting(pic by Sis Weston)
Trainer Trainee Meeting
(pic by Sis Weston)

This week was so much fun!  I thoroughly enjoyed pretty much everyday of it.  Tuesday we started the week of with a road rip to Omaha where we had an amazing Trainer-Trainee meeting for the 10 companionships in the mission that are in that situation.  It was easily the most fun and laid-back meeting I've ever been to.  After a quick activity, all the trainers went in a different room and started everything off with a Stress relieving exercize which involved laying on the ground and imagining our favorite stress free place (Dixie Rock at Sunset) for 10 minutes and relaxing every muscle.  It was so nice.  After that we just opened up and talked about the things that have made training so hard over the past 5 weeks.  Its nice to know that I'm not the only one in the mission who's been having some stress lately.  We had a giant group discussion on how we can help our "kids" to become the missionaries that we envision them becoming.  I walked away from that meeting with tons of new things to try and lots of personal revelation on how I myself can become a better missionary and a more effective instrument in the Lord's hands.

Elder Hill, Elder Garff, and I
Thursday was like an extra little surprise.  Earlier in the week, Elder Garff called me from Grand Island and said that he and Elder Hill needed me and Elder Kummerman to drive out to a town called York on Thursday so that I could do a baptismal interview for them.  Apparently I'm the closest Spanish District Leader for a pretty considerable amount of mileage.  I never realized that, and I was so happy to be able to drive out and help them out.  Seeing those two again, especially since Elder Hill goes home today, was like a blessing from heaven.  They're easily two of the greatest friends that I've made out here.  I miss them like crazy. Elder Garff says he's praying that we'll be companions soon, which I would be completely OK with. The guy I interviewed was solid.  I was nervous about doing the interview but he was so ready for baptism that the interview was so easy.  The Spirit was strong and with each answer that he gave to the 6 questions, the Spirit bore witness to me and him that this was the correct path for him to take.  His wife got baptized a year ago, and the elders have been teaching him for a while.  Elder Garff told me that they have plans to help get all 7 of their kids baptized as well.   In not too long they'll be able to go to the temple and be baptized.
The York Water Tower

The other highlights of the week have happened through the finding.  Elder Kummerman and I have been working really hard at asking EVERYONE if they know someone who might be interested in the message we share.  I've been amazed at how well its working.  There really is a reason that we as missionaries are told to ask that from everyone.  Each refferal that we got, whether it was from an investigator telling us to visit his brother or from an ornery old man at his door telling us to go and try his neighbor, worked out very well and we were able to find 6 new investigators this week just from Referrals!

OH and Sunday I was reminded of one of the fun parts of being a missionary, AKA random "opportunities" to speak in Sacrament Meeting.  We were sitting in a meeting before church talking about Branch business, and President Roundy, our Branch President, looked at me and said, "Are you and your companion prepared to speak in church?"  Apparently the person they thought was going to speak wasn't going to show up.  I replied, "um....sure." and then due to the look he gave me, changed my answer to, "Yes President, we're prepared." In the 15 minutes I had to prepare I was able to put a 8 Minute talk together.  The Spirit was definitely helping me out on that one!  

I know the church is true.  I know this work is true.  I'm thankful for the blessings I saw this week and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

I love you and I hope you have a great week!

