Monday, January 30, 2017

Best Mission in the South!


So, I will send a video out- 13 minutes long that includes some experiences… 
<mom note- check back on his blog later,  because he never sent the video>

First off, I have some news! We had a worldwide missionary broadcast on Wednesday the 25th. It took place during a session of the missionary executive council. Presiding was Elder Oaks, and present in the council was Elder Bednar, Anderson, Nielson (director of the missionary department) Waddell, another dude, and Sister Oscarson. We received great council on teaching repentance and baptizing converts. Elder Bednar made a point that too often in the church we have a checklist mindset. We have commandments we have to follow- check! We took sacrament this week-check! We paid tithing-check! We did service-check! We said our prayers-check! We have to get out of that. We have to understand with our hearts the letter of the law, but live according to the spirit of the law. 
Elder & Sister Clayton, Pres. & Sister Turner with Greenville, Greenville East & West Columbia Zones 
They focused on being agents unto ourselves, and unveiled to the world the new missionary schedule that I had shared with y'all a few weeks ago. This is helping us prepare for after our missions, when life will get crazy. It will help us keep our schedule going of daily prayer and scripture study. Unknown to every mission president and missionary, they changed our key indicators. We will only report 4 key indicators now, instead of 11. They are:
  1. Investigators baptized and confirmed
  2. Investigators with a baptismal date
  3. Investigators at church
  4. New investigators
This will focus our efforts on truly finding diligently and doing our part in preparing our investigators for baptism. Elder Oaks mentioned that "missionaries should not lose themselves in the little things, and thus lose sight of the great purpose of their calling." Sometimes those little things were the amount of key indicators we had to focus on. Anyway that was a game changer for us and I'm sure for everybody. But, the Lord has been preparing us for this change little by little, so it shouldn't be too bad to make the transition. 

We had once again many experiences this week that were testimony building. Two were when visiting a less active, and the third with Elder L. Whitney Clayton and his wife.

On the 25th, we had planned to go and see a guy named Francis. He is less active. As we knocked on then door, this lady and her friend pulled up in a car asking us if we had seen a beagle running around. We said no, and asked them if they knew Francis. They said yes, and that he was at his dad's house. His dad is named Frank, and he is also a less active member. Frank apparently passed away that morning. She told us that the day before (24th), his wife Glenda, also less-active, was buried, after passing away on the 20th. 

What was sad for me was that we had originally planned to see Frank on the 20th, but for whatever reason, did not have time to visit him. Maybe we could have been in the middle of all this to help…lesson learned- when you plan something, don't push it off! Especially if you feel inspired to go see somebody! The ward did not know about them, even who they were. I don't blame anybody because there are not enough people to do home teaching, and very few actually do their home teaching. We need to be strengthening each other as members, so that when a need arises, and one always will, we can be there to strengthen and keep each other's beds up. We all need a friend, so let us follow Christ's example, and be one!! Let us look outside ourselves, and bless the lives of those who are in need of being comforted. 

We spent 13 hours with Elder L. Whitney Clayton and his wife on Friday. We had a meeting between the ZL's and STL's in the Greenville, Greenville East and West Columbia Zones. We focused on being an example of the believers. He mentioned that we are a very balanced mission, we know how to have fun and to work, and we are obedient. We are above average in all categories and we are currently leading the south--aka we are then best mission in the south! It was very uplifting. We heard many testimonies, 2 by stake presidents, and the conversion story and testimony of our temple president-which was very powerful. 

Elder Clayton instructed us on many topics, one being an analogy of the vine, branches and fruit. He left us asking what we ended to do to keep our vines nourished. He had me and Elder Fife stand up in front of the three zones and share an experience that I had shared with him and his wife at lunch (BTW they sat with me at lunch and we talked for a bit about all kinds of stuff--we had an MLC afterwards at 6:00 and man, I am so grateful we have a priesthood leader who is truly a man of God at an important position in the church! I grew a love of him and his wife!!) 

