Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lots of Lessons Learned

Well, this was a great week. Miracles rained down from above, people just showed up out of nowhere. And I learned a ton of lessons. 

Elder Campbell and I trained a new group of missionaries and their trainers. Then we finished the first week of the transfer. The highlight of the week was a kid named R. He is from California, and we were referred to him by the missionaries in Hurricane. He has been going to church for weeks, loves the Book of Mormon, and when we didn't give him a baptismal date the first lesson we had with him, he told us he wanted to be baptized. He will be baptized this Saturday. 

One thing I learned this week, show don't tell. It applies to writing, teaching, being a friend and leading. Show missionaries how to teach baptism, don't just tell. Show love; don't just say I love you. Show Heavenly Father by our works we want to repent, don't just ask for forgiveness. 

I feel like this week, my relationship with Heavenly Father was deepened. We went through a little rough patch this week, but I definitely felt the power of the atonement strengthen and help me. It was incredible. I am a different person this week than I was last week. Hopefully now I am more of a teammate, and more of an instrument in God's hands. This week in my prayers, I have really felt Heavenly Father teaching me things in my mind and in my heart. Evening prayers is like going to school now with the master teacher. It’s even more meaningful and powerful as I have applied the things to my work that I've learned on my knees. I know God lives. He will talk to you if you but come to Him. 

I love you so much! Pictures in white are coming soon. 

Elder Michael Stewart

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Learning to....endure to the end

Well it was another week in Zion, the best mission in the world. Elder Campbell and I will have one more transfer together which will be a total of 7.5 months serving together! Many people have had shorter courtship + engagement time than we have had companionship time. All I know is the setting apart blessing President Bush gave me is coming true.  After these last six weeks in the office President Center expects to send me out to an area to finish the last three months (+one bonus month!) of my mission. I hope I can train. I also hope I can go to Moab! Actually, I just want to go where the Lord wants me to go. I know that doing his will is how we meet with real success, and I know that he has opportunities planned that I don't even know about. 

This week we had several brush fires erupt and one forest fire. President Center had mostly finished all of his transfer decisions early by Tuesday of this week. So we were finalizing all of the logistics and decisions for the transfer throughout the week, and then we lost two missionaries in the mission. But challenges notwithstanding we finished the transfer (losing two missionaries affects a great deal of other moves) and we look forward to a great week and a great transfer. The mission is baptizing more than ever. It is so rewarding to finally see the fruits of faith, labor, patience, and diligence in the mission. I honestly want to see these other missionaries baptizing more people than see a lot of success in my own area, but and we are getting there now! It is exciting. 

Last week I got to baptize C and Elder Campbell confirmed her. She is awesome. She will definitely be a life-long friend. Many of her friends from Sandy (who introduced her to missionaries up there) were present at her baptism, and some even stayed the next day for the confirmation. She is the perfect example of following the Spirit despite opposition. Her parents still don't support her being a member of the church. All of the most solid members and converts go through opposition. But I have come to realize that while we need to expect opposition, we need to push and strive for breakthroughs. Everyone we teach needs a breakthrough to receive conversion, and it’s our job to be there to help them. 

This week C helped us find and fellowship other investigators in her ward (she lives in the Dorms on campus).  We found three new investigators in her ward!  L, and two roommates  named M and S. Elder Campbell and I joke that because they are roommates, it’s like we are teaching a family.  So you can still find families even in an YSA area. 

S and M are amazing. They both have received strong testimonies of the Book of Mormon and the Church. M told us "I found out that the Book of Mormon was true on page 20" (See 1Ne11:17 for the exact verse that impacted her). However, they are both experiencing some opposition, S from friends here, and M from family back home. S will be baptized this month, but M will wait for next month. 

Also, they are splitting our area.  We are going to be joined in our stake by Sister Missionaries who will start covering 5 of our wards. They will also cover the Canyonlands Apartments, aka the biggest gold mine for investigators in the mission. 

This week Elder Woolley and Sister Woolley ended their missions too. Talk about determined people. They have probably been some of the most influential persons to me on my mission, and I sure will them. We had a DELICIOUS dinner with them on Sunday night, and Elder Woolley got one last chance at harassing us before he took off the name tag. He already has a 4-wheel drive trip planned. 

