Monday, December 30, 2013

The Glue Traps work. We just caught #3.

The Glue Traps work. We just caught #3

We make it a point to only knock doors during The Hour of Power. The rest of the time we are talking to people outside, former investigators, family of members and investigators. 

We saw a "Milagrito" last night. We were trying to teach a lady, and her unteachable grown son couldn't let us say a word. We had tried to review Joseph Smith and the restoration, but this man wouldn't have any of it. He continually interrupted us, and told us repeatedly how well he already knew God, how Jesus lived in his heart, and a lot of other things. We finally cut him off and turned on the Restoration video. A minute into it he was fast asleep. We felt the spirit and committed Paula to baptism. His snoring was still really annoying, but I still feel like my prayers were answered. The Lord put him to sleep. He wasn't prepared to hear the Gospel and was preventing his mother from receiving it. He was still unconscious when we left.

I've seen more than ever the clarity, peace and perspective The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ gives. We learned about intellectual captivity in conference, and I see it everyday. False ideas and attitudes are keeping people enslaved in addictions, poverty, and sin. When we live according to the pattern that God has given us we really are set free. My testimony grows more everyday of the divine origin of the Gospel and this Church.

Elder Decker

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Epic mouse battle

Dear Mother,

I am now actually working in the big, grand, blessed city of Houston Texas. In fact, our area is the closest in the mission to downtown. The big bright skyline is right out the back window. There are times we have to be careful not to leave our area/district/ward/zone/stake/mission/universe. My companion's name is Elder Thomas from Ogden Utah. He's relatively new compared to my last 3 companions, so it's a big change.

Elder Thomas just opened our area in October. There are few members, active or otherwise, and very few investigators. We are starting small, but there is a lot raw material to work with. As in Pasadena, there are a lot of people willing to listen from us, or more likely, talk at us inside their home. It's tricky figuring out how to spend our time wisely and in the right places. We still haven't mastered ending conversations with highly drunken folks, homeless people, or JW's. Most people speak spanish which is good news for us.

Our apartment is very new, but I found it with a ladybug infestation and now we've been epicly battling a mouse for days. It's been fun.

Everday I see how great a blessing the Restored Gospel is. People really are lost and confused and in need of what we have. I am privileged to be where I am and to do what I do.

We're doing well. I can speak Spanish. The Church is true. Christmas is great. Follow the prophet. hablaramos este Miercoles.

Elder Decker

Monday, December 16, 2013

And now here I go.

My week went pretty well. Let's see if I can remember...

Last Tuesday we had our last exchange of the transfer. It'll be weird not doing those anymore. I've taught with ten different missionaries while I've been in the field- a big blessing.

Wednesday was an enormous, all day, missionary extravaganza. The Mission-wide Christmas Conference included discourses from the president and his wife, and from two amazing recent converts. I got my package there, as well as socks and goodies from the President. I enjoyed it. It was a great opportunity to really "get a feel" for our mission. I have a better idea now of who we are, how many of us there are, and what it is we want to do. It was a great day.

Our Friday Hour of power was a particularly notable one. We prayed with Liz (the lady we baptized last month) and began knocking doors on her street. The first house was a white guy who tried to tell about his lifelong religious experience and talk on the phone at the same time. At the second house a man answered the door and let us right in. We were feeling pretty confidant and excited, "how to begin teaching points" and "inspired questions" racing through our heads when suddenly a woman came out from the back room chanting "we're not interested!" and quickly shooed us out the door.

None of that is all that unusual. What is abnormal is what we found at the third house. We were let in by Mauro, a middle aged man. We talked about his beliefs and our purpose as missionaries, and a brief explanation of our message. Well, as we began to leave his daughter came in. She is a dream investigator:"something is missing in my life", "I really want to come closer to God" and more. She invited us to come back the next day. When we did, we were able to teach a family of four: parents and their two children, all of whom are interested in our message. Fabiola, the daughter, even came to church today.

Elder Smith, Elder Decker, Luis, Elder Jones
 Saturday I had the opportunity to baptize Luis. He is the only investigator I've never had concerns about. He has a strong excitement and love for the Gospel. He lives with his friend’s family: a big house with one other member and a lot of potential. The whole family came to the baptism of Saturday. It was an amazing experience to see Luis progress so far, from when we first found him, to yesterday being in the circle to confirm him a member of the Lord's Church.

The Gospel really changes people. It can change your very nature.

