Well this week was pretty awesome considering the fact that we now have a third companion as well. Friday night, we got a call from the Assistants and we're training! Elder Neilsen is from Medicine Hat (2 hours away from Banff) and is waiting for his visa to the Utah Ogden Mission. He hasn't been to the MTC yet so we're doing a lot of crash coursing on some things. Elder Neilsen is awesome and is very eager to learn so Elder Mercado and I are doing our best to show him the ropes and are teaching him the importance of obedience to the mission rules as well.
We taught lesson 1 to Florentino and his family this week. They loved it and were able to feel the Spirit as we taught. As we taught the apostasy, Norma asked, "Well then, which church is true and how will we know it?" If that wasn't a heaven sent question, then I don't know what one would be like. We taught about Jospeh Smith and the Book of Mormon and how as we pray about these things, God will answer our prayers just like He answered Joseph's. We invited them to be baptized on January 8th and their answer was an indication that they were applying our teaching to themselves. They said they wanted to pray and find out if it's true first. We asked them if they came to know of its truthfulness, would they be baptized. Norma looked at us like we just asked a stupid question. She said, "Of course! Absolutely!!!" Their daughters Jessica and Divine were at church on Sunday because everyone else had to work but we set up a return appointment for this Tuesday. They're a wonderful family and are very in tune with the Spirit.
Chris is doing awesome!!! We taught the first half of lesson 2 and committed him to read 2 Nephi 2. On Wednesday, we come back and he read the whole chapter! Not only did he read it but he was understanding it as well. He said, "Oh this is where you said we have agency and this is where you talked about Christ and this is about Adam and Eve." He also prayed before AND after he read. Elder Mercado and I were bouncing in the couch like little kids. We were so happy he had kept his commitments. We taught lesson2 and about eternal families. We watched a movie on temples and the work we do there. He saw a picture of the font and asked if he could get baptized there. We said,"Yes... in fact many times after you're baptized!" Oh, he's still preparing for the 8th of January. We taught about eternal marriage and after the movie, he said, "Man, now I gotta get my wife (his fiancee)!" We're meeting with him tonight and tomorrow.
The work is going well and we are doing our best to make every minute of the day count. We were doing service and one of the workers asked why he needed to read the Book of Mormon to know that Jesus Christ is our Savior if he already knew that the Bible was true. At first we were stumped. We tried talking about how the Book of Mormon strengthens the Bible and adds witness of Christ. He lost interest pretty quick and I felt bad because I knew there was an answer that would leave him thinking and wanting to read the Book of Mormon. After about 10 minutes of pondering and prayer, I went to Thomas and looked him in the eyes and said, "If you want to know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, you'll read the Book of Mormon." He had a look of wonder in his face as we left the thrift store. He wanted to do something for us for Christmas. We told him he could read from the Book of Mormon and he said, "Well then, you need to read from the Bible." Okay, no problem for us.
I love being a missionary and love the work. Prayer is real and God does listen and answer our prayers and I know Florentino's family will receive an answer. You too can receive an answer to the witness of this work and gospel even if you have already receviced your answer.
Here is Elder Madsen’s message for this week. In his e-mail to Jackson, he said it had gotten down to 20º below zero! We aren’t mentioning how warm it is here (80º today!) after reading this e-mail we are glad that we sent Filipino goodies to share in his Christmas Package!
All right, hold on to your seat for this e-mail. Starting on Monday night, Elder Mercado and I were finally able to meet with Chris and we taught the first lesson and extended the firm for January 8. He accepted! His main concern was that his fiancee wants to marry him in the Catholic church in December 2012. We encouraged him to continue to prepare for the 8th. His other concern is that he works on Sunday and isn't able to switch shifts. That's a real downer. We met with him Tuesday and watched the Restoration DVD. He said he had a good feeling in his heart as he watched it. We also read 3 Nephi 11 together and he said it was very clear and made sense to him. The Spirit was so strong that night that we told him these feelings could also be felt by his fiancee. He said he would talk to her about the church. He's so humble and very shy but prepared. He has a Filipno member friend and he talked to him about the church. He told us that Chris is very excited to be baptized! He just needs to find a way to be able to go to church.
Wednesday night, we met with a family whose dad we met on the street. They asked us a lot of questions about our church and about missionaries. They said they wanted to meet "friends from our church". So we told them about sacrament meeting but unfortunately they work on Sundays as well (very common for the Filipino culture in Banff to have to work on Sundays in the hotels and restaurants). They said that next week they would like to hear a message about our church!
Thursday night (careful, there's 2 miracles on this evening) we had dinner with the relief society president and her friend, who is a former investigator and her son, Thomas. Sister Ganter-Pomares told us that Thomas is the key in terms of both of their conversion because the mom, Kat really relies on Thomas for a lot of things. We bonded very well with Thomas and invited both of them to church this Sunday. Kat really wants to go but Thomas wasn't sure. Sister Ganter-Pomares talked him into it and they both accepted. We then met with Florentino and his family on Thursday night. We asked if we could have a lesson but Florentino wanted his wife to be there as well before we taught so that the whole family could be there. So it turned out to be a good meet and greet session but we will be teaching him and his family this week as well. He and his wife also work on Sundays which is also unfortunate.
So all in all, we have about 13 people that we're really focusing on. I absolutely love the Filipino people. Not only do I have an awesome Filipino companion, but the families we are meeting are wonderful and have such an awesome spirit to them.
I'm so grateful for the success we're seeing and the miracles that are happening. This week is going to be so busy for us!!! We're so excited. I've had good nights of sleep unless I worry too much about our investigators, then it's not so good.
Well, I love each of you. Christmas is only 12 days away. I have something to send to you guys but I don't know if it will be there in time. You'll like it too. It's a Candianized Madsen style Christmas package so I hope you enjoy it.
(Note from Kathy: He is referring to Mira Mesa’s football team making it to the CIF finals at Qualcomm tonight, NOT the Raiders upsetting the Chargers yesterday!)
Wow, that's awesome about the football team!
Well, Banff is still beautiful and I'm still here. All of last week, I had really good feelings about this transfer and wasn't really too sure why. After this weekend, I realized is what simply a foreshadowing of what was to come. On Friday, we had our branch Christmas party. It was by far the best Christmas party I have ever been too. Out of the 70 people that were there, about 20 were nonmebers. The night was wonderful but the only complaint was that there weren't enough missionaries. Elder Mercado and I were running around trying to talk to everyone we could. Our food got very cold by the time we were done.
