Monday, August 11, 2014

9 months?!?!

Biking on a sandy road

The other ward was setting up for a wedding during our baptism. Isn't is pretty?
My braiding
Preach to all creatures

 Hey Family and Friends!

Oh my goodness!  The 13th of this month is the 9 month mark of my mission!  Can you believe it?  I can't!  It will also be one year since I went to the temple to receive my endowments.  What an amazing day that was!  I can hardly believe the blessings and experiences I have had since that day!  As they say in the South, "God is good!"  So good!

It's been another great week in Gatorville!  Our new Elders are the best!  They do make a rather interesting combination though.  Elder Baldwin is the only one who stayed.  He is from Rexburg and is your typical nerdy, band geek (he was in the Madison marching band!).  His companion is Elder Tauoa (Tow-oh-ah) is from California and he is a former gang member.  He has the tattoos and everything.  I can tell he can be a really powerful missionary!  Then there is the trio they are white-washing (all of them are new).  That trio is made up of Elder Skoy who is from Harmen, Utah.  He is a greenie and he is... well pretty greenie.  Then Elder Walgomot who is from Midway, Idaho.  He's super laid back and pretty  fun.  Finally, there is Elder Collins.  I served with him in Arlington.  He was my Zone Leader.  He is a really good missionary and he is super nice--to the extent that sometimes you wonder if he can really be that sincere, but he can also be super sarcastic.  They all have such great strengths and ideas.  We are super excited to work with them!!!

This week we had an investigator meet qualifications to be "progressing" for an entire 24 hours before he texted and said he didn't want to learn any more.  Hey-it is a step in the right direction.  That was our gator Trevin who was the one person in Haile who let us teach him.  We are done knocking in Haile.  The Elders are teaching a couple of people from there now.  If anything the people there got exposure to missionaries and we got to face our fear of knocking in Haile!!!  Yea!

On Saturday we had dinner with Tina (recent convert).  She thinks we can eat as much as the Elders!   She made chicken, pork, tuna, beef, vegetables, and rice.  Man, I thought people from China didn't eat much.  I guess I was wrong on that one!  Gratefully she was having the Elders over to eat right after us so we convinced her they could finish all the food we couldn't eat (she had made them their own meal!).  We had a great missionary correlation at Brother Bennion's that night.  The high counselor over missionaries in the stake came and shared a great thought about continually working hard.  We can't control how others respond to our message but we can control how hard we work. He taught us that if we want to be like the Savior we have to do hard things because the Savior certainly did that.  I love tough things!

After the meeting we looked at the clock to realize we only had 15 minutes to bike home!  We didn’t want Sister Bennion to have to load up our bikes so we said we would just bike home as fast as we could.  The Elders offered to take our bikes, but we figured we would be fine. When we got outside with our bikes the Elders came over and tried to hand us the keys to their car!  They said two of them would ride our bikes home and the other three would run so that we could get home safely and on time.  Ok- we probably should have just let Sister Bennion drive us home.  I learned a lesson about accepting help, but we were not going to have three of our Elders running home in the dark so we rode off and biked our hearts out.  I went first so I got to break through all the spider webs and we made it home 3 minutes after curfew.  Having the overly obedient heart that I do,  I felt bad about being a little late, but we will be more careful in the future.  So those are the kind of Elders we are serving with.  Like I said they are amazing!

Liz was planning on coming to church this Sunday.  We called her Saturday and Sunday with no response.  We went to her house before church Sunday and her husband said she wouldn't make it. Apparently her 4 year old chipped her tooth the day before and it turned into a super traumatic experience and the thought of bringing two little girls to church was too overwhelming.  She does really want to come though.  I was really impressed with how much help the members were in preparing for her to come!  Her 4 year old, Quinn, has autism.  She is always in therapy when we teach Liz so I haven't met her.  We told the primary presidency to expect her and the teacher had an extra member to help.  There is a family in the ward who has a daughter with more severe  disabilities.  We had talked to the mother and she was so ready to reach out to Liz to make sure she didn't feel like Quinn was being
a distraction or anything.  So the members have been SUCH a help!  We just need Liz in church now!!!  Pray she will come this Sunday!

