Monday, March 26, 2012

Teach With Enthusiasm!

March 26, 2012

Dear family and friends,

I'm so pumped right now I can’t even explain it. My new companion is the man and we are just living every second on fire and ready to approach everyone we see about the gospel of Jesus Christ. We both have the mentality that it’s time to go all out and if people think we are making them a little uncomfortable, well it’s all good because that’s our calling. It’s really cool as we are being bold, loving, and saying what needs to be said and having a companion that has the same thought process and excitement you do makes it so much fun to do missionary work. I’ve loved every second of my mission so far, but I can tell that this transfer is going to be super sweet. Sometimes when I get down, my boy Elder T says, “Hey man, what are you doing, you can’t lose your animo (enthusiasm) we got this!!" Then I just get pumped up again. We have set some pretty awesome and high goals this transfer and we know that the lord is going to help us reach them. The theme of this transfer is “Ensenar con Animo” or “Teach with Enthusiasm”!

Basically what I have seen on my mission is that there are a lot of great missionaries but when they teach or tract or do whatever, they don’t show their excitement for the work and that is one of the key parts to helping people understand the importance of the gospel. If they can see that you’re not excited about the gospel, the chances are that they’re not going to get to excited about it either. The theme of this transfer is "if you’re not excited about serving the Lord, you might as well.....GO HOME". You can really add in any sentence in the beginning like, if you’re not going to be obedient and wake up on time, you might as well go home. We get all excited in District meetings when we say that to each other ha-ha. I’m personally waking up every day ready to rock (Spiritually).

We have set the goal to double the church attendance this transfer as there are a lot of less active members that are not coming to church right now that we want to reactive. We have already had some really awesome tender mercies that I will let you know about after I answer all of your questions. I’m just feeling it and it’s my goal to help every missionary in our area get catch fire and get excited about the service of the Lord. Let’s be real here, being a missionary is the coolest thing ever, there’s no better two years a young man can have and I know that. I have an experience about how sharing that testimony really can touch people but I’ll save that for later on in the letter. Let me answer your questions first G!!!!!!

A few questions for you my boy!  How is your goal to read the entire missionary library in your last six months going? I’m about done with the Book of Mormon, almost half way through Jesus the Christ, and once I get done with the Book of Mormon, I’m going to get started on the New Testament.  The Old Testament is super long and I might be able to use my time reading other things ha-ha. I will finish the D&C and Pearl of Great Price before I'll try the Old Testament.  Do you still exercise every day?  I exercise every day and I’m in pretty good shape, I still weigh about 150 pounds and I don’t have too much fat. We have a gym in our apartment complex so we bought some protein and we are going to get swollen this transfer. Did you get to show little R the fireman’s carry and some other cool wrestling moves before leaving Woodburn? Yeah, one Saturday morning we went over to teach his family a short lesson and then afterward we talked wrestling. I showed him a couple of tilts, breakdowns and the fireman. He is the man and if he sticks with wrestling he will be a state champ one day!  What areas are in your Zone?  We are in the Spanish South Zone or “Los Soldados Del Sur” (Soldiers of the South).  Our zone goes all the way up to Tigard and all the way down to Salem. The District Leader lives in Molalla and the Zone Leaders live in Tigard.  How big is your area as it seems you will have to cover more than just Canby as it looks small, do you have Molalla, Newberg, Oregon City or Wilsonville? We have to cover Canby, Oregon City and Molalla so basically we cover the whole English Stake area. It’s a huge area and there is a ton of work to be done.   Were you able to listen to the talk “Profile of a Prophet” by Hugh B. Brown I sent you in an mps file? Yeah, I was able to listen to that talk and it was awesome. It got me so pumped up. It’s funny how people try to disprove the Book of Mormon and the alternatives that they come up with are so absurd.  Often they haven’t even read the book or been honest enough to seek an answer about its truthfulness from the Lord.  I am so grateful for the Prophet Joseph Smith and for the Book of Mormon.  The Book of Mormon is the key!  Anyway, I love the talk and thanks for sending it to me. 

