Monday, November 25, 2013

Bane jokes and Baptisms

Another wonderful week in Apple Valley, CA!  I think this week the desert got tired of me mocking it so it rained on us three days straight, haha.  I guess summer in Utah and fall in Apple Valley have made me soft.  When it rained for those three days I thought, "What on Earth is happening?"  I do like to make Bane jokes to the missionaries and people serving here, though.  "You think the rain is your friend?  You've merely adapted to the rain.  I was born in the rain, molded by it."  Heh, it never gets old.  Well, it never gets old to me.  I'm sure my companion is sick of it, but I can't help that I'm handsome and hilarious.

We had another great lesson with our investigator Ann.  She's a wondeful woman and is progressing quite nicely.  She's really grown fond of us and has a huge testimony in the fact that us as missionaries are sent of God.  She's had a few moments where, as she puts it, was about to do something stupid but right before she did we knocked on her door.  She says she feels really good when we teach her and she's been reading the Book of Mormon and praying about her message.  She had a baptismal date for December 14th for her husband got sick so she wasn't able to make it church this Sunday and in this mission an investigator has to be to church at least three times before they can be baptized.  So Aneta's date will have to be pushed back but that's okay.  It'll be nice to help her grow her testimony more before baptism.

This Saturday we have a baptism for a young boy in the ward who put his baptism off until he was 9, making him our responsibility.  I felt a little bad that it'd be my first baptism, but as we taught him we realized that he didn't really have any knowledge about the gospel.  Like, at all.  But as we've taught him he's learned a lot and says that he likes to read the scriptures and is trying to pray every night.  He even said his first prayer out loud with us in our last lesson, without any help from anyone.  It's interesting, some of the things we've taught have really stuck with him.  He especially likes the idea that because God is our Father then we're all technically spirit brothers and sisters.  He said during our last lesson, "That means that we're all brothers!  So... YOU'RE my brothers."  Then he paused for a bit, looked up at us, and said, "My brothers are missionaries!" with a big smile on his face.  It was a really touching moment.  We're very excited for the good decision he's made to be baptized. 

The work continues to progress here and we're working hard everyday.  This week will be better than the last and the work will go forward boldly, nobly, and independent.  I'm grateful for all the support from my fellow missionaries, from my ward here, and from my ward back home.  I'll talk to you all next week.

Your friend,
Elder Carter David Morgan

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"I get to be a superhero!"

Greetings from the lovely paradise of Apple Valley, CA!  We had a week of adventure and intrigue!  Not really, although that is how I described it in Ward Missionary Correlation.  In all seriousness though, things have been really good this week!  We had a lot of great opportunities and our work continues to accelerate.

This week I hit my three month mark!  It seems so strange that I've already been out working and serving the Lord for three straight months.  It's been the most rewarding time of my life and while it has been difficult at times I wouldn't trade it for anything else.

We had a great lesson with one of our investigators this week.  She's working on gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon and in the past we would read it with her and review the reading she did in her spare time, starting from the 1st chapter of 1st Nephi and just going from chapter to chapter.  We came to the conclusion that in order for her to gain a testimony she needed to read the more spiritual chapters of the Book of Mormon and gain a testimony of what it teaches, rather than the historical events of the Book of Mormon.  We left 2nd Nephi 31, where Nephi plainly sets forth the Doctrine of Christ, with her and planned on reading 3rd Nephi 11, where the resurrected Savior appears to the Nephites in America, when we returned.  She LOVED 2nd Nephi 31 and ended up marking a ton of the chapter.  We read 3rd Nephi 11 with her and she really enjoyed it.  After we had read it she confided in us that she had already read the chapter the previous week!  That was a big step for her because before she's been troubled with reading the Book of Mormon.  As she put it, "I'm starting to gain a relationship with my Book of Mormon."  We are very pleased with the progression she's making.  After the reading we had an impromptu testimony meeting about the trials in our life and how they've strengthened us.  The Spirit was very strong throughout the whole lesson.

