Monday, March 28, 2011

March 28, 2011

Dear family and friends,

I have to tell you about a miracle and answer to my prayers. So the box of goodies that you sent me was a box of miracles. Let me explain, we get money at the beginning of every month to buy our groceries and the stuff we need. I told you how we found a wonderful less active sister by the name of Tabitha and helped her with some service. Well the service was to clean out her garage that was full of like 2 years of garbage because as a single Mom with three little boys she couldn't afford pay for the garbage man so it was like piled up everywhere. We loaded up a truck and took it all to the dump. When I asked Tabitha if she had some money to pay for the dump she told me she didn't have any money left. I felt like I needed to help her because I know the Lord put her in our path for a reason, so I paid for it with my grocery money. So I ran out of grocery money like 2 weeks ago and I was like completely out of food. But I read a scripture about missionaries and how the Lord will provide for his servants. So I was thinking to myself, I think the Lord will take care of me since I didn't spend that money on myself. Well the day I thought that, I got your package, and I got enough food to last me until next month!! Chyeah! So it truly was a box of miracles!!! Thank you for the goodies and thanks to the Lord for hearing my prayers.

Dang, things are happening out here so fast and my mind is exploding with knowledge and things I need to work on. Looking back on when I first came out on my mission I feel kind of bad because I had no idea what I was doing back then ha-ha. Now I feel pretty good because I see how much more improvement there is to go. I told you last letter that I met with the Leadership and apologized for not understanding how things really needed to function. Well since then, a wave of information and knowledge has hit me and I do believe it is all inspiration from the Lord. It’s pretty awesome how if you’re not content with just going with the flow, you can call on the powers of heaven to help you fix or improve things. Things are going awesome and let me explain what’s been going on here this past week.

One thing that I have realized that I hadn't really thought of before is the fact that there are like 4 companionship's of English missionaries in our area. I hadn't thought about it before but it recently came to my mind that why don't we just work together. If we have pretty much the same area, why don't we help each other tract it out so we can find more people. So we have been going on a lot of blitzes with the English speaking Elders here and working hard. We even printed out a paper with Spanish phrases and gave it to them that says, “How to contact someone in Spanish." So from now on, when the English missionaries meet an Hispanic family knocking, they can contact them and give us the reference to go back. It’s been going pretty great and we have received a lot of references from the English missionaries in our area now.

I have learned that you have to follow up! That's one thing that is probably the most important thing in missionary work, you have got to follow up. If you don't follow up with a plan or a goal, people will forget. So I have been trying to get really good at follow up on plans, and remind people of things that they said, to help them out! President Andrade has a saying," No hay seguimiento, cuando no hay un plan!" Which basically means, there is no following up, where there is no plan! Like you always said Dad, if you fail to plan, plan to fail! If you don't plan, you’re done for. I have been becoming a planning machine!!!! It's a different lifestyle entirely from what I used to rock, because my motto before was," Just go with the flow!" But out here, you have got to plan like there's no tomorrow and the Lord will guide you and let you know what changes needed to be made as you follow the spirit! It's crazy that it took me this long to figure it out, but missionary work is a lot more work that I thought, you have got to be on top of things.

Something funny that happened is that when we met with Presidente Andrade, he told us that we needed to dream about baptisms. Well I pondered on that and that following night I had a dream that I got in a fist fight with Jon Claude Van Dan and Dolph Lundgrin( Russian from Rocky) at a Nuclear Power Plant. I tried, but I’m not dreaming about baptisms yet ha-ha, but it will come with time I guess.

I told you that the mission plan is to work with the families in this branch, strengthen their testimonies and help them share the gospel. Well that is going great and we are teaching 9 families and each one is the best. I love talking with them and sharing the gospel with them. Really, the most effective way to do missionary work is working with the members. I honestly don't want to leave because we have finally been able to find exactly what the Branch expects of us and we are doing it. It felt different at Church yesterday, like more love. I felt the spirit stronger in church and things are changing here and I think it is because we as missionaries are doing everything we can to gain the confidence of the members and working hard.