Okay,  so I’ll give you the quick scoop about one of the tender mercies I have seen in my short time here in Canby. My second day here we went over to visit a member family and they have a son that is 19 years old but hasn’t decided to go on a mission yet. We have stopped by almost every day this week to read the scriptures with him and try to explain to him the blessings that come from serving a mission. Most importantly we told him he needed to ask God about it and that he would receive an answer. We received a text from my boy after church on Sunday telling us that he talked to the Branch President and he’s going on a mission! CHYEAH! We didn’t really do anything but it was through the power of the Holy Ghost and the faith of this young man that he made the decision to serve. It was pretty awesome and Sunday night we baked him a cake and some Mexican soup called Pasoli at his house for a Noche de Hogar (FHE). Life is great and I love every minute that I have in the service of the Lord. I know this church is true and all I have to do is share the gospel with all the people I can. Be safe and keep it real.


Elder Payne

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Moving to Canby, Oregon!

March 20, 2012

Hey family and friends,

You’re premonition was right Pops, I got transferred and now I’m in my new area, Canby, Oregon!  And guess what, it’s only like 20 minutes away from Woodburn!  Chyeah!  I got sent to the area right next to Woodburn and it’s a little branch. I’m pretty pumped as I have heard the members are great and this place has a lot of potential. My new companions name is Elder T and he is from New Mexico. He has about two transfers left on his mission so I will most likely kill him and send him home when his time is up. I’m thinking that this is going to be my last area in the mission as well and I’m so happy to be here. I know that I am here for a reason and that I need to learn something and need to find some people that are ready to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ  and be baptized.  Well, Elder T is the man and we are excited to work together and we have common goals and we both have the same mindset. We are here to work and we are going to tear things up. There is a ton of farmland in Canby and it’s pretty rural. There are a ton of fields and most of the Hispanics that live here in Canby work in the fields. One day I would like to go out there and pick some fruit!  Anyway, everything is going good out here and from what I’ve seen, I love this place. It’s hit me that this is probably going to be my last area so it’s time to pick it up and leave it all on the mat.

