Dear Any and Everybody who reads this,
So far the mission is great! I will start off with probably the general questions everyone would ask. Currently I am serving in Fruitland Idaho. It is a small town on the Idaho side of Ontario (a city on the border of Oregon and Idaho, but is in Oregon). It used to be filled with fruit orchards of all sorts. Makes sense as the name is Fruitland. There are still orchards but not as many as there used to be. It is pretty random now and people farm all sorts of different things. Mostly it is farmland out here though. Me and my companion live in a members home in a little side apartment over their garage. It is very nice and we enjoy it there. The water smells like sulfur (rotten eggs) every now and again though. It is very nice accommodations. Me and my companion cover 2 wards. The Fruitland 3rd and 4th Wards. About 6 months ago they had a ward split to create the 4th Ward. It has affected everybody and lots of different things have occurred because of that. Good and bad. We are trying to help pick up the bad by reactivating members who may have gone inactive since then. Or maybe new converts who were thrown off by it.
My companion's name is Elder Morse. He is 23 years old and from Washington. He is a convert to the church of 3 years and he has been out almost 6 months. He is my trainer and he is pretty green too. But we are both learning a lot from each other and from the people we meet and teach. He was converted because of friends examples from grade school to high school. The Mormons he knew growing up did not drink or smoke or swear. Because of a hard time in his life he remembered his friends and the lives they lived and the joy it brought them. He could see how their family lives were and he wanted that for himself. Even the Mormons who didn't live their religion he could tell they were Mormon because they still had something different about them. Remember that people are watching. I never thought someone could join mostly because of that. But because of those friends and people he knew, he investigated the church and was baptized.
He was serving in this area for 1 transfer before I got here, but the area didn't seem to start picking up till I got here he said. But we work all day trying to find people to teach. We usually go by referrals of members, or part member families. Lots of the success in these area's are based on not only our efforts as missionaries, but also the effort of the members in the area. In the 4th Ward they just had a ward conference on Hastening the Work. These wards are getting really focused on missionary work and it is great.
A book we teach out of a lot to members specifically is called "The Power of Everyday Missionaries" by Clayton M Christensen. I would suggest this book to everyone who reads this. It is the what and the how of sharing the gospel as a member. It has all sorts of advice on how to make missionary work part of your everyday life. And the best part is that it is so simple. One of the things in the book talks about using Mormon words in conversation as it may every now and again have somebody say" Oh so your a Mormon?" And it opens a conversation about the church. But I really would suggest this book.
While I suggest this book do not let it replace scripture study, especially that of the Book of Mormon. I have seen the power of the Book of Mormon in many peoples lives. And never forget to study it day by day. It can bring protection and power to us in our everyday lives and it is because of it this church has come about. Without the Book of Mormon, there would be no reason for any of this. If I did not know the Book of Mormon to be true for myself I would not be out here serving a mission. I have seen the impact and power it has on peoples lives.
Most importantly do not forget to pray. Over the past month and a half I have grown a lot stronger testimony of prayer. I have seen this in my own actions and things I pray for but more importantly those I serve. We had a lesson this last week in which our investigator was asking about prayer as he had never prayed before and he has been coming to church for 9 months. Elder Morse first prayed to show him a little bit of how we did it. Then I prayed and showed a slightly more personal prayer. And then Glenn (our investigator) asked about praying more for ourselves, how we ask questions to find out things for ourselves. How we pray for help in our own individual lives. We then had the person who had invited us over and Glenn over, whose name is Beax (pronounced like Beau or Bo) pray. And he offered an amazing prayer. He is another person we teach and he was excommunicated. He served a full time mission and is anxious to be re-baptized but has to go through a lot of steps to get there. Mostly with the Stake President and Bishop. He offered a prayer asking for help in his situation and for those things that he needed in his life, for his son and for his recent ex-wife. His prayer invited the spirit so strongly that my companion and him were crying at the end. We then had Glenn pray for those things that he needed. He offered a prayer truly from his heart asking to know what he needed to do, and for comfort in his decisions as hard things would come about from him joining the church. He knows his family is against the church and he needed peace. After the prayer everyone in the room was crying except me, I think mostly just cause I am lame and don't a lot. Then Glenn asked where he should start reading in the Book of Mormon and if just starting at the beginning was okay. We told him that great and that starting from the beginning is exactly how to start. Beax's other friend named Lorren then gave the closing prayer (and she had been out of the room for most of the lesson, but came back in right at the end). Everyone in the room had given a prayer but her. So she gave it. She has been inactive for a while. But she gave an immensely beautiful prayer also. Every one of us five were touched by the spirit. Two missionaries, one excommunicated, one inactive, and one investigator. Truthfully the only reason this came about was because of Beax. Glenn had been coming to church for about 9 months and was having a hard time accepting the missionary discussions. But after our gospel essentials class Beax (who had never met Glenn before today) shared with him the promise in Moroni 10:3-5. He talked about how Moroni was a bona fide warrior. That he would not lie, or challenge someone to do something he had not done for himself. It was amazing. He then invited Glenn to his house for dinner and to have the missionaries over. It is because of Beax that we taught Glenn. We need member missionaries, and it will likely not take that shape or form, but we need them, and the "Power of Everyday Missionaries" is an amazing place to start.
With Love and Need,