Monday, November 28, 2011

Woodburn, "The Celestial Area"

November 28, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,
Remember Elder R from Mexico?  He has been home for about a year now so I wrote my boy the other day and I told him that I was serving in his favorite area and this is what he said, "I can’t believe you are in Woodburn (a.k.a. the celestial area with the celestial Branch President)".  Dang, Elder R is right; I love this place and the people here! The work is going good here in Woodburn and we continue to push on. We have been teaching a lot of less active families in the Branch and we have run into a new couple that wants to come back to church. They are young and the man has some problems with drugs that we will try to help him overcome. I look at him and I can see what he can become with the Lord’s help and not where he is right now. E G is progressing well and his family is getting excited about the church too. M is progressing slowly as we have to continue to remind him to read. We are working a lot with the less active and I know that through the Holy Ghost and love they will find the desire to come back to church and change their lives.

Thanksgiving was awesome at the Branch Presidents house and there were 8 missionaries there to enjoy the Thanksgiving feast. That’s crazy that President P called you guys to say how happy he is to have me in Woodburn.  Elder B and I are trying our best to work hard and be obedient and we love working with President P! The work is growing a lot here in Woodburn so we now have 6 missionaries in the branch. Isn’t that crazy, we have 6 Elders in 1 Branch. Some Stakes don’t even have 6 missionaries. Well I know it is for a reason and the awesome thing is that all the missionaries here in the branch are like brothers. If we unite together and really figure out a way to reach out to people, we can hopefully bring many unto Christ while we serve here. Things are going great and Elder B and I are seeing many miracles as we are depending on the Lord to guide us. My main man E who just got ordained last week is progressing really well and now his little brother is coming to church. Through his faithful example, I pray that we may reactivate his whole family and see them come back to church. A lot has happened this week and I have a lot to tell you.
First I’ll tell you about my main man Hermano P. He is still going strong and is a G. We went over to his house one day to see how he was doing. We pulled up to his driveway and saw that the garage was open which meant that he was outside so we got out of the car and I shouted," HERMANO!" I didn’t hear anything so I shouted again and then I heard a voice from the side of the house say," HERMANOS!" It was coming from the side of the house so we walked around but nobody was there. We then heard it again and the voice was coming from above us. I looked up to see my main man Hermano P hanging on the edge of the roof hanging Christmas lights ha-ha. I said Hermano, “Don’t fall!" He replied by saying, “I got this”. He is a funny guy and it was a cool sight to see a guy about 70 years old lying on the side of the roof, so close to falling, but without fear. You can’t stop the guy, he is like the energizer bunny, he will never stop going and is a great example to me. I hope to be like him throughout my life as a faithful servant to the end.

Something else happened that’s really cool as I was able to learn and see things from an eternal perspective. When I was serving in Seaside you may have thought I was upset and was having a hard time but I meditated on the time I had with my companions. I thought to myself, was I that easy to live with, and was I that cool? I then thought about all the things I did that might have not been so cool or pretty annoying, maybe the stuff that my companions might have written in there journals saying that I needed to change. Then I was hit with some straight truth as to realize that I was half of the equation. I don’t know if you’re following me but I’m going to keep ranting and hopefully it will make sense. So every morning in Seaside, I would listen to a conference talk in Spanish and sometimes I wouldn’t change the talk for like 3 weeks straight cause I liked listening to the same talk. Another thing I liked doing is listening to the Book of Mormon in Spanish for like 20 chapters in a row instead of music like Motab (Mormon Tabernacle Choir). Then it hit me, I liked that stuff but my companions probably weren’t big fans. Maybe they wanted to mix things up and I just disregarded their thoughts. It then hit me that I could have made things better instead of doing what I wanted. I felt bad, but I knew I could make things better so I decided to call my boy Elder S and apologized and told him I knew I could have done things a little differently when I was there. I then thanked him for everything he taught me. After getting off the phone and thanking him, it hit me and I had the question, why after you leave your companions, are you more appreciative or thankful for them?
It was a wakeup call for me to always be grateful for what’s going on at the moment and it made me grateful for every companion I've  had on my mission and for the things I've learned from each one of them. I know I have had all my companions on my mission for a specific reason and only God knew why at that time but as time goes on I learn why. It feels good to know that the hard times and the good times have been for my benefit and to be honest, I can’t remember the hard times anyway. I’m talking like my mission is over so sorry for the rant as I was just writing down my thoughts. One thing I want to say after my mission though is that I would kick it or hang out with each of my companions after the mission. I never want to say, I hope I never see that guy again, because if you leave with those feelings I think you didn’t learn what the lord wanted you to learn. Do you think any of the things I am learning out here about human relationships will help me when I get married someday lol? 

