Monday, December 21, 2015

New Companion, New Gators, and New Boundaries!

Elder Myers left us on Tuesday and he is now up in Huntsville about 30 miles north of us.  We got a new companion Elder Young who is joining us. We are still in a trio! He is from Sandy, Utah. 

We have been using the "A Savior Is Born" pass-along cards and we have had a lot of success with finding new people to teach by using them in our finding efforts. This past week we found 6 new investigators and our mission standard is 2 each week. Not bad for a white guy. 

We had a lesson with Rebecca on Wednesday and we just read through a chapter of the Book of Mormon with her because she hadn't read. After reading through the chapter she was talking about how she has had a lot of people try to talk to her about religion but she was never really interested. Then she said this. "When you guys knocked on my door I knew there was a reason for it, and I have been so intrigued to learn more." How sick is that? She then said that it had been over 17 years that she has been to a church but she feels like she needs to make a promise to God to come. My response was, "Rebecca, the Lord would have you come to His church, will you come this Sunday?" She said I will be there and guess what? SHE CAME!! I have learned that being lovingly bold with people works when people are prepared. Truth is, the Lord really would have her come to His church, so why not say that if I represent Him? I would be silly to not say that. She came to church and she loved it. She said, "I'll be here next Sunday.

We had a district meeting on Friday and it was Elder Burch's first district meeting and President and Sister Mortensen came. He was a little nervous that President was coming, but I love it when the big dog comes around. I used to think he bites, but now I know he doesn't. :) It was really cool because it wasn't my district so I was in there without a companion so when we role played, President and I were companions and we taught together. SO SICK! I love him so much. We practiced role playing extending a baptismal invitation after the first lesson. Elder Burch and Elder Hanks taught us first and then we threw it down. We did something similar to our lesson with Rebecca. We said, "When you come to know that the Book of Mormon is true, the Lord would have you be baptized in His church. So when you come to know that it is true, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God?" When you are that direct with people and the Spirit is there, they want to say YES! 

After district meeting, we went to lunch with one of my former companions Elder Lythgoe. He and a couple of his buddies were up here for a wedding and so they took us out to lunch! It was good to see them, and Ill see them in Utah next month! 

Saturday morning, the Turners came up here from Katy and they took us all out to breakfast at this place called the Toasted Yolk. It is so good! I have been eating pretty clean lately but it was time to throw it down on some good food. I got this plate of biscuits and gravy with eggs, onions, ham, bacon, sausage, and hash browns. You guys, I cannot begin to tell you how good it was! It was huge too and I ate all of it! It was worth the calories. 

Sunday, we learned of the boundary changes that everyone has been wondering about for months now. There were a couple new wards created in our Stake and they took part of our ward and the Conroe 1st Ward as well. We lost a few of my favorite members in the ward including the Saenz. Robert and Alice were there at the meeting and I went over to them after and Alice was crying because she thought she wasn't going to see me anymore. She almost made me start crying but I reassured her that I cover the entire stake so I will still be seeing them. :) She was happy about that. It will be a good change for them and they are going to meet a lot of new friends. I am excited for them!  

Merry Christmas to everyone! I want to thank everyone in advance for all of the cards and packages I have been receiving! I am so blessed to have my wonderful family and friends. I love you all!! 

This is kinda blurry, but Elder Young put up the lights and the stockings and then Elder Nielsen says hello. :) 

​This is our nice carpet after I vacuumed it. :) 

Thanks for the ornament Mamma!! 

MLC, Seminary, and the Temple

Well, this week flew by! Elder Myers is being transferred so we are really going to miss him, especially me. He is like my son! We have had a great three months together and I know why President felt inspired for us to be companions. We have learned a lot from each other. HE is going to do great things and touch the lives of many! 

Tuesday, we had Mission Leadership Council and it went really well! President Mortensen never ceases to amaze me with his council he gives. It is pretty amazing. We talked a lot about working better with our ward councils and then President threw it down for a while. It was sick. We role played Matthew 14 where Peter walks on the water to Jesus and likened that unto someone who is not sure about their baptismal date. 

After MLC, we had dinner with the Russo's. On our way there, I saw a bumper sticker that said, "All gave some, and some gave all." That really was profound to me at that very moment. I was thinking about that in relation to missionaries. Every single one of us gave something up to be here. We have all left our family, friends, hobbies, and even education. We have all let our comfort zone. The question is are we giving it our all? That is a more and more sobering thought for those who are nearing the end of their missions. I do not want to regret not working hard after I come home, so my promise to you guys is that I am giving it my all! #NOREGRETS 

Thursday, we taught seminary and they are studying the Old Testament. We went through Numbers 20 and 21. I learned a lot from studying and preparing to teach them. I made cake pops and chocolate covered pretzels for them. They were all over that! 

