Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Expect, Observe, and Remember MIRACLES!!!

This week has been full of miracles; the kind that I wouldn't have expected, observed, or remembered if I hadn't been taught how to do so by President and Sister Wilkey at our Specialized Zone Training Meeting this last Thursday in Exeter.  

Well, in this training, we learned all about having the faith required to bring to pass many miracles, how to observe them, and the importance of remembering them (journals and such).  We also learned A LOT about a whole new organization system using white boards and funnel shapes to be able to visually map out the conversion, activation, and retention progress in our areas (we learned a format and then were committed to redesigning it to meet the needs of our area).  So in the way of being obedient to this commitment  and diligent in our work, we went straight to Staples after our meetings and searched for white boards.  After a while of searching and working with a sales associate, we found that the prices were far too high for our missionary budgets.  We decided to try laminated poster sheets instead; so we went to talk to the printing associates for help.  Within minutes, we found that the main associate there was a less-active man and he became excited to help us out in getting us the best/biggest sizes possible.  At that time, the previous sales associate came up to us with a large size white board that he said he was able to grab for us for $10.  As excited as we were, we called the Portsmith Elders to see if they would like some as well, and within minutes the employee brought out 2 for each of our areas (4 total).  Then, the man in the printing area used his employee discount and gift cards to buy all 4 white boards for us; and when we asked how much we owed him, he just smiled and said, "good luck with the work!"  And as a way of observing and remembering this miracle, we called it in to our Zone Leaders immediately so that it could be shared with the whole Zone.

So then, the next night, after working so hard to get everything set up and organized, we witnessed to more miracles!  First, at one house, after having a lesson about how we can receive revelation through going to church, we had the opportunity of inviting the father to come to church (he has only gone to church once, a long time ago) and he committed to being there this Sunday!  After that lesson, we had a dinner appointment with a newly married couple, and right as we were leaving, they handed us a bag full of frozen hamburger patties and hot dogs.  Now just the day before, after the Zone Training meeting, there were a bunch of random left-over hamburger and hot dog buns that Sister Wilkey kept trying to get me to take;  as much as I refused, she persisted and said something along the lines of, "you never know when you might get some hamburgers and hot dogs, and then you'll really be wishing you had taken the buns."  Well sure enough, that happened, and as I told the sister about what had occurred the day before, she said, "Wow, I just got the chills,"  and I said, "ya, that's because we just saw a miracle."

Then Saturday came, and it was Elder Ahumada's birthday.  I had been stressing a bit to set up some surprises for him throughout the day, and we witnessed the miracles of two families who surprised us both with their generosity and loving care as they each held a party for Elder Ahumada.  And as we went to the first party during the afternoon, worked the rest of the day, and finished with the other party that night, we both saw the miracles of two families who loved us so enough to do so much for us.

Plus, that night, after Elder Ahumada finished opening up his presents, I got to open up a present of my own.  I got an early birthday present from Mom and Dad: a nuvi 1300 lmt Garmin GPS!!! It's exactly what I wanted, it's the greatest thing ever, and it came at such a PERFECT time for us to be able to really get our area organized and bring forth more successful work.

Oh and it's not over yet.  Yesterday, at church, we had 5 investigators present!!!  It was been a week full of miracles, but it was only possible through our faith and humility in having an open mind to view these miracles.  So I learned that miracles happen everyday, especially little ones that we seem to overlook, but if we are obedient and diligent in things, have the faith that miracles will happen, and are humble enough to witness them, then we will see the hand of the Lord in all things, everyday.  And if we are to remember them, and share them, our faith will grow and we will be able to witness the many miracles which are to come.

Well, I hope the things I have learned this week will be able to help you all to see how the Lord truly is guiding your life everyday.

I know that our Heavenly Father is a God of Miracles.

From New England with so much love,

Elder Dustin Carr

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I am EXACTLY where I am supposed to be.

Last Tuesday, Brother and Sister Dow took us and our investigator to the JSM (Joseph Smith Memorial).  It was such a beautiful day and a wonderful trip.  The moment we stepped out of the car, we heard the music ringing out through the woods (hidden speakers) and we immediately felt the calm, reassuring peace and comfort of The Spirit.  We got to take the full tour of the paintings, history, the Joseph Smith statue, and the memorial itself.  All the while our invetsigator was enjoying learning more about Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the church, the Dow's and I were loving getting to take in the whole experience for the first time, and all of us were growing in testimony of Joseph Smith being a true prophet of God - by which Christ's church was restored in its fullness.

