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.