Celestial Week 9/19/15
I was trying to think of what to title this e-mail, there were so many amazing things that happened this week that Celestial seems like a good word to describe it. The highlights of the week go as follows: Mariah Shocknesse was baptized, we had Elder Wilford W. Andersen came to our mission, and campus is picking up and starting to catch fire! Another event was transfer calls, but I wouldn't necessarily consider that Celestial...change isn't always the easiest thing...
Mariah Shocknesse's Baptism:
- I received permission to go to Mariah's baptism on Sunday. We made it work so that after Elder Elmer and I did our Sunday call-ins, we drove up to Houghton Lake and Elder Rapp and I got a ride from a member down to Midland. It was great to be with Elder Rapp and go to Midland. We arrived at the Midland building and were in the chapel. John was the first one to walk in and when he saw us he said, "Oh my gosh!" He gave each of us a hug and what added to it was John's parents were both there! I have never met them before but John said to them, "These are the original missionaries." John's parents both hugged us and thanked up for "saving John's life." Then Karolyn walked in and when she saw me she freaked out. She ran up to me and gave me a big hug (it wasn't possible to stop her). It was one of the most precious moments I've ever had in my life. We were standing there and Karolyn and John's mom was crying and John was choking up. I love their family so much and they mean the world to me. I'm so happy I was able to be there to see John baptize his daughter. That is what it's all about, having them get closer to being sealed forever as a family. I often think of the scripture in Alma 27:4 that says, "Now when Ammon and his brethren saw this work of destruction among those whom they so dearly beloved, and among those who had so dearly beloved them—for they were treated as though they were angels sent from God to save them from everlasting destruction—therefore, when Ammon and his brethren saw this great work of destruction, they were moved with compassion." When I'm around the Shocknesse family, I really do feel like I'm treated like an angel. I love them so much. Every experience I've had with them has forever changed my life.
Elder Wilford W. Andersen of the Second Quorum of the Seventy:
- I got the privilege of getting to hear from Elder Andersen twice. On Monday we drove down to Kalamazoo and the Assistants, Zone Leaders, and Sister Training Leaders got to hear from Elder Andersen. We first did Zone reports and then he took the rest of the time. He taught us about how it's unwise to lower ourselves to get on the level of those we teach, such as when they are struggling with something that we have also struggled with, we shouldn't tell them about all of our past sins. He, as well as President Jacobsen, taught that it's important to be who you are now so they have someone to look up to and an example to follow, not to lower yourself to their level. He also taught us that the way out of the pride cycle is to be grateful. He had a few cool quotes about how faith is a principle of action. He said, "it takes a certain level of faith to try, it takes another level of faith to do. It takes a certain level of faith to register, it takes another level of faith to graduate." Also, "We can't expect the Lord to guide our footsteps, unless we move our feet." He then taught us an amazing leadership principle of how to truly lead with power. He shared a few experiences about his dad. He told us that his father would rarely say yes or no. When they would ask him if they could do something he'd ask a few questions to find out more then if he didn't agree, he would say, "I wouldn't do it..." Elder Andersen said that they all respected their dad so much that if he wouldn't do it, then they wouldn't dare do it either. He then shared about when his dad passed away. He had some disease where his nerves or something degenerated and before he died he was powerless. They were all gathered around him in the hospital and he shared how all of his siblings were trying to do all kinds of things for him. He then taught that his father was the most powerless man alive at that point, but he could have had whatever he wanted. D&C 121 teaches us how to achieve this through - "only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge....The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever." It was so awesome!
- We then had a half mission conference where he spoke to us again. One of the highlights of that was how he talked about how there are different ways to "know" something. He differentiated between head knowledge, heart knowledge, and soul knowledge. Head knowledge comes through learning, heart knowledge comes from the Holy Ghost, and Soul knowledge comes from application and action. He compared soul knowledge to learning the piano, you have to practice. He taught us how we can help our investigators to gain all three kinds of knowledge.
- Fire Up Chips is the slogan for cheering for CMU and I thought it sounded cool. We picked up six new investigators this week, they have all been solid first lessons and just so amazing. One of the coolest ones was Sylvia. She is super shy and we had a great first lesson. She had a friend give her a Book of Mormon. He had one from meeting with the missionaries last year. She'd read the introduction pages and had really liked it (she loves to read). We spent a lot of time identifying the Spirit and every time we would ask her she would smile and say that she felt it. It was incredible! She committed to be baptized on Nov. 7! We had Nathaniel Byrd who's preparing for his mission with us which made it that much better! He even went and PC-ed on campus with us. We had the most unorthodox conversations with him but it still went well. We talked to the first guy who was fairly anti-mormon and he was really straight forward. We met him and he almost immediately said that he wanted to discuss the doctrine of exaltation. He's met with the missionaries before, he was a nice guy and Nathaniel was a champ!
