Tuesday, August 4, 2015

It has been incredible.

Ever since President Drake began to lead our mission, we've begun our day repeating 3 Nephi 5:13 every morning:

"Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."

Being a disciple of Christ, being called, and declaring His word is a privilege. For one of the last times as a full time missionary, I testify that He lives.

My mission is just about over. It has been incredible. Thank you for your love and support.

Elder Decker

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A happier, better person.

So Sherlyn got baptized! Her mom came. Sherlyn and her friends, President Rascon and I were able to help her understand everything in Spanish. The service went bi-lingual almost at the last minute, and it worked out well. I love hearing English and Spanish hymns and himnos at the same time!

Sherlyn's brother and sister came, Tony's sister, which was awesome for them, and plenty of branch support. We learned that Sherlyn's favorite high school teacher for the last two years is a member! She got to come and support her as well. It was an awesome experience, and the branch is set up to grow a lot more with all the missionary excitement and an awesome new member!

Oh yea, and I finally gave the first talk of my mission in Sacramento meeting, all because I volunteered. So I'm still a rookie, but I thought it was a lot of fun. I was asked to talk about temptation and addiction. I wasn't sure how I'd do it, but then realized I'd known lots of great friends who've overcome those things, and their stories more than anything build my faith.

I love missionary work! I love knowing that I'm doing the right thing.

The biggest shock coming out here is that I wouldn't be an object, something to be acted on and commanded. I didn't know beforehand that it would be up to me how I'd use all my time! I just expected to walk in one end of the two- year hallway and out the other side a happier, better person. But God lets us be agents, invited to act. I'm grateful for that gift. I know with all my heart that Jesus Christ is my Savior. That's really the only important thing. I know that He is the Son of God, and I'm grateful be able to invite others to come unto Him!

Love y'all!

Elder Decker

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Way out in Liberty

Mom,

Our friend Sherlyn absolutely loved the idea of visiting teaching. She wanted to go as soon as we taught her about it. Because she became interested in the Gospel when she came to Tony's baptism, we hope lots of people come to her baptism this Sunday. It's incredible to see the Holy Ghost work in people's lives. Tony's girlfriend Miriam went to Florida for a week, and what's the first thing she finds in her hotel room? The Book of Mormon. I was worried she wouldn't take her copy, but God had everything lined up either way:) We helped Jose search for his Venezuelan ancestors, it's not super easy. He's going with the branch to the temple this Wednesday. I feel like my prayers are being answered. I know that this work is true and that it's not us that's making it happen! God can do his own work.

 I got to speak Spanish this week! Way out in Liberty Texas where I'd never been before, I got the chance to exchange again with Elder Reed. He shared with me the concern that the members always talk about how great earlier missionaries were, telling stories about the disobedient things they did. We decided together that there is a difference between people liking you or even loving you, and people respecting and trusting you. You have to keep the first commandment (Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind) before the second (Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself).

We had an awesome boating activity Saturday. Lots of members brought their friends and siblings we had 6 or so non-members there. I guy from Michoacán, Mexico with a gage brought his dijeridoo (didjerydu?) and juggling stuff and I got to speak Spanish with him. We got a big list of people we'll invite to play soccer with our investigators. Tonight we're playing capture the flag.

I learned something important:The thoughts you have change everything, just don't think too much about it.


love y'all! Elder Decker

Monday, July 13, 2015

Quest of a lifetime!

Mom,
 
This week was a fun one. Elder Stephensen was popping the screen off our phone on the daily just so we could readjust the screen and read our messages. We were without it completely for three days (collecting key indicators, updating the baptismal tracker, and doing conference call with the dinosaur in the chapel was a laugh). And car got taken to the shop. President replaced it a couple days later when we asked for permission to take 1 1/2 hr bus trip outside of the mission to get to our recent convert's house. So we're completely back on our feet (figuratively speaking), with a vehicle, we've got a phone (hot pink-nice work Sprint) in hand (in our "area" that's one family ward and one 3-stake covering YSA branch, virtually every moment you spend not on the phone is a moment wasted.) and we're really excited to work.

 Former companion Elder Johnson and I had a great exchange Friday. Right after we talked to the mailman, we were led to Kenneth who was working on his yard. He permitted us to come back with service clothes and mow, wack weeds, and use the leaf blower. He's one of those guys that doesn't let anybody touch his yard, but he let us help. He was surprised we did. Elder Johnson just explained: "We do it because we love God, and we love you!" Kenneth came to church with his wife yesterday.

Jose's confirmation was pretty powerful yesterday. Right afterward we learned about the Holy Ghost in Gospel Principles and this quote stuck out to me. This is what President Packer taught:

 "Discovering how the Holy Ghost operates in your life is the quest of a lifetime. Once you have made that discovery for yourself, you can live in enemy territory and will not be deceived or destroyed. No member of this Church—and that means each of you—will ever make a serious mistake without first being warned by the promptings of the Holy Ghost."

It's something I'm still working on. In fact, ignoring a prompting led to us breaking a lawnmower and wasting a lot of time- it wasn't a serious mistake, but it was unfortunate. I've recently begun to fear promptings, knowing that they will push me to do something I normally wouldn't. Our teacher taught us that each time we get a prompting, in that moment we have the privilege of knowing the will of God. If we obey, we are that much closer to matching our thoughts with His, our mind with His. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and He's always right! I just need to remember the joy that comes from obedience and the heartache that comes from disobedience. Jose was lucky to learn this stuff his first day as a member!

I love y'all!!!

Elder Decker

 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Texas takes America seriously!

Mom,

My favorite Venezuelan ever Jose was baptized yesterday ! A little earlier than we'd thought, but it worked out perfectly. I learned that he has lived in his little apartment on Harrisburg for two years, just a couple blocks away where I lived on Garrow St. for 4 1/2 months, and where I drove past many times each week for 9.  At any time God could have taken us to his door! But he didn't. I believe Jose was meant to be found by a member of the Church; I believe he was meant to come to the YSA branch; I believe he was meant to be baptized yesterday.
photo: Elder Stephensen, Jose, Chris, Myself,
with guest appearance by (mission) President Drake!
Last week before she left for soccer camp, we got to teach Sherlyn's family and eat a bunch of mole (mo-lay)! The first I've had since leaving "Spanish- land." You definitely start to miss hot tortillas. Her mom is super nice, wants to learn more about religion, and her heart has been opened by Sherlyn's desire to be baptized. It was a big blessing to unexpectedly use my Spanish again to be able to talk to her. We actually don't have one YSA investigator whose parents don't speak Spanish. We'll have the Spanish missionaries over there to teach them in no time. 

