Monday, April 30, 2012

Short Email Today 4/30/2012

Dear Family,
Gotta have a short email today.  We had transfer calls and elder Hatch is leaving to a place called Priest River.  I get to stay in Libby for another transfer and I can't remember my new companions name.  It's some long weird name.  I'm way excited to stay in Libby for at least one more transfer, it's such a beautiful place and I love the people here.  Anyway my short email comes from the fact that the Caldwells are moving a couple miles out of Libby and we are helping them move this morning, and Elder Hatch has to pack up all his stuff to move, so we went early to email.  We have had a good week, not a whole lot to report though.  We have helped members in doing quite a bit of spring cleaning in their yards, been helping the Caldwells move, and doing a lot of tracting, so we didn't have many lessons.  We did meet with Linda Dabel this week and she is doing great.  She is not one of those people who is going to pray for something and sit around waiting for an answer.  She has done everything we have asked her and then some to gain a testimony of this gospel.  I really think she'll be ready to be baptized sometime in May, which I am so excited about.  Jennifer is doing good as well.  She doesn't have that same drive that Linda has, but she has still made quite a bit of progress and I hope she will desire to continue to learn more.  Last pday while we were shopping, a lady came up behind us and asked us what church we belonged to.  We told her and she said she wanted to do some bible study with us.  I think initially she had us mixed up with Jehovahs Witness or some other group because she kept telling us about people that she knew that she thought were a part of our church who definitely were not members, and saying she didn't mind studying with different churches as long as they weren't mormon.  We kept trying to explain to her that mormon was just a nickname for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but I don't think she quite got it.  Anyway we went to her house and taught her the Plan of Salvation, which I believe she really needed at that time and we have a church tour scheduled with her this week.  I'll share more on her when I have more time and if this church tour pans out.  That was about all of our week though.  It was a good week and it's a good time to be a missionary.  Love you all and have a great week.
Elder Stacey

Monday, April 23, 2012

Beautiful Here Right Now 4/23/2012

Dear Everyone,
     I am in such a good mood today.  Not that I'm usually not in a good mood, but these last couple days were especially great.  First of all it is like 80 degrees and sunny outside, and the plants are coming into bloom.  It is so beautiful here right now.  Think we'll probably be able to get out on the bikes more consistently finally. 
      We had stake conference in Sandpoint yesterday and the stake presidency was being reorganized.  It was such a wonderful stake conference.  Elder Packer of the 1st quorum of the Seventy and Elder Risenmay of the Seventy were there.  Meetings like stake conference and general conference I feel are so great because they give you that extra needed spiritual boost, and always, it seems like, right when you need it.  The former stake presidency and their wives were all able to bear their testimonies and they were all so wonderful and heartfelt.  I thought it was great for our recent converts to see it, because it really shows how the leadership of the church works.  None of these men were paid anything for what they did and gave so much of their time in service of the stake. They were not in their calling for any personal recognition and gain.  And when they were released, all they could talk about was how grateful they were for the opportunity they had to serve the Lord and his children.  I love how they talked so much about service and how crucial it is.  
     President Hyatt's (former stake president) wife, told a story about how badly he wanted to serve a mission after he joined the church.  He was already married and had two children, but had such a burning desire to serve the Lord that he wanted to serve a mission.  He went into an interview with the stake president fully anticipating to be called on a mission, and had previously arranged with his employer for a way for his wife and children to be taken care of while he was serving.  He came out of the interview noticeably upset she said.  She asked him what his calling was and he said it was assistant financial clerk, to which she gave her encouragement and support to his new calling.  She went on to say that he magnified that calling and loved it, but that is an incredible testimony for someone to be willing to give everything up for two years in service of the Lord.  They will be putting in their mission papers at the end of the summer when their youngest daughter graduates from high school.  I just loved hearing that story.  
     Earlier last week we were able to have a lesson with Linda Dabel, Bro. Caldwells mother.  She is still on fire and is loving learning about the gospel.  In our previous lesson we had given her a few Ensign magazines to read that talked about Christ, the temple, and The Book of Mormon.  You know, those special issues that they came out with.  When we came back, she had read two entire Ensigns plus half another one, an entire session and a half of April general conference, and read the first four chapters of the Book of Mormon and the Old Testament.  She also answered her own question that she had for us to look up to answer in our next meeting.  She really is doing wonderful and wants to learn everything she can.  She mentioned to us that her husband hasn't been quite as on board as she has been and when he comes home he watches movies that invite a negative spirit into her home and she hates it.  She had gone into her room one night near tears and prayed for the spirit to be with her and she apparently just reads the scriptures in her room when he watches those movies.  We have an appointment with her on Wednesday so we'll be able to see how that's been going.  We took Jennifer and Bro. DeShazer on a church tour with Nicci Hollingsworth (the recent convert since March) .(I hope I haven't shared this story)  The spirit was definitely there as Nicci was able to bear her testimony and her conversion experience.  Nothing like missionary work to solidify a member's testimony (no matter how new or old they are to the gospel).  Jennifer seems to be doing well, and we have another appointment with her tomorrow evening.  We have still been trying to build our teaching pool so we have done a lot of tracting last week.  We were able to set up some church tours this week so I'll tell you next week how those have gone.  I hope everybody will have a wonderful week this week.  I love you all and pray for you every day. 
Elder Stacey

