Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Settin' the world ablaze :)

Hello mother and father!!

This week was...just incredible. I think it’s the SECOND most hard working week I have had on my mission....I've gotten a lot more used to being in charge of 22 missionaries, I really love each and every one of them. It still is kind of stressful from time to time ;)

BUT!!! I got a new companion...and we are pretty much are going to give Alma and Amulek a run for their money. Elder Campbell!! He is from Alamosa, Colorado. He is an amazing missionary.

Like I said...we worked HARD this week...we found 10 potential investigators that are really promising and at least twice as many other nonmembers who aren't ready now but can go in the area book. It has been interesting working with what is now 1/2 of my old area...there really was not much happening in this stake at the end of last week. At the beginning of this week my attitude was "Well, I will just trust in the Lord and my companion, and we will work hard and see what happens" It seems like every single plan we made just turned to gold this week :)

There was some opposition though. We had three people call us on Saturday and tell us they weren't ready for all of the lessons or for baptism...that was super hard. I evaluated my love for the people, and the way I was working or teaching, and decided that they just weren't ready yet. It was just hard that all three decided to pause on the same day.

However there were tons of miracles for us on Sunday, because we decided to keep working hard and fast as well. We had no investigators show up to any of the wards we were in until 1 pm, and that ward (the YSA ward) had started without any investigators showing up and I was not really hopeful. Then out of the blue we see one of our potential investigator's C, a 19 year old, walk through the door. He said "I was going to come with K (a young man who is going on a mission) but he overslept, so I came any way." We sat with C through the sacrament meeting and it turns out he is REALLY interested...he has been going to church for the past few weeks, and we have an appointment with him later today. I am just glad that our hard work has paid off and that we are still blessing other people's lives.

The big miracles came yesterday evening though. We got to the Stake Center early for our Stake Coordination meeting, and I had a prompting to go and see one of the Bishops (he is pretty much Superman, he is going to be stake president someday...plus I see eye to eye with him...literally!!). I have learned to follow these promptings right when I get them, and so we went to the opposite side of the building from our meeting to talk with the Bishop. He saw us coming down the hall and says, "Elders, I am so glad to see you! I have someone for you to teach and baptize!" It turns out that a lady (Sister D B, who is one of Elder Eccles' converts when he was serving in Richfield) has custody of some of her grandkids now, and they have all been coming to church together for a few months. We were so excited, that right after our meeting, we contacted the family, D explained to her son C that "They are here to help you get baptized" and C told us "I want to be baptized to be a full member of Christ's church". We just thanked Heavenly Father afterwards for him hearing our prayers and blessing us for our hard work. This is what it’s all about :)

So, we were up to two miracles yesterday: two new investigators who came to church and a new ping├╝ino to teach and baptize =) Then we went to the Native American "dorm" branch, and our good friend S was not there. We were sad, but right after they finished with the sacrament we hustled up to the Residence Hall, and there we found S waiting in his new white shirt, tie, slacks, and dress shoes (courtesy of President Allen Christensen, of Christensens) . Apparently S had just missed the ride with the rest of the Native American students! So, we got a Ward Mission Leader to give him a ride down there, and he stayed the whole time :)
Whew...lots of miracles. I am just really happy right now. I could stay in the Richfield Stake for the rest of my mission if they let me :-) I know all of the bishops and ward mission leaders in each ward, but since I know only have 8 wards to worry about, I think I will go ahead and meet the whole ward council of every ward ;) I just feel like right now in my mission, I am flying in one of the "F-16s" of the church (See the talk by President Uchtdorf in the Priesthood Session of the October 2012 general conference).

I know right now our teaching pool is smaller than I would like it, but we are building it back up step by step. I know Heavenly Father is helping us to do this every day.

I love you all so much!! This church is so true, and I know that we have the priesthood and the gift of the Holy Ghost with us. It’s all about helping other people come into the fold and helping heavenly father gather scattered Israel. Take care! And share the gospel with your friends and family :)
Con amorcito,

Elder Michael George Stewart

Monday, February 18, 2013

They Split my Area!

