Monday, April 21, 2014

"Being a missionary for Jesus Christ is AMAZING!"

We implemented our new finding approach last week. It's revolutionary. It's an out-of-the-box idea. It's...playing basketball with the local kids down at the Rec Center! And so far it works. I beat up on these high-schoolers with my ballin' skills and the news spreads fast. After only playing once with them, a member of the bishopric who works at the school mentioned to me that he knew we were playing down there because the kids at school were talking. When there are less than 100 kids grades 7-12, news spreads fast! Another rumor that spread like wildfire was that Elder Olsen and I were both being transferred even though we haven't even heard transfer doctrine yet. Each member we visited was like "we are going to miss you guys so much!" and we are like um we aren't leaving?! Elder Olsen probably will leave because he has allergies to cats, dogs, and dust and most everyone here has cats, dogs, and dust. 

Before district meeting Wednesday, a member from Rawlins named Moose took us to a diner where we all got Monster Burgers. This thing was massive and loaded with jalapenos, mushrooms, peppers, and cheese with two thick patties. I couldn't move very well after consuming that and the fries that came with it. It was so good though.

On Friday we brought our service clothes with us to Elk Mountain because we were going to go help Lyle on his ranch later in the day. It just so happens that we drive past one of our part-member family's house and the husband (65 or so years old) was about to start shoveling out 3,000 pounds of stone chips out of his truck. We hop out and he says we can't help him because we will get our nice clothes dirty so then we pull out our regular clothes. It took 3 of us an hour to unload and place all those stones so it would've taken him about 4 hours to do it by himself. Later that day we went out and worked with Lyle on his ranch. He sells some of his hay to feed race horses in the Kentucky Derby. This hay is the good stuff. I got to drive a big tractor and go feed some cows. It was fun. We went on a drive to look for elk or moose and the only thing we saw was a beaver but that was cool too. 

On Saturday we did service for the mom of a member of the ward that was moving in. She had so much stuff for as old as she was. For some reason, she is moving to the top floor and has to walk up 10 or so steps to get up there. We moved so many boxes up those steps it was ridiculous. We had coupons for Taco John's which is in Rawlins but we were hungry so we went. The coupon was good for a free meal so I just ordered the most expensive thing for FREE. Can't beat that. Later that day, there was a baptism for an eight year old girl named Maddie. There were probably 50 or so people there and no one knew how to play piano. We struggled through the opening hymn and the closing did not start off very well. I finally volunteered to play just the melody and everyone was happy and we sang on key :) I'm getting a lot better at piano because I play multiple times a week. I never took lessons so everything I can do is self taught. I love a challenge and playing music is a challenge. Kind of like guitar hero because you got to hit the notes as they pop up so it's basically like a video game. 

Yesterday, Easter Sunday, or as I like to call it the Resurrection of Christ day, was fantastic! Elder Olsen and I both spoke in Sacrament meeting about the Resurrection. My talk focused on how the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ enables all of us to overcome the effects of the Fall which are spiritual and physical death. It was great! We had a linger longer after church, which is basically a lunch where everyone brings a dish to pass and we eat. I sat next to this five year old girl named Sammy who told me I was her "best pal". I love the children here. You can see the light of their countenance. The world hasn't polluted their precious spirits and you can see that. I'm beginning to understand what Jesus Christ meant when he said we were all to become as little children. They have total faith. They do not doubt. I just love these kids and how sweet they are. 
We also had some tracting (going door to door knocking - pretty much the stereotypical idea of what missionaries do) success this week. We were just inviting people to come join with us in celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. People were responsive and nice even if they declined our offer. It probably helps that it isn't 10 degrees outside with the wind blowing 30 mph. People don't like to talk very long when that is the case.

To sum it up, being a missionary for Jesus Christ is AMAZING! I wouldn't trade it for anything. If you haven't, read the Book of Mormon and find out more about Jesus Christ and His Gospel. In 2 Nephi 25:26 it reads, "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." That is what the Book of Mormon is all about. Read it, and try to tell me you don't feel closer to Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. I dare you!!! :D

Love ya'll!

