Monday, April 28, 2014

It's not about checklists, it's about conversion

April 28, 2014

President Crawford told us that if we study PMG consistently, we'll leave our mission as 30 yr olds instead of 20 yr olds. It really is packed full of immediately applicable, time-tried, God-inspired, wisdom. It is kind of like the college text-book of a 2-year class. And we have quizzes every single day, all day. PMG with the scriptures with tell you "all things what ye should do." It's not about checklists, it's about conversion, the conversion of missionaries and investigators into disciples of Christ.

In Hno Cesar Velasquez' house. He bought us Church's chicken and always gives us coconut water.
The best pupuseria EVER. We went once a week. 
These are some of the best Mormons in the world. They fed me twice a week for 4 1/2 months. Hno Juarez is a temple worker. They were kind of like my Mexican grandparents while I was here. They live in a tiny, humble apartment near downtown. A time or two their chilies made me cry. 
We just found a guy from Argentina! We have an appointment with him this week, but I'm getting transferred tomorrow so I won't be around. He's a lot different from the Mexicans and Central Americans we usually talk to. He makes his own wine from the vines he grows outside his apartment, blesses his bath water before he uses it, and buys nothing but organic foods. He didn't have the buenas aires accent, but it he was really cool anyway.

Hermano Chavez' taco truck!
I'll be leaving Elder Downey here captaining the great Lockwood ship. I think we've collected a good group of people for him to teach so it should go well (we found 6 new investigators last week!). I actually feel like I was "trained" here. It was here I've really learned Spanish, learned how to teach, to study, get over disagreements, work with members, make appointments, drop investigators, find investigators, knock doors, and keep a smile on.  It feels like I've knocked every door, talked to every bum, and interrupted every fiesta. it's pretty weird just packing up and leaving it all here. I've been doing that for about a year now, leaving stuff behind. This is the experience God wanted for me, and I like it.

have a good week! and have fun keeping up with the craziness!


love Elder Decker


Everything is about Him

April 21, 2014

Mom,

We had a good exchange this week. I enjoyed spending a day in U of H with Elder Birch. I feel like I learned quite a bit from the really comfortable, friendly way he approaches people. Sometimes, wrongly, I get a mindset like contacts and investigators are an enemy I am struggling against, but that's just not true. I can be their friend. We should both enjoy our lessons. And nobody agrees to hear from us after we argue with them on their doorstep.

Saturday we took Elder Downey's defective bicycle into the shop. After replacing a chain we had to go in and tell them they hadn't solved the problem. It's hard to confront people. But it is part of growing up. "Ask and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened up unto" really works doesn't it? In this situation though, we were dead wrong. Elder Downey had to pay 30 more bucks.

This place really turned into a party over the weekend. Blasting music and smoky barbecues filled the air. Saturday night we were kept up by a quincenera across the street playing Gangnam style and mariachi music for hours.

Yesterday we saw a pretty good miracle. A lady pulled us over on the side of the street, told us she was a member, and asked us where the church was. She is actually a returning less-active member who had been taught a lot in the South Mission. She is actually part of a part-member family. We just found somebody who really likes being taught. Last night we helped her move into her new house, we met her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend, and we plan on going back. Ironically their new house is the old house of a potential investigator we never taught who kept telling us to come back later.
Easter was different, but still enjoyable. I got a big steaming bowl of cow stomach last night with Hno Emerson. It actually goes down pretty well with a ton of onion, cilantro, hot sauce, and lemon. And stacks of Salvadoranean tortillas.

I've realized here more than ever the significance who Christ really is and what he does for us. I remember thinking as a kid, "I believe in God, he gives me everything, I pray to him, why we need Jesus?" The answer came as I faced trials, when I fought temptation, or when I searched for forgiveness. The answer came when I really went into the world and saw the need for a guide, a mediator, to take us all from where we are to where we want to go. We had all fallen short of the mark. There was no way we could have made it back it the Father, without his perfect son. I love Christ. I love following him. I love learning about him. I love that everything I do, everything that his Church is about is centered around him. I am grateful that he suffered all things, so that we wouldn't have to.

Elder Decker


Thursday, April 17, 2014

May be strange, but it will change your life.

Mom,

Elder Downey had his birthday yesterday. We sprayed down the zone leaders van with silly string when they came to get us for church. Sometimes we just have to be 18 year olds (well now 19).

I've had a few realizations in the last week. I can't even begin to complain about how the ward is run until I've done everything I can to make it work. I can't just skip Sunday school because it is taught poorly, I have to go prepared, with a manual, and do everything I can to make sure the investigators and members there have a good experience.

We did quite a bit of knocking last week and found somebody awesome. He actually stopped going to Catholic church a while back because he got offended in the middle of his "communion" process. He wants to be a good example to his little brothers and follow God, but just doesn't know how. We taught him with a lot of unity and the spirit was really present. We are excited to see him again. We also taught our other investigator again last night. He is really concerned about finally starting to live his life after so many years locked up, he is worried about his mom with cancer and he wants to find some peace. It may be weird, but I never get sick of watching The Restoration. Every time I see something new. We shared it with him and promised him that, as strange as it may seem, what started in a grove of trees almost 200 years ago will in reality change his life, reinvigorate his faith in Jesus Christ, and bless his family.

Love,

Elder Decker

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

If it is a good thing- do it!

Mom,

Elder Holland's talk really inspired, as usual. He made it clear that living and preaching the Gospel isn't meant to be easy. I know firsthand what he said about those thinking that God is a nothing but a comfortable God that doesn't expect much- that is the mentality we really fight here. Fortunately, I don't get spit on, ridiculed or hated. Nearly everyone we talk to compliments and encourages us. We get a whole lot of "Oh that's so great what you do, keep going! Just never come back here." The people honestly recognize that what we do is right, they just have other priorities or feel they are doing enough by reading their Bible or going to mass once a year. The harshest thing I've gotten is recent weeks was somebody who told me 1 all of my neighbors are drunks and won't listen to you (he was right) 2 we should only preach the Gospel by being a good example (not so bad of an idea). Our area is also heavily tracted by Los Testigos de Jehovah, Los Pentecosteses, Los Evangelistas, and a flock of Colombian Catholic nuns.

I love the poem that President Monson quoted (and not for the first time I believe), that said we'll never ever regret being just a little too nice. Any idea we have do to good should not be ignored. Moroni 7:14-16 tells us that everything that invites us to do good and persuades us to believe in Christ is sent by his power. Maybe you didn't really "have" to do that great service for you neighbor, but in reality you did. Maybe we wonder if it is really the spirit telling us to do something, maybe I wonder if it's really the spirit telling me to talk to a random person on the street about the restoration, but if it is a good thing- do it! We'll never go wrong. We can never do too much good. You and I have already covenanted to "mourn with those that mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:8-10), and we have the companionship of the Holy Ghost to inspire us and let us be the agents of God to do good to his children. Even I, whose every thought and action should be centered on my purpose to "invite others to come unto Christ" sometimes hesitate to say a kind word or do a good deed. It's not too easy to be like Christ, but once we've decided we want to be it gets a whole lot easier. It seems to me we can't even really say we've ever "gone the extra mile" as far as service goes, because we've covenanted to give all that we are and have to God. No matter how much we do, we are still unprofitable servants (Luke 17: 7-10), but how lucky are we to be serving with and for Christ in the first place! I'm really proud of you Mom. I'm even more grateful for a loving Heavenly Father that always delivers his promised blessings to those that live the way he asks (D&C 58:17), just like you saw.
  
Elder Decker