Monday, June 30, 2014

This little chunk of heaven.

Jefa,

A big surprise came to us last Friday. We got a new house. Kind of. A truck came by and dropped off two big pallets in front of our house. We tore them open and found a two mattresses, a bunk bed, a bookcase, a chest of drawers, tables, chairs, flatware, pots, dishes, and lots more. Apparently our place was one of the uglier of the mission, and so we got completely new stuff. Elder Moore'll be going from this little chunk of heaven, to Mexico with undrinkable water.

We had a great experience being able to find and teach a new man. He was surprised that we would even talk to him, he's got a head full tattoos and all that. He's had a really bad past, he's made a lot of mistakes, but has a genuine desire to change. It was a great opportunity to teach and testify of the Atonement.

We had fun this week. We got to teach a lot. Using a fresh copy of the ward list, our main focus was meeting and inviting all the members of our area to do missionary work. We found two members who haven't had contact with the church in a long time, got a less active to church, and now have begun teaching a 9 year old with member parents who comes to church every week, who just needs to be baptized. We are committing members to invite friends and family into their home so that we can teach them. We have very few investigators right now, and need to get new ones as quickly as possible. 

Elder Moore still hasn't heard a thing about his Visa. Everyone we talk to tells us Cuernabaca is a ridiculously beautiful place; he's going to love it. He continues to impress me with his humility and eagerness to work and learn. Training him is no problem. Elder Dennis got the chance to speak in church yesterday. He gave a great talk on missionary work using the Joseph Smith story. I've seen him learn a ton since we got together in April. I'm blessed to have companions who want to be obedient, who are here for the right reasons. 

President Crawford called the zone together and we said goodbye to him for the last time. He has made a really big impact on every single one of us here in the mission. We will be meeting President Drake later this week. It's going to be a good change. I'm confident the transition is an opportunity to be better

I'm learning a lot from my struggles and failures. I feel there is no better place I could be to grow and experience things then right here in Texas, trying to serve the Lord. I worry sometimes that we don't do anything to change lives, and we are far away from baptizing. I believe God accepts our best efforts. 

Elder Decker

We covered the place with poison, so no worries


In a letter to his Grandma: 

I have a strong testimony that there isn't a place on the face of the earth sweatier than Houston. But I still do enjoy it.

Talking about apartment checks... We got a 10 out of 10! Then a week later we wake up and find our entire floor covered in hundreds of little nasty maggots. We got them nicely swept and mopped up then covered the place with poison, so no worries.

y'all are great

Love,

Elder Decker

 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

God's got it figured out. Even with a bunch of imperfect mortals at work.

June 23, 2014
 
Mom,

Thank you for your great example of service. I'm beginning to learn that that is a huge part of God's plan for our happiness: just helping and loving others. Developing a sensitivity to the spirit is something I have been trying to work on. A good start is knowing that The Spirit will always teach us to obey God's laws we've been taught, and also that obedience to God's laws invites the Spirit. I recognize now how much I must have hindered the Spirit by dumb things I did before my mission. God has been really patient with me.

After many months I have finally hit a benchmark I've been working on for some time. I finish Moroni 10 today and now have read the entire Book of Mormon in Spanish out loud. General authorities have promised us a lot of blessings for doing so, and I've definitely seen them. I'll  make sure to do it again during my time here.

This we decided to switch our focus to the members. There are so many of them. We saw some immediate results yesterday when we learned that a particular 9 year old that comes to church every week needs to hear the lessons and be baptized. I feel that as we follow Preach My Gospel and the prophets' counsel to use the members in missionary work we will be blessed. We really need somebody to teach.

In the middle of it all, we saw a great miracle this weekend. Elders Dennis, Moore and I had been having a very classic day, biking back and forth across our area, chasing asleep, drunk, lazy, non-existent, or uninterested Tejanos. As we left one neighborhood, I had the distinct impression to talk to a lady on the side of the street. From the get-go I had no doubt she would be awesome.

Her name is _____. She very kindly gave us water, thanked us for stopping and talking with her, and remarked that she knew God was looking over her because of how many people God had been sending her! She showed us two magazines from other denominations that had been given her in the previous days. She told us about the confusion she's had over so many different churches and beliefs (including her muslim husband) and told us of the hardships she was having, including renovating her house. I reached into my backpack to get a pamphlet and give her a brief outline of the restoration and all I found was a Book of Mormon. I thought: why not. I wrote the names of the English sister missionaries and their phone # in the front and handed it to her. As I gave it to her she was surprised. She told me she had always wanted one! She was really excited and grateful to have it. Elder Moore walked her through  the pictures, giving a  brief explanation of the Book, and challenged her to read it. Lastly, we invited her to church the next day, took down her info to give to the English sisters, and left her. Talking about the contact later, we all thought we had spent too much time with her and tried her patience, but we looked forward to sending the referral to the sisters, whom had given us 7 already that week!

Flash forward to Sunday night, and seeing that we had a missed call from the sisters, I took out my planner as I called them to prepare to tell them about _____. When the sister answered, she was bursting with excitement. "Thank you so much Elders, ______ is awesome!"