After we finished teaching seminary, we went back to our apartment to get some breakfast and then we had the wonderful opportunity to go to the temple as a district. This past week was one of the best experiences for me because I paid close attention to the symbolism we learn about in the Lord's house. I learned more on Thursday than all of the other times combined. I know in the temple we can find peace and happiness and it is the only place where those feeling will last. 

Friday, we taught zone meeting and I covered the stuff about working with ward council and then the Sister training leaders talked about all of the stuff that President threw down. One thing he said was this.  He was talking to a physiologist once and he told President that, "Shy people are the most self-centered people in the world." That is a big pill to swallow for those who may be shy, but think about that. How true that really is. They are too concerned about what others may think of them so they don't speak up. They related that to missionaries who don't want to go tracting or talk to people. Elder Nielsen and I modeled the role play with the Sister training leaders as our investigators. Elder Elsberry discreetly filmed it and the airdropped it to me. was cool to go back and see what it looks like when we teach. 

We went to Texas Roadhouse for Elder Myers' birthday and it was so fun. I LOVE that place! Their food is seriously the best. Its cool because in Arizona and Utah they say, "Welcome to Texas Roadhouse."  But here, they just say, "Welcome to Roadhouse." :) 

We found a new investigator named Austin on Saturday. We were tracting out an apartment complex and then we found him towards the end of the night. He was really cool. We are going back later this week. 

Well that is most of our crazy fast week. I hope you are all having a great holiday season and may we all remember our Savior and all that He has done for each of us as we celebrate this special time of the year. If you haven't already, check out "A Savior Is Born" at and if you have seen it, share it with a friend! I love you guys and may the Lord's greatest blessing be upon you all. Have a great week! 

We helped Brother Stringer make a chicken coop for his rooster. :) 

We got some ornaments for our tree thanks to Sister Falcon! 

New Gators, Last Zone Conference, and the Temple

This past Tuesday, we went tracting and we were sharing the new "A Savior Is Born" video and talked to a guy named Marshall and asked if we could come in and share it with he and his family and he was like, "Yeah come in!" SO sick. His wife's name is Jennifer and they have three daughters. We shared the video and then talked about the Savior's earthly ministry and then set up a return appointment with them for the next day. 

Wednesday, my companions went with Brother Douglas back over to share the restoration lesson with them and Brother Douglas and Marshall hit it off. They were like two peas in a pod. They both do Ironmans and they just clicked. Meanwhile Chris Saenz and I went over to the Kotak's house and we had a lesson with Raj. 

Thursday, I had my last zone conference and I gave my departing testimony. HOLY COW! It's getting real now. I asked the assistants if I could go last because I wanted to throw it down. I talked first about how I have had the privilege of training a new missionary and it has been the coolest experience for me. I said I told Elder Myers just a few weeks ago that the best advice I could give him would be to follow the rules, then I proceeded to talk about the importance of obedience. I then talked about the Book of Mormon and how that book has literally changed my life. I talked about how much I have changed throughout the course of my mission and then shared a couple paragraphs from Christy's email to me this past week. She said;

 "I remember a Sunday, not all that long ago, when a very annoyed young man sat next to me in sacrament meeting.  He definitely did NOT want to be there; he was there because he had to be.  As he sat there, unhappy and frustrated, the organ prelude to the opening song began.  I opened up the hymn book and offered it to the young man.  He said, "You can make me go to church, but you can't make me sing."  Do you know who that young man was?  It was you.....but it wasn't you.  I mean, it was you sitting next to me, but your spirit hadn't yet learned some of the secrets to happiness.

Now, more than 2 years and many spiritual miles later, here you sit, at the jumping-off place to what is certain to be your next great adventure.....the rest of your life!  And, having served the Lord on your mission for almost 2 years now, you have learned so much and changed your heart so completely that you don't even RESEMBLE the young man who sat next to me in church back then and refused to sing.  Now, you know that the secret to a truly happy life is turning our hearts, minds and wills over to Heavenly Father and letting him make of us what He wants us to be.  The truth is that He can make us into far better people than we ever would have the ability to become by following our own desires and impulses.  He loves us so much that He gave us His Only Begotten Son to make it possible for us to change and become the amazing creatures He wants us to be.  Jesus Christ and His gospel are honestly the only ways to true and lasting happiness and joy in this life and the next. You have learned that for yourself and it's been quite a journey from where you were then to where you are now.  Just think of where you'll be 10 years from now!  As you continue living "after the manner of happiness," your potential for true joy is limitless!  The journey you've taken so far makes me so happy.  I am honored beyond words to have witnessed it."

My allergies were really picking up as I read this and it made it really tough to read when my eyes were watering. After that I talked about how I know there are many reasons why I was called to Houston, but I am certain that one of them is because of President Mortensen. I cannot express how much I love my Mission President and his dear family. He has helped me tremendously with becoming something of what I always wanted to become, but more importantly what the Lord would have me become. I have learned much from watching how he and Sister Mortensen treat each other. Obviously, they love each other, but you can tell that they really 'like' being around one another. I talked about the love they have for all of us and how we have much to learn from them. I closed with a verse in Jacob 5:72 and said that the only thing that is keeping us from the presence of the Savior is ourselves. 

