Monday, January 30, 2012

Refocusing our focus

Well, our focus this last week has been primarily on these two investigators being prepared for baptism.  I'm not sure if I told you, but we had to move the date back a week for one to teach him the rest of the commandments - and he humbly learned, accepted, and committed to following all the commandments.  This last Saturday was the day for their interviews; one will be baptized this Saturday, and the other just needs to take another step -- so her baptismal date will be postponed a week or so.
I feel like we've put so much focus solely on them getting baptized that we haven't been concentrating as much of our efforts on getting more solid investigators to work with.  I mean, we did get a total of 19 lessons this week (so close to 20!), and we did find 6 new investigators to teach, but there's a difference between quantity and quality.  I very well understand that the worth of EVERY soul is great in the sight of God, but the issue is that there are so many people here who we teach once or twice and they simply don't progress - their aren't willing to commit of make the necessary changes in life to repent and be baptized.  So I guess rather than saying that we need to focus more on "quality than quantity," I will say that we are focusing on finding those that are more prepared (through humility and desire) to receive the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In doing so, we are focusing this week on teaching part-member families, and asking for referrals from them.  I am thoroughly convinced we can have so much more success in the ways of finding and teaching people who are prepared to receive the Gospel as we focus a bit more of our efforts on those who have a strong relationship connection to the Church.
Well, we look forward to a baptism this week and another soon, and I look forward to telling you about what miracles will come this week from seeking out those who are truly prepared.
From New England with Love,
Elder Dustin Carr
PS - Mitt Romney is definitely helping us - at least for me out here - we've had nothing but success in talking to people that bring up the Romney stuff.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

One Year as a representative of Jesus Christ and His true church

We've been teaching this one investigator for a while now; and she is so ready for baptism.  The last time we had talked about it was a few weeks ago when she expressed that she just wants to feel like she can "be" the part, and not just "act" it.  So we left things off as that we would wait for her to let us know when she is ready to be baptized.
Well, last Wednesday we had a Specialized Zone Training in Exeter, and one of the workshops dealt with inviting people to be baptized.  Sister Wilkey joined in with me and Elder Oliphant, and our Zone Leaders and asked us to think of the first person whom we feel should be invited to be baptized, and then real-play it (it's kinda like a role-play, but more real).  Stephany Suero was the first name that popped into my head, and as I turned to Sister Wilkey and opened my mouth - I felt tears come streaming down my face.  I felt so great, and so happy, yet I was crying, and I couldn't figure out why.  After the real-play, Sister Wilkey commented, "I can see that this was pretty meaningful for you."  I nodded, and she added, "This investigatory seems like she's ready to recieve the blessings of the ordinance of baptism."  I nodded again and then she said, "Well, what are you waiting for?"  "Our next appointment is on Friday," I replied.  After so much work and prayer, I finally realized that she in ready for baptism, and she is only waiting for us to invite her.
On Friday, Jan. 20th, we taught her from our experience as being missionaries that we weren't 100% missionaries when we came out on our missions, but we had to take that leap of faith and "act" the part for a while until we "became" missionaries.  She then accepted the invitation to be baptized on Feb. 4th.
I am so grateful to have been a part in Stephany's conversion process and journey towards eternal/everlasting happiness.  The things I have learned through our time of meeting with/teaching her have been so instrumental in my abilities to be a successful missionary.  As I pondered about why everything worked out so smoothly for her, I realized that it was because of her desire and humility.  I have learned that desire and humility are the keys to conversion and the recieving of all the blessings our Heavenly Father has in store for us. 
I have also been pondering a bit about this last year of my life - how much I've grown, all the things I've learned, etc.  As I come to the close of my first year of missionary service - and begin my second year - I have realized a few things:
1.  Our God is a God of Miracles - look for them daily.  He will use any means neccessary to put us right where we need to be.
2.  Sometimes we may not always BE who we need to BE, but if we are humble, and full of desire, then we can DO the things neccessary to BECOME who our Heavenly Father wants/needs us to be.
3.  Don't ever give up striving to do that which is the will of the Lord - even when things seem to tough to handle, God has always prepared a way for you to acomplish the things He asks you to do (1 Nephi 3:7).  You will always have someone supporting and loving you for your righteous decisions.  Always remember that there are good things to come (D&C 121:7-9).
4.  If we truly strive to develop the attributes of our Savior, Jesus Christ, then we can feel that ultimate peace and happiness that we desire in our lives, marriages, families, etc.
5.  Jesus is the Christ.  The Book of Mormon is true and is a keystone to the true Church of Christ which has been restored once again through a living prophet on the earth.   We are all children of our Heavenly Father, and everyone has the opportunity to recieved the infinite joy of entering into our Heavenly Father's kingdom if we will be faithful, repent of all our wrongings, be baptized by immersion and by someone holding the proper priesthood authority of God, receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and keep all of God's commandments for the rest of our lives.  Families can be together forever - and this is God's purpose.
All of these things and more I have learned in this last year of being a servant and representative of Jesus Christ.  Although my 1-year mark is bittersweet for me, I look forward for all the things I will learn in this next year, and all the miracles I will witness in this great and marvelous work.
From New England with love,
Elder Dustin Carr

