Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Knowing who you are...

It is interesting how a lot of people think that they need to find themselves before they want to get in to the church. I always think of a quote from President Boyd K. Packer that talks about the study of behavior. He says that, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.” “LITTLE CHILDREN,” ENSIGN, NOV. 1986, 17. The best way to find out more about oneself is to understand who we were before we were born, and who we can become, and to understand the doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For me, knowing that has made all the difference in my life.

Last night we had a lesson with a friend of one of the members in the branch and she was wondering about why so many people worry about tomorrow and not about today. We watched the video called, Our Heavenly Father's Plan. When it raised the questions,' Where did we come from', 'Why are we here', and 'Where we are going', she asked me if I already knew the answers to those questions and I said that I did. She was impressed that I, being so young, already had that knowledge. She kept saying how even though she was older then us she was still wanting to learn from us "babies."

On Sunday we had another great baptism. We had it after all of our Sunday meetings. So during our sacrament meeting the font was filled and after the whole branch moved to the Relief Society room for the baptism. Brayan is ten and he is super smart. We didn't really need to teach him anything, all we did was review everything. His dad Antonio, who has been a little less active, has been working over the past weeks to get the Melchizedek Priesthood, so he was able to baptize him. I think that he is going to be ordained this next Sunday, and if that is the case then he will also be able to confirm Brayan as well. It was a good service. I think that at the end of the year they are planning going to the temple, Alba was baptized this past December, so it will be cool to see them go through when they can.

Brayan's baptism

During the process of teaching Brayan, we met his 13 year old cousin Erikah, and there was a small miracle involved, that can quite possibly result in a whole family being baptized. We went to Brayan's house to go over the baptismal interview questions to make sure that he understood everything and to be sure that he was ready for baptism. We get in the house and realize that we needed to get something out of the car, also we wanted to get a copy of the Book of Mormon for Brayan's cousin. We go out and I get what we forgot in the car and Elder Phelps gets a Book of Mormon out of the trunk and we go back in and start the lesson. When we get to talking about the Book of Mormon, we go to mark 3 Nephi 11, and Elder Phelps finds a testimony that he had put into a Book of Mormon, weeks before and had forgotten about. The interesting thing about that testimony is that that it was from a 13 year old girl from Nampa, his last area, and he had been carrying it for a few weeks, then put it in to a Book of Mormon, and it just happened to be the one that he grabbed really fast for another 13 year old girl in this area. Things like that don't just happen. We are probably going to go and visit her and her family sometime in the next couple of days, and hopefully it will be another wonderful experience.

On Saturday we had another barbecue in the name of missionary work. Last Tuesday we met with our Ward Mission Leader and one of our ward missionaries before we went out on splits. Bro. Jones, the ward missionary, said that we should have a barbecue for all of our investigators, and less actives, and also invite the members. That would be good for them for fellow shipping purposes. So we did, and it was great. I didn't count how many people were there but there were a lot that were not members that really had a good time.

That is pretty much everything that has been going on this past week. I hope that everything goes well for Trevor with his interviews and everything.


Elder Paxton

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Preach My Gospel

It is always a little interesting to think that my mom is going to be with in the mission boundaries and it isn't against the rules because you aren't coming to visit me. Happy Anniversary Grandpa and Grandma De Mond!

We had a great zone activity last week. I didn't take any pictures because I left my camera in the car in Caldwell, from there we went to Nampa with the zone leaders. We all enjoyed the activity, especially because it was a good mix between Hispanic sports (i.e.soccer) and American sports (i.e. baseball). It took a little while for the Hispanics to enjoy it because of some of the rules that there are from baseball, but in the end we all enjoyed ourselves and then we had a barbecue. I was the head chef for some reason, probably because I was the closest to the grill. I wasn't too worried about it because all that we had was hot dogs, lots and lots of hot dogs. The people who were making the assignments didn't do very good math, or those that were assigned didn't listen very closely, because there were about 20 more hot dogs then buns. But everything worked out in the end.

Elder Phelps and I are enjoying spring in Ontario. Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and they are chirping because we are getting a little too close to our new neighbors. We noticed in the bush next to our house that we have a couple of new baby birds, and mom and dad don't like that we are taking pictures of them, they are always squawking whenever we are close to them, but so far they haven't attacked us. Hopefully we will be able to see our new friends grow and maybe even fly away.

We have been having a good time being a part of the Lord's work. Last night I was reading in Alma, the whole mission is reading the Book of Mormon before August 14th, and I just finished reading the great examples that Ammon and his brethren are for us all as missionaries. One verse stood out in particular to me. It is in verse 10 of chapter 29 and it reads as follows,
10 And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me.
That is so very true (it better be, it is coming out of the Book of Mormon). Too often life we get to wrapped up in the things that are going on in our own lives, that we forget that we owe our lives to our Lord who's "merciful arm which he [extends] towards [us]." That is the joy of missionary work. We feel the joy of forgiveness, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, then, because of that joy, we want to share it with all of our neighbors (both figurative and literal, mom) and as we share the blessings we have so freely received, our neighbors will want to learn more and they will receive the same, or similar blessings that we have received. And then we start the whole process over again, because of the joy of helping others come unto Christ.

One thing that we have been doing a lot is inviting members to think of the many blessings of the Gospel. Then we ask them if they know anyone who could benefit from those same blessings. Then we invite them to pray for them by name, asking how they should go about sharing their feelings. When we approach missionary work this way it is more then pushing our religion on our friends or neighbors, we are sharing what makes us happy.
I will close with at quote taken from Preach My Gospel by, President George Albert Smith (1945–1951),
“That is your mission, my brethren and sisters of the Church, that is your responsibility. Freely you have received and our Heavenly Father will expect you freely to share with His other sons and daughters these glorious truths” (Nibley [1948], 213).
“We will attain our exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom only on the condition that we share with our Father’s other children the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and observe the commandments that will enrich our lives here and hereafter” (Sharing the Gospel with Others, sel. PrestonSharing the Gospel with Others, 190).
I look forward to hearing your reports on your success in sharing the gospel, Alma 26:27.