Later, when teaching, we reset his baptismal date for Aug. 6th, and we really think he'll be able to be ready for this one;  especially because he realized that he has some things to change in his life, he wrote down a list of those things, and he has asked us to help him by checking up on his progress every time we see him.

On Wednesday evening, we taught a member friend's dad (with his help) for the first time.  It was probably the most comprehensive 1st lesson about the Restoration that has ever been taught, haha.  But it was GREAT.  The best part was at the end, when the dad said the closing prayer and, at one point, thanked our Heavenly Father for "sending [us] here and keeping [us] here for another 6 weeks."  I felt The Spirit telling me at that moment that this is the reason why I am here, and that this is one of several significant instances when He would testify to me that I am exactly where I need to be.  This is a really big deal for me, especially with how tough times can get along with the certain circumstances that I am in.  Having that feeling, faith, and knowledge that this is exactly where I am supposed to be, is an answer to my prayers and a greater comfort than I could describe.

Another highlight from this week was just yesterday at church.  A less-active family, whom we were teaching for a while, came to church for the first time in 2.5 years.    It was a huge blessing that through all the prayers said by us and others, and the teaching experiences we had, they decided to come back, and their 8-year-old son has decided to be baptized! :)  I told their mother after Sacrament Meeting that as the meeting was beginning, it felt quite empty for some reason, and I couldn't figure out why, but as soon as they walked in, I felt immediately at peace that our ward family was together and ready for the meeting to begin.

Well, everything else here in Georgetown is going GREAT! We have gotten a few new investigators this last week, and we are teaching a few really solid people who have definitely been prepared to hear The Gospel. 

Thank you for all of your prayers, love, and support.  They are much needed, and I feel them helping us every day.

From New England with love,

Elder Dustin Carr

Monday, July 11, 2011

Striving to Reach the Area Profile

Could not write a week ago as PDay was on a holiday = public library closed.  During our planning session last week, Elder Ahumada and I had set the goal of reaching the Area Profile for this week (which was the last week of the transfer) (by the way, we survived the transfers calls this weekend and are now set for another transfer - 6 weeks - in Georgetown) (also, Elder Ahumada will be going home at the end of this transfer, so chances are I'll be here for even another transfer longer to keep a smooth transition of missionaries).  So the Area Profile is essentially just a voice message that goes out from the A.P.'s each week, to the whole mission, updating us on how the mission is doing all around;  in order to have your area (Georgetown) mentioned in the weekly Area Profile, you have to have 4 baptismal dates, 5 new investigators, 6 investigators at church, and 10 or more lessons with a member present.  Believe it or not, this is quite difficult to reach (ya, we're not in a Mexico/South America mission.  This is New England, and it's hardcore).  So we went at this week with that goal, and it was great because it fueled us with TONS of energy.  We were working so hard all week, and striving so much to reach this goal, but what happened was quite interesting.
This last week we did not reach the Area Profile.  We had a very difficult week, with many people flaking out on us, and relatively no members being about to come out with us, and at times it got very discouraging (summer-time vacation/party excuses).  But we did not let this get us down; we worked through all the discouragements and let-downs, and whenever something got tough, we just prayed harder.  Elder Ahumada and I ended up having an awesome week together, and we grew so much.  And although we only ended up with 1 member lesson, and we had to drop the 4 baptismal dates (they aren't ready) and now set new ones, the big success came on Sunday.
Throughout the week of working hard and pushing through these discouraging times, we ended up actually meeting the goal of a total of 5 new investigators, but still weren't sure if they would come to church.  Well, through a lot of prayers, and some Sunday morning wake-up calls, we were blessed to have 6 of our investigators make it to church yesterday.  As they each walked in - one at a time, every few minutes - our faces lit up more and more and we felt the true blessings that came from diligent work and perseverance.
So things are really looking up now.  We have several baptismal dates to figure out, and 6 other investigators who, in this coming week, we look forward to inviting to be baptized.
Until next time,
Elder Dustin Carr