Monday, January 28, 2013

Passing through Lexington!

Familia y Amigos

This week we were outside of our area a lot. We went on exchanges with 3 different companionships and worked in their areas. I really enjoyed going back to Lexington and working with the Elders there. It was fun to see several of the people that they are teaching that I use to help teach. It was cool to see Elder Harker there with his new companion as well and to see that things are going well for them!

On Monday this past week we did a Family Home Evening with a recent convert and his family and it was awesome. When we got there, we were a bit surprised because his daughter said that she had a lesson prepared. So she taught us all about tithing and she helped me find a sweet scripture in the Book of Mormon that talks about tithing, so that was sweet. And then after her lesson, we watched "The Restoration" movie with them. I love that movie. It is super powerful and makes me appreciate Joseph Smith more and more each time I watch it. But we are really excited about our investigator. He reads from his scriptures every day and we get text messages from him often asking questions about the Gospel.

But it amazes me how even though we were out of our area for several days this week, the Lord still helped us to have success in our area. It was great to see a handful of our investigators at church even though we weren't able to have a sit down visit with them this last week. Then, probably my favorite part of this week was to see 8 hispanic priesthood holders in Priesthood class on Sunday. Usually it's only like 4 or 5...but this week a few less-active men came and that was so cool to see. We kind of had to drag one guy to church, but he wanted to come and he seemed to have a good time so hopefully he comes back again next week! He told us to knock on his window Sunday morning to make sure he was awake. We did that and then pretty soon he came out with a thumbs up and said he was awake. haha. But then we were 1/2 way through the first hour of church and he still didn't show up, so we went and passed by his house again, and he had fallen back asleep. haha But he woke up, got ready and then came to church, so we were way excited!

It has been a good week. I hope you all can say the same and I hope you all have a great upcoming week! Thanks for all your love and support.

Elder Vawdrey

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Inspired Cat!

Familia y Amigos,

Hello once again! This last week was really busy for us and really good. We have seen several miracles happen each day and it just amazes me.

On Tuesday, we had interviews with the Mission President and then afterwards we had zone meeting. It was a very spirit-filled day. As Elders were going in and out of interviews with the Mission President, Elder Morgan and I had the opportunity to meet with each companionship in the zone and talk to them about their areas and about how things are going. It was really cool to get to know the Elders better and hear of the great things happening in their areas, seeing their desires to help others, and also to hear of the trials they're facing in their areas. And it was great to be interviewed by President Weston too. He told me: "You are in the right place at the right time." I do feel that this is where the Lord wants me. I'm grateful to be here in Grand Island and I'm loving my time here.

In our zone meeting, we gave trainings about how to teach with convincing power... and really it all comes from two things: 1) The Spirit (which is gained through Obedience)  and 2) The Word (which is gained through studies). We focused our trainings on #2 and as I have applied what we taught, I have seen a great change in our power as we teach and in my love for others. Probably the greatest conclusion that came out of the meeting was that we can teach with convincing power as we study with the intent to help others! True revelation is received when studying on behalf of others. I love the scripture in D&C 63: 9-12. We talked about how as missionaries we see this potential of who we can become and we want it so bad. Sometimes we feel like we are doing all that we possibly can to reach it, but it just doesn't happen. And what I have come to realize is that the reason why it doesn't happen is because our desire is for ourselves. We are demanding spiritual gifts for our own benefit...to gain the praise of men. God doesn't give men the Priesthood to give themselves blessings. Therefore, God won't give us any gift if our intent is just to glory in ourselves. For example: Joseph Smith getting the plates. God wouldn't give him the plates until his intentions were to glorify God, not to get rich and show off to other men of the brass plates.

Elder Morgan trained about how in life: hope is the destination; faith is the power that moves us towards the destination; and charity is the motivation. But, if charity isn't our motivation (for the benefit of others) then we won't be able to reach our hope. I think this takes a lifetime to understand and apply, and even then we won't understand it all. But, I'm trying to understand it better each day.

And real quick, as for a quick miracle that just happened yesterday. After church we went to go stop by a less-active member's house, and when we knocked nobody answered the door. When we got back to our car, we were trying to get warm for a second as we were figuring out who to see next, and then I saw a kid at the neighbor's house peek his head above a bush and looked right at us. At first I was like what the? haha and then I realized, he looked just like one of the kids that lives at the house we just knocked. When we watched this little kid for a bit longer, we realized he and his little sister were trying to catch their cat. haha. So we got out of the car and tried to help them catch their cat. After a while of chasing it down, cornering it, and it running through our legs a few times, we finally got it. haha. And because of that cat, we were able to talk to these kids and they told us that their family was going to come to church but slept in and didn't want to show up late. Then, he told us that they would be home on Tuesday at 3:30 so we are going to go back then and see them. So, we are grateful for that inspired cat that led us to those kids so we could schedule an appointment with this less-active family.

