Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Family, packages/letters, saved me from destitution!

Thanks for all the letters and packages that have been coming in lately, the package from Grandma and Grandpa Nebeker really saved me. It turns out that I actually needed to stretch my $140 over 5 and not 4 weeks and so I've got $12 for 7 days of breakfasts and lunches. I'm never far from members and have my debit card from home, but still I'd rather learn to budget and get by on my own funds. I'm sending letters today or tomorrow (sorry Dad I'm not going to try to get one to Ukraine).

Sister Cole, Broberg and Haaws had dinner with the Burts last night in Boise 2. They just moved in and they're right next to the capital. Elder Pulsipher and his companion had dinner with the Miller's in Boise South 3. Pretty cool, hope I run into someone by accident some time (it takes permission from President to plan it).

We had leadership training meetings and exchanges all throughout this last week, our numbers have been terrible. I was cool though, because I was able to go with Elder Nicholls one of the AP's and Elder Altorfer (11 months out) for one day. Elder Nicholls is from Zimbabwe, strange because only .3% of people there are Caucasian. It was cool to see him talk with two Africans from Sudan and one was from Guinea. Moses from Guinea asked if he could go to church even without us speaking about the gospel. That just blew us away, normally it takes so much more effort to get people to come to church (at least without members).

Me and Elder Dearborn are doing much better, he got food poisoning on Friday and he's been suffering since then. Things aren't perfect but the exchanges helped and we're back up and running.

We taught a really awesome Gospel Essentials class and we were able to teach The Restoration using members to teach and testify. It's so cool to help people teach themselves by the Spirit. I've learned that when you're prepared and have a plan even if you have to deviate from it, you are or will be ready. Notice that two of Nephi's plans fell through before he was able to get the brass plates (Old Testament) from Laban.

Having members bear their testimony is one of the coolest things. Often there's nothing I can say wearing a name badge that will resolve others' concerns. From the MTC one of my teachers' investigators felt overwhelmed with the covenants that baptism entailed. A member from Hawaii was there for a day and went with the missionaries to him and shared an experience that completely resolved his concern. Only that member could've helped him get baptized. The missionaries were powerless to say or do anything to help him progress towards baptism.

Missionary work here in Idaho and Utah is so different than from other places in the world because of the density of members. Everyone is very, very familiar with the Church and, this is where there's often nothing I can say, only members therefore can gain their trust. I can go out, meet and follow-up with people, but knowing other missionaries' experience all I can do alone is plant seeds for others to harvest. I can place so much evidence before people of how I know the Gospel is true/whatever principle I'm teaching and it often won't have any effect. My companion is pretty sure the girlfriend of that less active will probably be baptized, despite just starting to take the lessons she has her boyfriend who is coming back to Church and has that support that's needed to repent, get a testimony and join the Church.

Overall things are going very, very well and I'm learning a lot about life, people and the gospel that will help me in every relationship going forward.  This gospel is real, the Atonement can not only heal us but also give us the strength to overcome the challenges that we've been given. I'm out of time, I love you all.


Elder Szendre

P.S. Please pray for one our investigators on parole, that he will be able to be
baptized soon.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Elder Szendre with his companion, Elder Dearborn. Also, President and Sister Winder.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I am so lucky to be paired up with Elder Dearborn, he is one of the best missionaries in this mission. However this has been his hardest transfer yet, training hasn't been easy for him. I didn't know that until last week. We're really struggling to be unified right now. I think that as I understand more the flow of missionary life, I'll understand better what helps and what doesn't.

I still love being a missionary. The Boise Mission is being flooded with missionaries. which reminds me of 1 Nephi 1:4-5, "...in that same year there came many prophets..."Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people." 

I think why I like it so much is that you're given responsibility and authority over all of the nonmembers of a certain area. To them you are their only means to enter the strait and narrow gate of repentance and baptism so that they may enter the Kingdom of God (See John 3:5). It's kind of a big deal. They're literally your people, and I have just a small part of Nephi's feelings when he wrote, "I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry. And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people." 2 Nephi 33:3-4. Heavenly Father is depending on His missionaries to go and find them that are lost, and you may be their only opportunity to return unto the fold.

I can tell you that Matthew 18:3-4 is true, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven”. "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." Mosiah 3:19.

It's incredible, because I can't do this on my own. Try it on your own power, to change your heart and to truly become innocent like a child, I can't do it. Truly the Savior has done 99.999999999...% of the work for our own salvation when he meekly overcame all things in a supreme expression of meekness and submission to His Father. It's amazing when you can feel the Atonement literally change your heart through the power of the Holy Ghost.