Some miracles have happened this week and I’ll tell you all about it. Tabitha and her little family are doing great and she has been to church every Sunday since we met her. She even asked us to give her 2 year old a blessing because he has problem breathing, afterward when we came back he was feeling a lot better! Not only that, but Tabitha has been sharing the gospel with all her friends. We have been teaching her friend Mariel and she has a baptismal date set for the 16th of April! We are teaching Mariel's sister too and she came to church yesterday! The Lord truly put Tabitha in our path so we could help her come back to church and then teach her friends! I am so glad that we were able to meet Tabitha because even if her friends are not baptized, we got her 3 little boys growing up in the gospel and 3 future missionaries. Maria Ceja is doing awesome and she came to church yesterday as well. She believes that this is the true church, but she has a doubt that is keeping her from being baptized and we must find out what it is. I have decided to pray for Maria Ceja every time I am able to pray because I know that the Lord wants her to be baptized. David Cervantes, the recent convert of a month, has been going out teaching with us about everyday and is progressing really well. His testimony is so strong and he is preparing to serve a mission himself! Yesterday was testimony meeting and Tiffani shared her testimony and it was so powerful. We have been focusing on the members and teaching them every week as that is what Presidente Andrade wants us to do. We have had some pretty amazing spiritual experiences as we ask the families to share personal experiences and testimonies of the gospel. I have been able to experience some amazing things out here and miracles are truly happening. If I stayed here for the rest of my mission, I would be fine with that ha-ha.

My companionship is going awesome. Elder White is the man and he is truly helping me to grow. His desire to improve only fuels my desire to make changes and find new ways to work harder. It is truly a blessing that the Lord put me with Elder White and he constantly helps me to make the proper changes I need to make to be a better missionary.

Funny experiences, well I think this was pretty funny. I was on a blitz with the English Elders from Salem and I was with Elder Taylor. We were knocking in an apartment complex at mid-day. As we were walking around we saw a group of kids playing in the middle of the complex. As we continued to contact, the kids ran over to us and asked," Are you guys secret Agents?" We laughed a little bit and said," We are agents of the Lord Jesus Christ." They were like WOW, who’s that? We talked to them for a little while and even taught them how to pray. Well, after a while of talking to these little kids and challenging them to pray we left. Two days later we came back to the complex for a return appointment and we saw one of the kids we taught to pray running up to us. He told us he prayed and he really liked it. I asked him what he prayed for and he said 5 bucks! He then said he got 5 bucks later that day. I thought it was pretty funny because he prayed, maybe not for the right reason, but at least he prayed!!


Elder Payne

Monday, March 21, 2011

March 21, 2011

Dear Family,

Thanks for the scripture D&C65 that you sent me; it really helped me to put things into a different perspective. To be honest things have been changing a lot out here and its awesome. To realize that we are preparing the way for the Lord’s return is an awesome thought.

I just wanted to let you know that Maria Ceja didn't get baptized yesterday, but don't be discouraged guys, in time, she will be ready! I have got good news for you, Aunt Janice wrote me and it was a really awesome letter. It helped me to keep my head up and I could feel the love she has for the Lord in the words she wrote.

Something cool that I have realized is that you have got to use everyone’s talents, whatever they are. I'll give you an example of what I’m talking about. Last P-day all the missionaries got together from around the areas and played basketball. Well my trainer Elder Hansen came with his new companion but Elder Hansen doesn't like to play basketball, he would rather play the piano instead ha-ha. I respect that so when we all started to play inside the church, Elder Hansen left to go play piano in another room by himself. I was like naw; we need him in here with us! So I told Elder Hansen to just play piano while we played basketball. We then brought the piano into the basketball court and had my boy Elder Hansen play piano as we played basketball! I'm not going to lie, it was probably the most soothing games of basketball I have ever played, no one got mad or to rowdy as in the background, my trainer Elder Hansen was playing church hymns ha-ha. I’m glad that we could have my last companion Elder Hansen help out the mood in the gym, and show us his talents too!