Well,  I love you guys so much and I can’t wait to talk to you at Christmas. We are doing another Christmas play this year and I have moved up from the part of playing solider last year in the play in Keizer to having a main part in the cast as the Angel Gabriel, Chyeah!

Elder Payne

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful in Woodburn!

November 21, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,
Things are going extremely well out here in Woodburn and we are witnessing miracle after miracle. We are finding a lot of success now as many people we are running into are willing to take the missionary discussions and learn about the Savior. I will tell you about some cool stories later and how the work is really progressing but first I wanted to thank you for sending me some pictures. It looks like everyone is doing really well and the pictures of Heather and Ben’s new place in Florida are amazing. It looks like a nice place to live out there and I’ll definitely have to check it out in the future. I’m glad you liked my last letter and if you have any more questions to throw my way I’m sure I can find some time to answer them. This week is Thanksgiving and we are pretty pumped as we are eating dinner with the Branch President’s family. I love Mexican food, but President is American and so it will be all the missionaries in the branch eating a ton of turkey and stuffing over there. I am going to have to train my stomach for this Thursday as we are going to get so much food. I heard if you eat only lettuce or grapes the night before, it expands your stomach so you don’t get full as fast. I will definitely need to do that as last Thanksgiving we ate about 3 dinners. Anyway, I’m super excited and thankful for all the members here.

Yesterday at church we had the amazing opportunity to confirm B and D members of the Lords church. It was such an amazing feeling to see the change that has taken place in their lives. Another amazing miracle that we have been seeing is the reactivation of many less active members. I told you about how Elder C. Scott Grow came to our mission and put us in line by helping us know what to focus on. Well, that experience changed my mission and my life. I’m grateful that a general authority of the Lord was able to come and help me know what I must further do to serve the lord. He invited us to work with the less active members of the Branch and if we would we would see more success. Well we took him up on his invitation and have seen amazing things happen as the spirit is touching these sweet people and helping them to strengthen their testimonies. M came to church again and is progressing well toward his baptismal date in a few weeks.  We have been working with a certain family for a while now and they have a son that is of the age of Priest. Yesterday we had the opportunity to go to his house and ordain him to the office of a Priest. He asked me to ordain him and I was pretty nervous but it was an amazing experience to see my boy change his life and get back on the right path. We are working with many other young men as well and with time we will have more Priesthood holders in the Branch to pass and bless the sacrament. I feel like Ammon did in Alma 26 when he rejoiced in the glory of his God. I know that all the success that’s going on right now has nothing to do with me but I’m grateful to be an instrument in the Lords hands.
I sometimes think and ponder about my time in Seaside and how I felt like I didn’t really contribute. I tried my best but nothing really happened. Now I further realize that this is just how missionary work rolls. You work your hardest no matter what, even if you don’t get to see the fruits. It’s like what Elder M said in his last letter before going home, some areas are for sowing and others are for reaping but it is all the work of the Lord. I called Elder S the other day to ask him how the work in Seaside was going and he told me they are having 6 baptisms. Many of the people I helped prepare are keeping their commitments and coming into the Lords kingdom.  It’s crazy to see how missionary work functions but it further strengthens my testimony that we are all on the Lords time and he knows where and when people will be ready to receive the gospel. I guess it’s just our job as missionaries to be out there all the time so we can say to ourselves when we are on that plane ride home that we gave it all we’ve got and we didn’t miss out on any opportunities to share our testimony with anyone.  