We had a big spur-of-the-moment YSA party at the Rascon's home on the 4th of July. We had quite a few non-members come. But once again, it was only two of the members that brought all of them! Just one more person actively trying to share the Gospel does make a HUGE difference.  We drove our little white car out of the range of fire just in time before it would have been showered with fireworks. It was a great day. Texas takes America seriously.

The last two weeks I've had the opportunity to go to sacrament meeting both in the family ward and the branch. Taking the sacrament is something that keeps taking on new meaning for me. Have you been watching the Bible videos from the Church? They're incredible. Just in the last week I feel like I've come to better know the Savior through them. He's bold. He's loving, obedient, intelligent, humble, merciful, and incredible. I got to see Jose make a covenant with God, and begin a new life in Christ. He's happier; he's relieved. From all this and more I know that Jesus Christ lives today. He is a real person, with a body, a personality, with His own Church, and a desire to help and teach you and me. 

love y'all!

Elder Decker

 

Monday, June 29, 2015

I know this work is true and I love it!

Mom, 

I'm in little Utah! It's a brand new neighborhood called Summerwood, with a stake center! We serve in both the Summerwood ward (95% BYU graduates) and the YSA branch (95% future missionaries, returned missionaries and recent converts).  Our YSA "area" takes up all of Summerwood and Texas Houston East Stakes, so anybody from age 18 to 30 is fair game from Cleveland Texas to Baytown, to Pasadena, and almost Downtown, and who doesn't want to go to Luaus at President Lewis' backyard pool, chair soccer FHE, or movie night at Art Rascon's house? All we have to do is pray, bring the Spirit, and ask for referrals. Member missionary work! They do it here. We had 8 lessons with members last week, and only three of those had fewer than 2 members with us. Once we had 5.

My first week here was really fun! To be honest, I was expecting to be a District Leader in a Spanish area somewhere, and never expected to be here! It is a completely different mission from where I was just over 3 months ago, but the recipe is still the same: faith, hope, charity and love with an I single to the glory of God. 

My new companion is named Elder Stephenson from Ogden, he's incredibly fun, has tons of faith, and really wants to baptize! 

All that Spanish stuff will come in handy, even though it's not even close to a Spanish area because of all these young adults' parents and family. We've gone down to Broadway twice already to teach our investigator Jose (driving straight through my old areas of Channelview, Denver Harbor, Magnolia and Lockwood) whom was also found by a member! 

I know this work is true, and I love it! 

Elder Decker

 

Monday, June 22, 2015

More details to come.

Mom,

It was a not-so tropical storm that had Houston in a panic last week.

"Bill" was meant to land at 9pm Mon, then 1am Tue, then 12 pm Tue, and then we just stopped caring. President Rascon from the mission presidency had invited us to his home for p-day. This Emmy- winning ABC news anchor, journalist has a BIG house. That night President had us make sure we had water and gas. We tried two Walmarts and a Krogers and these experienced Texans had already taken all the cases of water.

We got gallons of orange drank and apple juice.  We filled up the bathtub, kept an eye on the canal outside, and got pretty excited. The next day, an anticipated zone conference with Elder Foster of the seventy canceled, we were instructed to stay in until it was "safe."

All we saw was a sprinkle, but we stayed in. We snuck over to the apartment office and did family history while workers pulled lawn furniture and umbrellas inside, expecting crazy winds. I found and added two people to our tree! Then I realized they were still alive and left off for a reason...

A Father's Day thought: what kind of child would I like to have?

Humble, courageous, happy, etc.

What keeps me from being that sort of child for my Father in Heaven? I know God really is my Father. I really know He has been patient with me. He knows us all, and has given us so much!

We had a big miracle. John said it was the lights in their eyes that made him accept the hermana's invitation to hear the Gospel. They sent us to teach him, and from the moment met him he's been so humble and kind. He gave us some chili dogs. He lives in what's pretty much a halfway house. He cooks and runs the place with his friend Ephraim.

When we went to teach them last week with Brother Cox, I really felt the Spirit as they both testified of the Savior. Ephraim is a big man with a lot of faith, and isn't afraid to show it. He says he "rebukes" bad thoughts, pains, illnesses and Spirits. He has been searching for a strictly Bible church that doesn't "water it down." He's got a really clear idea of what he wants in a church, and hasn't been able to find it. I think God knows exactly what church He wants him to go to! They both came to church yesterday! We learned no obscure Bible passages, but we heard humble, sincere, true testimonies about fathers and sons, the blessings of obedience, and felt the Spirit's approval.

It was awesome. Ephraim had Brother Cox take a detour so he could visit the son he hasn't talked to in a long time. He and John are ready to come again next week.

But I won't be there. I'm on my way to my seventh and final area right now. More details to come.

I love y'all

Elder Decker

Monday, June 15, 2015

Life will be easier.

June 15, 2015

Mom,
 
The B-day was fun. I went on exchanges with Elder Wright from LA and saw a lot of miracles. Little Sister Bartlett, the missionary's gramma of the ward, insisted that she did a lap around the apartment complex with us before we left, telling everyone the Gospel had been restored!

Later a woman told us she knew we were sent by God, because she'd been fighting her husband and posting nasty things on Facebook about him when we knocked on her door. The Gospel does bless families! Paul let us right in. He's searching for the right thing for him and his family. He has a lot of Mormon co-workers, he doesn't think God would just leave his children alone. It was awesome to be able to testify to him about the reality of prophets and the Book of Mormon. Elder Wright served with me back in Broadway. He's seen the Gospel change him completely, both before the mission and during it. He's a powerful teacher. He also played trumpet in the BYU marching band with Trevor in '12.

Everybody is missioning! The Lord is hastening is work!

We had an awesome Stake Conference yesterday with Elder Foster of the Seventy. He taught us about the power of stories: "When you tell someone what to do, you tell them to be like you." When you tell them a story, you let them figure it out for themselves. Teach like Christ did. Teach in parables. I remembered the stories you'd tell me about granny, about your high school experience, about anything and everything. They really helped. I remembered all the stories you share with me in your emails, and wonder what advice and counsel you're really trying give through them:)

Hearing about the missionary thrown 20 ft from her car makes me wear my seat belt. Every time! Remembering Peter walking on water makes me look to Christ. Remembering the feeling when we found Rose on the side of the street ready to be baptized makes me want to talk to more people. Reading about the apostate Zoramites makes me want to pray meaningfully. I know if we put in the effort to record and remember the things that the Lord does for us, and the lessons we learn, He won't have to remind us! Life will be easier for Him and for us.

I'm in the process now of remembering and collecting stories from my life and general conference stories to illustrate points for the PMG lessons, and well as the Christ like attributes.

Love,
Elder Decker

Today President Rascon from the mission presidency invited us to his home for p-day. It's a pretty incredible place.