The plan that I sent you is working great as it has been meant for this area. We were able to go out with a lot of members this week and teach our investigators. The spirit was really there as we brought the members with us and had them share their testimonies.

Something cool that happened which is just a little side note is that we found a new place to eat after district meeting. It is like something we always do after district meeting out here on Tuesdays, we go out to eat somewhere. The regular place was Machita's Teriyaki and we used to eat there after every district meeting. We have all be getting really tired of it when one of the Elders last week stepped up and said," I can't take Machitas Teriyaki anymore, but there is a new place that just opened up called Chu's Eatery!" We were all pretty skeptical of Chu's eatery but we decided to check it out. We sent two Elders to go in and investigate the prices, because we didn't want to have 10 missionaries walk in and then walk out if the prices were too high. As we waited outside of Chu's, we finally got the ok to come in from the Elders that went inside to investigate! When we went in, we were all amazed by the beautiful elegance of Chu's Eatery. It totally put our old restaurant to shame and we all knew this was our new home. As we looked around, one of the people that worked there introduced us to the Chu's Eatery conference room. He opened two doors and before our eyes we saw a conference table just waiting for us with 10 of the most comfortable chairs you have ever seen in a Chinese restaurant. It was a pretty good experience and not only was the experience great; the food was less expensive than Machitas. It was pretty good to get everyone united around the conference table at Chu's on a Tuesday afternoon, Chyeah!
I'm glad you liked the pictures! Amancio is the man isn't he! You meet some of the best people on your mission. I will never forget him and some of the experiences I’ve had with him like watching him chew gum when he doesn't have any teeth to chew it with ha-ha! But I’m being for real, things are going great out here and the Lord is really blessing me as I strive to be the best I can be. I told you how I felt that I needed to stop using slang words such as man, bro, g, dude, and broseph. Well as I have expressed my desire to the Lord to change to be a better representative of him, I have been able to stop using those words. Now I’m not going to say I have stop completely, but I am changing little by little. I thought it would change my personality to be honest, like the way I talked, but it hasn't at all, I’m still rockin out! But what I have learned from this week and something that will help me for the rest of my life is that, admitting your faults can be fun! Like saying that you were wrong is a good feeling, well not all the time, but in this case it was and I will explain what happened. This isn't to boast or brag, this is just to show you what’s going on out here and the experiences I have been having!
Well here it goes, I learned a great lesson yesterday and I hope you can understand what I’m trying to express. Well you know that every Sunday you meet with the Bishop or Branch President in a meeting we call P.E.C. Well basically every meeting we inform them about our investigators and tell them how they are progressing. Well something that I have been doing since I arrived here on my mission is trying to get rides for our investigators. Most of the Hispanics out here don’t have licenses so I always try to get them rides to church. It’s something that I have been trying to do every week since I have been out here. Well we talked about people that needed rides to church again yesterday and in the meeting the Presidency told me that these people needed to make an effort in getting to church themselves, as it is an act of faith. Before, I used to think, what are they talking about, we need to get as many people to church as possible. But after being out here for 6 months, it finally clicked! If our investigators aren't willing to make the effort for themselves first, they probably aren't going to progress. Sure I can knock on their door and be there with a ride and tell them to hurry up and come to church. But in the end the decision is always theirs. I have been getting stressed and occupied with getting our investigators rides when sometimes they don't even ask a friend for a ride nor do their part to come to church. It finally clicked to me as I realized that God doesn't make me wake up at 6:00am every morning. God doesn't make me keep any of the mission rules. It is the exact same with my investigators. They must have desires to change and do this for themselves as they will have to make the change. They must do their part and after all they can do, I must help. After realizing what I have been doing this whole time since I have been out here, I felt really bad. Every week that I have been here, I have been asking the Presidency for rides for investigators that weren't doing their part. I felt bad that I had caused this burden on the Presidency and I knew that I needed to apologize. That night I visited the Presidency of the Rama and asked for their forgiveness as they probably experience this problem with every new set of Elders that come into the Branch. As I apologized, I felt great. They accepted my apology and not only that, told me words of wisdom that I will forever remember. As I talked to each member of the Presidency one on one, I felt the Love they had for me and the missionary work that is taking place here. I was able to realize how big this work is and felt the Love of the Savior. This experience that I had later lead to another amazing experience that I will share with you when I get back home, as words in person can only explain what happened last night, and the power of the love of the Savior that we can feel as we humble ourselves to being his servants. Things are really going great out here and I have got a lot more to tell you when I get back as writing it out won’t suffice.