Anyway the story goes as follows: (from Brayden's journal)

Thursday afternoon, we had planned on the previous week's planning session to go and visit a guy named Benjamin Frederick. He lived- or so we thought, close by our apartment. We go there, and parked, but we could not find his apartment. We walked around the street behind, then looked back down the street. We knocked on some doors to see if anybody knew him, but nobody answered. Two young boys on bikes came up the hill. We stopped them and asked if they knew where this particular apartment was. They continued to respond, not having a clue as to where it was. We gave them an article of faith card with a picture of Christ and little children on the front side- being that they were 9 and 11 years old. We asked where they lived, if their parents were home, and if we could share a message about Jesus Christ with them. They said yes and pointed down the street and said that there was a 'basketball goal' in front. So, we proceeded to embark on another hunt for a 'basketball goal.' We went to a whole new street and the last house on the left corner had a beat up basketball hoop. I wasn't so sure about it at first. The porch was raised up and there were a few plywood boards blocking the way. The signs of "no trespassing" weren't intimidating, but obviously they didn't want visitors. However, we were diligent and knocked on the door- leaning over the plywood of course. 

A very nice lady came out and we told her that we had met her sons. We taught a brief restoration and bore testimony, and gave a Book of Mormon, and a restoration pamphlet. Elder Fife, being diligent as always with asking for referrals, asked if she knew anybody who would like to hear a message about Jesus Christ. She then pointed to a yellow house on the corner and said it was a business that people owned and employees lived there. So we went down, knocked and this younger black lady answered. Immediately, she was excited to see us! It caught me off guard, because when is anybody excited to see missionaries? She said that she had heard a out missionaries knocking at people's doors, 
Our new investigator, Kristen, who was so excited to see us!
and thought it was just a myth! She couldn't believe it happened to her. She has a good friend from high school who is a YSA member in Columbia, whose parents are actually int he Greenville 1st Ward. Thanks to that friend, she has been prepared little by little to accept the gospel and the spirit! She asked so many questions...all sorts of 'is it true that....' questions. She cannot wait for us to come back! She is super elect!  She was so stoked to be given a BofM, and she wanted to take a picture with us- then posted it on Facebook & snapchat! Once again, you never know why the Lord has placed you in a certain spot at a certain time. 

love y'all adios!!!
National Champs, baby!
Only way to cut onions, and still manage to cry in the process
Getting creative with food
My dear friend, Mitzie, has a brother that lives in the ward Brayden's serving in! 
Victor, an investigator helping us read the Book of Mormon in Quiche to
 another investigator who cannot read at all. This is Victor's first day at church. 
Pushed Fife from his chair - it was too comfy; he didn't want to get up




 
train??? but idk why he sent this one.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Happiest Week of the Mission!

The Greenville District

I love teaching people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is hard sometimes to go and approach a door, or some random person in the street, and talk to them about a special message you have been called to share. But this week, all of that seemed so easy for me. I felt more confident and excited to just find new people and teach them. the people of south carolina need this message. It is hard to talk to everybody, virtually impossible. That is why we prayerfully seek the guidance of heavenly father as we plan, set goals, find and teach. 