Saturday Morning, we went to the temple with the Saenz for their first time doing baptisms for the dead. The Evans came with us and they were the ones who helped the Saenz find family names on family search. It was the coolest experience ever. I can honestly say that being in the temple is my most favorite place in the entire world. That is where lasting peace, joy, and happiness lay. May we all strive to keep the commandments and the covenants that we have made, that we may be able to enter into the Lord's house. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

P.S. Happy Birthday to my little sister, and my biggest fan. I love you, Buddah, and I will be thinking of you this Friday! :) 

Its Christmas time in the city! We are going to get ornaments soon so don't worry. :) 

A Great Turkey Day!

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! We went to four different members' homes for dinner so I just nibbled on some things at each place that way I didn't have to roll myself out the door. My companions went all out though! 

After our last dinner, we went tracting. We talked to a really nice lady who said we can come back this Wednesday and her name is Teresa. We didn't feel super solid about her so we kept on knocking. After about 20 or so minutes we were starting to become a little frustrated because no one was answering and the ones that did didn't want to have anything to do with us. I suggested that we say a prayer, so I went ahead and offered that. I included in that prayer for Heavenly Father to lead us to someone who he has prepared. After the prayer, it started raining on us. It wasn't too bad at first, but none of us had rain jackets so when it started coming down harder we were all soaking wet. None of us wanted to say it, but we were just not feeling it. We kept on going and still nothing. We were just about to go back and then we decided to knock one more house. The lady ended up not wanting to talk to us and as we were leaving we noticed her neighbors garage was open with the light on. 

As we walked up to the garage a guys was like, "It's the Mormons! Come in here and get out of the rain!" We went in and he explained that he had an in-law that was a member of our church. We talked for a few minutes and then he asked if we wanted some food. My companions were stuffed, so I was like "Sure, I'll take some food!" I am willing to take one for the team. I'll gain a pound for a new investigator any day. Luckily, I just had a tiny bit. I wasn't hungry, but I wanted to get in that house! The chances of someone becoming an investigator and taking the lessons increases dramatically just by entering into their home. After we ate, his wife asked if we wanted to come sit down in the living room. Yes, please! We talked about the Restoration briefly and they both wanted us to come back this coming Saturday so we will see how it goes! :) I am telling you, the "Fourth Watch" is a real principle. The Lord does not come right away. He doesn't come right when it gets tough but, rather, He comes after the trial of our faith. 

Saturday, we had a lesson with Kent and Brother Lane came with us. Kent is the one who used to be a professional boxer and Brother Lane teaches boxing so it was pretty sick. We went in and they talked for just a couple minutes then we had a prayer and talked about the Book of Mormon and explained it in depth. Once I understood this principle that "the amount of the Book of Mormon an investigator reads, is directly proportionate to their conversion," I started to teach it differently. That principle has changed my life forever. It changes my studies, it changes the way I discuss it with members and it changes the way I teach it to non-members. Most importantly, it changes the way I will teach it to my children someday. At the end of the lesson, we asked Kent to say the closing prayer and asked him to ask Heavenly Father to know that the Book of Mormon is true. It's not a matter of "if" it is true. We know it is true. They need to ask for that knowledge to come to them as they read, ponder, and pray about it. He stopped partway through and looked at the pamphlet to see what else he should say, so I whispered to him, "Pray about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon." And he did. If they don't do it with us, the chances of them praying about it on their own are slim and if they don't say a specific prayer it is hard to get a specific answer. 

This Thursday is my last zone conference so I will be giving my departing testimony and I have literally been thinking about it for weeks now. I have put a lot of thought into it because I ask myself, "What do I wish I would have known when I first came out on my mission?" and "What could I say that would be of the most benefit for the missionaries to hear?" I think about that kind of stuff. I will report next Monday on the things I chose to talk about. My time is going so fast, and I can honestly say that I am learning the most in the last few months of my mission. I love it! Have a great week everyone! 

Sending some love from the three musketeers. :) 

Happy Thanksgiving!

We had a sweet week! On Sunday, we had a special MLC with Elder and Sister Packer and that was pretty awesome. Elder Packer said that after all of the studies that have been done with trying to baptize more of the people we find, there is a tool that will show us how to do that. He got us all fired up and then told us that the tool was Preach My Gospel. Mind blown! Preach My Gospel literally has everything we need to succeed as missionaries. 

