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