Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Winding Down in Seaside

September 22, 2011
Dear Family and Friends,

Yo family, a lot has happened in the last couple of days and I have got a lot to say about what has gone down. First off, I got your package and it was awesome!! I gave Elder S the “Jesus is My Boss” hat you sent me and he thought it was way cool. Thanks for the talks and the book you sent me, I will study them and let you know what I think.  That razor you sent me really is the Cadillac of all razors, I’ve never gotten a closer shave and it felt great!! Thanks for the hamper I’ve needed one for a while now. Well, you asked me about things I need and my white shirts are getting a little worn out but it’s all good, I think I can make them last another year. Thanks for the pens and I’ll put them to good use writing in my journals.  That is so cool that you got a call from Elder Woodman last week.  He and Sister W are my hero’s and I hope to be half as valiant to the Lord when I am 78 years old too.  We will all miss them as they are leaving next week to go back home, but Elder W's example and rants will be with me for the rest of my life!

Elder and Sister W!

 All right, so I will get down to business and let you know what has been going on with me. I’ve done some major pondering and finding out where I am as a missionary right now. There are a lot of things that have been revealed to me by the Spirit and hopefully this will all make sense when I get done writing this email. First off, I want to let you know what I felt inspired to do. One day after district meeting,  I decided to read the letter you sent me to some of the missionaries in my district.  It was the letter you sent me after reading my journal and giving me some advice. I felt like reading some of the parts in that letter would be of benefit to some of the missionaries since some of them are experiencing the same feelings of inadequacy I was having. After I got done reading the letter, my boy Elder J came up to me and asked if he could make a copy of the letter. Elder J is an awesome missionary and he is on his last transfer before he goes home.  I asked him why he wanted a copy and he replied to me that he had been praying about these feelings he had been having the night before and he felt like the letter I read was an answer to his prayers. He told me that he has always had feelings like this his whole mission and that the letter you wrote me completely explained where these feelings came from. So I thought it was pretty cool to have your letter answer someone else’s prayer that was also going through the same things I was too.
Anyway, I meditated on what you said and how I maybe am being too hard on myself.  I just want to give all I’ve got to the Lord but he doesn’t ask me to be perfect.  I have always prayed for the strength to understand and handle the situations I have been given out here, but the answers really sunk in as I had the opportunity to talk to my Heavenly Father in the Portland Temple yesterday.  In the temple I was able to tell Him exactly how I felt and ask him for His divine help. I came to an understanding that the adversary had been a big part of my trials that I have been facing as I have been worrying about things I have no power to control.  It was an amazing experience to speak to my Heavenly Father and fully trust that through the power of Jesus Christ, Satan in no means has any power or control over the way I feel. I have turned it all over to the Father and fully trust that He is and will take care of me. I know these feelings of inadequacy or despair come from the adversary. I used to think that these feelings meant I was doing something wrong and I needed to make a change because I wasn’t quite doing things just right but thanks to your letter and my relationship with the Lord, I have come to an understanding that the adversary was just trying to merk me and rob me of my peace. Since I have basically cast Satan's influence away from my thoughts and recognized where these feelings are coming from, I feel a lot different.  I am trying to stay centered in Christ and seek His Spirit as my constant companion regardless of what happens.

Now I’m not saying I was completely depressed or even depressed in any slightest degree, but I had a distorted and different way of thinking and looking at things. Now that I have acknowledged this I am way more relaxed and see things from a more eternal perspective. For example, when my companion decides to do something that wastes our time, I used to get upset and think about all the things we could have been doing instead. Now I sit back and read my scriptures and think it’s good that he’s out here to serve the Lord. So I received a totally different outlook and perspective since I have brought this to the Lord and asked for his help. I want to thank you for taking the time to help me understand that my efforts out here “are good enough”  and I’m only here to try my best. I can’t convert everyone with my testimony and now it makes greater sense what the prophet Alma was feeling when he desired to cry repentance to the people in Alma Chapter 29; 1-4. I have felt these feelings but now I have reached a sense of contentment that comes from knowing that I am giving it all I’ve got. I am grateful for these experiences I am having on my mission that have helped me to further understand the atonement of Jesus Christ and how the Savior is the key to helping me overcome these and any trials that will come during my life. I am grateful for the Savior, the great Mediator, the one I can go to that knows what I’m going through, and he can mold me and make me better than I ever was. I love you guys and sorry if this was preachy, but that’s just what’s going on out here and I love it!
By the way, Elder W said thanks for the letter. He really enjoyed it!! Also, I’m going back to a Spanish area with Elder W in 2 weeks; we have transfers after General Conference. It is going to be crazy because the whole coast is getting switched around. The Elders above us in Astoria are getting transferred because ones going home. Elder J in Tillamook is going home and Elder W and I are out of here. It’s going to be a crazy transfer meeting. Thanks again for the package. I’ve changed the format in my journal to just reflect on Tender Mercies, Hard Things, Dreams and Fun Things.  It’s a little bit more difficult to write in put it takes less time and I have more time to focus on other things. By the way, I’m about to finish the Book of Mormon in Spanish and I only have 12 pages left. I know the Book of Mormon is true and if you want to perfect your Spanish Dad, read it out loud. 