I’m grateful to be in this area and at this time to see the amazing changes that are happening. One thing I have noticed a lot is the companionship of the Holy Ghost. It really is the key and  is so important and without it I can’t teach. It truly does lead and guide our actions as sometimes I don’t really know what to do, but when I do trust in the Spirit everything seems to work out.

My companion is the man and I am so grateful to be with him for another transfer. There is a lot of work to be done here and it feels good to be with a companion that has the same working speed if you know what I mean. Spanish is coming back quickly and the language is really slowing down for me now.  I am so grateful to the Lord for all His help and the spiritual gift of tongues.

Well, I’ve got to get going but I love you guys and I hope all is going well. Thanks for all the support and know that I keep you in my prayers every night.


Elder Payne

Monday, November 14, 2011

Another Six Weeks in Woodburn!


Dear Family and Friends,

This week was amazing and full of great spiritual experiences.  Today we started the new transfer and Elder B and I will be staying here in Woodburn for another one! My companion Elder B is the man and we are working in unity. We both like to keep the apartment clean, work hard and be 100% obedient, so what more can I ask for?

We have a lot of work to do and things are going great. This new transfer ends December 26th, the day after Christmas and we have set some high goals this transfer to find, teach and baptize. Yesterday was an amazing experience as we were able to be a part of the baptism of B and D.  It was a great baptismal service and almost the entire Branch came out to support these two new members of the Lords church. It was a wonderful experience and we are definitely seeing the fruits from what Elder C. Scott Grow taught us a few weeks ago. His visit changed my life and my mission. Because of the things he helped me realize, I now know what it means to exercise true faith to find, teach and baptize. The goal setting he taught us how to use helped us to find B and D and help them come unto Christ through the waters of Baptism. Not only that, but we have been working with a lot of the less active families and many of them showed up to church this Sunday.

This past transfer we saw many miracles happen as we put our faith in the Lord and understood that the only way to accomplish the Lords will is to go to him for help. I learned a lot of things last transfer and I can truly say that the scripture in Ether 12:13-15 has had a greater meaning to me now as I know that the key to the Lords work is Faith. Even my boy M, the brother of B, came to church and to the baptism. I mentioned last week how he had not wanted to participate in our lessons but came in last week as we discussed Joseph’s first vision.  I’m grateful to be a part of the Lord’s work that is going on out here in Woodburn at this time and I know I have been sent here for a reason. I can see lives changing for the better, especially mine.

So, things are going amazing and I thank Heavenly Father for letting me learn these experiences now so I can use them for the rest of my mission. I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn and serve the Master.

I love my mission and my only desire is to help make Woodburn a Ward instead of a Branch and with the Lord’s help, we are on our way.


Elder Payne

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lovin Life in Woodburn!

November 7, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Woodburn is the best and things are going great out here. We just got back from a Zone Activity where the two Spanish zones in the mission met up and we played soccer. I was able to see my boy Elder W and he greeted me by saying, " Elder P, we’re still going to BYUI right?!?!?!" ha-ha. I haven’t seen Elder W since I left the coast but it was a good reunion. I also met up with my second companion Elder W and it was good to see him. His voice has gotten even deeper from the last time I saw him ha-ha! Man I love elder W! I’m really glad to hear things are going good back home. I really want to write Oscar and my other Chilean amigos so this email will be a little shorter.

Life is good and the work is really progressing here in Woodburn. O and A were baptized two weeks ago and last Sunday O received the Aaronic Priesthood. What a blessing it has been to see and experience the change the gospel has brought to O and his wife. We have got to get O a white shirt and tie so he looks official for when he passes the sacrament. We are definitely taking Elder C. S G’s advice and spending half of our time with the less active members in the Branch. We are seeing the fruits of our labors as people are making commitments to come back to church and come closer to their Heavenly Father. We also have a baptism this Sunday of B and her daughter D. It is going to be a great baptismal service and it has been a blessing to see their lives change by making the decision to follow their Savior Jesus Christ. We have other investigators progressing and as we set our new goals, I know Heavenly Father will guide us to his elect.

