Monday, August 22, 2011

August 22, 2011 - Email from Elder Bezas


Ok so I'll try to do better with awesome stories like you requested. Hmm.

So I've decided I'll report to you guys whenever "God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again" is sung. It was sung yesterday in Sacrament meeting. Oh. It just fills me up with joy, knowing I'll see y'all in all good time. That is my "mission" hymn. And I decided hymn 259 is my all time fav, along with "Savior, May I Learn to Love Thee."

So the weather here has been crazy. This last transfer has been nuts with rain. So we keep hearing that this has been the hottest summer on  record. And the wettest.. wettest? Is that a word? Oh well. Wettest August on record as well. Well, we just have awesome timing then. Ha. So it's rained just about every Sunday this transfer.

And I've come up with an idea. Looking back on my mission prep, or lack thereof, I realized what I would change. I feel like I had a decent grasp on the scriptures, but in actually teaching the lessons I felt pretty sketched out on that. So looking back, I would have done role plays with you guys, teaching the lessons in Preach My Gospel and listening and asking questions and addressing concerns. I feel like if I had started doing that when I was twelve or so, going into the MTC and the field would be a piece of cake in that aspect, having gotten the hang of that piece. Definitely the most important piece is being in tune with the Spirit. 

In practice, we can try to figure out what will help each person the best, but it's the Spirit that knows perfectly and will tell us what they need. I think that's what I want to do with my kids... Even just for mission prep in life in general. That they can feel prepared in answering peoples' questions when they talk with people throughout the day. Going through school I didn't really know how to respond to missionary situations. So maybe starting out with my kids when they're in primary and making it pretty simple stuff. Making it fun. Just talking about what they believe. I don't know. Something like that. Does that make sense? Hopefully. Maybe you could check this idea out with my sibs and see what they think about it.

So this week we visited a less active member who has trouble getting work off. He spoke about his experience finding the church. He lived in Africa, and in his respective country the church had no real presence. He found a copy of the Book of Mormon in the library and he read it and wanted to learn more, so he wrote Salt Lake and they shipped him a box of materials. Missionaries were sent to that country and the work moved forward. Just amazing to hear stories of people's faith and the efforts they go to in order to learn of the gospel.

So it was truly amazing this week. We met with our investigator who has a baptismal date and she had spoken previously about how she wouldn't ever give up coffee. She has given up a lot of things and she felt that was her one vice. Well, in our previous lesson we brought up the fact that in order for her to be baptized, she'd need to give that up. She felt hesitant to do so. So when we came over to teach the plan of salvation this week, I assumed we would need to address her concern further with that. But when we brought it up, she said simply that she had given it up. Cold turkey! Just amazing. Oh the faith she has. It's amazing to see what people are willing to do, once they truly desire to follow Christ into the waters of baptism. She is one of the people I'm truly grateful I've come on a mission and had the chance to work with. The Spirit was so strong!

We also had another meeting with another investigator we have, who has been meeting with the missionaries since April. We talked about the Word of Wisdom and she has been cutting back on the coffee. We set a baptismal date with her for October! She has that desire to change her life for the better. Truly a great moment!

If I were to be involved with just one individual who chose to follow the example of Christ and be baptized and then continue onward in the faith during the course of my mission, I'd be alright with that. And so when more individuals decide to take the right path, for me it's not a matter of "Yes! Another baptism!" True, I am excited about it. But not from that perspective. This work truly is eternal and this has everlasting significance. It's kinda like Mosiah 28:3. As many people who will accept Christ and follow Him, the better! And I just value the chance I have to work with these people as they make these choices. We can never force anyone, but it's amazing to see the change of heart in people. The true conversion.

One of the best things I'm learning while out here is transitions. And learning to not react to them. To accept change. The change in areas. The change in missions. The change in companions. I've noticed that with each of these I went through emotional time periods. I want to lessen the amount of time it takes me to transition and move on. I feel it's a good lesson for life in general. And also in being positive. In looking for the good in each situation and person. Even when we're getting dumped on with rain while walking, there's good to be seen.

So the last two weeks have just been bad. Not with my companion. It's been awesome. But with the work. It's just been slower. And a LOT of our appointments fall through. Especially the ones where we find members who are willing to come out with us. Oh how frustrating! I just feel stupid when we show up, even after double checking by phone, and people aren't there. Nice. So it's been really disheartening, and the numbers show similarly. It's just been slower. So the two experiences shared earlier helped to contrast that.

