Monday, December 19, 2011

I Am A Child Of God

This last week we all got together with some of the youth, and the Relief Society President, to go Christmas caroling to several of the single women in our ward (especially those who we haven't seen in a while, or those who could really use a Christmas song and message).  It was fun, and just so wonderful to go to these peoples' homes, invite the Spirit, and put a smile on their faces.  We're going to do it again this next Tuesday and I get to plan and prepare the list of those whom we are going to visit, as well as the 15-minute program/message we will provide.  I'm really excited for this opportunity again, because I love singing, and I have witnessed how powerful hymns can be for inviting the Spirit.  For example, this last week we had a sweet miracle that involved singing.  
Elder Blad and I had been walking all day in the cold rain...allllll the cold raaaaiiiinnnnn...pretty picture huh?  haha, but it didn't get us down, we were happy as ever! (which, btw, is something we have gotten really good at - fighting discouragement, and having fun/staying possitive even amidst the circumstances that would normal make it nearly impossible to do so).  So we had a full day of appointments - they all failed - and then we were out contacting other potentials and referrals we had, and those went...ok.  Then after trying our most southern potential investigator's address, something happened.  Instead of turning around and going back north towards home, I felt like we would go south just a bit more, down to the tip or our area, and then go up on a different street headed north-east.  Why did I decide to spend more time walking an extra half-mile or so in the rain?  Well, the answer came just as we were headed up that other street. 
A woman spotted us and asked if we had seen a friend of hers who had gotten drunk and was running out in the streets; well we hadn't seen her friend, but she recognized us as missionaries and mentioned that she is a member of the church, too.  Much to our surprise, she told us all about why she hasn't come since she was 8 years-old and how she is so angry with the church, and all of the terrible things that have happened in her life that have made it hard for her to have faith in God.  At one point, she even mentioned how she still knows some of the primary songs. 
When she said this, Elder Blad and I looked at each other, felt the same impression, and began singing.  We sang, "I Am A Child of God," and the woman stood and listened - amazed that we were doing this out at night in the pouring rain.  When we finished, we watched as the once angry woman calmed down and spoke with us rationally.  Now our conversation didn't end up with much foresight of future success, but I could tell in that moment that each of us had felt the Spirit strongly, and that we could each feel God's love for us.  This is the power of music, my voice is a talent and gift I have been given from God, and this is how I am using it in missionary work.
Well, we got to have Zone Interviews this last Friday, and those sure were amazing.  I loved all the trainings we were given, and the 1-on-1 time we each had with President and Sister Wilkey.  I love them so much, they are so amazing, and they truly love us and do so much work for us.
Yesterday we had a "fireside" at a member's home, and it was so different from what I was used to, haha.  We pretty much had the whole ward cramed into a tiny little home and we just had a 5-minute message, some songs, and then a huge was pretty much just an excuse to get together and eat!  Haha, I love the people here, they are so fun and really know how to spend time together - even when there's 60 people in 3 rooms and you have to wiggle your way through a crowd to get anywhere, haha!  I'm so excited for the Ward Christmas party this Friday! it's going to be huge! and so much fun!!!  These people sure do know how to party; I can't wait to tell you all about it!
Have a very Merry Christmas, everyone! Remember who CHRISTmas is really all about ;) 
From Lawrence with love,
Elder Dustin Carr

Monday, December 12, 2011

Keeping My Head Above the Water

Well, I feel like I've finally got the hang of things and now I'm just working on improving and doing my job better.  I had been feeling like I had been treading water, and that it was wearing me out, but I was reminded in a letter this last week that "even when treading water, as long as you keep your head above the water, then you aren't drowning."  This helped me so much to tread harder and faster - to keep my head above the water - to the point at which I'm not really treading so much as I am swimming!  and better yet, I'm loving it! :)
I've really been enjoying my responsibilities lately as a District Leader in getting to help all the District members and get to assist them in all ways possible.  Two of my favorite things are going on exchanges -- this gives me the perfect 1-on-1 time with any particular elder to see how I can help him - and then giving trainings during District Meetings.  In all cases, especially lately, I have found how much my communications class in BYU-I, my friends and relationships, and other experiences before my mission, along with all my experiences on my mission thus far, have truly prepared me for the tasks at hand.
So my companion, Elder Blad, is pretty awesome.  I thought that after having such a great trainer as Elder Ahumada, and then training such a great missionary as Elder Busby, that President would have me now with someone much more difficult.  I was wrong, and I have been so blessed to have another wonderful elder with whom I can share all my work, successes, trials, and miracles.  He's great at teaching and mature in his conduct.  He is very focused on the work at all times and he sets a great example for me through his dilligence and obedience.  And amidst it all, we are growing closer all the time and learning to have fun in all the work.  :)