This week we have seen many miracles. Earlier this week or maybe even last week, we were planning who we should go visit. As we finished praying, a thought popped into my head. November 24, 2015 I was in training in Simpsonville, just south of Greenville. I went on exchanges with Elder Russell who was one of the Zone Leaders here at the time. I remember meeting and teaching an amazing black family. It is a family of 7! I went to our area book and looked all the way back to that day, and saw the records of the people. However, I could only see their names, and no number or address. So we looked in our phone contacts and there the mom was! We gave her a call and we set up an appointment. On exchanges, Elder Fife went to that appointment and he said they were so great! The mom had said she wanted her kids to all be baptized, and that baptism was what she wanted too! They invited them to Book of Mormon class and to church, but because of sicknesses they couldn't make it out. I was super pumped when he came home and told what went down!! One day this week we will see them!
Tuesday after District meeting, we went to a Salvadorian Pupusa place near the church. it was dang good by the way. A friend from BYU- McKay Gillette, is serving her mission in El Salvador, and she just got transferred. The lady waiting our food was from El Salvador, so naturally I thought to go to the car to open my email and see the name of the city McKay was in to talk with the waitress about it. As we got up, Elder Fife noticed an old guy sitting with his daughter and law and son. His name is Luis, and he is someone who Elder Fife and I had taught over a year ago!! I was so shocked!! We talked with him and his familia and still haven't had the chance to go over, but we will! A scripture from Isaiah 55:8 popped into my mind as I reflected upon this experience "For my thoughts are not your thoughts." Sometimes we don't realize we received a prompting until after the fact…this was one of those cases. The Lord will use whatever tools necessary to come into contact with people who he needs us to talk with!
Later that night, on exchanges we were biking on a sweet trail called the swamp rabbit trail. It goes throughout Greenville apparently. Anyway, we were headed to a lady named Connie who was a book of mormon referral, but we got lost, and instead started talking to a guy named Jake walking his two dogs! We talked about his life and he went to Ole miss and lived in Nashville..had the ole miss haircut too-- the bangs thing. We talked for a while and we shared a short message with him and left him with an articles of faith card. We have an appointment for this week to stop by his house! See, sometimes the Lord has a different plan! We wanted to see Connie, but he placed Jake in our path.
Speaking of Connie, I finally go tot talk to her on Saturday night! We had mini missions this weekend, and so I went with a priest, and Elder Fife went with a priest. It was pretty fun!! We saw a bunch of people sitting on the porch at Connie's house, and so we parked and walked up! We talked to her about the Book of Mormon and testified of the restoration! It felt like everything just flowed! She seemed so happy to see us, and she said she was at a point in her life where she decided finally she needed to seek God. She said she regrets not opening the door for the other missionaries who have stopped by in years past, and she was super stoked about reading the book of mormon. She said that it all made sense. We are told that we are sent to our certain areas because it is expedient unto the Lord for the salvation of souls, and I felt strongly as we talked that Connie is someone who I was sen there to find and bring to a knowledge of the gospel.
Another awesome thing happened Saturday night as I was out with a priest. We went to go contact a referral up the street from us named TJ. once again she was not home, so we headed back to the car. As we were walking I felt prompted to go to a guy named Andre, who was a few apartments down. I started to walk towards that direction when I felt another prompting that I shouldn't, so I walked back towards the car. I then felt super confused, not knowing if I should or shouldn't go, so I decided to do it anyways. The priest with me named Rock was so confused because I kept switchin directions hahaha! We showed up and Andre- whom I have never met, answered the door. He looked scared at first, then he let us in. He told us tha the had just finished praying for direction from God, when he heard us knock!! God answers prayers, and we were an answer to one of them! He is Muslim, and such a great guy. Muslims are not Christians, but the word 
Muslim means one who follows the will of god. or something like that. He reads The Quran and the Bible and from previous missionaries he received a Book of Mormon, and reads from that too! We taught a brief restoration and will go back this week! Something Elder Fife and I talked a bout was that without fail, when we receive prompting to do something, an immediate prompting not to do it, or a sense of fear or intimidation comes to us. Satan can mimic the things that God does, but the only thing he cannot mimic or create is the sense of peace.
We met a guy this week who sat us down and for an hour told us about his view on theology. He doesn't like it, and wants proof of the bible- the original tablets. He wouldn't talk theology with us, and I felt hopeless, even as I bore testimony. It was a sad feeling to see that because someone wants so much evidence, he has missed the mark and lost his faith he once had in Jesus. The very next person we talked too warmed my heart. Her name is Susan and she had come to church once in August. She is widowed and I could feel a sense of peace about her. We pulled up, and she opened a sliding window and asked if we were the Mormons. We said yes and she said she was happy to see us! That is always a good sign! We went to her side door and talked with her through the screen. We had a good heart to heart and I felt the spirit which she had. She knew quite a bit about the Book of Mormon and she shared a personal spiritual experience she once had many years ago. We talked about he law of chastity- don't remember how that came up and we read from the Book of Mormon. She is so great. I felt genuinely love for her as a 72 yr old widow. There are so many good people here in Greenville and in the south. I am growing respect for them each day.

