Monday, September 26, 2016

Week 7 My First Baptism

Hello, everyone!!! Wow has it been a week! So much to talk about and so much has happened in such little time. Let's get right to it, shall we?

I'm going to answer some questions that have been asked by family and friends:
First off, I'm alive. Yes, there was a shooting in the Mount Vernon area of the mission, but just to remind you all, I'm in Bellingham. It's weird to be in the area that had a shooting going on that was on national news. I've never had that before because one, no crazy person lives in Utah that's like this dude was, that's for sure, and two, I'm in Washington where a lot of people are high on drugs and other things!!! Haha jk jk. (Note from Jordan's Mom: I'm not sure whether to be glad or a little worried that he thinks there are no crazy drug using people here in Utah...)

"I believe you also had a baptism scheduled correct?"
Yes, I did. His name is Jacob Lynch, and he was baptized on Saturday by Elder Kirk, one of my trainers. He is a good kid. They met him through referrals and found out he had a smoking problem, but through the spirit of the Lord through a blessing my companions had given him right before I came into Washington, Jacob was able to give up his addiction. He is cool kid. I really enjoyed teaching him, and I get to do so through the new member lessons.

"Have you been able to use some of your mission prep experience?"
Yes and no. I've been able to use a lot of things that I was taught at home and on the mission, but I'm still being trained and taught new things. I feel that I am picking some things up more quickly than other things I'm learning. I feel that I've also become a better teacher with everything I've been doing. For those who are taking mission prep right now, PLEASE pay attention! The lessons help so much...SOOOOOOOOOO much!!!!! I'm not even kidding you. Those of you who are in my stake and hate mission prep, stop it now!! You need this experience in your life because once you get to the MTC, you only get taught how to teach a lesson and not any of the other stuff that you're learning right now. Dad, make sure that every single person that is preparing for a mission and that is going to mission prep sees this part. If you do not take mission prep before you come out here, you will not be able to keep up with the rest of the class in the MTC. Plus they teach you super important things in mission prep that you won't learn anywhere else, so PLEASE take it! Your mission life depends on it.  
"What would you like to share with the future missionaries here at home?"
Well, one, that 👆 and two, I'll tell you what I told Bishop Shaw to tell Hannah Figueroa: While you are in the MTC, they're going to teach you everything about teaching a lesson, but nothing towards tracting or contacting people, so learn as much as you can before you leave for the MTC so that you don't fall on your face when you get out in the mission field. Also, tell them to study as much as they can for themselves before they get out to the field because once you get out there, you have no study time for yourself but only your investigators. Also, make sure you have a firm testimony in our Savior, Jesus Christ and his teachings. This gospel is the plan from God for all of us to be saved in this life, and it blesses every family you meet, it really does! I've seen it happen time and time again. Take every chance you have to bare your testimony to someone you meet. It will help you in your life and give you that spiritual influence everyone needs. I know that to be true without any doubt in my life. Remember, you don't have to be serious in everything. There are times where it's ok to loosen up from the tense times, but remember why you are serving the Lord and that you are a "disciple of Jesus Christ" and you represent Him in everything you do. It will be hard at times, but if you remember everything you can and if you love the Lord, He will bless you because your faith.

"Do you have good study time in the mornings?"
I love my study time in the morning! It's that one time where I can rely on the spirit and hear what it's teaching me. I read so many conference talks, scriptures, and preach my gospel, to study for my investigators because remember, there is no such thing as personal time any more when you're on a mission. I try to learn and do the best I can to be prepared for my lessons, and it helps so much when I know what to say because I studied!! Trust me. It does!!!

"Where will you guys go to watch general conference?"
We have church in an institute building right next to Western Washington State campus which works out well because we don't have to drive too far away, and it's in the area where we proselyte the most. That's where we will watch general conference, and I can't wait! I've heard so much about it as a missionary, and I read so many of the talks. I'm so excited to watch it again!! 

Well, that's all the questions I've been asked, so now I'll go into my week:

Monday was p-day, and we went to Mount Baker. If you look it up, it is one of the tallest mountains in my area. It's an awesome place and so much to see, but when we went, it was really foggy and you can see that in the pictures. We still had tons of fun. I wanted to get a picture with my companions and district, but every time I tried, it was already too late, and everyone had moved away from that area. That's ok. They have more of a bond together then I do with them, but we're getting there.