Met the Mayor of Lawrence on PDay

This last week we had a Superblitz in Derry and it was a big success.  We had all the missionaries from our district (all 9 of us) plus our 2 Zone Leaders from Exeter, PLUS 5+ youth helping us out.  We basically split up and went all over Derry starting with an appointment, then proselyting and searching for new investigators, and then caroling.  It turned out to be a good success for the Derry area and the Sisters' teaching pool has increased a bit :)  In fact, one of the new investigators they now have is a man whom my companion, one of the young men, and I contacted while out tracting :)
Also, we have gotten TONS of referrals lately, and most of them have come from one super solid member family, and from a recent convert woman who is still just so pumped to share the gospel with others.  It's so fun having so much to look forward to all the time, and we are currently working on a big activity/lesson for all of our referrals and any other people that members invite.  We're finding that it's quite easy here to have a quantity of people to teach and such, but it's super difficult to find the quality ones.  So we are seeking for the balance, and praying for the guidance of the Spirit in all our doings.
Ok, I gotta run, our investigator that was supposed to meet us here at the library never came (and he doesn't have a phone for us to call) and we have a dinner appointment with Bishop and his family which we will be getting picked up for soon.
From New England with Love,
Elder Dustin Carr

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sometimes The Wrong Address Is The Right Person

By the way, did I mention that I've been out for 10-months already?  ya, it was pretty neat, we were in a lesson with a woman (on Nov. 26th) and we were teaching her for the first time, and something came up about the date, and I just realized, "Woah, I've been out for 10 months!"  haha, it was cool, she was excited for me.  It's just fun to see where I'm at from where I was a year or two years ago, and it's so crazy to think that I've been a missionary for 10 months!  It's great to have a solid foundation of experience now, but it's sad to see how fast time is flying and how short these 2 years really are.  Anyways...
So this last week I got to go to Manchester, NH for Tuesday and Wednesday for a MLT (missionary leadership training) meeting.  I was there with 45 other missionaries including the Zone Leaders from Concord and Exeter, all the District Leaders and Trainers in the mission, most of the sister missionaries, and a few select others.  IT WAS AMAZING!  It was basically directed towards teaching us many different principles that we need to work on as a mission, and then we are to go back and teach those things to our districts, companions, etc.  I learned so much about so many great and helpful things.  It was really great getting to spend so much time with President and Sister Wilkey, too.
Oh, and I bet you are all wondering - yes Spanish Sacrament Meeting is interesting.  I love it, but it's hard to stay focused because there's always kids running around and people talk freely, so it's kinda loud too, plus the meeting always started 10 minutes late and a third of the people come during the sacrament.  But it's all the same gospel, and that's what matters to me :)  I'm really loving the Hispanic culture.  It's very different than my own, but overall, the great part is that people are generally more loving/caring/welcoming/selfless and they know how to have fun!
I've also been learning a lot lately about relationships and communication and such.  As a District Leader, I have the opportunity to help others who are struggling in whatever they may be dealing with.  Some issues may be based more personally than others, but in all ways I seek the direction from the Spirit to know what I can do to be most helpful to that Elder/Sister.  It's really amazing to also find how much I must grow in order to be an effective District Leader.  I thought that I was being held to a high standard as a missionary, but then as a trainer I realized I was held to the standard of setting the example for a new missionary; and now I see that I am help to the standard of setting the example for a district comprised of 2 sisters, 5 elders, and a new missionary - my companion - and I see that in order for me to teach, correct, or advise missionaries in my district, I must first be doing those things myself.  In other words, I'm learning not to be a hypocrite, and I'm growing from it, haha.
Oh, so the lady we starting teaching the other week, who is the daughter if a member, came to church for the second time yesterday and then came to the Christmas broadcast!  It was so awesome and she is so solid!  She is loving this Gospel, the things we are teaching her, and the happiness/hope it brings to her life.  Oh and we had a sweet miracle this last week.  Elder Blad and I were walking to an appointment, but we were going to be super early, so we looked at the ward list and decided to contact some people along the way.  As we went to the house of a less-active man, we looked at the mailbox, and his name wasn't there.  I looked at Elder Blad a little disappointed and he said, "Who knows, let's still try anyways".  As we went up the stairs, I had this feeling that my expectations were right, but that something good was about to happen.  We knocked on the door, and sure enough, the man we were looking for had moved a year or so ago, BUT when we offered to share a Christmas message with the man and his family, and quickly invited us in.  It was so great! and it was all in Spanish! The family enjoyed our message, and we even got to share with them more about our church and the Book of Mormon.  We then gave them a copy and they said we can come back next week to tell them more about it.  I was surprised that I was able to do all this in Spanish, cause I've really been struggling with it lately, but the best part for me was when I was testifying about the Book of Mormon; everything flowed so smoothly, they all listened closely, and the Spirit was definitely there.  So that night I relearned that sometimes the wrong address will prove to be the right person - or family :)
Well, I love ya and I'm excited to tell you about what miracles come from working during the Christmas season!
From New England with love,
Elder Dustin Carr