Monday, May 25, 2015

7 weeks...

Hey fam, it's been an eventful week. Lots of good things have been happening.

May I remind you that my first guess was Albaquerque NM for Jake's mission call? Yeah buddy. I didn't even know there was a Farmington mission. We were talking about it with some people that live 5 hours south of there last night. It's the most densely LDS populated city in the state, with lots of reservations as you know. It's got some pretty nice suburbs evidently.

Karrie is doing well, she continues to strive to quit smoking and she feels awful when she does and feels spiritually far from God right now. Please pray for her. She had a period for about 2 weeks when she felt all her guilt and temptations go away, but all of the old temptations have come back. She's determined to quit and we're going to try to help her reduce the number of cigarettes more gradually.

We also helped clean up the apartment next to Karrie that had recently been evicted. I felt really bad for her and her ex-husband, she was so physically and verbally abused by him she tried to commit suicide and he left some time ago but even when they were together the place was atrocious. I didn't even bother to take pictures. We mopped up the walls and Elder Thompson the second day made the kitchen floor spotless. It was just unbelieveable the way they lived. It's looking (and smelling) a lot better. We were able to get to know Frank the landlord pretty well. We gave him a Book of Mormon and he said he'd look at it.

Thank you for all of your support on my mission, it's unreal only having seven weeks left. I hope that I stay here for my last transfer, we have too much going on for me to leave. But I felt that way in my last area and the missionaries there have done a tremendous job reactivating, teaching and soon baptizing.

My deepest love,
Elder Szendre

p.s. This is Tiffany Scudder, who I helped teach at the Book of Mormon class every Thursday.

Then the Book of Mormon class missionaries-last transfer.

Monday, May 18, 2015

8 weeks left!

Hey fam, we're doing really well right now.

Jake you're a stud! I totally guessed New Mexico haha. It will be such a fun, exciting and challenging mission for you. I'm excited for you, to use the Book of Mormon for whom the writers primarily intended it for.

Karrie has really struggled this week with quitting smoking. She tried starting Wednesday night and suffered through so much on Thursday it was unreal. Her personality was different when we were with her. We weren't able to see her for two days after that with zone conference the next day. She had caved and felt pretty shaken from the experience. The nicotine has such a hold over her body it's just unreal.

She's trying to quit again so please pray for her. We have the grapefruit and it's juice and cinnamon gum to help.

We had a pretty incredible miracle this week. We met the Skaggs a young family that hasn't been attending Church for what I can gather over a year. Their four year old Marshall was crying with the Mom and we were in an apartment complex and Elder Thompson started talking to her. Normally when kids are crying I'd just walk by. He gave the kid his drumsticks and said we could come by later and pick them up.

She gave us their apartment number and we went and visited with Tiffany Makee again, a good visit in itself. Then we went back and saw them and they invited us in. They recognized it as a miracle that we had run into them at exactly the right time. They still believe in God and the Church, they've just been struggling with some of the weaknesses of members in a previous ward and the difficulty of allotting the time to go to Church in a busy life.

We have an appointment with them on Tuesday. He said their goal is to be sealed as a family. That was incredible to hear that. They're not far from coming back.

My last zone conference came and went last Thursday. I don't want to leave this mission just yet. I want to come home but I don't want to leave. It's a really weird feeling.

Elder Alder of the Seventy (the area authority for much of Idaho) came to zone conference and presented the training that he received from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. For two days before each conference all of the Seventies, around 350 come to Salt Lake to receive training from the Apostles as how the Lord would have them build up His Church.

He said that normally they have 5-7 priorities to emphasize to the Stake Presidents and members and missionaries, but that this time for two days the training focused on how to enhance the spirit and power of the Sabbath Day.

He described how for the last 6 weeks he has taken the training to heart and has woken up a half hour earlier and read from the scriptures about the Savior and that has made gospel study a priority. He said that instituting that has made the Sabbath day a much more sacred day.

Our attitude and behavior towards the Sabbath day indicate a sign between us and God. The Lord has called himself the Lord of the Sabbath, and it is uniquely His day.

Thanks for all of the support, I love you all and will see you soon.

Elder Szendre

Zone Meeting, note Conference

Monday, May 11, 2015

2 month mark

Hey fam!

