Friday, June 27, 2014

"Every Day Has Been a Blessing"

We had Zone Conference last Tuesday, which is when 70+ missionaries gather to be instructed and uplifted by our Mission President and other leaders. The ironic, yet important, message that President Brown instructed us on was marriage. Of all the things he could talk about to 19 and 20 year old young people who can't date or even flirt! It was great because it really made me think about the type of husband and father I want to be in a few years. I want to be loving and lead by example. I sat in Church yesterday and looked at all the women sitting alone with their children without their husband. Whether that husband isn't a member, inactive, or whatever, I made a promise to never to let my wife go alone to Church. I want to be the leader or my family so we will see how that goes a couple years from now. 
On Saturday we were on our way to do service at Habitat ReStore when we saw this large, older lady with a shovel. She had 5,000 pounds of small stones she needed to move from the pile into a preset shape in her yard. I had the prompting that the lady needed help. We turned around and pulled into her driveway and she quickly accepted our help. Her nephew, Nate, walked out of the garage and we got to work. He started asking 20 questions about Mormonism so we started answering them as we shoveled stones for 2 hours. Apparently, he has a friend who is a member of our church and gave him a Book of Mormon. He also told me that he had been praying for someone to stop and help them and a few minutes later we showed up. He also told me he had been wanting to meet with Mormon missionaries for some time up to that point. Coincidence? I think not! We set up a return visit for the missionaries who actually serve where he lives.
Last night, we had the opportunity to help with the Bishop's Youth Devotional which was help at Bishop's house. He wanted us to give a 20 minute lesson on the Plan of Salvation with a focus on the Atonement and Repentance. If there is one thing I know for sure, it is that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. That Jesus Christ really did suffer for our sins, pains, afflictions, anguish, and sicknesses in order that he would know how to succor us. I've experienced this relief in my life as I have repented and come unto Him. It was amazing to tell these 12-18 year old kids that they too can experience that cleansing and purifying feeling of the Atonement. It was legit!
Overall, the first 5 months of my mission have been a blast. I've had my ups and my downs but every day has been a blessing. It sure is cliche but a mission really is those best two years! Booyah!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Another Fun Week!

Some pretty cool things happened this week and I'd like to share them. Someone in our ward knew a nonmember friend who had been very sick lately. She invited us over as well as her friend so we could give her a Priesthood Blessing. Just as Jesus Christ did while He walked the Earth, Priesthood holders can give blessings of healing and comfort too. She and her mom asked me to give the blessing and I'm like alright then. While giving the blessing, the inspiration came to my mind to instruct her to follow the Word of Wisdom, a modern day revelation given to Joseph Smith on how we should treat our bodies. I did so, not knowing how she would respond to it considering she doesn't necessarily believe in our Church or faith. After the blessing, we explained the Word of Wisdom to her (no tobacco, alcohol, coffee, tea, or drugs. Do eat grains and exercise frequently) It's a health code! She realized she had been doing some of those things (or not doing some of those things like exercising and eating healthy) and she agreed to start living the Word of Wisdom. She specifically mentioned how she started recently drinking coffee again and that her sicknesses started about that time. It was pretty amazing being able to have the Spirit give to me what I needed to say in the very moment. Cool stuff!!! :)
We did a lot of service this week so let me tell you about some of the fun stuff we get to do:
-Habitat ReStore- We help unload donated furniture and other items, then we clean it, price it, and move it out onto the floor. It's fun doing service there because everyone else is there doing court ordered service hours. So basically we get to hang out with semi-thugs. The employees there are a riot too. They cuss like sailors and often ask us for a light (for their cigarattes). We go there a few times a week and they really appreciate it.
-GRC- This is a food bank on wheels. We help give 200-300 families food that will last them a week or two. Fruits, vegetables, almost expired dairy products, you name it, we give it out. This past week my job was to give 2-3 melons to each family that came through the line. Elder Blue also worked with me and we had fun with it. We realized we had to many melons for how many people were left in line so we started putting melons in their basket until they told us, "No mas!" We would count, "One! Two! Three! Four!...etc" until they told us to stop :D It was a blast and the people loved it. No one there speaks English so I got to use some of my high school Spanish. "Quires dos o tres?" and when they would say thank you or gracias I would say "de nada". All of them would giggle when I'd say de nada so I asked one of the Spanish Sisters why and she said it was because I am white! Once or twice I used Spanish when trying to communicate with some Asian people and they looked at me funny. Oh how fun it is!
-Food Bank- We stood outside of a King Soopers (grocery store) handing out fliers of things the food bank needed. We did this in our white shirts and ties so some people were intimidated when we tried handing them something hahahahaah! Basically the list was peanut butter, cereal, and other non-perishables. Some people were gracious and kind while others ignored us even when I told them it would help feed a starving child. Anyways, some people stink and others are great. This guy came up to me and started bashing on our Church. In the meantime, people are moving by me on my left and right and they need to hear about the food bank and get a flier. So I tell the dude, "Excuse me for one second" and I give the fliers out real quick, "you were saying?" He kept bashing until I just ignored him and did my job I was there to do. The Executive Director of the Food Bank came up to me later and told me how impressed he was with how I dealt with the ornery man. It's just a day in the life of a missionary of Jesus Christ.
Happy Father's Day! My Dad is my role model. I bet the rest of my family is thinking say what?!?! but he really has taught me a lot. We all have our flaws, but it is how we go about fixing and improving those flaws that defines us. My Dad has taught me how to love everyone and not judge, how to manage money, how to think about things before I say something, and how to throw a baseball. Thanks Dad! I didn't get to Skype you like I did on Mother's Day but you mean the world to me! When I think about how much you love me and what you would do for me, it makes me almost cry sometimes. If my Dad loves me that much, think about how much our Heavenly Father loves ALL of us. We can't comprehend the love He has for us. He isn't some tyrannical, unforgiving, blob of space somewhere in the universe. He is literally the Father of our spirits and He has a body of flesh and bone. He is real! He loves us and that's something we all need to understand. He gave us His only begotten Son in the flesh and the spirit, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins and pay the price so we can return to Him. This makes me so grateful to have not only a loving earthly father but also a perfect, all knowing Father in Heaven. My prayers have become more meaningful as I have thought about my relationship with Him. I also have taken the time to pause during my prayers and let Him speak back to me because I realized how many people like it when we talk for a couple minutes straight and don't listen to what they have to say? No one! And neither does our Heavenly Father. Let Him reply and He will! Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you. The promise is there. God doesn't break His promises so why don't we all give it a try? He is truly there and He loves us. I can testify of this truth and do so in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

