So Many Miracles!

SO MANY MIRACLES!
I’ve really seen how as we exercise our faith, miracles naturally follow… and we recognize them.

Gerard was (finally!) confirmed on Sunday. It is fantastic to see him grow in the Gospel.

Kyle, an investigator who is waiting on Salt Lake to find out when he gets baptized, told us during a lesson that their family decided to study the scriptures every night together. We hadn’t even though of asking them to do that, so it is a good thing that they were listening to the spirit!

Kathleen, who I told you about last week, is getting baptized this weekend! She is on FIRE and I love her. We taught Kathleen the commandments and she immediately broke her vaporizer (for marijuana) in half and dumped her beer down the sink. Her family is catching her fire of faith. Kathleen’s daughter, Whitney, decided to get married to her boyfriend so they could raise their son, who is on the way, in a righteous environment. She wanted a huge wedding but she decided she would rather wait until they are sealed to have the huge wedding and just do something simple for now. She’s trying to find a wedding dress so they can get married next week!

We told Jason (Whitney’s boyfriend) on Sunday that through faithful church attendance he would see miracles during the week. We came back later that week for a lesson and he told us he got a job he had been applying for months for that paid twice as much as his current job. He said he had no doubt in his mind that that was the evidence that he needed to go to church.

Kathleen also has a girl living with her named Clarissa, who is AWESOME. She is YSA age, so we had to refer her to the singles’ ward, but when we taught her the Word of Wisdom, she took her pipe out of her pocket and smashed it with a hammer!

This family has been prepared to receive the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Their willingness to follow His council is evidence of their preparedness and their testimonies.

We also have a lady named Valerie who should be getting baptized this Sunday. We have been working with her for MONTHS. She is awesome and she knows everything we are teaching is true, but she has been so stinking busy and tired that she didn’t make it to church for the first time until last Sunday. Ultimately, she just had to tell her boss that she would not work on Sundays, no matter what. She loved church and told her kids they have to come with her next week so they can feel the spirit.

The final miracle I can remember happened last night. We helped a recent convert named Grace move in a few weeks ago. She is engaged to a guy from another stake, and he was actually reactivated because his fiance made him start coming back to church since she was getting baptized. She has three daughters, but we had been told they weren’t super interested. We went to teach a lesson to their family to welcome them to the ward (and because Grace was a recent convert), and ended up teaching the most powerful lesson of my mission so far. Her daughters have such a full understanding of Gospel principles, but they told us that they didn’t KNOW they wanted to get baptized until we came and taught them. One of their daughters wants to go on a mission right after she graduates from high school and will be getting baptized on November 3 (Happy Birthday, Mom!)

I’ve definitely come to see that miracles are everywhere if we have the faith to see them. Also, God chooses to work through his children. If we don’t have the faith to act, those miracles won’t happen.

We went to the temple today! That’s why I emailed today instead of yesterday. It was wonderful. I love it more and more every time I go. The LA temple is huge. I wish I could go every P-Day. I love going in the morning, too, even though it means we have to get up at 4:30. I can’t send pictures since I’m emailing at the library, but I’ll try sending some next week.

By the way, Elder Bledsoe it taking the SAT on Saturday, November 2nd, so our next P-Day won’t be until then. You won’t be seeing any emails from me until then.

I received your Halloween package, Mom. Thank you so much! It was Elder Bledsoe’s birthday as well, so it was a good week for packages! It sounds like Dad is pretty much living at Grandma and Grandpa Koetitz’s right now. Holy cow. It sounds like Dad is helping a lot there. It really does seem like Grandpa has been in and out of the hospital since I left. I’m praying for him every single day. Grandma Mooney, my hand is completely healed, but I haven’t seen that lady since the crash, so we have no way of teaching her. Lacey, the warm weather is nice, but after two years of nothing below 60 degrees I’m going to love a nice crisp fall. And Lacey AND Kimmie, I feel like Adelaide and Hyrum are growing so fast! I need pictures!!! We are teaching one lady with and eighteen month old and I just realized Adelaide is eighteen months old and Hyrum is almost there. Crazy! I love everyone!

I love this Gospel. It is the only true source of joy on Earth.

Focus on Miracles

Even though you are saying it’s Fall now, I’m not so sure! It is supposed to be 89 degrees on Wednesday. It is getting cooler here, though. It even rained once! That is the first time I have seen it rain since I have been in Long Beach.
Mom, don’t worry. My hand is fine. I played at the departure fireside for all of the missionaries going home, so it’s definitely not stopping me from playing the piano. And the living room looks completely different from when I left. I’ve never seen so many rocking chairs in one place!

One of the goals of our zone this transfer is to focus on miracles. As we make an effort to notice the hand of God in our life, miracles become the natural product of our faith and works. Miracles are everywhere. And as we notice them, they motivate us to be more faithful, to be more diligent. I’ll share just one example from this week.

On Tuesday, as we went to our first appointment, we met a woman in front of an apartment complex who was named Kathleen. She told us before we even began our lesson that we were going to make her cry. We sang, as we have made it a goal, a hymn at the beginning of the lesson. As we sang the words of “O My Father”, she began to weep. O My Father is nowhere to be found in any of the lessons we “traditionally” teach, but she could feel the truth and divinity of the Restored Gospel before we even opened the scriptures. Hymns have a sacred power to invite the spirit and push the world away. Because of that spiritual experience, she immersed herself in The Book of Mormon, reading over 30 pages and comparing it to the Bible before we even contacted her the next day. She brought her entire family to church with her on Sunday so they could share with her the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her testimony is evidence to me that the spirit converts, that God prepares people and our finding them depends upon our diligence and ability to listen to the promptings of the spirit.

