Monday, October 31, 2011

Power of the Book of Mormon

Familia y amigos,

Hola hola otra vez!! and Happy Halloween! Wow, I can't believe it is already Halloween. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, and eat a good amount of candy ;) It's a bit weird for us here because we have to be in our apartment by 6pm tonight, so it's like the whole day is P-day. But we have some fun plans today, so I'm pretty excited!

This week, I have realized the power of the Book of Mormon in teaching the gospel. We found 3 families this week and wow...they are so fun to teach! Teaching families is just powerful. But I thought it was really interesting how we were inspired to teach about and the people all questioned us about the Book of Mormon. Once they understood that it is the word of God also but stories from different prophets and that it supports the bible, everything else just flowed and they understood everything!! The first big family we taught was a family of 7. The kids ranged from like 8 years old to 18. And wow, there were 2 twin 14-year-old girls and they reminded me so much of my little sister Angi!! Oh my goodness. It was so weird. But just by that, I knew they would be a sweet family! To finish the lesson, the 10-year-old boy said the closing prayer and it was SO cool!! I think the kids will have a great part in motivating the parents to hear more about the gospel too. But anyway, we will return and visit them next week!

Another family we taught invited us to have dinner with them at our next visit with them. Wow! Nice! That has never happened and only once in my companions' missions...being invited by investigators to eat dinner. We are really excited for all of these families! I can tell that they have good standards, but they just don't know the truth of all things yet!! I'm so excited to keep in touch with these families!!

The biggest burden right now is only having a car every other week. Our area is HUGE...so it's hard on the weeks when we don't have the car because we have to walk so far. Our investigators live all over the place. So, we are hoping to get a car for ourselves but we will see how that goes. It is starting to get a little chilly. I know back in Utah, Halloween night is usually the day of a big storm. Sooo...we will see what it's like here in Sioux City, Iowa.

As for my Spanish, we often don't have time to sit down and do an hour study because of appointments, so sometimes my language study is just talking to my companions or the investigators. During our visits, it's kinda frustrating when I don't know what the investigators are saying, but at least I can testify well!! Learning Spanish is really teaching me patience.

Funny moment the other day... so we were eating lunch with some of the members in our branch and the mother was cooking beans. I asked her "Como se dice ese?" (how do you say that?) and she said "BEANS." hahahaha! And I said no, in Spanish? hahahah We all got a super good laugh out of that one...FRIJOLES. Word of the day for those of you who may be eating beans for dinner tonight...I know my family usually eats chili on Halloween night, so alright. anyway, I hope you are all doing well!

Missionary work is great. I am loving it out here. Having two companions is sometimes a challenge when teaching lessons, but this is my 2nd time being in a trio. However, we get along well and have fun. So...all in all, I'm super pumped for this week...to teach these families!!

Love you all, thanks for your love and support,

Elder Vawdrey

Monday, October 24, 2011

Coincidences...no way :)

Familia y Amigos,

Oh wow, I hope that through this e-mail you will feel the spirit of missionary work. This week has been amazing! Lots of changes took place, we have had tons of opportunities to help others, and it has just been a BLAST!! Missionary work is... the BOMB!! haha yes! It is so sweet! And if you feel something from this, please share your testimony with others or find a way to continue in the Lord's work. We truly have been given so much and I have found that as I show my love for my Savior by serving others, they have the opportunity to feel God's love and I in return feel of His love in greater abundance. I think I personally have grown a lot this week in my testimony of my love for missionary work. I got a little discouraged my first transfer, but I have realized that through this work, if we know why we're here and make the most of it, we won't be discouraged. So, if there are any of you out there who may feel discouraged, keep pressing on. There is always that light at the end of the tunnel. Your Heavenly Father knows you personally and He loves you mucho. You won't feel that discouragement forever. What I have realized is that I was discouraged the first transfer because I was thinking of myself a lot and that I needed more faith. I realized my weaknesses, but through these, the Lord has made me strong! As I focus on the people here, and serving the Lord, I forget myself, and life is just GOLDEN!

First of all, this week, Elder Jones and I received a surprising phone call from President Kunz saying that we have a new companion. At first I was like...Nooooo! because Elder Jones and I were starting to get things under control and teach well together. Little did I know what a blessing this new Elder would be to us. His name is Elder Thayne (from Spanish Fork, UT). He served a year of his mission in Bolivia, but had to come back to the states because he got super sick out there. His Spanish is awesome, he is an amazing teacher, his desires to serve are great, and he is a Jazz fan!! haha yes!! I have learned so much and we have gotten really close over these past 2 days. Since he has been with us, we have found like 7 new investigators and taught like 5 lessons. (in 2 days--like 6 hours worth of time). He has made our companionship's weaknesses strong. We have found all the answers to our questions here. The 3 of us work really well together and it has just been a BLAST!!!