Love you guys and send me some questions next time so I can answer them.


Elder Payne

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Photo's from Seaside, Oregon!

Peaches and Carrots?

September 13, 2011
Dear Family,

Dang DAD, you are the new Rant King!!!!!!!! That was an awesome 10 page letter ha-ha. I only had time enough on the computer to get like 1/4 of the way through the letter but it was great. I felt the spirit testify to me that the words you sent me were true and I now have  a lot of things I need to bring in front of the Lord.  Now that I have someone outside looking in and some good advice I know I can further improve. Thanks for taking the time out of your day to help me out. I love being a missionary and I’m learning so many things.

When we walked into the library today we were greeted by the library guy who works here with a," Hey DUDES!!!!" He’s a pretty cool guy and always gives us an extra 10 minutes on the computers if we run out of the hour we have.  I will study all the things you said and go unto the Lord in prayer to help me know what I must do to further lose myself in his service. Thanks again and I hoped you liked the Journal. I hope you liked the pictures too and I’ll send some more soon.  I am looking forward to the package you mentioned in your letter!  It is always great to get packages from home! Oh, I forgot a few weeks ago, tell Brother M I was bummed I did not get to see him after the Mt. Hood to Seaside race, He is the Man!

Today, my companion and I have an interview with President M. I’m pretty excited because President M is the man. He always answers the phone by saying, “President M or President M here" ha-ha. I’ll tell you how it goes in my next letter. Well, a lot happened last week and things are going great out here. I feel so privileged to be out here and to have the opportunity to share the gospel with all those we come in contact with. I’ll let you know some really cool experiences I had last week, both the spiritual and the funny.

Elder S, President M and Elder Payne

First I’ll start with the funny and how I was on an exchange with Elder W. When Elder W and I were on an exchange, this last week and it was like working with your best friend. We would wake up in the mornings and then say, " Elder today’s gonna be awesome." It didn’t seem like work when we were out proselyting; it just seemed like rolling around with your best friend and sharing the gospel. This kid is like the long lost brother I never had and we had some funny times. We were driving to an appointment and this skunk ran in front of us on the road. My only reaction was to honk at it and as soon as I did, the skunk juiced us! His stink just barely missed the car as I swerved out of its path.

Elder W!

We then played this tracting game where your companion says a word right before the person opens the door and you have to try and say it during the conversation. Well, a shout out to Georgia,  I told Elder W to use the word “Peaches” and it was pretty funny; we got into a conversation with this guy from Mexico that was washing his car. We got into talking about authority and how authority was found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The guy wasn’t really having it so Elder Weyburn said," Listen Sir, we’re not just a bunch of Peaches here, we know what we’re talking about." It was then my turn and Elder W  gave me the word “Carrot”. I was a little nervous cause I didn’t know how I was going to use it in a conversation but the lady that opened the door set me up for it perfectly. She opened the door and after introducing ourselves we went to go shake her hand. She denied me as she had oil on her hands from cooking. I then looked at my hand and said to her," Your right maam, you probably don’t want to shake these carrot fingers anyway." She laughed and said, " Yeah I have carrot fingers too ha-ha." We thought it was pretty funny and had some good times while tracting which can get pretty rough sometimes. Well, I just wanted to let you know that Elder W is the man and he’s coming up to BYUI after the mission most likely and we want to room together in the future. I know that’s in a while but wanted you to know that out here on the mission, I’m meeting a ton of Elders that are cool and we will be lifelong friends.

Things are going great on the coast and as usual the work continues forward. C, who has a baptismal date for the 24 of September was at church and had a good time. I think he will be ready and from his example his family most likely will reactivate. We were not able to teach S which was a bummer and we are hoping that she is doing okay. She has a baptismal date as well and we will see where that goes. D A is doing great and progressing really well. He has some issues but is the man and said a prayer in our last lesson. His brother who is a member is really proud of him as he is improving so much. The missionary work is going great in our area as the members are participating more in lessons and helping us out. The High Priests and Elders have already filled up about a month’s worth of going on Splits and that is going to help us out a ton too.  They key to success in missionary work really is when the members help out and trust you enough to refer their family and friends.

I have a little tender mercy experience that happened yesterday. Well it was S’s birthday yesterday and he wanted us to come over and share a spiritual thought for his birthday. This kid is awesome and I really love him. He has a desire to serve the Lord and loves coming out with us to teach the gospel. Yeah, he is facing some trials but we are here for him 100% of the way.

My companionship is going great. Of course it has its up and downs and we aren’t always singing, but after receiving your good advice Dad, I have been able to look at the ups and downs from a totally new perspective. I’m so glad that Elder S and I are companions and I have this opportunity to love him and learn from him as he is a great Elder.

