Monday, February 23, 2015

Matthew 16:25

Giant Birthday Party for Elder Stapley (Feb 4), Elder Kummerman (Feb 17) and Elder Shipley (Feb 22) at our Ward Mission Leader, Brother Beck's house yesterday.  I've been around all of my companions on their birthdays now.
This week was really good!  I'm really happy with a lot of the good things that are happening in our area.  For example, this week I've seen lots of good things happening with Eric, the college kid I told you about a couple weeks ago.  This week we decided it was probably time to turn him over to the YSA Ward Elders, so we contacted them, set up an appointment with Eric, and then arranged for them to come from Lincoln to Crete to be able to meet him.  When they got here, we arranged for us to split up so Elder Linford (who I've known since Day 1 in Sioux City) and I went over to teach him with a member of the YSA Ward named Taylor.  That lesson with Eric was probably one of the most spiritually powerful lessons that I've had since I got to Crete.  We talked about the importance of personal revelation and the tools that our loving Heavenly Father has given us to be able to be more in-tune with the Spirit to be able to receive that revelation and know if these things we teach are true or not. (Prayer, Church, the Book of Mormon, etc).  Eric was asking amazing, inspired questions and the three of us were able to answer them and bear solid testimony of the truthfulness of these things.  At the end of the lesson we invited him to church, and he said yes!  From what the YSA Elders told us last night, it was a great experience for him and he really liked it!  He's really progressing and I'm seeing good things happening for him.
We've had some other really good lessons too this week, but I think I ended up learning more that some of our investigators.  It was one of those weeks.  This week I realized that I only have 5 transfers left after this one ends.  That's so little time!  That's as long as I've been in Crete!  I've been thinking about the growth that I've had and the ways that I've changed over these past 16ish months.  I think the best way I can explain it is through Matthew 16:25 that says:

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."
I've grown so much these past few months.  I'm definitely not the same person that got on that airplane in St. George and flew to Mexico.  I feel like I'm becoming who my Heavenly Father needs me to become.  I feel like I'm growing more than I ever would have been able to if I hadn't come on a mission, and I know that's because I'm losing myself in this work.  I couldn't be happier even if I tried.  I know that as we as missionaries and members live up to our covenants to give everything to the Lord, that's where true happiness is found. I know that what the Lord says in Doctrine and Covenants 18:15-16 is true when He says,

15 And 
if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! 16 And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!

True happiness is found in this work.  True happiness is found in making and keeping covenants with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. 
I know this is true and say it in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

So Many Miracles

Its crazy how when one little thing changes, everything else changes as well.  Tuesday night I was sitting on the couch, about to write in my journal and pondering all the stuff that was happening,  and like a sack of bricks it hit me just how much I love this area, my assignment as a District Leader, and my companion.  I absolutely love Crete.  I absolutely love the people that we are seeing.  I love that we are ALWAYS busy and that the people that we're seeing love us as much as we love them.  I love the District that I serve with.  These Elders are powerful teachers.  When they open their mouths, the Spirit is so strong.  They all know why they're here, and working with them is the funnest and most rewarding thing I could ever ask for.  I love Elder Kummerman.  I haven't always, but now I absolutely love serving with this kid.  He cracks me up on an hourly basis just with the things that he says and does.  He's also grown a TON and the progress he's made and the missionary he is now just within these past 10 weeks is mind-blowing.  Its a true privilege to be with him and to be his trainer.

This week's been so full of miracles and important life-lessons that I wish I could share them all with you, but sadly I don't have much time.  So let me share two of the highlights and then you'll have to read about the rest in my journal later.

I think one of the biggest miracles of the week was with a man named Victor.  We've been seeing Victor and his family on and off for about 3 months now.  It seems like they're impossible to find at home.  So last Tuesday we stopped by their house and they said, "Yeah come by tomorrow!".  Wednesday I was on exchanges with Elder Royal and we went over and they all said, "Victor will be here in 5 minutes!  Come back in a little bit!"  So we went and grabbed my jacket from the house and came back.  When we pulled up to the house again, Elder Royal looked at his phone and said that the other Elders (Elder Kummerman and Elder Johnson) had left us a message saying that Victor had told them that tonight wouldn't be a good night.... but there we were in front of the house and both felt inspired like we should try the house anyway.  They had told us to come back after all!  When we knocked for time number 2, Victor answered the door and said, "I've only got about 10 minutes but come on in.  When we got to talking, we got on the subject of prayer and right when he started talking, I knew we were going to be much longer than 10 minutes.  He started telling us about his life's story and about why he trusts in God so much.  I was amazed by his humility and his love for his Savior.  We taught him about the importance of the family and the importance of prayer and the Spirit was so strong.  He really wanted to learn, and you could see it in his face.  I'm pretty sure that at some point in the lesson all 3 of us were crying.   
When we got done with the lesson, Elder Royal and I went back to the house and started talking.  Recently he's been having some difficulties with a few things and he was EXTREMELY motivated by Victor's humility.  That night, not only did I feel a change in myself, but I saw a change come over both Victor and Elder Royal.  I love the Spirit.  I love what it can do and how it can motivate us to become better than we are.