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Can Make It or Break It

From a hand-typed letter received Saturday Jan 21:
   This last week was one of the most exciting, rewarding, fun, successful, diligent weeks of my whole mission!  This last week Elder Blad and I had appointments almost every day.  We were working super hard on some high, faith-filled, goals we had set before.  Everything was going so great!  I really enjoying our teaching experiences, exchanges with members and other missionaries, and a crazy district meeting in which Pres & Sister Wilkey randomly showed up.  By Saturday night we felt like a million bucks... but Sundays make it or ...
   You see, we have excellence goals for the the mission as well as something we call the Area Profile:  4 baptismal dates, 6 people at church, 10 member lessons, and 5 new investigators, with 20 or more total lessons for the week.  Now these are high, achievable goals, for the New Hampshire Mission.  Several times in my mission we have come close to to hitting this, and maybe over halfway there, but never have I been as close as Elder Blad and I had been this last week.  By the end of Saturday we only needed three more lessons and to have at least 6 investigators to church.
We had 1.5 investigators at church (one came way late), and during the day we only got one more lesson.  This was a big letdown for me.  I worked my hardest, I was on the ball every second of each day and I made sure we were busy, and oh the blessings were incredible and countless.
   I'm grateful for how the week turned out even though we didn't hit the highest of goals; I worked my hardest and I am pleased with the work I did.  I learned a lot about being productive, obedient, and diligent -- and really that's the only was to be successful!I felt like this week, more than ever on my mission, I have fulfilled my purpose in being a missionary.   Now I just gotta keep it up.  ; )
   Thanks to all who sent cards.  I got them, just have not found the time to write everyone back. 

From Lawrence with love,
Elder Dustin Carr

Sunday, January 15, 2012

First non-holiday Monday in three weeks

The other missionaries in Lawrence have been teaching a man for a little over 5 months now; he was baptized on Saturday, and yesterday he was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  It was really special for him and all of us, but for me it was pretty special because I got to interview Spanish...oh and not just any Spanish - Dominican Spanish!  Haha. 
Ya, I've been having a bit of a rough time with the Spanish out here; the most difficult things for me is just understanding what people say - I can speak and read decently, but I can barely understand anything they say - especially over the phone.  And it's always different, like it's easier or harder to understand different people; many come from different countries with different accents and slang, and they all speak different ways.  ANYWAYS, amidst all of this, though, I was able to hold a successful interveiw and understand most everything I heard - it was amazing!  It was so special too for me to be the one who got to really talk with someone about their repentance, conversion, and testimony, and recommend them as one ready to make their first covenant with our Heavenly Father. 
His baptism went really well - didn't have any problems (except for the baptismal font doors were jammed shut for a while, lol), but otherwise it was very successful and most of us missionaries had at least one investigator there, too!  Oh, plus the Derry Sisters got to bring one of their Sspanish-speaking investigators to the baptism, so it was super fun for me to get to have my whole district back together again for an evening - it felt like a family reunion.  Also! there was a sweet little miracle before the baptism.  Elder Blad and I were going to a lesson to teach an older lady for the first time.  We had a member coming to meet us, but when we got there, we had a bunch of confusion on the phone with him about where we were exactly and how to get to the appointment.  Well then the lady didn't even answer her door or phone, so now the member was a bit annoyed.  Right as we were explaining to him that we had no one else that was available for us to meet with, but that we would appreciate a ride to the church anyways for the baptism, we got a call from the Lawrence 2 Elders.  They explained that the baptismal candidate needed a ride for the baptism (HIS baptism!).  We asked the member and he begrudgingly drove to the apartment.  When we got there we asked him why he couldn't drive his car, he said that his battery died.  What!?  He had just driven us home the night before, and he said his didn't leave any lights or anything on...  Well what perfect timing it was that we just so happened to have a member with us, who had an extra seat in his car, and was able to get us all there in time for the baptism.  It is so crazy to me how almost every time someone is getting baptized, something happens that would normal cause trouble or make it more difficult for the baptism to go through, BUT in every case, the Lord will provide a way for the baptism to be successful if the candidate has faith and desires it so - even if it means having a solid appointment fall through :)  oh and yes, the member was happy again after he realized how he was the helping hand in bringing this to pass ;)
Well everything else has still been going pretty great here.  A woman we are teaching is still doing very well in her progress, but it's tough because she can't set a baptismal date because she hasn't figured out if/when she's getting married to her boyfriend - so we're kinda at a stand still there, but at least she's still solid in coming to church, meeting with us, etc.  One the men we are working with won't make it for his baptismal date, and he's probly dropping out on us, but at least two others are still on the right path! One of them who wasn't able to make it to the baptism, so after church yesterday we showed him the baptismal font and he said he immediately got chills - then he said, "Man, I can't wait for the day I get in there!"  We are so excited for him - haha, last night before our lesson with him, he and Elder Blad were talking about sports and this investigator said, "ya baseball is something I think I would miss a lot for 2 years, but it'll be alright, I'm sure it would be worth it".  Ya, talk about SOLID! 
We're starting up a new thing this week where we will go out on a 4-splits with the members (priest-age men and up), for 2 appointments each on Wednesday evenings.  We're hoping to be able to cover more ground at the same time, get more member lessons, and continually help the ward grow in their desire to do missionary work.  Also, we are doing another superblitz - this time for Methuen 2 to get their area up and running faster.  I look forward to telling you all about how those go next week!  
From Lawrence with love,
Elder Dustin Carr