Monday, December 22, 2014

Only good things can happen!

Mom,

I sure did get your packages! Our neighbors/ investigators sort of ignored our text inviting them to church, and instead asked us right when la reunion sacramental started "You want us to pick up this package for us?" later that day, we got them to bring it to us while we were at a baptism, where they asked us if they had to be perfect after betting baptized, and if they could buy the paintings we have on the walls. They also got to meet about a dozen members and eat pan dulce!

We feel the Lord is really blessing us. It is an exciting time for us, because the people we are teaching are so excited about what they are learning. My faith is growing a lot that their are prepared people out there. I now don't feel nervous about leaving behind unprepared people to find the great ones. Our miracle man introduced us to his mom (who accepted the invitation to be baptized this week) and his brother. The three of them were at church yesterday!

Nothing happens in missionary work until we find someone to teach. finding is the key, and it won't happen unless you talk to people. We found an awesome lady this morning on our way back to the apartment from sending a fax, you just have to open your mouth! I'm nervous about this week, I know the work is going to slow down SO much, but there will also be great opportunities to serve and find and use members.

I had a powerful experience planning for, meditating over, studying for, and finally teaching a family. I was directed to simply read 3 Nephi 18 with them, asking questions and applying we went. Unintentionally (at least by me), everyone read the verse they most needed. It applied so directly to them and their worries about their family, following Christ, the temptations of the Devil and the need to pray. I felt the Spirit strongly and could share personal experience. It was the first lesson I've ever had our Bishop with us. I know God is so willing to give us great experiences like that all the time, we just don't let Him. 

Well Merry Christmas! Wednesday and Thursday have been declared "service days," and our schedule is really up in the air. Don't stress it Mom, only good things can happen! 

love y'all very much!

Elder Decker

Saturday, December 20, 2014

We are YOUR missionaries!

Mom,

We are super excited by a couple we are teaching named Esmeralda and Nestor. Esmeralda has been studying the Bible seriously her whole life, and loves the new things we are teaching her. She prays daily to know the Church is true, the only thing is that she's never come to it! She brought her friend Elsa to our last lesson which was a ton of fun. Her husband has a lot less knowledge, and is pretty hesitant about the whole thing. He's not the only one. Our other recent converts, and so many other people's spouses want little to do with the Gospel. It isn't very cool. The best part of teaching Esmeralda is hearing her pray, she is so sincere, and now prays to our Heavenly Father. 

We are really excited by learning and living Preach My Gospel, sure we've read the thing, but learning, living, applying, and receiving revelation from it is something completely different. I've always been someone who stresses, procrastinates, crams, worries and regrets, but I now know that learning how to set goals and make plans for the things that matter most like Chapter 8 teaches really changes all that around. Planning=Peace. Instead of arriving at Sunday each week and wondering why nobody got to church, we discuss every night what we can do for first Tanya, then Artemio, then Esmeralda and Nestor then Alvaro and Juan Pablo to have a conversion experience in sacrament meeting, we base the specific plans we make for the next day on what we already planned in weekly planning. We report our efforts to the Lord and our Leaders. We know there's nothing else we can possible do but have faith in the Lord and the person's agency, and promise to be a little more obedient and diligent every day.   

We saw tons of blessings this week. Apart from the 4 baptisms in the zone, the Lord led Elder Johnson and I to lots of new people, including Artemio. He has been off drugs from 4 months now, after using and selling them since he was 7. He's disabled, but spends his time drawing the Savior and reading the Bible. Years back, he had gone to our Church with his girlfriend, but he just wasn't ready to give everything up yet. He prayed on Thursday that the Lord would show him what Church would be the right "school" for him. Fifteen minutes later Elder Paulson and Elder Leftwich knocked on their door. Their called us, the Spanish missionaries, and we got their that night. We were amazed by humility and great desire. He accepted a baptismal date on the spot. The next day he was at the ward party eating tons of tamales and reading in the Book of Mormon with Hno Juarez (yep, the same one that fed and taught me twice a week earlier this year). He loved Church yesterday, and the members really embraced him. He'll be at Hna Mercedes' house today for Noche de Hogar. We've decided that within our companionship, the Lord is leading us to plenty of people, it's really our job now to step up our teaching and get them moving. I love being companions with Elder Johnson, he is always mindful of what the Lord thinks and wants, and hates it when the Spirit goes away. I can trust in him. We were just giving out tons of cards and didn't have much to show for it. We tried finding another way last week, we carried rakes around door to door and did a lot of service, telling them that "We are YOUR missionaries!" we'd of course give them the He is the Gift card, but then we'd testify of the restoration and invite them to learn more. We got 7 new people to teach. I am learning so much about really including God in HIS work, testifying of simple truths of HIS Gospel to let HIS Spirit testify to HIS children. I enjoyed it.


love , Elder Decker

More than doors.

December 8, 2014
 
We had an adventure Thursday getting to the temple by 6 am. We had to go wake some hermanas up when they didn't get to the meeting spot at 4 30, so we gave them the GPS and went along by faith and not by sight. We got a little lost, and the hermanas ended up beating us there anyway! It was a very good experience. In a private meeting after the session we were able to ask President Drake and the temple President any question we had. We feel we gained a better vision of God's plan for us, and the goal we have for those we teach. We saw an immediate difference that afternoon when we returned to work. 

God really does love us and care about our personal and practical obstacles. And zone meeting we filled a board with the questions and concerns the zone has about missionary work and meeting expectations, and then we asked, "who has asked God these same questions?" We as Latter-day Saints are often guilty of searching, pondering, and praying to get a testimony of the Book of Mormon and then shutting off the revelation right there. In reality, that is the pattern we should apply each and every day of our lives, trusting in the Lord with all our heart; and leaning not unto our own understanding. Right in the middle of the meeting we kneeled and prayed that God would help us find what we needed, then spent the rest of the time searching Preach My Gospel, and counseling together to find solutions. 