Here's the best part. Every year, the Relief Society sponsers a famil that stands in need of things. President Yawney selected this Filipino family and found out through one of his employees that this family needed a television set. So, President and Sister Yawney found a T.V., DVD player and stereo system all in an entertainment center for about 100$.
Here's the even better part. Elder Mercado and I were eating (our very cold food at the time) and we saw a man waving to us. We walked over and he wanted to talk to President, so we introduced them to each other. This was the father of the family who was sponsered. Tears were coming out of his eyes in gratitude for the generosity he had received. President said it was from the whole branch and that he should come to church sometime. Unforutnately he works on Sundays but he gave Elder Mercado and I his address and phone number so that we could meet his family. Miracles I tell ya, miracles.
Now for some more fun stuff. Elder Mercado and I were walking in downtown Banff and Elder Mercado felt we should trun down this one street. I agreed and sure enough, as we were walking, I slipt on some ice next to this older man. I apologized saying, "You'll have to excuse me, I'm from California." He laughed and said he was from the Phillipines. Elder Mercado jumped in and started speaking Tagolog. We both eventually bore our testimonies about the temples the mas said he had seen in the Phillipines and how our families can be together forever. He said we could share a message with him on Wednesday.
Miracles are happening up here, it's just that we've got to go find them and have faith that they'll happen even though there's lots of adversity and challenges with rejection and mockery. This one couple was walking out of their church and we had to approached them before. We had a casual conversation and asked how their day was at church and asked them what they learned. The man said, "Not to talk to strangers!" and laughed. All I could think was walk away and wait until he stands accountable to God about how he treated two representatives of the Lord on that day. I'm realizing a change in myself because if that had happened to me 7 months ago, I would've said some clever or sarcastic comment that would've left him feeling very bad about himself and would not make me happy at all. Now that doesn't mean I didn't come up with a comment inside of myself that would've probably made him cry so I still have some things to work on.
I hope all is going well with you. I know the Lord is watching over you. Whenever you feel abandoned or alone, read D&C 121-123. Our adversity will be for a small moment and will be for the better.
Well, it's official, Elder Mercado and I will be celebrating Christmas in Banff! So you all get to receive more pictures from me. Just to let you know, we were actually able to celebrate an American Thanksgiving. Our landlords, Carlos and Crista-Lee, made us dinner which was awesome! I'll send you a picture.
This week was pretty entertaining. I was on splits with the district leader on Tuesday and because we get more km per month than Cochrane, we decided to drive back and forth. Tuesday, I drove 450 km! Elder Barber and I were able to teach Angeline a grammar lesson. We taught some everyday phrases that English speaking people use like, "Back off!" or "The cat's out of the bag!" and things like those. We started the lesson off with a prayer which was a good thing because I explained to her what a prayer was and what we do and why they're important. She liked and enjoyed the lesson we had.
On Thursday, we had planned to have a movie night where we were going to watch "Mountain of the Lord" in the chapel. We invited Angeline and she said she would go but then drama happened where members had inivted Angeline to a concert that night so it ended up that Angeline went to the concert instead so our night was ruined and the branch mission leader was not happy. President Yawney said, "Wow, nothing like some good ole member sabotage eh?" As we were in the car, Elder Mercado and I were pretty upset but then, we realized that maybe this was a good thing because a less active member of the branch went with Angeline as well. So the lesson learned is, "Don't be so quick to anger!"
Our service opportunities have been pretty productive. People are always asking us questions and are very interested in what we do so it's a great opportunity to be able to share with them why we are on a mission and why we are so willing to help others. Yesterday, we were doing service at a church's thrift store and a worker asked me what was the biggest thing I have learned while being on a mission. I said, "Each and everyday, I receive a stronger and more powerful confirmation that Jesus Christ not only died for us but that He lives today." He asked me how. Then I told him how inadequate I often feel while being on a mission. I feel that I'm only a 19 year old boy that can't make a difference in people's lives. But as I exercise faith in Chirst, I overcome those feelings of inadequacy. I told him about how we were teaching my first investigator and how I could feel God communicating through me to this woman about how Jesus Christ loves her and is her Savior. I told him about the sweet Spirit she was able to feel. I looked at his countenance. It seemed like he wasn't sure what to say. He said, "Wow that's awesome," and left and then he came back and told me, "Wow, thanks for sharing that." A part of me wants to say that the Spirit was communicating through me to this man because of the look on his face. The missionaries have actually already been to his house but who knows?
Well family, I love you and appreciate all that you do for me. I don't know where I would be without each one of you because all of you impact me in so many different ways. There is definitely not one day where I don't think about each one of you and how you are doing. I know the Lord is watching over us and will continue to do so as we strive to keep the covenants we've made.
Well seeing that you were the only person who e-mailed me this week, I guess you're the only person who gets to hear about how I'm doing. Don't you feel special?
Well I can confirm what you are saying about the cold because it has been on average about -20 C for most of the week and yes, your nose hairs do freeze and whatever skin is exposing is asking for frostbite. The road conditions are awful! The best part is that my companion is from the Phillipines so neither of us are very experienced with winter weather. But with cautious driving and constant prayers that we will be protected, I've done all right (oh, and all wheel drive as well with ABS). They don't do a very good job of snow plowing seeing that the snow plow companies are privatized and are under subcontracters so the quailty of the plowing is not as good.
We were able to go to the temple on Saturday. That was incredible! The woodwork in the Cardston temple is something you have to see for yourself. You know how you always learn something when you go to the temple... well I learned that when I get back from the mission, there is no way I am going even more than a month without going to the temple. It's been at least 5 months and boy do I wish I could go there more. There is a Spirit there that I cannot afford to miss. After I left, I had an extra "pep" in my step and I found that my countenace was radiating. That's the power that comes to us as we go into the house of the Lord.
Ok, now for missionary work. 3 of our appointments with investigators bailed on us (you know how it goes) but there is good news. Angeline, an investigator from Taiwan, wants us to teach her grammar! So on Tuesday, Elder Mercado and I will be teaching grammar. Pray for us! But she has a lot of interest in the church as well but the members have been telling us to wait on the discussions. Investigators don't come by often in this area so they are all pretty excited but I feel they might be a little too excited. Sometimes I want to say, "Look, she is one of Heavenly Father's children, if the time is right, she will accept the gospel, if not, then that's okay, we can still be her friend and invite her to the activites and be Chirstlike around her. It's that simple. Now let us go in and invite her." Patience is a virtue and is something I am acquiring.
