Monday, April 29, 2013

23rd Hour, 59th minute, 59th second

Familia y Amigos,
First of all, I want to shout out a Feliz Cumpleanos to my older sister Brittni! I hope you have an amazing day and please know how grateful I am for your friendship, testimony, and example. You deserve a great birthday, so I hope it's a great one to remember!

The warmer weather is finally starting to settle in and I'm pretty excited for it. I pulled out all my short sleeve shirts today and I'm ready for summer. I've already got sunburned, so my face just keeps getting redder! haha I'll probably have to bring out the sunscreen one of these days.

This past week was full of many little miracles once again. I feel like my testimony was strengthened on Tuesday of the saying from Elder Packer and Elder Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve: "The Lord blessed me in the 23rd hour, 59th minute, and 59th second." Elder Wells and I planned to knock part of a trailer park for an hour on Tuesday and that was the day when we didn't have our truck. So we were walking. Well, when we got dropped off at this trailer park by the other Elders, we quickly realized that it was freezing cold outside. We just decided to man up against it and started knocking some doors. Unfortunately, like the first 5 doors, nobody answered. Then, pretty soon some people started answering their doors but just didn't really have any interest in hearing the message or they were leaving to go to work. 

Well, there was ONE more door left in the trailer park to knock. As you can probably guess what happened, we knocked the door and a guy answered the door and before we even said anything he invited us inside his home! We were super excited. We got to know him for a bit and then he had a few questions for us regarding why there are so many churches in the world today? It was awesome. We taught him about the Restoration and he loved it. At the end of the lesson, we asked him if he would offer the closing prayer, and he was like: Yeah, sure! In his prayer, he thanked God that we were able to help him resolve his doubts. I felt so good when I heard that because I knew that it wasn't us that resolved his doubts...only the Spirit can do that. I'm grateful that I can be an instrument in God's hands to help others find answers to their doubts or questions. We arent sure how things will end up with this guy because he has a job with crazy hours, but we are going to try passing by again to see if we can visit with the rest of his family that were home when we visited. If anything, my testimony grew of God's blessings in our lives and that the Spirit is the one that resolves our concerns.

We also were able to meet with a few new families this week so we are hoping that we can continue to meet with some of them this week. Our other investigators are still progressing. The one we were hoping would be baptized soon is working through a few things...significant enough that unfortunately she isn't going to be ready for baptism this next Saturday. But we believe that she will make that decision soon. She knows the church is true and she has felt the Spirit, so we just need to help her remember that and then as she acts on her faith we trust that she will be ready for baptism and soon to enter the temple! We are hoping that she can have a big spiritual experience again this upcoming week!

Oh, we had the opportunity to do exchanges with the Elders in Lexington and that was a blast to go back and to work with the Elders there. We had some good experiences and learned a lot. As time goes on, I realize more and more that as we forget ourselves and just serve others, then we find ourselves. It's easier said than done but the joy that comes from doing missionary work and serving others is priceless.

I hope you all have a great week. Thanks for everything. Love you. I know this is the true church!

Elder Vawdrey

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Power of Fasting

Familia y Amigos,

Buenos Dias! I hope you're all enjoying the spring rain! I love it. And thank you all for your birthday wishes... I had a great birthday yesterday! It's been a fast 21 years.

This past week was another great one. Our investigators are progressing very well. One in particular came to church again yesterday and a member family invited her over for dinner, and us too, this next week, so we are really excited for that and for how the members have fellowshipped her so well. I feel like she is teaching me so much as we are striving to teach her everything about the Gospel. During some of our lessons, her brother or sister sometimes come by and she always asks them if they will come to church with her on Sunday! haha It's super funny. She is a big influence on a lot of people and she will have an even greater influence on them as she continues to come closer to Christ. In one of our visits with her this week, we were reviewing with her once again with how her Book of Mormon study is going and she just keeps reading and reading! It is so cool to see. But after we asked her how she has felt as she reads the Book of Mormon she paused a moment and then said: "I feel that I have received my answer that this is what I have been looking for." The Spirit filled the room and then we had a great lesson with her about the Plan of Salvation. We are so excited for her and hope and pray that she continues to progress.

We also have been working with another lady this past week as well. We have been working with her for a while and her son is giving her a headache. He has been around some bad friends and isn't doing too well, so we decided to do a fast for her son that he would have a humbling experience. Throughout the week, we ate dinner with a few different members and we told them about how our investigators are doing and when we told them that we were going to fast for this dear sister's son, they asked if they could join the fast with us. So several members fasted with us yesterday. I was grateful to see the willingness of the members to help out. This investigator also came to church again yesterday and now we are just going to wait and see what happens, but I trust that God is all powerful and everything will happen as He sees fit. We hope that all goes well!