We're missionaries! It's just an awesome thing. I got to do an exchange with a brand new missionary that really got me fired up. We did everything we could to be obedient, turned to the Lord  in prayer and to Preach My Gospel with every problem we had, and kept our conversation always on our work, how much we loved it, and what we could do better and for that the Lord really blessed and led us. I love when missionary work becomes more than just doors: we contacted a referral who is actually a less-active member. We invited him and his girlfriend (who was actually a former investigator) to the Ward Christmas party, and there they were, an hour later, when the Ward mission leader brought them! It was a good little miracle, slowly but surely bring others unto Christ. 

When the YM leader asked us to talk about missionary work to the young men, he warned us they wouldn't be interested in the Spiritual part of it, probably just in the food, experiences, cultures, people, stories and friendships. I grew in testimony that those things are good, but they just aren't good enough, to go or to stay on a mission. Nephi didn't entice his brothers to the promised land by telling them it would be just like Jerusalem. They were leaving for a reason. The blessings of a mission are different, should be different than what we leave behind. There's no point in trying to disguise it. You can't outdo the world in worldliness.   I know that it is true, real doctrine really understood that changes behavior- that changes hearts. It is the truth of which the Spirit can bear testimony. Just like baiting and bribing some of these young men into church hasn't resulted in conversion and ultimately happiness, doing the same for a mission will bring the same results. Don't get me wrong, almost all of us came here with imperfect, probably selfish reasons to serve. Almost all of us change completely and I'm glad that's true. But it can happen so much sooner. The same Gospel can be lived and experienced long beforehand. We should come here to share what has already changed us and what we already know to be true. I sure wish I had. And it's not about us, there are so many more of our Father's children to be blessed if we are missionaries from the first day, not six months or a year later. That was the reason the prophet asked us to have a lesson on "Being a missionary now" in the first place.  

I know that God lives. I know he has blessed me beyond what I can say. I love Him and want to serve Him.

I love you too
 
Elder Decker

Monday, December 8, 2014

Back on Broadway!

December 1, 2014

Mom,

My companion is Elder Johnson, we were good buddies in the MTC, and have spent the last 15 months completely separated. I never imagined that I would be where I am now, which is actually BROADWAY! My area's called Magnolia, I serving in the same ward where I baptized Cesar Velasquez (who came to church yesterday!) and where I was from Dec to April last year. Elder Johnson is from St. George where he wrestled and played rugby. He is a very hard worker and very responsible. He only has 6 weeks in the area, so we were all surprised when his companion (who is about to go home) left him there.
Saying goodbye to Denver Harbor

We had a pretty busy day Thursday, and we shared it with all sorts of people, investigators, less-actives, great members, and the Bishop. Pie, pancakes, and plenty of turkey and pecans were a great treat. I hope someone gives us some turkey tacos this week. We are very busy with the "He's the Gift" campaign (http://www.mormon.org/christmas), letting everyone know about the greatest gift ever given.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.Isiah 9:6

Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last;
And he shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else.
Alma 11:39-40

I am excited to be back in Broadway, and excited at all the future has in store. I was excited to be reunited with many members, converts, and even investigators from my previous time in Broadway 2 and 3. The zone will have success. We definitely have some some very talented District leaders and Sister training leaders that we will be learning from and relying on.  I sometimes worry if what I do and say really can can make a difference for people. I know that I wouldn't have been called here if that were true. Thank you for your example of going to the Lord and focusing on Him as you try to do His work. I know there's no other way, because He has said:"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." I am grateful for the learning experience I know this has been and will be and just hope I can help someone else as well.

love you all!
 
Elder Decker

Monday, November 24, 2014

There is so much joy

I got to interview, and see baptized, two really inspiring hermanos this week. Rafael is a really simple guy, with a simple testimony and a humble drive to stay on the right path. He had to give up a lot of things and begin to live a lot of new commandments, and even leave different church, to follow Jesus Christ.

 Rolando is a single parent of six kids who really genuinely wants to turn his life over to God. He told me about what happened when the hermanas challenged him to ask Sundays off work. He and the hermanas began fasting and he went to work in the morning. His co-workers offered him bread and coffee and basically forced him to take it. Through his mind went the words "the hermanas will never know. It doesn't matter. God will never know" With prayer he was able to refuse, and went the whole day without it. That night, the hermanas said he could eat, but he sat down to read the Book of Mormon, then fell asleep, and ended up finishing the whole 24 hours on accident. He soon went from never having one Sunday off, to having every single one off. I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. Ever since that day Rolando has been certain of the truthfullness of the Gospel. He ended up actually asking me to baptize him, which was an awesome experience.

Last night Hno Caetano (de Uruguay!) promised to keep his talk on the gift of the Holy Ghost short, knowing how nervous Rolando was for his special moment. As he began to end his testimony, just seconds before the baptisms were to happen, we all heard a loud slurping sound come from behind the curtain. Yep, the font had been draining. Hna Shannon jumped in the water and replugged it, and we sang a few extra himnos and then the moment came. I just about had to push Rolando in. After a few deep breaths he stepped into the font, soon to come out beaming. It was a really great service, despite all sorts of mix-ups and problems. We felt the Spirit.
 

Well I'm glad I was able to see the other missionaries in our district succeed. We are planning on baptizing our own investigator, Cristina, on December 14. She is awesome. She is humble and thoughtful and wants to know. It's too bad I won't be able to teach her, because I'm getting moved out of the Harbor after just 6 weeks here. I guess we'll see what happens. I know that there's a lot of work to do, no matter where God sends me. I know there is so much joy we can feel, and so much good we can do if we will just put what we want on hold and listen to our Father's still, small voice: through the consequences of our actions, through His servants, and more than anything through the Holy Ghost. 

Elder Decker

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

We've caught the Family History bug

November 17, 2014

Mom,

Monday the zone leaders astounded us by shoving six Mexican bounce houses into our tiny carpeted gym and making us cotton candy for zone p-day. 

