Monday, April 27, 2015

Fasting, positivity, and happiness.

So as an update, things are going really great in Tamworth. Our investigators are all taking really strange paths( some quite litterally) Mike is in Hongkong right now, so teaching is on hold. I love teaching him though, he wants to be a member... He just need to strengthen his personal testimony first. We had him reading the BoM each night before he left to HK. We have really great lessons with him. In one particular lesson I received an answer to my fast midway through the lesson and I shared that with him. It was a really powerful experience! I've really come to appreciate the power of fasting on my mission! The first week I came to Tamworth I was asked to give a talk on it, and I've seen the blessings come from it on multiple occasions. It is such a powerful tool of the gospel!
It's a great way to get our minds into the missionary mindset. I find that fasting with a purpose brings your closer to Christ. If you act on that Christlike love you feel, you will bear your testimony though your actions. You will serve those around you and show them greater appreciation, if you follow in this pattern it will lead you to confidently sharing the gospel verbally. So again, fasting is a great tool.
I find that to be the case with most things in the gospel. They're all tools, and the more time we spend finding out how to effectively use them... the greater we can fulfill our purpose as individuals and children of our heavenly father.
I've seen that the relationship between discomfort and comfort is very linear. As we do things that are uncomfortable, that we know are good we begin to become more comfortable doing good things, and we begin to become more comfortable with ourselves. I've come to appreciate that our souls know what we need. I can see that in the people here. Most of the people we talk to are missing something, and they know it. Yet they are so hardened that they do everything they can to deny that this is what fills those cracks. To be honest I think English people are some of the most sincere people in the civilized world. It's amazing how many people here don't believe in God because of the cruelty of the world, and how much people do to try to stop those issues. The English are very happiness oriented, and it's sad to see how callused they are. Because the people who do join the church here are incredible, I mean absolutely incredible. I think frequently the people with the best perspectives on life are those who have very little. It's surprising to see how many of those same perspectives thrive here.
Anyways I was saying, desire proceeds action and action proceeds growth. That's why we set goals as missionaries, and follow up. The pattern of progression in life lies in making and keeping commitments. That is why we do what we do with investigators. But this is so applicable with ourselves. As missionaries we try to become more effective each day, and do so by setting daily weekly and transfer goals.
Too commonly people (definitely happens with investigators) see the lack of closeness with what they want and let that discourage them from acquiring their goals. With investigators, it's understanding the church and feeling the spirit. I've seen that when they focus on how far away it seems, they lose their desire to find their answers. We should NOT let the distance from our goals dampen our desire to achieve our dreams. Positivity is the driving force for action, which is the driving force for change. I'm coming to appreciate more and more every day how positivity reigns triumphant over reluctancy every time. I can see the difference by looking at different missionaries. Those who are here for a specific purpose and are positive learn and do so much more, than those who are not.
I've seen that missionaries get homesick when they think of home, and yet they don't stop doing it! It's helped me realize that we can judge our actions by our desires. If they don't line up, then either our desire is insincere or our actions don't measure up. I've learned a lot since I've been on my mission! My favorite thing I have come to understand better is the Commandments. We are commanded to do things that bring us happiness, that is God's purpose to bring us to a state of eternal joy. Likewise, this desire is reflected by what he commands us to do. He doesn't command us to do these things because He is vain or selfish, but rather that it is the ONLY way we will achieve our purpose. We have been given means to understand everything in the gospel and all the things we need in life. All we have to do is refer to the basics and apply them to our situations. The gospel is so simple, and so is life. I hope everyone is doing alright :) time to go now.
Love you all.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Conference was great!