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fantastic Week April, 16, 2012

     Oh boy did we have a fantastic week.  To start it off we had our interviews with President Palmer, which was a spiritual boost, and it only got better from there.  First of all I had a couple real great experiences of being in the right place at the right time.  We were at a gas station and saw the truck of a member who comes to church maybe 15% of the time.  Maybe.  We were going to talk to him but couldn't find him so we went over to the church for some reason that I don't even remember.  About five minutes after parking, here comes this member zipping into the parking lot and with real excitement tells us he has someone for us to go see.  She was an old employee of his and she has been going through some real hard times recently and she had expressed interest to him in learning about the church.  We called and set up an appointment with her the following day and had a lesson with Jennifer (the investigator) and with Bro. DeShazer(the less active member).  The spirit was so strong in that lesson and by the end she was really excited to start reading The Book of Mormon.  We have called her up a couple of times to see how she is doing and have a church tour scheduled with her this evening and she is still very enthusiastic.  This experience is great for Bro. DeShazer as well.  He was able to bear his testimony to her a couple times and the whole ride back from Jennifer's home he just talked about how well he thought the lesson went and how much she needs the gospel.  Just leave it to missionary work to  rekindle the fire and spirit of the gospel in these people who have, for one reason or another forgotten it.  The other miracle we had this week was a referral from our bishop of a lady who was once a member of the church but had her name removed all the way back in 72.  He discovered her because her son IS a member of the church here and was baptized in his 20's.  We went over to try and find her home but we couldn't, so we went over to Bro Caldwell's(the son) house to find out where she lived.  No sooner do we pull up to their home does John Caldwell pull up behind us with....his mom.  We went into his home and began talking to her about herself and religious past.  Apparently she had gone through over a dozen sets of missionaries at this point and "ran them all off with questions" she said.  It got to the point that bro. Caldwell just gave up sending missionaries for a while.  After she had left the LDS church, she was baptized Jehova's Witness.  Because of her conflicting beliefs, she just said she was always confused and wasn't able to trust herself in making decisions.  We were able to read with her Moroni ch. 7 with her about how to judge (at this point may I just say it benefits to have chapter topics and verses memorized for situations exactly like these.) and know that it is a righteous judgement.  We set up a return appointment for the next day, said a prayer and left.  When we came back the next day to her home, what happened, you could call nothing other than a mighty change of heart.  When she had gotten home that evening she knelt down and prayed to the Lord and she said she had a "vision" of sorts where she thought back in her life to everything that had happened to her.  Mostly talking about her divorce she had said that she realized everything that went wrong in her life came when she stopped going to church (LDS church).  She said that was when her marriage started falling apart and when she started distancing herself from things and started questioning everything.  She was so distraught about the decisions she had made and told us that the Jehova's Witnesses just confused her more.  She said she wanted to make things right, but didn't know if she was able to be forgiven of her past sins that she had made.  We were able to teach her the Plan of Salvation and talk about the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ.  That no matter what you've done in this life, you can be forgiven.  To quote Pres. Packer's talk last conference "Only the atonement can heal what hurts,  but the atonement can heal what hurts, no matter what it is.(or something along those lines)"  After that she told us she wanted to get baptized again.  She said she would do whatever it takes to make things right again.  I love this gospel and I love being a missionary.  I am so excited to see how things go this upcoming week.  I hope you all have a great week as well.  Love you all