Tuesday we were able to help two (literal) sisters from the ward. [One woman] (who was just baptized this year) and [her sister], get to "el centro de la historia familiar." After the normal battle we all go through for about 30 minutes to get logged in (Satan's last line of defense), Elder Petersen helped them begin searching, and they soon found their father. He had died when they were young, and his sisters immediately disowned the fatherless family. Their whole life they thought he was from one Mexican state, when in reality he was from another. Not only were they shocked to see him come up so soon, but they found his parents attached to him, whom they never met, AND the temple work had already been completed in Mexico back in 2000! They just cried as they felt a big pressure lifted from their shoulders. It was powerful to see these two little hermanas have an significant, spiritual experience on their very first time using FamilySearch. In fact, one sister told me it was her first time in front of a computer in her life. It's not over yet. Their goal is to find and baptize their mother, then to get sealed to their parents. The Estrada family caught the Family History bug this last week as well, Saturday they invited us over for Guatemalan tamales which are amazing. 

We had a great member-filled day with meetings, church (lots of investigators!) eating with Bishop, a funeral, then Ramiro's baptism. I got to interview him on Wednesday and was really impressed by his testimony. He didn't know who President Monson was, but said he would believe he was a prophet based on faith, I gave him my Liahona so he could find out for himself.  

When I felt that blessings were being held back from me that I deserved this scriptures put me in place:

Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?

I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing.

Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above.

I realized I must do God's work His way, not mine. He will bless me for it, even if I don't understand all the reasons why:

That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

love y'all

Elder Decker

 

God really does answer prayers

November 9, 2014

Mom,

We went to the same Hispanic Health fair Saturday that we did last year. I helped with the 5K and spent about two hours just standing on the side of the Bayou watching downtown Houston's trash float gently by. Without my scriptures, the phone, or anyone to invite to come unto Christ I tried to recite just about everything I've ever memorized on my mission, and sang all the Spanish himnos I know and just relaxed. It was a good thing. I even got a free flu shot out of it. 

I had another baptismal interview again Wednesday. He was a repeat from two weeks ago. When I asked him if he believed Joseph Smith restored the Church and Gospel of Jesus Christ, he said firmly: "No. Jesus Christ restored His Gospel." This man has an incredibly strong faith, and is very dedicated to it. He never stops quoting the Bible, and wants badly to be baptized. He believes the Book of Mormon to be the word of God, and that Joseph Smith is a prophet, but also that there are many prophets, churches and books from God. He couldn't believe that God had one true Church. What he really lacked was revelation from the Holy Ghost, a testimony about the Book of Mormon that comes not because it teaches things compatible with the Bible, but because it stands alone as an evidence of God's love for us and proof that He communicates with us and because He can tell us if it is real or not. 

The sisters prayed and fasted and taught him again Friday with President. He called them the next day and said it had all come together for him. God really does answer prayers.

love you all!

Elder Decker

Monday, November 3, 2014

Family History is the answer

Mom!

My companion and I are on a family history high. That's what we talk about with everyone, I'm sharing the "My Family" book that you helped me make (and that you are in...) with everybody! It's a lot of fun. I haven't found anyone to take to the temple, which is the challenge I've taken, but I've fixed a couple errors in our egregiously large tree. . .

Our ward, Galena Park, needs a whole lot of love. Every week 70 different members take turns coming. We were sad to talk to one hermano, who we thought was strong, who told us that "church is just a building," and that he'd leave the next time he was offended again. One thing we're doing now is contacting every "active" member who misses church every Sunday they miss. It's not about badgering, it's accountability and love. I had a great chat last night with hno Vargas last night about family history yesterday after he had to work on Sunday. He seems excited to do his own and we'll be with him at the family history center (which we are really blessed to have in our own chapel!) tomorrow. I think Family History is the answer. Who can't do it without naturally doing everything possible to get to the temple? Who can do temple work and deny the restoration? Who can serve and love the dead without serving and loving the living? The prophets and apostles have pointed us in this direction for a reason, so that's what we hope to do for these people.

On Saturday we found Jesus, a "lost sheep," and his wife Elena. We showed them "Mi Familia" and talked about family history, and they asked about a thousand questions about: if we ride bikes at night, why aren't we paid, when we talk to the family and a lot of stuff we get from people who actually care about us. We had the opportunity to share with them why we do missionary work AND why we do family history: So that everyone can have an eternal family made possible by Jesus Christ and His restored Gospel. It's pretty cool. I know it is real. And they gave us a big bag of Texas pecans. 

Halloween was pretty fun, the hermanas helped a lot with district mtg, we got some time to do family history, hna Concepcion fed us, we got to ride down Mendez street and take a video of the enormous dog, then we were in by 7.  

The new shed impresses. But if you lived in Houston you'd build an apartment building back there. 

Elder Decker

Monday, October 27, 2014

There's no reason to get discouraged.

Mom,

 Things have been challenging but fun. It is a blast starting all over again. Even though it can sometimes feel like we're going nowhere, there's no reason to get discouraged- happiness is too valuable to trade for anything else. 

 I got to interview and see Miguel get baptized. He's a simple, humble guy from Honduras that just wants to do the right thing. I know he has a testimony because he did it without his friend, who wasn't ready to get baptized.  

Me and my trainer in Denver Harbor
My trainer came back from the grave and scared me to death on Thursday. We were rushing home to grab the car and go to the family history center when a phantom missionary stepped around the corner. He had just gotten off the plane and grabbed tacos with his parents and he found us. It was super great to see him, but weird as well. He was able to come to Miguel's baptism and see his convert Rosario. 

Me and the venus fly traps
 Interview training with the AP's, zone mtg, and district mtg all kind of kept my attention this week. Taking away all fear of baptism by laying out specific expectations and a calender for our investigators, getting to know every single member, their professions, hometown's and past callings, and figuring out how to help people receive revelation through the Book of Mormon is just some of the stuff we're trying to do. 

 I know that God lives and that He has a plan for us. I know His way is the better way, and that it only takes our deciding before He starts blessing us.

Elder Decker

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Adjusting to the culture in appropriate ways.