The work is going well here. We have been blessed with a lot of people to see and some members brought a non-member family to church yesterday. And they're Cuban! haha But, a big problem we are facing right now with our investigators is that like 5 different families we are teaching all need their parents to get married. So if you wish, so you can keep that in your prayers!

I hope you all have a wonderful week. Thanks so much for your love and support!

Elder Vawdrey

Monday, January 14, 2013

God is good to us!

Familia y Amigos,

Another week has gone by that was full of miracles. The phrase "God is good to us" has come to mind several times this past week. It has been great to serve with Elder Morgan, the other Elders who live with us, and those we are teaching.

Fortunately, we were able to see the fruits of the labors from the Elders before us. I'm grateful for their hard work and because of it, Elder Morgan and I have been able to see the results of all that they've done. It has reminded me that this work isn't about me. And I don't change people. Change is a result of the Spirit over a period of time.

There were two individuals that were baptized this past weekend. The first was a single mom with a handful of kids and we knew that her heart was in the right place when last week she decided to walk to church since her car wouldn't start. She lives more than a mile away from the church and it was freezing cold outside. That was evidence to me that she has great faith.

And then another guy got baptized. His wife and 2 kids were already members of the Church and so it was so cool to see him be baptized so that their family can now be an eternal family. It's actually a pretty crazy story with him. So, he apparently has been going to church off and on for the past 3 years and missionaries would teach him, but when Elder Morgan and his previous companion went to teach him, they invited him to be baptized and he said: "Oh. I didn't know I could get baptized. The other Elders never invited me to get baptized." So Elder Morgan and his previous companion were like "What?" haha so after making sure he was all good to go, he got baptized. But anyway, he has a solid testimony. And both [converts] are planning on going to the temple for the first time in two weeks! It is such a privilege to be a part of this work.

Also at church yesterday we had a new family move into the branch and they have just SUPER solid testimonies of the Gospel. The husband walked right up to the Branch President and said "Hey, I am here to serve, you just let me know how I can help." I was amazed when I saw this and it made me so excited. It reminded me of a scripture. I believe Christ said it to Heavenly Father: "Behold, Here am I, send me." I feel as if I want to say the same. I hope the Lord trusts me to do whatever He wants me to do.

I spoke in church on Sunday in Spanish for the first time and I felt like it went really well. I just hope somebody got something out of it. I know I did as I was preparing for it.

After church, and the baptisms, Elder Morgan and I were super starving. It was like 4:30pm and we hadn't eaten lunch yet. The church is several miles away from where we live and the people we wanted to see all lived near the church. We decided that we would sacrifice a little more hunger so that we could visit a few more people. That's when we visited with P and G, and the first thing they asked us when they invited us in was, "Have you eaten yet?" We told them no and then they fed us. Elder Morgan leaned over to me and said: "God is good to us!" About 30 seconds later, P was talking about how the Lord blessed their family with a lot of food and then he said word for word "God is good to us!"

It is true. I feel as if I have really learned this since I've come to Grand Island. I'm grateful for those who want to serve others and that through them we can feel God's love. and then right after that visit, we went to another investigator family's home and they fed us a huge plate of food...Ah, too much good. haha

And there were several other miracles that happened this past week. I hope that you can all look back and try to find a miracle that the Lord gave you. The more we do it, the easier it is to see. Have a great week. Thanks for all your love and support.

Elder Vawdrey

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Work is hastening!

Familia y Amigos,

Hello once again! I'm still trying to adjust a bit from coming here from Lexington, but wow, I feel like I'm where the Lord wants me. I LOVE this place. Grand Island is AWESOME. I am serving with Elder Trevor Morgan, (from American Fork, UT)! He was a year older than me in High School and we didn't know each other before, but we knew each others friends and we have a lot in common. And he has a strong testimony and is a great example to me of humility, so I am really looking forward to serving with him for at least several more weeks.

Meet Elder Morgan!
(I've got a Jolly Rancher in my mouth so my cheek looks huge! Ha!)

Elder Morgan's previous companion left a bunch of ties for me!
We are in a Spanish branch and this place reminds me a lot of my 1st area...Sioux City, IA. The members here are incredible! We live in the basement with the branch president, so that makes it nice if we ever need to communicate with him. But yesterday at church, the guy who taught Priesthood was going to teach about the talk from Elder Russell M Nelson that talks about "If you have any questions, ask the missionaries." Well, he decided to teach something a little bit different...about how the members can help the missionaries. haha Elder Morgan and I were like "Wow!" He talked about feeding us like every day, which was cool, but the other part that we were the most excited about was when he said that we need to give the missionaries referrals!! We were like "Nice!" And then last night, this guy that taught the class invited us over for a dessert and they had a family join us as well that aren't members of the church. We got their contact information and they want us to come by again this week! So we were super pumped about that!

The work is going really great here. Elder Morgan and his previous companion really worked hard by the Spirit and are seeing a lot of fruit from their labors, so it's my hope that I can help continue that in some way. Ah, there is so much I could tell you about. This week was just full of miracles, right and left.