Elder Nathan Payne

Monday, March 14, 2011

March 14, 2011

Dear family and friends,

Hey, how are things going!? Things have been good this week and I’m so grateful for the experiences that I have been having out here in Keizer Oregon. It’s crazy to think but I was sent here for a reason, to this exact Spanish Branch in Keizer Oregon at this time. It’s pretty legit to think that the Lord works with us like that and we don't understand until much later. I'll explain to you what I mean and how the Lord can bless you with revelation if what you are asking for is His will.

Well last letter I told you that Elder White and I sat down one night and wrote out a mission plan for the Keizer area. I know that this plan was direct revelation for this area as I know I couldn't think of it by myself. Elder White, the new missionaries that just got white washed into this area (Elder Avery, and Elder Garballos), and I sat down and figured out how to present it to the leadership in the Branch. We prayed about it and typed it out. The plan came out just as we thought it would and we showed it to our mission leader Mario Hijo. We set goals and figured out how we would present it to the Branch Presidency. Well we figured it all out and yesterday we presented the plan to Presidente Andrade and his counselors. The presentation went well and everyone was fired up about the plan because it really gives us a direction where to go and how to use our time wisely. The plan is pretty much just breaking down how much time a missionary has in his day to proselyte, and figuring out what he will do with that time by answering the questions, what, why and how. Everyone is excited to see the results of this plan in the next two months and see how the work picks up in this area. I now have a testimony and know why I have been sent here to this area at this time, as the Lord has given me a way to serve the people in this area more effectively, through revelation.

Maria Ceja is the best and this is a funny experience that happened with her the other day. We decided to go stop by and see how she was doing. We went to go knock on her trailer but no one answered. So as we were about to walk away, I saw here knocking on the window inside her truck. She opened her truck door and came out to greet us. I asked her what she was doing sitting in her truck. She told me she got locked out of her house and was cold so she had been sitting in her truck waiting for her husband to get back. She told us she had been sitting there for like 3 hours and I felt so bad. She told us that she also had a huge headache but didn’t have any water to take the Tylenol. I remembered that we had an unopened water bottle in the car so we gave it to her so she could take the Tylenol. As soon as we gave her the bottle, she raised it to the air, and thanked the Lord for sending her the missionaries with the Agua de Vida (the water of Life) ha-ha. She is so awesome and her faith in Jesus Christ is really strong. She has a baptismal date of this next Sunday.

My companionship is going really well. Elder White and I continue to grow in our Spanish as we work together. We only listen to Spanish music or the scriptures in Spanish as we are trying to be immersed in the language as much as we can. We are like brothers now and we are pretty close. Elder White is growing so much every day as he never used to talk during dinner with members but now he talks almost as much as I do. I know that I was put with Elder White to help him grow socially and he has been here to help me grow as well.