Our window was broke!

 

Charity in Action

June 8, 2015

Mom,

Helaman's Camp sounds cooler than encampment; I ate about 50 gumballs, got sunburned and we had to go home early. That was the second time in my life I was taken on a snipe hunt.

We happened to go to the mission office last Tuesday, so that's when sister Haygen asked me for our address, I had to ask my companion! I thought I'd cleared it all up on Monday by telling you we were actually in Houston. Where was I wrong? I was super glad to get your package, it was the icing on a super awesome cake of a day.

We started the week with a mission leadership conference including the District leaders and the sister training leaders. One big take away: charity is the answer.
 
Charity looks outward and never in. It only comes from God, as all good things do. Prophets teach us that we don't hold it like a possession, rather it posses us. Or we are "possessed of it" (Moroni 7:47). So often we spend our time hacking at the leafy outward manifestations of our weaknesses, when charity cuts through the root. Check out 1 Corinthians 13, and tell me which Christ-like attribute isn't contained in charity! Charity is the pure love of Christ. "Christ suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not his own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." (Moroni 7) He is only concerned about others. We can be the same. 

 I saw it in action yesterday while we taught Ricky. Elder Mitchell and I had found him on exchanges. The Spirit told us what to promise him. It showed us his true value, which we tried to express to him. He had felt the Spirit and knew that we were sent by God. Yesterday when we began to teach him sitting on dirty chairs, surrounded by Mosquitos, my phone buzzing in my pocket reminding me of a problem I still hadn't fixed, and I realized we hadn't studied and prepared for Ricky that morning because of our church meetings and Elder Bond and I weren't teaching with much unity. I leaned back in my chair in frustration, and took a deep breath. "Who are you thinking about?" came to my mind. I remembered what I had taught the zone on Friday, that our love for God should be the single greatness reason behind every decision we make . I repented and focused back in on him. He says he knows God is telling him something, by the things we say, the way he feels and a thousand other little signs. It's a privilege to bring him such good news, that God knows and loves him.

He loves you as well. And so do I!

 Elder Decker

Sent from the Lord's ipad

June 1, 2015


Mom,

So far they haven't asked a dime for our [ipad] "devices." Mine is loaner/used one because I'll be home so soon.  We had a mission conference with Elder Nielson of the 70 and the head of the MTCs worldwide trained us on the safeguards for using them, as well as the potential they have for proselyting. They taught us about agency, accountability, and the blessings for us, our families, and the people we teach when we are diligent in making right decisions. "Moral diligence" and "moral agency" are hefty topics. The next day president Drake met us here at the chapel to set us up with the things.

Studying is efficient, the pamphlet are phenomenal, we have to carry very little with us now, we watch videos with everyone we meet, imagine being able to pill out Elder Holland's testimony with people on the street!. My study journal is on the cloud. It is in large a huge boost to our potential and ability to do the work. It also would allow us to spend our whole mission not actually being on a mission. I have access to every Ensign back to 1971. But this is all pretty old to you guys, you've had this forever. My companion and I only use them together, and yes there's an audit we for each other's devices.

We didn't see any flooding here, although we got plenty of warnings.

We talked about it a lot without all the people. It was a good opportunity to do the good ol' Mathew 5, Helaman 5, 3 Nephi 18 chain.

Last Saturday two elders got hit by a drunk driver when they were parked in the median waiting to turn. They were out late. They called us and we arrived to help them fill out the paper work. Nobody was hurt. We saw it as a good lesson learned. The tow truck driver's mom was a member, so the bishop had called us even before we got there.

That was miracle 1. He was really helpful. One elder was in shock and the police officer called an EMS. Again, everybody is dandy. The EMS was a member, he had us give the elder a blessing, and everything worked out fine. It was a lot more profound, moving, scary and harmless then in sounds. They had to spend a few hours in the hospital, and now they don't have a car to use.

I really learned a lot yesterday in church. Because I came ready to learn, I was fasting and praying, we got there early, and I really wanted to learn. I know God really does answer prayers. We saw that so many times this week. It was usually after, like when we realized that Evelyn's boyfriends dad Mike was the smoker who wanted to quit we'd prayed for 2 hours after he told us he wanted to come to church. We were walking away from our appointment with Sister Herrington, the new bishops wife, and he yelled at us "so your supervisor came with you today?..." After we chatted for a second, we left. But something told us to go back and we did. When we prayed to find a mom who'd want to be baptized, was unsatisfied with her church and wanted to baptize her kids, we found 2: Karen and Natalie. Pray, listen, obey.

Well I hope this satisfies for the next month...

Only joking.

I love y'all

Elder Decker
 
Sent from the Lord's iPad

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

It's a little bit crazy.

May 26, 2015

Note from Karen:
There have been record-breaking rain storms in Texas. The weekend was particularly crazy in Houston. I've included, from the news, a picture of I-45, which is about 20 minutes from Zach. The following is all we received him from this week.

Mom,

We're about to go to our conference, about the iPads we'll be getting this week or next week. There will be about 70 there. We had a crazy morning breaking into apartments. We rescued some elders from a wreck I'll tell you about later.

I love you all. Pray for what you most desire, and have faith you'll receive. See Enos.

I love you very much!!!

Elder Decker
 
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765674536/Floodwaters-deepen-in-Houston-after-city-gets-more-rain.html
 
 

Miracles continue!

May 18, 2015
 
Elder Bond arrived in Channelview this week. He's a convert of 2 years from Brigham city. He's 22 years old. We got right to work, praying specifically for a man 30-40 yrs old who wanted more direction in his life and would be willing to read. We found three. The miracles continued when we found another man, recieved 5 referrals and more especially when we met D. yesterday. 
Elder Bond, Elder Decker and the Jenks.

We were looking for somebody sick of their current lifestyle. In our minds eye we saw somebody puking on their lastest party ready to finally make a change. We knocked on his door right be fore he took another puff of meth. "You guys know Elder _______?" he asked. "I know all about y'all... Bible and stuff... Who sent you?" "Your Father did." said Elder Bond, "Your Father in Heaven." We explained to him exactly what we'd done to get there, prayed to find our repentant new friend, asked our ward mission leader where to find a good apartment complex, went to Cloverleaf, put in "apartments" in the GPS, pulled off Uvalde Str, prayed again, knocked a whole building, one row of doors and arrived at D's. He was already planning on turning himself in this week to a rehab center. We will see him again today. He said that we finding him was just another sign, and "astounding." I know that God answers prays, and that He puts us where He needs us to be. 

Today we're moving from Bro Jenks' house into a new apartment on the Beltway. It should be fun. 

love y'all! It was awesome to talk last Sunday. Enjoy the mountains!