I love being out here. My new companion, Elder Bledsoe, is fantastic. He has been out 20 months, so he has learned a lot that he is sharing with us.
Our email time was cut short today, so I have to go. I love everyone!!!

True and Eternal Happiness

I don’t have very much time to type today because they are trying to close the Family History Center where we are emailing. 
 

Yes, Mom, I got the package. I thought I said that. The blackberry jam is fantastic. General Conference was fantastic. For me, the main themes were:

1. God is hastening the work, and that is accomplished through US, the members. Every needs to do everything possible to share the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone.
2. Gender is a sacred identity and each gender comes with specific roles and responsibilities throughout the eternities.
3. Sorrow and pain are essential parts of life. Without them, we would not grow. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be happy despite the fallen state of the world.
4. Christ’s church is one of diversity. All of us are unique and we need to love and accept everyone with open arms.
 
A lot of people this transfer have asked us as missionaries why “Mormons” are always so happy, and that is something I have been thinking a lot about. I mean, logic and science show us that a life free from drugs, alcohol, addiction, and infidelity will be happier and more successful than a life where any combination of those are present, but is that it? For a long time, I really didn’t feel like members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints were any happier than anyone else. I mean, we all have trials and sorrow and pain and suffering. But as I have served my mission, my eyes have really been opened to what it means to be happy. Most people in the world don’t know how to communicate with their Father in Heaven, how to truly study the scriptures, how to receive divine revelation for their individual lives. Without the knowledge (not the belief or hope) of the Plan of Salvation, what reason is there to be happy? Without God, what is the purpose of life?
I know that Jesus Christ lives and is my personal Savior and Redeemer. I know that God is not only my Father in Heaven, but the Supreme Creator of the Universe. Without a doubt, I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that we can come closer to God by abiding by its precepts that anything else in this world. I know that the Bible is the word of God and that by diligently studying we can gain deeper and richer understanding of the nature of God. I know that God is perfect, but humanity is imperfect. Despite living in a fallen and wicked world, we can have lasting happiness. Not the happiness of a good day at the lake or of getting a dream job, but an Eternal happiness that can buoy us up even in the darkest of times. And why do I know these things? Because I have tried the word of God. Because I have to rely on God when I can’t stand up. As we learned in General Conference, it is better to doubt our doubts than to doubt God.
Believe in God. Believe that he is. Believe that he hath all power in heaven and in Earth. This knowledge and His hand will bring Eternal happiness. 
 
For all of you that didn’t have the opportunity to watch general conference, do it. The messages contained there are key for us to be happy. You can find it on:
lds.org        gc.lds.org       mormon.org       and probably some other places.
 
I miss Spokane! I miss seasons. I miss free time. I miss my family and my friends. I have really gained a deeper love of my family out here, a love that in some ways I don’t feel like I can properly express. 
By the way, the transfer ends this week and Elder Loutensock is becoming a Zone Leader. He will be staying in our zone, but moving to the Singles’ Ward. Elder Coen and I will be staying together and our new companion’s name is Elder Bledsoe.
 
I love all of you!

 

 

Gerard, Car doors and Urgent Care

Gerard was baptized on Sunday!!!!!

Gerard is the one that just walked up to us after a lesson with someone and asked how he could be baptized. His story is really evidence to me that we are really only tools in God’s hands. If we are doing everything he asks us as missionaries, he will be able to lead the prepared people to us. He asked our Bishop (Bishop Solomon) to baptize him. And I promise Gerard was happy, even ecstatic. Some people just don’t smile for pictures. 
 
Also, Satan was definitely trying his utmost to keep Gerard from getting baptized. At the beginning of the week, we got a text from Gerard’s friend saying he decided not to get baptized. We were confused and immediately went and talked to Gerard. Apparently his family told them they would disown him if he joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We helped Gerard to see that turning toward Christ could only help his family, and when he saw that, there was nothing that could turn him back. His family eventually forgave him and he invited them to the baptism. Then, late Saturday night, we got a text from Gerard saying he had a family emergency. He had to rush his girlfriend to the hospital and was there all night long. He didn’t even sleep before church, but he still came because he didn’t want to delay his baptism, and his girlfriend, who is Sarah (the girl that thought she knew Kimmie), came too. 
 
By the way, you might have noticed my hand is all wrapped up. We were riding down a hill to an appointment and some lady opened her car door. According to Elder Coen, I did a pretty awesome double flip in the air before I combat rolled down the hill. The mission nurse had me go to an urgent care center. The doctor there swore my hand was broken. She said she could feel the bone sticking through the tissue in my hand, but after looking at the x-rays, she was shocked because all the bones in my hand were perfectly fine. That probably would have been a good opportunity to tell her that God works miracles and invite her to church, but I must not have been thinking straight after hitting my head during the crash. I’m fine now, I just have to keep my hand wrapped for a couple of weeks to hold the tissue together that needs to rebuild in my hand. 
 
Last but not least, since my time is up, I just need to say that there is nothing better than seeing the friends we teach realize for themselves that everything we tell them is true. Their lives have a purpose that was never there before. A purpose that motivates them to stop drinking and smoking and everything else that the world tries convincing us is appealing. Also, God works in mysterious ways. For example, on Saturday, we had 7 lessons set up and members were supposed to come with us to 5 of them, and ALL of our lessons AND members cancelled except one. We were pretty miserable, especially since we had to walk everywhere since my bike is out of commission. However, the one lesson that didn’t cancel ended up being with a girl who was suffering with severe depression, and the one member that ended up coming out was a member of the relief society presidency who was suffering with severe depression and suicidal tendencies before she was introduced to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That was no accident, and we would not have called that member unless we had those seven appointments set up that we wanted members at. I’m quickly being convinced that coincidences are really God’s plans being fulfilled without us knowing. 
 
I love everyone’s emails! I wish I had more time to respond to what everyone said.

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