Tuesday, we had a zone conference with Elder and Sister Packer as well with President and Sister Mortensen. There were a lot of things that we talked about. President talked about the Doctrine of Christ and it was really good. He talked about how our faith and repentance are essential to us as we progress in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Honestly the thing that sticks out to me most is how a General Authority treats his spouse and how she treated him. The way they talked about each other was moving. I pay attention to the details in everything. President and Sister Mortensen do the same things. You can learn so much about how to treat your spouse just by making observations with our Priesthood leaders. It is the coolest thing ever! 

On Wednesday, we had 8-week follow up for all of the new missionaries (Elder Myers) and it was literally my favorite meeting I have had my entire mission! I have been called to train a few missionaries throughout the course of my mission but due to circumstances, this was the first meeting I made it to. We all started out together and President was doing some training and then all of the trainers got up and went into the Relief Society room while the trainees stayed in the chapel. We then went around and asked what is hard, what is good, and if we feel that our trainees could train if they were called to next transfer. It was really cool. Then we went into the gym and all of the trainees go to a different trainer and we look over their outlines for the first three lessons found in chapter three of Preach My Gospel. Then we rotated after each lesson. We had lunch after that and then it was time to role play! All of the trainees went around and start to teach the lessons. We are in a trio so president just had me go around and observe with he and the assistants while Elder Nielsen was being taught. It was so cool for me to listen to all of the new missionaries teach. President had everyone close their eyes and asked the trainers, "If you felt moved, raise your hand." There were a lot who didn't raise their hands and so he told them to start over! Haha I love President Mortensen so much. He is a man of God, and he does not mess around. I love it. 

We have been finding a lot of people but there have been quite a few who end up not being interested. We are here to invite the world, and find the elect. We tracted into this lady named Rebecca and she was literally searching or thinking about finding a new church. She was going through a tough time with one of her sons, and we just talked to her about the pre-earth life. We told her that she can make it through these challenges as she relies on the strengthening power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We talked a lot about the Atonement, and she wanted us to come back to talk to her and her family when her boys would be there. We are going back tomorrow! 

We also found a new investigator who was meeting with the missionaries in the past but they just lost contact and then we were going through our area book and found him so we went by. We are planning on seeing him sometime this week. He used to be a professional boxer and Brother Lane teaches a boxing class so we are going to bring him with us. I hope you all have a great week and know that I love you! 

A couple of us having lunch with the 'Big Dog' at 8 week follow up! 

Here is Elder and Sister Packer. So neat to have them! 

Faith and Hope

Alright, I have to be quick today! This past Tuesday, we went on exchanges with the assistants and we had a really good day. Elder Croft came with Elder Nielsen and I and then Elder Myers went with the other assistant Elder Visser. We went finding that night with a member Zach Eberhart and he and I went to a lesson while the other two elders went tracting. Our lesson fell through so we went back to a lady's house named Lindsey who we talked with a few nights prior. She told us to come back on Tuesday if we had time so we said, "Okay." When we got there a member from the Conroe 1st Ward was there with her husband! Lindsey had made us all dinner and then we shared a message when we finished. Good thing we went back!! She is a really nice lady and she works with Brother Fisher from the Conroe 1st Ward. He served here like 2 years ago and met Katie who is now Sister Fisher. They are sweet! We taught the Restoration and then we are going to go back this week. She has a daughter who 12 and she is interested in meeting with us as well!

Meanwhile, when we were at Lindsey's house Elder Croft and Nielsen found 5 other investigators!! There was one guy named Tommy which we have already met with again this past Thursday and then another lady and three of her children.

As we have reflected on why we found 7 new investigators that day we have come to one conclusion. We had the hope to find. Obviously we had the faith to go out and act and say okay lets go tract, but we were actually planning and hoping to finding people. We told each other that we would do whatever we had to and then prayed and confirmed with the Lord. You can have faith and no hope. They are so similar, yet they are different. I love these words of wisdom from Moroni 10:20-23.

Wherefore, there must be faith; and if there must be faith there must also be hope; and if there must be hope there must also be charity.
And except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God; neither can ye be saved in the kingdom of God if ye have not faith; neither can ye if ye have no hope.
And if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair; and despair cometh because of iniquity.
And Christ truly said unto our fathers: If ye have faith ye can do all things which are expedient unto me.

It is also interesting to me that some missionaries think that being disobedience doesn't affect the work. The scriptures clearly tell us that iniquity leads us to despair.  And if we are in despair we have no hope.  And if we have no hope we have no faith.  And if we have no faith we will see no miracles because miracles come on account of our faith. Moroni 7:37

"Keep the commandments; keep the commandments!
In this there is safety; in this there is peace.
He will send blessings; He will send blessings.
Words of a prophet: Keep the commandments.
In this there is safety and peace."

I love this hymn. I know that as we keep the commandments our faith and hope will increase and our confidence shall wax strong in the presence of God. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Interviews and Stake Conference!