- We also have new investigators named Bianca, Amy, Alura, Kaylan and Metab who is from Saudi Arabia. We met him at a coffee shop and he's one of the coolest guys I've ever met. He's Muslim and is super real. We had a great time with him.
- On our trip to Kalamazoo, we did a donut taste test. We first went to Robaire's and got some of our usuals. It is so good, like ridiculously good. Then we stopped in Battle Creek at a place called Sweetwater's Donut Mill. We've heard a lot of good things about it, including absurdities that it was better than Robaire's so we had to put it to the test. They had some really good donuts but you can't beat a peanut butter creme filled long john from Robaire's. :)
- We got our transfer calls on Thursday night. Elder Elmer is going to Dewitt and was released as a Zone Leader. My new companion is Elder Haddock. He's coming from Grand Rapids. We came out at the same time. I don't know much about him other than he's about 25 years old and he served with Elder Hess. I'm really sad that Elder Elmer is leaving. We've grown really close together, learned a lot from each other and had great experiences. He's awesome! The future should be bright. He left CMU with a bang!
I love my mission so much. It's great experience after great experience out here. I've never been so exhausted and busy in my life and I've never been happier. This is the Lord's work and He will never leave us when we are doing His work. He does strengthen us and make us so much more than we can ever make of ourselves. I feel his strength every day and you can too. Pray always and keep the commandments and you will grow revelation for revelation, knowledge for knowledge, grace for grace. He lives!
The Shocknesse family
Joe Booth and Tracey (Joe was saying how he's going to beat me and my dad at golf. :))
The Holy Ghost...brings all things to your rememberance." John 14:26 9/12/15The weeks just seem to fly by... Things have been going great for me in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan serving on Central Michigan Univerisity campus. I love the work that I get to do each day and how rewarding and good I feel at the end of the day which outweighs any exhaustion I could ever experience. :)
We've been spending almost all of our time on campus. We walk around and talk to as many people as we can and we've been having a blast with it. It's really fast paced since there are so many people so it's quite a bit different than knocking on doors, but it's awesome! We've picked up a few new students to teach and have a lot of other students we have talked to who are interested in meeting with us. We usually meet with people in the campus library. It's a really convenient place to meet up.
One of our awesome investigators is Calie. She has been investigating for almost a year now. She is going to be baptized on December 12th, which is her birthday and has a lot of significance to her. She just got back to CMU. She lives in the Detroit area. She comes to church and attends all of the YSA activities during the week. She is really cool. We felt like we should get her into doing family history so we did that with her on Wednesday. It was really cool, she was able to go back a generation on one of her lines and it was actually really exciting! The Spirit of Elijah is for real!
On Thursday, we had about a 15 minute window of awesome miracles. It all started with us talking to this girl named Sylvia. She was super nice and we exchanged information. After she walked away, Elder Elmer and I wrote some notes about her, like we usually do with people we meet, so we can remember them and as I asked Elder Elmer for her info (since I had been writing our info for her) he said, "I don't have the last 4 digits of her phone number, I guess I forgot to write it down..." which was really weird, but she wasn't walking too fast. We were able to track her down in the library. She was on a bench right outside the entrance to it so we got the rest of her number and then this girl approached us. She told us that she had seen us a few times recently and wanted to finally talk to us. She looked super familiar to me and then just like a lightbulb it all clicked. So I said, "Is your name Alexis?" She said, "Yeah." So the backstory to all of this goes as follows:
Alexis was taught for a while by the elders in the Midland 1st ward while I was in Midland. I remembered that I taught her on my very first trade-off (July 9th, 2015- blessing of keeping a journal:)). We also attended the Catholic Mass in Midland with her since she goes to the Catholic church. So we talked and then after a bit she said, "So do you guys want to meet up?" It was so awesome! The Spirit will bring all things to our remembrance when we need it. Then we were writing about her outside on the benches and we were talking to a super nice girl, Kavya from India, when another girl approached us, her name was Jordyn and she works for the campus newspaper and wanted to interview us. So we set it up for the following day. It was a crazy 15 minutes. It gets even better... As we were sitting there, Elder Elmer was looking in his planner and realized that we did have the last 4 digits of Sylvia's number but as he was transferring it to the back of his planner he had a stupor of thought, which led us to follow her and then Alexis saw us and approached us and so on. It was such a cool experience! :)
I love being a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There is nothing I would rather be doing with my life right now and I love every second of it. I'm really grateful to my mom for making me promise to keep a journal of every day of my mission. It has been such a blessing to me already. As I was going back to find when I met Alexis I was reading and I had a great witness of why my Mom was inspired to make me promise to keep a journal. I was reading and I had written that while door knocking we had met a girl named Mercedes, who was 17, but looked older. Last week, Elder Elmer and I met a girl on campus named Mercedes who was from Midland who looked super familiar and I told her that, but she told me where she lived and it wasn't in my area, so I could not figure it out. But then it all clicked! I was on a trade-off so that is why I met her. To even add to that I can't believe of all the people I met on July 9, 2014 I happened to write her name down. I usually never do that in my journal about door knocking experiences, unless it's really crazy or something. The Lord works in mysterious ways. :)
The picture doesn't do the sun justice, it was really cool.
|West Branch district|
CMU Missionary 9/5/15
First of all, the reason I'm e-mailing on Saturday is because for the rest of my time serving on campus at CMU we will be having our P-Day on Saturday. Campus is pretty dead on Saturday and it's alive on Monday, so that's the reason for the switch. It's a change but it will be fun!