Mom,

I am loving my new place. New comp Elder Peterson came out with me at the same time last year, he's from Orange County, California.. My new ward is the Galena Park ward, it split off from Houston 7 maybe 5 years ago, and still has combined classes, sacrament. Attendance was 71 yesterday. the Obispo is named Obispo Velasquez, he is more involved with us than any Obispo I've had yet, we met and talked with him about the ward on Thursday. He drove us to church where we had PEC with him and we later ate with him. The "Denver Harbor House" (well, I guess I now know it's a "bungalow"...) is a little pealed paint piece of heaven. The only elders are Peterson and I. We have 6 hermanas, including Hermana Shannon from PG! I really like the ward. I am inspired by their great faith. It is not easy for people to be in church, socially, economically, and I guess even spiritually as well. It is inspiring to me that the few that are there. There are some very, very strong individuals. I live on 6904 Hershe Houston, TX 77020.I'll be sending some pictures of the Harbor next week.

Yep, I borrowed Mamea's clippers and "cut myself up" as they say. I was thinking about "adjusting to the culture in appropriate ways" (as PMG says) by etching my hairline, and maybe the state of Texas on the back, but decided against it.

My first week in Denver Harbor was a lot of fun. Taking over for my trainer is pretty weird.  We've spent a lot of time going though the ward list and visiting with the Bishop and other ward members which may explain that. Not a single investigator came to church last transfer, but Sunday (without any reminders or begging) came David and Olga ! David is an awesome guy who has been living in "El Barrio" all his life. He describes himself has "cien por ciento Mexicano" even though he fluently speaks Texan. He's been going through some really hard times and found the missionaries at his parent's house in Magnolia. He was worried about being "good enough" to start listening to us or to make these steps, but now he's started and loving it! He took Peterson and Jones to transfer mtg on Tuesday, and took Peterson and I to Pappa's BBQ and then back to the Harbor. That's how you know he's serious. He participated a whole bunch at church, in fact, because Houston 7 and us meet together; everyone just thought he was a member of the opposite ward!

District mtg was good learning experience. I made a bunch of very correctable mistakes, namely, forgetting who was to pray, skipping the purpose, not doing check your progress, and so on. I finally figured out late last night how the Baptismal Tracker works! Wednesday I will be doing my first baptismal interviews of my life, which is pretty nerve racking. The district is doing really well, especially the hermanas. We're the ones who'll need to work hard to keep up with them! We're going to have a great time, and with the Lord's help do a lot of good.

I had the opportunity to review some of Elder Holland's talks from the last couple of years. I was reminded to doubt my doubts before I doubt my faith. I was reminded to live the Gospel faithfully even if others around me don't live it at. Being with and serving this people has taught me so much about what is really important. About what really brings happiness. About not missing opportunities. It is good to learn. It is good to enjoy being a rookie while it lasts! It's not about altitude, it's about trajectory!

I know that God lives and that He wants me in THE mission.

I love you mom!

Elder Decker

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

We'll figure it out!

Mom,

I don't really have a bunch to say, but, for the first time on my mission, I have a bunch of pictures!

Yesterday I took a zillion pictures with all the Beloved Broadway 2 members I'm leaving here. It was good we had a baptism yesterday afternoon and everyone got together. The other Elders baptized Eric Delgado. He has his own testimony, and felt the Spirit lead him to make a commitment. It's powerful stuff.
 
Hermana Alvarengas
This is Hermana Alvarengas; she's a wonderful lady from El Salvador who makes bomb pasta.

Rodriguez family
Beloved Broadway 2 members
I saw the Rodriguez for the last time, they really love the missionaries. Viviana Rodriguez has been feeding me every Sunday and washing my clothes every Monday for six months! She has a special place in my heart and, like we missionaries always say, a cushy spot in the Celestial Kingdom. She lives with her daughter Eva and son Adan. 

Beloved Broadway 2 members

Hermano Palacios
Hermano Palacios is the best Principles of the Gospel teacher on the planet

Hermano Medina is a Mariachi man. They make steller pupusas and Salvadoranean steaks. Great people.


The greatest ward missionary hna Flores and the greatest ward mission leader in the world.  Hno Lopez actually is our landlord/ next door neighbor and fixes our smoke alarms and stuff

We did service for a certain elder lady named Marie on Saturday, she's teaches Catechism class at the Catholic church and is very sweet. We chopped trees and bushes, mowed her lawn, took out a step, and made her yard look spectacular. I was a good change of pace, and really fun. Afterward, she bought us 7 pizzas from little Caesars for the four of us. Right on. 
... okay six of us.

1 pound burger
Jacinto Rodriguez, Hermana Rodriguez' other son, took us to Kelly's and bought us four missionaries the legendary 1 lb. Burger. Which I ate. For real.  
I joined you in sickland yesterday morning, when my body completely rejected that same burger. For real.

Right now I'm just thinking about getting transferred tomorrow. I love packing;) It feels a little cruel to have to throw my whole life (again) into two suitcases and a backpack and a bicycle and all the pockets I can muster and plop somewhere new and change lives. But it's what we do, and it's fun.


It was a great blessing to serve here. I've tried to do my best to help other people, and see only how much good being here has done for me. I am grateful to be a missionary, thank you for making it possible! I know that God lives and that he cares about us. I know that He wants us to be happy, even when things aren't going well, even though we and everyone around us aren't perfect (yet). It makes such a great difference when we decide to work WITH God, instead of making Him pull and drag us. 

It looks like when I email y'all next I'll be serving in Denver Harbor where I'll leading a District or something like that. We'll figure it out.

I love you Mom 

Elder Decker

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Let's get out and serve!

Mom

Monday we had a beach party with the zone. I forgot there was an ocean somewhere around here. It was pretty fun and relaxing. My Hawaiian companion, Mamea, was a little disgusted by the nearby oil rigs and filthy water, but it was better than nothing!

Tuesday we found father/daughter Argelio and Patricia. They lost the mom six years ago to cancer. Hno could testify of the value of the Gospel of his life and how we was able to overcome having his dad die of cancer as well. They are great people. Later we went to a classic Texas football game for our investigator Benjamin in the rain. Only in Texas do you have to pay to see 8th grade!!! The game reminded me of my football days, especially when the other team scored 14 points in the first 5 minutes. Benjamin is blessed, much like I have been, to have his entire family there at every game cheering him on. We had to leave early to get to another appointment and bikes hard in the rain for 50 minutes across the freeway and our entire area. It was fun.