One last experience: We went to intact a bible referral named Deloris. Her daughter is Pandora who actually called us last week wanting us to visit. We got in and had the two priests with us. Deloris is going to give her first sermon next week and invited us to hear it! We can't go, but we were excited for her. She prayed bout what it should be on and she feels that it should be on prayer. We got into talking about the God head, and her belief is that God, Jesus and the holy ghost are all one person. Jesus is god in the flesh is what she believed. She explained it in a way that made sense. 

She said that she is a mother, grandmother, and a great-grandmother. The same person fulfilling different roles. We explain that they are three separate beings, who share the same purpose which is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Then something amazing happened. We were able to show her through testimony and through the bible the true nature of the godhead. We brought up genesis where God talks about "us", and we referred to Matthew 3 where the Savior is baptized. We used John chapter 7 where father is mentioned. We used the verse in the gospels where jesus commends his spirit to the father, and also mentioned the Lord's prayer in that he refers to his father and we said that you cannot pray to yourself. She believes that now. The entire time she was thinking out loud and being that she is well versed in the bible, she pulled out scriptures from her memory that confirmed what we were saying. This took the span of 45 minutes, and I'm grateful that the bible gives us true knowledge of the nature of the godhead. 

That is a lot, and I got to go!! read your bible and book of mormon!

serving at the food bank




Monday, January 16, 2017

Clemson!!!

This week was sooo crazy! Lots happened!
Monday for p-day we went to Clemson University to check out the campus. The only cool things were their clock tower and the stadium- and well, that is all I needed! Their stadium is huuuge!! It is a good location too. Monday night we rode up to West Columbia for MLC with Elder Douglas and Elder Boone-- super fun car ride hahah just catching up on old memories and inside jokes!

Tuesdays MLC was pretty good! President gave a good training on virtue. Virtue has so much to do with your thoughts. Not necessarily immoral thoughts, but making sure our thoughts build us up, and aren't destructive in nature. President said "if you learn to exercise virtue through mental exertion, you will be successful in cultivating the faith necessary to bring about miracles." Virtue is 
the substance of our faith and gives faith its power. It can be a deep topic! Study it out! Another thing he told us was that "if you radically alter your thoughts, you will be astonished at how rapidly the material conditions of your life will be transformed." It is all a mental game. Everything you do starts in your mind, and your view on life comes from that same place! As we become more virtuous, it will make an impact on the timeline and magnitude of our conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

If you have a negative thought, push it out! Those negative, discouraging, and doubtful thoughts we receive are small so to say "practice tests" preparing us to push away the immoral thoughts that may come to our minds. Find something meaningful to turn to when these lame thoughts come to you-- make sure it is memorized too, because you won't have enough time to push the thought out immediately if it isn't. What has helped me is reciting my missionary purpose, the standard of truth, the first vision, and DyC 4 all in spanish…as well as singing hymns I have memorized in Spanish. Find what works for you!

Also at MLC, Elder Jacobsen, Overson, me, Fife and Douglas sang "brightly beams our fathers mercy." I do not have the video someone took yet, but I will have it soon!! 
It was good--  I hope! I sang the alto line, and kinda struggled.

Thursday night before coming in, Elder Fife was prompted to go visit someone, and we saw this guy who was standing outside of his ranger with his hot dog stand trailer in the middle of the street. The hitch was broken and he was stuck and did not have his phone with him. We let him call whoever and then met his wife too when she showed up to help! They seem like a cool family! His name is Randy, and he used to work for a corporate company, but now sells hotdogs- and get hired to cater at events, and he owns a gospel recording studio just up the street from our apartment! We are going to his studio on Tuesday to teach him…maybe we will hear some of his gospel music!!

The first 4 days this week, we could not get anyone to come out with us to go finding, and we were struggling with teaching appointments as well! We had to cancel an appointment on Monday night so we ould drive to West Columbia after p-day, and then all day Tuesday we were in West Columbia and then had to drive back home (stopped to get cost pizza and churros BTW) and then Wednesday we planned for ZTM and Elder Fife was down sick, but it ended up turning out great! We worked our little booties off trying to teach as many people as we could, and we ended up teaching 8 lessons with members, we got 5 referrals, we had 4 at sacrament meeting (and two of those 4 went to the Albrecht's son Camden's baptism Sunday afternoon- which was pretty cool btw) and 7 new investigators. 

