Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Merry Missionary Christmas!

Hello Family!

This was probably one of the most FUN weeks of my mission. We got to do a ton of good work, we progressed and improved our companionship, and we had some good old fashioned fun. Elder Becerra and I also got to watch Kung Fu panda (one of my favorite movies) with the Judy family Christmas night. And it has a lot of Gospel principles in it. Just remember, "There is no secret ingredient, it’s just you!"
Let me give you some of the highlights I didn't get around to giving you in our phone call. It was great to see all of you! You're doing pretty good this year it looks like. I don't know why, but just seeing you was really joyful for me! It’s hard to believe it’s gone so fast---2 years? Well, at least I have 7 weeks left. And at this point I just want to make the most of every day and enjoy it. I am learning to apply all the lessons I have learned on my mission so far.

First a little bit of news from our area. The First Presidency decided to follow the recommendation of our Stake Presidency and they discontinued our Spanish Branch this Sunday. We had been briefed about this by President Rosenvall and President King (his 1st counselor who was also serving as interim Branch President), and so took steps to introduce all our Hispanic families to their new bishops and wards. We have accounted for every single individual and family attending the branch. Being so close to the men who recommended this decision, I know that it’s the will of God. Our families are already reacting positively to the change, and elder Becerra and I are excited to fellowship them now as a part of the regular wards. All I know is that I would follow the men in this Stake Presidency anywhere and do anything they asked us. We are going miss working so closely with President King. He has been another one of those great role models for us, but we will still see him around.

So on Sunday we spent all week attending church in the Axtell building. We went to the Axtell ward with R and C (a less active family we are teaching), spoke in the YSA branch, and then attended the Spanish Branch's last sacrament meeting.

And now for a non sequitur: we have been teaching the L family for about 2 transfers now. C came from a really active family, and she married R who was never active in the church. They had several kids, only one of whom is active and decided to go on a mission. Now all of their kids and grandkids, except the one that went on a mission, are on the "perimeter" of the Gospel. They are not enjoying temple blessings or any real activity in the Church. All because of a decision made in the past to raise a family outside of the church.
The good news is that they can repent, change their hearts and come back. And C, mostly thanks to her returned missionary daughter, is doing just that. R is having some trouble with some habits.  The Gospel is changing their hearts gradually but it’s so sad to see where they and their kids have come to, all because of past mistakes. I’m glad the bishop asked us to help teach this family.

Anyway, I hope we all do what we can to encourage our friends and family to be involved in the Gospel. The generational effect is way too huge. And I know that each of us can be saviors for our friends and family to bring them to the church.

In good news this week, N will be baptized on Saturday, and M will baptize his son B on Friday. Also, K finally committed to a date! We had to talk with the wrestling coaches (half of whom we teach, interestingly enough) to arrange a time when they could cancel practice to do his baptism. So on January 7th at 7pm K will be baptized! The 8-11th they have wrestling tournaments, so he wouldn't be able to be baptized then. He will be confirmed on the 12th in sacrament meeting. This 16 year-old kid is just too awesome; he lives with an active family, attends church weekly, and has a great testimony!

Well, I think that is all for this week. I really love what I am doing. There is way too much to cram it all into a small email. We see miracles every day. Couples deciding to get married, new investigators falling out of the sky, people repenting and changing, it’s the best!

This work is so true. We all need to have the VISION of what we can do and accomplish! I know that God loves all of his children and he wants them all to accept his church and his gospel. He has prepared a way for everyone to hear his voice and his gospel, and to decide for themselves. What excites me the most is that as his disciples we can be his voice to carry the gospel to them. Why in the world would we be unbelieving and think anyone is lost? We can do small things to serve and love those around us, and we can invite our friends and family to try out the gospel in simple ways. If we start with really praying for the welfare of those around us, and then we get up and act for them, God can do miracles with us, “For with God, nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)

I love you so much!
Elder Michael Stewart

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