Wednesday we found all sorts of less-active members. The Alvarenga's made tasty food. 

Thursday Javier took us to Walmart for Mamea's back pain pills and we ran into a bunch more less-actives. I guess we should just proselyte there now. 

Friday we found the awesome Macias family. They are the ones that go fish at Texas city and come back with 52 cow fish they fry up in a bowl of oil in front of the apartment and give to strangers. I guess you can eat the eyes if you want. The papa was one of those guys who says he's not interested, then interrupts and asks tough questions from where he's on the couch watching TV. They are a good family, and just about the first thing they told us is that they wanted to go to Church. That's just the way we like it. It is so much fun find an individual or family that seems like they've been in a spiritual vacuum and just let them drink up the Gospel like Moses drinking with the sheep in that dreamworks movie. 

Saturday I was hit right off the bat by Elder Packer's and Elder Robbins' talks. Jesus Christ is the answer. Are we focused on him, or on the world? Before Priesthood session we went with a bunch of members to what they call "Los Chinos"- the Chinese buffet. I love the mixed culture, and watching the hermanos dig into fried rice and even more fried-ier squid. I loved listening to conference in Spanish- real Spanish! I believe Hugo E. Martinez said something like this:

 "Si usted sirve, sirve. Y si no sirve, no sirve"

meaning: "if you serve, you serve (a purpose, you work, function, are useful). If you don't serve, you don't serve (and aren't doing anything!)"

Let's get out and serve!

Yesterday I was touched  to see my Broadway 3 convert Cesar, a new family that moved into  the ward, Valentin who hasn't been to church in 9 months, Benjamin, Tatiana+Jaime, and many more all at the conference. Cristela de los Santos' record was found, so I guess won't have to re-baptize her, but she'll be in the temple soon. We ate good Mexican food between sessions. We found the Conejo family last night and are excited to help this single parent and her children see that that their family does have a Father that loves and watches over them always. 

Elder Decker

 

Monday, September 29, 2014

There are no coincidences.

Mom,

Hey no worries, we don't have a car, but the district leader picks us up every Monday in his soccer-mom van. So I've never had to strap tuna to my bike, but a guy gave us three deep-fried cow fish yesterday.

On Oct. 10 a movie (yea, a real movie) comes out in theaters called Meet the Mormons. The church made it not (necessarily) to baptize people, but to inform them. We watched it on Friday in a sweet sneak-peek with President Drake, and it really impressed me. It talks about 6 families, the lives they live, the trials they have, and how they find happiness. Even though it shares very little doctrine, it shows the entire Gospel. I felt I could see Jesus Christ in the lives of these faithful members, in their countenances. Please go see it.

Friday was the biggest church fiesta of the year: Fiestas Patrias, where we celebrate the Indepenance and culture of our many beloved paises hispanos. We brought three families, and saw many less actives and potential investigators there. The place was packed. We had a ton of fun seeing so much food from so many countries, music, and dances. The district even participated a little, Elder Mamea taught us the haka and we performed it in front of everyone. It was really exciting to see our ward doing what the prophet has asked as they fellow-shipped, gave rides to, and brought tons of food for those in the process of becoming active members.

That night we also saw Jose get baptized. That was a really big faith building experience for me, because Elder Poulson and I found him, and when we did, he didn't look like much. He was on some stairs that day reading book. We gave him a better one. We came back that week to teach him and found out he was one of those types that is incredibly hard to talk teach because they can't stop talking or stay on one topic. After struggling for a few minutes to get him to think about prophets, I conceded that it really is about him. So we talked about him. We found out everything about him. I decided to believe that this broken man really could accept the Gospel. We let him know that the Gospel would change him. We invited him to be baptized and he accepted. And then we had to refer him to the sisters because he doesn't really speak Spanish. I am so grateful we did what we were supposed to, had faith, and invited him to be baptized the first time we taught him. I understand faith so much more than I did before the mission. It is more than just belief, it is more than just action, it is a reassurance, it is a drive, it is a different way of thinking and feeling and being.

And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.

I've decided that because God lives, there are no coincidences. Thursday, ten minutes after following up with some commitments we had left with our investigator Tatiana, she called us back excitedly (people don't really call us so it was a surprise). It turned out that she was sitting in her friends hair salon when we called her, and after hanging up she got to talking about us to her friend Deyra, the hair lady. She told her about the white kid and the Hawaiian guy that come to visit her family and that's when they realized they both knew us. Her friend is our investigator Deyra we've been trying to bring to church for four weeks. So our Heavenly Father had us teaching two best friends at the same time, one who loves church and one who won't step foot in it. We didn't know they knew each other and neither of them knew the other was also seeing the missionaries. Man that was hard to explain, but it was exciting. 
The second non-coincidence tender mercy happened in sacrament meeting. I visited a member named Cesar a lot when I served next to downtown in Broadway 3. He often comes to church in a t-shirt and stays for all three wards. A member pointed him out to me this Sunday, thinking it was a visitor, and I sat next to him. I told him I was glad to see him. He lives alone and doesn't have a lot of family or help, and just hit a financial road-block. He told me he'd have to go live with his dad, "but I'll have to find him first," he said, "I don't know where he lives or anything right now." After the meeting, we stood up to head to class. When he turned around and saw the Hermana's new investigator who was there for the first time just a few rows behind us he said "Dad!?" yep, the Libro de Mormon toting Fransisco really was him. Little family reunion unfolded before our eyes, Cesar telling him about his knee-surgery and baptism and things. The two of them sat together in Sunday school and priesthood.  

God makes everything work out. 

I will watch the conference in Broadway chapel. I wish we went to church for conference when I was a kid. It is better. The word on the street is that the foreign language speaking authorities won't have to speak in English anymore, that's good with me because I like Spanish better anyway.

Elder Decker

 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Going out on a limb.