Hello mom and dad!! It was a good week, a good way to end the transfer, and there were a lot of lessons learned. I think the most important thing I have learned has been about getting along with others. At the beginning of this transfer, Elder Rawlins and I could have just given up after our initial disagreements and differences, but we didn't! We kept talking and working at it, and the Lord helped us out. We were still able to be successful and help the Zone even though we are very different people. Sometimes it’s just easier to not talk and to be totally convinced of your own opinion, but when we talk and are honest, things work out.
Elder Rawlins and I are both staying in Richfield! ;-) However, we will no longer be companions; Elder Rawlins will be training a new missionary, and my district leader, and biking, in the Richfield East Stake. And I am getting a new companion (Elder Campbell, he hasn't been a ZL before) and staying in the Richfield stake- with the car ;-). I have really one goal for this week; we need to find more people to teach! All of the ones we were working are in the other stake. Keep praying that Elder Campbell and I find more families to teach!

So even though they split my area, I am very excited about the transfer. Elder Campbell is a young, energetic missionary that wants to be successful and is a hard worker and a good teacher. We have a lot of work to do!

P!! He is doing so well. He is reading the Book of Mormon on his own and coming to primary.  He is a really good kid. It took a lot of work to get him ready, and he had to do some pretty hard things too, but he made it! His dad bawled at the service and bore his testimony! He hadn't been to church in a long time!
So because we broke our personal record for oldest convert, we figured we had to teach a few ping├╝inos to make up for it :) But, seriously, we have been teaching a lot of old people recently!! A 78 year-old man, a couple in their 60s, and a man in his 80s! Wow!! Unfortunately, they are all in the East Stake, so I won't see them until they need to be interviewed, but it sure has been fun.

Well, we have a lot of work to do! We have two investigators right now, R our YSA who loves the Book of Mormon, and S, a Navajo boy staying in the Indian residence hall. We have to find more investigators this week :)

I love you all so much. I love being one of the Lord's servants, and I am totally floored how he could trust me with the work of salvation for his children. My testimony of the truthfulness of this gospel and this truth has never been stronger. How could you deny the fruits that this church has produced? How could you not recognize the miracles of this Church's beginning, its current growth, and its future? I know it’s true, and I feel like I am just starting to fulfill my promise to give my life for this work.

And now for a quote on missionary work
"Faith is the power, love is the motive, obedience is the price, the Spirit is the key, for Christ is the Reason."
Be good and take care!! Reach out in Christian love to those in need this week. I will keep after it down here :-)

Elder Michael George Stewart

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lots of Changes :)

Hello beloved family!! It’s been a really good week for us and for our Zone...whew! We are back to leading the mission again ;) BUT! Just like Sister Stewart reported, we are also seeing some not so visible miracles and results from our service. I guess I should start this letter with a confession:-]

If you look back a few emails ago to my last week with Elder Fragoso, in Tyler's baptism photo you might notice a nice boot on my leg. Sooo....for a little over a month I had a small fracture in my foot and I had to wear that lovely boot and I wasn't driving. Never fear, the allotted time to wear the boot has passed and I am back in two shoes and walking everywhere.

The way that little break came about was basketball ;) We were down in St. George playing basketball with some other Elders before our meeting in the morning, and I got the rebound, but another Elder landed right on top of my foot while I was moving, and as I fell I felt a very distinct "POP!" in the foot. And it really did hurt. We made it through the meeting, got back to Richfield, and I went to a doctor friend who x-rayed it, gave me the boot, and has been helping me out ever since. Aren't we grateful for good medical service?
It was actually kind of symbolic for me, because during this transfer I had to move a little slower physically. So it was a good experience, and I am very glad that the boot is gone officially :)

In other news...P was baptized this week! 
Here she is with her son F who baptized her (F moved to Richfield first, about 20 yrs ago, and was baptized shortly thereafter). She really is amazing :) Her kids and grandkids were at her service and it was really amazing to see the whole family come together. I think I had mentioned early that right after teaching her the Word of Wisdom, she quit smoking and drinking coffee in two days!! She made lots of changes! I think the reward came when the family members came up to us and thanked us for teaching their mother-in law and grandma. I thought how I would feel if someone had taken the time to love and help my own grandma like we took with P. 