Speaking of helpful members,  in ward sacrament meeting the announcement was made that the members needed to step up and feed the missionaries more.  It is hard for a lot of the families to feed the Elders because so many of the husbands are always gone to work and school.  The majority of families in the ward are here for medical residency programs.  Well... Sister Stitt and I realized that we
forgot to bring the calendar to sign up!!!  So we drove home really fast after sacrament to get the calendar and made it back in time to teach Sharing time!  It went really well!  We taught about the
importance of Family Home Evening and how it strengthens our families.  I love the kids in this ward so much!

Well, that is most of the news!  Here is my thought on Faith for the week:

"Like the intense fire that transforms iron into steel, as we remain faithful during the fiery trial of our faith, we are spiritually refined and strengthened... With faith comes  trials of faith, bringing increased faith. The Lord's comforting assurance to the Prophet Joseph Smith is the very same promise He makes to you in your trial of faith: "Hold on..., fear not..., for God shall be with you forever and ever."  Of this I bear my sacred witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.:  ( Elder Neil L. Anderson, October 2012)

I too know that the trial of our faith (whether it be our well of investigators running dry, stress with juggling school, work, callings, and/or family, or anything else that threatens to shaken our faith) can make us stronger than we were before.  Let the trial of your faith be an opportunity for you to strengthen your faith.

With much love,
Sister Alyson Murray


Sunday a stake was reorganized and Elder Christofferson was able to have a meeting with some of the missionaries.  Sister Fife and Sister Yeakley got to go.  This is President's weekly letter:

Dear Elders and Sisters
This past weekend we had the wonderful privilege of attending stake conference meetings in the Kingland Georgia stake for the reorganization of the stake presidency. Elder D. Todd Christofferson
presided with Elder Larry Kacher who accompanied him as his companion. During a last minute meeting Elder Christofferson took a few minutes to speak with some or our missionaries and allow them to ask questions as they typically do. One of our missionaries posed the question" How do we press forward
when we don't feel like our prayers are being answered? His response was, "you just keep going forward and things will work out. Eventually you will be able to look back and see how the Lord was answering your prayers all along."

I have pondered this morning about that a lot because in a world of mixed messages it is oft times difficult to "just press forward." Like when you go to church and you listen to one speaker who says,
"You can't do everything. Don't run faster than you have strength." The next person says, "Push yourself. Give it everything you have. You can always do more." Then another will say, " Don't worry about what you can't do", and someone else says, "You can do anything you put your mind to." " If only I tried harder, If only I had the courage to talk with everyone. Those mixed messages that we have questions about may be more clearly understood as we understand how the Saviors' atonement can empower us
to press forward on our own. 
I remember when I was a boy my mother would give us kid a hard time claiming we when she would give us an inch that we would really take a mile. Brother Wilcox, reminds us that if we "Give the Savior an inch, he'll take you THE mile."  That is how the enabling power works. When we show forth our best effort to press forward even on our own, he increases our capacity to do far more that we could do without him but only after we have expended our own best efforts.

He also taught a wonderful little analogy that goes something like this, " There is a man in a hot desert who sees a fountain at the top of the hill. With great effort he climbs the hill and receives the living-giving water.  What saved him? Was it the climb (his works) or was it the water, (the enabling power)? THINK ABOUT THAT ONE!  What we have to understand is the extent to which the goes to enable us to press forward.  The water may be at the top of the hill, but that is not where Christ is. He comes down to the bottom of the hill and brings water to us. That is how we make the climb to the top- which he requires because he knows it will strengthen us and be for our best good. Christ is not waiting at the finish line: He is finishing our faith. The enabling power is not the prize at the end of the climb. It is the power throughout the climb."    (Continuous Atonement pg 110)

Elders and Sisters the Lord asks us everyday to press forward even if we don't feel we are receiving all the answers to our prayers. He trusts you. He LOVES you. He knows that you are capable of doing his
work. He is the power behind each of us as we make the climb towards him by pressing forward each and everyday.

We love you and pray mightily for you!!
President Craig