Tuesday, January 29, 2013

All the hard work!



Whew!!! Well we worked hard again this week!

There were a lot of really good things happening this week....I guess I should tell you about our new teaching pool :) I've been here in Richfield three months now, and the teaching pool has pretty much turned over every single month....so here goes!!

We are still teaching V's little sister S. Dad and big brother are warming up too...our ward mission leader thinks this could be a 12 baptism family before all is said and done. It has been a blessing to work with this one family for so long.

We are also still teaching M ..He is in his 40s, his and he is more active than most of his ward. He finally chose his own baptismal date for February 23rd! We had pot roast, veggies, and scones with his family yesterday and it reminded me a lot of our own Sunday night dinners.

I think that I mentioned P our 72 year old investigator. We had a really powerful moment with her on Tuesday.  We were following up with her reading and praying and Elder Rawlins and I got the prompting to scrap the lesson plan and teach 2 Ne 31 to her...it was one of the most Spiritual moments of my mission really, because there were times when we just sat still and watched her be taught by the holy ghost and answer her own questions. She committed to baptism in that lesson. Her recent convert son is going to baptize her :)

We are teaching someone in Venice!! Venice, Utah that is ;) A little family called the "L" family. They have a "ping├╝ino" daughter who hasn't been baptized yet and she probably knows more about the gospel than anyone else. We went with a priest to her lesson and then to a lesson with some YSA aged people and the priest said "Wow, put K.  in a room with any of them, and she will beat them on gospel knowledge 10 times out of 10." She is a sweetie :)

Then there is C, a bishop referred her to us this week, and she really wants to be baptized, but she needs to quit smoking. There was a moment where I used the bathroom in their house and they had a pack of cigarettes in there, and I just got really angry. Angry at the corporations, the substances, the Devil, and anyone who tries to enslave people with tobacco....I don't know why I felt so strongly about it, but maybe it’s because I love C and I want her to quit. We will keep at it!

There are a lot of other investigators that we have picked up recently too... S, a 14 year old who just moved from Denver and barely knows anything about the church, R, M, and A, some YSAs that have really great member friends. There is just so much in this area!! The only thing that makes me a little sad is that this area is going to be split in February!! I could stay in the Richfield Stake, or the East Stake, or be transferred!! But I will be sad to stop working with some of these incredible people we have been teaching.

I guess I just want to leave you my testimony of the Church. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's church on the earth today. Just like Heavenly Father has done in ages past, he reached out to us in our days by calling a prophet and giving him the priesthood authority. The gospel restored through Joseph Smith is the one and true gospel on the face of the earth now; there are a lot of people that want to learn it here, but can you imagine the missionary work that waits for us in the Spirit World? Our family can be together forever through the ordinances and covenants. It’s just the best thing ever :)
I love you all so much!!! Keep praying for me so that we can FIND the people Heavenly Father has prepared to be baptized.

Con Amor,
Elder Michael George Stewart

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Loving and Trusting...and One Year!



There is still a lot of work to do here in Richfield!

I think my favorite teaching appointment this week was teaching the W.  family yesterday. We taught the Plan of Salvation and frankly we taught a little bit of deep doctrine, but they asked for it. There was such a big difference teaching that family yesterday than there has been before...when they started coming to church and reading the scriptures the Spirit has come a lot more into their home. So....keep the commandments! Because the missionaries can tell the difference if you have been keeping them or not when they come into your home :)

Also of note this week....I lost my planner :( This is the first time it has happened to me on my mission, and I felt quite naked without it for a day. I prepared another one though for a "back up" and so I only fell a little behind. Still, it is not a good thing to lose.

And yes....in 4 days I will have been a missionary for a full year. So much has happened to me, but I love the work I am able to do now more than ever.  At this point on my mission, I am more determined than ever to help people come unto Christ. In this mission we can be successful and we can baptize, and I am just excited to keep working and help the Lord bless lives.

I do know that this is the Lord's church on the earth, and that He is already out there working hard to fulfill his purposes. Before in my life I think I learned the principles of accountability and hard work (thanks Mom and Dad) but on my mission I am coming to realize that I don't have to do everything alone. Jesus Christ already did the most heroic act in all of history in his sacrifice, and he is still working hard, so I don't have to be Superman. I can let go and trust Him to be doing His part even as I wear myself out in hard work.

I love you all and I love what I am doing! The people I get to serve are a humble and teachable bunch...and they teach me a lot about what I need to become myself.

Lots of Love,
Elder Michael George Stewart


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Transfers!!



Well it was another week full of lots of hard work :) We got transfer calls on Saturday, and President will be splitting up Elder Fragoso and me. We still have a chance that we will serve together again some day...but I am just grateful I had the chance to serve in Richfield with my one of my best friends.

As for transfer calls....Elder Fragoso will be going to Cedar City Spanish and he will be companions with Elder Lopez-Myta (he was in my MTC district) and I will stay in Richfield and my new companion will be Elder Rawlins, who is also from Virginia although I don't remember exactly where. He has been out for 9 months and I've heard really good things about him. I am just so excited that I get to stay in Richfield for a little while longer.

