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 piƱatas 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

Purification Challenge

January 20, 2015
Mom,

We were really blessed again this week, a man whose door we knocked on over a month ago became a new investigator and came to church. As we were diligent in contacting him, after he returned from visiting his family, the Lord trusted us enough to teach a super-intelligent bible quoting member referral who has a lot of potential, even if he is an eleven year old orphan. And we had a lot of fun.

 Zone meeting was a success, we encouraged every to continue the "Fear No Man Challenge," talking to everyone in our path about the restored Gospel. Last week we talked to over 700 in the zone. The assistants came and spoke to us about the importance of "key indicators for conversion," and about the dramatic decrease we've seen in our zone in the last two years. It's something we're working on. We began a "Purification Challenge" this week, on Sunday we fasted, and identified all the things that we do that poke at our Spirit, that prevent us from having it always with us.  For forty days we're committed to not doing those things. It's going to be really tough, but that's the only way we're going to see all the blessings God has for us. Elder Johnson and I are working on punctuality, not saying anything negative about other missionaries, and having selfless prayers, among a lot of other things.

We still really hoping that our investigator can be baptized this week. We saw a huge change over night in her boyfriend. Sunday night he was difficult and stubborn, the next day he told us he really wanted to get married and stop drinking, but he wasn't sure if he could do it. After the many lessons we had taught and things we had said, this is what made the difference:

First he asked us if we believed in angels and we said yes. Then he told us the story of one of his coworkers who after getting drunk some night last week found her car with some flat tires. A man came to her and helped her and told her this: "Don't drink anymore. Search for God."

Just hearing that story somehow had a profound effect on her boyfriend, the same effect that you and we have been praying for all this time. I do believe in angels, I do believe that God is in our work, I do believe that Heavenly Father can change me and anyone else who comes unto Him. He assures us:

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble;and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." Ether 12.

love y'all! 

Elder Decker