Monday, October 29, 2012

The Harvest

Buenos dias Familia y Amigos,

How are y'all doin? I hope you all have some sweet Halloween costumes or at least plans to do something fun on Wednesday!

This past week was AMAZING. I have been able to see several miracles each day and it has been so cool. Things have just been all working out lately and people are progressing!

First of all, Elder Harker and I decided that we would go through and contact all the people on our ward list that we haven't met. As we were going around contacting them, there was one lady that we went to go try. As we were walking up to her house, she was just coming back from checking her mail accross the street. We got talking to her and she soon told us that she actually wants to start coming back to church but she just doesn't have a ride. Elder Harker and I were both like "Wow!" So a few days later we were able to visit her with some members and then she came to church on Sunday, which was actually 45 minutes away because it was stake conference. So that was way cool. That strengthened my testimony that the Lord is always preparing people for us. He puts us in the right place at the right time. And we have had several experiences like this this past week.

Also, in the past, I have mentioned how we have visited with F and M. Well, we thought that we should go see them this week. So, we went to see them and we had a good talk with them about the Plan of Salvation. They told us that they wanted to start coming to church and we were both way pumped! Then they invited us to eat lunch with them. And to make a long story short, they were former investigators and haven't been to church in probably a year. And they also ended up coming to stake conference as well. We were way excited to see their commitment to come to church...even though it was stake conference, 45 minutes away! They have been able to overcome several health issues that was stopping their progression, but they are doing well now and are showing greater interest in the church!

As for stake conference, we were asked to help translate the meeting into Spanish. I was like, "Oh boy!" I was a bit nervous at first but right before it was my turn to translate, the thought came to my head, "You don't have to be perfect. Don't worry about it if you don't get it all right. God doesn't expect me to speak Spanish perfectly right now." And it turned out to go way good and now I want to translate again!

Translating Stake Conference!

 And one of the main messages in stake conference was about the blessings that come from the temple. We are able to feel of God's love in great abundance at the temple, inside and outside of the temple. So I encourage you all to make plans to go to the temple. Great blessings are in store by doing so.

Other than that, we were also able to find a sweet hispanic family. We met with them and had a great visit about the Restoration. They were super pumped to hear the message and they have a lot of questions that have to do with the Plan of Salvation...so we are excited to go see them again and hope to help them find answers to all of their questions.

It has been an amazing week as for seeing others progress in the Gospel. The Lord's hand is in our lives. I have come to really realize that this week. God loves us and His arms are always extended towards us. As we turn to Him, He is bound to bless us.

Have a great Halloween and a great rest of the week. I love you all.

Elder Vawdrey

Monday, October 22, 2012

What goes around, comes around

Familia y Amigos,

Good morning! I hope it has been a great week for each of you. This past week was actually a tough one for me, but last night we experienced a miracle.

Yesterday, we called a member of our ward asking if he would like to go on team-ups with us and he informed us that he actually wouldn't be able to make it, but he then invited us to come over to his house for dinner last night. He told us that his sister would be there for dinner as well, but that she is pretty against the church. He said, you are welcome to come over and eat with us and if you bring the Spirit with you, then maybe you can touch my sister's heart a little bit! That statement opened my eyes a little bit and helped me better realize that we aren't the teachers, the Spirit is the real teacher. So anyway, we went over to his house and once we walked in the front door, his sister was there to greet us and she didn't seem uncomfortable at all.

To make a long story short, it was a very comfortable visit and the food was amazing. He cooked up some good old roast, potatoes, salad, peach cobbler, etc. But as we ate dinner, the member and his sister were talking about all of their fun childhood memories together, and my heart was filled with gratitude as I heard them talk about that because my mind was taken to the great times I had before my mission with my older sister Brittni.

Hermana Brittni Vawdrey

 I thought about what a great blessing it has been for me to have a true friend like my sister. I don't know if that means that I was homesick for a second.. haha but I do know that thinking of the great example Brittni is to me brought me a feeling of great gratitude. So I want to say a quick thanks to Brittni and I'm grateful for your great example to me.

Well, this great experience keeps going...after we finished dinner the member asked my companion and me, "Hey, do you guys want a tie?" haha And man does he know us well!! We were like, boo ya!! Next thing we knew, he came back up to us offering us a tie!! I was so stoked because I was actually wanting a new tie! haha The Lord knows our desires. But anyway, after we got the tie, I was waiting for a good time to step in and ask if we could share a message...well the member soon asked us if we would share a message and so I was stoked. My heart was full of gratitude and I felt like I needed to talk about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I opened up to Alma 7:11-13 and before reading it, we invited everyone there to think about how they have seen God's blessings in their lives. As I read it, I choked up a little bit. If you're not familiar with these verses, I encourage you to read them...it talks all about what Christ did for us. After I read these scriptures, we asked each person about how they've seen God's blessings in their lives. When, we got to the sister, the first thing she said was: "That was interesting that you shared that and asked me that question, because last night, I had a dream..."