Speaking of the Spirit, this week we had a very interesting encounter with some new investigators.  They were interested in learning some more and warned us that they really liked to argue.  We told them that we weren't there to argue but to teach and they agreed to let us come back in a few days.  When we got there we started to teach and they were very argumentative throughout the whole time.  We finally got to the introduction of the Book of Mormon and we offered it to one of them, Jay, and he refused to even touch it.  We kept telling them that they would have to read it and pray in order to find out if our message was true but he wouldn't have it.  It came to the point where I was so fed up with them that I just started bearing straight testimony to them about the truth of the Book of Mormon.  I don't think what I said was particularly profound, but the Spirit was there and backed up and bore testimony of what I spoke.  After the lesson my companion told me it was the most powerful testimony he had ever heard.  When I finished speaking, these three incredibly argumentative men sat in stunned silence, just looking at us.  We said a closing prayer and left off on good terms with them.  In fact, they offered their protective services to us and said to give us a call if we ever get into trouble.  As we left, Jay, who before would not even TOUCH the Book of Mormon, ran after us before we could leave.  He walked up to us and in a hushed voice he said, "I just have one more question.  Do I have to believe in the Book of Mormon to go to heaven?"  This man, who before wouldn't even give the Book of Mormon any consideration, was now concerned how this book related to his eternal salvation.  In that moment the Spirit had testified with absolute certainty to his soul that the Book of Mormon was true and now he wanted to know if he had to act on it to be saved.  We told him that it wasn't about the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith or anything like that, it was about Jesus Christ.  The way to obtain the highest degree of glory in heaven is to be baptized by someone who holds Jesus Christ's authority and the Book of Mormon is how we can know if that authority resides in this church.  He thanked us for our time and we left on our way.  It was an experience I don't think I'll ever forget.

We had the opportunity to visit a less-active member of the ward in the hospital this week.  She struggles with respiratory issues and was very glad to see us.  She kept telling us that she wasn't ready to die.  She asked me to give her a blessing and the Spirit was very strong throughout.  It was a very humbling experience.  

When confronted with this woman who was worried about dying, it made me think how interesting the mission is.  I feel like I'm more acquainted with the world than a lot of people that I know but I'm also completely protected from it.  I've seen people in crippling poverty, I've seen those still clinging onto life and not ready to die, I've sat down and talked to those struggling with addictions to highly illegal drugs, I've met a man who  changed his entire life because of a heart attack and one scripture verse, I've become friends with one of the most wonderful men in the world who converted to the Gospel when he found an LDS quad in his jail cell and read the whole thing, I've met self-made millionaires, and I've met much more people than I could ever describe in a single email.  What a wonderful opportunity to associate with all kinds of people in the world but to not have to worry about becoming worldly.  It really gives you an insight to how Christ must have felt when ministering to the people of Jerusalem.   

We taught a lesson to one of our newish investigators who already has a baptismal date the other day.  She just told us over and over again that she gets such a good feeling when we go into her house.  She called us her sons and was so grateful for us teaching her.  We're really excited for her baptism and so is she.

In other non-work related notes, this week we've come into the possession of a deep fryer for our apartment.  We've already made fried chicken, french fries, and our own potato chips.  Up next?  Deep fried Oreos tonight.  Oh yeah.  I guess that's what you get when you serve in the States, haha.

Well, that's about it for this week.  I'm excited for the upcoming week.  It's always a great feeling when you have a fresh week lying in front of you, full of potential and opportunities.  I was thinking this week that for two years my job is to LITERALLY save the world.  How cool is that?  Why would I ever want to trade this for anything else?  Not everyone gets the chance to be a superhero, but fortunately I've been blessed with that opportunity.  However, my costume isn't as cool as other superheroes, it's pretty much just a white shirt, tie, and a spiffy name tag.  That won't stop me, however!  It reminds me of the lyrics to a song from a popular music group among the missionaries out here:

"So here I go,
To save the world,
I'll be so strong,
Yet still miss girls."

Ate logo,
Elder Carter David Morgan

Monday, November 11, 2013

"I'm a city boy..."

Greetings from Apple Valley, California!  The locals here keep complaining about the onset of winter, but I don't know what they're talking about.  Any "winter" that is 78 degrees and has clear skies all day is no winter to me, haha.  While I do love to rip on Vancouver while I'm out here, I do miss the beautiful Evergreen state, gray skies and all.

This week we had the opportunity to do service for some of the members in our ward who do our laundry.  Part of the service they wanted us to do was chopping some wood.  With a chainsaw.  Well, my companion is a good ol' Georgia boy so that was no problem for him.  Now, I was not raised in the country.  In fact, I was raised in the suburbs/city right across the river from Portland.  I wasn't as comfortable with the idea of accidentally cutting my appendages off so I elected to use the axe instead.  So one of the youth in the ward came and helped me chop and we divided ourselves into Team City and Team Country.  The youth and I would swing axes towards the wood in a pathetic attempt to chop it, having hardly any experience before.  When the wood would finally get chopped we would raise the axes over our heads and scream.  Then we would usually insult the wood that we just chopped.  While we were chopping the wood I would turn and shout at my companion things that made the city better.  "Art galleries!  Theaters!  Magnetized public railway transportation systems!  Paved roads!"  While we didn't chop as much wood as Team Country, I like to think that we won in spirit.
This week we had a dinner cancel on us so my companion and I decided to go to Red Robin to do a late celebration of our birthdays.  We ate a good meal and had a really good time.  At the end of the meal we asked if we could have our bills separately and the waitress told us that someone had paid for our entire meal.  It was awesome!  We were so grateful for the kind members of the church who sacrificed and paid for our meal.  It really made our day.
We continue to grow closer to our ward and appreciate their kind and loving support of the work that we do.  Our High Priest Group Leader has offered several hours of his time every Tuesday to help us teach and our Bishop took us out to breakfast this morning.  The people here are great and I'm glad that I've had the opportunity to meet them.
The work continues to go strong here in California and I'm proud to be one of the Lord's missionaries.  I know the church is true and I want to help others find out that it's true for themselves.
Your friend,
Elder Carter David Morgan

