Monday, January 27, 2014

Just to make sure--you all get Carter's being sarcastic right?

Hello again from Chino, CA!  The mission continues to be great and I continue to be the most handsome, successful, talented, and humble missionary in the mission field.  Some days it's a burden to be this good but I bear it with ease.

This week was another good week.  We received a referral from the Armenian elders (Apparently we have missionaries that speak Armenian.  Who knew?) in the mission next door for a new investigator.  His name is A and he's awesome.  He understands English really well but he has a limited vocabulary, especially when it comes to Gospel terms.  So we're now tag team teaching him with the Armenian elders since he lives in our boundaries and there's no Armenian ward nearby.  We teach him the missionary lessons and the Armenian elders read the Book of Mormon with him.  Apparently he reads it in Turkish, they read it in Armenian, and then they discuss it in English.  It's quite the process, haha.  It was hard to explain that in ward council.

Transfer doctrine came this Saturday.  Elder Wagstaff and I will be staying in Walnut Park for another transfer.  I'm excited about that.  There's nine companionships in the zone and we were one of the three that didn't get touched by transfers this time around.  There were a lot of change ups in the zone and mission this transfer so everyone was kind of freaking out, haha.  A lot of people down here in Chino were going up to the desert for the first time and were really worried about it.  I talked to a lot of them about the desert and what it was like and told them that they'd love it.  Seriously, the desert's awesome.

I had Chick-Fil-A for the first time this week!  It was delicious!  I mean, seriously, why is this not in Washington?  And the service was so fast!  I was thoroughly impressed.  In fact, just typing it makes me want it again.  Maybe I'll hit it up after lunch...

I had an interesting opportunity this week.  There's a large Christian church next to our ward building that a lot of people go to.  Apparently there's a bit of anti-Mormon tendencies there so the relationship between their members and ours is a little sour.  Anyways, I've always been interested in what they preach because it's such a fixture in our area.  Well, this week we actually met a guy who's a member of Calvary Chapel and we made a deal with him that we'd go to his church if he went to ours.  So this past Wednesday we found ourselves at the evening service of Calvary Chapel.  It was quite the experience.  Allow me to explain.

First off, I have never been to another church service besides my own.  I have nothing against it, it's just that typically the local times of services in Vancouver conflicted with my regular Sunday meetings and I would've rather attended my own church.  So all I've ever really known is an LDS church service.  So a different church was quite the experience.  For starters, the grounds of Calvary Chapel are HUGE.  I felt more like I was at a school then a church.  Their chapels are more like auditoriums and they had a gift shop and a coffee shop next to them.  I'm not judging, to each their own, it was just different for this poor little Mormon boy, haha.  The members of the church were very nice to us as we entered.  We were greeted, they shook our hands, smiled, and pointed us to an open seat.  We felt very welcome.  The only thing was that we stuck out like sore thumbs in the service as the only people in white shirts and ties, haha.  The rest were dressed in casual street clothes.  The service began with some Christian rock which was tasteful but a little different from the organ music and hymns that I'm used to.  After the music there were some casual prayers, we greeted those on our left and right, and we heard the sermon from the minister.  He gave a good sermon with only one anti-Mormon comment.  I was impressed.  I swear he looked right at me as he said it though, haha.  The sermon was on keeping a perspective on God amidst the travails of daily life.  He knew his bible very well and I definitely learned from him.

Here was the strange thing, though.  As I sat and listened to the minister preach for an hour, the Spirit bore witness of his message.  Mormon's don't have a monopoly on the Spirit.  The Spirit's job is to testify of truth no matter what source it comes from.  But as he spoke it was the opposite of listening to a missionary or a bishop speak.  His words didn't have any authority.  I was reminded of the fifth Article of Faith (bear with me, I'm quoting from Primary memory) which states, "We believe that a man must be called of God and set apart by the laying on of hands to preach the gospel and administer the ordinances thereof."  Even though this man was very smart and educated, it was apparent to me that he had not been called of God or set apart to preach the gospel.  Us as missionaries have.  We have the authority to preach because a prophet of God has called us to.  It's the reason that the church's missionary effort is so successful.  Not because we're super persuasive, that minister was much more persuasive than I, but because the Spirit gives authority to our words and people recognize that we are ministers of our Heavenly Father.  Going to another church made me appreciate the blessing of having our Savior's true church on the earth where we can be taught by those called of God and feel His spirit in His house.  What a blessing it is to know this truth!
I'm excited for the upcoming transfer.  What exciting adventures await me in these next six weeks?  Who knows?  Only time will tell!

Your friend,
Elder Carter David Morgan

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"Who Doesn't Like a Story Where a Missionary Chops a Bunch of Arms Off?"

Greetings once again from Chino, CA!  This is a note to all other missionaries in the world: I'm sorry.  I'm truly sorry for you.  In fact, I feel bad for you.  Why do I feel bad for you?  Because you don't get to serve in Chino.  And moreover, you don't get to serve in the Walnut Park area.  That privilege is reserved to only a special few missionaries and I'm lucky enough to be one of them.  My working theory for why I've been given this privilege is that I'm exceedingly righteous.  And I'm humble too.  I'm the most humble guy I know.  Just ask me about how humble I am.

This week has been great!  Elder Wagstaff and I continue to step up the finding effort and it's been paying off.  We started off this transfer with one investigator and we just found out that now we have more investigators than the rest of the Chino stake COMBINED.  That's crazy!  The Lord has truly been blessing us in our finding efforts.

