Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Share the love!

Familia y amigos,
Hola! It has been a great week. We began working on the biggest sandbag wall of all... "Dan's wall" haha. It is HUGE. Wow. I have pictures but his house is like a mansion and during the flood his backyard (like a flippin' park) was all covered in water. Had it not been for his huge sandbag wall, his house would be burnt toast. haha
This week I went on an exchange with one of my zone leaders, Elder Miller, and with my ward mission leader to go find a hispanic guy that my mission leader knew. When we got to his apartment, a lady answered the door and said he moved. But we got talking with her and pretty quick we asked her if she would be interested in hearing a message...and she immediately invited us in. At this point, I was SO stoked because I haven't really had anything like this before. So anyway, we got talking to her (and she was American...didn't speak Spanish haha... but that's okay) and got to know her a bit. Pretty soon we began to teach about the Restoration and it was awesome. She said she has been trying to find a religion that she can just stay with and commit too. She has been catholic and a member of a different church (that I don't remember) most of her life. And she was so excited to hear our message. We taught her how to pray and then left her with something to read. We didn't teach the whole first lesson, but I think we taught what she needed to hear. Anyway, I'm excited to see how much she progresses in the future.
The other day, we had another district meeting and it was so good. The main message was about "becoming", not merely "doing." "Be is the motivation behind do." I remember there was a talk given by an apostle last conference about making a "to be list" instead of a "to do list." Pretty much the lesson was about if we aren't "becoming" someone better each day, then we don't understand our purpose in this life. Too often we are only focused on the "doing" that we don't become. Become is the motivator. Thanks to the Savior, we can always become, look forward, no matter what.
This week I have come to a greater understanding of the importance of this life. The Savior overcame everything for each of us. By our obedience we show our appreciation and love for all he did. Anyway, He is with us each and every step of the way. The Church is true.
Well, that's my thought for today. But this weekend is general conference. I'm way excited and  hope that you all are too!! Tomorrow is transfers. I can't believe I have already been here for 6 weeks... Hope you all have a great week!
Love, Elder Vawdrey
PS: The General Conference talk referred to above can be found by clicking here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Of Things that Matter Most

Family and Friends,
Hola otra vez!! Como estan?!! Wow... is life busy or what? It has been a week of lots of learning and studying :) Thank you all for your wonderful examples and love. But the lesson I have really been learning lately is Finding Joy in the Journey.

I have a companion who has been here for 21 months and so he is very experienced with the work here. He has a great love for everyone and is amazing with the members of our little Spanish branch. The biggest thing I have learned from him is Patience and how to follow the spirit. I don't know if it's just because I am new here or what but these first few weeks, I was often quick to feeling stressed about pretty much everything. I felt like we weren't doing everything right. I felt like I needed to be more "perfect," I guess you could say.

Elder Vawdrey and Elder Rigby
But, my companion would often ask me: What's on your mind, Elder Vawdrey? And at first I didn't want to talk to him because I was stressed out of my mind, but then I just started to tell him what was stressing me out. He helped me to realize that I shouldn't worry so much about stuff. Honestly, he has changed my life for the better. When I first met him, I thought he was a nice guy, but I judged him. I am so grateful that he didn't judge me and is so loving. He had me read the talk: "Of Things that Matter Most." I suggest you read it. (Click here to read or watch this amazing talk by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf.)

We need to simplify our lives. If all we are concerned about it how many numbers we put up for baptisms and how many things I can do in one day... we will feel stressed all the time. We need to take time to evaluate ourselves often and as we simplify our lives, we will better understand why this gospel is so great and we will be more productive with our time. Also, if we are super stressed, we probably won't be able to follow the spirit. So... this week, I am committing myself to slow down a bit, remember my purpose here in this area, and love people... not judge them.

Sioux City, IA Spanish Branch
Our little branch is doing well. There are many callings being extended right now and we are so excited to see this branch grow. This week I had more opportunities to speak in Spanish and that was so sweet. I loved it. Overall, the work is great here. There is lots to do, but we will do our very best. I have a testimony that I know that Lord places people in our lives for a reason. There is something great we can learn from everyone we encounter. "We shouldn't focus on problems, we should focus on solutions to problems and then solve them."
Julian was baptized soon after Brian's arrival

Wrestling un serpiente
LOTS of sandbags to move

"When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God!"

Mucho sandbags = mucho musculos!
I love you all and I hope you all have a wonderful week! Much love,
Elder Vawdrey

Monday, September 12, 2011

Change is constant!

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,

I hope you all had a wonderful week! And yesterday was a memorable day for America. I am so grateful for our freedoms and privileges...especially for our freedom of religion :) This freedom set up for the Restoration of the Gospel. How sweet!!!