Elder Smith & Elder Jones
Tomorrow I will be transferred. It seems like things really started to get interesting this last week- right before I leave. We had a baptism this weekend, we found a really exciting family, and all sorts of other things all at once. And now here I go. I've been anticipating this for a while, and honestly, I can't think of any reason The Lord would want me to stay here. I am really grateful for the privilege I had to serve in this area. I learned a lot watching my 3 companions in the 11 weeks I've been here. Now it seems I'm on my way to learn from doing. Wherever it is I end up I know I will have a bigger role to play, and a lot of room to grow.

I haven't got a clue where I'm going. I can't tell you a when, or a how, but I'll call y'all on the 25th.

Elder Decker

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It is real

We were able to go to the Houston Texas Temple on Saturday morning. We woke up at 4:30 that morning, and drove up with our ward mission leader. Liz left her kids at home, and her parents who had come to visit, so she could come to the temple. Despite objections from friends and family, she continues to learn and grow in the Gospel.
 I was able to be participate as a witness to about two hundred baptisms for the dead. The Temple is beautiful place, tucked away up north almost in a forest of trees. It sharply differs from the hundreds and hundreds of other churches, prayer houses, and worship centers I see here in Texas. It is real. It has power.

Do ya'll remember Elder Ballard's talk from conference? If each member of the church reaches out to just one before Christmas, millions will feel the Savior's love. Have you done that yet?

That's crazy that Kody is leaving right now. When you told me about his call, I thought it was ages away. That's super cool that he's going to be where I just was, and during Christmas! El Centro de Capacitacion Misional Mexico is one of my favorite places, and President Pratt is phenomenal.

There hasn't been snow in this part of the world for something like 14 years, so be a little grateful over there.

We're having another baptism this week!

Luis is was more prepared for the Gospel than anyone I've ever met. He had a life changing experience in September that really made him want to change, he began coming to church on his own, and has almost attended as many sacrament meetings here as I have! He has accepted everything we teach him with a lot of enthusiasm. 

I am grateful for the privilege to serve here. I couldn't possibly ask for any more. My companions are excellent missionaries, the ward is strong, and there are many people to teach.

And now it's Christmas.

Elder Decker 

Monday, December 2, 2013

There is more digging to do.

We saw a miracle this weekend. There is a part member family that the missionaries have been teaching for about three years. The 16 year old son, was finally baptized a year ago and is kind of a go-to-guy for member present lessons. His dad dropped into inactivity about 2 months ago. We've been over there a few times to talk to Michael and his dad. The mother and two sisters, who have heard a lot from the missionaries, always hide in the back. Literally hide.

We've been taking the [16 year old] to teach a neighbor of his. They're old buddies and the same age, so we thought it was a good idea. Last Friday his mom called us concerned. We've talked to her before, we knew she was a former investigator, a Testigo de Jehovah, and that she never liked to meet with us. She was worried that he was hanging out with his neighbor again and was going to pick up his old drug habits. We talked to her a bit, and asked if we could come talk to her. Elder Jones and I were exchanged into an English area, but Elder Smith went and saw him and his parents on Saturday. They talked about the reason for having a church, the family, and The Book of Mormon. Remarkably Sandra said she knows The Book of Mormon is true, and accepted the invitation to go to church the next day.

I've learned a big lesson. I lacked the faith that she would change, after having read through the area book about how much work had been put into that family. I remembered that she used to drive her son to Seminary every morning at 5:30. I remembered that she would send him out of the house to come teach with us. I think there really is potential there. It's another one of those Preach My Gospel "Icebergs" we just need to excavate. Yesterday [the 16 year old] and both his parents came to church together. It really was a special sight. We are excited to meet again with them this week.

In other good news, our recent convert is super excited to go to the temple on Saturday, because of new mission rules we're going too! Yesterday she got a recommend and we all went over to the Barajas home to do her Family History Work. Unfortunately there are too many Marias in Monterrey, so there is more digging to do.

We went on an exchange and did some English work. It surprises me every time how different it is. We spent almost four hours in an apartment complex talking to Black people, White People, and speaking some Spanish as well. I havent' seen so many cigarette butts in my life. It was a really good experience and I learned alot. It still surprises me how ready people are too just let a stranger into their home to talk about religion. We must be in the South.

Thanksgiving was pretty sweet. We spent a few hours with our ward mission leader Hno. Chavez. We ate carne asada burritos with pico de guio and tres leches cake to top it off. We even had a crazy game of uno. When we were all stuffed we shuffled off to dinner at the Quintanilla's. There we had classic Thanksgiving foodstuffs like turkey, stuffing, and orange manzanita sol soda. It was good. We told some jokes, played some lethargic volleyball, and that was thanksgiving.

We don't have Christmas plans yet, I will let you know. In fact, transfers are on the 17th so it's more than likely that I'll be in a new area. I doubt a trained missionary will just be left hanging around the zone leaders.

que tengan buena semana

Elder Decker