At this point, I was stoked because if ever you hear someone say that, you know its gonna be good. Anyway, she said that she has recently been thinking about how she feels her life is really hard and there isn't much good around her, but then she had a dream the other night and in that dream, God was showing her many of the blessings that he has given her in her life and the blessings he has given her right now. She then shared how she feels so much gratitude for the many blessings that she has because she has many. We then talked for a little while longer about blessings. But anyway, the Spirit was really strong. And I hope that we were able to plant a seed in this sister's heart about God's love, and that this church is true. It will be interesting to see if anything more comes of this visit with them here in the soon future!

And a analogy that the member told us at dinner was about a little pebble. If you throw a pebble in the middle of an ocean, it creates a wave that goes in all directions and goes on forever. He related that to how every good act we do has an influence that goes on forever. The good act this brother showed us by inviting us over for dinner and giving us a tie is something that went a long way for me and is something I will never forget. I know that when we do good things, we often don't immediately see the blessings that come from them, but they will make a difference. I'm sure of it! And I hope that I can be better and do more good acts of service so that I can help lighten one another's burdens.

I just want to thank you all for the good acts you do each day and for the influence that you have had and continue to have on my life. I love each of you and hope that you all have a great week!

Elder Vawdrey

Monday, October 15, 2012

Seeing another smile is priceless

Familia y Amigos,

Buenos Dias!! I hope you've all had a great week. It seems like I just e-mailed you yesterday, but even since last Wednesday, we have seen several miracles here and have received many blessings. Elder Harker and I have been getting along really well and he got me started running again. haha The last time I went running was with him in Omaha. So, it feels good to go running again in the mornings. It's starting to cool down a lot but that hasn't stopped us. We might go running one of these days with one of our investigators who we saw out running the other day.

Elder Harker y yo

Anyway, Elder Harker's first day here, we drove out to Holdrege and met with V and H at the Holdrege church and met the branch president there. We talked about the Plan of Salvation and it was awesome. We focused on the Atonement of Jesus Christ and as we were teaching, I remembered a video from lds.org by Elder Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It's called "The Will of God."

It's a video about this bush, and this bush grows these long branches and gets really tall. Well, the Gardner of the garden saw this bush and cut it all the way down to the roots. Afterwards, the Gardner looked down at the roots of this bush and thought he saw a tear and as if the bush was saying to him, "Gardner, how could you do this to me? I was big and tall and now all the other bushes and trees in this garden will look down at me." Then, the Gardner said to the bush, "Look, I'm the Gardner here, and I know who I want you to be. I want you to be the most beautiful bush in this garden and bring forth great fruit." And overtime, as the bush was patient, it became very fruitful and was a beautiful bush in the garden. At the end, the bush said: "Thank you Gardner for loving me enough to cut me down." I shared this story with V and H and I felt the Spirit really strong and really felt the love that God has for us. Sometimes we may wonder why we go through the hard times that we do, but if we are patient with the Lord, we will soon realize that God knows who we want to become and who He wants us to become and He is our Gardner. And, if we are patient, everything will work out for our good, and we will all end up like this beautiful bush in the garden! I love that video.

Then, this week we have been able to do a lot of service for members in our ward. And as we've done that, we've seen a lot of miracles. I feel like the members are really gaining trust in us and that is so exciting to see! We went and did service for an older man in our ward and helping him clear up his electric fence by cutting down several trees. It was sweet to use a chainsaw, but I'm feeling it in my back now. haha But anyway, this old guy was really grateful for our service to him...and in the process we were able to cut some firewood for another guy in the branch.

On Sunday, after our missionary correlation meeting with our ward mission leader, we noticed that Bro. McNeal's trailer was out front of the church doors full of chairs and tables from the ward activity we had the night before. Bro. McNeal was in meetings at the time and church was going to begin in like 45 minutes...so we just decided to go put all the chairs and tables away. After church, Bro. McNeal came up to us and said, "Thanks so much Elders, you have no idea how much that meant to me. That made my day!" At that moment, I felt the true joy that comes from serving others. I feel like I'm realizing that there are opportunities like this everywhere you go if you just look for them. And like Elder Ballard said about the honeybees, your individual efforts might not seem like much, but they do make a difference. I love knowing that I was able to lighten another's load and to see another person smile. I hope to do that more. And I challenge each of you to strive to do the same. Service...it's a great way to feel the love of our Heavenly Father.

I hope you all have a great week! Thanks for your love and support. I love you all very much. And congrats to all those of you who have recently received your mission calls or engagements. I wish you all the best.

Elder Vawdrey

We ran into someone with two zebras in their backyard.
Had to get a picture! :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Staying in Lex...

Familia y Amigos,

Good morning! I hope you have all had an amazing week. I just realized that the date tomorrow is 10-11-12. Man, that is so sweet! haha But anyway, we got a call from our Mission President this morning about transfers and I found out that I will be staying here in Lexington once again! I was kinda surprised but I'm excited that I will stay here and to know that the Lord still needs me here for a while! I'm excited to better work with the members and hope to help and serve a lot of people for the rest of my time. And crazy news, I will actually be getting a new companion. I'm sad to see Elder Boyer go but he will do great in his next area, Storm Lake, IA.

