Monday, February 24, 2014

Looking for lost sheep

No se preculpe papi. Segun un miembro aqui, ya hablamos "un monton de espanol." Si lo hablo. No tengo ningun miedo hablando con la gente, ensenando lecciones, o enviano correo electronicos en el idioma. Creo que nunca voy a hablar como los misioneros alla en El Salvador o otro lugar asi pero si ay gente bastante con que hablar y aprender. Tambien me compre el Libro de Mormon en diskos compactos. Escucho y repito las palabras bajas y suavas, (para no mencionar sagradas) para mejorar mi habilidad de pronunciar sin pensar.    

It was brought up in ward conference that this ward doesn't seem to be growing. I believe a new ward hasn't been organized in this area for many years. There seems to be many, many less actives and a few dedicated church attenders. Elder Downey suggested that perhaps this lower-class neighborhood is somewhere people are anxious to move out of. That could be, but I still wonder, what has happened to all the people that have been baptized here in the last twenty years? And what will happen to my baptisms? Elder Downey and I found two more lost sheep last week, making five since I arrived here. More needs to be done to look after all these people. Since I've been here, not one member I've asked is being visited by home teachers. I want to do more to strengthen this ward.

Elder Downey and I had a really great week. Especially this Saturday, when we taught five lessons. We really utilized our time well that day, had good plans and backups, but more importantly were guided by the spirit. I have really felt that we lived our purpose. Earlier in my mission I didn't do a lot to invite people early on. We have invited everyone we talk to to come to church, to hear a message. Everyone we teach we invite to be baptized.

We are teaching one man, he is pretty old, and speaks Spanish and English. It has been a struggle to get him to church. Because of his disabilities we have advised him to come to English ward at one, even though we meet at eleven in Spanish. He has yet to make it then. I am worried that his illnesses may keep him from ever coming to church, from being able to read the Book of Mormon and progressing. We've already spent a lot of time with this man. Mainly listening to his stories, piling his leaves, trimming his palm tree, pulling down Christmas lights, planting plants, eating his food, draining his foot bath water, and advising him to fire his terrible caretaker. With what time we have left we try to get through one or two verses of The Book of Mormon.

We brought Cesar to a lesson with an investigator this week. He brought his bike and everything, which was funny because I had a flat tire and walked anyway. He did a great job relating to our investigator and sharing his experience. He is also starting home teaching this week. It is exciting to see his progresssion.

I see more and more things that I don't want to do or be. I see addictions, bad marriages, self-damaging thought processes and just plain rude people. For the most part I really love the people here, I know that what I have will bless them, and really want to give it to them. The Gospel of Jesus Christ really is the solve-all cure everyone is looking for. I'm very grateful for this opportunity to see the difference the Gospel makes.

Elder Decker

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Be unafraid of failure

Last Friday we had zone conference, two zones got together and we heard from Elder Aidukatis of the seventy. He's a pretty funny guy. He encouraged us to expand our vision, to relish rejection, to look to baptize, and that the field really is white, already for the harvest. He told us we are afraid to encourage our investigators to be baptized progress because we only find two on average per week. "Why not find sixteen?!" he asked us, is his this Brazilian accent, "that way you'll still have fifteen more hahahaha." He is a goofy guy, and I loved it. I really just take things too seriously. He encouraged us to talk to more people, to be unafraid of failure.

The District (without the hermanas)
Elder Aidukatis' visit certainly had an immediate impact on Elder Downey and I. As we were dropped off by the zone leaders, they almost jokingly told us to go ask a woman why she was lying on the sidewalk. With increased motivation and desire to harvest this "white field" of ours, we contacted her and got a return appointment. She ended up being a crack addict, but whatever. Immediately after walking away from her, a neighbor of ours walked past. I found out he had visited like we had asked him to, and just began talking. We ended up sitting at a table that is outside our apartment and teaching the first lesson- prayers and all. He has a lot of potential. He described his frustration with so many christian churches he had visited, all of which asked him to "trust in God," but not one of which actually had any counsel on how he could improve his life. We assured him that is not the case in Christ's church. He was especially excited by the idea of a modern prophet, a living example. We had a great lesson, and he is excited to read the Book of Mormon, we even invited him to be baptized. All these great things we happening, and we couldn't even get a return appointment. Despite all the great things we offered him he says: "Islam is just really working out for me right now." I really feel we applied what Elder Aidukatis taught us: to be straight forward, bold, to accept rejection, and to really find those that will accept us.

We are a little frustrated that the vast majority of the interested people we find live outside of our area, if that's another part of our district, the north mission, or Dallas. We have faith that the field is white, and now have a lot less apprehension about dropping uninterested people and moving on. Elder Thomas and I filled 7 or so potential investigator sheets that we are now just digging through.

Yesterday we went to the Texas Houston Temple, it was fantastic! That's also why I didn't email yesterday. The Houston temple fits this area so well. It's small, but impressive.

Last night we were able to teach a man from Honduras. He's seen a lot of struggles, and even with a strong faith in Jesus Christ he wants more. We taught him about the Plan of Salvation, that there is work to do, sin to overcome, and a Savior to help us do it. It's a powerful message that I too often take for granted.


Elder Decker

Monday, February 10, 2014

An outrageous and unheard of phenomenon.


There's not a lot of olympic evidence in the mission field, aside from my Wheaties box. We are starting "The District Olympics" this week though, points being awarded to companionships with (among other things) new investigators, extended baptismal dates, and high-5's.

My new companion is named Elder Downey he's from a tiny Idaho town of 300. We tried to make fries during weekly planning on Thursday. What we got was a hot gooey mess that tasted really good with Frank's redhot hotsauce. Elder Downey and Elder Thomas actually just switched places. Elder Downey came from Cleveland Texas, where there's nothing but dirt roads, thick forests, and white people. He was so excited to see sidewalks and Mexicans that he insisted that we walk the first two days. I think Elder Downey and I will make a great companionship. I already notice how different our missionary experiences and styles are. Elder Downey does excellently with the area book, planning, teaching records, getting members, etc. He even cooks. He only has six weeks more in the mission, but he has had a very different mission then I have. We really balance each other out. 

Our new convert is doing great. He was ordained yesterday as a priest. He has changed his life so much, but realizes that many of the ward members still view him as a borracho. Gossip and judgment are two of Satan's most powerful tools against the church. The elders quorum president, said he could be his home teaching companion. That would be excellent. 

I love hearing all the good decisions my friends are making, I'm really proud of our little ward. 

Right now we are excited about a new investigator.We brought an RM member to our first lesson with her, and it went very well. . .We hope to be able to address her concerns and get her to church this week. She's the miracle lady that gave us cereal, we finally got the chance to teach her because she called us: an outrageous and unheard of phenomenon.

A mission is a lot like real life. Or as Elder Holland says "the closest thing to real life you're ever going to get!" Doing it your way just doesn't work. It's God's plan, you're God's child, and you'll only find success through obedience to him. That's something I'm beginning to learn. There are a lot of changes I need to make, I can really see that after this difficult week. Luckily the solution isn't too complicated. None of us were sent here to fail, but to succeed gloriously!

Last night, after a really trying week, Elder Downey and I were treated to as many pupusas as we could handle. A pupusa is basically a fat, stuffed, El Salvadorian tortilla. Stack cabbage and salsa on it and you've got a heavenly meal. We downed nine between the two of us, accidentally making the sweet hermana that had cooked them a little nauseous. Lesson learned.  

que tengan buena semana

Elder Decker