We've been having a lot of luck with the part-member families in the ward.  A lot of the non-members in the family are interested in learning more about what the Mormon church is all about.  It was funny, this week we had a dinner with a part-member family.  I swear this family came straight from out of a sitcom.  The ten year-old girl talks like she's sixteen, the six year-old girl talks like she's ten.  It's hilarious.  When we went to dinner we wanted to see if they were interested in learning more about the church but right as we sat down to eat the ten year-old, K, looked me straight in the eye and said, "I'm interested in being baptized into the Mormon church."  I was a little dumbfounded, haha.  "Um, yeah.  We can help you with that!"

One of the other new investigators we found this week is T.  He was a referral from a member who lives in Irvine.  Tony is a sixty year-old Chinese man from Taiwan who grew up Buddhist his whole life.  He really respects the member friend who referred us and he also really respects the church.  He wants to learn more about it.  The things is, having grown up Buddhist his whole life, he knows next to nothing about Christianity.  In his words, "I don't know who Jesus Christ is.  I don't know what makes him so great.  I don't know why people worship him."  It's crazy meeting and teaching a man who has absolutely no idea who Jesus Christ is.  But T's awesome.  He's super solid and trustworthy and he's a great student.  He said the prayer at the end of our first lesson and it was a fantastic prayer.  There weren't any of the typical LDS cultural formalities that usually sneak into prayers.  When he prayed there was no question that he was talking directly to God.  If I didn't know any better I would've assumed that Heavenly Father was sitting right in front of him, listening to his prayer.  It was amazing.  I hope to one day pray as well as T.  He also came to church this Sunday, which was exciting!  It's always a great feeling when an investigator comes to church.

This week we also taught some middle school kids about the Book of Mormon.  We met them outside a Stater Bros. and asked them if they had ever heard of the Book of Mormon.  When they said they hadn't Elder Wagstaff and I acted like we couldn't believe they had never heard it and offered to sit down with them and read a chapter.  They accepted and we shared the story of Ammon with them, because who doesn't like a story where a missionary chops off a bunch of arms?

The member we live with, B, is serving a mission for the family history department of the church.  He has to use Skype a lot for it.  The problem is that he's so old we're pretty sure that he had his midlife crisis during the Renaissance.  So when he accidentally logged out of Skype and didn't remember his password, email, or username the house kinda went into chaos.  For about a week we were playing constant tech support trying to figure out some way to get him back into Skype.  Well this week, after strenuous study and skillful tactics, I managed to get him back into Skype!  I am the hero of the house!  I then typed up instructions on how to get back into Skype if he ever logs himself out and hung them up on his wall.  I've also been trying to convince him to buy me an iPhone so the final step of the instructions is, "Remember how much you love Elder Morgan and start saving up for his iPhone."  I've finally got him to agree that he'll buy me an iPhone after my mission if I personally come down to Chino to get it.  Uh, Chino's about twenty minutes from Disneyland, B.  I'm sure I'll be down here again soon.

That's about all I can think of at the moment.  The work is true and it's going great.  We continue to press forward and do our best to serve the Lord.  I hope all is going well for you back home, because it's certainly going well for me.

Your friend,
Elder Carter David Morgan

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Better late than never...

Greetings and happy holidays from Chino, CA!  My week's been thrown off because our P-Day was moved to Friday so I wasn't able to email this past Monday.  Rest-assured I am doing great and am loving it out here!  The holidays were absolutely fantastic!  It was great to be able to talk with my family over Skype and to spend the day remembering our savior, Jesus Christ.  What a great way to celebrate His birth!

Our P-Day was moved because today we had the opportunity to go to the temple.  What a wonderful blessing it is to worship our God in His holy house.  The Spirit that can be felt in the temple can't be felt anywhere else and it was great to commune with our Heavenly Father in such a sacred setting.  It was amazing to be able to receive some personal revelation on how the Work is to be conducted in this area of His vineyard.

Speaking of the work, it's going great!  It's been an interesting experience settling into a new area without any knowledge of what's been happening but I've finally settled into the swing of things.  The Lord has truly blessed us as we've worked this week.  I'll be honest, there were days when I didn't want to go out and proselyte but we pushed past it and the Lord has rewarded us handsomely for our determination.

We had set a goal for a certain amount of new investigators at the beginning of this week and I felt confident that we could achieve it.  I had felt the Spirit confirm to me that if we worked hard the Lord would lead us to the amount of investigators we had set a goal for.  At district meeting we were discussing with the other missionaries in my district what our district new investigator goal for the week should be.  While discussing I put forward that Elder Wagstaff and I would have X investigators by the end of the week.  The district felt it was a little ambitious and asked us if we were sure and tried to persuade us to drop it a little bit.  I felt confident that the goal was right and that Heavenly Father would help us meet it.  I am pleased to amount that after a full week of hard work we have found, through the Lord's blessing and guidance, DOUBLE the amount of new investigators then we had planned to.  How great is our God that he would answer our prayers!

This week has been a week of miracles.  We have seen the Lord's hand in this work in a very real way.   Our teaching pool has increased dramatically and we're finding ourselves busier than ever!  I'm so grateful for the opportunity I have to serve here in Chino, CA.  

I wish I could write more and tell about some of the stories with these new investigators, but I can't at the moment.  Due to our temple trip I have limited time to email.  I'm so grateful to be a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I know this is God's work and I feel incredibly blessed that he has allowed me to be a part of it.

Your friend,
Elder Carter David Morgan