"For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made." Alma 34:9. Yeah, that's a true principle. I'm so grateful for the Savior and for the opportunity that is mine

I can testify that this work is true. The Kingdom made without hands is filling the whole earth as Daniel saw in vision (Daniel 2). We're entering into the time period where the "great and marvelous work" is coming forth. The glorious days of this Church spoken of by previous prophets are coming. I'm incredibly grateful, and nervous, but trusting in God that He trusts me to go out and gather those that are lost.

I know the Savior lives. His Father asked Him to endure all things, and the testimony of this is central to this work (Alma 17:1-3). Out of time. I love you all, and am praying for you. The Church is true!
Elder Szendre

P.S. I found 4 more Russians in the last week.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Elder Szendre and Elder Ang at the Bullock home, Saturday August 10th. Elder Bullock (center) is going on a mission to the Philippines on August 14th.
Hey guys, thanks for writing, that was really good to hear from you. I'm sending a letter later today. I'm glad to hear of all the miracles that are happening, sacrifice truly brings forth the blessings of heaven.

I went to a dinner appointment on Sunday that has truly changed my life. We ate with Jessie, who has Cerebral-Palsy and his faith and trust in God was truly incredible. He lives off of medicaid, and his mother manages his money. He really wants to manage his money, but his mother won't let him due to his illness being degenerative. Somehow my host was able to discern what he was speaking. But at the end he shared John 9:1-5, "And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?   3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. 4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." His charity and fortitude in overcoming the challenges of this life was truly astounding. He really does put his trust in God in all things and really made me realize that I have a lot to learn from him. He's a huge blessing to all in his life.

It's been incredible seeing how God has put people in our path. We contacted a Russian referral last night, and if we hadn't had a member with us, her husband would have slammed the door. Instead the member was able to invite them to a ward party and introduce him to us. We've been working with that couple a lot, and hope to help these wards complete their missionary duties. It's so much better when the members do the finding and help us teach in their homes.

 I think I wrote about Milenka, it was someone that pulled into her driveway right as we were riding by on our bikes. I was able to speak some Russian with her, so that was really cool. 

We visited a less active member and his nonmember wife two nights ago, I was able to sympathize with them and shared Mosiah 29: 20, "But behold, he did deliver them because they did humble themselves before him; and because they cried mightily unto him he did deliver them out of bondage; and thus doth the Lord work with his power in all cases among the children of men, extending the arm of mercy towards them that put their trust in him" and explained that all of their economic woes was for their good and that God had a plan for them and their family. 

Krystal is another of our investigators, and she committed to being baptized if the Church is true.

We were riding to an appointment when this woman waved to us, she is a Lutheran and wanted to speak to us. We got an address and look forward to sharing the message of the Restoration with her. 

We've also been working with a part-member family, the father not being a member. We've been doing FHE with them on Sundays, and it's been amazing seeing the Spirit work with him to be receptive to the spiritual thoughts we've shared. 

We're also working with a Rocky, whose wife is less active. Interesting enough he has a stake calling where he checks the Church's satellite and other communications equipment every Wednesday night. He's a really cool guy. His father was a minister and baptized him, and he can't see how there could be only one true church. We've got to teach by the Holy Ghost, otherwise he won't understand and progress. 

This area has really been warming up and now we've got 6 progressing investigators and many other new and potential ones. I love working with the members and feeling the Spirit of God confirm to me over and over again the divinity of the work.

I've most often felt that Spirit come with small acts of obedience (John 7:17), like when I do service for someone else, or follow a prompting from the Holy Ghost. I know that Jesus Christ lives just as if I'd seen him with mine own eyes. He is real and answers prayers. I'm praying for you, and know that "the Lord God will consecrate [them] for the gain of my people." (2 Nephi 33:4) You can do hard things!

Monday, August 5, 2013

                                    Elder Szendre with President and Sister Winder

Hey folks, we had a really productive week despite having a new area. I got both packages from Grandpa and Grandma Szendre and Nebeker. Thanks a lot, they're much appreciated. 

We invited a 17 year old to be baptized and he agreed, he's a really good kid and knows a lot about the gospel. I'm surprised, because we accidentally gave him the scripture 3 Nephi 3:7 instead of 1 Ne 3:7 to read at home, "Or in other words, yield yourselves up unto us, and unite with us and become acquainted with our secret works, and become our brethren that ye may be like unto us—not our slaves, but our brethren and partners of all our substance." Yeah we didn't actually do that :) 

I feel like the Apostles, when Jesus declared, "I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours." It's incredible here, my companion has had 20 baptized people in his last 11 months here. We got over 20 lessons in the last 5 days, whereas in Russia we might get 5-10 lessons a week. Granted about half of those were to members. I think this is going to be a really fruitful area. I'm loving being a missionary, got to go, out of time.

Love you all,

Can you pray for Thomas, and that we might find people ready to accept the Message of the Restoration?