Friday, December 20, 2013

Hello, thank you for the packages Grandparents! That came in well, the snack food has been our lunch today since p-days are always super busy. The bontrager gloves will come in super handy this winter. There's been 3 inches of snow on the ground for the last week, which is super irregular for Boise. The Farmer's almanac predicts another bitter cold winter and we won't be surprised if we see it dip to single digits for a few weeks. Members are driving us all the time however, and we've laminated maps with all the members plotted and then we'll mark all the people we need to see on the laminated portion using a marker, so if our plans to see them fail we can visit with members in the area. We also found a path through a wooded area separating two neighborhoods we cover. It's been quite a challenge covering a large area without being able to ride, but we've found solutions to all of our problems.

It's been pretty cool seeing answers to our prayers, one morning we prayed to get rides and the first four people called were available at the times we needed that day.

Eagle, in the past, has been a challenging area because of the wealth that's here. There are some really really nice houses here, but the people still seem pretty humble.

Training Elder Nelson has been super rewarding, it's super nice having another hour to study and stay out of the cold. It's incredible how much there is to learn and apply in missionary work and the gospel.

Michael K. is doing super well. He had another really good experience at Church this Sunday and he brought his girlfriend with him and her two children (not his). She was emotional at Relief Society, they did their lesson on Elder Christofferson's talk about the moral authority of women.

We're continually finding more people to teach. We have so many part member families, less active members and members that want to share the gospel with their friends. We found Billy this week, he came to a lesson with a less active woman we visited on Wednesday. The Restoration lesson went really well, and they committed to reading the Book of Mormon as a couple every day. After this week we should have 3 investigators in the first 3 weeks, truly a miracle in this very rich part of the Vineyard. 

With Michael's baptism many investigators will see a hardened ex-Marine be baptized after making many many greatly needed changes to his life. Michael's mother is very not interested, but very supportive, having seen the incredible amount he's changed by reading the Book of Mormon. With his baptism the people we find and the other investigators in the 6 companionship district will see this ex-Marine enter into the covenant, becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ, and that he's made many necessary changes in his life. It's amazing.

It was a good friend of Michael who introduced him to the Church. His friend simply gave him a Book of Mormon and an invitation to go to Church with him. It was an hour north of his home and so he started commuting two hours every Sunday to go to Church. He quickly realized the power of the Book of Mormon and when he got to the war chapters he really felt how true the Book is. He's seen a lot of terrible things as a Marine, and he's been able to process a lot of it by pouring over those chapters in Alma 43-60. We are the only Church to understand that Christ took upon himself our pains so that he could "succor" us (Alma 7:11-12). I've felt that power this week, I was hurting pretty bad last night in my own trials but felt his healing since then and I'm fine, smiling and moving forward in this work. Michael's felt healing as he's gone to Church and his life is much more manageable.

Let's pray for an opportunity this Christmas to share the gospel with our brothers and sisters: it can be as simple as handing them a "Finding Faith in Christ" DVD. They need that faith in His Atonement, they have wounds much deeper than we can imagine, whether due to sin, trials or others' poor choices. They need forgiveness and the Saviors' peace, and only a fullness of it can come through His restored ordinances and the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

I'm humbled by the call to train Elder Nelson, his patriarchal blessing talks of a "paramount" mission, and I just have so many weaknesses. Also our efforts seem to be so small sometimes when we can only see 8 people in one day due to the inclement weather, but I think of the Savior feeding 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, He didn't ask if they had enough to [successfully complete their missions] - - He asked how much do you have? It was enough. 

Brandi A. is being baptized this Saturday, she is doing super well. Elder Sumrall told me that at their lesson last week they were beaming with light, they have "received his image in [their] countenances" (Alma 5:14). It's rather incredible, I'm going to be the one to baptize her this Saturday, words can't describe the happiness I feel from that.

The Schumaker children's baptism has been postponed to January 4th :(

Thanks for the letters and love, there's so much waiting for us if we'll repent and keep his commandments. Take the gospel seriously in your youth! Don't put life on cruise-control. There's so many spiritual experiences and joy to have in living and sharing the gospel. The work is true, the Savior lives and hears my soul's complaint. Everything in my life has led me to this point and the work that I'm doing and it will be the same for you. Take care! Out of time,

Much Love,
Elder Szendre

P.S. The first photo is of me and my step-dad (follow-up trainer) Elder Sumrall right before we met our firstborn sons :)

The second is Brandi and her family visiting Temple Square.

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