Monday, March 30, 2015

The Funny Happenings of Missionary Work

This week was just chalk full of awkward funny moments that always remind me of why I love this work.  I don't think that if the things that have happened this week would have happened to me before the mission they wouldn't have had as much of an impact.
Let me explain.
Experiencia numero uno
I was on exchanges with Elder Shipley and we decided to go out into the middle of nowhere to try and contact a referral that was given to us by some other Elders.  I was surprised as to how great the dirt, county roads were due to the fact that it had rained the entire night before.  We got out to the guy's house, and he wasn't there.  So we drove back.  On the way back, we took one wrong turn, and got stuck in 5 inches of mud.  Of course we're out in the middle of nowhere and have absolutely no cell service.  There was no way that that car was moving.  So we waddled through the mud all the way out to one of the more likely traveled roads and waited for a car to pass by.  Finally after close to 10 minutes a truck pulled to the side and asked if we needed help.  He said that he would pull us out himself... if he hadn't broke his tow rope pulling someone else out earlier that morning.  But he said I could use his phone to call someone.  I had no idea who were were going to call.  Suddenly I had the idea to call Brother Dinopoli, a less-active member who I knew had a truck and wasn't currently working.  Brother Dinopoli hasn't wanted contact with us in a while, but I took the risk and gave him a call.  After laughing at me for taking a wrong turn and getting stuck, he said he'd be there as soon as he could to get us out.  1 hour later (which provided lots of time to just sit and talk with Elder Shipley)  Brother Dinopoli showed up and pulled us out.  Since then he's been a lot more friendly with us and even told us that we could stop by his house this week and talk to them a bit!  I honestly don't think that would've happened any other way.  The Spirit works through interesting situations to soften hearts sometimes. 

Experiencia numero dos
There we were playing basketball with Dylan.  We've been trying to get him to come to church for months now and it didn't seem like anything was working.  It got around me and went to shoot as I ran up behind him to swat the ball and SMACK!  His elbow went crashing into my nose.  Pain shot through my whole face and my nose started bleeding pretty bad.  He thought he'd broke my nose... heck I even thought he'd broke it it hurt so bad.   I walked off a little bit and finally got it to stop bleeding.  
"I'm sorry!" Dylan said, "Is there anything I can do?"
"You could come to church this week," I replied.
"I don't know about that"
"Come on,"  I said.  "What else do you have going on at 10 o clock on a Sunday Morning?"
"Plus you did just break his nose," Elder Kummerman chimed in.
"I'll think about it," He said, and we left it at that. 
Sunday Morning we texted Barbara and asked her if Dylan was coming to church with her.  She said that she wasn't going to be able to make it this week due to some sickness, but Dylan did say he would go if he could drive (He's got his permit now.)  That's progress, even if we guilt-tripped him a little bit.    I know he'll be there soon!  He's making his way there little by little.
Eric did come to church though!  He's doing great and I'm happy to see such great progress with him!  He seemed to like it and had some great questions during Gospel Principles!
I hope all is great with you guys and that you have a very happy General Conference/Easter weekend!  I love you so much!
Lots of love,
Elder Zack Paddock

The church recently came out with a video about Easter called Because He Lives.
I know that Christ lives and that He truly is the reason for this Easter Season.  I pray that we can always keep Him in our hearts and that we may more better understand His Atonement.  Check the video out it's really good!

from Elder Paddock's email to Mom:
MOM!    I just realized that exactly 6 months from today I'll be getting off the plane....... aaaaaaaaaahhhhhh.  Crazy.  That's scary.  Don't worry though.  I'm not getting trunky.  
Love you! 

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Temple and The Atonement

I realized the other day that 3/4 of my companions are in the same zone...
the only one missing is Elder Juan who's been home for almost a year now. 

Kummerman, Paddock, Holman, Shipley

This week was great!  You wouldn't think so based off our numbers, but it really was a great week, especially for 3 reasons.  One being Dylan is moving along great and I'm really excited for the progress he's making.  I made him a bet while we were playing basketball with him on Saturday that if I beat him in 1 on 1 that he would have to come to Church.  And guess what, I won!  He got smart and counted coming to the branch party that night as coming to church... smart kid.  I'll get him this week though :)

The biggest highlight of my week though was going to the temple.  I love the temple.  It is my favorite place on earth.   The Spirit that is felt in that building is stronger than anywhere else on Earth.  It truly is the House of God.  I love going to the temple with a focus each time I go so that as I sit and pay attention, the Spirit can teach me strongly.  This time my focus was the Atonement.   This week, I've had the opportunity to do a lot of thinking about the ways that we can become powerful, effective missionaries.  I've noticed that there's some missionaries who go out and work hard each and every day and are obedient to the mission rules and the commandments without a problem and love being here and never want it to end.  I've also noticed that there's missionaries who work hard, and love being here,but are excited for when its over and they can go back to "normal life" and not have as many "restrictions", which they hardly keep anyway.  I came to the conclusion that a lot of that has to do with understanding our Purpose as missionaries to "invite others to come unto Christ" and understanding the Atonement.  