One of those 7 new investigators is a guy from Guatemala named Victor. He is such a happy guy!! He literally laughs non-stop! He gave us a call my first week here asking about service opportunities. We met with him last night, and talked about the service that is available in the church. I have never met a guy who wants to do so much for others. He knows the importance of charity as we talked about it. He is from Xela (pronounced Shayla- I think Pops told me he served here and that is how my mom got her name!?) which is outside of Quetzaltenango. He was in seminary to become a priest, but decided that it was not right for him. We shared with him the Book of Mormon and explained what it was and what it could teach him. He seemed very excited to read it. I hope this will go somewhere soon!

Friday we had ZTM and the trainings we gave seemed pretty good! It felt like nobody was really listening because people were half asleep, and the majority were not taking any notes-- I mean maybe someone learned something, but it was discouraging that we spent time to prepare our messages, but their hearts and minds weren't open---now there were a row of sisters that seemed into it, so if we helped out someone at least, it was worth it. Friday night (it was Friday the 13th) I sliced my right ring finger and middle finger--oops!! We were moving a fridge out of an investigators trailer and one of the cords was stuck, so Frank (who is investigating) cut the cord, and I thought he put the razor away, so I reached over to move the cut off cord, and grabbed the razor--immediate pain and blood...I got through it though! It actually was not that bad.

The mission department has rolled out a new missionary schedule!! President told us about it in MLC, and has told us to start following it. So we have. It is a bit looser of a schedule. Instead of getting up at 6:30, exercising, eating, showering having 8-9 personal study, 9-10 comp study and then language study we have from 6:30 till 10 to fit in 30 min of exercise, 1 hour of personal study and 30 minutes for a planning session (instead of planning at night). We have from 10-9pm for prosylting, service, language study, lunch and dinner. At night from 9-9:30 we have journal time and then 9:30-10:30 prepare for bed. This gives us the option to going to bed an hour early, helping us with our sleep. I think that it is preparing us for real life, where we have to fit what is important into our schedules. Missionaries when they get home can sometimes revert to old habits because they were so pressured with a strict schedule for their 2 year missioary service. I think it will be a good change!

I felt a lot of push back form people about the Book of Mormon this week. It has been hard to get people to read it and even accept one. As this has happened I realized that the Lord is helping me grow my testimony of it by bearing testimony that is sincere and powerful. The words from a verse in Alma have come to my mind frequently: Alma 4:19 "...seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony".

Other service we did this week was push a

dead car from the street, the moving of a refrigerator, and diggign 10-inch deep trenches around a guys house to install a drainage system...that was pretty fun!

Last night some guys asked if we were from Bob Jones (a Baptist college that doesn't like us). Never have been asked if I was Baptist before. Only Jehovah's Witness.

Well....that was long!! I hope we stay busy!!











Monday, January 9, 2017

White in Greenville







Fort Sumter: LeCheminant, Jacobsen, Finch, me
I had a pretty good week this week! We started off with heading to Fort Sumter for my last P-day in Charleston! It was like a 25 minute ferry ride over there. Pretty cool historical spot! (tons of pics below) Glad I went! I'm so grateful to have served in Charleston! It will forever be the favorite city in South Carolina! AJ and Jaime did not get baptized, nor did they get baptized this last Saturday. Not sure what will happen. I am going to miss them though. I love the friendship that I have made with them, and I know one day they will be blessed with becoming members of the church. They've got great kids who will push them! At transfers on Wednesday, AJ called thanking me for helping him out, and being his friend. He said I did so much for him. I was happy to hear that. Keep praying for them!