 Elder Decker

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Doubt not, only believe.


May 11, 2015
 
Mom,

It was awesome to get to talk to y'all! 

Elder Poplin is going home today, well sort of. His family moved from Nevada to Missouri since he's been out here. He's beginning all over again. This last week we had the chance to teach another zone mtg. We first brainstormed and discussed how Jesus Christ as affected our lives, and what things were restored through Joseph Smith. The lists are really long! I know that serving and following Jesus Christ, as opposed to having a passive belief in him, has blessed me with knowledge, with the change of heart King Benjamin's people describe, with happiness. My faith in Him has given me forgiveness of my sins.  I know that because of Joseph Smith's courage and obedience we know have a true knowledge of the nature of our Heavenly Father. We can be with our families forever. But none of that would have been possible for me, if either one had wavered. If Christ had turned that stone to bread, if Joseph had sold those plates for money, it could not have happened. Fear and doubt lead to failure. This is what Elder Lyn G. Robbins said last October:

Courage is not just one of the cardinal virtues, but as C. S. Lewis observed: “Courage is … the form of every virtue at the testing point. … Pilate was merciful till it became risky.”1 King Herod was sorrowful at the request to behead John the Baptist but wanted to please “them which sat with him at meat” (Matthew14:9). King Noah was ready to free Abinadi until peer pressure from his wicked priests caused him to waver(see Mosiah 17:11–12). King Saul disobeyed the word of the Lord by keeping the spoils of war because he“feared the people, and obeyed their voice” (1 Samuel15:24). To appease rebellious Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai, Aaron crafted a golden calf, forgetting which way he faced (see Exodus 32). Many of the New Testament chief rulers “believed on [the Lord]; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42–43).

It is really only fear and doubt that's lead to my biggest mistakes and regrets, fearing men more than God. I know that it is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, not in ourselves or anyone else, that will bring real peace. I know that through that faith comes miracles. "Christ hath said: if ye will have faith in me, ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me." Moroni 7. Have faith in Christ! Do the things that strengthen that faith. Keep His command to "doubt not, only believe." Mark 5

love y'all! 

Elder Decker

You can't take success for granted.


May 4, 2015
 
I got to interview an awesome young couple for baptism this week! They have been investigating the Church for almost two years, and taking it very seriously. They moved to the apartments right next to the church so they could be close. They picked Pine Trails because it is a smaller ward. The husband spent most the last two years trying to find out what he calls "logically wrong" with the Church, and couldn't find anything. He really felt in the last week that he grew a testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet, because, like he says "there's no reason I should have to give up coffee," but when he did he felt an immediate change. (John 7:17) More than anything they are excited to serve and be part of the Church. It was really awesome. 

There's something about eighteen years living in Utah in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that gives you the opportunity to hear lots and lots of inspirational stories. We hear about single moms, cancer survivors, pioneers, persecuted prophets, paraplegics, and more that all overcome the odds and live with hope and peace. That's also what seeing every "I'm a Mormon" video ever made will do for you. Very recently I've realized just why these people we hear about really deserve to have documentaries, TV interviews and General Conference shout-outs. Not everybody makes it. Some parents let their six kids go absolutely nuts, some folks confined to wheel-chairs drink their lives away. People do dumb stuff. You can't take success for granted. I'm grateful that if we follow Jesus Christ, there are guarantees, because "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." 1 Cor 10.  I'm more grateful and amazed than ever for you guys and the others that taught and raised me even in this crazy world!

Elder Decker

Dodging cars and pit-bulls, thanks mom.

April 26, 2015

Some letters take me a while to decide whether to post. They are so tender and special to me. Love this missionary son of mine. Karen

Mom

Your package was awesome! There's nothing like saltwater taffy to earn some points with the missionaries in District mtg. 

We had a pretty special week. A whole lot of prayers were answered, and we found a LOT of great families, including one with six kids. I know God really cares about us and that he's now given us a big responsibility to take of these good people. We decided to change things up and make a sacrifice, so we basically left our Fusion at home and biked the whole week. Saturday afternoon I was spent. We were in the Cloverleaf neighborhood, dodging cars and pit-bulls when we decided to try to find  a girl the Spanish elders had talked to 2 months ago. They felt strongly she was prepared, and we hadn't ever found her and her number never worked, but we decided to go anyway. As we knocked on the door, I decided to do something that had worked well before. I prayed that she would be there, that she'd be ready to make a covenant with God, and I promised to do everything I could to help her. Christopher opened the door and let us in. We taught him and his girlfriend Devina, and will be seeing them again tonight. 

 Brother Jenks is the 70 yr old, ex-psychologist, ex- Pine Trails Bishop who lets us live in his house. Every Friday night he arrives with his 3rd wife (not that kind... he's a two-time widower) to check up on things, (this week he had to get the air conditioning fixed, we were chilling at 87 degrees inside), eat oatmeal and fuss with all the things they need to get rid of before they move. Not long ago, because my comp Elder Poplin and Elder Sully were knocking doors in the HOA "protected" neighborhood of we live in called Stirling Green, the " CIA SEAL SECURITY" super dramatic, takes-his-job-too-seriously, security guard followed them home to Brother Jenks' house, and soon landed him with several HOA violations, including one for a overly dirty bench, and another for "inconsistent siding." We've had three old, goofy, lovable contractors working on our siding for the last month to get it up to specs. They turned down my "Because He lives" card, and are always talking about being Sabbath observers; they promptly leave every Friday to be sure to be keeping it holy by sundown. One warned me that we should be sure not to call the creator what we shouldn't. "God", according to my good friend, comes from some Babilonian term, or a maybe a mix-up of "Gad" (son of Jacob- which means good fortune). We gave these these same fun folks icecream the other day, and they let us know that Blue Bell, a famous Texan tradition, was completely shut down and recalled- probably because of terrorists:) . Ours had been in the freezer a while so it was okay. Because we'll be moving, this week I worked on cleaning out the second walk-in closet of my life, which was stacked the the ceiling in missionary junk. I found shirts, slacks, ties, tie-hangers, a budha statue, the last supper, a temple dress, diet books, "how to crochet," two boxes of military MREs, a suit, size 15 basketball shoes I wore to mow Sister Duncan's lawn:), hair dye, a trophy, a hair pick, baby toys, sun glasses, a 1 Old-Testament verse a day book and about a dozen Ensigns from the 80's and 90's.