And my testimony that we can find people to teach from knocking doors improved this week. I've had a pretty negative attitude about tracting... Still doing it, but not really viewing it as something that can bring about success. But we knocked into a young man who wasn't religious at all but his friend bought him a Bible and he read that within the last year or so and now believes in God. That was a week ago Sunday. Yesterday evening we went over and it was a little sketchy of a beginning. He opened the door with a look on his face like, umm why are you here again? Even though we had set up a return appointment. But anywho, we taught the restoration, and he committed to read. People are being prepared by the Lord. I will choose to be wisely optimistic, like President Eyring spoke about. The way he gained a testimony of God and the Bible can happen again for him with the Book of Mormon.

Alright I love you all and have a great week!
--
"Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism." -Alma 7:15

Monday, August 15, 2011

August 15, 2011 - Email from Elder Bezas

Ok... So my bad on not having a thrilling email last week :P Sorry I just ran out of things to say. :) I'll do better this time.

So one thing this week that was super cool was we had Zone Conference. We had a couple that cover the northeastern United States missions. They go around and meet with the different missionaries in those missions. So they spoke for a while at ours. It was awesome. One thing Sister Christensen mentioned was her fear she originally had of public speaking, but that the Lord has helped her overcome that as she's put forward the effort. 

The thing that stuck out the most from what she said is this: "The Lord doesn't call the qualified; He qualifies the called." 

It totally fits with how I feel. I feel inadequate for this work. But He is helping me to do this each day. I'm getting better at this. There's always room for growth. But Christ provides us hope that we can overcome our challenges. So with zone conferences I always come away feeling like, Man, I thought I was doing alright, but there's a lot more I need to be doing. But that's good. It keeps me humble. And growing.

So I remember waiting for little bro to get done with Scouts in the church building a few weeks before I left on my mission. And at that point, there was a mission zone conference going on in the chapel. And I remember hearing missionaries who were departing and going home giving their testimonies. And thinking about the time that that would be me. And now that I'm in the field and witnessing other individuals who are going home and thinking again about the time that that will be me giving my last testimony as a missionary in the field. Whooo.... 

Scary. I don't like that thought. I really want to make the most of this time. That way when that moment comes, I can feel confident that I've done enough. That I've served hard enough and spent my time well. That way I can come home and go on with the next stage of life. 

A mission should be a stepping stone on a person's spiritual development, not the pinnacle of a person's life. I feel my mission is helping me grow into a state of being where I feel comfortable and better capable of sharing the gospel with people I know once I get back home. Because I want to come home and just continue doing missionary work while picking up the other responsibilities that come with regular life again. I don't want to lose this fire. I want to help reactivate those that have lost that zeal and are less active. I want to be a ward missionary. Or teach primary. That would be awesome. Or scout master. Those would be pretty chill callings.

So I'm learning a better appreciation for our talents. I've been able to sing for three meetings while I've been out. At the three day "golden/greenie" training in May (Savior, May I Learn to Love Thee), at some beloved converts' baptisms (How Great Thou Art), and then at Zone Training (Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd). 

It feels truly great being able to help add to the Spirit of a meeting that way. I don't claim the ability to sing as mine. It's from the Lord. He's given it to me with the intent for me to try to lift others through that. I'm just a tool. I can't flaunt it. It's God's. I just like being able to be used as a tool in the Lord's hands that way.

It's interesting with transfers coming up. My whole life there was the suspense of where I was going to go on a mission... And then I finally got my call and knew where I was going... And then I REALLY found out where I was going when I was reassigned. Ha. Anywho. The one thing that drives me crazy (in an ok way) is not knowing how long I'll stay in an area. Ok in a way I do... I know every six weeks that I'll be in that area for six weeks... 

But still. There's a part of me that wishes I could know how long I will be in an area so I could gauge how attached I get to the people there and know when it is the last time that I'll talk with those individuals while on my mission. I think it'll be cool to come back in a year or two after my mission with you guys and show you around. 

Also with companions. I wish I knew how long I'd be with each comp, so I could gauge how attached I get. But I guess it's all for the best. I'm just a very loyal person.... unless someone just continually gets to me and gets on my bad side then I'm not loyal. But for a large majority of the people out there, I am extremely loyal once I'm around them for a while. So it's hard when I don't know how long I'm going to be with someone with that in mind. But it's all good. It all happens for a reason.

So in church this Sunday, when we walked into the chapel, there was totally a woman, that looking at her from behind... the back of her head looked almost identical to yours, Mom. It was crazy. I was like, wait, no... It couldn't be. It wasn't, but yeah. Crazy.

Oh yeah, so like a month ago we had bed bugs. Not cool. So we slept in the living room for a couple nights while we let the mattresses which we sprayed with permithren (sp?) settle and kill the nasty bug joo joo bad guys. Oh that was itchy. I don't know how I forgot to say that at the time. I just get to the computer and my mind goes blank. My bad. ...But the main thing is I lived. We laughed. We cried. It became a part of me.