This week was a great week. We have spent most of our time on campus talking with as many of the students as we can. They are super receptive and open to initial conversation which makes things really fun. I also got to go on companion exchanges back to Midland. I always love going to Midland. I have so many special memories and experiences from there.
Monday: Following emailing last week we went home and needed hair cuts, so we decided that since last time didn't turn out too bad we would cut each others hair again. It again was not too bad. :) Then we did some cleaning and other necessary things to get us ready for the week. We spent some time on campus and met some cool people then drove to Midland and I was there with Elder Erekson who I came out with!
Tuesday: My day in Midland! We were on bikes which was really fun. It was also really hot and humid so we were sweating pretty good. We did some door knocking and taught a few lessons. One of their investigators was about to drop them but Elder Erekson taught with so much power and authority and told him that turning his back on God is the worst thing to do. It was really cool. We had dinner with the Pierce family. They are awesome. It was good to see them again. I also got to see Sister Jones which was great! I love Midland.
Wednesday: We had district meeting in Midland. We went to Mancino's for lunch and I got to have my favorite calzones again. That was sweet. We had a lesson with Keith that was really sad. He hurt his leg pretty bad and it was in bad shape so we gave him a blessing and Bro. Bigford took him to the hospital. He is a little less accountable and doesn't live in the best circumstances but he's a great guy. We spent a lot of time on campus and met a ton of cool people. One huge miracle was, we were walking and this guy who was about to walk past and I noticed him out of the corner of my eye as a guy I had met almost a year ago when I came to CMU on trade-offs. So I asked him, "Are you Mac?" He said, "Yeah." So I told him that I had met him before and I remembered like everything about the time I met him, even that his fiance was overseas last time we met. He was probably freaked out but it was a miracle. The Holy Ghost brings all things to your remembrance!
I'm running out of time, but Thursday and Friday we spent a lot of time on campus. One of the days it was raining lightly on and off and then when we finally headed back to our car and got drenched, it was really fun though. We also taught a family who moved here from Nigeria 6 months ago. It was a super cool lesson and they are really open to learn! It's exciting.
My thought for the week is real simple: Keep the commandments. It is the simple solution to happiness. It's how we live in the world but are not of the world. God's way is the way to happiness. I know that to be the truth.
First day of School! 8/31/15
It's at least the first day of school for the students at Central Michigan University which we are excited for. We've been in Mt. Pleasant for two months and finally get to work the campus here. It will be a ton of fun. It's been about six months since I was on campus at Ferris State University so it will be good to talk to the students again. :)
This was a really busy week for Elder Elmer and I. We had companion exchanges with the elders in Caro, Bad Axe (the thumb) and Saginaw. It was a lot of time spent in the truck but was really fun getting to work with so many great missionaries!
- I got to spend all of Tuesday in Caro with Elder Adams my MTC companion. It was a blast. We got to do a lot of finding and met some really cool people. I recently talked to him and they found two new investigators out of it! So cool. He is such a sincere and kind elder. I'm so glad I was able to be his companion in the MTC. He has taught me a lot.
- I was with Elder Johnson from American Fork, UT on Wednesday and part of Thursday. We ran into a lot of opposition to the church while we were together. I really enjoyed getting to defend the faith. It's actually really funny, after a while you sound like a broken recor. We really simply tell people to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and they can know for themselves. People just aren't willing to do that. They are too satisfied with what they've heard and are just following other people's opinions. We got along really well, he is a great missionary.
- I also got to be in Mt. P with Elder Engel from Lehi, UT. He is a fairly new missionary. He is so cool. He is super loving and understands how to improve. We had some good lessons and discussed a lot about how to be an effective district leader.
This week was crazy and busy but we had a great time and did a lot of great work. I feel like the Lord is really trying to teach me the importance of keeping the commandments lately. With all of the students back in town, there is a lot of partying going on. We talked to a couple of guys on Saturday who were amazed at how we live, who were pretty drunk, and it was really sad. One of them even said, "You guys will live way longer than me." I know that the promise the Lord has made that if we keep the commandments we will prosper, is true. It's first found in the Book of Mormon in 1 Nephi 2:20 and is repeated many times... We often get pleasure and happiness confused. The former leads to regret and the latter comes from keeping the commandments and leads us to our Father in Heaven.
I love being a missionary and I love each one of you. "Shall we not go on in so great a cause?"
|Caro District meeting|
|I found Cameron Street in Caro, MI!|