We had forgotten to wait at church to see if _______was coming to church, we didn't tell the sisters about her, but God took care of it all. Sister Hunter told us the story. She and her companion came to church and saw a new face, a nice lady saying hi to everyone, but that then sat by herself in sacrament meeting. The sisters sat with the woman, whom they thought was a member, and noticed that she began crying during one talk. As they got up to go to the next class, they introduced themselves to the lady. Of course it was the woman whom we had invited to come only the day before. And _____ recognized the sister missionaries' names instantly; she had read them the inside of the Book of Mormon she was holding in her hands. ______ knows that her Father in Heaven is looking out for her. I know that as well. She loved Church.The sisters taught her yesterday, and she accepted the invitation to be baptized without hesitation.

God's got it figured out. Even with a bunch of imperfect mortals at work.

Elder Decker

Friday, June 20, 2014

Three flat tires, cactus and scrambled eggs.

Mom, 

Houston Agricultural Update: people grow cactuses in their front yard, cook 'em up with scrambled eggs and eat them. They're called nopales.

!Bautismo-Fiesta!: No we didn't baptize any this week. But we did get four investigators to a baptismal service on Saturday! They are really humble people, love having us over, and and eager to learn and "hear the word of God." It was awesome to get the members on our side, carrying our investigators to and from the service, and saying hi to them. Afterward was the ward father's day party. I really enjoyed seeing the real result of our efforts. Instead of just knocking on empty houses, we gave a family a glimpse of Christ's restored church; they witnessed a sacred covenant being made! This is the kind of missionary work I want to do. Our mission leaders tell us that, statistically, any non-member who goes to a baptismal service has a 80% probability of becoming a member himself! But more than any of that, our investigators felt the spirit. Eso es lo importante. 

Referals: An hermana in the mission just "went English" and is serving in our same area. Remarkably, it is easy for old, single, Mexican men to give their phone number and address to white girls who speak Spanish. We received eleven referals last week.

The Part-member family: Our recent convert and his family are moving today to San Antonio to find work. This was a really big surprise. Here we've been, trying to bring the family to church, and now they won't even be in Houston. Last night we had the opportunity to go give them blessings before they leave. It will be a huge challenge for this semi-active, part-member family to get to church. It is also a great opportunity for them to show and grow their faith in Jesus Christ by living what they really know is important. We promised them God would provide a way as they live the commandments and keep their covenants. We even invited the father to prepare for the Melchizedek priesthood.  

Flat tires: three last week. Whatever.

Greenie: Our companionship is doing well with the addition of Elder Moore. He graduated at the same time as Elder Dennis and I last year. He is from Payson Utah, and actually knows Lindsay Brown! Only heaven (and the Mexican government) knows when he'll get to his prophetically-assigned mission in Guernavaca Mexico. But until then, he's stuck with us. He is very obedient and humble. He wants to be a great missionary, and is willing to sacrifice to get there. He is already speaking Spanish very well, knows the lessons, and began memorizing the Joseph Smith experience without delay. I feel like I can hardly call it training.
 
The Church is True: 

Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.

Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence. He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand, and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved shall not be counted worthy to stand. Even so. Amen.

2 Nephi 2:8/ D&C 107:99-100

con cariƱo
Elder Decker

Monday, June 2, 2014

Time is flying.

Mom

Yep Texas really knows how to do Summer. Like a Dutch oven. So much for the car- we just got sliced down to 300 miles a month.

Gardening isn't a big thing in Houston, the three bumper crops are: aloe vera, chili pecin, and beer cans. Though one lady gave us grapefruits. Oranges grow here too.

Last night Elder Dennis had lost his helmet, so we were out and about walking. We set two appointments with brand-new people so it worked out pretty well. We were trying to be careful to make sure we turned in our numbers on time, when suddenly it was 8:50, we were on foot, and our phone died. So we ran a mile to get home on time- developing that classic "might as well have jumped in a pool"  Texas respiration. And we got our numbers in on time, so it was all good.

We broke our no new investigator-streak Tuesday when we found three new investigators. It was a very relieving experience. We had been walking out of an apartment complex where we contacted a referral and contacted another lady (both who have ended up avoiding us) and we just turned around and asked a random lady if she would be willing to hear our message. She said come back tomorrow, and we came with a member the next day. Just that simple. I'm really glad we took the opportunity to try to talk with everyone, and it really paid off. 

 Yesterday we were able to meet with a very faithful Hermana.. She was just able to return from Mexico in January, when everyone had told her it wouldn't be possible legally. She told us she fasted, prayed, and read El Libro for days, until finally God answered her prayer, she got a visa, and returned to her family. She's reactivated herself, and now we hope to get her four daughters to church with her. She loves the Book of Mormon so much she is hand-copying pages of the Book of Mormon to send to her son in prison.

Thanks for making that Family book. I've already shown my 4-generation chart to a couple people and they really like it. Families are really important to people, even though there seems to be few successful ones. I know that a happy family is God's plan for us, the we're His  family, and that through Jesus Christ we really can accomplish that.

It's crazy this transfer is coming to an end. Time is flying.

love

Elder Decker