Monday, March 23, 2015

The "Pulse" . . .

March 23, 2015

Dear Family,

Wow this was a really great week!!  We are working super hard and are just trying our best to be the best we can be!  We have been working so hard lately that in the night we just plan, talk to the district leaders to see how their day was, call the assistants to say that the whole zone is home, and then go to bed!  I also put the goal to wake up at 5 every morning to be able to exercise, because back home I am not sure what my schedule will be like and I am just trying to get myself adapted to the worst!!

So anyway, I am not sure that I have talked about this is a while, because by the time it was put as a goal for the mission I was assistant, but we have this thing called "The Pulse" that are the standards of excellence here in the mission!!  This was thought of by President Nuckols, and was very inspired!!  They are goals of the numbers that we have to be able to measure how much progress our area is making!!  They are statistics taken from the mission over the last 5 years of many of each key indicator is needed on average to have a baptism weekly!  It is obviously super important that we teach with the Spirit, but having goals and things like that to work towards has been a great blessing, as it has blessed us to have the Spirit even more!!  This last week, we completed 6 of them, which was a huge progress in just one week!!  This area has never been so close in the whole time that we have had the pulse, so it was a good progress.

This week in church we had 2 investigators and 2 less active members.  It was awesome to see them there, because the two less actives just need to have an interview by the bishop to become active again and to have all privileges of being a member.  It was great because one of the less actives is looking to maybe go on a mission, which would be great because he is 22 years old!

So the investigator that went to church this week is named Celsi.  She is about 40 years old, and is really awesome!!  She has been loving all of the lessons that we have had with her, and has been progressing really well!  She had a bunch of questions this last week because she was searching the church on the internet and found more anti~mormon stuff than anything else.  She had a ton of questions about plural marriage and stuff like that, so it was good that she was able to talk to us about it instead of just saying she didn't want to learn anymore!  She then went to church this week, and loved it.  We did our best to give her the VIP experience, and introduced her to every single person in the ward!!  They were all happy to see her, giving her hugs and stuff like that!!  She loved all of the hymns and classes, and just had a great time!!  Hopefully this week we can put a baptismal date with her, and hopefully she accepts.

Today, Elder Aviña and I started a throwing program.  He has a book that is from the Detroit Tigers programs of work outs and throwing programs, so he is helping me with it!  Today we went to the field at like 9:30 and stretched, ran a bit, and then did the throwing.  It was just really light, so that was good, but I felt really good, really rested in my arm!  There was a team there practicing, so we asked if we could take some grounders with them.  They said yes, and so we did. Then they invited us to hit, so we did.  We hit one round of softballs with a metal bat, and then one round of hardballs with a wood bat.  It was a ton of fun.  It was just soft toss, but I loved it!  I hit really well too, almost taking a couple of the pitches out, which is cool because the field is a legit field, and is the same size as what we played on back home!!  It would be fun to hit again against a pitcher.  We just have the throwing program twice a week, so that works well!

Everything is going really great.  I am loving the mission, and I am loving this area.  Elder Quinonez is doing really well, and I really think that he will be the next latino asistente after Elder Pena.  It would be a great opportunity for him!!  I hope you are all doing well!!

Elder Garrett McEwan

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Los Alcarrizos, Elder Holland, & Faith . . .

March 18, 2015

Dear Family,

Lots of things have been happening this week!!  We are super busy with the area, and also with all of the leadership stuff that there is to do as zone leaders, but I am loving every second of it.  My comp's name is Elder Quiñonez, and he is from Guatemala.  He has like 15 months in the mission almost, and we hit our month marks on the same day!  He is a really hard worker and we are really good friends, so I was glad that we got made companions!! I am loving it out here!! Quiñonez and I are really good friends, so things are going great, and the people here are amazing so I am loving it!

So one the 12th of this month we had a special visit from Elder Holland.  We were all so excited!!  He came in, and it was just amazing to see him in real life!  He told us that he wanted to shake every single one of our hands!!  So we walked up in the line and got to shake hands with him!!  I couldn't keep this big smile off my face!!  I walk up and he asked me my name, so I told him, and then he just looked at me for a while...  And then said, "Elder, you have a great smile!" I almost died right there!!  I was the only one in the whole congregation of 240 missionaries who got a comment like that from him, so I felt really good, and it was something that I needed.  Then he talked about the book of mormon and how it was a sign to the world that the restoration is taking place and that the true church of Christ is on the earth once more!!  He also talked about the importance of the mission.  He said that lots of people get really really worried at the end of their mission, and are scared to go back to real life.  He told us that THIS is real life!!  It is the most real life you will ever live!!  He told us to take advantage of every moment to the max and to live the full mission experience, the good and the bad!

Santo Domingo West Mission
We also went to the temple today, which was one of the most spiritual experiences that I have had in the mission.  I went in to it this time with more faith than I think I have ever had in my whole life, because I sincerely wanted to know the answers to some questions that I had!!  I felt the spirit very strongly as I went through the session, and then in the celestial room it all just piled on, and I was just overwhelmed with the spirit!  It was great, and I loved every minute of it!!

This first week in the area was sweet!!  The house is really nice, and is one of four houses in the mission that have a water heater, and I have been in two of them, the other is in my first district, and Pedersen is in the other one, so that is kind of funny!!  We also have the church super close, like a two second walk, so that is great!!  The light is unreliable, but we have the generator so that is fine!  We have a ton of weights and stuff, and we bought more this last Saturday!!  It is a good house to be in!