"Baptism isn't the end, it's merely the beginning!"

This week, the last week of the transfer was a slower week, but fantastic! And by the way, the title of this email is a quote from The District, a reality TV show about missionaries. We found out transfer doctrine and both Elder Miller and I are staying put in Greeley. We are excited for this next transfer and for the work in this area. 
Wednesday we had our last district meeting of the transfer. I'll include that pic. We did a lot of service at the Habitat ReStore which was fun. We clean people's donated stuff, unload trucks, move furniture, and load items into people's vehicles. It's an overall good time and they put us to work. You hear some funny things working there.
I guess what this email is mostly about is baptism! I found out late last Monday that the Cooper family, who I taught in Hanna for 3 months, was BAPTIZED!!! I was super stoked because I love them and it was amazing to hear. Andy, Helga, and her son, Jarrod, all made that covenant with God to follow Jesus Christ. I felt that joy referenced in D&C 18. That is how I started my week, and to end my week, we had a baptism here! Heather, who 20 years ago would have laughed in your face if you told her she would become a Mormon, was baptized by her boss at work. She is what we missionaries like to call GOLDEN! That just means she has been prepared by the Lord to receive the Restored Gospel! Her testimony is powerful. She has found the Truth and is not going to let anything stop her on her way to the Celestial Kingdom. I had the opportunity to stand in with other Priesthood holders and confirm Heather a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and bless her with the gift of the Holy Ghost. That was real. I felt the power of the Holy Ghost testifying to me this is True. I felt that burning in my bosom and my mind was clear. I could feel God's love for Heather and it was amazing to be a part of her receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Wow.

Baptism isn't the end. It's merely the beginning! It's the strait and narrow gate we must enter in order to receive Eternal Life, which is living with Heavenly Father forever. It's been a blessing to see people make that first step and covenant to follow Christ. I can see them being blessed for doing so. I'm grateful for parents who taught me the Gospel of Jesus Christ when I was young which allowed me to make correct decisions. When I did/do mess up, I can repent and renew those covenants with God by partaking of the sacrament. The sacrament is such a meaningful experience to me. Growing up, I always either passed, prepared, or blessed the sacrament every Sunday. Partaking of the sacrament in remembrance of Jesus Christ is the highlight of my week. I feel God's love for me and His satisfaction with the work I am doing.

I'm happy right now. Well, more like joyful. Happy is a changing emotion but joy is a state of mind. I have JOY! We learn in 2 Nephi 2:25 that "Adam fell that men might be and men are that they might have joy." That's why we are here: to have that lasting joy that ONLY comes from living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's not fleeting. It's always there for those who desire and strive for it. Be joyful, love life, and enjoy it! 
-Elder Sell

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Week 17

What went on this week?!?! We taught the Restoration to this 8 year old (almost 9 so technically he is an investigator even though his parents are members, less active that is) and he didn't really understand much of it. It's sad to see when parents don't put in any effort to teach their children, whether it be Gospel related or math, reading, or English. We had to explain Priesthood authority using the ice cream truck VS policeman pulling you over example like 6 times, no joke. Poor kid! 

I went on exchanges with the YSA Elders on Thursday and I got to go to the YSA ward. We drew the Plan of Salvation on the sidewalk leading to the institute. It was BEAUTIFUL! We worked hard on it for 2 or so hours. Some people would walk by and look at it so that was cool. Only a few hours after we finished, we looked outside and saw it rained and was washed away. It was fun while it lasted. Hopefully someone saw it and made our efforts worth it. 

We helped a man move into the ward on Saturday. He isn't your traditional Mormon but that's alright. He had diamond stud earrings and one of the first thing he says is, "I'm into the whole rap/hip-hop game right now. I like me some 2 Chainz, Snoop Dog, and Eminem." We could not stop laughing. 

We are trying to implement this idea I got from the YSA Elders combined with the instruction given to us by Elder Allen, the operating director of the missionary department of the Church. He told us that if we taught active members the five lessons that we teach, that by the end of the second lesson they would have names of people in their head that are ready to receive the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Hopefully we can get the ward more involved in the work and get the ball rolling. 


To end my letter, I just wanted to share something I learned in my personal study this week.
"as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away. For they became a righteous people; they did lay down the weapons of their rebellion, that they did not fight against God any more, neither against any of their brethren. Now, these are they who were converted unto the Lord" -Alma 23:6-8

What are we converted to? The preacher? The donuts and coffee? The people? The rock concerts in the middle of the service? We need to be converted to the Lord, Jesus Christ. We need to lay down our weapons of rebellion, whether that is our pride, disobedience, or justification that a little sin is okay. In the end, being converted to Jesus Christ is the only thing that will matter. Money won't matter. Worldly power won't matter. Popularity won't matter. So let's all focus on He who does matter; our Lord and Savior, even Jesus Christ.