January 9, 2017
Hello All! I want to do something a little different this week. I want to keep my daily posts a little shorter and more meaty in the experiences we’ve had, but have a little more time on the spiritual things that are truly important.
Monday-We had P-day, played a lot of chair soccer and basketball, tired ourselves out, and had fun! That night we got to meet Temera for the first time. She was picked up as an investigator by the Spanish Elders and then given to us after the first few meetings. Temera has a true desire. The meeting with her mixed with the meeting with Angela from last week truly helped me see the gold standard, what desire really looks like. She has a Book of Mormon, reads it, has questions, is involved in our lessons and we involve her, and really focuses on what we teach. When we came over, her kids were pretty crazy, but she asked them to go into the back room until we were done. We had the spirit and were able to teach her the plan God has for her and focus on the purpose of life. She really wanted to learn and know and we were able to leave her with the commitment to read more in the Book of Mormon.
Tuesday- I received a letter from someone close to my family who has had a lot of experience serving the Lord, and I won’t go into details, but something this person said really stuck with me. As we prepare ourselves in the morning, we put out the fear of the world, and get ready to be a light to the world. Tuesday was amazing. To add to that, there is a quote that defined this day that is found in Preach My Gospel:
“I have often said one of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work! If a missionary works, he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy. There will be no homesickness, no worrying about families, for all time and talents and interests are centered on the work of the ministry. Work, work, work—there is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work.”
–President Ezra Taft Benson
As we worked, miracles happened. The people we would go see would not be home, but as we talked to everyone we saw, copies of the Book of Mormon and the Bible would be shared, principles would be taught, return appointments would be set. And all of this was awesome! But throughout the rest of the week I realized that my dedication that morning had led to that, and that miracles could happen everyday, but we needed to be diligent in order to receive the blessings. Eating at one time during the day is great, but it has to happen consistently to be able to nourish you fully. As we work fully and consistently, miracles happen and the miracles are not only planted through seeds, but blossom and spread. That day, we found 4 potential new investigators, and though two of them didn’t pan out through the week, another potential investigator came from one of them. Blessings diligently followed up with will bring more blessings! That night we had dinner with Brother DiFiore, our ward mission leader and we talked about his mission experiences and some funny times he had. We were able to think about a ward mission plan and how to improve on having member present lessons! It was a little long, but was productive and it was great to see him!
Wednesday- So Wednesday was Transfers, and thankfully, Elder McIntyre and myself are staying! We were planning on having a regular day, but earlier this week, we got a call and Elder Dickson, the vehicle coordinator, told us that we were getting a new car. We had a Chevy Cruze that had 61,000 miles on it, and we switched out for a cool Ford Fusion with 46,000 miles on it! It is a nice ride, and is a lot longer than the short Chevy Cruze, so it took a little bit to get used to it, but it is great now! It is pretty cushy and has a lot of nice interior features, so as a driver, I am really spoiled! That morning, we drove up to Weston and then got to spend some time with Elder Gutierrez, my District Leader in the MTC, at Chick-Fil-A. It was a really fun time and we were able to spend some time in Massachusetts. After that, we drove back and then had dinner with a part-member family. Really good day, but a lot of driving…but it was in a nice car, so it was all good!
Thursday-We had weekly planning in the morning, which was ok but could be better as always. We had lunch and then went to go see some people in New Britain and stopped by Lisandra’s house. She is having some family problems, but is staying calm and collected. I think it is because she is reading in the Book of Mormon. She is currently on page 230 and has been reading for about 2 months. While she doesn’t understand all of it fully, she is reading and the blessings are flowing into her life! We visited a media referral, which we gave to the Spanish Elders and then went on splits. Brother Buck and I had dinner with the Lima family. They are from Brazil and came to the US about 7 months ago. The husband speaks very good English, and so do the daughters, but the wife speaks almost none. They cooked us some delicious vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots), some of the best I have had in a long time, and some Beef Stroganoff. It was super good and really filling! We shared a message I had been thinking about earlier in the day. As I learned French in High School, as I studied the textbook more and surrounded myself with French speakers, it came more naturally and I learned quicker. Same thing applies out here with going on exchanges in the Spanish program. I actually have picked up a little bit! As we study the scriptures more in depth, we become more in tune with the Spirit and as we surround ourselves with those who know the Gospel well, they reflect on us, and we grow more. It was cool to be able to share it with them, especially with all of their work in learning new languages. After that, we had the privilege of giving blessings to a family, and the biggest lesson that struck me while giving the blessing was that as we live the Gospel, we receive Heavenly Father’s help and that no matter our circumstances, we can be aided and provided for in our difficulties.