So we had this super cool contact this week. We were knockin' doors and - wait, to preface - Our zone leaders recently asked us to view each person we talk with as the next person we'll help enter the waters of baptism and come closer to Christ in that way... Trying to view them with charity.  - Anywho, so with this one contact I truly tried to do that. When the guy opened the door (teenager), I said a little prayer in my heart that we'd be able to connect with him and find out what aspect of the gospel would bring him fulfillment in life. So we asked him some questions... 

First he said he wasn't really religious, and so I asked what it is that gets him going or gives him motivation. What matters to him. And he said his mom. So I talked about the immense connection I have with you guys and how much you matter to me. And asked if he would be interested in knowing how his mother and he could be united after this life. He was genuinely interested. Too bad he lives for the most part outside of our mission boundaries. Bummer. But we passed his name on. 

It was just a cool experience in how the Spirit has each person's best interests at heart and will help us help them as we truly try to care for them. Plus he had a sweet name - Quadir!
 
So we had a sweet experience teaching one of our investigators who drinks coffee. It seems like everyone and their dog and mother drinks coffee out here on the east coast. Ha. Anyways. So this individual is super eager to be baptized...and wants to move their baptismal date up. But they've said repeatedly that we'll "never take their coffee away from them." And this last week we brought a member who was a convert... We had no idea he was a tea drinker before. 

So during the lesson, which was the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we brought up how the Word of Wisdom is a commandment that the Lord has asked us to live along with baptism--For our benefit. And this member was able to bear sincere testimony about his experience. The investigator is now willing to consider and pray about that. 

Such a sweet experience. The Spirit changes hearts. He is the one who converts. Not us as missionaries. We are only teachers of the gospel. We have power given to us from God to represent Him in ministering unto His children and providing them with knowledge of the Gospel - the tools they need to make it through this life... It's ultimately their choice to accept and live it. The Spirit is the converting factor.

Alright, well I love you all and I will talk to you next week! :)

Elder Paul
--
"Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism." -Alma 7:15

Monday, August 8, 2011

August 8, 2011 - Email from Elder Bezas


So this week has just been awesome!

My companion and I are getting along really well, and I feel that we teach pretty well together. We're definitely growing together.

So there's this cheese steak place in Edgewater Park, called Joe's, that is a bit of a missionary tradition in this area. The missionary who stays takes the new missionary and treats them to Joe's. it's pretty good. Although kinda pricey. Oh, well. It's tradition.

So I'm learning how important it is to trust in the Lord's timing. And to just work hard. In previous weeks, we've basically had maybe one new investigator each time. And I was getting frustrated thinking, "Why aren't we finding more success in that area of the work?" 

And then we took out one of the recent RMs in the ward, and he mentioned from his experience in England how the amount of people you find to teach is directly correlated to the amount of time dedicated to FINDING. It really hit me. 

So we spent more time finding and tracting. And we had three new investigators this week. That's defined as someone we teach a lesson on a principle of the lessons or a full lesson and schedule a return appointment. Two of them invited us into their homes and we taught a lesson then. It was really cool. This is the Lord's work. He is in charge. He really does care about us. We all have our agency and get to choose what path we want in this life.

Alright, well, time is short. I love you. I really do miss y'all a bunch, but this is what I really need to be doing right now. :) I'm glad y'all understand.

your son and brother,

Paul

--
"Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism." -Alma 7:15

Monday, August 1, 2011

August 1, 2011 - Email from Elder Bezas

Well hey there!

It's another week and first off I must say.... HAPPY BIRTHDAY LITLE BRO!!!! Wow, You're totally gonna be old!!! How cool is that!!?!? Alright, do something special, man! One suggestion. Go to Kiwi Loco and have the cake batter one. It's the best... But that's just my opinion. And here's a virtual hug

Oh, by the way, little bro, so in sacrament meeting on Sunday, the primary children sang a song. Although I couldn't really discern many of the words, it brought a big smile to my face. I thought of you and singing in primary all those times and being able to watch you do that. Keep being awesome, alright??

Alright, so I found something you might find interesting, Mom. So in 1 Nephi 18:18, the word 'grey' reminded me of your elementary experience with spelling that word. Ha. So you were right. Plus it's spelled that way in British literature. :)

So I must say, thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you! Having my old set of scriptures is very comforting. I don't know why, but I associate a lot of sentimental value with certain things. In adjusting to the mission field, there are so many "new" things to get used to. Having scriptures that have all my old markings from the time I was about fourteen is very comforting to have. And I'll still find use for the other set. But it's nice to have the other for sure. And it was so nice that they arrived so quickly after I asked for them. Thank you. :)

Alright I love you guys, I'm trying to improve.. Ever so slowly. :) Thanks for all you do!

I'll see you again soon. :)

Elder Bezas

--
"Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism." -Alma 7:15