Well David, I want to let you know that I look up to you and you are an incredible example to me. I feel like I'm learning the same things you were learning 10 years ago and hopefully I can follow in the same path you have by being a worthy Priesthood holder and a loyal husband and father. I hope I can do those same things but I can only do it as I follow the Savior Jesus Chirst.
Well how goes life where it's warm? It's anticipated to be -16 C this week so pray for me. We live in the bottom floor of this home and we could listen to the family upstairs watching the Sound of Music and sometimes when I walk outside, I feel like I'm actually in the movie with all of these mountains around us. We're going to Lake Louise so I hope you enjoy the pictures next week. We're also going to the temple on Saturday... FINALLY! It's been at least 5 months.
Well, we weren't able to teach any of our potential investigators this week but we are teaching one tomorrow and he's Filipino. Elder Mercado is going to give the First Vision in Tagolog. How sweet is that? We had an awesome miracle yesterday. President Yawney was watching the worlwide leadership training meeting and there was a girl in street clothes from Taiwan who was just sitting in the chapel. Presidnet approached her and her English is very good but her grammar needs some help. He said he knew 2 missionaries who were more than willing to help her out. We saw her yesterday and the ward did such a good job of welcoming her and making her feel welcome that ELder Mercado and I barely talked to her. Oh well! But she gave us her phone number last night thru a text so at least she didn't feel overhwhelmed or threatened so good things should be happening.
The General Conference issue came to us. I love reading those talks. I especially enjoyed President Monson's talk on charity in the Relief Society meeting. How quick are we to judge others? I realize that chairty is something that we can never have enough of. It's something that is "long-suffering" meaning that it continues even when it gets hard. We all need to remember to be more chairtable in all of our dealings with each other because that is what brings us true happiness, when we can come closer to our Savior.
Wow, fall is coming to an end which means the temperature is as well. It has actually been a warm fall according to the Canadians so I guess I'm just being a pansy but oh well.
So this was quite the week for missionary work in Canmore and Banff. We do a lot of service for the Victory church thrift store up here in Canmore. They appreciate our hard work and positive attitudes around the workplace. It's been awesome to be able to talk to the workers about their beliefs and about the logisitics of being on a mission and what not. We talked to one of the workers outside and he asked what makes Mormons different from Christians. Thank you Elder Owens because I basically used his presentation to talk about the Book of Mormon and how it is a testament that Jesus Christ lives. He also noticed how we also know the Bible is true as well because there were a lot of references in the Bible I used as well. Unfortunately, he was looking more for logic and reasoning for how the Book of Mormon was true as opposed to the way Moroni invites us to find out how it is true; through faith in Jesus Chirst and real intent. Nonetheless, I gave him the opportunity which is all I can do.
MIRACLE 1: This weekend, we spent quite a bit of time in Banff trying to meet the less actives in the area. We knocked on this man's door and the person who had answered the door told us the man we were looking for had moved. As we talked to him and looked in the apartment, we noticed he was Australian. All of the suddden, I was Mr. Motor Mouth talking to him about his background, why he was in Canada, what his hobbies were, everything you could imagine. I mostly kept talking to him because Australians have cool voices and I loved listening to him. Then I asked if he haf ever seen missionaries in Australia and he said he had come in contact with them. His name is Shawn and he's Catholic but I'm pretty sure he's not very devout because he said he's living with his girlfriend. He said he had to go but that he'd love to chat with us. Shawn also told us his family was coming to Banff for Christmas. Elder Mercado told me afterwards, "Wouldn't that be a sweet Christmas gift... 'Guess what family, we're going to live together forever!'"
MIRACLE 2: Sunday was one of the most challenging days of the mission because our chapel is in Banff and our apartmnet is in Canmore (30 minutes away). We also had a dinner appointment scheduled in Banff after church at 5pm. Church gets out at 12:30 pm and the members we were going to have dinner with told us we were actually going to eat at 6:30pm... on fast Sunday. So Elder Mercado and I spent from 1 to 6 tracting and contacting throughout downtown Banff. From 1 to about 5, we were pretty unsuccesssful but we kept doing our best to find those whom the Lord has prepared. So we kept pushing onward and tracted into this lady in these apartments where we had met Shawn (Can you say gold mine?). She grew up in the United Church of Canada (Baptist, Presbyterian, and some other religion all combined) and always felt something was missing in that church. She thenstarted practicing a religion called Wiccam. I guess we're teaching a witch on Wednesday. Hopefully we don't get turned into frogs after we invite her to get baptized. She was really nice and it was a really good conversation we had about the Plan of Salvation and how our decisions affect us after this life.
MIRACLE 3: So it was getting dark and there were elk running around, deer chilling on people's lawns like they own the place, and we were getting hungry so our last excursion was through the Filipino community with my bilingual companion. We ran into one family and Elder Mercado talked to them for about 15 minutes in Tagolog. All I could do was sit there and pray that what he was saying was being led by the Spirit. After he was done I said how I completely agreed with what my companion had just said and I asked the dad what his family meant to him and what it would mean if they could live as a family forever. He talked about how his family meant everything to him and how he was working for them here in Banff while they were in the Phillipines so that they could have a better life. He said we could teach more about the gospel to him during the week.
Well, those of course aren't the only miracles but they are experiences and testimonies to me that everything is according to God's time. Everything will work according to his will as we are patient. President Uchtodrf said that Patience does not mean that we sit and wait for God's hand to play into our lives but it means that we actively work towards a lifelong goal recognizing that everything happens according to God's will and that blessings are not on our timetable. As we understand this concept, our lives will be happier and we will be more appreciative of how the Savior can help us in our trials.
So this is by FAR the most beautiful place I've been to in my life. Unfortunately, nobody wants to listen to missinaries so the work isn't necessarily the most satisfying but it is here. President just told me "Banff just needs some tapping into." Well Elder Mercado and I are tapping away to everyone we can. I feel our contacting skills have improved because in Lethbridge, I was not very well experienced but now I've handed out more Books of Mormon in the past 2 weeks than I did in the past 4 months.