Elder Paxton

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Busy Elders!

This Saturday I had the opportunity to baptize Savannah Lewis. It was a great baptismal service and we were able to make a connection to just about everyone important for her in her service. Her English and Choir teacher directed the service (he being the ward missionary leader), Elder Phelps gave the opening prayer, her Seminary teacher gave the first talk, I baptized her, the Mia-Maids sang a special musical number (Savannah is 15), her Sunday School teacher gave the second talk, a member of the Bishopric welcomed her to the ward, and one of her good friends and fellowshippers gave the closing prayer. It was great to be able to have everyone there to support her. And on Sunday Bro. Jones confirmed her, he being a long time family friend.

We are very excited for her to be the newest member of the Church in her family. We think that she will be a great asset to the ward, and the Young Women are really doing their part to make sure that she is welcomed. Next Monday she will be going to girls camp and they have her signed up for a special youth conference that is going on in Nyssa in July.

We are working with a bunch of other people to help them prepare for baptism. Yesterday we set a baptismal date with a 10 year old boy in the branch. He is super smart and has come to church for the past two months. We didn't really know that he wasn't a member until we ate dinner with them last Monday. So we started to teach him and he is super smart and pretty much already knows everything. The really cool thing is his recently reactivated dad is worthy to baptize him. His date is for June 25th.

This past Sunday Elder Phelps and I had the opportunity to speak in the Branch. On Saturday Presidente Machuca called us and asked to speak and of course I said that we would. We didn't have time to prepare on Saturday, because we were a little busy with a baptism and other lessons, and if you look at the schedule from last week there really isn't much time to prepare on Sunday, so what ended up happening was that we prepared as we gave our talk. I guess it was really good because in the middle of my talk, Presidente gets up and asks if one of the sisters would go out and entertain the loud children so their mother (who we are teaching and preparing for baptism, no date as of right now) could come back in a listen to my talk because he felt that is was really important for her to listen. Things are a little unorthodox in a branch, but I am sure that Presidente was acting on a spiritual impression. After he said that I thought the pressure is really on, I better make this good. When she came back in she really seemed to be listening intently so I hope she got something that can help her.

Today we are heading to Caldwell for a zone activity. We are going to be playing kick ball and having a barbecue. It should be pretty fun and we need to get going here pretty soon so what I have written will have to be good enough for now.


Elder Paxton

PS: I did get the surprise package on my door step from Jeanette. It was pretty crazy to think that she was at my door, when for most of my mission she had been on the other side of the world.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Now Behold...

Now behold, it came to pass that I, Elder Paxton, having ministered much unto my people in word, (and I cannot write but a little of my words, because of the difficulty of typing our words upon emails) and we know that the things which I type upon emails must remain.

As we had hoped, our "office work" on Memorial Day really paid off. Wednesday we had four lessons. One of the lessons that we had we met two new investigators that would later (on Saturday) set July 2nd for their baptismal date. On Saturday we had another 4 lessons. As of right now we have four investigators with baptismal dates.

The closest one is going to be on this coming Saturday at four. She is going to be the newest addition of the Lewis family to the church. Her mom (Donna) got baptized on May 2nd and Jalin (her 11 year sister) got baptized on May 23rd. Savannah is 15 and is already planning on going to girls camp, which is on June 20-24, and might be going to youth conference and is very excited to be involved in all of the activities that the church has. She was spiritually converted to the church very quickly. The other day we were over at their house and everyone was talking about getting tattoos (Donna is a "mom" to about 30 of the kids in town and a couple were over that day). Savannah was just sitting there not saying anything, so I asked her what her opinion on tattoos was and she said that our bodies are a gift from God and that we shouldn't do anything to them, and we had never taught her anything along those lines. We are pretty sure that she is going to be the laurels president before too long.

The real miracle of the week didn't happen until Sunday. Our schedule on Sunday is as follows:
  • 7:30-New Plymouth 1st PEC
  • 9:00-NP1 Sacrament
  • 10:15-NP2 PEC
  • 11:00 NP2 Sacrament
  • 12:45-Branch classes
  • 2:15-Branch Sacrament
So, we are running around a lot. During NP1 Sacrament we had 5 investigators at church, which we were pretty excited to see that many people at church. In NP2 we had four more bringing our total up to 9 for the day (I have had entire transfers where there were less investigators at church, all six weeks combined) so we were even more excited. But the real amazement came when the Branch's Sacrament meeting started. We counted a total of 15 non-members above the age of 8, and a bunch more under 8, but they don't count as investigators. So we had a total of 24 investigators at church between the 3 units that we cover. We were so amazed to have that many people at church. All of the children that were there were a little loud (by a little I mean EXTREMELY), but one of the members got crayons and paper to keep them entertained and quiet.

We continue to see miracles and are loving all that is going on in this great area. On Thursday we had lunch with President Barlow (Stake President) and he says that the Ontario Stake has a tradition of being one of the highest baptizing stakes in the mission, and we sure are glad to be a part of it. Elder Phelps is hoping that he and I serve here until the end of my mission. I don't think that will happen but we would probably have a lot of success during that time.

And behold, I, Elder Paxton, am forbidden that I should write the remainder of the things which I saw and heard; wherefore the things which I have written sufficeth me; and I have written but a small part of the things which I saw.

Elder Paxton