Preach My Gospel says
"As your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase. You will feel, as Lehi did, the 'great … importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth' (2 Nephi 2:8)"  
I know this is true.  I'm thankful for the insights that I've had this week on the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the pure love that He and our Father in Heaven have for us (John 3:16).  My hope is that as we as a District put more of a focus on the Atonement in our studies and in our teaching that not only we will progress and become better missionaries and representatives of Jesus Christ, but our investigators and less actives and members will progress and become better disciples of Jesus Christ.  
This work is true.  I'm happy to be a part of it.  I invite each of you to take some time to pull out your scriptures this week and learn as much as you can about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Knowing more about what He has done for us not only helps us to feel more of the love of God and understand the Atonement better, but it helps us be more grateful and humble and helps us want to share this love with others.  
I hope you have a great week!  I love you!
Lots of Love,
Elder Zachary Paddock

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

3 Things

Yesterday's beautiful sunrise

This week has been amazing!  I'm so glad that I'm still in Crete with Elder Kummerman so that I can be able to be here and see these miracles.  
One of the biggest one's that we're seeing is with a 15 year old kid named Dylan who is Barbara's son.  Back before Barbara's baptism in October, Dylan didn't want much to do with us and really all we were were the guys in shirts and ties that came over and talked to his mom.  But since then Dylan has been a lot more open with us and a lot more talkitive.  I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that because we've begun to show him that we care about him by going to play basketball with him on Saturdays his desire to talk to us has grown as well.  He just needed to know we cared.  Little by little over the past few months, Dylan has been sitting in on more discussions and asking lots of really good questions.  This last week's lesson was exceptionally good when we taught the Plan of Salvation.  When we began talking about what happens when we die, instantly Dylan perked up and began asking lots of questions.  Something (the Spirit) got him interested in the message we were sharing and instantly he wanted to learn more.  With every time we've seen him since he's been asking question after question and I'm excited to see what happens with him next. 
The St. George NOM olympics winners. 
Me for Sit UPs and Elder Hansen for Ladders

All the missionaries who participated

The Medal

Another great thing from this week was Zone Conference/ NOM Olympics.  I'm convinced that each Zone Conference gets better and better.  This Conference's focus was about teaching in the Lord's way which is "To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth." (D&C 50:14). 
President Weston shared the story of when Elder Bednar set him apart as a Mission President.  Elder Bednar told him that there was only three things that he needed to take into the mission field:
  1. The Scriptures (Direction on how the work of the Lord has been done since the beginning of time)
  2. Preach My Gospel (Direction on how the work of the Lord is to be done in our days)
  3. The Spirit
We talked about how incredibly important it is to utilize all three of those things out here in this area of the Lord's work.  I know that if we'll utilize those three things, that the work of the Lord will progress faster than it already is.  The work is hastening.  Our area of Crete is a prime example of that seeing that in my 9 months here, the investigator pool has doubled, Less Actives are being strengthened and coming back, and there are new people coming out of the woodwork who are interested in learning more about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I know that it has nothing to do with me being here but it has everything to do with the fact that the Lord is working on this area.  Of that I'm sure.  
I know this is the work of the Lord.  I know that Crete is where he wants me to be at this time.  I know he places each of us in areas where we can do the most good, even if we're not called to be full-time missionaries.  Look for opportunities to share the Gospel and I promise they will come. 
I hope you have a great week!  
Lots of Love,
Elder Zack Paddock

PS I won the Sit Ups competition.

From his email to his dad:
Did I tell you about church last week?  I gained a testimony of constant preparedness when I was asked to translate Sacrament Meeting to Spanish, give the Gospel Principles lesson (with a 5 minute warning before class) and translate Spanish to English for Elder's quorum since the teacher doesn't speak much English.... OH the joy's of missionary work.  

Sunday, March 15, 2015

I'm Still Here

Hispanic Member party 
 I'm still here!  I'm officially going 9 months in both of my first areas and 3 transfers with every companion so far.  Its crazy to think that at the end of this transfer, I'll be at 18 months and will have had only 2 areas and 4 companions.  That just never happens anywhere else.  This transfer will only be a 5 week transfer (for some reason of getting us back on track with the world.... or something) and its going to fly!  I'm still assigned as a District Leader and our District shrunk significantly.  We lost 2 companionships that are now in a completely different zone so now instead of doing 7 exchanges in one transfer like last transfer, we only have to do 3 now.  That's much less stressful :)  Both Elder Pearson and Elder Lambert were transferred though and we'll definitely miss having them around.  

District Lunch at the best burger place in Lincoln
with Elder Lambert and Elder Pearson

Check out this burger!  Its got meat, bacon, cabbage, PB, and
fried grapes.  I think its the best thing I've ever eaten.