Bro McCouatt (BML), Elder Mercado and I spoke on missionary work this Sunday. Bro McCouatt bore his testimony that as he has accepted challenges from the missionaries, he has found more peace in his life even with all of the trials he is going through such as he and his daughter having cancer, going through a financial recession and the list goes on and on. He is going through a lot but he still is able to find peace and joy amidst all of those challenges as he strives to share the gospel with his friends. He said the 7 day challenge is no longer something he does once in a while. It is now a standard for him. He basically 7 day challenges himself every week. It was wonderful to be able to feel the Spirit in that meeting.
President Yawney (BP) challenged each family to have a mission plan. He turned to CH 13 in PMG and showed everyone what a ward mission plan should entail. Then, he left it up to each family to develop their own goals mission plans. He also had us speak and we talked about how we were more than willing to help each family reach their goals. We asked if we could follow up with each family and see how their mission plans are going. I think a family mission plan is a wonderful tool to focus your missionary efforts and to show Heavenly Father that we are sincere about inviting others to come unto Christ. That is why I would like to invite you, family, to come up with your personal/family mission plans so that you cannot only just say,"Yeah, I'm missionary minded," but also so that you can SHOW your Heavenly Father that you are missionary minded and that inviting others to come unto Christ is something that you hunger after. Are you willing to dothat?
Well, during my talk I was asked to talk about what makes me passionate about missionary work. I said there's about 531 pages of why I am passionate about missionary work. It's the Book of Mormon. It's the knowledge and the personal witnesses I've had in my life that have confirmed to me that the Book of Mormon is true. It is the word of God and it does bring us closer to God than any other book, just like the prophet Joseph said. Coming to have that knowledge did not come overnight. It came through personal experiences where I knew that God's hand was in my life. Ever since I had started reading the Book of Mormon to find out whether or not it was true, I realized a change within myself. I realized I was happier around others, I made more friends, I was more social, I had a positive outlook on life, church was finally fun and meant something to me, my prayers were more sincere. The list goes on and on but the bottom line is that by reading and applying the principles found in the Book of Mormon, my life was at the happiest moment it had ever been. Now, the Spirit is in my life constantly as I follow the teachings of Christ and as I keep his commandments.
I also talked about the impact my family had on me. Being the youngest of six, it is really easy to watch everyone else and to follow everyone else's examples. Well, am I sure glad I had the best examples Heavenly Father could have given me. By watching each of you siblings, I was able to learn what things I should do and what things I shouldn't do. Following Jesus Christ and His restored gospel is what I should do and what brings me themost happiness. So thanks family.
I hope all isgoing well with everyone. Sorry the space bar is lame and doesnt work wellbut I hope you can work with me. Keep praying andkeep reading. Theyresimple,but important.
Thanks for all the e-mails family! 3 out of 5 siblings! Score!!! Just so that you're aware, I know where you should spend Christmas vacation... Banff, AB! This is probably the most beautiful place I've seen in my life. Everywhere we turn, there's a mountain. It's awesome!
My companion is Elder Mercado. He is from the Phillipines and his english is pretty good. He's been out for 3 months so this is a really young companionship. He's a convert and it's awesome that he's up here because there's a ton of Asians that he can relate with (mostly because he speaks their language). We do a ton of service at the thrift stores for different churches which is actually turning out to be a very effective finding tool. Friday, we were able to talk to one of the workers about the temple and had a good discussion with her about temples and how they're dedicated to the Lord. Thrift stores are also sweet because there's a lot of sweet stuff there to buy. In the back, I saw a Spyder jacket (the one's the olympic skiiers wear) for 10 bucks! So I bought it but here's the best part... I found 25 bucks in pocket!!! So i basically made $15 for getting this really expensive jacket... no wonder why people say the mission's the best 2 years of their lives!
Elder Mercado and his previous companion had 2 baptisms last weekend. The work is moving but slowly. There's probably 10 people at sacrament meeting and half of those people only come to the branch from Calgary to help teach Sunday school and what not. The branch president is really determined to make sure each family has a mission plan which I think is an awesome idea. President and Sister Archibald paid a surprise visit to our branch on Sunday as well. He gave us a refferrall too (what a stud). We've been tryingtocontact her but no luck yet.
Well, I lovegetting letters and I love hearing about how everythingis going on backhome. I love you all and I really wish the spacebar on this computer worked better.
Well I guess my prayers didn't work, I'm being transferred to Banff. Ha, I'm kidding about my prayers not being answered. I hear there's a national park up there and that it's the most beautiful area in the mission so get ready for pictures! My new companion is Elder Mercado and he only came out one transfer after me so this will be a very young companionship. I will be relying heavily on the Lord for this one.
So Amber was baptized on Saturday. The Spirit was so strong and she was definitely ready for it. There were quite a bit of non members there which was awesome. We were able to talk to some and I turned my head and Elder Owens had set up an appointment with one of them! It was an awesome experience and the whole time, I wish you all could have been there. My face was glowing because the Spirit was so strong.
Kathryn and Jaycel are doing AWESOME! We've been doing the missionary lessons with them and they are so solid. You can see the Holy Ghost in them as you look in their eyes. They're interested, they want to learn more and that is all coming from the Spirit. They're reading their brand new scriptures (from the ward) every night and are also praying each night as well. They also want to go to seminary every morning now! They're so awesome and their mom is encouraging them the entire way.
Last night, we met with a less active mom and her family. She's divorced and is going through a very rough time. She has so much guilt that she feels that going to church and prayer will only make things worse. Brother and Sister Pratt (their home and visiting teachers) invited her over to dinner with us. It was an interesting lesson. We taught about the Atonement and everything Brother and Sister Pratt said related to her. They told her how the church provides so much with programs for the youth that help them learn and grow. Sister Pratt also hit the nail in the head by talking about faith. We show our faith by the choices we make to come unto Christ. I asked Sister Pilling's kids what they could do to come unto Christ and they said go to church. Sister Pilling said it was too hard for her and that it wouldn't help. Brother Pratt, in a loving and compassionate voice, said that if that's the attitude she has when going to church, then church won't help. We have to do things the Savior wants us to do with an open mind and we have to try it out. Elder Flygare said as a missionary, sometimes you have to "fake it till you make it". I noticed a lot of times, we feel we have to know the Book of Mormon is true before we read it every night or we have to have see God before we can honestly pray to him. That is false. It's the actions that are going to build that faith. It's reading the Book of Mormon with an open mind that will give you the testimony. It's praying to God and trusting that someone is listening to you that will let you know that He is there and mindful of you.
I love you all and can't wait to tell you about my experiences up in Banff.