In 1997 Elder Holland, a hero of mine, said the following:

"In speaking of mothers generally, I especially wish to praise and encourage young mothers. The work of a mother is hard, too often unheralded work. The young years are often those when either husband or wife—or both—may still be in school or in those earliest and leanest stages of developing the husband’s bread winning capacities. Finances fluctuate daily between low and nonexistent. The apartment is usually decorated in one of two smart designs—Deseret Industries provincial or early Mother Hubbard. The car, if there is one, runs on smooth tires and an empty tank. But with night feedings and night teethings, often the greatest challenge of all for a young mother is simply fatigue. Through these years, mothers go longer on less sleep and give more to others with less personal renewal for themselves than any other group I know at any other time in life. It is not surprising when the shadows under their eyes sometimes vaguely resemble the state of Rhode Island...

may I say to mothers collectively, in the name of the Lord, you are magnificent. You are doing terrifically well. The very fact that you have been given such a responsibility is everlasting evidence of the trust your Father in Heaven has in you...

Rely on Him. Rely on Him heavily. Rely on Him forever.And “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ,having a perfect brightness of hope.”  You are doing God’s work. You are doing it wonderfully well. He is blessing you and He will bless you, even—no, especially—when your days and your nights may be the most challenging. Like the woman who anonymously, meekly,perhaps even with hesitation and some embarrassment, fought her way through the crowd just to touch the hem of the Master’s garment, so Christ will say to the women who worry and wonder and sometimes weep over their responsibility as mothers,“Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.” And it will make your children whole as well."

When I realized that I was 2 years old when he gave this talk, when I realized that you are one of the mothers he was talking to, the Spirit taught me just how much you have sacrificed for me and how much Heavenly Father loves you. Thanks for what you do Mom. 

love Elder Decker


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

No shortage of lightning and toad road-kill.

April 20, 2015

It's been a fun week, with no shortage of lightning and toad road-kill. I think I ate spaghetti 12 times.

I got to go on three different exchanges this last week. There are so many great missionaries our here, and I have so much to learn from them! Each missionary I've been with has his own struggles, testimony, and spiritual gifts. 

From what I read in Doctrine and Covenants, a Stake is like a mini-church. It has the presidencies, council of twelve and all. In fact, when our area seventy came to Stake conference, he told us: "President Howard is the prophet of your stake. We don't often talk of in those terms, but that's what he is." The Pine trails ward is preparing right now for ward conference next week. I definitely see the power in leadership. They are doing "rescue visits" all this week to invite less actives to both the conference, and to be part of the peanut butter manufacturing for the Bishop's storehouse.

We're really struggling right now in our area. I've been here three weeks now and we haven't taught anybody who's not a member more than once. I think I arrived here with way too much confidence in myself, and God's giving me a chance to be humble. I'm certain he wants us to bless His children, so I'm trying to learn whatever lessons He has for me as soon as I can so He gets a chance to do His work during this short time I'm here. I'm sure, like my trainer Elder Jones always reminded me, that: "angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word" Alma 13

Please pray that the Lord will pour out his Spirit upon this city. (Alma 8:10)

love y'all!

Elder Decker

Monday, April 13, 2015

There was a "fiesta" in heaven!


Tell the Salmons thanks for the awesome package and socks! They're great!

Yesterday I got to make my way back down to Broadway to see Pablo's baptism. It was an event 40 years in the making. Like all the great hermanos, I love so much, love to say, I'm sure there was a "fiesta" in heaven!

My first Sunday in Pine Trails ward was fun, and white. We're got an awesome ward mission leader named Brother Cox who really wants to boost our faith and help us. He keeps track of who we teach, is always preaching the Gospel (specifically every time his car breaks down and somebody comes to help him), and has a big vision. Bishop Love has us on the hunt of some 89 members from the ward list that nobody knows. Brother Velez drove us around for two hours until we found little sister C.. She's about 85 years old and a little senile. She's going to a small Christian church with her daughter 100 miles away on Sundays, and doing 1000 piece puzzles all day the rest of the week. She's really nice. She'd never actually been to the Pine Trails building and doesn't know anybody in the ward. It turns out she had been baptized and attended with a friend in Baytown. I guess there is a reason we go to the correct ward. "in this there is safety, in this there is peace." I wonder now what it really means to "endure to the end," and if it's the same for everyone.

There's been a couple of scriptures really going through my mind the past couple of days:

We all know that "faith without works is dead." But I believe that works without faith, are also dead. They are, like Jesus said about some pretty hard workers: "like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones,and of all uncleanness." Mathew 23

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

 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." John 15

"Wherefore, although a man should be baptized an hundred times it availeth him nothing, for you cannot enter in at the strait gate by the law of Moses, neither by your dead works." D&C 22

On this earth which Christ created, we are hopelessly lost trying to do things any other way than His. He has us the formula for success:

"And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me." Moroni 7

"Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him." 1 Nephi 7

I know He is real. I know that He wants the best for us, we just have to help Him help us!

love Elder Decker

Monday, April 6, 2015

A fine view of the channel in Channelview!


Y'all are incredible. I can't think of a better way to spend time than with the family!

Channelview is the small, not so impressive Texan town near (you guessed it) the channel. That is where Elder Poplin and I serve. I haven't even seen it yet, because we've spent all of our time in other neighborhood that are actually in Houston, as well as in Crosby Texas. It's a big change from my Magnolia. I'm used to biking around the neighborhood, not driving 15 minutes on the freeway to get to places! it's very close to where I've been the whole mission, but all of a sudden there are cows! There are still plenty of Hispanics to talk to, I just can't teach them. Now I can teach all the red-necks and black folks I want! My old area Denver Harbor is in our zone. Elder Poplin is a humble, dedicated missionary who's going home this transfer. The Lord made sure to put him with the companion that will work him to the very end. Last Sunday Elder Strong and I taught a little illiterate Honduran couple in a one bedroom apartment that had just battled through the Guatemalan jungle to get to the States. This Sunday Elder Poplin and I got dinner from Texan fire chief Brother Webb and his wife, who first were Baptist, then Pentecostal, and then miraculously found the Gospel almost three years ago. Brother Webb (a High Priest before he was even 1 yr in the Church) was about to slam the door in a couple missionaries faces back in September of 2012 when, as he says "The Lord told me not to!" Their daughter is now at BYU Idaho, they consistently go to the temple, and are as dedicated and converted to Jesus Christ as any member I've ever met. There are many more Webbs out here.

The main message I got from general conference was the same one Ken Jones, a recent convert here, tried to teach us when we went to review the Restoration with him. This is a large, ex-kung fu instructor black senior citizen who told me: "everything else is just a side-story. Joseph Smith was just a vehicle God used. When we get right down to it, when you strip everything away: JESUS CHRIST IS LORD. JESUS CHRIST IS LORD."  

I was looking for a magic ingredient. Like the Athenians listening to Paul I wanted to hear "some new thing." What I learned was that all along the answer to my struggles, worries, and fears is Jesus Christ our Savior. I know He really lives. 
 