President Dyches always asks us to tell him if we had any funny things happen during the week in our letter to him probably to help us see that things are not all so serious and the Lord has a sense of humor too. Well one night we went to go visit Rosa at her house. Here kids were screaming and yelling, and going nuts. We somehow got them to calm down and started to teach her. While we were teaching I smelled something kind of funny. As I tried to figure out what the smell was, thinking that it was me, she told me that it was her 4 year olds feet. She told him to go wash his feet but he said no!! The old guy that lives with them named Miguel told him again to wash his feet! The kid refused a second time and them Miguel took matters into his own hands. He grasped the little boy and took him to the bathroom to wash his feet. The little boy started screaming like someone was trying to kill him. Within seconds, the little boy was naked and Miguel put him in the shower. We saw this all happen because their apartment is pretty small. Anyway the boy was yelling FRIO, FRIO, because the water was cold and he didn't want to wash his feet. Somehow things settled down again and we continued teaching the plan of salvation. While teaching, the little boy managed to get out of the bathroom and started running around the small apartment stark naked. They rapped him up in a towel and we kept on going. It was a pretty crazy experience, but it was pretty funny as this all happened because a little boy refused to wash his stinky feet! Sometimes it gets crazy out here, but the work is fun and the gospel is true!


Elder Payne

Monday, March 7, 2011

March 7, 2011

Dear family and friends,

Hey what’s going down family, times flying over here in Oregon!! I know I tell you this every week but I’ve been learning a ton about myself and the Lord! I’ll fill you in on what’s happening out here and hopefully it won't be something you have heard me say already, Chyeah!!

First of all, thanks a lot for the article about being bold and not overbearing. The key is the Spirit and it is my quest and my goal to have the spirit with me constantly. I've been changing a lot out here bra. My ability to work with others and love has grown. My language or the way I talked hasn't changed to much yet but the way I roll has. I put away the Elder Payne-Dolor name tag because that ain't me. That was cool for like a week but then I realized that's not how I should roll. I put it away but at least I can keep it for a souvenir. I’m rockin the Elder Payne name tag as that’s like an honor seeing as my Pops rocked the same exact nametag back in the day. I have got to carry the last name Payne with respect. The way I think about people and how I treat them has changed a ton as well. Alright, I’ll hit you up with what has happened this week and it has been a pretty good one!


So I have to tell you a pretty awesome spiritual experience that happened out here and how it has changed my life. So we were all waiting for transfer calls and thinking we were all going to get transferred to other areas. I honestly thought that I was going to leave but we got the call saying that Elder White and I were staying and Elder Rangel and Weneirt are both leaving. I felt a little bummed out, I’m not going to lie. I realize, looking back that I was just thinking about myself but as I put my faith in the Lord, he blessed me with knowledge and strength. I’m going to be straight up with you and not beat around the bush and tell you why I was bummed and don’t judge me, this is just how I was feeling. I wanted to be transferred because I felt that I needed another companion that could further train me to be better. It’s not that Elder White and I aren't awesome buddies, I just felt that way because we are basically still on the same level and what they call "Greenies". I have been feeling like this recently, "how am I going to progress if I only had my trainer for a transfer and my second companion was Elder White, an Elder that just got out of an English speaking area and didn’t know that much Spanish." I know this sounds whinny but let me explain. I was just thinking to myself, I wanted a new companion, one that was experienced and could show me the ropes and what I need to do out here. I talked to Elder White about how I felt and told him I don’t feel like I have been properly trained. After a really good talk, he expressed to me that he felt the same as well. As we were talking, I was thinking, how are we going to do better in this area if we both haven’t really been trained or really know what we are doing. But at that moment I knew that the Lord wouldn't put two missionaries or "Greenies" together if he didn't have a purpose. We knew that God does everything for a reason and for that we knew we had to turn to him for help. We asked him in prayer just how two new missionaries like us could really go to work and really succeed in this area. We received an answer and revelation as Elder White and I sat down for the rest of the night and devised a mission plan. I feel like that plan that we devised was revelation from the Lord, for us, to help us in the area that we are in. I know this as the Lord put into our minds the things that we hadn't thought of doing. This experience will change me and my mission for the rest of the time I have out here. I know that the Lord will help us when we ask, and our weaknesses will be made strengths as we come unto Him for help. This has truly helped me to gain a stronger testimony and know that Elder White and I need to be together for at least another transfer, and it’s time to Rock out G!!!