So in Canada, it goes Thanksgiving, Halloween and then Christmas. This was a very weird feeling but I did get 2 Thanksgiving dinners so I guess I'll deal with it. If I stay In Lethbridge, the Gemmel's said they would feed me an American Thanksgiving in November so cross your fingers and pray for me... aGAIN!!
So this week was crazy! This family, the Wetterstrand's (picture the most missionary minded family and that's them) were challenged by us in June to invite one of their non member friends to receive the missionary lessons within a week. So they had us knock on their friend's door. His name is John and he's about 75 and his wife just passed away. We told him we were friends with Brother Wetterstrand and he let us in. We talked about fishing and cooking salmon (thanks mom) for about an hour. We then asked if he wanted to learn more about our church. He said no but wanted us to come back. We told the Wetterstrand's and they've been inviting him to ward activites for the past 3 months! So then Elder Stevens and I went over and we would always have fun chats because he's very lonely and is retired. We'd always ask if he wanted to learn more and he would say no. So, this past week, Elder Flygare said the next we came back, he would have to ask some really good questions about our church so that he could see if he could stump us. John had a big smile on his face and sure enough, on Thursday he had some pretty good questions. We were able to answer them and he said our answers made sense. We told him he needed to come up with more questions for us. So on Saturday we came back and he brought up the questions. We answered them again and he started asking questions that had to deal with the Plan of Salvation. So sure enough, we taught him the second lesson and invited him to be baptized. He said he was already baptized but still wanted to learn more about our church. We gave him a Book of Mormon to read and he was already reading parts of it towards the end so I'm very confident that he will read from it.
It was so sweet and there was a very valuable lesson that came from this experience. You never know what a simple invitation can do. If the invitation is out of love and given for the right purposes (like the way we invited), then the person you will share the gospel with will understand why you're giving that invitation. It was an incredible experience and I am so eager to meet with John again.
Amber is getting baptized this Saturday (cross your fingers). President is going to be raising an eyebrow when he sees that we're only baptizing 13 year old girls. Just kidding! We talked to Bishop and he said that he is comfortable with Amber being baptized because she is a regular attender of Young Women's and has had some rough circumstances with going to church this summer with being out of town. Before the summer, she would go to church regularly. It's so sweet being able to see these miracles and being able to watch the Lord's hand in this area. My prayers are being answered as far as being able to see the fruits of our labors.
I love my Savior and know He is there. He is watching over us daily and wants us to be happy. I love you all and hope that during the week, you can find ways to come closer to Him.
So this weekend, I've done something that I've never done before in my life... I watched ALL of the sessions of Conference. I know, I'm very proud of myself for finally repenting for not watching it all before but man was that an incredible weekend or what? Last week, I thought I had few weaknesses but boy was I wrong! After listening to the prophets and apostles, I have so many things I need to work on. I guess that's why we have the Prophet speak to us... so that we don't get prideful like me.
So as for the week, it was awesome aGAIN (emphasis on the gain, that's what Canadians do). Kathryn and Jaycel went to the temple and did baptisms! I'm telling you, they're having an awesome month: baptism, confirmation, missionaries, temple... all we gotta do is throw a celestial marriage in there and we'll call it good eh? Those girls are awesome and they're progressing very nicely from the looks of things. Carrie had surgery on Monday. I don't know if I told you this last time or not but she asked me to give her a blessing. It was way sweet but we got a call from her on Tuesday saying that she talked to her doctor and he said she couldn't get into a tub for at least six weeks! Oh well, I guess it doesn't make too much of a difference to the Lord whether she gets baptized on the 23rd or next month. She's still reading the Book of Mormon daily and is praying every night. They also watched Conference! She is a very strong woman so hopefully she continues to press on in her quest for more knowledge and for the truthfulness of the gospel.
We talked to Amber and she asked if her uncle could baptize her on the 16th. I said absolutely not... KIDDING!!! Take a breather everybody. She also wants it to happen at 4 so hopefully all goes according as planned. The main concern we have with her though is that she's 13 and she doesn't attend church very frequently but goes to young women's every Wednesday so we're hoping this baptism isn't just for a social reason. It should be done for the right reasons and Elder Flygare and I have been kind of questioning how things are going along with her. We've been following up with her on her commitments and she's been reading and praying but going to church is SO crucial. Good thing the lesson tonight is on the plan of salvation and keeping the sabbath day holy.
As for Courtney, her parents are divorced and her dad wasn't too thrilled about her getting baptized which I completely anticipated would happen. I also was pretty understanding of it because I figured if I was being taught by people from another religion for only two weeks and I wanted to join it, you probably would have me wait wouldn't you mom and dad? Plus, this could be an excellent opportunity to invite her parents in on the lessons so that he could see what we teach and how this is simply a way of life where we strive to follow our Savior Jesus Christ. It'd be ideal if we could teach them, but even if they were just sitting in on the lessons, it'd still be an awesome experience for everyone.
Wow, when I got into Lethbridge, nothing was going on. We had no investigators or anything and now look at what is going on. It's not me... Trust me, it is not me. It is the Lord placing His hand in this area and using 19 and 20 year old men as His instruments to bring His sheep in. My prayers have been answered day after day and time after time. Heavenly Father is there and I honestly believe I have received more than what I have put in. That is what life is all about. We have to act in faith when it comes to everything we do. We have to trust the Lord that His ways are better than ours. Joseph Smith learned this valuable lesson and lost the 116 pages in the process of it. So many times I ask myself, "How many more experiences do I have to hear from others and myself until I learn this valuable lesson that Joseph learned?... When the Lord commands, do it." I know the Lord is there. He is real and He does want us to be happy, but we have to be willing to submit ourselves to Him to let Him guide us.
I love you all and hope that everything is going well. Life is challenging but like we learned in Conference, the grass is not greener on the other side. We all have struggles and the best way to cope with them is to allow the Lord to help us through them.
Well, this week was pretty sweet! Kathryn and Jaycel were confirmed yesterday in sacrament meeting. It was so awesome! Elder Flygare and I can breathe now knowing that they're finally members now (even though this is just the beginning for them when you think about it). I had the opportunity to confirm Jaycel. Man was I nervous! My leg was shaking and everything and I don't even know why. Oh well, it was a way cool experience and the spirit was so strong. Definitely wrote that one in the journal.