Elder Sell

P.S. here is a picture of a fox I took!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Simple Test of My Faith

Yet another great week flies by on my mission. A hundredth part of the record could not be recorded on this email, but these are the highlights:

Monday(P-day) - It was my third time going sledding and it was the BEST time yet! It must have snowed another foot since we last sled there but it was sweet. I had wool socks thanks to Elder Ramirez. So even though I was just wearing Nike's in sometimes knee deep snow, my feet stayed warm. We had to trail blaze a new path because the old one was gone. We went up to the point we usually went down at and then we decided to go even higher. The angle of the mountain past that point was so high that you couldn't walk up it -- you had to crawl! We went up so high and it was so beautiful! We all were cautious going down because we had to weave through trees. When we got to the bottom, Elder Christensen looked down at his belt loop and didn't see his truck keys (which were attached by a carabiner). The keys could have fallen off anywhere down the mountain. Who knows when they fell off either? The first thought that popped into my mind was, "There is no way we are finding these keys without God's help" so I proposed we say a prayer. I offered up the prayer and then I started walking back up the mountain. I thought about my faith the whole way up the mountain. Faith is a hope for things which are not seen which are true. I couldn't see the keys, but I knew Heavenly Father would help me find them because it was a righteous desire. I thought about how if I had perfect faith that I wouldn't even be surprised when I found the keys. It must have taken me 15 or 20 minutes to walk up to where the keys were laying on top of the snow.
I picked them up and threw them to Elder Christensen and we rode back down on his sled. I really wasn't surprised when I found the keys. I had been praying earlier last week about desiring to have more faith. Faith that Heavenly Father will put people in my path that are ready to hear the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. This was a simple test of my faith but it let me know that Heavenly Father answers my prayers. I came across a scripture in the Book of Mormon, Mormon 9:21 which reads, 
"Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth." 
I can testify that this promise is true. Yeah it was silly thing to pray to find keys but Heavenly Father cares about the silly things in our life. That's what Fathers do!

Tuesday - We decided to spend the day in Elk Mountain. It is an absolutely gorgeous place and is one of the biggest landmarks on interstate 80. We had plans to visit 5 or 6 people and all of them fell through. Either they weren't home or they were sleepy because they worked the night shift. We had an appointment at 4:30 and it was only 4:00 so we went to the local park and swung on the swings and hit the tether ball. We went out to Lyle's ranch for his daughter's sixth birthday party. We had cake and ice cream just like the kids. So basically we relived our childhood in the span of two hours. Lyle took us on his tractor to go feed the cows. It was a nice day and there was a cool breeze and a pretty sunset. 

Wednesday - We went over to this couple's house named Conny and Elias. He is from Chile and speaks broken English. They like us and are somewhat interested in our beliefs. He has a bad back and brain damage so he mostly watches soccer all day so we go over there and watch soccer and build a relationship. At the end of our visit, he told us that he trusts us and now wouldn't mind if we shared more of what we believe with him. It's fun to be able to build relationships with the people out here because they really are great! Later that night, we went to JD and Misty's to teach the Restoration. The Spirit was strong as we taught about how Heavenly Father loves us and how He sent His Son so we could all be Redeemed. I got to recount the First Vision in Joseph Smith's own words. I could feel the power of the message as well as see those listening feel it in their hearts. I know that Joseph Smith truly did see God, The Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. 

Thursday - We drove the 80 or so miles to Laramie for zone meeting. It was good and I learned more about faith, hope, and optimism. They all interconnect so I enjoyed being taught more about that. Our whole zone went to pizza hut after where we get a $2 buffet lunch deal because the manager (who isn't a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) likes missionaries. Later that day, we saw John outside. John has expressed his desire to be baptized but will do nothing to prepare himself. It's way frustrating! We don't want to just dunk people in the water for the heck of it, but rather we want people to know that baptism is showing Jesus Christ that you are willing to follow Him and keep His commandments. So we pull up to John and before I can even roll down the window he just yells, "Not today. I'm too busy." No hello or pleasantries. I am here because I know how much joy and peace the Gospel of Jesus Christ will bring you. I pulled up to John's driveway to share with him something that would make him happier with life. I knock on people's doors because I know how much the Gospel will bless their life. The rewarding part for me comes when I see someone I love see the blessings that come from following Christ. When I see someone make a change and decide to put away their old life and follow Christ, that makes me happy!!! We keep track of our work each week with numbers, but I can say the name of someone I've grown to care for behind each number. Later that night, we went to Angie's house. She actually read the chapter in the Book of Mormon we left for her! Woohoo! She even wrote down questions she had and we answered them for her. She thought that it made sense that Christ visited the Americas, too. I shared with her John 10:16 which reads, 
"And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." 
Jesus Christ spoke to more than just those in Jerusalem. He spoke to those in the Americas and we have that record! It is the Book of Mormon :) 
We taught Angie about the Restoration and she is really sincere and interested in finding the truth for herself. Don't take my word for it! I'm just a 20 year old guy. Get your answer from the source of all truth AKA Heavenly Father. She really liked how she could know these things for herself and she can pray to know. One of the coolest parts of my mission so far was when she said, "My daughter and I were talking about going to your Church one day. We just didn't know anyone there so we didn't feel comfortable. No joke, about a week later you guys knocked on our door. I took it as a sign that I should find out more about your Church." How cool is that?!?!?!?!?!!?!?! Elder Olsen and I had 10 minutes before dinner one night and we decided to knock one door. That's it, just one door. Guess whose door we knocked on? Her door! Ahhh coincidence? I think not! It's so cool when you see how Heavenly Father prepares people to receive His Gospel :)