Mom,

I recently overheard one great Hermano here in the ward counseling another. He said, well in Spanish he said, "I have four words for you; they are the answer to all of your problems. Listen carefully, "EL LIBRO DE MORMÓN."  I have been taking that advice, and that book, very seriously lately and have found some treasures (2 Nephi1:15). I am glad to hear that y'all are too.

We saw a big miracle this week, a member moved to Houston from Wisconsin right out of the blue, a super strong member, and she referred to us her grandson. He is 13 years old, and extraordinarily interested in the Gospel. He is scheduled to be baptized Oct.11. Saturday he went proselyting Elder Mamea and me for 6 hours! He had a fun time riding his bike, sweating bullets, talking to drunk people, and watching me climb a tree and chainsaw off a limb 20ft in the air. My  Paisano had thrown a chain around the branch to hang pinatas and stuff. Six years later the tree had grown and sucked the chain in. We also ate tamales and Pappa's Barbacue. But anyway it was a good day. It is a huge blessing for me to be able to share the Gospel with Benjamin, someone so humble, so motivated, and so great. He says he wants to go on a mission when he's 18, after going to church just once and hearing one lesson. 

I'm glad things aren't so easy- that means I've got the chance to learn something. I know that I have a Heavenly Father that is in control, infinitely patient, and who has a plan for me and for the people I am with. 

Love Elder Decker

 

Monday, September 15, 2014

It's all part of the plan.


Mom,

Thank you mom for your prayers and letters and all you do for me. I am incredibly blessed to be here. I know that even though things don't go perfectly, the mission I've had and will have is infinitely better than any I would have picked for myself. I'm grateful for trials. I'm grateful for how much the people I try to teach end up teaching me. A lot of us have a thing about perfection. A while back I wondered why I couldn't just have Jesus Christ as a perfect senior companion, and we'd have perfect studies, be perfectly obedient, teach perfectly, and I'd learn in time to be perfect just like Him right? Often the answer to questions like that is this: if that were the right answer our loving Heavenly Father would have made things that way, but He didn't, so it's not. I'm grateful for my imperfect self, and for my imperfect companions. I know that we don't remember being with our Heavenly Father for a reason, that we are all imperfect here for a reason. If we are really to be like God we need to help others the way he helps us. If we could see how far we really were from perfection most of us would give up right then and there on ever reaching it. The twelve original apostles, talked, walked and ate with Jesus Christ, the only perfect man. One betrayed him, one denied him three times, and all abandoned him. The opposite of perfectionism is faith, knowing that someone bigger and better is and will take care of us.

We have the humbling opportunity to help someone a lot less fortunate than ourselves. For the first twenty minutes of our visit, all he could talk about is his house falling apart, his family apart, his work falling apart, his body falling apart, and even his mind falling apart. He told us he was done, that he had given up. It was a blessing to be able to begin with a prayer and thank our Heavenly Father for everything He has given us. We promised him the hope that he desired, for himself, for his wife, and for his two kids. We told him there is only one way to turn off the blackness in a dark room, and that's by turning on the light. We taught him about God's true identity as our Father, about the mission of His Son Jesus Christ. We helped him pray for the first time since he was thirteen years old. We read with him about Jesus' atonement form Mosiah 3, and saw prophecy of Christ fulfilled before our eyes.

"...And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men....

...whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy, even as though he had already come among them."

God let us feel great joy with this man, because of the powerful, beautiful, and true message we brought him. He regained faith and determination; he isn't done yet. He promised to walk to church with his family on Sunday. 

Love Elder Decker

 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Just be happy.

September 8, 2014

Mom,

I actually got a new comp this week. His name is Elder Mamea. He is a professional rugby playing Samoan who grew up in Hawaii. It was a surprise we got him, he has already served in the ward for six months, and now he's moved one area over to be in a trio with Elder Poulson and me. It was unexpected, but God does whatever he sees is best for his children. He's a super funny guy, loves all the members and investigators sincerely and just wants to help people. I'm learning there is more than one way to do missionary work. Elder Mamea, Elder Poulson, and I are definitely different people, but together we can still do great work.

I have learned that all it really takes is willingness; God really has all eternity to work on us, if we let him, there's no rush. That's where patience comes in. We often see how far we have to go and never even take the first step. I'm learning how much a difference having the Spirit means. It is more than just being worthy and obedient. It is having faith and hope. When we believe that God will do all things for our good, that there will be a solution, in time there always is. Elder Mamea often says: "If you're not having fun, the Spirit won't be there. If you're sad the Spirit won't be there." Sacrificing our happiness, even for our responsibilities, is the wrong way to do it. The companionship of the Spirit is way too valuable to let stress, anxiety, or depression get it the way, no matter how justified our sadness may seem to be. Just be happy. 

We saw a big miracle this week. We saw T. and J. again, they've been coming to church regularly, they know the members, they enjoy our visits, but say they want to be 100% sure about everything before they get baptized. We promised them that sureness would be there if they read the Book of Mormon and pray to know it is true. Last week J. joined the very short list of people I've taught on my mission that really and sincerely tried that promise. Last Sunday he read, without a prayer, without really trying and nothing happened. That night, he had a dream that he was a member of the church. The next day, he tried again with real effort: he said his mind opened up, he felt refreshed, that the words stuck in his head and he could really understand them, he said a happiness was in him that wasn't there before that stayed. We testified to him that the Holy Ghost had testified to him, and that as he continued to do the things God asks him to do, he'd feel the same way again and again. This was the same J. who, after we shared the Joseph Smith story and asked him how he felt said, "frankly I feel nothing, I just feel the same." In that moment he wasn't ready, we hadn't done what he needed for him to feel it. The Spirit won't be forced. It only comes through obedience to and faith in our Father. And when it comes, things happen.

Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke of the power of the Spirit: “True conversion comes through the power of the Spirit. When the Spirit touches the heart, hearts are changed."

Now they can either embrace the Spirit like Nephi or reject it like Laman and Lemuel. But what hope it gives me, knowing the power the Spirit has to change thoughts, beliefs, desires and actions. What hope it gives me to know that my investigators and I will change just by experiencing the Spirit. From 1 Corinthians 2:

"It is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."