So on Tuesday, we were able to meet up with Carrie again. She's been reading the Book of Mormon and praying and going to church every couple of weeks. It was awesome being able to answer her questions about the Book of Mormon. Of course she had to ask me a question about the scriptures in 2 Nephi when he's quoting Isaiah. I think there's only one chapter I understand in that whole selection because I remember Sister Harrell teaching us about it in seminary (I know, seminary did actually pay off for me) and sure enough, it was the one Carrie asked us about. We were able to explain it to her and it made a lot of sense to her now. The Spirit's real just to let you know. Anyways, we taught her the first lesson again and this time it made so much sense to her. She said she has a tough time recognizing the Spirit (I wanted to say it's because she smokes and drinks coffee but felt prompted to keep that to myself for now) but realizes that our church is the only one with the priesthood. I showed her my priesthood lineage card and asked her what she thought about it. She said "It's probably important because you wouldn't carry it around in your pocket if it wasn't." We invited her to be baptized and she said yes for October 23rd if she's all healed up from her surgery today. I was able to give her a blessing with Elder Flygare and it was an awesome experience to be able to give a blessing that was literally coming from on High. The Spirit was amazing and there were some blessings promised that I'd prefer to keep to myself for now because it was a pretty sacred revelation. She is in my prayers always.
Wednesday was almost if not better. We taught Amber who has a date for the 16th and wasn't too sure about it the last time we met but this time her friend Courtney sat in on the lesson. We taught both of them Lesson 1 and the Spirit was incredible. Their answers to our questions were solid and truly came from their heart. We asked them what were some ways they could follow Jesus Christ. amber said go to church, read and pray. Then we asked Courtney and she goes, "Baptism." I think both of our jaws dropped and I literally looked around at everybody else's faces. I thought to myself, "If she's not prepared, then I don't know who is!" We got the biggest smile on our faces. Elder Flygare invited Courtney to be baptized and she said she wasn't too sure. Then Amber said "Hey, I'm getting baptized on the 16th!" Then Courtney said, "Hmm, maybe I'll ask my mom and see!" Courtney then asked her mom and Sister Scout, the young women's leader said that she had talked to the mom and she was very approving of it!
My prayers are being answered. It's so awesome to be able to see the fruits of our labors and I'm so blessed that Heavenly Father would allow me to be able to stay and see these wonderful miracles that are taking place. I'm so blessed and fortunate to be able to have this opportunity to share the gosel with others everyday of my mission. These blessings however do not require a nametag. They require a sincere desire to follow our Savior Jesus Christ. As we do this, our lives will be open to the blessings He is so willing to grant us. I love you all and hope that you are striving to find ways to come closer to Him.
Welp, chalk up several miracles this week for Elder Flygare and Elder Madsen. Get ready for this!
So I don't know if I told you but we had a baptismal date for Kathryn and Jaycel last Saturday but their mom called us and said the day was too soon. So we came by on Tuesday and talked about what it takes to be baptized. We showed the Mormon Message, "You Know Enough" by Elder Neil A. Anderson. If you haven't seen it yet, you need to. The mom was there and the Spirit was so strong. We testified that it's not what we know that makes the difference. It's what's in our hearts and it what we do that makes what we are. We turned to Mosiah 18:8-9 and asked them the questions Alma asked at the waters of Mormon. After they answered the questions, we read verse 10. I'm not telling you what it says because I want you to read it but basically the Spirit sealed it for them on what they needed to do. We asked them when they wanted to be baptized and they said Sunday. Their mom said that Kathryn and Jaycel were big enough girls to make their own decisions. The baptism was amazing! the Spirit was so strong. I baptized Kathryn and Elder Flygare baptized Jaycel. The confirmation was scheduled for right after the baptism but the bishop came up to us 2 minutes before the program and said that they needed to be confirmed in sacrament meeting a.k.a. next week. Elder Flygare and I are not too happy about that and I'm pretty sure President isn't either but we'll keep visiting and making sure they're ready for their confirmation.
It was an incredible experience to be able to watch those 2 children of our Heavenly Father walk in the footsteps of our Savior Jesus Christ. The Spirit was amazing and the young women welcomed both Kat and Jay into the ward as if they were a part of their family. The ward is amazing. The young women sang "A child's Prayer". How powerful that was! One of the girls who sang wasn't a member and came up to me after the baptism and said she wanted to take the discussions. Miracles are happening in this area... miracles.
Oh by the way, I forgot to mention I got interviewed by a member of the Seventy. Yep, the assistants called me last night and said Elder Claudio D. Zivic of the Seventy wanted to interview me. He asked me my background and then how obeident I was (yikes!). jk, I told him there's always things I can improve on but I told him I was a 9/10. He had me bear my testimony and committed me to be exactly obedient. He asked me what my greatest weakness was and I said my mind. Being focused all the time is difficult. So guess what? He committed me to be totally focused as on top of being obedient. It was an incredible mission tour and I learned so much from Elder Zivic and his wife as well. K,time's running short on me. Enjoy the pictures! I love you!
P.s. Kathryn is the younger one and Jaycel is the older looking one :)
Wow was this an interesting week! Elder Flygare and I are settling in pretty nicely! He is an awesome missionary. We tried running this morning. I made it about 30 minutes. haha big difference from what I used to do. He is just one of those guys that always stays optimistic no matter what. I have no idea how he does it but I guess I'm going to learn eh? Nice to hear that Kevin is home.
The adversary came in on Saturday. These 2 Filipino girls, Kathryn and Jaycel, had baptismal dates for the 18th but their mom called us on Saturday and told us things were moving too fast and she wanted to push the date back. It's kind of odd hearing that from a mom who is a member but whatevs... I've learned not to mess with the mom so we're just going to keep visiting and seeing when they're ready. We'll hopefully be able to set up a new date tomorrow when we meet with them so that'll be cool. Saturday was such a frustrating day though. So many times I thought, "What am I even doing out here? Satan has always won with the people we've been teaching. What's the point anymore?" Elder Flygare was probably able to notice but he kept cheering me up and kept motivating me. I'm telling you, this missionary is awesome! Nothing ever seems to get to him at least I think.
