Monday, May 28, 2012

Raising our Vision and Increasing our Faith
     I'm not sure how much I've told you about the Standards of Excellence in our mission, but they are number of standards that we have set as a mission to help is raise our vision and increase our faith.  These standards are to account weekly for the number of baptismal dates, investigators at sacrament meeting, lessons taught to investigators with a member present, and new investigators; they were first set for the mission, then zones set them to reach the mission's standards, and so on for districts and individual areas.  Our Zone Goal this transfer is completely catered towards helping reach these standards – the goal is for each area to reach their standards twice during the transfer, thereby reaching district, zone, and mission standards twice during the transfer as well. 
     So it has been really fun lately to see the growth in the zone and the incredible amount of standards that have been reached.  For us here in Brewer, we had hit each of ours once except for baptismal dates.  So we did a lot of careful planning and had some sweet miracles.
     We weren't able to get many member lessons – most of them fell through – but on Friday night, we had 1 hour left of proselyting time, and we had not found any new investigators yet, so we set out to contact some referrals we had.  The first lady we went to see told us from behind the door she wasn't interested, but instead of turning around, I felt the need to knock again, explain who we are, who we are looking for, and what we have to offer.  As soon as I did, Linda came to the door and we spent the next 20 minutes teaching her all about how much The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ can bless her life.  Not only did she need our message, but she was prepared for it – she had already read in the Book of Mormon up to Jarom!!!  So we set a return appointment, said a prayer, committed her to church and to searching to find answers to anything weird she might hear people say about us, and we finished by asking for a referral – it was perfect!!! 

Sharing the Gospel with EVERYONE!
      Then we went and contacted another referral, John, and had nearly the same experience!!! SO LEGIT!!!  Anyways, we were just 1 away from hitting our new investigators standard, so we contact another previous referral that had dropped to appointments with us, and as we did, we taught her a bit about the Plan of Salvation and helped her feel more at peace with the recent death of her youngest son.  She also invited us back for another day, and so we were able to then reach our New Investigator Standard!
     For Church Attendance, we worked so hard in our weekly planning to cover all the parts in step 4 of PMG ch. 8 for each investigator; then we set time aside during Friday and Saturday night's dinners to make all the necessary calls.  From all that work and preparation, we were able to have 7 investigators committed to coming, and even though not all of them came, the Lord still made sure that 4 of them got there, which helped us to then reach our Standard of the number of investigators at sacrament meeting!
      And lastly, for our Baptismal Date Standard; we had 3 already and we needed to set at least 1 more.  With 30 minutes left of proselyting time on Sunday, we went to our appointment with a fellow who has been taught off and on for over a year and has never accepted a baptismal invitation.  We went into the lesson with a bit of an idea of what to teach, but no idea how to direct the lesson towards a baptismal invitation – yet still we went forward with faith.  Well he had a friend there, and as we were explaining to him about the Book of Mormon, we were led into a brief summary of The Restoration. Then he surprised us as he started to teach his friend what he knew and then said, “I know that Book of Mormon is true; it's a great book.  And I think they've got the right church, in fact I could see myself getting baptized and joining it!”  My heart was racing and my breathing was rapid; his statement came out of nowhere!  I looked around at my two companions to see the same expressions on their faces, then turned to our investigator and simply asked, “Well, you've finally figured it out, and we're holding a baptismal service on July 21st, will you prepare yourself to be baptized on that date?”  With a big smile he replied, “Well why not July 10th?!? That way it'll be on my birthday!”  So we explained what will be required for him to reach that date, he accepted, and we set it.
       It was so amazing to see how the Lord had blessed us for striving so hard with all diligence and faith to reach our Standards of Excellence.  Through prayer, effective planning, hard work, and faith, we were instruments in the Lord's hands in bringing about some sweet miracles.  I now have a strong testimony that these Standards of Excellence were inspired, and if we strive the reach them, the Lord will bless us to do so, as He Himself will work alongside us – helping us to raise our vision and increase our faith : )
     Before I wrap up, I wanted to express something else I've learned this week.  I've noticed that ever since the last Zone Conference, I've felt the Spirit and his promptings much more present in my life.
At District Meeting this week, I was asked to give a final testimony, and when it was my turn to do so, I stood without any prior thought or preparation as to what I would say.  My thoughts were of a simple
nature and they revolved around the joy I have felt since I have felt the Spirit influencing me more each day.  One Elder wrote down some of the things I said and quoted me later as saying, “True joy comes when we invite the Spirit into our daily lives.”  This is a simple, yet golden truth I have learned that will shape my life forever.
      From Maine with Love,
      Elder Dustin Carr