It’s pretty cool because Woodburn’s so close so I will be able to visit the members and keep in contact with the investigators over there. Saying goodbye to everyone in the branch on Sunday was a really spiritual experience as I was able to thank them for the love they have shown me and for their examples. I will never forget Woodburn as I have learned so much there and I love all those people. I really learned how to love from the many experiences as I served there and I’m grateful for the companions I had as well. Yesterday the Branch President from Canby picked us up from the transfer meeting and I got a good chance to talk to him and get to know him pretty well. He is a really nice guy and he is involved with the missionary work in this area. Something that made me feel really good is that while I was talking to him he asked me where I was from and when I said Georgia he asked if I spoke Spanish in the home before the mission. I told him I learned it out here and he said I spoke pretty well. I felt like that was a tender mercy as I’ve been trying my best to learn the language and know after serving with a Peruvian companion for a transfer and not speaking English for 5 months straight I have finally achieved the goal of speaking Spanish like a native. I’m going to keep with the goal of only speaking Spanish for the rest of my mission but I felt like that was a pretty cool experience.
At transfer meetings, I said goodbye to my main man Elder W as he is going home. I told the big guy that I loved him and that he helped change my mission. It’s interesting to see how some missionaries feel like they didn’t do too much on their mission when they really impacted more people than they can ever comprehend. Elder W was my follow up trainer after Elder H and I know the Lord sent him to me specifically as he taught me so much. I’ll never forget Elder W and we will be lifelong friends. At transfer meeting I also got to see all of my boys like Elders B, W, Y, P, F, R, and the list goes on. It’s pretty tight how the mission is like a brotherhood and we are all trying to accomplish the same goal.
Well you wanted to hear more about tender mercies and last week was full of them. We saw so many amazing things happen that I was busy writing in my journal for hours. I know that everything I have learned up to this moment on my mission has come line upon line, little by little and now in this final area and time of my mission, it’s time to sharpen the sword, polish the stone and basically learn what the lord has prepared for me this whole mission of molding and sculpting. I know that where I am right now and who I am with is what is going to help me to be the best me. It’s crazy to recognize that all the things that have happened on my mission, the good and the bad, have only been for my benefit and now I am reaping the benefits as I am becoming more confident and sure of what the Lord desires.
Well, as I told you about my last Sunday in Woodburn, I was able to say goodbye to all of the people I have been able to work with while I have been in Woodburn
As we visited the families in the Branch, I told them how much I appreciated them and I have learned that a really big part of letting people know that you love them is by showing it and expressing it. There has been a lot of growth in the branch from our focusing on working with members and less actives and strengthening their testimonies. I have come to realize that the way to do missionary work is to work with members, truly show them your gratitude and love, working to strengthen the less actives and asking for referrals. As we  teach the friends of the members and their friends are there we see so much more success than if we went tracting for 40 hours a week. This is where my testimony and thoughts on missionary work are now. How can you bring new converts to a place where there is not a firm foundation? Now I’m not against tracting, I’m down with inviting or knocking on a million doors if that’s what the Lord wants but I have come to know that there is a better way. It’s not always an easier way and maybe that’s why a lot of missionaries don’t do it but I have seen the fruits and I’m glad I have learned these things with a lot of time left to use what I have learned. I will also share these thoughts with the missionaries around me so we can really see some changes. The current thought on missionary work here is that we are supposed to tract, contact, find, teach and baptize. There’s nothing wrong with that approach but I believe that there is a better way. I have learned from my last six months in Woodburn that strengthening the members and less actives is so much more effective. I don’t know if this is how things are in your branch but here in Oregon, most of the Hispanic members are still relatively new in the gospel.  Some do not have family prayer every day or read in the scriptures. Some have not even read the whole book of Mormon all the way through even though they have been members for more than 5 years. I think once we get the foundation solid through daily prayer, daily scripture study and FHE every week, then we are going to see some major growth. If we focus on this then the members will have a stronger foundation and have the desire to share the gospel with all those they meet. If we don’t do this and continue to tract and find new people, we will help others come unto Christ through baptism but we will just be putting more people in the church that will not have this strong foundation that is needed to withstand temptations and challenges that will inevitably come.
It’s sad to see people go and leave the church because they did not have strong enough faith or maybe didn’t have a solid testimony but it is my goal to leave this area when my mission is over stronger and with a firmer foundation. Sorry for the rant but if I want to preach this message to the Elders in my new area I have got to back it up right G? I believe once we implement this as a mission and as missionaries in general we will truly see true growth. My companion Elder T feels the same way and so did my last comp Elder H and we are going to do something about it here in Canby. I’m pretty pumped and I can tell you with all the conviction of my heart that I love the Lord, I love being a missionary and right now I have no greater desire other than to help others come unto Christ by understanding who he is, what he did for us, and what we must to do follow him. I love you guys and I hope you feel my flow.

Elder Payne

Come Listen to Living Prophets

Monday, March 12, 2012

How time flies!

March 12, 2012
Dear Family,

Hey what’s going on family, it’s good to hear that all is going pretty good at home. A lot has happened this week and I was able to see the Lords hand many times as a lot of miracles are happening here in Woodburn.

Well Pops, I’m glad you called me out about the recurring theme you have seen throughout my mission and what I have been doing. It’s true and I have seen that I have been so open to suggestions and criticism from my companions throughout the mission and at times that’s all they are, just suggestions. When it comes to companions, I’m pretty much willing to compromise everything except the mission rules so my companions feel comfortable and the spirit can be with us but I do have to admit some of my enthusiastic personality has been put aside as I have tried to accommodate the feelings of my companions. More than anything, the problem has been that I have a big personality and in order  not to overshadow some of my quieter companions, I have had to tone it down a little bit. Just recently I have realized that that’s just who I am and I have to just keep on keeping on. I can compromise and try to make my comps feel more comfortable but when it comes to teaching and missionary work that’s just how I share what I  know and I love to do the work of the Lord.
I’m still super happy and having a good time but that is something I need to work out with myself and the Lord.  It’s interesting how I only have 4 transfers left after this week and I still have a ton to learn about myself and the Lord. I’m kind of bummed that I only have a short amount of time left as I love being a missionary so I avoid thinking about it even though I know it’s going happen anyway ha-ha. Well I’m just ranting now but thanks again and I’ll make a mental note of what needs to go down.