Elder B is the man and things are going great. I’m trying to find opportunities to serve him but he is pretty neat and tidy so it’s hard to find things I can do for him. Anyway, things are going great and it would be awesome to serve another transfer with him as I know it would help this area to grow further more!

Well, I have a pretty spiritual experience I would like to share with you guys. We have been going to teach this family for the last couple of weeks and something really cool happened. Every time we stop by to teach, all the kids gather around and get ready to listen. We invite everyone to attend, but my main boy M (the brother of our investigator) hasn’t been feeling it for the last couple of weeks. Instead of joining in the lesson he will just chill in his room and say bye to us when we leave. Well last week we were teaching the family about Joseph Smith and answering the question that Joseph smith had, which church is the true church of Jesus Christ. As we were teaching about that principle, M rolls out of his room and starts telling us that it’s too confusing to understand and that he just doesn’t get it. As soon as M rolled into the room, everyone started cheering and hooting, because M had finally gotten fired up and decided to participate. After things calmed down and the excitement settled, we asked M to take a seat. He agreed and from there we explained the great apostasy and the vision that Joseph Smith received of the Father and the Son.  We testified of the truthfulness of the first vision and asked them to pray about it. I could see the Holy Ghost working on M and he accepted the invitation to say the closing prayer. M is the man and has been joining our lessons ever since. From this experience I have learned to a higher degree that people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. So many experiences on my mission, I have seen that people have got a wall up, and the only way to break that down is with love and support. It’s no wonder why knocking can be so ineffective. At the door you have about 20 seconds to break down their wall and gain their trust. It took us about 4 weeks to gain M’s trust and now he is deciding to take the lessons. I am grateful for these kinds of experiences on my mission and it brought me so much joy to see M get up that day and get involved, even though he was throwing some defensive hay makers (metaphorically) at the beginning, Chyeah!

I love you guys and thanks for the support you’re giving me. I know that this church is true and I’m glad to be a part of the gathering of Israel in the last days.


Elder Payne

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Woodburn's on Fire!

October 31, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Things are going great and I love Woodburn more than anything. President P is a G and the members are great! I have a lot to tell you because last week was a really busy one. Hermano P, the Branch Mission Leader,  is still leading the way and before church this Sunday, he took us to go see all his friends and invited them to church. As I stood there, Hermano P introduced us to his friends and explained to them that our purpose was to bring people unto Christ and prepare people for the second coming. He was explaining this to his friends without any fear and telling them about the covenants we make with our Heavenly Father. He is a great example and I want to be like my boy Hermano P too. I have got to tell you some bad news, last night I ate a habanero pepper and I am still suffering as we speak. I wasn’t going to go down easy last night as we ate with the C family and I had to conquer the hottest pepper I’ve ever eaten. The good news is that it helped loosen my tongue and I can speak Spanish faster. But I’ll be real with you right now, I’m never gonna eat a habanero pepper ever again!!!!!!!!!

GOOD NEWS, O y A got baptized last Saturday! They are great examples to me and have truly decided to follow the Savior by changing their lives. O is the man and it was a privilege to confirm him a member and give him the Holy Ghost. To prepare I listened to the talk that David A. Bednar gave in the October 2010 conference titled, " Receive the Holy Ghost!" It’s an awesome talk and I have probably listened to it about 50 times on my mission. Anyway, things are going good and the Lord is blessing us and our area of Woodburn.