We finally met with the Black Canadians! Ericah brought her friend from Kenya and we did a first lesson in the church. It was kind of like a church tour but with the first lesson mixed in. It was awesome and the Spirit was so strong especially in the Christ room where we had pictures of the Savior all over and had "I know that my Redeemer lives" playing in the background. It's amazing how strong the Spirit is when you testify of Christ. We're meeting with them again on Friday. get this, they actually believed the Joesph Smith story! I don't mean that in a bad way. Even Joesph Smith himself said he would not blame anyone for not believing in it for he wouldn't even had believed it if he had not seen it happen himself. But I know why they believed it. The Spirit manifested to them the truth of what happened in the Spring of 1820. His prayer was answered that day. I know he saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and I know that he was called to be the next prophet to restore the same gospel Jesus Christ taught while He was on the earth. If Joseph Smith really did see God, then everything we stand for is correct. Good thing he did see Jesus Christ or else I would be wasting a lot of time in Canada.
Well, I love you and as always have a little spiritual message that will help boost you up. The doctrine of repentance is real. God really will remember our sins no more as we confess and forsake them. Often times, we think the confessing is all we need to do. We feel the punishment and the guilt of doing something wrong is satisfactory for the repentance process. Well, that's the first step but the second step is forsaking it. Literally giving up the natural man and leaving behind our weaknesses and trespasses are what makes the repentance process beneficial to us. It's not easy but it is worth it. It's worth having our Savior Jesus Christ remembering those sins no more so that He can once again lead us back onto the path we need to go. I know He is there and that He loves us all so dearly. Never does He want us alone because He knows what that's like. He had no one around Him in the garden, not even His Father's presence. He does not want us to suffer so please, as a representative of Him, take His hand. He will grab us out of that pit we are in and will show us the joys and the blessings that come from this gospel.
I love you all and as always, I am keeping you in my prayers.
We got our transfer notices today. I'm once again staying in Lethbridge but with a new companion, Elder Flygare. I guess missionaries can't stand me seeing that I haven't served with anybody for more than a transfer. Anyways, I'm really glad I get to stay here because I love this area and want to see the fruits of our labors. I prayed and fasted that I could stay here and sure enough, the Lord answered my prayer.
So from September to May, we have to wear suits... everywhere unless it is consistently 21 degrees C or higher... Even though it's fairly warm, I am not asking for winter to come yet.
So on Thursday, we met with the 2 Filipino girls, Kathryn and Jaycel. They're teenagers and came to Canada about 2 months ago (kinda like me eh) and are going to school here. Their mom is a less active member but the dad is Catholic. We taught them half of the first lesson and really stressed the importance of the Atonement. Kathryn said she felt bad for all the wrong things she had done. We taught how there was a way they could have a complete remission of their sins through baptsim. After the Spirit was really strong, Elder Stevens gave them a firm invitation to be baptized on the 18th. They both said yes with smiles! Here's the best part... a general authority is coming to the mission to do a tour and will be in lethbridge on the 18th... oh and he'll be going to convert baptisms... minor detail i guess, thought id throw it in there just to let you know. We taught about Joseph Smith and showed them the Restoration DVD in Tagolog but with English subtitles... if that's not cool then i dont know what is. It's way sweet to see them excited to learn more about Christ and how he can help us. Hopefully the dad is okay with the baptsim though... pray that his heart will be softened.
We were very busy this week working with the members on helping them to do missionary work. It's amazing to see the incredible faith people have of going out of their comfort zones and sharing the gospel with others. The Lord said that he would provide a way for us if we keep the commandments (1 Nephi 3:7). Sharing the gospel with others is a commandment from Him and as a representative of the Lord, I can testify to you that He will provide an opportunity for you and a way for you to share your love for Him as you diligently seeketh to find ways to increase your faith in Him. I know we can read our scriptures and pray and go to church and do all of those important things, but go out of the box for a minute. Find a unique way you can show the Lord you trust Him. Maybe there's a habit you're trying to get rid of or there's something holding you back from always remembering Him. I've probably already said this to you but when the Savior was walking along the sea of Galilee, He looked at the fisherman and told them to follow Him. Did the Disciples try carrying their nets loaded with their fish inside? Could you imagine how difficult it must have been to have carried those nets with their daily catches while walking with the Savior? Well what nets do we have that we're trying to carry when we're trying to follow the Savior? I know that even I as representative and follower of Him have nets to drop and I do my best to leave them behind. I'd invite you to identify those nets and drop them... not tomorrow, not next week because then it'll never happen. Right now is the time He wants you to follow Him. It's not too late. He loves you and wants you to be able to partake of the blessings that He has suffered for so that we can all be able to enjoy our Heavenly Father's presence.
I love you and bear witness that He is there and loves us all.
So I'm pretty sure yesterday was one of my favorite days on my mission so far! Thank you for the packages and I got the mail yesterday (First time in 5 weeks!)!!! Thank you so much! But that was more of the icing on the cake.
So we had an appointment with Ericah (the black canadian from kenya) but she cancelled on us. So Elder Stevens and I stopped by her place and just talked a little bit on the doorstep and chatted. She said she wants a church that is more than a "Sunday" religion and that she wants to the "know the truth". Did Heavenly Father lead her into our church or what? We talked about how our church is not just a "Sunday" church as we talked about home and visiting teachers and relief society and activities that go on. Of course those aren't the only reasons but we'll get into that when we actually teach her. Her friend Thandi is from Zimbabwe and has a girl who loved primary. Thandi wants to be taught as well so we'll see how this lesson goes this week.
Now it gets even better. So at church, Elder Stevens and I are sitting on a pew and a returned missionary comes up to us and says she brought 2 investigators for us. Sure enough, these 2 filipino teenagers sit with us. Their mom is a less active member but the dad is not. But anyways, the rm served in the Phillipines so they were speaking Tagolog with each other. We were talking and stuff and all of a sudden, the power goes out in the church. The girls laughed and said "This happens all the time in the Phillipines,". Haha i was laughing. Anyways, the power went back on and we got their info and we'll be meeting with them on Thursday (Keep me in your prayers... and them as well).
So many good things are happening in this area but I'm really nervous. Transfers are next week and I do not want to leave. But I know I'll go where the Lord wants me to go which is something I'm totally fine with. It's just hard to leave this area where I've put so much work into and I want to see the fruits but it's the Lord's work, not mine.