Friday-We had a quick Media Referral drop off in the morning and then didn’t have anything to do, but had a miracle where we were able to help a member shovel their driveway right when they needed it! After that, we picked up the Spanish Elders and went to District Meeting. It was a little different, since the Bloomfield Sisters weren’t there, but we made do. Elder Hall, our New District Leader, conducted and we had a great reporting session with lots of questions and concerns answered. The Training was on the Importance of the Book of Mormon and we practiced how we can Introduce, Read, and then Apply principles to our investigators and how that helps them understand and take more from the scriptures. I learned this week that that is how we should read our scriptures as well. We need to read the scriptures, find a principle, and apply it to our lives. The Lord wants us to read the scriptures, but more importantly, he wants us to apply them. The stories are good, but how they relate to us is more important. Read, Find, Apply. Try it this week and let me know how it goes! We had some great role plays and then split! We did some stop bys with a newly returned missionary from the Spanish Branch named Harold, and they all kind of fell through, with some small blessing in between, but we were able to see Johnoy again! He is back from some difficulties he was facing and has a new vigor to learn. He is doing well and we were able to go over the Restoration again with him and extend a Baptismal Date of January 29th! It is a little soon, but he has already come to church 3 times, so as long as we keep him on track, it should be good! That night we also had a dinner with the daughter of someone in Elder McIntyre’s ward. Her husband isn’t a member and they came from Wallingford up to Hartford to meet us! We got to talk and he know the ward well and has read the Book of Mormon, but tradition and being in the Catholic church for so long has just kept him from being baptized. He doesn’t feel any big change or any desire to make big changes, but is supportive of his family going to church every week. If you could pray for him, his name is Jorge, his wife would appreciate the prayers.
Saturday-The morning was SUPER slow and we really didn’t do much. It was super snowy outside and we didn’t know if we would even be able to go outside, so we called people and it was tough. In the afternoon, a member baptism was cancelled and we were red dotted (meaning we can’t drive our car because of weather) so we walked to investigator’s house, but he wasn’t home, so we started walking to another investigator’s home, but it was too far, so we just went to a member’s house and they gave us some cookies and milk and provided us warmth! It was awesome! Then, the husband drove us home, which was really nice. We grabbed some dinner, updated some referrals, and then went to Temera’s house and taught about Baptism and Confirmation. We talked about why it is important and then why Confirmation happens after. It was really good and we shared a lot of scriptures and personal experiences! As we were walking home, we contacted two guys and they were both named Tito! They were then passed over to the Spanish Elders and we hope the best for them!
Sunday-We got up and got to Church and Summer Way’s family bore their testimonies about the blessings of the gospel in their lives. Grant Sorenson, our assistant ward mission leader, taught the lesson in Gospel Principles on Obedience and did a great job of connecting to us as members of the class and being appreciative of our comments. He did a great job for his first lesson and really brought the spirit. That afternoon, we filled out three progress records and prepared for Summer Way’s baptism. Her sister was baptized when we first came in the area and Summer is a member baptism. I was able to give a talk on Baptism and read Mosiah 18:10-13. It really talks about how if your desire is to take upon yourself the name of Christ, remember Him, and keep His commandments, what would keep you from being baptized? Nothing! Baptism is the gate by which we enter to receive all of Heavenly Father blessings! Elder McIntyre gave a talk on the Holy Ghost and how it can be a blessing in her life. I loved the service and we were able to be a part of the confirmation. Summer is a really good girl and we were blessed to be able to help her in her baptism! That night, we got to see Jacob Locke and his daughter Nicole and introduced them to Family History, which was super cool!
Overall, the biggest blessing of this week has been learning the importance of the Book of Mormon. I heard that Elder Holland was able to be at the MTC a little before Christmas and someone summarized it in a blog post. His message was very bold. He testified of the power of the Book of Mormon and that through it, people’s lives truly can be changed.
The letter I received earlier this week also provided encouragement and drive to read the Book of Mormon. Thinking back on the quotes from my Book of Mormon class, it was promised that the minute you start a serious study of the Book of Mormon, the power of it will rush into your life. Don’t cut yourself off from blessings. Read it, but more importantly find the gold veins of principles, but even more importantly, apply it. Then will you see the blessings of the Book of Mormon in your life. I can promise this and add my testimony to the thousands that came before that have read and testified of it. I know it to be true and that it will bless you and your life more than anything else.
*The following is a summary from Ryan Egget, a choir director at the MTC in Provo, of his experience listening to Elder Holland at Tuesday night devotional just before Christmas. I periodically copy and paste these messages and send them to Matthew in the mission field when I feel they will be uplifting to him.
“An Exciting Month at the MTC
Hello, Elders and Sisters. Forgive me for not writing for most of the month of December. For a choir director, December is not only the most wonderful time of the year, but also the busiest. It has also been quite a busy month at the MTC. In addition to the wonderful Christmas activities prepared by the MTC Presidency, the missionaries were visited by two apostles, Elders Oaks and Holland.
Elder Holland came for a Tuesday night devotional; Elder Oaks and his family presented a special Christmas morning program. I can’t tell you much about the visit from Elder Oaks because I spent the morning with my family attending our ward sacrament meeting and Christmas program. But, the visit from Elder Holland was one of the most memorable in my time at the MTC. I took careful notes so I could share with you some of his impactful teachings.