Love y'all

Elder Decker

These are some photos of great the folks I left behind: Nestor and Esmeralda, Mercedes and Joseph, Pablo and Elder Strong
Nestor, Elder Decker and Esmeralda
Elder Decker, Mercedes and Joseph

Elder Decker, Pablo and Elder Strong

 

Monday, March 30, 2015

That's right, I'm going English.


Mom,

We had a Luau (loo ow?), with all the hispanics this week (anybody seen District 1?). It was tons of fun. That's a picture of me and Hna Miranda who was baptized about two months ago, she's
doing awesome!!!

Until this week I'd never had someone have such a hard time with fasting before! "!No quiero dar mis bienes!" It was really funny and surprising when we found our investigator protesting fasting and fast offerings. I guess it's just the perfect commandment for him. I saw how important it was not to explain, beg, and drag, but rather to teach, testify and invite. He's just a simple guy who likes his water in the morning and to keep what he earns to himself. God wants to make him a whole lot more. He didn't get to be baptized yesterday, yes, after agreeing to fast, because of a Stake Easter conference. It'll happen the 12th. Elder Strong and I got talking about fasting as well, and both agreed we needed better testimonies of it as well. It's not really hard for me now, I just know I should and do it. I fast with a purpose, but am not wholly dedicated to it. I know we follow Jesus' example, who not only fasted 40 days, but took a lot more for you and I:

  2 And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—

Abinadi then explains that Christ is literally:

3 The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the 
Father and Son—

4 And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.

 5 And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptation,and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people.

 7 Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father.

Christ's Spirit was and is Jehovah, the very Father of Heaven and earth. His body was the mortal Son of Our Heavenly Father. Christ made his Spirit (the Father part) overcome his body (the son part), so that he could complete the Atonement for each one of us. So too we must overcome the natural man, fasting being one way to do that, if we are to follow Jesus Christ and accept His Atonement.

An incredible example of that is our Hermana Mercedes, who made  a miraculous recovery from Bronchitis, came to the Ward party of Thursday, she fed other missionaries on Friday, fed us on Saturday and was teaching her class yesterday! She is incredible.

Your experience at Women's Conference sounds great! Our Hermana investigator would have loved it, she would have loved the Hawaiian party too, and Easter Conference, and the baptism, and Hermana Mercedes' class and a lot of stuff, but she works. Work is the worst. She's a little sad that I'm getting transferred. I fasted that she'd get baptized this transfer, so we'll see if I can come back to "Spanish Land" to see it. That's right, I'm going English.

Love Elder Decker

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Choose to see the evidences

March 23, 2015

Mom,

Zone Conference was a lot of fun, it was a relief to get our part done, and enjoy the rest. We did a segment on making specific lesson plans based on "The District" (I love using those videos) We saw a lot of progress in the zone. I really felt the Spirit. One of my favorite habits I've picked up is taking notes wherever I go, I know it really give God the chance to teach me. I learned a lot about the power of faith, and the potential we have to change wards, other people, and the world.


Zone Conference
The greatest member of the entire church: Hna Mercedes, has bronchitis, please pray for her. She's the single mom of an autistic child, convert of about 5 years who teaches Gospel principles, used to to do our laundry,visit teaches the whole ward, fellowships every investigator, is starting a new business, tries to get to the temple twice the week, and makes really good flautas. She's looked out for me since I got to Lockwood in Dec of 2013.

Our investigator couple who got baptized in Jan, are doing really awesome. I finally taught him that the BoM in his phone and the one on paper are the same, just that he can't go looking for page numbers in the app. She is making about a thousand aprons for trek, and she fixed one of my shirts. I told her, you and her would be really good friends. Her other son is going back and forth between church and his old life, most lately because he got embarrassed when he couldn't make it to church to clean it for his calling when his car broke down, for the 800th time. It's his Birthday today!

 Our baptism this Sunday should be epic! We're having fun inviting members of the ward to do as much as possible for him, we invite them to teach him with us, we invite them to call him and follow up with commitments, we invite them to feed him when they feed us, pretty much every opportunity we can get. I used to like to jump into the ward and give blessings, do home teaching, and do a lot of stuff for the ward, now I see a need and invite a member to fill it. That way they make relationships with each other and investigators, become more converted as they sacrifice, their testimony grows, and I have more time to talk to hundreds of people on the street.

I had the chance to go on an exchange with an Elder whose mom just got Leukemia. He is upset by the news about his mom, but determined to keep going. He admits he wasn't very "spiritual" before the mission, but now has grown a love for the Gospel. He has a great strength with people and wants to follow the spirit. I was impressed by the experiences God puts in our lives for us, and know that the Atonement can carry both him and his family. 

Our new investigators loved Stake conference yesterday, and so did I! Elder Richards was there, the whole thing was centered on the family and the Book of Mormon. She took two pages of notes. She wrote us something which I'll never forget. "In the movie we watched (finding faith in Christ) the woman said that faith isn't faith until it has been tested. Do you think that's true?" Our investigator has a love for the Lord, and loves His word, but has a lot of faith to be tried before she'll be able to be baptized. I know she can do it. I know we can all do it, a lot of the time all we need to do is choose to see the evidences all around us of God's promises to us.

love Elder Decker

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Gorojos!

March 16, 2015

Mom, 

Gorojos: little tiny beetles that eat wheat and banana leaves. You aren't allowed to kill or sell them. They will heal AIDS and Cancer if you eat them live. That is what we learned when we asked a member about the bowls full of a shiny black, glistening mass we found in their armchair. You decide for yourself.

(Keep in mind that they live and breed in their own poo. (all of which you don't clean off when you drink them in your morning juice))

We saw a great miracle miracle! Our investigator has listened to the missionaries and known about the church for over 40 years. The first missionaries that taught him probably now have grandchildren on missions. He will be baptized on the 29th. It's a good story. Really all it comes down to is prayer and reading the scriptures. E Johnson and I taught him a couple times about a month ago, we lost contact and were about to give up on him, but then we called and when we came over he asked: "Can I be baptized?" 

I know that even if we don't understand perfectly how things are going to work out, that if we will even in the small, and simple things look for God's approval and His Spirit, things will work out well for us. We will be able to say that we did everything in our power to follow Him.

I love you all! have a great week

Elder Decker

Monday, March 9, 2015

Don't use a microwave.