Lots of love,
Elder Zack

Monday, January 12, 2015

Learning and Making Changes

This week has been REALLY good.  Training hasn't been easy, but after some really good studies on the difference between Pride and Humility, I realized that there were a couple things that I could change in myself that would make it a lot easier.   I have a strong testimony that we have the companions we have for a reason and I know that because of Elder Kummerman, I'm growing and becoming a better person and a better instrument in the Lord's work. 
The highlights of this week were many so its hard to really pin them down as to which one's I want to talk about today.  So I'll just make a few points.
#1 We had an amazing lesson with Jonathan, who since his baptism in October has struggled with his testimony.  We felt inspired to ask him if he'd ever done Family History work, and he said no, and when we offered to help him out he got super excited and wanted to do all he could to find his family.  After that the Lord started opening up doors with him and softening his heart.  We were able to go by later that night and give him a blessing.  He recognized the Holy Ghost as soon as the blessing began and said that the blessing really was EXACTLY what he needed.  And then this Sunday, he a less-active member in the Seward Branch came to church together!  I was soooo happy.  We had been worried for a little bit, but the Lord knew what was going to be happening the whole time.
#2 We had a great lesson with Efrain as well (Remember the marshmallows over the phonebook?  That kid.). We talked about the importance of going to church.  He said, "I want to go... but mom says I'd have to find a ride."  Since we live in Crete and church is in Lincoln, and there's no active hispanic members in Crete... I was worried a tad bit.  But I figured it was worth a shot.  So we texted one of the members in Lincoln, explained the situation, and hoped for the best.  He replied "Sorry Elderes, not going to be able to do it.  Try Hermano Genis." So we shot a text to him.  Yesterday, Hermano Genis and the first member we texted came down together and picked Efrain up!  The smile on my face when Efrain came walking into the chapel was ginormous.  Elder Holman and I never thought we would see him there, and then there he was! 
#3 I had an AMAZING interview with President Weston.  I walked in and as soon as we had sat down and said a prayer we immediately started talking about Elder Kummerman and the Lincoln Spanish Elders and how we could best help our District.  He said Elder Kummerman is watching me like a hawk and that he's going to turn out just like me.... that was a weird thought, but i realized later that I'm actually a lot like the missionary that Elder Juan was.   We really do turn out a lot like our "parents."   President and I talked a lot, more than anything else, on how we can help our District to be more obedient to the mission rules.  What I've noticed is that Ia lot of the time, missionaries don't keep rules because they don't fully understand them, and President agreed and related it to Adam after they'd been cast out of the Garden of Eden and made an Altar.  The Angel of the Lord came to him and asked him why he was doing it.  Adam replied and said, "I know not save the Lord commanded me."    Adam didn't fully understand why he was commanded to do things, but he knew that he would be blessed.  I think its a lot like mission rules.  I don't know why we are asked to go to bed at 10:30 or why we work out at 6:30 or why we can't call people in other zones without permission (no matter how much I want to call Members in Sioux City).  I do know however that when we are obedient to the commandments and the mission rules, that the Lord is bound to bless us (D&C 82:10).  "Lets bind the Lord!" President kept saying.  When we're obedient to the things that he's asked us to do through the words of the Prophets, he cannot not bless us.  He has to do it.  I've seen the blessings that come and I know its true.  Hopefully I can help the rest of the District to know its true as well.
#4 I was able to get permission to call Javier (Member in Sioux City) last night however.  That was probably the best way to top off such an amazing week.  He got the Crete number from the Elders there and sent me a text, so I got permission from the AP's and called him that night.  Everyone there is doing good.  Fernando and Jenny are in school now and everyone's staying busy and having a good time.  It was soooo nice to be able to talk to him.   He kept saying, "All the cool missionaries are gone!  When are you coming back?" and I would laugh and tell him I didn't know but I hope soon.  We'll see what happens.

We've got a busy week ahead of us so I'm excited for that.  I hope everything's great with you!  I love you so much!  Have a great week!
Lots of love,
Elder Zack

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy New Year!

Can you believe its 2015 already?  That blows my mind.  This work makes the time move by so fast.  For New Years Eve, we decided to do exchanges with Elder Shipley and Elder Pearson.  When we were all laying in bed as the clock turned to Midnight, Shipley said, "I never thought that 2015 would come... I go home this year.." and then I realized, so do I.  There's a lot of work to do still and the time is counting down!  Shoot.

Going on exchanges with Elder Shipley was actually a lot of fun.  We already know how one another teaches, we both speak Spanish, and it was just like we were companions all over again, except in Crete this time.  It was really nice, actually.  We didn't get along the best all the time while we were together, but for that one night, it was like we were really good friends.  I got to catch up with him, we talked about his family, and about he's been feeling since he only has about 4 months left.  He's trying not to be "too trunky."

Our full fridge 
This week, Elder Kummerman and I saw a HUGE blessing.  All of a sudden, investigators and members and a local place we volunteer at started giving us soooo much food.  No more starvation!  Maybe now I'll stop losing weight! 
This year as a mission, we're working hard to be a "Full-service Mission," meaning we're not only focusing on trying to get people to baptism, but to temple to receive Endowments and do the work for their ancestors.  I'm loving this new focus that we've been given and Elder Kummerman and I have worked pretty hard this week with the Less-Active members and New Converts to help give them the vision of the Temple in their lives.  We've talked A LOT about Family History work and about how much of a blessing it is that through it, we can "turn the heart of the children to the fathers." (Malachi 4:5-6).   I've been really blessed to have people in my family that have already done tons of family history work.  I was looking at my Family Tree the other day and followed it all the way back to some Norse King in the 100's.  My mind was blown.   I know that as we turn our hearts towards our "fathers" or our ancestors, that there's a lot we can learn from them, and that as we go and do the work for them in the temple, that they are rejoicing that they'll have the same blessings that we will.  I'm thankful for temples and the blessing that they are in our lives.  I know that Temple work, Family History Work, and Missionary Work are all the same work.  This week, when you're sitting around trying to figure out what to do for a little bit, I invite you to check out and get started.  If you're already started (like I know Mom is) keep going.  Keep learning.  There's always someone more that we can learn about.

I love you all and I hope you have a great week! 
Lots of Love,
Elder Zack