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.