March 9, 2015

Mom

We had a pretty fun week, we spent a lot of time away from our area preparing for zone mtg. We built "The Broadway Zone Beacon" and mounted it on PVC, made a T-shirt design, found the best weekly key-indicators for each area in the zone so they could start their own record boards, made programs and it feels like a thousand things more. It all went pretty well I think. President Rascon (famous Houston weatherman/ counselor in the mission Presidency) taught us about our "Unlimited potential" and reminded us of the Savior's promise: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." We also had a saxophone special musical number from Elder Danielson. One of our commitments was to make a "Personal Profile" after prayer and studying your patriarchal blessing full of "I am" and "I know" statements that represent the person we want to become, and to review it daily. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" Prov. 23:7 I know that we're going to turn into someone no matter what we choose, and whoever that will be is our responsibility. I know we have the power to be whomever we choose, and that Jesus Christ's atonement is always available so that we can leave our mistakes behind, have the guidance of the Spirit, and let our weaknesses become our strengths. 

The Cinnamon rolls we made totally got our investigator to church yesterday, even unaccompanied by his less-active wife. The funny part is, after we dropped them off at his house I took a big bite out of one of them and realized they were absolutely awful. Don't use a microwave.

Love,
 
Elder Decker

 

I might as well try now!

March 2, 2015

Mom,

We had a pretty fun week. It was cold, we ate Mexican food, we saw miracles, and learned from the Spirit.

The Dineharts sent one of the most thoughtful packages I think I've ever even heard of last week! They're awesome, you'll have to thank them for me. It came right in time for us to ask some missionaries to put away a grundle of Texan-style Texan-sized belt buckles that were becoming an epidemic around here. It all went over pretty well with a bunch of candy. "Correcting" is not fun. This morning I read Helaman 7 and wondered what would inspire Nephi to talk like that to his people. We're always thinking about "how to show love" when correcting and teaching; Nephi mostly just tells them they're condemning themselves: 

"O repent ye, repent ye! Why will ye die? Turn ye, turn ye unto the Lord your God. Why has he forsaken you? 18 It is because you have hardened your hearts; yea, ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd; yea, ye have provoked him to anger against you.19 And behold, instead of gathering you, except ye will repent, behold, he shall scatter you forth that ye shall become meat for dogs and wild beasts. 20 O, how could you have forgotten your God in the very day that he has delivered you?"

Yea, he gets a little strong. Thinking about it, I'm sure Nephi had plenty of love. He easily could have ignored them or looked down on them, but he put himself in danger of ridicule and harm because he cared enough about them to try to teach them in the way the situation required. I've had several moments this last week, where I had the opportunity to be bold, hold them accountable, and call them to repentance, but I more or less held my tongue. It's something that I'm just barely learning about: boldness. But I'm sure if I'm a representative of Jesus Christ, the same Jesus Christ who twice cleared the temple, cast out demons, and was the only person to ever fairly use the word "hypocrite" a large number of times, I'd better do something about it. Luckily we learn from D&C 121 that we are to be: "reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost." It's good to know God tells us when it's appropriate. Often I think the Holy Ghost is really telling me to do something not by giving me peace and tranquility, but kind of a sick, anxious feeling that really motivates me to act! More important than anything is "then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death." It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend." Both correcting and loving are things I'm learning to do, and keeping in mind that God's plan for me is to become like Him helps me know that sooner or later I'll have to learn. I might as well try now!

And just so you know, it's always been your job to correct me because I'm your son, but please feel free to let me know if you think I can ever improve with something!

Love,   Elder Decker

Friday, February 27, 2015

Things work out perfectly

February 23, 2015

Mom,
 
My new companion, Elder Strong, came out with E Johnson and I and a bunch more. He's from Draper Utah, where he spent his days doing improv comedy. He's a pretty hilarious man, who's good at motivating people. He's also tons of ideas for the zone. 

 Last week was without a doubt the most fruitful I've had on my mission. The only reason for it is faith. Faith that the Lord has some one prepared for us the help receive the Gospel. Faith that He will provide if we obey, without fully understanding why. Faith that sacrificing to help someone else will be made up for. We set goals, made plans, and we followed them. Last night we found one woman whose 16 yr old son who recently got baptized in Monterrey is moving here this week. She had been searching for the church, and will be attending with him and her two other sons. Last night at about 8:40 we knocked into the most picturesque family I think I've ever even heard of. They sat down their four kids to listen to us as a family. They read the Bible together often, and want to know if they will see their Grandma again, and haven't joined a church because they doubt theirs is a right one. I don't have a doubt they'll be reading and praying. God in his goodness just made things work out perfectly. 

What we worked for and showed God we wanted, we got. "I ought not to harrow up in my desires the firm decree of a just God," says Alma "for I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction." What we didn't do is everything in our power to help the people we know get to church, only one investigator came, and we didn't even teach him! So we'll repent and refocus and let God bless us.

Thanks for all the recipes!  

love y'all!

Elder Decker

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I can't blame him, it's a good one.

Mom!

500 wasn't the zone, that was us.

Recipe?

Our investigator is going through a really tough time. He got a little too excited by all the money he was making and progress he was making. He decided to take the old job of construction back up, and ended up carrying loads and swinging a hammer with his bad arm (did I tell you about that? It's exactly like Justin's, only he's got no way to fix it.) He couldn't keep it up and lost that job. Then he found out he lost his case to have his old job where he got injured fix his arm. Ever since then he stopped reading the scriptures. Last week his car broke down on him when they went to see their cousin in the hospital. They missed church yesterday.

Our other investigator is stalwart as ever. Her boyfriend began working nights seven nights a week, so his progression has really slowed, and they see each other every Saturday for just a while so they haven't had the chance to get a marriage license. She just wants to be baptized now. She called us from the ward Valentine's day fiesta just to tell us what we were missing. There are few things as fun as explaining patriarchal blessings & the Doctrine and Covenants to somebody for the first time. 

Yesterday we taught a very interesting man named who has already been highly offended by a Bishop and believes we can't teach him anything about the Bible, but somehow has a fascination for the Book of Mormon. I can't blame him, it's a good one. So we tried to teach him a basic Restoration lesson, but he got a little bored talking about prophets and interrupted to tell us about life as a homeless person. The good thing is we know for certain he will read, something most members really struggle with.

As our 40 day fast comes to an end, I've been thinking a lot about what obedience means and the blessings it brings:

"For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.

 Ye call upon my name for revelations, and I give them unto you; and inasmuch as ye keep not my sayings, which I give unto you, ye become transgressors; and justice and judgment are the penalty which is affixed unto my law...

I give unto you directions how you may act before me, that it may turn to you for your salvation.

I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise."

Section 82

I know God's just waiting to bless us! He loves us and knows what's best. 
Well it'll be a fun week, Elder Johnson's getting transferred and so is half the zone.
love y'all

Elder Decker

Thursday, February 12, 2015

It's a privilege just to be able to try.


Mom,

 Not so many bugs, but saw more marvelous pregnant dogs, and our investigator's dog who was born with his legs backwards.