In other news this week...we were really busy! We went all the way down to St. George and back for a meeting with President and when we were down there we saw J H who I had taught in Snow Canyon! We were just driving by the temple and he turned down the road in his truck, and I practically hung out of the window and waved at him. He smiled big and waved back, but I wish I could have sat down with him and talked more. Just a little nugget that Heavenly Father gave me I guess you could say.

Other good things kept happening in our area this week; we got a lot of referrals from our Bishops for people that really want to be baptized. It’s been fun to contact them and see their preparation to receive the gospel. One of the people we contacted is an 82 year old man named B ;) He is a kind old man, and he started out saying that he doesn't need us to stop by, and then he said he would be in church on Sunday, and then he was saying that "maybe you all are here to really turn me around." Yeah, you could say that, B ;-) It’s just so refreshing that when we really focus on our purpose as missionaries of helping others come unto Christ that the Lord works even harder to help us find people, and helps us teach them and change their hearts.

So a lot could change this week too! We are getting transfer calls this Saturday and Sunday and President has told us that we will probably not be staying together...which gives me mixed feelings. Elder Rawlins and I have worked really hard to talk things out and build unity in our companionship and work towards the same goals...and we are getting there! So maybe we just learned everything Heavenly Father wanted us to learn from this transfer...5 weeks with a companion is so fast! I was averaging 3 months per companion!
But anyway, anything can happen on Saturday and Sunday! We will have to hold on and find out.

I just want you all to know that I love every second of my mission now. Yes I have gained some weight, and yes I had a broken foot for a while, and it’s not easy, but I think I am starting to live more fully the motto I chose for myself years ago at SB2w (Do you all remember Summers Best 2 Weeks? Best camp ever). Anyway, that motto was "God first, Others second, I'm third" I think "I'm third" is a really powerful motto to live by. Matthew 22:36-40 
"36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." 

On these two commandments hang my whole mission as well. As missionaries, we love the Lord by first being obedient to Him and sacrificing for Him, and every part of our work of teaching and lift shows our love for others. Many nights we get home really exhausted, but our cups our very full. We are happiest, when we put the needs of others above our own.

I love you all! The church is true! We are working hard to help our investigators change and to change ourselves as well! 
Con amorcito,
Elder Michael George Stewart

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pues, fijate que...The Church is True :)

Hello mom and dad! It is good to get to email you all today...we changed our Pday to tomorrow, but kept emails for today, so that we can go do some work in the Manti temple tomorrow. I guess we make little sacrifices to be able to attend the temple and feel God's presence in his house.

So this week I will give you a reader's digest of "the action" we saw in the magical Sevier county b/c time is short.

The biggest news we have is that we will have the baptism for the oldest convert of my mission this Saturday...P, our 72 year old friend, moved her own date up to this Saturday so that her son can baptize her. When Elder Fragoso and I started teaching her last month, we thought that she would be a "slow cooker" because of her age ;) But she has really surprised us with the speed at which she ate through the lessons. One of the reasons we MUST invite people to be baptized is because it causes them to think and pray seriously about that choice...I think that P is one of the most spiritual people that we have taught, and she prayed seriously about the choice to be baptized, and I know that heavenly father answers prayers for every sincere seeker.

So right now...we are still working hard! Elder Rawlins and I made some personal goals to have more unity, obedience, and diligence in our companionship, and I feel like the Lord is really blessing us for those simple sacrifices. For instance, we were in the 15th ward this Sunday, and we had 7 investigators in that ward alone! All the blessings :) 

I love you all so much! I am grateful that I made the decision to serve a mission at this time; with so many new missionaries coming to Utah (we will have 180 in our mission...and there are only 69 stakes in our mission) the whole game of missionary work sure is changing. But I am so glad that the Lord has given me a vision of my purpose, and he is helping me grow and change every day. I love these people, I love you all, and I love the Lord :)

Be safe!! 
Elder Michael George Stewart