Queridos Familia y Amigos,
Woodburn is on fire and so am I! I love this place and it is so awesome. Not only do I love this place but it has been an amazing week full of spiritual experiences and really fun too. So I arrived here just last week and time has just flown by. It feels weird to be out of the loop and not able to contribute that much. I just got here in my new area and I don’t know very many people or even all of our investigators yet. It’s definitely a much different pace than being in Seaside where I know where everything is and who everyone is but I’ll get up to speed soon and able to get comfortable with my surroundings. I love the Woodburn Branch and I’m so happy to be here. My companionship with is going great. We are two very different guys but we have fun and make it work because our desire to serve the Lord unifies us. It is great to have such a hard working companion.
First, let me start by telling you about the highlights of the things that have just happened out here. I got interviewed by a General Authority yesterday! It was an amazing experience and I will elaborate on that a little bit later in the letter. We had a mission tour yesterday and a member of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy, Elder C. S G came and talked to our mission. It was an amazing experience to have a General Authority come to our mission and talk to us about ways we can improve as missionaries. Elder G served as a Mission President in Uruguay before being called to the Seventy. But before I get more in depth with that let me explain to you what else amazing happened. There was a wedding this Saturday and we had a baptism on Sunday. Things are going amazing out here and truly the field is white and ready to harvest here in Woodburn, Oregon.
Well let me first start off with telling you about the wedding. The wedding was awesome and it was the first real Mexican wedding I have ever been to. The colors of the wedding were bright and the decorations were pretty cool. Well the wedding was for two of our investigators, O and M. They are a really nice young couple and making some good decisions in their lives right now. Well at the wedding, I decided to sit at a table with some people I didn’t know. As I sat down, they started asking me questions about who I was and why I was wearing a black name tag. I explained and found out they were not members of the church and the whole time during the wedding, they asked me questions and I shared the gospel with them. We laughed and had a good time and by the end of the night they gave me their names and told me to add them on my facebook. They also said they would read the book of Mormon and that they thought it was interesting. It was a good experience because it was a testimony to me that you can share the gospel anywhere, even in a wedding where they are blasting Spanish salsa music in the background.
I always try to share a funny experience that happened during the week so here goes. A funny and strange thing that happened at the wedding is that the DJ didn’t like to talk on the microphone because it made him nervous. So Oscar came up to me and asked me to make the announcements. You know I am like Mom and don’t have a shy bone in my body, so I jumped in and it was great! I got up in front of all these people I didn’t know and introduced the new bride and groom. I told everyone to applaud and introduced their first dance. After the married couple finished dancing, I invited everyone to get on the dance floor and start dancing because it was open dance floor now and the place was jumping. It was a pretty funny experience because I didn’t know anyone, but I was making the announcements in Spanish ha-ha. The wedding went really well and it was a good experience to witness this young couple getting married.
On Sunday, the first day back into the Spanish Branch, I was asked to give the opening prayer in Sacrament meeting. Later that day, Elder Ballard and I got ready to have a baptism for a lady named E. She has been taught for a while now and decided to get baptized. It was a great service and the spirit was really there. The Branch really came out to support her and she definitely felt the love. I know the Lord has many other people ready here in Woodburn waiting to get baptized and enter into His kingdom.
Now back to my amazing experience at the Mission tour yesterday. Elder C. S G came and spoke to our mission and gave us some great advice on how to improve the Lord’s work. I learned so much and was truly edified. I was grateful for the opportunity I had to hear the voice of the Lords servant. At the end of the meeting, President M got up and said," Now Elder G would like to talk to a few Elders, don’t worry you’re not in trouble, he just felt inspired to talk to a few of you for a minute or two!"
So the AP’s went around and grabbed about 10 missionaries and asked them all to follow them to a room nearby. Out of the 10 missionaries chosen, I was the one chosen to go into the interview first. Everyone was like ooooooooooo; you’re in trouble Elder Payne ha-ha. I didn’t know at that point what was going on but soon I felt an arm around my shoulders and it was Elder G. He said, are you ready Elder? We went into this room and the interview began. I won’t go into depth about what was said but I will tell you how I felt. I have never felt so loved by someone that I had never met before in my life. I felt the spirit strongly and I knew that this was truly a servant of God. I was able to ask him questions that he answered with the spirit. It was truly a great experience and it seemed as if he was looking into my soul to see who I really was. He answered some questions that I had been having and gave me some really good counsel. It was an amazing experience and he told me some things that I will never forget. I wrote them down and have them in my journal and maybe I will share them with you in the future. I’m grateful for the experience to have been in the presence of a General Authority and to receive counsel and revelation from a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. I will never forget this tender mercy!
Well, life is amazing; I love my mission with all my heart. I love the Savior and I’m so proud to serve him. I love you guys and am so thankful to each of you for your love and for your support.