This past Tuesday, Elder Myers woke up at 5:12 to go to the bathroom and he woke me up on accident when he came back into the room, so I was like, "Well, let's go workout!" I can never go back to sleep when I wake up and I had MLC that day so I had to leave at 7:30 anyways, so it worked out well. Elder Myers was not thrilled about going to the gym that early, but he was willing. :) I love going to MLC though because I am always spiritually fed. We learned a lot and we practiced role playing how to respond to investigators that say, "I've already been baptized." If I had a nickel for every time I heard that, man, I would have some serious dough. We went to Acts 19:1-6 where Paul is in his ministry and comes across a group of disciples that were just baptized and he asks them if they received the Holy Ghost and they didn't know what he was talking about.  So, he taught them and then they were re-baptized. I have used that before in my teaching, but the role play was super helpful for how to teach it with more power. It is the power that carries it unto the hearts of those we teach. 

We had interviews on Wednesday with President Mortensen and he saved the best for last. ;) Haha, just kidding. He wanted to interview the zone leaders last and Elder Mikesell went before me so I really was last, but certainly not the best. My interview was really short because I got to talk to him at MLC on Tuesday. I have never met a more spiritual individual than President Mortensen. I told him and I tell missionaries if they don't have anything but a great relationship with President, it is their fault. He loves us so much and he does so many things for us. If they only knew half of what he really does, they would change the way they speak of him. I don't want you to think that a bunch of missionaries talk badly of him, but there are always going to be "those missionaries" that have no idea why they are on a mission and they have a bad attitude about everything. I don't tolerate missionaries speaking evil of the Lord's anointed. It drives me cray cray! 

Thursday evening, we went tracting and we were not having a lot of success. It just seemed like people didn't want to talk to us. We prayed before we left and poured our heart out to the Lord and told Him that we knew He could lead us to someone who He has been preparing. I was determined to find someone, you guys! We knocked a few doors and talked to some people and nothing. We finished up that street and it was getting pretty dark and people do not like it when we knock after dark. There was one more street like a block away so I was like lets go up there. We have to talk to at least 15 people a day and when we tract we try to keep track so Elder Myers asked me how many more until we talk to 15 and I simply said, "Till we find a new investigator." It was the second door that we knocked on the very next street that a guy named Wes let us in and we shared a message with him and set up a return appointment.  Therefore, he became a new investigator. The Lord is a Fourth Watch God. We are going to teach Wes and hopefully his family the message of the Plan of Salvation tonight at 7 with our Bishop. 

On Sunday, we had our Stake Presidency reorganized and during stake conference I felt the Spirit really strong when President L. Whitney Clayton spoke. WOW!! He talked about when they interview the wives of the stake presidency. He said the women are terrific, and the men are good. Women make men terrific. SO true. I don't think enough women understand how important they really are to us, and more importantly, to Heavenly Father. Us men could not do it on our own. I love the first sentence of the Young Women's Theme: "We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him." That is beautiful. I love that! It establishes their identity as daughters of God. One thing the adversary tries to do to us is rob us of our identity. There is a perfect example of this in the book of Moses. Moses 1:4 God says thou art my son. Verse 12 satan says to him son of man. Immediately satan tried to blur Moses' vision of being a son of God. 

In 1 Nephi 12:17 we learn about the mists of darkness and it says "which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men". The adversary is well aware of our potential and satan and his followers will do all that they can to blur our vision of what we can become. Satan does not have a body so he will do all he can to try to tempt us to do anything contrary to the commandments of God with our physical bodies. May we all be aware of this and follow the commandments of our Heavenly Father where lasting peace, joy, and happiness awate. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

Happy Halloween from Conroe! Elder Myers' mama sent him a 
really nice halloween package with some goodies for both of us. So sweet of her! 

New Companion and New Investigators!

This past Tuesday, Elder Myers and I were happy to go down and pick up our new companion Elder Nielsen. He came out with me and he was just called to serve as a zone leader so it makes it a lot easier when zone leader companions are serving together. Elder Mikesell and I were both serving in different wards. He was called to serve in Tomball! I told him that was MY ward! :)

On Friday after our district meeting, we went to help Brother Russo do some yard work and I got to mow his grass with a riding lawn mower! I was SO happy! I was cruising on that thing. It reminded me of my Papa's riding lawn mower that my brother Zack and I would drive around with the three-wheeler. Good times! Elder Nielsen was pulling weeds and he got bit by some fire ants! Turns out he was allergic to them and his hand was swollen about three times its original size on Saturday. It was crazy!!  