I learned a very important lesson from a 7 year old boy on Sunday.  Due to the fact that church was canceled on Fast and Testimony Sunday a few weeks ago, in the Seward Branch we had it this week.  When the Branch President, President Roundy, got up to start off the testimony part of the meeting, little 7 year old Mikey, who was sitting on his mom's lap right in front of me, got a big smile on his face and asked his mom, "Can I please go share my testimony next?"  
Imagine if all of us were THAT ready and THAT willing to share our testimonies.  Imagine if we all were that driven to go out and share with others what we know to be true.  That's how this true Gospel spreads.  I think there's a lot that can be learned from Mikey and the rest of the children of the Church.  They're all so happy and so willing to share the truths that they know and I know that if we were all like them, this world would be a lot better.  The Lord needs us to be as "little children." He needs us to go out and bring others to the truth and I testify that as we follow the Spirit in looking for opportunities to share the Gospel with others and open our mouths to testify, that our words will be powerfully carried unto the hearts of the people we love.    I know this to be true and I invite you all to look for those moments throughout this next week, and I do so in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I love you all.  I hope you had a very great week.  Look for those small moments and they'll teach you a lot.  I love this work.  I love each and everyone of you.  Have a great week!

Lots of Love,
Elder Zachary Paddock

Me and a crazy 78 year old Guatemalan man named David Linares Gomez.  We met him the other day and he is so solid!  He really wants to know if these things are true.  We had an amazing lesson with him 2 hours ago.  Sadly he's going back to Guatemala next week...

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Perks of Being a Leader

Mission Leadership Council February 2015
Zone & District Leaders
(pic by Sister Weston)
Elder Paddock is on the right side behind the Sister in the red skirt.
Mission Leadership Council February 2015
Zone & District Leaders
(pic by Sister Weston)

Mission Leadership Council February 2015
Zone & District Leaders
(pic by Sister Weston)

Mission Leadership Council February 2015
Zone & District Leaders
(pic by Sister Weston)

This week was full of lots of fun opportunites that I was blessed with due to the fact of being a leader.
For example, there I was Thursday morning in District Meeting, standing up to give my training to the District, and in walks President Weston.  "Is it alright if I sit in on your training, Elder Paddock?" he asks.  No pressure or anything, right?   Luckily this time, I was really prepared for my training.  I'm actually really thankful that he was able to come since he was able to add some good inspiration and great input into the discussion we were having on Repentance.  It was a big surprise, but I'm thankful that he was able to come.
Friday was just an absolute party, with a 4 hour serious meeting in the middle.  I had the blessing of attending a Mission Leadership Training for all the District Leaders, Zone Leaders, and Sister Training Leaders in the entire mission.  We were able to receive some great council from President Weston, Sister Weston, and the Assistants.  President talked about our covenants that we make as missionaries.  Basically what him and I talked about during my interview last transfer.  
We talked about all the covenants that we've made and the  reason that we keep those.  We talked about this mission is what helps us prepare to Become.  IT helps prepare for what's ahead.  We talked about how if we as missionaries aren't willing to keep the commitments and mission rules and our covenants, then that's a reflection of how we'll be for the rest of our lives.  
I loved what Sister Weston said.  She said that the word LEADER actually stands for the things we need to be and do:
Always rely on the Spirit
Devoted to our Heavenly Father
Excited to be here
I know that there's things that I can change.  I know there's things that I can do better to help my district become better missionaries and to help the work in our areas progress and become better.
Elder Johnson & Elder Paddock at Mission Leadership Council February 2015
(pic by Sister Weston)

Mission Leadership Council February 2015
(pic by Sister Weston)