Just yesterday, we had many miracles happen. First of all, it was Stake Conference and it was SO powerful. President and Sister Kunz came and spoke, along with like 7 other speakers. I was surprised that they had so many speakers but it was amazing. And then after a powerful meeting about missionary work, charity, and choices, our Spanish branch sang the closing hymn "Yo Se Que Vive Mi Senor" (I know that my Redeemer lives). I felt the spirit SO strong. It was so cool as we walked up to the choir seats to go sing. I saw several of the other Spanish Elders in the stake also come up to sing with us. And man was it a powerful song. I felt as if I was in the midst of angels...maybe how it was when we were in Heaven before this life. And probably what it will be like when Christ comes again...singing songs to our Heavenly Father of praise and joy. I felt so happy. All the hispanic kids were even singing (which never happens), and during the last verse, there were random people out in the congregation who stood up and sang where they were standing. Just typing this letter and remembering my feelings is just priceless. Let me just testify that I know this is God's church. Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. And the Savior is coming again. I know this church is true. And through our efforts to find this knowledge is how we can know for ourselves and be prepared for when Christ comes again. It is a daily effort and preparation. Through Sister Kunz, we learned how it's possible... 1) Sincerely spend time with you Heavenly Father daily... 2) Feast upon the scriptures Daily... 3) Teach your family the gospel truths and the importance of prayer and scripture study. None of us are perfect, myself included, and that's why we are here because Heavenly Father still has things in store for us to learn here on earth. But in Him, we must put our faith so that we may be strong.

After church, we taught 3 lessons out of the 4 houses that we knocked. The first guy...when he came out of his house, I had a strong impression of what to say and talk about soccer with him. I felt like I knew his needs. We taught him a 10-minute quick lesson about prayer. It was powerful and he scheduled an appointment with us again this week. Then, we saw a lady outside raking leaves and my companion had a strong impression to talk to her. We went over and it was like every word that came out of our mouths was perfect for what she needed. We got talking about families and she said of I have a son... and he pulled right up in his car right at that moment. We talked to him. Cool kid and he said he wanted to wait to shower because they wanted to hear our message! So cool. But something key...the son just got back from a soccer game...they wasted. haha ok. Then we knocked another house in a completely different area and the guy who answered the door referred us to his neighbor. We walked over there and a 16-year-old kid walked outside. We got talking with him, and come to find out, he is on the same soccer team as the kid we just talked to. It's little things like this where I have been able to see the Lord's hand in His work.

Anyway, life is great here. As the sign on the freeway says: NEBRASKA...THE GOOD LIFE :) hahaha Have a great week everyone. Have a Happy Halloween!! Love you all mucho!

Elder Vawdrey

Monday, October 17, 2011

Here we go...

Hola Familia, Amigos, etc.

Hey!! How are you all? I hope everything is going well!!

It has been a great week here in Sioux City, IA. We have been contacting lots of people and have had lots of opportunities to teach families about the gospel!!

The other day we were walking down a main street here and I saw a guy sitting on his porch at the house just ahead of us..smoking. I felt like we needed to talk to him. As we got closer to his house, I got eye contact with him and asked him how he was doing? He said oh I'm good. I can't even remember what else we talked about, but he talked to us about his family and how he wants to stop smoking. whoa!! nice. This was perfect. We told him that the gospel of Jesus Christ puts a big emphasis on families and that through this message, you will gain the strength and help to overcome your addiction with smoking. He was so excited... that he asked where our church was. He said, I'm coming on Sunday and I'm bringing my son too! haha wow. now that is someone with an open heart. haha anyway, we talked to him more about our message. We gave him a Restoration pamphlet and read him Alma 7:11-13 and he loved it. He took a book of mormon too. so we were pretty excited about him. He was probably one of the nicest guys I have met here in Sioux City, and probably one of the most prepared by the Lord to meet with us.

On Friday Night, he called us and said that he couldn't meet with us again tonight... but he felt super bad. And this Sunday was the Primary Program. Unfortunately we didn't see him at church. We will go stop by again soon. I strongly believe that with him, he wanted to come to church...I see a lot of potential with him. He has a desire to learn more.

Last week, I told you about Edgar and Sandra. We taught them a lesson but Sandra wasn't all for it... she was of the Evangelical belief. We just talked to Edgar last night and pretty much said he doesn't want us to come by again because he is going to that church. He said he believes that our message is good and he thanked us for our time but he said he thinks he should just go to one church. It was really sad for me to hear him say this because I know the joy that he could have. But he has agency, and I can't take that away from him. But the most important thing is that we continue to love them and not neglect them just because they are of another faith. God is a God of love. He loves all no matter who they are, what they have done, or what they believe.