Friday evening after our dinner appointment, we went tracting and before we got out of the car I told my companions that I was committed to find a new investigator and that I was willing to do all that I had to in order to find one. I then said are you in? They both were pumped and were like, "YES!" Elder Nielsen offered a really nice prayer and we committed to the Lord that we were going to do whatever we had to do in order to find whoever He was preparing. It was the second house we knocked into that we talked one of the nicest people I have ever talked to in Texas. Her name is Taylor and she lives with her boyfriend and a roommate and she has a little 11 month old baby boy named Houston! We taught her about the restoration and she really liked it. We were going to go back on Saturday but Houston was sick so we are going to have to go back another day this week. It was neat for us to see the Lord answer our prayer so quickly that night. Usually the miracles happen towards then end of the night, but this one was a tender mercy. :) 

Sunday, we had a Regional Conference and it was SO good. I want to see if there is a way to get access to those talks and reread them. One thing I have learned is that, sometimes, when we listen to talks, things slip past us, but when we read back through them we see things that we didn't the first time. It is a pretty cool experience. I love reading through General Conference talks! After church, we had to go an Urgent Care for Elder Nielsen. His hand was so swollen it looked like it was going to fall off. He got a prescription and it is helping. 

This morning in our companionship study, we went through the 3rd chapter of Mosiah. There is a lot of good stuff in there for such a short chapter. Verse 19 is very common talking about the natural man, but what hit me was in verse 21 where it says, "And behold, when that time cometh, none shall be found blameless before God, except it be little children, only through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord God Omnipotent." Now, this is talking about the judgement and I thought it was so neat how NONE shall stand blameless before God, EXCEPT it be LITTLE CHILDREN. That really hit me hard today. I absolutely love little children. They are the most perfect and precious people on the earth. What a blessing it is to know that all little children are saved in the Kingdom of God. Most of our world does not believe that. Would a loving Heavenly Father not let an infant or little child back into His arms if they did not have the opportunity to be baptized and accept the gospel? No, He would not do that. The scriptures teach us to become as a child, not that a child is to become as we are. The teachings of our church and the doctrine we believe makes too much sense. I love it. Have a great week! 

Howdy, y'all! ;)

It's always nice to get some extra love from my family! ;)

This is Elder Nielsen's hand!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Fourth Watch

Alright I am just going to be honest with you. I type really slow and we do not have that much time so I am going to share an incredible miracle that we had this weekend!

Saturday night, we had a our 8-o'clock appointment fall through and the Conroe 1st Elders called us right then. They asked us where we were because they wanted to come check our apartment for their mileage logbook for their car. We have to track our mileage in our cars everyday, and we all keep the credit card in there for fuel. They needed to get gas because they were on empty and they didn't want to get gas on Sunday. They thought it might be at our apartment because they come over a lot. We searched our entire apartment high and low and it was nowhere to be found. We then went out to their car to help them look. Their car was a mess; most missionaries cars are (except ours). So we took everything out and completely searched everywhere and it was nowhere to be found. I said, "Have you guys said a prayer?" They said they had.  I felt like we needed to pray again, but I didn't want them to think I thought their prayer wasn't sufficient or something, so I didn't say anything. It was right then that Elder Elsberry was like, "Lets just say another prayer. It is not going to hurt anything!" I was thinking to myself, "YES!" 

After the prayer we searched all of the boxes in the car and still nothing! They left to go look in their apartment and as they drove away I said to Elder Myers, "Should we just go help them look?" He was fine with it so we called them and they said, "Yes, come."  We followed them over and took everything out of the car into their apartment. It was nowhere to be found. We stopped searching for a bit and were just talking and then I was like, "I am searching this apartment."  I don't give up without putting up a fight. Never. In most cases that does more harm than good, but this time it had a good turn out. I searched their apartment like a German Shepherd searching for paraphernalia! I did not find it anywhere. Finally I was like, "Okay, I am going to the car to look again."  Elder Myers came with me and I felt like checking the glove box again, so I did. I emptied it and nothing was in there. Right then I felt prompted to take the glove box out of the car. Most people don"t know this, but in most cars the glove box comes out really easily. You just disconnect it and pops it right out. I removed the glove box, and there was the logbook jammed into the dash. I grabbed it and showed Elder Myers and he was like, "Way to go Elder DeLuca!" 

Being the goof I am, I tucked the logbook in my belt behind my back like I was packin' some heat and then we walked back in and I was like, "Sorry guys.  We couldn't find it, but we have to go."  I asked them how much they loved me.  Then I asked them to turn around and then I pulled it out and I was just smiling waiting for them to turn around and see the logbook. It was pretty cool. They were shocked! They were like, "What did you do!?!?!"  They had been searching for this for days. 

There is a talk by S. Michael Wilcox titled "The Fourth Watch." I would encourage you all to watch or listen to it. This is a real principle. The Lord does not come right out when it gets tough. He comes after the trial of our faith. If we would had given up when we were searching at our apartment they would have never found it. If we would have given up at their apartment, they would have never found it. That prompting to remove the glove box wouldn't have come to me if I didn't listen to the first prompting to go back to the car even though we searched it thoroughly 2 or 3 times. It was neat for me to see the Lord working through all of us that night. The Lord is with His missionaries. I know that. May we all listen to the still small voice of the Spirit of God. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.  