In other words, Crete is doing great.  We're teaching between 17-21 Lessons every week, which is awesome!  We're seeing so many of our people and the work in our area is going so well.  I'm absolutely loving the people that we're teaching and the awesome people we've been finding as well.  I'm really excited about a guy named Eric that we've been teaching.  He's a college kid that's insanely smart.  He says he just thinks of things sometimes and tells us his ideas, and then we whip out a scripture in the Book of Mormon that talks exactly about what he's been thinking.  He was blown away when we showed him 3 Nephi 11 and talked about his idea that the Godhead is actually 3 different beings, God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, and how they work together and that's how they're one.  He said he'd just been thinking in his Philosophy class and that idea came to his head.  He really liked the story of Joseph Smith as well and at the end of the lesson he prayed and asked for himself and got an answer.  He wants to know and he's definitely progressing forward.
I love this work.  I'm happy to be a part of it.  I love you all and I hope you have a great day!
Lots of Love,
Elder Zack Paddock
Elder Kummerman napping in the snow after lots of walking

The Giant snow drift I conquered.

Nebraska Sunrise

Paddock Road!    It's in Omaha over by the church. 

Elder Paddock at Paddock Road
I had to awkwardly stand out the window and 
take a picture of myself since it was a really busy road. 
 Maybe some day I'll get a better one.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

"Oh the weather outside is frightful.."

Elder Kummerman walking in the snow with his ice Scraper
Holy cow it snowed a lot this week.  From Saturday morning to Sunday night it did not stop snowing at all.  With Saturday's snow being more of a slush, it caused all the roads to be nothing but ice and with the snow coming in on top of it Sunday there was no way we were going to be able to drive safely.  After all was said and done it ended up snowing about a foot or more here.  With all the snow and the 50 mph winds, Church all across the Lincoln Nebraska Stake was canceled due to saftey reasons and cars all across the Nebraska Omaha Mission were grounded for the whole day.  Sadly when the cars are grounded and church is canceled it does not mean that the missionaries get to sit at home all day in sweat pants and drink hot chocolate while spending the day playing UNO and watching the Restoration.  We got to work.  We packed on all of our winter clothes and went out into the frigid weather and started shoveling snow.  We shoveled snow and scraped car windows for probably 3 hours yesterday, just helping the people out as we went through the city.  We were able to meet around 20 new people yesterday and help them see that Mormons aren't really all that weird.   I absolutely hate the cold, but I highly enjoyed spending a part of our day in the service of others.

The rest of the week was pretty eventful as well!  Especially Wednesday and Thursday with the meetings we had!  
Wednesday was our first District Meeting with our new District.  I'm so excited about the rest of this transfer.  I love these Elders that I get to serve with.  They're all a bunch of goofballs and know how to have a good time.  District Meeting was really a good way for me to see how the rest of this transfer is going to pan out.  10 Elders in one District is a lot, and we're going to have to do 1-2 exchanges every week of the transfer just to make sure we do them with everyone, but I'm excited for the challenge and excited to serve these Elders.
Thursday night was a nice little surprise when Elder Garff and his new boy from Bolivia, Elder Lopez came to Crete so we could drive them to Omaha for Spanish Conference.  They came a little bit early and Elder Kummerman and I were able to go on a quick little exchange with them.  We stuck Elder Lopez and Elder Kummerman together since we knew that Elder Kummerman would love only speaking in Spanish with Elder Lopez (He's been in the US for less than a year and doesn't speak very good English), which meant that I got to be with Garff for at least a little bit.  

Spanish Conference
Spanish Specialized Training (pic by Sis Weston)
Spanish Specialized Training (pic by Sis Weston)

Spanish Specialized Training (pic by Sis Weston)

Thursday morning we took off to Omaha.  Spanish Conference was amazing as always and I still feel very honored to be a part of this group of Elderes y Hermanas.  Garff surprised me though when halfway through the meeting he leaned over and said, "Can you believe we only have two more of these before we go home?"  That's too few!  There's no way I only have that short of time left as a missonary!  I refuse to believe it!  This work is hard.  It's easily the most challenging thing I've ever done in my entire life, but I've never been a part of something so rewarding and so amazing either.  I feel very privileged to be a part of it.  My testimony has grown tremendously and I know for a fact that my Savior loves me and this is His work.  I pray that I'll be able to use these next 8 months in their fullest.  
Our remaining Mexico Group.  The Hermanas
both had to go home early for medical stuff.

I hope you have a great week!  I love you so much!  

Lots of love,
Elder Zack