We reached our goal of 500 people talked to this transfer! It's good to reach goals!

Last week we had our monthly leadership meeting with President, zone mtg, and an exchange with Assistant Brewer. There was a lot of learning to be done. This week Elder Johnson and I are visiting missionaries every day during companionship study to go over the talk "Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence," going over their key indicators in the last 6 months and five weeks, helping them make an area vision based on President Drake's 5 standards, and eating donuts. We are taking seriously the Missional Handbook's guidance to speak the mission language as much as possible by not speaking any English at all with the Spanish missionaries. It's getting challenging on P-days, when we have to go back and forth.
In the middle of all my efforts, I definitely have a testimony of what Christ said to Moroni "If men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness." Sometimes it seems the more I try the more I fail. Have you ever met anyone who didn't think they had sins? I have. Or how about someone who just doesn't feel motivated to change? Ten times out of ten it means they don't understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He gave absolutely everything for us.
I like mixing Gospel and math; he's like an asymptote, it doesn't matter how close we get, we're not quite there yet, and the difference is very real to us."If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1. I know that Christ has no real power to forgive and change us until we have faith in Him.
Elder Klebingat gave us some key guidelines to applying the Atonement to our lives including:"Take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being" and "Embrace voluntary, wholehearted obedience as part of your life." I'd really recommend his talk. He said:"you can truly “always retain a remission of your sins” (Mosiah 4:12) every hour of every day, every second of every minute, and thus be fully clean and acceptable before God all the time.
Yours is the privilege, if you want it, to come to know for yourself, today or soon, that you are pleasing God inspite of your shortcomings."

So I don't really need to worry. And neither do you. It's a privilege just to be able to try, and God will make up the difference. 

 love Elder Decker

Monday, February 2, 2015

What are your unanswered questions?

Mom,

Family History work!! That's where it's at, I can't think of a single reason a member or recent convert would consider giving up on the Gospel if they are working hard on giving their ancestors the opportunity to have it as well! It's feels just about impossible to do with people sometimes as a missionary, but I probably just lack the faith.

It was a lot of fun teaching G. yesterday before Church. He's been studying the Bible his whole life, and has found and found some things hard to believe, things that most folks we teach have no problem with. He's uncomfortable with us living with God before this life, though he knows perfectly well what Apocalypse 12 Jeremiah 1 say, but he hasn't yet experienced the Holy Ghost teaching him who he really is and where he really came from: "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." (Romans 8) He had also been taught the Fall was a disaster, and that nobody could use the atonement before Christ came. I am so grateful for the powerful message of the Book of Mormon, which far from detracting from Jesus Christ as we all know Him, amplifies, clarifies, and spotlights exactly who he is, what he did for me, and what I need to do to return to live with Him. I know it is true. We read him the verses, I even pulled open Abraham 3, we bore our testimonies, but in the end it's up to him to read the Book of Mormon, (which actually doesn't have a whole lot to say about that topic) to find out what the truth his for himself. "And by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things." 

We also taught a man named A., his whole family goes to a Christian church weekly, but he stays home. He told us he doesn't know which is the true church. We learned a lot about our level of teaching, when after we taught and explained everything we invited him to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know it's true, it turned out he doesn't even believe the Bible is true; he's unsure who God really is. As we testified of the nature of God, the divinity of His Son Jesus Christ, and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon as the inspired writings of true prophets, the Spirit touched him, and with our helped prayed for the first time in his life.

So how is your Book of Mormon *study* going? When was the last time y'all received personal revelation? What are the unanswered questions of y'all's souls that Heavenly Father is so willing to answer?

pray,search,question (see D&C 6 and 8;)

love Elder Decker

Sunday, February 1, 2015

We're working on it.

January 26, 2015

Mom,

Missionary work can be a pretty funny thing. Since the beginning of the year we've been tracking how many people we invite to hear the Gospel. It is usually a little less than the 10 a day Elder Ballard asked us to do. Last week we invited 148 people, and didn't find a single new investigator. At the same time, we found two lost sheep, found a former boxer for the English elders to teach, were invited immediately in by a Salvadoran sister who we'll teach this week, we got a bunch of free tacos, and well, we invited 148 of God's children to come closer to Him, so it's a pretty good way to be. It's funny because, in the end, it really only takes one door. We can't ever really be discouraged, because the next person we talk to soon might be the newest, strongest member of the ward. 

Our ward is pretty fun, Raul received the priesthood yesterday. Two separate families that lived in our area sporadically decided to reactivate themselves after months and months, and weeks after we stopped inviting them. They arrived just in time to hear Obispo Jacob speak in church about "the anatomy of an offense." We've an semi-investigator who loves church, just doesn't feel like it's worth his time to let us teach him anymore.

After two months in the van, we pieced my bike back together and went out to preach on Saturday. It was a lot of fun, one guy pushing his Fiesta-mart groceries home asked us who Jesus' abuelo's name was. We asked him what he thought our purpose in life is. Amazingly, he didn't really care to know. Talking to another man about God, he enthusiastically told us to look up the 7-pointed piñatas that apparently represent some 7 capital sins. Another was captivated by Jesus life between ages 12 and 30. It's amazing what distracts people sometimes from finding what really matters. One man let us in immediately, told us he was a less- active member and told us we had ten minutes only to talk to him. Helaman 14:30-31 and Alma 34:31 came to mind. He's just another of so many people who let borders, jobs, and money ruin their family and their faith. It's amazing how many people have had previous contact with the church. I contacted a lady in the laundry-mat last Monday who ended up just being a shy new member of the ward. This week doing laundry this man once was really sick and the elders visited him and his family many times. Several people we  ask already have the Book of Mormon. Another lady knew and loved the Ramirez family from our ward. You really just don't know any of it until you talk to them. 

So, the 40 day fast. It's going a lot harder than I thought it would. It's about 99% mental work, 1% physical with about 500% spiritual blessing. It is depressing and just about impossible to memorize a list of things you do wrong and fix them all instantly. So now I've got my list of things drawing away from the Spirit categorized, I have plans to search the scriptures and PMG for help and answers, and I'm getting accountability from my companion. Prayer is essential. Just like you always taught me about "decide now not to drink, because in the moment it is too late to decide." The same is true about one of our biggest addictions: our problem with punctuality. That is something I never heard from any RM or conference story is how hard it is to be on time when you have back-to-back hour long appointments with travel time, members coming with, people loving to hear from you, people who don't want to pray, people with doubts, and the worst: want they offer you amazing Mexican food when you're on your way out the door. We're working on it.

I know God loves us and has a plan for us. It's awesome to know and even better to share. I love Moroni's invitation, it is the same as ours: "come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God." Moroni 10

love y'all 

Elder Decker