We also are working really hard in our area right now as well!!  We have a bunch of people that we are working really hard with!  We have 4 people with baptism goals, and their names are Ambioris, Jacinta, Luis, and Teresa.  They are all adults of between 40 and 50 years old, so they are pretty fun to teach!!  There is also an 11 year old that we are not teaching, but he went to stake conference alone this week and lives right across the street from our church, so we are going to try to start teaching his family because he wants to be baptized!!  It is going to be a fun area to work in!!

I know that this is the true church, and I can say that with 100% certainty.  Sometimes we as  people fault in our testimonies, but I have realized something in my time in the mission....  The times that we fault are the times that we aren't doing our very best.  If we are truly doing our best and putting in our 100% effort, the Lord will bless us with the knowledge that we desire.  This has to do with faith, and I testify that faith is the first step towards knowing that the church is true.  Faith is a spark in a field of dry grass.  If we let it catch, it consumes the whole field.  I know that we can let that spark catch in our souls, and become converted to the one and only true church of Christ.  I love this gospel and this church, and testify that it is the only true church.

I love you all and I hope you have a great week!!


Elder Garrett McEwan

Thursday, March 12, 2015

"Goodbyes" in Mirador . . .

Saying "Goodbye" to Ramona

Saying "Goodbye" to Brandol
Lunch before transfers from the Office

Saying "Goodbye" to Yodalis, Maria, & Gary

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Like A Lighthouse . . .

March 7, 2015

Dear Family,

It is great to hear how all of your things are going!!  It has been awesome to see how all of your progress is coming along in the different aspects of your lives!

Elder Merrell
Things here are going really well!  I am doing fine with training the new AP.  His name is Elder Merrell, and he is from Arizona.  He has one transfer less than me in the mission, so he will be going home in August.  He is doing really well, really picking up and getting the hang of things.  It is a good thing, because I will be going to my new area next Tuesday.  Elder Peña is doing really well.  He is really excited, because the President told him that he will getting back in the field next transfer, so he is looking forward to that.  He has been a really fun comp to have because we are good friends.  I have known where I am going for about two weeks, I just wasn't supposed to say anything about it!  I am going to the zone of Los Alcarrizos, and I will be in the 1st ward.  I will be the zone leader there, which we be a great opportunity!  My new companion's name is Elder Quiñonez, and he is from Guatemala. He has 15 months in the mission, so it should be fun.  We are good friends as well, so that will be great.  The other guys in my house are Elder Nielsen, a kid who just got finished being trained, and is great, and also Elder Aviña who is one group behind me.  He played baseball at a Junior College in California before the mission as a catcher, so that will be a lot of fun to get back in baseball shape with him.  I am in good shape physically, the best of my life, but to get my arm back in shape to pitch and stuff like that will be a process.  But, it should be fun, a great opportunity.  It is crazy to think that this will be my last area!  I will go back to writing on Mondays, so just be ready for that!

Elder Jensen -- Transfer from the Office
We have been really busy lately.  We have been doing lots to get transfers ready, as we want them to go as smoothly as ever!  We also have been planning the temple trips for the mission, which will be a great experience.  We also have the opportunity on Thursday of next week to have a special conference with Jeffrey R. Holland, which will be amazing!  He is coming to give a two hour conference to just our mission, and the whole mission will be there, so that will be great!
Even as I am released from the office, I realize that it is kind of like other callings in the church...  You know what they say, "Once a (INSERT NAME OF CHURCH CALLING HERE), Always a (INSERT SAME NAME OF CHURCH CALLING HERE)".  So I will still have a big role in transfers as I will be riding the bus out to the south to direct the driver and try to keep everything on time at the different chapels, so that we can make sure that everything goes according to schedule!  Should be a lot of fun, and it might be the last time that I make it out to the South here in the mission, so it will be great! 

Last P-day with the guys in the office -- TGI Fridays
(Breaded Octupus Tentacles, a Salad, &
Pineapple Lemonade :))
I have been thinking a lot lately about trials, and our little helper lady here in the office, Ramona, was also talking to me about it.  She has a very tough life, and it came down to the question of "Why does God let bad things happen to good people who are living the Gospel?"  We talked about it for awhile, and it was a little tricky to come up with the reason, but it came as I thought about the counsels of Alma.

In Alma, it talks a lot about the Plan of Salvation, and how this life is a state of Probation.  Usually we think of probation as a consequence of something we did, and then got put on probation to see if we would do it again.  That is FALSE!!  This earthly life was set up as a state of probation before we were even here!!  We were in a state of probation as babies, with out even having the capacity to sin and be chastised.  Probation in this earthly life was the chance to be proved, to be strengthened, and to grow.  God gave us this state because He knows our eternal potential, and sees us as we TRULY are.  He knows who we can become, and He is shaping us into those people right now.  God commanded us to be a light to the world, and to bring many souls unto Him.  That made me think of light houses.  How does a builder know that a light house will stand in a storm if it has never undergone a storm?  He puts the very best materials into it, builds it with care, and doesn't skimp on the details.  It costs more to build, it takes more time, and it is a lot more work, but he knows that it will stand.  The light house stands through the storm, not on its own merit, but on that of its creator, guiding others to safety and refuge from the storm. 

The same thing happens with us.  God shapes us.  He gives us the best opportunities and molds us with the very best tools.  He knows that we have the potential to stand through the storm, and He has given us the very best preparation for storms in life.  We do not stand alone on our merits, but on those of the Creator.

I know that this church is true, and that God does have a plan for us.  Each and every little thing that happens to us in this life was anticipated from the beginning, just as the strength of storms are anticipated beforehand.  God is the Creator, and has given us the opportunity to become more than we ever imagined, if only we submit our will to Him, and embrace the challenges like metal being tempered for a light house.  It burns for a second, and is tough to endure, but it is possible, and we come out stronger than ever.

I hope you all have a great week and I will talk to you next week!

Elder Garrett McEwan