At Mount Baker

Tuesday was pretty chill. We had tons of visits and people we tried to go see but never really could. We also had several people fall through and several reschedules, but we made it through the day and made it all work out. Did i say pretty chill? I meant pretty bad, but it all worked out, and we got the lessons we needed for the day.

Wednesday was ok. We had an exchange with the assistance's because my companions are zone leaders so we got to exchange with Elder Merrill. He's one of my favorite missionaries. He's such a fun guy, and I like hanging out with him when i can. Idk if he likes me that much, but he's a fun elder. 

Thursday was great! We had several good things happen and had a fun time, but people fell through again, and time changes happened again so that was no fun! It's ok, though. I got through it again.

I forgot to answer one question, though. Ivy, one of our investigators, is doing a great job, and she's on date. She had to move it again because she was going to be out of town the day her baptism was scheduled. Now she's getting baptized on the 29th of October. Not cool to push it back on us like that, but that's ok. It doesn't matter anymore. It's all set in stone. 

We had another lesson with Ivy on Friday, and she understood it really well. We talked about JSH and talked about the first vision. It was a great experience, and she understood it really well. We also had a lesson with Jacob before his baptism to tell him how things would go and what he can expect after. He really wants to become an elder in the church like we are. Sadly, there is a difference in an elder in the church and an elder missionary. He's a good kid, though. He wants to learn so much.

The big day came when we baptized Jacob. The ordinance went well, but the part I hated was having to wait for the font to fill up. Sure, I studied, but I got really bored after an hour, and it took 3 hours to fill it up! That's ok. I found things to do before the baptism so it's all good! It was a great experience. Elder Kirk preformed it, and Jacob really enjoyed it all. I'm so proud of him for making that choice to continue on the straight and narrow path to God again. 

Jacob and I

Jordan, Elder Kirk, Jacob, and Elder Manezione
Sunday was a great day. It was fast Sunday, so i wore my tie. (Jordan, his dad, and all of his brothers have the same tie that they wear on Fast Sundays to have a special connection to each other while he is gone for 2 years.) We had a good day at church, and I learned a whole lot. I came to an understanding of several things, like how John Tanner was one of the biggest reasons the church exists today or as Joseph Smith call him, Father Tanner, and he knew and understood what it meant to sacrifice all that he had because it was God's will. Sometimes we need that heavenly correction in all of our lives. Jacob's confirmation was great too. I got to be in the circle for it. Elder Manezione confirmed him, and it was great!!

Finally, my spiritual thought is from Elder Christofferson's talk, "The Will of God." Here's the link for the video:

"I would like to speak of one particular attitude and practice we need to adopt if we're to meet our Heavenly Father's high expectations. It is this: willingly to accept and even seek corrections. Elder Hugh B. Brown told of purchasing a rundown farm in Canada many years ago. As he went about cleaning up and repairing his property, he came across a currant bush that had grown over six feet high and was yielding no berries.
So he pruned it back drastically, leaving only small stumps. Then he saw a drop like a tear on the top of each of these little stumps, as if the currant bush were crying, and thought he heard it say: "How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. ... And now you've cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me. ... How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here."
"Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I [don't] intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and someday, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, 'Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down.'"
Years later, Elder Brown was in line to be promoted to general. But even though he was fully qualified for the promotion, it was denied him because he was a Mormon. Continuing his story, Elder Brown remembered: "I got on the train and started back ... with a broken heart, with bitterness in my soul. ... When I got to my tent, ... I threw my cap on the cot. I clenched my fists, and I shook them at heaven.
I said, 'How could you do this to me, God? I have done everything I could to measure up. ... How could you do this to me?' And then I heard a voice. ... It was my own voice, and the voice said, 'I am the gardener here. I know what I want you to do.' The bitterness went out of my soul, and I fell on my knees by the cot to ask forgiveness for my ungratefulness. ...
And now, almost 50 years later, I look up to [God] and say, 'Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.'" All of us can meet God's high expectations, however great or small our capacity and talent may be. Let us pray for His love-inspired correction, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
I have never really understood this talk until I came out on this mission, and I feel that the Lord gives us those corrections in our life when we need them the most because we need to be put back on that straight and narrow path back to eternal life. I know that He is helping each and every one of us to get on to that path when we need it in our lives the most. He will remind us in our minds that "he is the gardener (shepherd),  and He knows what He wants us to do. I'm grateful for everything He has given me to learn and to understand so that I can continue on that straight and narrow path He wants me on and hold steadfast to the iron rod. I pray He will do the same for you, that He will lift you up when you may not expect it or when your spirit needs it. This is my prayer to you all, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Hammond 

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