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Understanding Personal Revelation
This last week taught me quite a bit about personal revelation; how to receive it, and how to understand it.  I learned a lot about it at Zone Conference that I've applied directly afterwards in the field of work.  We learned that we must seek revelation through prayer, be worthy of it through righteousness and preparation, then act on the impressions we receive.  As we do so, and as we express our gratitude in prayer for revelation received, we will be blessed to have more experiences in which the Spirit will direct us and show us what our Heavenly Father wants us to know or do.
At Zone Conference, while we were leading a workshop on how to listen and ask inspired questions, we had planned out how to have everyone real-play it out with investigators in mind, but at the last minute I felt the need to have us real-play teaching each other.  So we asked the missionaries to teach each other of a Golden Truth they have learned on their mission, and why/how it has changed their lives.  We
then had the companion listening ask questions to get a more clear understanding and dig deeper; and last, the missionary listening was to write down the name of someone they are teaching whom they think that Golden Truth should be shared with/taught to.  As they concluded, they discussed the people they chose to share this with, and we could see some revelation they were receiving.  Probably the greatest part of all was just how unified each companionship became - some of them even had quite an emotional experience.  This also helped unify the Zone a lot more, so we were very grateful for that, and for the prompting we acted on.   : )
Later, at a lesson with two of our investigators, we taught how to receive revelation through the scriptures (particularly the Book of Mormon).  We taught them with simple steps:  1. Have a question in mind;  2. Pray asking for help and guidance;  3. Start by looking for key words in the index that relate to your question;  4. Read the short captions, pick one that sticks out, read the scripture and see if it
applies;  5. If that scripture answers your question, then write down what you learned and say a prayer of gratitude for it; if not repeat steps 3-4, and you WILL find your answer :)  So it was a good lesson,
but it was GREAT for them!  They each found scriptures that taught them something and answered questions of their souls, they finally understand how to study the scriptures, and they are excited
now to read and study them regularly!  Plus, we each received some revelation for ourselves through the scriptures: mine being from Alma 26:27 - which taught me a lot about patience, which I've been needing to work on lately, haha.
Lastly, on Saturday, I felt impressed to call a man that we had met a week before.  The funny story is...well, we met him in an Applebee's restroom during district lunch, haha.  Anyways, I had his business card, so I gave him a call, and he said he had just been thinking about me and was hoping I would invite him to our services!  So I told him we'd get him a ride and he was super excited!  Yesterday he came to church and he loved every bit of it! When we asked how he liked it he said, "It just feels
right."  :)
So I learned a lot about what it takes to receive revelation and how to follow the promptings of the Spirit, and this week has helped me focus so much more on that now.
From Maine with love,
Elder Dustin Carr

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Triumphant Trio

We have been having the greatest time ever in a trio.  We've seen tons of miracles, we've been able to work so perfectly smooth together and fully support each other, and we've been able to reach and exceed our goals like never before.  In this mission we have Standards of Excellence, which are goals that are set as standards to reach each week for a number of baptismal dates, investigators at Sacrament Meeting, Lessons taught to investigators with a member present, and New Investigators.  These goals were designed to help us stretch and grow, and they definitely have this week.  Had we been able to set just 1 more baptismal date, we would've been able to reach all 4 of our Standards!  Also, we hit a total lessons this week that I've never been able to reach on my mission: 24! (and that's with having about 10 hours of proselyting time put into driving, going to another District meeting, and service).  So ya, this was a great week, and things are picking up like a rolling snowball!