Things are going great here in Woodburn and I love my companion. He’s got my back and I’ve never worked as hard and as efficiently on my mission since I’ve gotten here in Woodburn. The work is going great and the lord is truly answering our prayers and our fasting. D and her mom B are making the decisions and choices to follow the Savior into the waters of baptism. We are working a lot with less actives and branch members as Elder C. Scott Grow told us to do. We had a great experience with a less active family the other day and they have decided to take the lessons again. One thing I have noticed about the success that we are having is that it is not me or my companion that is doing it. What I have learned is that the key to success in my mission is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as this is His work. I as a missionary need to have the faith sufficient to ask for his help and believe I will receive. Then it is the Lords will and whether the time is ready for these people in their lives. Then it depends on the faith of investigators. If they are willing to act upon the commitments we leave them and read in the Book of Mormon, they will be converted by the power of the Holy Ghost. Then it is up to the investigator. Well, that’s what I believe to be the reason for the success, not me or my companion alone, but all the different factors of conversion.

Man, the letters I got from the N boys really touched my heart and I love and miss those little G’s. Their parents are doing a wonderful job with them and they will be great missionaries for the Lord one day.  For them to think that about me just blows my mind. I’m just an average guy but I rejoice in the fact that they look to me as a positive example for them to follow. I’ve learned a lot on my mission about the way people look up to missionaries and how every action is being watched by the rising generation of the church. I have a pretty funny example to explain my point. On Sunday, a family that we have been teaching came to church. The mom’s name is B and she has 6 kids ages 1 to 13. Well, during sacrament meeting, while the sacrament was being passed around, I bowed my head and prayed. After the sacrament was over I looked up and saw D, the 8 year old girl that has a baptismal date on the 13 of November, looking right at me. She motioned that I had fallen asleep. I told her I was praying and I wasn’t sleeping. By now all the kids are motioning that I fell asleep and I wouldn’t budge, I was praying. After sacrament meeting she said again," Hey Elder Payne, you fell asleep. I reassured her that I wasn’t Ha-ha. Well, after talking to them and setting an appointment for later that night, we parted ways. We then showed up that night and we were greeted with shouts and high fives. So as soon as I sit down, M (the older brother of B that lives with them and is not a member yet) rolls into the room with his shirt off and says," Yo sleeping DUDE, why you sleeping in church? Ha-ha I couldn’t help but laugh because now even M was on my case. I then asked for suggestions on how I could pray in church without looking like I’m sleeping. They gave me some good suggestions and it was a pretty funny situation. It just showed to me how watchful these kids are of our examples and what we do and how important it is to be good at all times. I now understand why they say the three best ways to teach are example, example and example!

Elder B and I have decided to do this awesome activity to gain the trust of the members and serve them. In the mornings, we show up to their houses in P-day clothes and tell them that we are there to do service. It works great! What I’ve noticed is that many members will not go out of their way to ask you for some help. So we are making it easy for them and just showing up and being ready to serve .They love it as there is always something that can be down whether that be mowing the lawn or moving furniture. Really, members are the key to missionary work as the last 3 baptisms we have had are member’s friends or families. If they trust us and see that we are willing to work, the work will progress faster.

A really cool side note, you know the UFC fighter named Chael Sonnen? He is from Oregon and one of the members knows him really well. Well, the deal is that he always hooks her up with stuff he doesn’t want like suits, clothes, whatever it is. So Elder Ballard and I had the chance to go and try on Chael Sonnen's suits that he wore like once. Too bad that he is like 6'1 and 185 pounds of pure muscle; I couldn’t fit into his suits but my companion fit into the suits perfectly and has been wearing them like he’s a millionaire ever since. If you get a chance, check out his fight between Anderson Silva at the championships last year. That was the last UFC fight I saw before my mission, how crazy is that. Maybe I’ll get to meet him and we can wrestle or something.  He is awesome and one of the best in the UFC.  He wrestled in college here in Oregon and is the man.

Well family, I love you guys, I love the little G's, I love everyone and I’m grateful to be in the service of the Lord. I have experienced no greater joy than losing myself in the Lord’s work and inviting others to come unto Christ. I know the Gospel is true and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.


Elder Payne