One thing that the Lord has been impressing upon me is lessons in leadership. I see clearly now that leadership is service to our fellowman. They need leaders to set the example and to lead and guide them; everyone needs a touchable hero, or an everyday Moroni to look to. The lesson I learned this week is Alma 50:1 "And it came to pass that Moroni did not stop making preparations for war, or to defend his people against the Lamanites...." This is so true for us and relates to a conversation I had this week. I was talking with President Center the other day about training, retraining, and helping missionaries, it’s a lot of work! He said "the truth is that you can never just stop working." Well, that’s what I learned: to endure to the end. And I think that mission presidents are one of the greatest examples of consecration and work. We can never stop.  People need our help every day, and we can chose to serve and to love every day. 

Maybe, the hard part is just that, the giving of self. I wish that love and service came more natural to me, that I could help and lift more missionaries. But I know that I am where I am to give of myself freely and to learn. I haven't done this job perfectly...but I am doing my best. I look forward to another great 6 weeks with Elder RJ Campbell, and I think now I am looking forward to a lifetime of service. 

I love you all! Thanks for everything! 
Elder Michael George Stewart

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Jump out of the Boat! was a crazy week that ended with meeting two general authorities and a baptism. Lots of blessings this time of the year!!

So on Saturday the whole mission bussed up to Salina to have a mission wide conference that Elder Bednar attended. It was really something else...he told us that we would experience a great outpouring of the Spirit, and that is exactly what we got! Many questions were answered for many of our missionaries. I know the message that I took away was to jump out of the boat!! Do hard and frightening things.

Well....there is zero time to email much more than this. I am alive!! We are seeing miracles every day! President Center is the man with the mission plan. I will email more soon!

Elder Michael Stewart

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Come to the Mountains

Well this was one of our best weeks yet. We got closer to each other, we became better missionaries, and the work rolled forward.  That's not to say that it wasn't hard work or that we didn't have crazy things happen. This mission is the best!

Starting with the slightly crazy story, we went on exchanges up to Mt. Pleasant this week and then up to Price. Both parts of Utah are GORGEOUS this time of year. It was great to help and train the Zone Leaders up there. I got to exchange with Elder Gomez (who came out with me) and Elder Haralson (who goes home this transfer). On our way from Mt. Pleasant to Helper we thought we were being smart by checking the map, and we saw a short cut that went through the mountains and would drop us off in Huntington, just 20 miles south of Price. Elder Woolley said it wasn't a bad idea and some knowledgeable members we know said to go for it, so we did! We drove to Fairview then turned east through the mountains. It was a really pretty drive. There are beautiful green trees all through Fairview canyon. We got all the way to Huntington Canyon and they had closed it for rain. So we trekked up through a little place called Scofield, look at a map to find it. Needless to say, we flirted awfully close with the mission boundary, but we managed to be within Utah County and the Utah St. George Mission all at the same time. Jeanie, we were super close this week, I hope you felt it. 

This week I was impressed by our investigator C. She had told her parents she was investigating the church and they started yelling at her. She confidently went ahead with the plans for her baptism doing what she knew was right. Yesterday she called dad, and he congratulated her on her decision to be baptized. Lots of tender mercies for her. 

We had an interesting lesson with M this week as well. We taught her the atonement, showed her the pictures of the Savior in the visitor's center and invited her to be baptized again. The lesson was really spiritual, I know that she felt it. She is still scared of knowing that this church is true, and what that would mean for her family. But Elder Campbell and I feel that it is not over with her yet. She said that she needs some time to figure some things out. So we are just praying that she gets her answer soon. 

Our other investigators are doing really well. L  is eating up church and the Book of Mormon. He says all of these things make him happy. We will recommit him to be baptized next lesson when we teach the atonement. 

Z is on date to be baptized on later this month, and he is just super fun to teach. It’s like he is teaching himself. 

We just got back in contact with J too. He has been very stressed these last few weeks, but he is looking forward to reading and praying again, getting back into it. He stayed all three hours at church this week, and really fits into the ward. Hopefully a baptism is coming soon for him! 

Other than that, we are focusing on working with the members and finding. For kids this age, the most effective method is for friends to invite other friends to learn, and then to be present for the lessons. That is where all of the success is coming from. Speaking of success.... 

J2 (who was baptized last month) is on fire. President Gubler wants to film her and interview her as a model story for missionary work in our stake. Also, after only being a member for a month, she was called to be the Relief Society Secretary. Big things are in her future!! She is a born leader, and we are excited to watch her bloom. 

I know that this work is true, and this week I feel like I made a lot of needed improvements and changes. I asked President Center for a priesthood blessing during our interview, and he told me things that were in my heart that only the Lord knows. It was really inspiring and the confidence I have felt from that moment has carried me for a long time. I know we have the authority from God to teach and act in his name. This church is true! 

Love you all!
Elder Michael George Stewart