I didn't bring my journal with all my conf. notes, so I might just do the blog email next week. But I think I have what I need to update pics. So if that works, that should be good progress in of itself.
 I am so glad to hear about D!!! Believe it or not I've been thinking about him lately. I absolutely loved Elder Hollands talks also, I can talk about that one because I didn't even take notes. I think my journal says something to the effect of, ' too good, didn't take notes. If any questions arise, refer to written talk.' I may be biased because I've always like Holland the best and he served his mission here... But yeah I loved his talk. I love being able to understand the Savior more fully out here. Seeing and feeling the things He experienced in His days of ministry. And I also loved Pres. Uchtdorfs talk as well. Being out here has helped me see how even being in a place and time where I can give everything to the Lord, and know I am supposed to. It is still so hard to do it sometimes. For me the hardest part is keeping my thoughts continuous. There isn't a thing out here that is too much for me. A companion who is really pushy, people yelling at you, riding for miles and miles, etc. I come through it all just fine. The thing I need to improve is keeping my spiritual vision at the center of my focus. The world is loud. The world here is really loud. And I don't mean just noise, I mean all kinds of things that distract you from your purpose here on earth. That makes it hard to keep up with the spirit some times. Sometimes I have a difficult time in-between lessons keeping up with the spirit. That's what I'm focusing on now. Keeping my spiritual vision consistent. Obviously we can't be spiritual 100% of our day. But it's good to think about. What is the right balance, more importantly would I be comfortable being the way I am each day if today was the day I went to meet Christ. Could I follow him around all day and not get bored? Things like that.
I took the time last week to talk to her little brother who is like 16. He was having a hard time in life, and turned to video games to fill the void and the behavior became a pattern. I talked to him for a long while and gave him a lot of counsel. But the conclusion I came to was this, If we aren't happy in life... The gospel CAN fill that hole. Our unhappiness comes from 2 things, temporal things, or not understanding eternal things. The commonality being, as we continue to understand eternal things we will be joyous. I have really found this out here. I am growing so fast, so I get to see the holes filled faster than some. But that means I get to testify to others that happiness increases as you lose yourself and do what you can with what you have to improve yourself and those around you.

Here are some pics!   An enormous 14 stone dog. (225 lbs) The Moat House. The channel in Fazely by the mill.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Plan, teach, commit, follow up.

We went on exchanges ( go to another area for a day), I went to Lichfield. They have a very old cathedral there, here are some pictures.

 The work is so different there. They look for people to teach all day because they don't have many people to teach. It's hard work. Talking to people you don't know is easy. Talking to people you don't know about Jesus can be hard. But I'm realizing, the best way to do it... is to learn to love with a Christ like love. When you love every person you walk up to, it doesn't matter what happens. If they shout at you, you can move on. If they listen, you can teach with love. However, if you don't extend that love to everyone, you get irritated and try to retaliate, or try to prove them wrong.
I really like a scripture I came across yesterday. I'll write it down and quote it better next time but it essentially goes like this. If you're called of God and teach not by the spirit your words are not of God. And godliness is required in the manifestation of the spirit. Or in other words. Even as a missionary called by God, If you do not use the Spirit in your teaching... You are not acting of God. That struck me. Even if you're trying to represent Him, you are not representing Him by Him (if that makes sense). It's hard to describe, but teaching and teaching by the Spirit are totally different from just teaching about the gospel. You have to focus on entirely different things. I'm learning to put away the logical, and open up to the Spirit. It's hard but necessary in being an effective missionary.
There are a lot of things we learn as missionaries that are applicable to regular life.
Two of which, I want to share. The concepts of planning, and teach, commit, follow up. We plan out not just what we do in the day, but we make plans on how to help us achieve our goals... and often times we do role plays to get certain things solidified. We do this even though every single lesson is supposed to be taught by the Spirit, and most of the times it deviates from the plan quite a bit. It's applicable to life in this way: if you want something (especially like improving yourself or others), you have to plan what you want and then how you will help yourself or other people improve. The other part is what comes after. Teach, commit, follow up. After planning, we teach people (what we planned hopefully) commit them to take a step forward (after they have grown an understanding of why they should) and then follow up. We have to make sure they did what they said, and be super firm in helping them know it's important. If we don't we set a president that laziness is okay. That is a very hard idea to undo. Also it should be said that we try to make everything personally applicable to how it can help them specifically as an individual, and make sure as they do what we ask we help them see the benefit.
I think this totally applies to life. Hindsight is 20/20, but yet it is so hard to look back and see the change from a day or a week. I think that can be super discouraging. ( ie. but I did it for a week and nothing happened!) Most the time our perception adjusts with our experience. We forget exactly where we were and think where we are now is where we were before we made the change. That's why if we help people see the improvement, they will be more willing to continue down the path.
Following up has always been the hardest for me in my life, and I'm learning to get better at it. But it only really improves from the difficult effort it takes to do it. Anyways, I thought I would share that

Thinking of America makes me want apple pie. On the exchange the dinner appointment we had was with a family in which the mom loved America. She made us apple pie. It felt like heaven eating it. haha