You know often you can have a fun time and a spiritual experience at the same time.  We were driving down the road and saw these elderly people out working in their yard. Without a word between us, we both knew we just had to stop and ask them if they needed help even though we had an appointment in 15 minutes. We jumped out of the car, took some shovels and went to work on their yard working and digging as fast as we could. As we were working, they were saying thank you the whole time and we said it was all good.  We probably did what they could do in an hour done in just a few minutes and it felt great to help out quickly and then take off. They probably never even knew that we were Mormon missionaries’ at all ha-ha.  I have learned that you can serve others, serve the Lord and have a great time doing it, it’s all in keeping the right perspective!

Elder Payne

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Another Journal Bites the Dust!

September 6, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Man family, I love you guys. Thanks for the letter you wrote me mom and dad, I really appreciated you filling me in and it sounds like everyone’s doing pretty well. By the way, I have good news on the journal and pics, I have one day left to write and I will be sending the journal and the pictures in the mail tomorrow. This journal is packed with 5 months of everyday entries, I still haven’t missed a day and I’m going for another year, I hope I can do it.  Anyway, I’m loving life and being a missionary, I’m on an exchange with my boy Elder W right now. This missionary is like my best friend and we have decided we are going to rock out at BYU Idaho after our missions and room together. This kid is like my brother and he is a beast. We have been talking some smack back and forth and he has wanted to wrestle me so last night we had a little match and it was crazy. We will still be boys after but you know how it goes, it gets a little heated when too friends square up. Elder W is 6'5 and weighs 240. This kid is a solid animal, like a  freight train but he will hug anyone. Cool thing is we just got a new ward mission leader last Sunday. Brother T got released and they called Brother R to be the new ward mission leader. Brother R is the wrestling coach at Seaside high school and he used to wrestle at BYU before the program shut down. He was like a 3 time state champion and he placed in nationals or something. Anyway, we are going to talk to him and ask him to open up the mats on one P-day so Elder W and I can go at it. I have gone this long without wrestling on my mission, but you know how it is, it’s just ingrained in my DNA now and I have got to wrestle either sooner or later. I’ll let you know how that goes and it will probably be pretty funny.   

I love it here in Seaside and the coast and things are going great out here. It was a week of miracles and changes. Through the spirit we have been able to help people make changes in their lives and there is no better feeling. We have been teaching a lot of less active members and we are seeing them progress week by week. We tracked into this one sister that hasn’t been to church in like 10 years. Well, after helping her realize that this is the Church of Jesus Christ, she made the commitment to come back to church and was there last Sunday. One of the members picked her up and she looked like she had a great time in Relief Society. Another Sister  told us when we first started teaching her, that she did not want to change, but she has been changing so much as she has taken the challenge to read in the Book of Mormon. She comes to church and you can see her countenance shine every time you see her. S, an investigator we found a while ago has accepted a baptismal invitation for the 16 of October and made it to church last Sunday. She is so awesome and I know that she wants to change her life. C, the son of a less active member has a baptismal date for the 24 of September. He is progressing pretty well and was at church last Sunday. Work is going great out here and even though it seems like there are always setbacks but as we continue to work hard, the setbacks don’t matter and they are hard to remember.

My companionship is going great. I love my comp and we work super hard and we never take any breaks. I love the kid and I know that the speed we are going at now is pretty fast and I hope he is comfortable with it. I have usually seen that the speed that I try to run at makes my comps feel a little uncomfortable because I’m always on the move. I don’t want to waste a minute as the time is going by so fast and I don’t want to regret any time messing around.  Do you think I should slow down? Should I slow down so they can be more comfortable? I don’t know if that question makes sense but let me know what you think.

 I have a funny story for you before I head out, I haven’t really given you to many spiritual experiences but I had a ton this week, it’s just that I wanted to tell you about the funny things that have been happening out here and how much I love being in the service of the Master. Well the other night we got robbed by a guy with a machete. Listen don’t get worried, it turns out pretty funny.  One night we went up to Astoria to get some materials from the Elders that are serving in the area above us. The Elders live on this dark street in the middle of a long road going on for a while. I know that’s a bad explanation but I’m just trying to set the mood. Anyway, we get out of our car and it’s like pitch black and we see Elder P chillen in front of the house they live in. I said, hey Elder P, what are you doing out here alone and he replied, it’s just hot in there, I’m getting some fresh air. All of a sudden, we hear this voice that says, “HEY, Give me your wallets." I turn around and there is this guy wearing a dark hoodie pointing a machete at my face. I looked over to Elder P and he just takes off running. Elder S and I are just standing there as the man demands our wallets pointing the machete at us. I couldn’t believe we were getting robbed by a machete and after we didn’t say anything and just stood there. The guy took of his hood and it was just Elder P’s companion, Elder H. He got me pretty good and I thought it was pretty funny.

Peace out and I love you guys so much,

Elder Payne