Monday, November 4, 2013

"Thanks for the Birthday Wishes!"

Greetings one again from Apple Valley, CA!  It feels good to say that, because I just finished my first transfer and was worried that I'd leave the area.  Thankfully, I haven't left and the Work of Salvation continues to move forward in this awesome area.  Our ward has really taken a liking to all of the missionaries serving in it, the sister missionaries, Elder Escamilla, and myself.  Thankfully, none of us were transferred this time.  It was funny to see the sigh of relief that our ward mission leader and ward council let out when we told them the good news.  The ward is very supportive and I feel incredibly blessed to work with these wonderful people.
The work is exploding here in the Ranchos area.  Each week we get more and more appointments and our teaching pool has increased dramatically.  We're finding great success in teaching the less active families of the ward and they love having the missionaries over.  A lot of the less actives really want to go to church, they just can't because of medical or other reasons.  It's really sad to see, actually.  They love having the missionaries over because even though they can't make it to church they do love to feel the Spirit.  That's one of the things that's wonderful about being a missionary, you carry the Spirit with you like no one else is able to.  I feel so blessed to be able to serve as a missionary.
Speaking of the less active families, one of the people that we felt inspired to visit was about 80 years-old, on bed rest, and was really hard of hearing.  We had to shout at her (at the request of her daughter) for her to understand what we were saying.  While we were visiting, she told us that she wanted a priesthood blessing and that she would like me to do it.  Let me tell you, it is VERY hard to shout a priesthood blessing.  It went well, though, and I was able to get through the whole blessing and felt that what I said was inspired by Heavenly Father.  Afterwards, her daughter, who has very bad asthma and has been troubled with sleep and just wanted some, asked for a priesthood blessing.  She asked for me to do it as well.  During the blessing I felt inspired to say that her pains would leave her for a night and that she would sleep perfectly well.  I also felt impressed to say that Heavenly Father had prepared a wise doctor to perform her upcoming surgery and that all would be well.  I haven't had the opportunity to visit her since the blessing, but I have faith that the promises that Heavenly Father spoke to her through me were fulfilled.
Thank you everyone that sent me the lovely birthday wishes!  They meant a lot to me.  I had a nice, but different, birthday.  To tell the truth, I forgot it was my birthday for most of the day, haha.  We were too busy.  But I did get some unexpected birthday surprises.  For starters, we taught a new investigator for the first time and she agreed to be baptized on December 14th.  That was exciting!  She was the third baptismal date I've ever set, the first two were a pair of sisters that we taught earlier this week.  Also, I found out that I wasn't getting transferred, which was welcome news.  It was a really good day, but everyday can be a good day when you're serving the Lord.

(these were taken by an investigator in the ward Carter serves)

Halloween was this week and we had a curfew of 6:00.  Since we had to be in so early, all of us went to the Zone Leaders' place and had a missionary Halloween party.  One of the elder's family sent all of us 6 pizzas and 6 two-liters of soda through a local member of the ward.  It was awesome.  However, while I was talking to the pizza delivery driver when she was giving us the pizza I asked her if they had already included the tip.  She said they hadn't and I've made it a firm rule in my life to always tip a pizza driver, since I was once one myself.  I ended up giving her some of the birthday money I had received earlier the week.
At the zone leaders' place we played a card game called "Magic," which I think is hilarious.  A few of the other missionaries are really into it, but the whole thing is a little silly to me so I like to just play the game without using any logic.  I actually won a few games by doing that, haha.  We also played Yahtzee and two of the missionaries dressed up as Batman and Superman and fought one of our zone leaders while the rest of us cheered them on.  Such is missionary life.
I have to get going, but it's always great to hear from you.  The work is going well here and I can't believe I've already done a transfer!  I'm excited to serve and love my time here. 
Keep it squeaky,
Elder Carter Morgan