I bought a couple of hats this week. These type of hats look good on bald guys, so I got a couple. Stihl is the best chainsaw ever made! 

Here is my companion when we were changing the oil in a silly John Deere. They shoulda bought a CAT! 

​"Well she ain't into cars or pickup trucks, but if it runs like a Deere, man her eyes light uuuupp..." I loved changing the oil in this tractor. I miss wrenching on my car and dirt bike! 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fasting and My Calling

Alright, well we had another great week. Last Sunday, we were both fasting to find a new family to teach and guess what? We found one this week. I cannot stress the power that comes from fasting. I know this is a true principle and, because of that, I fast very frequently. I like food, but I love the miracles that the Lord pours out upon us as we are faithful and pay a generous fast offering. Some people have forgotten the true order of a proper fast. 1. Always start with a prayer. If not, you are just starving yourself; 2. Skip two consecutive meals or go 24 hours without food or drink; and 3. Always pay a generous fast offering. If we do these things we are promised that the Lord will "Open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Malachi 3:10. I am aware that this is applying to the law of the tithe, but if you look closely in verse 8 it is talking about tithes AND offerings. These are not just temporal blessings, but rather spiritual as well.  In my opinion, the spiritual outweighs the temporal. If we understood this, we would be crazy not to fast.

This past Tuesday, it was getting late but we still had like 10 minutes before it was 9 so we were like, "Let's go by someone." We scanned the new member list and went by the Smiths. For some reason, their name really stood out as I scanned down the list. This was odd because she was the head of the household on the paper, meaning there most likely was not a male there. We were just going by to introduce ourselves and say hi. We weren't planning on going in. Sister Smith answered the door and was like, "Hey Elders! Come in!" We asked if a male was there and she opened the door up a little more and there her husband Mark stood. We came in and talked for a few minutes and then asked if we could come back the next day. They said yes! 

Wednesday, after dinner with the Beans, my boy Lofton and I went back over there and Elder Myers went to see the Saenz family with Brother Douglas. We went in and came to find out that Mark was a non-member and none of her children were baptized. She has three children and they are awesome. We taught about the Book of Mormon and the importance of this holy book of scripture. The lesson went well and we scheduled a return appointment for Friday. When we came back, they hadn't read and I literally wanted to cry. We were planning to teach the Restoration, but we didn't dare teach if they hadn't read. We told them what our plan was, "but that because you haven't read, we are not going to share that message and we will read with you today instead." Yes, I am that bold. I don't mess around anymore. People need to know how serious this really is. When we read, ponder and pray about the Book of Mormon we know that this really is the Lord's church and can then be baptized by proper priesthood authority and be liberated from our sins. Page 2 of Preach My Gospel states, "You are called to represent Jesus Christ in helping people become clean from their sins." I am just now realizing how sacred my calling is. I am just now becoming a good teacher. I am just now having the best studies of my entire life. I am just now starting to understand how the Spirit works. The Lord does something to us. Right when we are feeling like we got it down, it's almost time to go home. My Mamma was quick to let me know that she received a call from our mission office in regards to my return home and my flight information. Oh my gosh. Don't even talk to me about that! I still have so much to do. I made a commitment last night to have 5 more baptisms before I go home. I will achieve it or die trying! 

Some people are just not prepared right now and that is okay. I am here to find the elect. For example, Horace from Tomball drove ALL the way out here to Conroe to take us to lunch this past week and I did literally everything in my power to set a baptismal date with him and he would not budge. I literally debunked all of his concerns and he just would not set a baptismal date. It is a real thing when Nephi said, "There are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught." 2 Nephi 33:2. I didn't even eat my lunch because I was talking the entire time and going to different scriptures. I had to get a to-go box because everyone was done eating and I hadn't even touched my food. That's another thing. Food is good, but the gospel is the best. I was running a little late to one of my studies this past week, so I hurried and showered and got dressed and skipped breakfast because I didn't want to be late to my studies. Those of you that know me well, you know how I like my food. There is always a good, better, and a best. The gospel is always the best. Period! 

Sundays are the best. That is where the rubber meets the road or in more spiritual terms, that is where everything that we do as missionaries comes together. Last Sunday, we had zero investigators in sacrament meeting and this week we had four. That is a huge improvement. Raj came and stayed all three hours. He is the 11 year old that only likes to stay for Sacrament. I may or may not have bought him a Reese's candy bar if he stayed the whole time. Let's focus on what matters more. HE STAYED!! :) The Smiths came as well and they too stayed for all of church and then we went to the temple ground tours that night with them. 