This week went by super fast...we saw two people baptized this week! Elder Fragoso baptized T S, who we found 3 weeks ago, and A M was baptized by his uncle. The services were full of a lot of less active members, and some people who haven't born their testimony in years/decades got up during the services to express their feelings.  We always love seeing the gospel bless people’s lives...there are always more people to help out there!

Both of these kids had been going to church and basically knew the whole gospel. We have started calling little kids that we teach "pinguinos" or penguins. There are a lot of pinguinos to teach all over this mission.
A few things we did this week really stand out to me...we drove to the little town of Koosharem and back in a snow storm and in the dark. There is a little dugway that goes past the town of Glenwood and up a mountain that we had to go over and that was one of the most unique driving moments in my life. Everyone going down that road was driving really slowly, and while it was really stressful, we made it to Koosharem and back with not even the slightest incident. 

I don’t think I have ever driven up and down hill in driving snow and wind, and so when we got back home and done with planning I jumped on my bed and just let out a huge sigh of relief. I think when we get done with this life we will all have a huge "sigh of relief moment" together. See the conference talk Beware Concerning Yourselves that takes the "driving up a mountain" and keeping the commandments analogy a little further.

We also had to drive down to the little town of Circleville twice this week to do baptismal interviews.  When President Bush set me apart as a missionary he promised me that I would be able to see lives changed and improved and in the baptismal interview I did for a man in Circleville he told me of his life and past problems, but he recognized the Holy Ghost prompting him and he quit everything and has been clean for one year. Just talking to this man and hearing his testimony made it worth the trip :)

Also speaking of changed lives! Our Eternal Investigator M C accepted a baptismal date for February! We had a lesson with him and his wife and discussed the Holy Ghost and the Restoration and both of them expressed their testimonies of the church and the Book of Mormon. It’s funny....M has been more actively attending church than most baptized members, he has just been waiting for the Holy Ghost to tell him when was the right time to get baptized himself.

I just want you to know that I do have a testimony of this work and this church. I reflect again and again on the (almost!!) first year of my mission and all the people I have been blessed to help...and it just makes me want to work even harder in the time that I have left. I feel like some missionaries make a lot of sacrifices before the mission to be able to serve, a lot make sacrifices while they are in the field, but every small sacrifice the Lord has asked me to make has been more than worth it...my time, my energy, my thoughts, my desires, everything I can give will ultimately never be enough to repay the sacrifice of God's Son. But at least he lets me join my own sacrifice to that one to bless lives.

I love you so much!! Pray for our continued safety and success!! We have a lot of work left here to do :)

Lots of Love,
Elder Michael George Stewart

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Being Humble



Mother and Father,

Whewwwwwie!!! What a fun week we had. We drove down to St. George and back for our meeting this week, and it was so funny to drive all the way back up...watching the thermometer drop all the way from 40 to -10...I love winter :) We do get in a lot more doors now because people are sympathetic to two shivering men standing out in the snow. The Lord's work can never be slowed :)

This week was again dominated by experiences with just a few investigator families....we still taught a lot of lessons, but the experiences of two families really stood out to me.

First, our Navajo investigator, V L, was baptized on Saturday! (We both forgot our cameras, so we are getting a picture to send to you all from the family. This is the girl that when we invited her to be baptized months ago threw up her arms and said "Yahooo!!"

The ward came out in really big numbers to her service, but also so did her family...the final count was that there were 15 other Navajo nonmembers at her service....we were super excited. Also after she had just come up out of the water, she threw up her arms again and said "Yeah!!" ;] Her grandma, who was the first convert in the family, and basically the matriarch of all of the Navajos in Richfield, gave the closing prayer in her native tongue. I was really grateful for the opportunity to be involved with her baptism and I am just stoked to start contacting and teaching all of her family members. At this point on my mission I really relish these opportunities I have to sacrifice and bring joy to other families like this....so next time you are grumbling about meetings or commandments, just throw up your arms and shout "Yahooo!!!", our gospel is a gospel of joy :)

We also spent a lot of time working with the M family again this week. Good news was that R and her family were at church yesterday, and she appreciated that we brought her some favorite comfort foods- Kit Kats and grape soda.  She has a rock solid testimony of the Book of Mormon and the church.

I think my other favorite experiences of this week came from working with R P, our YSA investigator. He is just so surrounded by good examples and good friends that are helping him read the Book of Mormon and come to church...I just wish I could give that vision to Elders and Priest quorums in the church...that they can find, fellowship, and baptize their friends around them if they open their mouths. It’s really exciting to be a part of.

It was another good week....and we get "good" transfer calls this week. Anything can happen...we can stay, both leave, go train a new missionary....anything!  

I love you so much! Take care and share your love with your friends!

Love,
Elder Michael George Stewart