I think today more than anything else, I wanted to write about my testimony of the love that our Father in Heaven has for us.  I know with a surety that our Father in Heaven loves us, that he knows each and everyone of us personally and individually and that he's created a plan for us that to me brings great joy and peace.  Its called the Plan of Salvation or the Plan of Happiness. It answers some of life's big questions like "Where did I come from?" "Why am I here?" and  "What happens after I die?". Knowing about what it is that God has planned helps me to know that everything is going to be alright, no matter what happens.  I know that our Savior Jesus Christ loves each and every one of us and knows exactly what each one of us is going through.  I know that death is not the end.  That its just another step in the plan and that our loving Heavenly Father has so much more prepared for us after this life.  I know that God loves us.  I know that you can know this is true as well by learning about it and praying about it and I invite you to do so.  
I also invite you to check out this website that talks about this Plan of Salvation that I've talked about and if you have any questions to get in contact with the missionaries that live around you.  They'd be more than happy to help.  

Quick Funny Story:
We had told Barbara that Transfers were happening this week so Thursday morning we get a text from her saying, "Soooooo....?"  So we got the bright idea to text her back saying, "We're both leaving..." which was a complete lie.  So immediately she called us and said, "Ok you have to come over tonight and take pictures!"  
And that's where this picture comes in.  After saying our "goodbyes" I said, "Well can I get a picture with you?" and she said yes and came and stood by me and while we were standing there smiling I said, "Want to know a secret?" 
"Sure," she replied.
"We're not leaving."
And then Elder Kummerman took the picture :)

Barbara and Elder Paddock

I love each of you and I hope that you have a great week! 
Lots of love,
Elder Zack


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

That Juan Miracle

Elder Johnson, Elder Pearson, and I
This week has been full of fun moments that I won't forget.  I want to begin with a story.
I had the privilege of being on exchanges with Elder Johnson (who goes home in 2 days)  and we planned to go tracting.  As we were walking to the area we planned to knock, we stopped and I asked him, "OK which one?"
"Juan?  Where's Juan?"  He replied.
"I don't know!"  I said.  And we decided we would find Juan and loan him a Book of Mormon.
So we knocked and knocked and knocked and we were able to contact a lot of people, but sadly no one was really interested, and not one of them was named Juan.  Noticing what time it was, we started to head back toward home for Dinner.  We decided we would knock the door of a blue house that was coming up and we'd give them a Book of Mormon.  The guy answered and we got to talking.  
"What's your name?" Elder Johnson asked him.
"Juan." He replied.  
Elder Johnson and I just about busted up laughing right there on Juan's porch, but we kept it contained and proceeded to teach him about the Book of Mormon, which he happily accepted.  Now we're going back to see him in a few days! 
Elder Johnson has become one of my good friends out here and I'm thankful that he was in my District this transfer. He's added a great deal of fun to our very diverse district and I've definitely enjoyed having him with us.  
I also had 2 experiences with the Spirit this week that I'd like to share.
The first experience came while we were attending a different church that some of our investigators invited us to "come and see" just like we were inviting them to see.  It was definitely an experience that I won't soon forget.  As soon as we walked in, there were people praying at the top of their lungs and for the first hour of the service was music and praises that were played at ear-drum-breaking volumes and people dancing and praising God.  Don't get me wrong.  I agree 100% with what the 11th article of Faith says when it states:
"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."
But I also know the difference that I felt the next day as I was sitting in Sacrament Meeting.  A scripture in 1 Kings 19:11-12 came to my mind yesterday as I sat in church that says:
 11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
The Lord speaks through the still small voice.  He speaks to us through the quiet stillness of our hearts through our feelings and thoughts.  I love the peace that I feel in church every week.  I love that I can sit in the chapel, especially on Fast and Testimony Sunday and I can listen to others share their testimonies of how the Spirit has testified to them personally of the simple truths of the Gospel. 
The other experience from this week taught me that same principle.

The District  
(With the Exception of Elder Waite who opted to take the picture and not be in it)

Thursday was district meeting.  We've had quite a bit of missionaries in our mission, including a few in our district, that have become "relaxed" with the rules and they don't seem to care a whole lot.  My training this week was about covenants and about the promises we made when we came on a mission to be obedient to the commandments, the mission rules, and the counsel of the Mission President. Knowing that I'd have to be pretty serious, I'd been preparing this training for longer than any other training I've given ever.... and when I stood up to give it, I realized I'd left my notes at home.    So with a prayer in my heart and an entire week of preparation under my belt, I stood up and trusted that the Spirit would give me the words to say and would lead my training in the direction that the Lord wanted for the District.  I've never felt the Spirit like that in a District Meeting before.  When I stood up and testified to the Elders of the truthfulness of the work and the promises we've made I felt the Spirit testifying to them that what I was saying was true.  I could see it on their faces and in the desire that they showed afterwards to change and to become stronger in the faith.  I know that that training had absolutely nothing to do with me or anything I said.  I know that the Spirit works wonders through people if we stand and bear testimony. 
I know the Spirit is the true teacher.  I know that if we, as disciples of Christ, "shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved" (D&C 45:32)
then the Holy Ghost will testify to us of the truthfulness of this work.  I know this is the Church of Jesus Christ.  I know that "by the power of the Holy Ghost [we] may know the truth of all things." (Moroni 10:5) and I say that in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I love you!  Have a great week!

Lots of Love,
Elder Zachary Paddock