Friday - We had some more tracting success when we knocked on Keelah's door. We asked her what her religious background was and she said she really didn't have any. At that point, we were kind of like ehhh I don't think this is going anywhere. But then, she said her fiance grew up religiously and that she and him are interested in finding a church. She is pregnant so she wants to find a church where her baby can be raised to have good values and morals. She also said how she wants to be baptized into a church. We gave her a Book of Mormon with our number and will follow up on that. 

Saturday - Sterling Conover has his own engraving business and he made us these super legit wooden name tags. Wow they are something!!! We also got a referral for this old lady so we went and knocked on her door. Her grand daughter answered and I asked her if she could tell her grandma the missionaries were here. She said no. I was confused because I didn't know if she meant 1) no I won't tell my grandma or 2) no my grandma doesn't want to talk to you. The wind was blowing 30-40 mph that day so we could barely hear her. We will try knocking them again!


I know this was a long week summary but there is just too much good stuff happening to not write it all! I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His Church on the Earth today. It's the same Church Christ established when he was on the Earth thousands of years ago. I know this because I've read the Book of Mormon and prayed about its truthfulness. I received a witness that the Book is true, which means Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and he truly did see Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, which means Christ did restore the fullness of His Gospel and His Church back to the Earth. I've come to this knowledge because I've earnestly sought out the answer and received it. I practice what the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches and I've seen the fruits of it in my life - happiness, peace, and joy. Being a missionary, a literally representative of Jesus Christ, is the best thing I have ever done! It may all sound a little dramatic but it's what I know to be true :D

Until next week,
Elder Sell

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"This isn't my work; it is His"

Halfway through my second transfer in the field! Things are moving fast. Days go by slow sometimes but weeks fly by. So last Sunday, I was sitting in Sacrament meeting waiting for it to start. I looked around and didn't see two of our investigating families that said they would come to Church. I said a silent, earnest prayer that both families would be able to make it. No sooner did I open my eyes than I saw both families walk into the chapel. Yeah, they were probably in the driveway when I said the prayer, but it was just cool for me to see that Heavenly Father blesses us when we have faith. Last Monday, we went to Laramie and bowled and went to Walmart. One of our lamer p-days, but not all of them can be cool. 

Elder Blue, Elder Sell, Elder Ramirez

Elder Olsen, Elder Blue, Elder Christensen, Elder Ramirez, Elder Sell
The Union Pacific railroad runs through Hanna. We see about 10 trains a day. On Tuesday we saw a train carrying...(wait for it)... military vehicles! There were probably 30 tanks and multiple other vehicles that were on this train. It was so surreal to see because how often do you see a mile long train carrying vehicles that defend our country? We stopped by a former investigator's house to see if we could get in and he let us in. I had never met him before but he let us in anyways. Elias is from Chile and speaks very broken English. He has direct TV with all the soccer channels and he watches soccer all day(he is disabled). He is cool with us coming back over to teach him and watch some soccer. Consider it fellow shipping! But really, you got to be creative out here to open doors and be invited back. You can't be Mr. Roboto and just want to teach Gospel and not expect to make friends. These are people and I'm beginning to realize that if I plan to perpetuate the friendships and relationships I make on the mission even after I go home, then the people mean more to me. 