Well it sounds like the Jazz aren’t doing too well but maybe with some good trades they will pick things up. I don’t know if I already told you this but this is the final week of the transfer and we are thinking that Elder A is heading out and I’m staying for another transfer. We will see but if I stay or if I go, I'm ready to serve wherever  I’m needed. I would love to stay for another transfer as I love this area and I love the people. We will see and I will let you know next week.
Well like I told you last letter, we have been working with a lot of the members and less actives in the Branch. We have been doing family home evenings with them and all the members have enjoyed the activities and the lessons. We are seeing the fruits of our labors as we are receiving referrals and more confidence from the members. We have decided to hit the basics as that’s where it all starts. We are inviting the members to have daily scripture study and prayer with a FHE every week. We must strengthen the foundation before we put all of our focus on building the walls if you feel what I’m saying. Well everything is going great and I love every minute of being a missionary. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and I can’t believe how people can read it and not believe that it is the word of God. I know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ and that I am his servant. I don’t know where I will go this next week but wherever I go, I know it is where the Lord needs me.  I love you guys and keep on keepin on!


Elder Payne

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tender Mercies

March 5, 2012
Dear Family and Friends,

Well this week just flew by and it was an awesome week. We were able to get a lot done as we have made it a goal to have a Noche de Hogar con cada familia de la Rama. Everything is going great and the member’s love this game we play after our FHE lesson, called Snort. After teaching a short lesson we play this game and everyone goes crazy. What you do is sit everyone in a circle while there is someone in the middle that is blindfolded. The person with the blindfold has a stick in his hand and he has to go around the circle giving the stick to one person at a time. The person is blind folded so they don’t know who grabbed the stick so they have to make a snorting noise like a pig. Then the person sitting has to respond my snorting.  The person with the blind fold gets to guess who it is according to the noise made and if they guess wrong they have to keep going around in the circle until they guess correctly. Man everyone loves this game out here and it’s a great game to play for a Family Home Evening.

The missionary work is going great and we are continuing to get the members fired up to share the gospel. Our big family that had a baptismal date, we are still working with them. We hope and pray that their neighbors aren’t having to big of a negative influence but sad to say the dad really doesn’t have any desires to read or know. The 14 year old boy, R is a stud. His family couldn’t come to church yesterday for some reason but he showed up by himself. When we asked him how he got there he told us not to worry about it. He is the man and really has a desire to learn and follow the Lord. I believe that he will be the key to softening the heart of his pops. Anyway, R wrestles in middle school and he has a tournament this weekend. I’m going to stop by one day this week and teach him how to do the fireman’s carry and maybe some tilts so he can be ready to take some kids out. I see this kid like my little brother and he is going to be an awesome missionary one day.

Anyway, you wanted to know about some tender mercies that have happened out here recently. Well the other day I was studying in Preach my Gospel and I felt inspired to study about charity and the pure love of Christ. I began to study the principle when I realize that a huge part of showing love is showing your gratitude. I ran across this quote from Shakespeare that says, They do not love that do not show their love” and it hit me pretty hard. I thought about my love for my investigators and the members here. I thought about how I showed my love for them and if they really felt it. I then thought about all the things that people do for us missionaries and for me and sometimes I have taken it for granted. I thought about my experiences in my mission and all the things people have done for me to express their love for the Savior and his servants. I thought about how I thanked them and tried to express my gratitude. Sadly, I realized that I had not done that great of a job and after reflecting on the matter I have realized that to show my gratitude and love it’s going to take a little bit more than a thank you or a handshake. I have decided to write down all the things that people in the branch and in all my areas have done for me and the missionary work and thank them. I am not sure if this is the best way to show gratitude but I have decided to write them a thank you card and let them know that we as missionaries are aware of what they are doing and that we are so grateful. Well this was my tender mercy that I learned and I’m glad the spirit guided me and helped me recognize that I have a lot to be grateful for and that I need to show it. 
I love you family and I am truly grateful for your support and your love. I can’t wait to go to the temple with you guys as well.  I look forward to talking to you about the gospel and the amazing truths I have learned while in the service of the Master. I love you guys and I know that Jesus is the Christ and this is His work.


Elder Payne