I'll just mention one... We went on exchanges with some Elders in Hastings, Nebraska and they had a hispanic family that they wanted us to contact. So I went with another Elder to go see them and they were probably the MOST SOLID hispanic family that I have ever taught on my mission. They were totally prepared to hear the Gospel and that pumped me up so much because this happened just my second day here. We taught this family about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and at the end of the lesson, both of the parents said that they felt so peaceful and they believe everything that we taught. They accepted the invitation to be baptized and then they travelled 20+ miles to church on Sunday! That was so amazing for me to see their love for the Lord and desire to follow Him. The sad news is that they actually are moving to Virginia today. haha So we are hoping that the missionaries out there jump on this referral quick and can help this family towards receiving the Holy Ghost!!

And then there will be two baptismal services this next weekend so that's really exciting. We just need to keep the work going and keep finding new investigators.

I'm grateful for the little miracles that the Lord gives us each day. I know that they happen. We just need to look for them.
This next week is going to be super crazy. Lots of things to do...one of which is I have been asked to give a talk in church this Sunday, and if I remember right, this is actually my first time giving a talk in Spanish... because all of my other areas has been mainly English members, so I'm hoping that that goes well! haha

But I'm grateful to know that we don't have to be perfect, that we have a Savior that has prepared the way for us to be happy in this life and in the next for eternity. I learned the other day that we can receive the Savior's help and peace as we have a broken heart and contrite spirit. So I hope that I can do that so that I can do this work how the Lord wants me to and to overcome my weaknesses so that I can help others more.

I hope that you all had a great New Years! I love you all and thanks for all of your support! Have a great week!

Elder Vawdrey

Last moments with Elder Harker

Thursday, January 3, 2013

It's a New Year!!

Familia y Amigos,

I wish you a late Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! Sorry, I don't think I sent out a letter last week. There was so much going on, and our P-day was on Christmas Eve and the libraries were closed. But I hope that you all have enjoyed these past few holidays and have a vision for another great year! I still need to set my new year resolutions. haha. We had a great Christmas and New Years here in Lexington. It was great to talk with my family and I am so grateful for the opportunity to do that through Skype. Thanks family and friends for all you do and your great examples...it means so much to me. I wanna give a little shout out to one of my best buddies, Jeff Nelson! I'm proud to call you my friend. I hope you had a great mission. I heard your talk was amazing. I hope that you are doing well, that you adjust back to normal life, and that you continually feel of God's love. Thanks so much for your great example.

This e-mail is going to be a hard one for me because I'm pretty much in shock right now and surprised at the confidence the Lord has in me. I feel that He has more confidence in me than I do and for that I am so grateful. Tomorrow is transfer day and I've been called to serve in Grand Island, Nebraska with Elder Morgan (FROM AMERICAN FORK) as a Zone Leader. I'm so pumped to serve with Elder Morgan but I am feeling very inadequate. I'm not sure why the Lord wants me to serve there, but I will do my best to serve the best I can and strive to overcome my personal weaknesses so that I can serve Him with all my heart. I am going to miss Elder Harker and all the people here in Lexington. I served for 6 months here and feel that the Lord has taught me a lot. It hurts to say good-bye but I know it won't be forever. I hope that our investigators and the members here continue to Endure to the End and trust in the Lord. And I hope that they all gained something through me and that they will know that I feel privileged to have served with them.

We received many blessings once again this week. We were able to meet and teach a lady named K. She is friends with several members here and we met her at the birthday party of one of the members here. We got to know her a little bit and then asked if we could stop by sometime and share a message about Jesus Christ. She accepted the invitation and we have already seen her a few times and she has been reading the Book of Mormon!

And then, just last night we got a referral from a member serving in Omaha, and as for referrals, we are asked to contact them within 24 hours. We weren't quite sure what to do with this referral because she lives like 30 minutes away and there was no phone number. We thought about going but then we were thinking...ah, but what if there is no guy there (we can't teach single girls without another male there). Well, we prayed asking the Lord that if it was right in His eyes, that we could go there, find her home, and be able to teach her. Well, we drove 30 minutes out to her house and we knocked on the door and she answered it right away. Her name is J and she invited us right in since her boyfriend was over. So we were like: WOW, this rocks!! And then they even fed us turkey soup!! haha double bendiciones!! We got to know them well and then shared a message about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We feel it went really well and Jamie said that she wants to come to church! nice!

So there are many more blessings that I could share but once again time isn't sufficient. But I hope that you all can set some good new year's resolutions. And I hope that we can all feel of God's love. And, congrats to Cade Hill who will soon be coming to Nebraska speaking spanish!! Que bueno! Have a great week. And thanks to each of you for all your love and support!

Elder Vawdrey

PS: I failed to say thanks to all those who have been so kind and considerate who have contributed financially to my mission. You're in my prayers. Thanks so much!!