You are a Miracle
Before beginning his prepared message, Elder Holland took time to speak in a personal way to the missionaries. If you have ever wondered about your decision to serve a mission, listen to these words by one of the Lord’s special witnesses; “We love you. You are a miracle. You are in your own way the message we intend to give. The first message any investigator will ever hear, is your appearance at their doorstep or on the street corner. This initial message is without words, memorization, or preparation. It is simply your life. In a real and personal and direct way, you are the message. We could not be more proud of you.” Wow! Isn’t that awesome!
During my time at the MTC I have seen for myself the truthfulness of Elder Holland’s statement, “You are a miracle.” For most young people in the world, the years between 18-25 are spent experimenting with those things that are base and degrading. For those who choose a higher path, they might be filled with years of “self-improvement,” focused on personal gain and preparation for their future lives. You, however, have chosen to leave all of that behind and give 18 or 24 months of your “prime-time” living to the Lord and His Kingdom. That truly is a miracle. As Elder Anderson told the missionaries some months ago, the fact that you are on a mission makes you one in a million. Never worry about comparing yourself to another missionary. Just give the Lord the best that is within you.
The Book of Mormon as You’ve Never Seen it Before
For the remainder of his talk, Elder Holland spoke about The Book of Mormon. I have read the Book of Mormon consistently since I returned from my mission 25 years ago. But the passion with which he spoke about the Book of Mormon has caused me to look closely at how I am treating that book in my own life. He began by asking the missionaries to consider the Lord’s timeline in the life of Joseph Smith. With the 1st Vision occurring in 1820, and the martyrdom in 1844, the Lord knew he only had 24 short years with the Prophet. So much to restore in so little time. With that considered, it is amazing that the first 10 years are spent nearly exclusively on The Book of Mormon.
Elder Holland quoted D&C 5:4 several times, which reads, “And you have a gift to translate the plates; and this is the first gift that I bestowed upon you; and I have commanded that you should pretend to no other gift until my purpose is fulfilled in this; for I will grant unto you no other gift until it is finished.” To this Elder Holland said, “The God in Heaven is saying, ‘I want you to do one thing, get the Book of Mormon published and get it in your heart.’ Really, he [Joseph] is going to learn the gospel by translating the book. It is not a coincidence that The Book of Mormon goes on sale, 28 March 1830, and the church can be organized [approximately] 10 days later.”
Elder Holland continued, “I want to talk about a return on investment. I want to talk about you using the single greatest missionary tool that God has ever given to this work. Missionary in and missionary out, nothing is ever going to compare to how God feels about the Book of Mormon as a missionary tool.” Is that how we feel about The Book of Mormon? If I were to return to the mission field today, I would use The Book of Mormon more, and I would use it better! President Benson used to say that it is “THE” instrument for converting “Jew” and “Gentile”—which really means it is the instrument for converting each one of us.
As I sat listening to Elder Holland I couldn’t help but contemplate what this means for my life–outside of missionary work. I am one of those who needs to be converted! I am reminded of what President Harold B. Lee was fond of saying, “Testimony is as elusive as a moonbeam; it’s as fragile as an orchid; you have to recapture it every morning of your life. You have to hold on by study, and by faith, and by prayer.”
According to Elder Holland, there is nothing better to strengthen our personal testimonies and protect us from being some of the very elect who are deceived, than a thorough and consistent study of The Book of Mormon. I have had many young adults in my office lately wanting to discuss what they have described as “a crisis of faith.” I can tell you that without exception they have not been nourishing their testimonies with a daily feast from The Book of Mormon! When you come home from your mission you must continue to study The Book of Mormon.
As Elder Holland put it, “You have to come to grips right now with The Book of Mormon. If The Book of Mormon is true then Joseph Smith was a true Prophet. Do not go on your mission and neglect The Book of Mormon. DO NOT Neglect the first gift that God gave to this dispensation. Come home and teach it to your children, your children’s children–as long as you have voice, and breath, and a lip to move.”
Dear Elders and Sisters, with such a tool as this, you cannot fail! When you find someone who is an honest seeker of the truth, and you get this book into their hands, and help them learn to study and understand it, they will be converted. That’s the promise!
Remember that you are offering those you teach the most wonderful gift in the world. Again from President Lee, “Now when our missionaries go out, we say to those among whom they labor, ‘We are not asking you to join the Church just to put your name on the records. That is not our concern. We come to you offering you the greatest gift the world can give, the gift of the kingdom of God. This is here for you if you will only accept and believe.’”
I conclude with a final statement from Elder Holland. “So, get with it. Invest yourself. Study through the day and study through the night. Do not deny the Spirit and power of this document. DO NOT underestimate what it will mean in your life and in your investigator’s life.”
We love you and pray for you daily. You are a miracle and will continue to be so as you follow the Spirit, work in obedience, and use The Book of Mormon as the Lord intended. Have a wonderful week. Be safe, be smart, be happy.
Brother and Sister Eggett”