My new companion will be Elder Harker! He is from Oregon and ran cross-country in high school. He is way excited to come to Lexington...he has served in only one area so far on his mission and it was for 5 transfers. haha I've met and worked with him before in past areas and he seems like a great kid. Pretty sure we will have a lot of fun together and learn a lot! So it will be another great transfer!

As for this past week a lot has been going on, but I just realized, I just started a new planner and I can't remember all the way back to last Monday of everything that has happened so I will try to remember what has happened.

This week we went to go see one of our investigators, and his 4 year old son let us inside. Unfortunately, he was busy, but he lives with a bunch of extended family and so we were able to talk with a bunch of his relatives. We met one kid, A. He is 20 and is just working in Lexington and getting ready to go back to school in a few months. We got to know him pretty well and he asked a lot of questions about what we do as missionaries because he said that he sees us all over the place. haha So we got talking with him a lot and answered a lot of his questions and he seems really interested in learning more about what we teach, so we are way pumped to work with this kid. He reminds me of a former investigator I taught back in Columbus, NE...so I'm really excited to work with him.

Then, as for V and H, they were both able to watch a few sessions of general conference and they LOVED it! We were stoked! We asked them what their favorite talks were and they would've give us a specific answer because they said they just loved the whole thing. Perfecto! But anyway, we are going to go see them tomorrow so we are excited for that as well.

And as for General Conference, I loved it! All the questions I wanted answers to were all answered and man, I'm just pumped right now! I'm grateful for present day apostles and prophets that live Christ-like lives and can help us know how to do the same. How exciting--the news about how 18 year old boys and 19 year old girls can now go out and serve missions. That is so great! Those lucky kids will be able to experience the blessings from serving a mission a year early. And because of that, I'm sure there will be a ton more missionaries in the world!!

This is how I felt about President Monson's missionary age announcement!

But, maybe really quick I will share something I loved from General Conference. I noticed how one topic that was talked about a lot was of Gratitude and enjoying the now. I especially loved Elder M. Russell Ballards talk about the honeybees and how the diligent work of thousands of bees brought great results...a cup full of honey!! haha It's comforting to know that every little act of charity makes a difference. I can testify that it has made a difference in my life when I receive acts of charity from others and I hope to do that more for others. We truly are a blessed people and have so much to be grateful for! I have made changes to be a more grateful person and it seriously has changed my outlook on things 100-fold.

And so I hope that each of you were able to watch General Conference and are applying the things you learned! The applying is usually the hard part, but we need to because the blessings are so great! I hope you all have a wonderful week, and a great 10-11-12! Thanks for all your love and support. I love each of you!

Elder Boyer and I visited our bishop's hog farm on P-Day

This hog farm is ranked #1 in the world!
That's how they roll here in Nebraska!

Elder Vawdrey

P.S. Corey Jackson, I hear that you sent me a package and I still have yet to get it, but I should get it tomorrow! I am flipping stoked to get it. I'm so far out in Nebraska that it hasn't gotten to me. haha But thanks so much. And I hope life is going great for you and that you are enjoying school! Love you bro!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Humility from children

Familia y Amigos,
Buenos Dias again and happy 1st day of October. Wow, I can't believe we are already into another month. Dang, time flies way too fast.
This week was kind of unusual compared to past weeks. We were able to visit with several less-active members and recent converts. But Elder Boyer and I have been trying to do better at working more effectively. We have been working with several people in the past that we only would visit like once a week and we realized that that isn't effective, so we have been making changes and seeing less people more often and it has been sweet. So I have been learning about the blessings that come from simplifying and I have greater concern and love for the people we teach because of it.
Anyway, we had one visit in particular that I really enjoyed this week. We had dinner with a less-active family and afterwards we watched "The Restoration" with them. It was really cool to see the enthusiasm of the kids as they shared what they liked and learned from the movie. We had a good lesson about the importance and blessings that come from prayer and that thanks to Joseph Smith, the true church has been restored on earth once again today! Prayer truly can change the night to day. And one thing in "The Restoration" that stood out to me this time is that the movie starts out by showing a little tiny plant in the ground and then at the end of the movie it shows that little plant again along with the big tree the plant became. It got me thinking about how change and growth is usually slow and occurs over time. Sometimes we want change really fast but that's not always how it works unfortunately...so I find comfort in knowing that we learn and grow little by little.
Then, on Sunday, it was the Primary Program for our ward. haha oh man... that's always a week full of laughs and the spirit. But I loved seeing the enthusiasm of the kids as they sang simple and true songs. There was one little girl at one point that sang a solo to the song: "I like to look for rainbows, whenever there is rain. And ponder on the beauty of the earth right after rain..." It was way awesome! So it was a great Sunday, and next weekend will be just as good with General Conference! I'm way excited.
And also, we are working with an investigator named V. He actually lives in a little town like 30 minutes away from us and he has been to church a few weeks in a row now. We are going to go do service for him tonight and then have a visit with him on Tuesday. So we are excited for him. I will keep you updated on him next week.
But I hope you all have another great week and that you can make time to watch conference!
Thank you all for your love a support!
Elder Vawdrey