We were knocking the other day and ran into a lady and in the end she told us she wasn't interested but somehow convinced my companion and I to take a stray cat that was lost. I don't know how she did it but somehow we ended up leaving her house with a cat in a box. Elder White and I knew we couldn't keep it as I don't even really like cats and we can't take care of it. We tried to pass by the local members and give them the cat, as it was a pretty good looking cat, but most of them just told us to kill it. Well, after searching for a home for this cat, we couldn't find any takers. We ended up at the apartment with the cat and the box and I said to Elder White," I don’t want this cat man." He was Like," Me either..." So what we decided to do is give the cat its agency, its freedom to choose. We were going to put the box outside and we said, if he stays in the box, we will keep him for a night, but if he runs away, he made his decision. So we took the box outside to see what the cat would do. As soon as we opened the box, the cat flew out with a jumping leap and ran off into the rainy night, we never saw Little G again (that’s what we named him). I felt bad for a little bit but we did what we could, Chyeah!

A pretty awesome tender mercy experience happened to me and Elder White. From this experience I learned that when you are given an opportunity to help someone out, you should do it. Let me explain to you why it’s a good idea to serve and help others. One day Elder White and I were outside contacting people when we got a call from one of our investigators saying that there was an emergency and her kid needed a ride to the hospital. She didn't have a car and she thought that we could help. We started to call members immediately as we thought someone was dying. We ended up getting one of the members to stop by her house with us and we went to go see what the problem was. When we went inside the house, she showed us to her son that was sitting on the couch playing his gameboy and had his ankle rapped. I asked him what was the problem and he told us that he just sprained his ankle running in gym at school. We were relieved to know that it wasn't that serious but also felt like we could have used our time better than to rush over there with a member. Well anyway, they took her kid to the hospital to get his ankle checked on and we started walking back to our car kind of disappointed. As we were walking back to our car, two little kids about 4 and 6 ran up to us and started talking to us. I was like, where did these kids come from. After a while, we saw their mom come up to us and we started talking to her. After a couple minutes talking to her, she told us that she was Mormon. We never saw her before but she told us it was because she got divorced and moved here like 6 months ago and just never was able to go to church because she didn't know where it was and didn’t have a ride. After talking to her for a while, she explained that she wanted to go back to church and bring her kids up in the church. We set up a ride, did some service for her on Saturday cleaning out here garage, she went to church, and tonight we are having a family home evening! Now tell me that everything doesn't happen for a reason. She needed help at this time and the Lord sent us to her as we did everything we could to be obedient and do His will. God lives and is aware of his children. Did we know that we would find her, no, but we were lead to her after doing what was right! Now from this experience, her 3 little boys have the possibility to grow up in the church and be 3 full time missionaries in the future, Chyeah!

Dang G, my boy Elder Rangel has one transfer left on his mission and is being transferred to another area. We made breakfast at a members house this morning as a going away present for Elder Rangel and Elder Weinert. It’s sad to see him go but I’ve learned so much from that Elder. He has helped me to man up more and understand missionary work. Last night we went over to his place and I inherited all the things he didn't want to bring with him. I inherited a 3 peace suit that fits pretty well, some new clothes, a Kitten Calendar, some Air Jordan sandals, and some hot sauce!! I’m telling you, it’s sad when one of your boys has got to leave, but it’s also bitter sweet, cause you get to have all the stuff they leave behind. I will always remember my boy Elder Rangel from the memories we have had and not only that, but I will remember him also as I sport his apparel (wear his clothes)! Chyeah!

Alright Family, works going good out here and this truly is the Church of Jesus Christ. Never have I been happier in my life, than in the service of my Lord and Savior!!!!

Keep it real,

Elder Payne