And this week has been memorable too. We had a zone conference this week which was very uplifting and we received several new standards. One of which has to do with food. oh no. haha Here in this mission we have great members who feed us every night for dinner. In our zone conference we were told that we need to stop this. It is destroying our mission because it is taking away too much time from proselyting. From now on we can only have dinner with a member family if there is a progressive or potential investigator present. Otherwise, we must eat dinner on our own before 5pm because we found out that the best proselyting time is between 5pm and 9pm.

I was a little surprised at this change, but I am really excited about it, to be honest. I think this will really open up more opportunities to serve more and teach more lessons!!! yes!! That's what I want. We have been doing service so much...but this will allow us to teach lessons too! I think this will allow me to have more opportunities to speak Spanish too. cool.

Anyway, it has been an interesting week. However, there are many people who don't like this inspired change. I hope that I can work more closely with my companion so that we can help this truly help out the mission and bringing souls closer to Christ. When we receive counsel from a leader, it's not just from them...it's the same as if it is directly from the Lord... so obey we must :)

I love missionary work, and it is definitely work. but it's great. One other new thing coming out is mormon.org campaigns. They will start having commercials and billboards of mormon.org profiles next month in different cities throught the country...so we are really excited about this. If any of you aren't familiar with mormon.org, I encourage you to go check it out. It is SO sweet. Click on profiles and watch a movie clip or two they are amazing. And you can also create your own profile with your testimony and hobbies. :)

Because we have just been continually helping with sandbags and moving people from house to house, I haven't had opportunities to speak spanish, but I know they will come :)

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful week. I love you all!

Elder Vawdrey

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It's a branch!

Familia y Amigos,

Hooola! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday yesterday. We had a great holiday here as well. Some of the members that we helped with their sandbag walls invited us over to their house for a picnic. There were like 80 people there...non-members and members. It was so great. There was amazing food, amazing people, and fun games. We enjoyed playing with the kids and it was a great time. No huge miracle moments but I'm sure something will come up later. Just being around the non-members is a motivator and makes things fun.

The other day, one of the non-member couples wrote a note to our ward mission leader (who just got released because he is now in the bishopric) and thanked him for the 7 elders who showed up at their house the other day to help them take down their sandbag wall. They said it helped them to realize that there is still good in the world today!! This couple had been working on breaking down their sandbag walls themselves... they had taken 91 truckloads before we came. Pretty amazing, because they are old. haha But it is amazing how quickly you can get a job done when you have lots of people helping.

The biggest news of all is that our spanish "group" just became a "Branch" on Sunday. I thought this was pretty saweet! I'm not exactly sure what all this entails yet... other than my companion saying that we will have lots of work to do :) sweet! That's good stuff. So he told me that right now, we will probably focus more on the members of the Branch and strengthening them in their testimonies than on finding new investigators. Time to strenghten the kingdom!! ah yeah!! But Brother Ignasio in the branch has tons of referrals for us... so as we do our best to strengthen the members we will also try to contact the referrals and begin teaching! whoot!!

So, last time I talked about how we were going to teach Monica... but that actually didn't work out. But, we are going to visit her this week! And many more people! I had my first like real weekly planning session with my companion yesterday because we have just been doing service and that was so sweet. I feel like I know more about the people in the mission and the mission work I was expecting... but I'm not going to lie, the service with sandbags was sweet.

As for spanish, the other day I had the thought to read the book of mormon in spanish. I began just 2 days ago and then I just read my Hermana Vawdreys e-mail about how she wants to do the same thing. woo hoo. That's way cool. And wow, I have learned so much in the past 2 days. I have been able to understand everything for the most part and have learned tons of vocabulary. My goal is to finish it by the end of the year...my companion said that if I did that then I would be fluent in spanish! yeah yeah! 

My companion has me answer all of the phone calls that we get from our spanish members... hahah and yeah, wow. This has been a challenge. My conversation with them lasts for just a few seconds after a pause on the phone and I say... "si, no entendi espanol mucho." hahah so thanks to my companion, he talks to them. But, this is what really made me want to study the book of mormon in spanish and practice speaking it more since we no longer will be breaking down sandbag walls for a while.

On Thursday night I believe, I taught my first lesson to some spanish members in our ward... about fasting. I was on exchanges with the English missionaries because my companion had meetings to go to. The members spoke English too but because they speak spanish, I gave the lesson in spanish and the other English missionaries just nodded their heads with big smiles :) haha And the lesson went great. The father was very attentive and nodded his head, meaning he understood me!! haha whoot.

Overall, these first 2 weeks have been interesting and tough. But everyday I learn something new and learn how to be more united with my companion. The weather is hot.. lots of humidity, I look like a tomato right now to be honest! haha don't worry madre, I'm gonna go get some aloe vera today. That stuff is my favorite thing in the world. My companion gave me the nickname "sunblock." so alright, that will help me to remember to put on sunblock! haha But it's going to get really cold here soon.. my companion is really excited about it... I'm not sure what to think... but when it comes, I'll make the most of it.

Hope you all have a great week. I love you all. Thanks for your examples and love!

Elder Vawdrey