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Interviews With Pres. Palmer 4/10/2012

    So I totally forgot to mention last week that on Monday this week, we had interviews with President Palmer and our p-day was going to be on Tuesday.  But I'm telling you now so there you go.  Sorry about that.  We all had our last official interview with President Palmer because by the time of our next interviews, we will have a new mission president.  That's kind of weird for me to think about.  It is finally starting to permanently stay warm and so we had a beautiful Easter Sunday.  It was a great sacrament meeting and I love having Easter to remind us of Jesus Christ and all the things he has done for mankind.  I am thankful to have the gospel in my life and to have a family who is all strong in the gospel.  That has been a great blessing and joy for me to teach these families.  The Hollingsworths, the Baileys, the Goodenough family and others have all come closer together as a family because of living gospel principles.  These families, some of which were on the verge of breaking, have been able to grasp onto the gospel and they truly understand that there is nothing that is more important.  Well, that realization still hasn't come to some people fully, but it does.  Step by step they are learning and understanding the significance of the covenants they have or are going to make and I don't know what else to say than it just gives me so much happiness.  We've got three more weeks of this transfer and I am going to do everything I can to strengthen this area and these people.  Finding people in these booney areas I've decided can be really fun and intimidating at the same time.  When you leave the towns and head 20 miles into the woods you never know who is going to be behind that door you knock.  Quite often they are in the middle of the woods in the middle of nowhere for a reason.  And it's apparently not terribly uncommon to have a gun pulled or hounds released on you as their telling you to get the heck of their property (I have not personally had a gun pulled on me yet).  So ya, we've got a lot of finding planned this next couple weeks to try and build up our teaching pool.  We do have a dinner planned with some members this week as well who have invited a part-member family  over with them as well.  This is the part-member family whose grandma came to church for the first time a couple Sundays ago so we are really looking forward to being able to teach her and her family.  We also have a church tour scheduled with a less active nephew of one of the ladies of our ward.  I love working with less actives.  Like Elder Holland has said, less actives make the best investigator because behind the door of every less active is a spouse, friend, child, etc. that is not a member of the church and I have found that to be very true.  The less active members as well are entitled to the same chance to repent and come back to church that a nonmember is.  I think that's about it for this week.  Hope you all have a wonderful week.  Love you all.  Thank you everyone for your letters, your support and your prayers.  They are needed and appreciated so thank you again.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Slow Week But Good 4/02/2012

  Well this was probably the slowest week I have ever had.  quite a bit of the first half of the week was spent helping the ward clean out a home of a man who passed away a few weeks ago, and helping move out a member of the ward who is moving back east.  My companion, Elder Hatch was down for the last half of the week with a terrible cold. Having a sick  companion is not very fun.  I spent pretty much the whole time reading the Book of Mormon or cleaning. Sharon and Sierra are really our only progressing investigators at this time and we had to cancel out appointment with them because it was while Elder Hatch was sick.  They did, however come to the church for the Saturday morning session of conference, which I was very happy about.  I loved conference.  Like I said, I have come to appreciate conference so much more since serving a mission and this second conference was no exception.  The session that Sharon attended was so spiritual and she loved listening to the speakers.  I really believe that she had a lot of questions answered and is gaining a testimony of this gospel.  Oh and I forgot that the lady who came to church for the first time ever last week brought her husband to the church for the Saturday morning session of conference as well.  They were glued to the screen and soaked up every moment of it.  We were hoping to see them last week as well but they were busy the time that we had come over to see them.  They have a lot of potential, so we are really looking forward to being able to meet with them and teach them.  Not much else to say about last week.  Elder Hatch is better now so we're looking forward to a better week this week.  Love you all and have a great week.