This last Thursday night, after going to 2 lessons with Stake President Martin, we were saying goodbye when we noticed a couple walking on the other side of the street.  We walked over to contact them, and as Elder Niebergall introduced himself, the man quickly tried to shut us down and walk away.  But as we offered them a free copy of the Book of Mormon, the woman replied, "I've already got one." So we walked and talked a bit and found that she had been reading it for a while and was teaching it to other friends of hers!  She said she's noticed the blessings and the strength she and her friends recieve from reading it!  And as we began to set an appointment for when we could meet with her, she mentioned that she wants to introduce us to all her friends and help them learn about the Book of Mormon aswell! :)  That sure was a sweet find!  We're really looking forward to meeting with her and her friends this next week :)

Another really sweet thing that happened was on Saturday we got a call from a member telling us that her friend (one of our new investigators) had some good news for us.  When we arrived, she told
us that after quiting smoking for over a week now, she has found strength from this gospel that she never knew was possible, and she has decided to be baptized!  And it was also super special for me
because she wants me to baptize her!  It was such a sweet miracle of member-missionary work, because we really didn't do that much yet, but the influence of her member friend helped her to make such righteous decisions. :)

So things are really looking up for us, and we're pushing with every effort to keep things progressing at an accelerated rate.  And remember when I said to buckle up now that we've got a trio?  Well now
you better hang on tight, cause this work here has EXPLODED, and it's a wild ride!

From Maine with Love,

Elder Dustin Carr

Monday, May 7, 2012

Following the Promptings We Recieve
Well, today is my 2/3 mark in my mission (calculated with my new
return date), so that's pretty exciting. I'm excited to look at how
each "1/3" of my mission has been so significant in my growth and
learning, and in all the things I've been able to do for others, and I
must say, I'm really looking forward to this last 1/3 with an eye of
faith and dedication towards this great cause.  I've learned how to
truly be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and I'm excited to hold that work ethic till the day I can't wear my tag anymore! :)

So this last week we got our new companion, Elder Niebergall, and I must say, I wouldn't pick anyone else to be a part of this trio!  He's also from Utah, he has a lot more experience in the mission (only 3 transfers left), but he's super humble, dilligent in this work, and he always has such a goofy way about him that he is constantly making me and Elder Esplin smile and laugh.  Ya, we work pretty well together, haha.  Chances are that this trio will only last till the end of this transfer, but in the meantime we are taking full advantage of it - going on splits to get to teach more people, and going on exchanges with every area in our Zone, which is unheard of in this mission!
This last week we had 2 sweet miracles!  The first one came from a lesson with a couple that had previously been having major relationship issues that day.  We had lunch and a brief lesson on the Atonement with them, then decided to come back later that night or another lesson.  When we came back, just as we were about to start the lesson, things blew up again.  I sat there praying to know what we could do to help resolve the situation, and then I thought of  something.  I remembered how President Wilkey had taught us in an MLT about an experience where he and Sister Wilkey had an arguement and he felt impressed to sing a hymn and then laugh.  Then I remembered how we sang hymns with the Wilkeys during our lesson before and how much they loved and remembered that. So I pulled out my hymn book and we suggested we sing a hymn to them.  As I looked through the topic of Love, I was drawn to the hymn "Our Savior's Love".  Without any practice, we sang, and we were blessed to sing quite beautifully. With the Spirit very strong and present in their apartment, the whole demeanor changed, and we were able to go on with laughs and love between them.  It was quite a appy moment :)

The second miracle was Saturday night.  Earlier that day we met a less active sister who wasn't doing so good.  She was struggling with choices she has made and so we shared with her scriptures, our testimonies of the Atonement, and how we can be cleansed through Repentance.  She felt a lot more peaceful, but I could tell she still had a lot going on.  Then that night, we had some appointments fall through that were quite solidly set, and as we went to stop by to see a guy whom we previously didn't plan on stopping by, even as a back up - we saw a lady walking on the street.  As we parked, I felt the need to contact her, so I told the Elders we needed to.  As we walked to her, I realized it was that sister - she was over 5 miles away from home, wandering in the cold as the sun was setting!  As we talked we found that she was about to give up on everything, but we were able to help her out and we reafirmed her of our support and love.  We then called a member to give her a ride home, and that got her back safely.

I've never been so good at understanding what promtings I';m recieving from this Spirit, but this last week taught me a lot.  It may be as simple as an impression to sing a song or talk to someone walking on the street, but whatever it is, as long as you are doing the right thing, and as long as it is an impression to do something good, then just do it, because you will most likely be able to bring the blessing someone else needs.

I know that God knows us each individually and that He hears and answers our prayers - often times through promptings from the Spirit.
From New England with Love,

Elder Dustin Carr