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