Friday, July 10, 2015

Goodbye Idaho!

Dear family,

Sorry that this didn't come on Monday. I wanted to leave a brief summary of my mission and I wasn't happy with it and we ran out of time so I used our dinner hour/ time to send this.

I'm so grateful for these last last two years here in Boise. I've changed so much from my service here and will never be the same. I'm glad I was called here, it's really a blessing to go somewhere you didn't at first want to go.

Last week went well, we saw Rob and Gina and had a really good lesson with them. It's incredible to me how incredibly strong they are in their faith in God and in the Catholic Church. They follow the teachings of the Church exactly and teach their children to do the same. In a lot of ways they see themselves how we see ourselves, the only Church that has the Priesthood authority and a Fulness of the Gospel.

We started the lesson with Proverbs 3:5, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart ; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths". We addressed one of their concerns about the Eucharist, their version of the Sacrament. It's similar in many of the effects it has on us, including receiving the Spirit and being cleansed from sin. To them it literally and physically becomes the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, while we see it as the essential ordinance whereby we renew our baptismal covenants and receive His promises of salvation every Sabbath.

We taught the doctrine behind the Sacrament and how it's the most sacred ordinance in the gospel because it's the one most closely associated with the Atonement. As we partake of the bread and drink the ward, we remember His body being bruised and torn for us. We see him sweating great drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane as he endured the incomprehensibly excruciating pains.

We see ourselves as completely dependent on his grace and forgiveness, and our hearts swell with gratitude for His Atonement and the resultant glorious resurrection. We see partaking of the bread and the water as directly receiving the Atonement and it's marvelous blessings if we're worthy. From John 6 (KJV)

54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. 
58 [Pointing to himself] This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

I'm going to miss meeting with them, they're really a dictionary for catholic tradition, I should've got a picture with them.

We saw Tammy and Austin last night, and they really like us and want us back. Austin is twelve and is the only one at home right now and she wants him to go to Church and get involved in Church activities. She's receptive to what we teach, but doesn't want to go to Church yet. I really hope we Austin will want to be integrated into the ward, his Mom would follow if she sees the influence it would have on him. 

Ja sam mogao učiti jednog Bosanskog čovjeka o obnovljenom Evanđelju! Riding down the street we saw someone in their yard, so we pulled over and introduced ourselves. We started to talking to him and was really friendly. He said his name was Sefko and I asked him where his name came from. He replied that he was from Bosnia and we started talking in Bosnian. He came to America in 1990 and converted to Christianity. I showed him the Restoration pamphlet in Croatian and explained the message to him and he was really receptive. We're going to go back and hopefully they'll be interested in meeting with us. Hopefully we could teach them in English or bring a translator.

It was good to finally use my Bosnian to teach someone about the Restoration, almost all of them I've met have been Muslim and not interested. It was so much fun getting to know him.

We got to see Karrie from the Boise Stake, please pray for her that she will be able to quit smoking. She's so strong spiritually but is really really struggling with that addiction. She has so many difficulties right now but is pushing through them. I'm sure she'll be baptized soon.

We also did lunch with Crystal and saw Brandi Anderton and her family. It was good to see them one more time.

I'm satisfied with my mission. I know I found, taught, baptized and reactivated every one that the Lord saw fit to give me. It's been filled with trials of every kind, but I'm so incredibly thankful for them and how I've grown from this experience.

I served first in the Mitchell and Kingswood Wards in the Boise North Stake (4.5 months) there we started teaching Michael, Tyler and Anna (Anna was baptized a year after I left.) three unbaptized children in a divorced part member family. We taught them the lessons and Michael and Tyler were baptized. My first transfer with Elder Dearborn we started contacting part member families and we knocked on Brandi Anderton's door. It was a very difficult time for them (he had been unemployed for some time) and they started taking the lessons. Five months later she baptized. She had a very good time

Then I went to Eagle in the Eagle 4th Ward (6 months) there I trained Elder Nelson for 3 transfers. My time there was incredible, the people there were pretty wealthy and with the help of the members and particularly the youth we found 16 investigators in 6 months. Only 4 of those were found through our own efforts (tracting and street contacting). We had Crystal Poland's name come up on our phone as a referral. She had had a very difficult life with absolutely no family support and a 2-year old child. She had been homeless and was subrenting from someone in Eagle.

With the help of some visiting teachers in Kuna, and an LDS friend she had found faith in God and after she came here she wanted to take the lessons. She kept almost every commitment we extended to her. After four weeks she was baptized.

Then I went to the Meridian Amity Stake in the Riva Ridge and Desert Wards (3 months). Then I went to the Meridian West Stake in the Havencove Ward (4.5 months). Kelly Bowen was baptized after about a year of investigating the Church. She has a member husband Seth who came back to Church and baptized her. She had an incredible gospel knowledge and understanding and is really solid.

With Elder Palencia and Bowler we saw a woman cleaning out her trash container, we pulled over and started talking with her. After about a half hour we scheduled a time to come back and share more of what we believed and 3 months later she was baptized. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of her right now, I need to email Elder Palencia and get it.

Then in the Boise Stake I served in the Collister Ward for 6 months. We found 13 investigators while there, most significantly Karrie who pulled over on the side of the road and scheduled an appointment with her. She's had one of the most difficult lives I could imagine and has a thyroid disease from all of the stress she has gone through. She's felt a lot of guilt from her mistakes but after keeping the invitations to read the Book of Mormon and to pray she felt all of that guilt lifted from her. She's really been struggling the last 3 months with trying to quit smoking. Please pray for her, she's very close to being baptized. I got to see her a couple times this transfer. 

After four transfers President sent me to the Meridian East Stake for my final 6 weeks. Elder Edralin lost a ward and we didn't have any investigators in the Ginger Creek Ward so we started tracting and talking with members to get referrals. We found two families to teach (one should begin taking the lessons shortly) Rob and Gena the Catholic family and then Tammy and Austin both I mentioned previously.

I can't possibly recount all of the investigators, members and less-active members that have inspired me and have helped me to grow in the gospel as we've met with them and worked with them. I've (mostly) only included the names of those that were baptized, to show that even in Idaho there are specific people that you are meant to find and teach. It's incredible to see the miracles that come into their lives as they start to come to Church and further live the Gospel. 

I'm grateful beyond measure for my call to serve here in the Idaho Boise Mission. I've had the most incredible time here and can't wait for my next mission call. 

I'm thankful for my testimony of the Restored Gospel. It's the most precious possession I have. With it comes that calm assurance that God lives, Jesus is the Christ, this life is part of a divinely-appointed plan, and that His Church has been Restored (brought back) to the Earth.

I know that this is the Savior's Church. It has all of the doctrines, principles and ordinances of the Gospel that we need to have happiness in this life and Eternal Life in the world to come.

May I end this with the final invitation of the Book of Mormon in Moroni 10, "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God."

May we choose to trust Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and strive more faithfully to follow them is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Pic: The mission conference we had with Elder Nelson.

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