Tuesday, January 13, 2015

We can't be afraid.

January 12, 2015

We got to see Alejandra twice this week, she read a lot in the Book of Mormon and accepted the invitation to be baptized on the 31st. She works nights and Jesus days so they only see each other weekends, and they didn't come to church yesterday. They are really smart. 

After we taught them about fasting, Esmeralda fasted 3 different days last week. God really blessed her for it, because now both Nestor and their daughter Emily wants to be baptized, and she found a job. Our goal is for them to be baptized on the 25th. Yesterday at church was pretty disappointing when a speaker got up and talked a whole lot about white shirts, ties, and skirts. They got pretty uncomfortable about that, we try to ease that sort of stuff on people. Then Hno. Berueto got up and taught us about developing faith in the Atonement. It's moments like those I'm glad we got people to church. I know the Gospel is blessing their family, just as it does with every family that puts forth the faith to live it. 

Raul joined Artemio and Clara in the Lord's true church this weekend, and Artemio got to baptize him! (no picture, scratched the lense...) He loves studying the scriptures, and loves helping out at the church with the garbage and things. Preparing the family for the services was lots of fun, helping Clara prepare her talk on baptism, helping Artemio memorize the words for the ordinance, and going through the baptism interview questions several times. At the service again we had a lot of recent converts participating in the prayers and talks. 

Starting Jan 1st we've been counting every time we invite a new person to hear the Gospel. Last week the zone got 512. It's super important to remember why we're even out here, and that God really does put people in our path. It's awesome the direction that the Stake President seems to have, he's really remembering the purpose behind it all. He knows his job isn't to solve feuds, fill callings, and send people on missions, it's to bring people to Christ. It's the same thing that we have to remember here:

And from this place ye shall go forth into the regions westward; and inasmuch as ye shall find them that will receive you ye shall build up my church in every region—
D&C 42

For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who
 are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and 
who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—
D&C 123

We can't be afraid to open our mouths and invite people to learn about the Gospel. My personal favorite:

Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are 
bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: 
fear them not.
Numbers 14

Elder Decker

All we did was knock on a door.

January 5, 2015

Mom,

We saw an amazing amount of undeserved blessings this last week. The brother of our recent convert will be baptized this Saturday. He spends more time reading then anyone I've ever taught he is super excited. The ward is all about this new family, especially after Artemio and Clara bore their testimonies in Church. They are being really blessed by the Gospel, they fixed a family feud (that sister came to their confirmation yesterday), got a car, Artemio is getting more work then he can handle, and better health. 

We caught Alejandra at a really bad time, and didn't even get to say anything about our message. But she told us to come back the next day. We found out she had become disillusioned with the Catholic church and didn't even really believe in God. Her husband, Jesus (Hey-Sus everyone, Hey-Sus), has been searching for the true church his whole life, and has been through 34 different ones. When we showed them the Book of Mormon they were floored. As we were about to walk out the door, Jesus told us he had never been baptized and wanted to learn more about it. They asked us when and where Church happened. They arrived in late, and I was thrilled to see them, but even more so when Hno Huerta knew and recognized them and sat with them all through sacrament meeting. In priesthood, Jesus questioned Elder Johnson about the Temple and promised to do everything he could to get there. All we did was knock on a door. 

Esmeralda and Nestor continue progressing a lot! We finally taught them the Word of Wisdom this week, which they promised to live, and then they took us to Denny's (did you know there was a Denny's in Houston?) When the councilor of the Bishopric asked over the pulpit if their were any children to bless, Esmeralda's 7 year old daughter asked for and got one, Esmeralda says she wants her to go on a mission one day.

And we had an awesome ward council meeting 100% focused on recent converts and the needs of individuals and families. It was awesome.

I'm convinced that all these blessing has nothing to do with us. I'm honestly not sure why God would trust me to teach all the amazing families he is throwing our way, it is pretty humbling. I want to go and talk to more people and find even more. I want now more than ever to involve God in our work, to talk to Him about it, to ask Him about it, and more than anything thank Him for it. It is Christ that 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."
John 15

"Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever.Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."
Alma 26

Thanks for all your prayers!

 love Elder Decker

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The obvious answer.

December 29, 2014

Mom!

It was fun talking with y'all, even if all I could do was stare at y'all. I hope Christmas was fun, and that you're enjoying the snow!

We were very blessed in our area to see the baptisms of Artemio and Clara. The Ward really pulled together to make it a great experience. We had a new member in the ward (he had been confirmed and ordained that very day, which confused and surprised a lot of members!)and a recent convert baptizing them, two very recent converts were the witnesses, Elder Johnson's recent convert here bore her testimony, and we had multiple less active members come and bring refreshments. I'm learning a lot more about what it means to strengthen a ward. It doesn't mean tracking down less-actives of 20 years and re-teaching them missionary lessons. It means inviting and helping others to invite and help each other to live the Gospel, recent converts is where it is at! This is what President Hinckley had to say about them:

"Every convert deserves a responsibility. The bishop may feel that he is not qualified for responsibility. Take a chance on him. Think of the risk the Lord took when He called you."

I believe the same thing goes for the youth and new missionaries, why not? If everything goes as planned, Artemio will get the priesthood on Sunday and baptize someone else the Lockwood elders are teaching.  

Yesterday Nestor came to church for the first time with his girlfriend Esmeralda! It is always interesting looking at everything through a visitor's eyes, especially the special "another year has past" hymn I had never heard of that we sang; it's goofy. He had a good experience and we are really excited about the FHE we're having with him and Esmeralda in the Lastra home. We've invited each of them many times to be baptized, but haven't been able to set any dates. The obvious answer is to follow the Spirit, it's something I'm working on.

I'm glad to be Elder Johnson's companion;

  1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
 Look at the difference the Spirit makes when we hear it:
 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
he is helping me focus on the Spiritual. He points out when he does and doesn't feel it, he really focuses on it, he wants to teach by it, it's helping me a lot. Paul seems to get it:
Corinthians 2

  10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
 11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1

How do we help others feel the Spirit that gives us the faith to change, the Spirit that changes hearts? We teach the pure doctrine of Christ, learned "not after man," "but by the revelation of Jesus Christ," and taught, as Joseph Smith said:"by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed."

So learn by the Spirit, teach by the Spirit, and teach others to do the same. I know great things will happen.

love Elder Decker