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