The Spirit is a good teacher, the best in fact. It shows and doesn't just tell. When the Spirit testifies of something true, it shows us exactly what we will feel as we live what we are being told. 


love
Elder Decker

He never forgets about us.

September 3, 2014

Because of Labor Day and transfers, Zach wrote on Wednesday.

It is good to do fun summer things for as long as you can. School has set in here, and it brings a new little dynamic to missionary work.

The Book of Mormon is a gem. I have learned it was not written for investigators. It was not written solely to be an evidence of the restoration, though it certainly does that. The Book of Mormon was written for Mormons. To turn us into what God can make of us. I am completely convinced that the Book of 1st Nephi was written to help us learn to be prophets, perhaps not prophets, seers, revelators and presidents of the church, but men and women who receive revelation from God for their own stewardship because of the covenant keeping and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and prophets in their own right (Numbers 11:29/Revelation19:10). Nephi starts a humble, obedient boy and ends a colonizer of continents, a Seer, a King, a Patriarch, and the beginner of a very important book. From 1 Nephi 10 and 11 we learn how...

17 And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost,which power he received by faith on the Son of God—and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come—I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.

18 For he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.

19 For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.

1 For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.


As members of Christ's restored Church, having received the ordinances of the priesthood and having so much revelation (four huge canonical books of it) literally at our fingers, we often live far below our spiritual potential. The sweetest experiences I have had yet on my mission have been when I put myself in a situation, a mindset, an environment when the Spirit can teach me. It never comes when I am thinking of myself. I love learning from the Spirit.

Before my mission I would often hear RMs say "I learned so many on my mission!" I sometimes asked in my mind: "name three" or something sarcastic like that. Sometimes they have a hard time summing it up. Always what we hear missionaries saying they learned about is the love of God our Father, the power of the Atonement, the truthfulness of the Restoration. My case is no different. I am often struck by truth after precious truth of things I thought I had already known. This week I learned that God loves us. He cares about us. He has a plan for us. He is actively involved in our lives. And although we may forget Him, He never forgets about us. I know that the Gospel is true, even for prideful-imperfect little me. I know the best way to help people is to emulate the Savior, to do what He would do, and there is nothing more powerful then that. I know he knows my investigators perfectly, and my companions too. I know I couldn't think of a better life or mission than the one God tailored for me. I know God is a perfect teacher, with perfect patience, and with very imperfect children. I know God is doing everything he can to reach out to us, all we have to do is make ourselves available. I know that the key to our happiness, our success, our salvation is remembering what it is that we have been taught, what God has spoken to us, and holding on to those precious things with all our might. 

I love you all and am so glad you are together and happy!

Elder Decker

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Analysis Paralysis

August 25, 2014

Mom, 

Proverbs 29:18

Where there is no vision, the people perish

Thanks for sending the contacts, and for putting in all that effort with the photos. 

We are really enjoying our time here. Even though we had some some investigators drop us, and a lot of imperfect decisions, we got some work done, we keep learning a lot about goals, about what God wants for us, about not being discouraged, and about being like Jesus Christ. We have had a lot of "analysis paralysis" in the last month, we have great desires to maximize efficiency. We just spent way to much time fretting about the right way to do things. I now know that we don't need to re-make decisions, lessons, or rules every time we have a decision to make. Following the Spirit as best we can, we have to just choose a direction and go with it. We call it the Aragon method because that was Hno Aragon's advice to us.

The Church sure does a good job giving us opportunities to grow. That's because it is Christ's church. He is not just about relieving burdens and healing ailments. He is about strengthening, teaching, challenging, and molding us. Nowhere is that felt more than in the mission field. Service in the developmental center, talks in church, campouts, and many more do the same thing. I love the Church and know how vital it is that we stay firmly rooted in it. I know I've been called to serve in Houston for a reason, to serve with these companions for a reason, and with both President Crawford then Drake for a reason. I see firsthand here how things can be for families. Many people come here alone and some money back to Mexico or El Salvador, splitting up marriages and families for decades. Many bring their whole family with them; kids learn and speak English and the parents don't. It really is difficult for them to stay together. Imagine me being unable to speak your language! That is the reality of a large group of people here. The Gospel is what can bridge the gap. Literally sealing families together with the power of God. Please pray for those we are trying to bring into the Church right now: Tatiana and Jaime, Jackie and Cynthia, Juan Silva, and Geo.  

love

Elder Decker

 

 

Monday, August 18, 2014

This is God's plan of happiness

I am having a lot of fun. It is good to be in Texas. There are a lot of good people in Texas.

 This week we found some wonderful brothers and sisters who are willing to listen: Virigina's life has gone crazy since she decided not to go home to Mexico after her vacation here. Her beliefs pretty much consists of astrology, the law of attraction, and psalm 91. Ruth and her children moved here from Honduras just a couple months ago; have haven't found work. Getting their electricity, and Air Conditioning, shut off on Friday was devastating in the Texas August heat. They have been humbled, they are eager to learn, and they need God's love and blessings so bad. Juan Benito is an great man with enormous desirous to do what's right. Just this year he began reading the Bible, leaving drinking and smoking, and attending a church regularly. He prays, fast, repents, and has seen already great blessings for his family. He still wants more though. He plans on getting baptized in two weeks, in the pslam 28:46 church or something like that. He's now eating up the Book of Mormon, and we are pleading with the Lord that we can see a miracle.

In both that church and our's, one is submerged in water, demonstrating their willingness to follow Christ, and their desire to be born again.  There is, however, a profound difference between baptisms performed in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and any other place. Converts here repent of all their sins, and covenant with God to obey him. This covenant is made with the help of one holding the priesthood authority of God. Converts are sanctified by the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, then are entitled to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost as they live worthy of it.  Converts receive the remission of sins and are continually cleansed from sin as the take the sacrament, properly officiated also by God's priesthood authority. Converts in time receive the priesthood themselves, serve in God's church, make more covenants with Him in holy temples and are sealed together as families, again by the priesthood. 

37 And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism—All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto there mission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.