Mission call in hand! Yeah buddy you'll work miracles wherever you serve. My three guesses Albaquerque, NM; Boise, ID; Moscow, Russia;

We had a really good week. Karrie is getting closer to quitting smoking, she's able to go almost a day now. She's had a really difficult life turning to smoking and alcohol and other drugs at an early age for reprieve from how she was feeling up until literally this last year.

Her son was imprisoned for a crime that was set up in a sting operation and had a very publicized trial and all of her friends and family stopped communicating with her. Her husband left her, she lost her house and all of her belongings were stolen. Homelessness ensued and she suffered beyond imagination for years. She now babysits for her daughter that has a higher paying job and lives in a modest duplex.

This whole time she's felt like she was being led somewhere, out of her lifestyle, and that she needed to do something before she died. She went to calvary chapel and other churches but when she brought up that she had certain things revealed to her by the Spirit they would explain it away as mental illness or imagination. Belief in modern revelation is often a distinguisher among our Church, that cite the Bible as the She felt like she couldn't turn to any of those churches and felt really alone.

She had a lot of powerful experiences with Chruch members. She witnessed a blessing of a disabled woman from her father and she felt God in the room. Then she talked with our bishop once and felt like she had spoken with God. We explained to her that that was the priesthood power that was Restored through this Chruch, and that she had talked to one of His representatives. Her son was visited countless times in prison by Church members and they had come to her several times. He read the Bible and Book of Mormon 10 times in prison along with a lot of other literature and gained a testimony of the Gospel. He was able to help her understand our doctrine when he got out on Paroll and which helped her ease her concerns.

Please pray for her son. He and his wife have been working through a lot of marital and other stressors right now and he might go back to prison today. The warrant hasn't been issued yet, which is a good sign. If the Paroll Officer sees enough commitment to get back on track he might work with him. 

It's been such an incredible experience working with Karrie. We're going to have a barbeque/smore "fireside" at the Church tonight.

The greatest advice I could ever give a missionary or anyone that wants to give service in this Church is to get the Spirit. It will lead you to know what to do and what to say. Added to our own careful study and diligent preparation and planning it will be the determining factor in our success as full-time and member missionaries. "If ye have not the Spirit ye shall not teach" (D&C 42)

From D&C 11,
12 And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit. 
13 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy; 
14 And then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive.

May we all do the Lord's will and qualify ourselves for the sublime blessing of the Spirit. I can't wait to see you all again.

Elder Szendre

Monday, May 4, 2015

May 4 2015

Hey fam!

I'm so excited for Jake's mission call. He's going to be an incredible missionary. There's nothing like holding that letter from 47 East South Temple Street from the First Presidency holding the next two years of your life.

We also had a miracle with a woman named Valory. We knew from her neighbor that he had recently given her a Book of Mormon and that she had no interest in organized religion. We met her when she was doing some yard work two weeks and didn't bring up the Church. We saw her again on Saturday night and she asked us what our mission was about. We taught her part of the Restoration, comparing it to her own beliefs about the corruption of organized religion. She's willing to learn more just doesn't have a lot of time at all.

We've had a really good week. Karrie continues to grow in her testimony of the Gospel every day. Her family continues to be more and more receptive to her. They're happy that she's happy. She feels like she can point her children to the right place now, whereas she had no ability to before.

She really desires to be baptized, she really feels the Spirit at Church and has come 4 weeks in a row now. She had a very powerful spiritual experience after we went through the baptismal interview questions and decided to join the Church. She has suffered so much from her family and friends afterward, but she's found a place where she can be with people that are also striving to follow Jesus Christ's example.

We invite others to join the Church so that they can make and keep sacred covenants with their Heavenly Father. In the Church we have the covenant of Baptism, the Covenant of the Priesthood that comes with ordination to the Priesthood, and the covenants made in the Endowment and Sealing ordinance.

Each of these helps us to found ourselves upon Jesus Christ. Through baptism we covenant with God that we will serve Him and keep His commandments, stand as a witness of Him and bear each other's burdens. In return for our willingness to obey and serve Him, He promises that we will be redeemed from our sins, rise in the first resurrection with the righteous, and have eternal life in His presence (Mosiah 18:5-12).

That is the great test of this life, is whether or not we will come to consistently obey God and follow Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:21, Abraham 3:23-25).

Thank you for everything. I love this great work, there is no work of greater importance than helping those around us to feel God's love and desire to follow Him.

With all my love,
Elder Szendre