And as for another miracle, we went with a member to go visit with a recent convert. When we got to her house we noticed her van wasn't there but we went and knocked the door anyway. Unfortunately she didn't answer so we waited just a few minutes for her. We also called her a few times but she never answered. We decided to go visit with a less-active member and once we sat down and were getting to know her a little bit better, there was a knock at the door and guess who walked in? The lady we were looking for AND her family!! haha BOO YA! Got 2 birds with a stone in that one! haha. We ended up reading in Ether 12 with them and had a sweet lesson. And then the less-active member came to church the next day and even brought her step-brother who isn't a member! So we were way pumped.

Then, for my birthday yesterday, we had dinner with a member family and ate some good ol' Cuban food! It was delicious. And then at church we had Branch Conference and the Stake Leaders talked about the importance of self-reliance. We were excited to see a few other less-active members that we have been working with also come to church!

Family, thanks for the birthday package! haha I got a good laugh out of the things you sent me. Brittni, thanks so much for the scripture covers, those are flipping sweet!

We are looking forward to this next week. We need to find some new investigators so we are going to put a big focus on that this week! I hope you all have a great week.

Love you all,
Elder Vawdrey

Monday, April 15, 2013

God Has the Keys!

Familia y Amigos,

Buenas Tardes! This past week was pretty incredible and several amazing things happened. My testimony was strengthened greatly that God hears and answers our prayers and that the Spirit brings us peace.

To start out the week, we had interviews with the Mission President and that was awesome. In my interview we talked a lot about the importance of writing down personal revelations that we receive, so that is something I have been doing more of this past week. He promised me that as I write down what I learn that I will receive more revelation and better know how to help the people in our area. So I was way pumped about that and put it to the test. It has helped me see God's hand more in my life. 

After interviews with the Mission President, we had zone meeting and it was all about the Book of Mormon and Enduring to the End. Our Mission President has been instructing us to read from the Book of Mormon each day and to invite our investigators and members to do the same. I know that this is inspired. We read the Book of Mormon with a less-active family this past week and there was a great spirit there. And I know that the Book of Mormon gives us strength to fight through trials and to endure to the end.

Later this week, we did a church tour with one of our investigators. We had a few members from the branch there as well and it was an amazing experience. We had the members meet us at the church a little bit early so that we could review everything we wanted to do and then we got a bit nervous when our phone rang a few minutes before our appointment and it was our investigator. We were hoping that she wouldn't cancel the appointment and thankfully she was only calling to say that she couldn't find her car keys. haha So we were like "Whew!" Right as we were about to go with the members to pick her up she called us again and said that she found her keys so we got another good laugh out of that. haha 

Anyway, she eventually got to the church. After we introduced her to the members...who she apparently knew before...she seemed to feel really comfortable with them. We soon started out by talking about the Book of Mormon and reviewed the chapter she had read and then we went through the church and explained the pictures that were on the walls and all the classrooms. Before we went into the chapel, we invited her to pay attention to how she feels and that we would give her a minute just to think. Once everyone walked into the chapel, it was quiet...and the spirit was powerful! After about a minute we looked over at our investigator and asked her how she felt and she was in tears. It was incredible the spirit that was in the room! It was so cool. She said that she felt so much peace and that she just can't describe how happy she felt. We then explained how that is the Spirit testifying to her that it's true! And then she said: I will be here on Sunday!! We were SO stoked!!

Okay, but that's not everything. We wanted to show her the baptismal font as well but the doors were locked to get to the font. Before we went to the font, I snuck away to unlock the doors but none of the keys worked. I then said a quick prayer that Heavenly Father would open the door if possible and that if I missed the right key to unlock the door that he would help me to find it so we could show her the font. Right after the prayer, I grabbed the first key on the keyring to unlock the door and it worked! So I then said a prayer of gratitude. But then, I realized I had to go through another door that appeared to be locked to get to the baptismal font. haha So once again I said a quick prayer and asked for help and the door opened. I then said another gratitude prayer. I know that the Lord had His hand in all of this because after the tour I went to lock the doors and none of the keys we had would work.
I have a testimony that God answers our prayers and I'm grateful that He answered mine at that time so that we could show her the baptismal font. This sweet investigator then came to church on Sunday and had a great time. She is planning on getting baptized the first weekend in May!

I hope you all have had a great week. Love you all.

Elder Vawdrey

Monday, April 8, 2013

General Conference!