50 And again we bear record—for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just—

 51 They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given—

 52 That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;

 53 And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.

 54 They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.

 55 They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things—

 56 They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory;

 57 And are priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son.

 58 Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God—

 59 Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

 60 And they shall overcome all things.

from D&C 20 and 76

God desires these blessings for all His children. That is why we serve missions. That is why we baptize. Anyone wanting to know if these promises are true need only read the Book of Mormon, and pray to know it is true. I love the restored Church. I know that its teaching and ordinances are true and that they come from God himself. I love serving a mission. I pray, work, and hope that Viriginia, Ruth, Juan, and their families will know these truths as well and choose to make the sacred covenant of Baptism with their Father in Heaven.

Elder Decker

Monday, August 11, 2014

It's easy to see why we're trying to make more!


Rebekkah and Khaleb baptism
Evidence (that probably shouldn't exist) of me having to break into the font to fill it up.
Saturday was a really big day for ourselves, and for Javier and Bryn's family. They were sealed 9am Saturday, their kids Rebekkah and Khaleb were baptized at 3pm, and there was a big reception/celebration at 6pm. That morning Elder Poulson and I skipped some studies and got out the door at 9:15. We saw la Hna Medina first, who actually came to church two weeks ago. She asks us how we can obey Christ by loving and serving our neighbor if people on the street could kill or kidnap you. She is worried about her daughter who gets off work late at night. We promised her she'd find the answer searching in the Book of Mormon (which she hasn't read in her many decades of being a member, active and inactive) for only 30 seconds a day, everyday, for a week. We came back to the chapel, filled up the font, and did companion/Spanish study while we waited. When the baptism started, there was a mountain of people. They was tons of support from the ward, the Spirit was strong, and Rebekkah's parents even invited some non-members. We got the opportunity to meet lots of people, have a long conversation about the ward with the Obispo and eat some fantastic fajita and other Mexican food. That night, Hno Valdez taught the Plan of Salvation with us to Tatiana and Jaime. They read in the Book of Mormon! Hno Valdez made Tatiana cry with his testimony about the atonement. They want to come to church and be baptized. They just feel they don't have a certainty yet, to be a part of the church and never quit. We promised them that they would feel that assurance and that desire to be baptized when they've read the Book of Mormon and learned that it is true. We are excited for them.

 I love the members of the church here in Houston dearly. Though they may never remember me, with nine missionaries in our ward and constant transfers, I will always remember them. Monday Hermana Rodriguez washed our clothes and Hermana Medrano gave us Spaghetti, Tuesday Hermano Alvarenga then Hermano Palacios came and worked with us after which we visited (for the thousandth time) Hna Ibarra's father, trying to help him get closer to baptism than he has been in the last 10 years of missionary visits. Wednesday we woke Hno Vivas up early in the afternoon and shared a message with him, and he shared breakfast tacos and punch with us. That afternoon Hna Gonzalez couldn't let us in because her husband wasn't home, but let us take home her spaghetti (and awesome green salsa). That night Hna Lopez helped us teach Tatiana and Jaime for an awesome visit. Friday we visited the Ceron family, Hno Rodriguez and his dad, and Hna Flores gave us some awesome Hondurian food. There were tons of members at the baptism. Hna Gomez, Hna Hernandez, Hna Lopez, Obispo, Hna Reynoza, and many more supported la familia Martinez on their special day. Hno Valdez helped us that night then Sunday we were up early with Hno Rodriguez, Obispo, Hno Lopez, Palacios, Martinez, at PEC followed by 3 straight hours of member-mania church. Hna Medina and her husband came! That's twice in 3 three weeks after years away. After church Hnas Berrueto, Flores, and Martinez joined us with Hnos Diaz, Lopez, and Rodriguez for our Coordinacion meeting (where we are supposed to get help from the members. Which as you can see may be a little unnecessary). Hno Palacios came to find new investigators with us again, and then we ate a mountain of Pollo con verguras at Hna Rodriguez' house (the same Hermana Rodriguez that is right now working on our latest batch of laundry). This morning Hna Lopez had her switch her phone back to Espanol for her, and Hermana Ham (1/2 Chinese) had us pick up the frozen burritos and Orange Drank she bought for us. When the members of the church are such good people, it's easy to see why we're trying to make more:)

My scripture to memorize and internalize for the week comes from Juan 10:

"Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father."

I know that Jesus Christ performed the atonement for each of us. I know that he died willingly, that He alone had the power to end his life, and that He did it for us because of His love for us and for His Father. I know that because of the Atonement, we too will have the power to obey every commandment the Father has given us.  

Love,

Elder Decker

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Allow Him to do it.


August 4, 2014
Mom, 

Our investigator called us right in the middle of District Mtg to tell us about his baby boy. They had no problems. He is thrilled. The sisters are still visiting him, it was hard to have to give up teaching them, but that's just the way it is. Our struggle is always finding. We've got something great, but nobody to give it to.

 It was a huge blessing to share the Book of Mormon with a couple referred to us by a ward member. They are anxious to read and learn and come to church. We are very excited for them. I love seeing how well the Gospel and Church of Jesus Christ fits everyone's needs and everyone's family. We all really do need him, and we as missionaries just share tools to help us get to him (Baptism!)

The Assistants to the President taught us about the great need of faith on Saturday. According to a talk by Vaughn Featherstone, faith is built on evidence:  evidence from the scriptures, the Holy Ghost, other people’s testimonies, and personal experiences. To build greater faith, we must collect, review, and memorize these evidences. This is why we read scriptures, we pray, we attend Church and keep records. It is because the Nephites forgot the Lord that they fell. Elder Poulson and I are working on a project to build our faith that God is preparing people for us to baptize. We are doing this by compiling our own baptism experiences/photos with those from other missionaries, members, whoever, and adding stories and promises for missionaries from the scriptures and modern prophets and putting it all on our wall. Like Moroni says in chapter 7:

36Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?

 37Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.

I am anxious to have more faith, and getting things really rolling. I know we can do nothing without faith. I know that God can do everything through us, if we just believe in Him, and allow Him to do it. 
Elder Decker