In the mission, we are in a car share with the English Elders. We switch off with the car every week. So every other week we just walk. This is kind of difficult because it is a huge area, but it all works out... and we get a good work out too. Gives us lots of chances to contact people. Contacting people is something I have really liked. Right now, my companion, Elder Jones, and I are really trying to work on asking more "inspired questions." We feel like we have a lot of potential to improve our teaching skills. So, we are going to read the Teaching Skills chapter and practice contacting eachother more.

As for my spanish, hmm.. I have potential in that too :) haha I don't understand everything that people say, but I understand the main points of what they say. and I always share my testimony. I feel like my spanish is at its best when I share my testimony. I'm going to review the grammar with spanish more and continue to talk with hispanics. That is how I have learned the most!

Well, I had a powerful study of the Book of Mormon this week. I know that it is true. It is the foundation of this gospel and I know that it contains the "good news!" I am amazed at the power and the spirit that comes from reading that book. Please read it often. It will guide you in all you do. I know the church is true. This life is real. Jesus Christ will come soon and we are here to prepare for his coming. May we all learn more of him so that we can be more prepared for his coming! I love you all so much. Remember what Heavenly Father thinks of you. Charity endureth FOREVER. Have a wonderful week!

Elder Vawdrey

P.S. Grandpa Vawdrey, I found out that there is a guy here in our spanish branch that was in your ward when you were a bishop. His last name is Zoebel. He told me about how he went with you up to Montana or Wyoming once to pick up your car or something. haha Anyway, I thought that was really funny.

Alyssa Smeda, congratulations on the great news. hope all goes well for you both!

Hermana Brittni Vawdrey!!! Congratulations, you are going to Argentina! You are probably talking to mom and dad on the phone right now. haha TAKE LUCK!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Put your hands in the air!

Familia, Amigos, Individuales, etc. ;D

Hola!! My oh my, it's been a great week. Tons of many great experiences. With the time I have, I will try to explain a few.

Well, this week we have been going through the area book like crazy. Feels like we are digging for a golden nugget...and truly, every person in that book is a golden nugget! haha Actually, better than that, they are a child of God! But, anyway, we have been contacting like crazy and have set up several appointments for this next week. In the meantime, we had several miracles this week and we were able to teach many people about the gospel.

The first big experience was with Edgar y Sandra. We just felt like we should knock on their door. Edgar answered the door and like usual didn't seem super excited about 2 young men in church clothes at his door. Well, we got to know him a bit and introduced ourselves. We also asked him questions like: Are you a very religious person? Why do you think there are so many churches on the earth today? etc. These questions really sparked him. And then I just said: Hey, well you probably think it is a little weird seeing us 2 young men at your door. But neither of us would be here if this message wasn't important or if we didn't know it to be true. He just laughed and then said... Come on in! haha cool!! So we went in, got to know him and his wife a little bit more and pretty soon taught the first lesson. It was a really great experience. I know they felt the spirit because I could see it in their eyes and my heart was pounding. They agreed to be baptized if they come to find it is true through study and prayer. I am really excited for them. The wife is Evangelista so she has some questions still, but that's why we are here. So we will go by soon and see how they're doing.

On Thursday, I was on an exchange with a different Elder because my companion went to some leadership meetings. So I spent the day with Elder Pouni. He is from Tonga and is such a cool guy. But we had an amazing experience. We went to go pick him up and then I drove us back (my first time driving in 4 months :) ) and it was like 7:30pm at this time. We had a GPS so that was sweet but there was so much construction that we had no idea how to go anywhere. haha. I began thinking...Wow, what should we do? We had planned to go see a less-active member tonight but it's already getting dark, we don't know their exact address, I don't know where I am, the family only speaks Spanish and my companion doesn't speak Spanish, I'm tired, and there is more work we can do back at our apartment for future investigators. I told Elder Pauni my thoughts and he said: Do what you think we should do...Let's go do work! After he said this, I thought: We told the stake president we would try to stop by, and that I just need to have faith. Well, I decided that we would go try to find this house. So we did. By the time we got there it was like 8:00pm but we found the house!! They invited us in. Sister Flores is a member but her son is less-active and he is the one we really wanted to see. We had a chance to talk with him (Nefi) for like 5 minutes because he said he was going out with friends. Well it was a great chat. Anyway, we then talked with Sister Flores for a bit and then I shared a quick message in Spanish. And then I was about ready to go, but then she offered to feed us some food. I was like: hmmm, not sure... looked at my companion and he said yeah. haha ok. But, he told me he felt like we needed to stay. Pretty soon, as we were finishing eating, Nefi came back and the spirit was so strong with him! Greatest visit!!! So glad for my companion. Helping me to exercise faith, be patient, and trust in the Lord!

