Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I'm Just Grateful

Well mom and dad, tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.  I will get on the transfer van and leave Utah's Dixie to go to Gunnison.  I'm not sure how I am going to handle those moments; I don't do goodbyes very well. The great thing is that this is a "see you later" for everyone here in St. George, but I'm not sure when I will see some of these missionaries again. Tears have came pretty easy this week as Elder Campbell and I have reflected on 7.5 months together.  I feel attached to these missionaries, to my companions, to the office staff, and to President and Sister Center.  I about lost it when Sister Center gave me some chocolate sheet cake (I told her it was my favorite) and she said "thanks for all you have taught me". Are you kidding me? She is the one with the vision, the energy, and the righteous example. I'm just a 20 year-old kid.  I know in my heart that I have done God's will in this assignment. It’s been super tough, but by every measure I look at I see that I am leaving this area, these missionaries and the whole mission better than I found it.  And I'm just grateful to Heavenly Father that I could play a small part. He has heard my pleas for these missionaries and for my President and He has always delivered. This week the mission had 53 baptisms. That is a single week record for the mission and it’s the most our office staff has ever seen. I feel like this scripture in D&C 128, “Therefore, that we should waste and  wear out our lives in bringing to light all the  hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven  ...  Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully  do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the  salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." 

I just want to do that! To waste and wear out my life in this work. I am still just learning how to "be still and know that he is God". He is so good to me, and yet I struggle trusting and having faith in his plans. I don't deserve this mission, and I definitely don't deserve the relationships and friendships that I have been blessed with among my missionaries, investigators and members in this area. My heart is just feeling very tied up. I love everyone here and I want them to succeed. And now my part that the Lord is asking me to do is to leave all that I love and get on a van to Gunnison. The amazing part about this work and this church is that because I know that I am following the Savior up to Sanpete county it is possible to leave all of this behind. And they will all be in great hands. 

This week was great.  J got baptized he drove down  to do the baptism with us which was great. 

Well, I got to go. Next time I write you will hear all about Gunnison and my new companion. 

Love you!
Elder Michael George Stewart

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Relying on your Companion

Dear Mom and Dad,

Well, this letter is dedicated to Elder Campbell. I have been serving with this man for 7.5 months. This was probably our best week yet. We were firing on all cylinders. We didn't have to say much to each other in the office this week; we just passed paper and flash drives off to each other and got everything done super fast. We had a lesson Sunday night with two less active members who are coming back to church. Elder Campbell used a great analogy about the gospel being like a bag of M&M's (can't wait to share that one with you when I'm off the mission), and I followed him up with a simple testimony and commitment to read the Book of Mormon. The girls and the fellowshipper left with questions answered and feeling the Spirit. It just felt so natural.

The mission is doing better than ever now too. There are 252 people with baptismal dates in the mission!  I have never seen that before!  I credit the success to the unity of the members/missionaries and to all of the new District Leaders we have, and especially to President Center. Many hands make light work! We truly have great DLs out there. I am just so happy that I see all these changes take place. I love President Center. I would follow him and Elder Campbell to the ends of the earth.

 I am just so grateful for the Lord and for my companion. The other night we just laid awake after the lights were off and laughed about some of the fun/stupid moments we have shared together. Elder Campbell is learning Spanish, so that creates some fun moments as we try our best to speak to each other in that language. We have seen lots of opposition together too. I still remember our first week together in Richfield, we were in the little town of Glenwood together and nothing seemed to work that week. We had worked so hard, but we had no investigators to show for it. So we said a prayer together in the car and I remember feeling peace come over me. The very next day, we received 2 referrals for people who were baptized that same month. We worked hard, relied on the Lord, and he provided the miracle of conversion in other people's lives.

That experience has replicated itself month after month as we have served together. In total, we have 18 converts together. There has never been a month when we haven't met our baptismal goal, and we aren't done yet. I am filled with gratitude for the blessing of being able to serve with as good a man as Ryan Campbell.

So, this week may be our last full week together. I can't really describe how I feel about that. After this week, the week of the 21st we will train up a new AP together and then I am off to a new area for 4 months, and home in February. President Center will make all the decisions this week and so by this time next week I will know my fate (but I won't be able to share it with you). All I know is that I am going to miss Elder Campbell so much. He has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in me. But he has been so patient and loving with me and he has helped me become so much better. I can't tell you how big of an impact he has had on my life. He is truly a forever friend and a true brother. I hope I can always be worthy of his friendship and trust.

Well, that’s most of my thoughts this week. We had a great baptism last week, and will hopefully have some more great baptisms this week as well. C was baptized yesterday. He was introduced to the Gospel in Price when he was a kid, but his parents were less active. Then here in St. George his buddy at work challenged him to read the Book of Mormon and then to meet with the missionaries. It was a picture perfect "working with members" baptism. I hope that I can be that good of a missionary when I go home.

I really love this church and this Gospel. I know that nobody can follow the True and Living God in our days without following his true and living servants. I know that President Monson is God's mouthpiece on earth today. He has counseled all of us to do missionary work! To go to the rescue! And to boldly open our mouths and share the gospel. I urge you to really consider and follow his counsel; we are all called to the work. I know that this church is guided by Christ and that He will support us in all our righteous endeavors. I know he suffered for my sins. Repentance is truly a beautiful word to me and I know that through Christ I can be washed clean and return to live with him someday. That is what I truly want.

I love you all so much!  Thanks for your love and support of me. I am really grateful that you are providing me with the opportunity to serve this mission--it has changed my life. 

Con Amorcito,
Elder Michael Stewart

Monday, October 7, 2013

Is it really P-day again?

Where did this week go? We went on temple trips to St. George and Manti this week. The last time I did that it was with President Leonard and Elder Chidester was my companion, wow time flies.

This week we had three great baptisms: R, L, and S. All four of the people who have been baptized this month belonged to the same ward, and the three girls all live in the same dorms. The Spirit of God spreads like a fire. 

In other happenings this week we had three training meetings for the District Leaders across the mission. President Center halved the size of all of the districts in the mission and we have called twice as many District Leaders. Many hands will make the work of lifting this mission much lighter. It was so good to be among the missionaries and to train them. I am humbled by the opportunity to help other missionaries. I feel like the calling is way above me, but I know that the Lord prepares a way. 

One of the District Leader meetings was in Salina at the seminary building. I got to see President Monsen from Richfield after the meeting. It was good to see an old friend and to see him in his teaching element too. 
Wednesday we had exchanges as well. I went with Elder Ayala in Cedar City Spanish. He is a recent convert of 3 years and he is about to end his mission. He is 26 years old. He is a sincere and humble man. I felt extremely at ease around him.  It reminded me of the first time I was companions with Elder Fragoso, just how calm I felt around him. I learned so much on that exchange, and I really left with a lot of love and respect for Elder Ayala. 

Thursday we were out of our area all day at the Manti Temple and an exchange in Mt. Pleasant. They were good times. I had forgotten how many dogs exist outside of St. George. It seems like everyone in Mt. Pleasant has a dog. 

Well, it’s a busy P-day so I think this is all I can send. Today we are going out to Hatch with our High Councilman to check out his ranch. It should be a lot of fun. 

Love you all! 
Elder Michael Stewart