You guys, the Lord is blessing us so much and I always wonder why He does this to me. Why does He let me be a part in this? I stand all amazed as Elder Rasband would say. Just this morning I contacted a referral Brother Martinez gave us last night and I talked to her old landlord and he told me that he was thinking about joining your church. Are you kidding me!?! Investigators are popping up like a bunch of hermit crabs. The Lord is just dropping them into our hands. We are going over there tonight to at least meet him, but I'm gonna talk about the Book of Mormon too. :) My testimony of the Book of Mormon is so strong. I could literally go on and on about how this book has literally changed my life. I wish you could join our companionship studies and I could share the insight that comes to me each and every day. I have a mini composition book that I keep with me when I study. It is called Elder DeLuca's Book of Revelation. There is so much in the Book of Mormon. I absolutely love it! If anyone claims to have read, pondered and prayed about the Book of Mormon and says that it is not true, I'd love to talk to them. There is absolutely no way this book was made up by one who had an inferior 3rd grade level education. People have tried to prove that this book if false for over 180 years, and it still stands today. I know that this is a holy scripture just as the Bible is. I love the Bible and I know that it is the word of God. I know the Book of Mormon to be the word of God as well and they, together, open our minds and in lies the fullness of the gospel. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

There were two cameras, but I was looking at mine! This is the Smiths at the temple!! 

Here is Horace when we had lunch! I did my best! 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Service and General Conference

This past Tuesday, we had mission leadership council (MLC) so I went with Elder Mikesell down to the TC Jester building. We were there from 8:30 in the morning to 3:30 in the afternoon and I still wonder why I lose so much hair. Keeping Elder DeLuca focused for 7 hours can be a challenge, but President Mortensen seems to do very well every time. He is called by God and I know that. I know that he is one of the reasons why I was called to the Texas Houston Mission. It was here at this meeting that we received the training that we were to take and teach to our zones on Friday. When I dropped Elder Myers off to stay with Elder Mikesell's companion, Elder Elsberry, I felt like I was a daddy dropping off my child for their first day of school. It was sad for me to leave him for that long, but good that he was able to be with Elder Elsberry. Plus he probably wanted a break from me. ;) 

Wednesday, we went to help Brother Stringer cut down some trees, but this time I was cutting. Back home, Jim would cut and then just yell at me to run when it started to fall! Haha!! I always wanted to run the chainsaw, but he never let me. Now I know why. It is so dangerous! Holy cow....I never realized how hard it was and how scary it can be! This leads me to my next topic, "Don't be so quick to judge the barrier, it is the only thing keeping you from being devoured by the sharks" or, in this case, the chainsaw. 

Yesterday morning, in my prayer before my personal study I asked Heavenly Father to help prepare me for this last session of General Conference. Earlier in the week, we saw Brother Ure from Tomball. He was up here running errands for a member so we went and talked to him for a little. He told us about a talk called "The Challenge to Become" by Dallin H. Oaks in October of 2000. I had forgotten about this talk, but yesterday after I prayed, I had a strong impression to go back and read it. After a few minutes of searching for it, I found it and read it. I marked it all up and shared what I learned in our companion study as well as what I learned in the talk "Fatherhood - Our Eternal Destiny" by Larry M. Gibson from this past session in April of this year. I also shared some insight that came as I read the Book of Mormon. Read 1 Nephi 2:16 through 1 Nephi 4:31 with this question in mind: "What does it take to become a man?" Its awesome. 

Anyways, this is the cool part about General Conference for me. Elder Von G. Keetch was the one who was talking about not being quick to judge the barrier. I'm just going to be honest, at first his voice kind of annoyed me and I was listening to him but I wasn't that engaged. Then I heard him make reference to the talk by Dallin H. Oaks in October of 2000 THAT I READ THAT MORNING! I went from sitting slouched back like a congressman who has been in the same seat for hours on end to a little boy on the edge of his seat with his hand raised as high as he can to answer a question in class. It changed everything! It was at this very moment that the Spirit told me, "This was what Heavenly Father was preparing you for this morning in your study." How cool is that!? There are few people, if any, that read that talk, "The Challenge to Become," yesterday morning and had the experience that I did. It amazes me how the Spirit works, and I am now just beginning to understand how it does.  

Heavenly Father knows each of individually. He knows our potential and He sees things in us that we cannot always see. The adversary is well aware of this and he and his followers will do all that they can to blur the vision which is available to us as we communicate with our Heavenly Father daily and make and keep sacred covenants. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, "The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become." How beautiful is that? I know that we are spiritual beings simply wrapped in a physical body and that our potential is endless as we seek to do what our Heavenly Father would have us do. May we all seek His will and keep His commandments, that we may see into the future and see the things that our Father in Heaven has prepared for us. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

I had to get a couple cavities filled.. Aww! I was so upset!! I NEVER got cavities back home. That's what 20 months of no dentist will do to you. Oh well, they are fixed but my retainers didn't fit as well so the dentist made me new ones for free! He is a member and he did all of the work for free. What a blessing that is. Don't worry, I got him a salad from Chick-fil-a today because that is worth a couple grand! :) 

​We always forget to take pictures, so all we have are these awkward ones. Hope you enjoy!