We tried visiting some "members" on Thursday who I had never met before. The general response we received was "I'm not interested" and they closed the door. It's hard to see people who at one time or another had a testimony and a desire to follow Christ. Now they want nothing to do with it. It's sad. 

We had a tracting contact appointment Monday night at 6, but we didn't make it to their house until 8. She told us to come back on Thursday so we got lucky. They were really receptive to our message and agreed to read the Book of Mormon. It's amazing to see people prepared by the Lord to receive His Gospel. Plus, these are the people that other people in the town were surprised they didn't shoot us at the door! Proved them wrong! I testified to this family that the Book of Mormon is true. I told them that I came on a mission because I knew it was true and that Christ's Church is restored to the Earth. It was cool because they recognized Elder Olsen and my sincerity in what we shared. We also emphasize how it is their choice to act on what we share. Read the Book of Mormon, pray to Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, and come to Church. They liked how we put the ball in their court and didn't try to force anything on them. It was nice to hear that. We have another appointment with them this Thursday so let's hope things go well. 

Elder Sell and JD, an investigator

The best thing about being on a mission is that it isn't even my mission! Heavenly Father's mission is, "this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and Eternal Life of man." (Moses 1:39)  I am a small, almost insignificant part of His work but I still can be a tool in His hands. As I keep myself worthy and ready to be led by the Spirit. He can work through me to accomplish His purposes. It's comforting to remind myself that this isn't my work; it is His :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"Being a missionary definitely is rewarding"

It's already the last week in March? Time flies when you're having fun. Last p-day we went to Laramie and played basketball at the Stake Center. We had dinner at President Dory's house (Stake President) and went to work with some of the local Elders since we live 90 miles away. The apartment we slept in was terrible. I got the floor which was a layer of cold concrete with a thin rough carpet on it. It was so cold and I could not get comfortable any way I slept. I finally grabbed the small beanie bag that was in there and contorted my body so I wasn't touching the ground and I finally got to sleep. Worst night of my mission by far. The next day was our zone meeting. The local institute teacher, Brother Reynolds, spoke to us about how important scripture study is. He used the example in Matthew when Jesus is being tempted by the devil and uses scriptures to shut him up. Jesus knew the scriptures and could recall a verse or passage that would help him resist temptation at any time. That really made an impression on me that I have to more diligently study my scriptures daily. After the meeting, we went to Pizza Hut where the manager hooks missionaries up with a $2 lunch buffet deal with a drink. Being a missionary definitely is rewarding in more than one way!

Later that day, we knocked on a single door before our dinner appointment and a lady answered it. She agreed for us to come back and share our message with her and her family and we left her with a Book of Mormon. Hopefully that'll work out because we are seeing her tonight. There was a little puddle of maple syrup on the ground and her dog stepped in it then jumped on my leg so I had maple syrup all over my pants. Hopefully it was worth it! 
Thursday was a pretty slow day. People aren't home during the day. We decided to take a drive out towards the "country" (as if a town of 800 people 40 miles from a grocery store wasn't country enough) and find some ranchers that needed the Gospel. We drove to 3 ranches but none of them were home. Bummer. I had to get out of the truck to open a gate and Elder Olsen accidentally sprayed mud all over me when I was in my nice clothes. I figured it would be worth it if we found some people who were searching for the Gospel but no one was home. They all must have been ranching it up. Oh, we also saw this guy in our ward who is brilliant. He is a mechanical engineer and he designs all sorts of stuff. He just has a really funny personality. His favorite thing to say is, "Even a retarded spider monkey knows that." I also had 3 pulled pork sandwiches that night. Don't judge me! 
It was really cool to see one of the families we teach take a leap of faith and be immediately blessed for it. As soon as they did something they had been procrastinating for years, they were blessed to have the opportunity to move into a 4 bedroom apartment this upcoming week! We will help them move and are really excited for them. We had a trainers follow up meeting on Friday so we got to go down to Fort Collins. We visited some people in Elder Olsen's old area of Wellington. We got treated to Mexican food not once, but twice while we were down there by the members he used to know. We helped a new family of 7 move in Saturday who are members of the Church, but they are inactive...for now :) Hopefully we made a good first impression and they will want to come to Church and be a part of this great ward in Hanna. 

General Conference is this weekend and I invite all to watch it! It's great!
Elder Sell