Familia y Amigos,

Once again General Conference was awesome! I hope you all were able to watch it and that you had a great weekend. Elder Wells and I watched each session in Spanish and it was cool for me to notice the difference of how much I understood compared to the first time I listened to it in Spanish over a year ago. And even though I didn't understand everything, I feel like I got the main points of the talks and still felt the spirit. So we are just trusting that the Lord gave us the answers that we needed. It makes me glad that God speaks to all of us in the same language: The Holy Ghost. So, no matter what language you speak, you can always feel the spirit.

This week, we went and had dinner with a part-member family and for a long time they have been telling us that they wanted to cook us frog. haha Well, this time they did. I was pretty nervous to try it, but it actually didn't taste too bad! I actually liked it. It made the father of the home really happy! And we were excited about that because he is the non-member of the family. And after dinner we shared a message about the importance of prophets and then he came to a session of conference. So we are excited about him. He is from Cuba, and he talks super fast. It gives me a headache sometimes trying to understand him. But we are in the process of teaching him and we are planning on having dinner with his family at another member's house. So we will see how that goes this week.

We also met with a lady who I guess was taught by missionaries several years ago. She had a lot of questions about our beliefs and why there are so many churches. She told us that she has met with Jehovah's Witnesses a few times but doesn't feel that their doctrine is true. She has also gone to other churches for different religions but she told us that she still hasn't felt like they are the ones for her to join. We were super pumped when we heard all of her questions and we taught her the Restoration. It went really well and then we invited her to come to a session of conference and she came! The only down fall was that there was only 1 member family there at the church for the session that she went to. From the looks of it right now, she will have a concern of joining a church with a small congregation, but if the Spirit touches her enough, I don't believe that will matter. We are gonna go see her again tonight!

And then, we visited with another family last night. They were a recently married couple with 2 kids and then a grandma was also there. We felt like the visit went really well there too, but we think the grandma will be the hold up there and it might be tough to have frequent lessons. So we are going to try and focus on them a lot this next week.

We also did exchanges in a city called York. And I swear that town is full of old people. haha We had some cool experiences there though. We prayed in the morning for opportunities of service and we noticed several opportunities during the day. We saw an older couple raking the leaves in their yard and we offered to help but they said no and said "We don't want you to get your clothes dirty." I was like "No, it's no problem, that's why we're here." Well, I saw an extra rake leaning against their house, so we went and grabbed it and started helped them out. By the end, we were able to introduce ourselves and talk about Christ. It was really cool and they said: I didn't know you guys did stuff like that.

It's pretty interesting to hear about what people don't know, or misinterpret, about the church. But I'm so grateful to serve as a full-time missionary for my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that as we go about doing good by serving others, hearts are touched. I know we have a loving Heavenly Father who answers our prayers. He has a perfect plan of happiness for us if we will just submit ourselves to His will. I know the church is true!

Have a great week everyone!

Elder Vawdrey

Zone Leader Conference

Monday, April 1, 2013

He knows our desires!

Familia y Amigos,
Happy April Fool's Day! The weather has been warming up a lot and a lot of people are outside. It's really exciting. Also, I want to say thanks to my older sister Brittni for her great example and I hope you adjust well to the real world. ha

This past week, Elder Wells and I had a really cool experience. We were looking at our list of investigators and potentials and at the moment none of them had a date planned for their baptism. Elder Wells and I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to help us know who to focus on and who is ready to make covenants with him. We originally hadn't thought about this one person in particular. He's from Nicaragua and his wife is from Cuba. We had an appointment set up with him that day and we felt like he was the one. So when we visited him, we talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, explained the purpose and importance of baptism, and then he said he wanted to be baptized. It was really cool how it all just worked out and that the Lord blessed us to think of him.

Later on in the week, we had planned to eat dinner with a member but she was single so we needed to bring another guy with us. We decided to call a less-active man to come with us and he agreed. When we got to the member's home for dinner, they didn't answer and we soon found out that they had to go to the doctor for her daughter. We felt bad for this less-active member who agreed to come with us and then the appointment cancelled...but he surprised me at his first response when we found out the members weren't going to be able to feed us. He said: "You guys wanna go to Subway?" We said yes and then without us realizing it, he paid for our food. I was really grateful for this guy. I'm grateful for his good heart. We, in return, shared with him an Easter message and had a great visit.

Then, we had several little service opportunities during the week, such as: Helping some cubans move an entertainment center, helping people fix their fuses in their homes, etc. I'm grateful for these opportunites to serve other people and to share my testimony with them. I love being able to share my testimony daily, because it is strengthened as I share it.

I'm grateful for each of you and the times when you've been an "angel" in my life and also in the lives of others. Every little act makes a difference.Hearts are touched. I hope you all have a great week. Thanks for your love and support.

Elder Vawdrey