So now, I get to Greenville, with Elder Fife!
Jessica & Aric Albrecht sent this to mom
I am on cloud nine! Love this guy! At transfer meeting sister Turner termed us, and I quote, "the celestial companionship" hahah! It will be a super good transfer! Right now though I am just super lost! Haven't really been able to catch my breath because so much has been going on. We taught a bunch this week which was great! We also found another food bank to do service at! Food banks need so much help, and
local food bank
there is so much we can do there. We live near a baptist church that plays bells on the hour…it's pretty cool! We got snow and ice here this weekend…and for that reason the whole zone had to leave 
 Greenville Friday night so we wouldn't get stuck and miss the meeting we had with elder clayton and elder stevensen. Last year with Elder Fife, we got snow too! I just get crazy weather wherever I go…hurricanes included.
white out in Greenville!
Right now we have 5 investigators on date for baptism in Febuary! They are all super solid too! and guess what? They are all Hispanics! Now we only teach one of the families in Spanish, the rest in English- but still! Last night was the first Spanish lesson in a while. Their names are Miguel and Rosa and they have a son named Rolando who is 9. They are from Guatemala, and guess what? Rosa and Miguel speak Quiche, which is a Mayan dialect in Guatemala. Rosa is getting better with learning Spanish, and Miguel knows both languages. 

We taught another family of two- Martha and Jack. We teach them in English. They are super elect! We put them on date last night, and the lesson was very powerful. The spirit was the strongest as our member shared his conversion story from the methodist church, and bore his testimony of the Book of Mormon. I am so grateful for members who understand the importance of teaching with the missionaries. Taking out member who used to belong to another church is so helpful as well, because the investigators can see that they aren't the only ones who have taken a leap of faith to change their lives.

Quick thought: At the end of January into early Febuary, the Book of Mormon Musical will be here in downtown! We will be standing outside at the end of the performance and passing out copies of the Book of Mormon! We want to have a poster too that says something like "now read the book" or "the book is always better".. if any of y'all have ideas, send me an email!

We got to meet with Elder Clayton of the seventy and Elder Stevensen of the quorum of the 12 apostles. I learned so much from them… they are hilarious also. We were talking about the commitment pattern outlined in preach my gospel: invite, promise blessings, and bare testimony.
Elder Stevensen, after talking about the role of the holy ghost in our teaching, went on to ask how many 3-pack companionships (comps of 3 elders instead of 2) there were. A bunch raised their hands. He went on to state that the South Carolina Columbia Mission was going to be a pilot program for the church, and that every companionship would work in 3's. We were all surprised…then he asked if we knew who our 3rd companions would be, and nobody raised their hands. So he said, the Holy ghost is! He started laughing and we all laughed along… He followed up and said that he and no authority to do that here, and if he did do that he would be brought in to President Monson's office real fast haaha. I learned a ton, but don't have time to share. Elder Clayton taught me a lot. He also came to Greenville stake conference, which was pretty special. He talked about the two great commandments. The key to keeping the second one is to keep the first. He talked about improving love at home. He said "if we want to improve love at home, we start individually. As we become more obedient to the commandments, our capacity to love increases". He added "don't hector your spouse, hector yourself". all good words to live by! 

The Turners were there too and Elder Clayton talked about the many roles of mission presidents. One of them is "to bring the gospel to the missionaries, and send them home converted." I think The Turners have done a great job of that. We have learned how to live the gospel, not only to study it. I have learned how rouse faith as a power to accomplish what I desire to. Likwise, it is the mission presidents job to help convert the missionaries, he said that parents are the mission presidents to their kids. It is the parents job to teach their children the gospel and help them become converted. thought that was pretty cool….writing this might not make sense, but in the future I'll send some of my notes exactly how I wrote them.
At stake conference I saw many members from Simpsonville, and it was great reconnecting with them!

Here are some more church marquis quotes I have seen lately:

"Prayer-the world's best wireless connection"

"Do you fear God? It is the beginning of wisdom"

Did I mention we are headed to Clemson today to visit the campus? Happy National Championship!! GO TIGERS!

Columbia, South Carolina Mission

Elder Jacobson & me at Perfectly Franks

Fort Sumter: Finch, Jacobsen, LeCheminant, Me

Fort Sumter: LeCheminant, Jacobsen, Finch, me
Elders in the District
La Familia Rivera

Muckenfuss Fam

Jacobsen wants to come with me. Packed him up.













handmade red bricks slaves made for the fort


old cannons



sick view!


Greenville snow


Food bank service