Last night all of our plans fell through... so we thought, Hmm, what should we do? We prayed to know where to go and we felt like we needed to go to a trailer park. So, we went there and then walked around a little bit. We saw a guy outside and went up and talked to him. Once again he didn't seem super excited either, but he changed. At first we explained who we were and I could tell he wasn't super interested because he was looking all around. So we started to ask him some questions. In the end, he accepted a restoration pamphlet and Book of Mormon. He has a wife and daughter and they just moved it. My companion, Elder Jones, shared a powerful testimony and then I also shared my testimony, and once again said that I am here because I know this message to be true and it has brought me so much joy. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't important to me. And then I said: PLEASE read this pamphlet. Please, and pray before doing so because Jesus Christ is coming to the earth again very soon. We need to know which religion is right and it's through studying and prayer that we can receive that answer. As both of us bore testimony, his countenance changed and he looked us both straight in the eye. I know he felt the Spirit and he honestly was more excited about this message than any other investigators I have met. I am really excited for this guy!! Go Luis!

Great experiences. Hope you all have a great week! Thanks for your letters!!

Elder Vawdrey

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Spirit changes lives!

Mi Familia y Amigos,

It has been a great week!

Well, first of all, this week was transfers.  It was a little bittersweet when the transfer call came. I found out that my companion, Elder Rigby, was being transferred. I reflected upon all that my trainer had taught me. I am so grateful for all that I have learned from him. He helped me to know how to teach people, not lessons, and to concentrate on the "one." I will always remember the things he taught me...or as he would say...that the Spirit helped me to learn. We did service pretty much the whole last transfer meaning that I didn't really get to teach any investigators, but I learned a lot just from solely serving others through breaking down good ol' sand bag walls.

The first day with my new companion, Elder Jones, we found out we have a lot in common. Found out he is from Logan, UT and ran cross-country at Logan High. He also worked at Subway. But the thing that stood out to me most the first day with him is that he came to this area to WORK.  I love my new companion and I know that we will have a great transfer!!

We have really studied a lot about past investigators here and we have found lots of people to teach and lots of less-active members. We are really excited and hope that we can make a difference here in bringing the happiness we feel to the people in Sioux City! We taught a man named "Serbin" just the other day and it was really great. We went to his house to teach his father who had been living with him for a short time but when we got there, we found out that his father had already returned to Guatemala. But Serbin was kind of in the background when we taught his father and he wanted to hear what we had to say. So, he asked us a lot of questions. Thanks to Elder Jones, who speaks great Spanish, it was a great visit...haha. My spanish isn't amazing, but I still do all I can to focus on what the investigator says. I feel like I understand what he is saying through the Spirit. I could sense how Serbin was feeling as we taught him the first lesson. I didn't always know exactly everything my companion said when answering his questions, but as I bore my testimony, I saw his eyes light up. He looked me straight in the eye, and I knew that he felt the love of God. The feeling is indescribable. I know he felt the Spirit...and he invited us back over again this week. I can't wait to see him again.

I feel like I got to know him quite a bit. I kinda joked around a bit about how I don't know Spanish super well...and I talked with him quite a bit. Sometimes, not knowing exactly what I said...haha and him too...but I feel a bond with Serbin that no way could be how it is if it hadn't been for the Spirit that touched his heart as we testified of the Book of Mormon.

He still has tons of questions, but I can just already see him as an amazing member in the branch and going to the temple with his wife and daughter.

Then, this weekend was conference...wow, was that amazing or what?? I loved every session. I feel like I enjoy conference more every time I watch it because I understand why it's so important. I don't know what my favorite talk was...they were all amazing. But I hope all of you will watch or read the conference talks if you didn't already and review them again. What was said is the Lord's counsel for us for these next 6 months!!

I watched 1/2 of conference in Spanish with some of the members in my branch. I don't know exactly all that was said when I was listening in Spanish, but I could feel the Spirit. And hey, how about the other Provo temple?!! That will be SO sweet! and even in Wyoming, haha

Anyway, my testimony has grown 10-fold this week. I know that we are all children of God and His love for us is perfect. He will help guide our lives towards His will. I love my Heavenly Father and Savior with all my heart. It is such a privilege to be a missionary right now. I know that the Spirit changes lives. Teaching Serbin the other day wasn't by me or my companion...the things he learned and how he felt was from the Spirit. I know this church is true. Remember to look up!

I love you all, have a wonderful week.

Elder Vawdrey