All right, now I want to let you know why your testimonies are so important. The ward had a BBQ and Carrie, our investigator, was there. She was talking with members and having a great time. We saw empty seats next to her and she saw us and wanted us to sit next to her. We were eating and for whatever reason, I started up a converstation with one of the members sitting across from me. We were talking and for some reason, I asked her how long she had been a member. It turns out she said she was a convert when she was in her twenties (Keep in mind, Carrie is right next to us and listening). So Elder Stevens and I asked her about her past and she bore testimony about how she was trying all sorts of different churches because she was looking for the truth. She said she found it in our church and said, "and now, I'm home." Twenty minutes after the bbq was over, we got a call from Bob, her fellowshipper who is working his way back into the church, and he said that it was great seeing us at the picnic and that Carrie is really interested now. She's reading everyday and praying about the Book of Mormon. It's so awesome!!! The first thing Elder Stevens and I said after we got the phone call was, "Who was that person who bore her testimony again? We got to get her in the lesson!" And we will.
You never know what a smiple testimony can do for someone. You don't have to preach or give a sermon, you just have to be yourselves. I noticed that as Elder Stevens and I gave talks in the Forestry ward yesterday. We were both ourselves. We weren't trying to be general authorities, we were being 19 and 20 year old boys, simply sharing with the ward experiences we have had on the mission, being led by the Spirit, and bearing His sacred name. Be yourself. There's a reason why everyone is not like President Monson. It's because we are all different people and we've all had different experiences which have brought us to where we are. Don't be something you're not. You don't have to wear the nametag to share the gospel. The Lord has shaped you to become what you need to be to so that you can be of great service to Him. This is His work, not ours. We are the tools and we are all different instruments. Find out your strengths and make them of use. Find your weaknesses and come unto Him so that they may be strengthened. Don't use excuses. "A strong missionary finds a way... a weak one- an excuse."
I love you all and hope that you are able to find the strengths the Lord has blessed you with. I hope that you use those strengths so that you can be of great service in His kingdom.
Thanks for all your e-mails and letters. Sounds like you're having a good time... too bad you're not having an awesome time like me!
This week was pretty slow. All of our appointments with our investigators canceled ( We had about 4 of them) so this week's letter to President was pretty bland. So what we've been doing a lot lately is helping show the members that missionary work is not as scary as they think it is but also that it can be very rewarding as well. I've told you about the 7 day challenge before where we go to members and challenge them to invite a non member friend to have the missionary lessons in their home within a week. Do you think this sounds like something impossible or something that's pretty scary? Before you answer this question, ask yourself, "Have I ever done that before?" If you haven't done this challenge before, then how do you know you can do it or not? I can testify to you that this is something that is possible. Moroni 7:33 teaches us that if we exercise our faith in Christ, we can do anything that is expedient in Him. Inviting people to come closer to Him is expedient in Him. So with that being said, this challenge is not something that is impossible, it might be scary, but the blessings that come from inviting others to come closer to Christ overwhelm those feelings of fear that we have. In 3 Nephi 27, the Savior is talking to the 3 Nephites. These men wanted to tarry on the earth so that they could share the gospel with others. The Lord promises them blessings in verse 10. Read that verse and see how those blessings could help you in your life. How could those blessings help you individually? How about your family? How about those around you? I testify that those blessings are not only for you but are there for others as well as you show your Heavenly Father you have that desire to bring souls unto him. Well, are you up for it? Do you think you can do it? I could go on and on about how this challenge could benefit you and those you're around but don't take my word for it... take the Lord's word for it. You can read in the scriptures all about the promised blessings He has in store for those who bear their testimony of His name.
So for those of you who decide to take this challenge, remember who this is between. This is an experience where you will be able to strengthen your relationship with your Heavenly Father. Tell Him about how scary it is and how hard you think it is and the people you're thinking about to invite. Ask Him for help and for strength to be able to overcome your fears and to be guided as you bear your testimony of your Savior Jesus Christ. He does listen to your prayers and He will answer them. He does not want you to feel like you're alone in this. In D&C 84, The Savior promise He will be on your right and on your left as you bear testimony of Him... If that doesn't motivate you, I'm not sure what will... I know that He will guide you to those lost sheep who he desires so much to bring back into His fold. He loves them and loves you as well. He will be there for you.
I know that after you take this challenge, you will come to a greater understanding of your relationship with Heavenly father and Jesus Christ. Your faith in them will increase as you put yourselves in the shoes of the Savior for these 7 days. I am excited to hear your experiences and your testimonies.
Miracle happened yesterday... but Elder Stevens and I weren't there to see it!
So we cover 3 wards and yesterday we decided to attend all the P.E.C. meetings because we have to report back to the zone leaders on how well the wards are doing with their mission plans. So in the second ward that we cover, 3 African Americans (well, i guess theyre candians but whatever) came to church and stayed all 3 hours! Everybody in the ward noticed we weren't there, so the members basically did the fellowsipping and inviting and all of that good stuff. We didn't hear about it until about 9:20 last night when we were helping a future missionary with his teaching skills. Wehn Brother Heyland said "Yeah, there were three black people in church today... Were you guys there?" At first I thought he was joking but it really happened. We sped off to the ward mission leader's home and he had brownies and milk for us and gave us their information. In the Fairmont ward, there has only been 2 weeks since he's been a wml (only since I've gotten there though) where there was not an invesitgator in the ward! You know what's funny is that their ward is really catching onto the Elder Perry Model... Hmm, could that mean that when you listen to the apostles that you can see miracles happen?
We've got a pretty big teaching pool but the problem is that it's summer right now. That means everybody is on vacation. It's pretty annoying when families tell you that they're going to places like Hawaii and Europe but it's even more annoying when they tell me they're going to San Diego! Maybe annoying isn't the proper word but home does run through my mind when they say that.
I'm sorry this is a short e-mail but I want to let you know that the work of God will never cease. It's amazing to see his hand play into the lives of others when they follow Him. We were with a less active last night. He was baptized about 20 years ago and joined the church for someone else. He had been keeping the commandments, reading, praying, paying his tithing but said he wasn't able to feel the Spirit or anything. He also felt like God wasn't answering his prayers. I then asked him why did he keep the commandments. He said because somebody told him to. We taught about doing things of our own free will and I bore my testimony of how I knew the church was true because I wanted to know it for myself. I didn't want to know it so that I could make mom and dad happy but I wanted to know it because i wanted to know if the Book of Mormon was true and if God really was there. i exercised faith in Him by reading my scriptures and by praying everyday. Keeping the commandments to the best of my abilities brought the Spirit into my life so much stronger than it was before. I know that we can only strengthen our testimony if we want to benefit ourselves, not to make us look good in front of others, but to strengthen our personal relationship with our Savior. I love him and I know He is real. You are all in my prayers. Keep pressing on and I will do the same.