*** Precursor to the letter/pictures at the bottom………..
Mom Note: Elder Davis’ mom (me) has been busy with the demands of our family and Samuel’s concussion complications/academic challenges that happened at the end of September.
The blog posts/downloading/renaming/uploading of photos has taken a huge back seat to the needs of family at home. I apologize for the dearth of blog entries from October – December! Elder Davis HAS been communicating — I just haven’t been able to organize and post it all.
I will be uploading Elder Davis letters and photos from October – December over the next couple of weeks so you can catch up with his experiences, feelings and adventures.
Some of his letters over the past few months, especially October and November, have been notes, partial paragraphs and unfinished letters as he has been extremely busy, low on energy and felt overwhelmed with how to communicate all the details to us at home on top of performing his regularly scheduled responsibilities.
He wasn’t feeling well with Seasonal Affective Disorder for several weeks because of the lack of sunshine in New England over the last few months (the UV index has been VERY low this fall) but we addressed that as quickly as we realized what he was experiencing and he bounced back pretty quickly.
He had low energy and brain fog for about 6 weeks, but pushed through it and still worked really hard. Elder Davis is currently serving as a District Leader in Waterbury, CT where he was transferred on October 24, 2017. He is companions with the amazing Elder Walker Goodman (from Arizona as well!) who has been in Waterbury his entire mission (6 months). Elder Davis has been serving as a District Leader since December 2017.
Some of his letters will not be as finished as we are used to reading, but please know that he is doing really well and doing a great work!
Just so you know there are significant reasons with regard to me and our family for not keeping the blog up to date and reasons for his letters looking a little different than we have come to expect. A lack of big chunks of time on my part and a limited amount of energy to devote to it have been quite a hurdle.
Forgiveness is divine…I hope you can offer some to me! 🙂 Please enjoy this week’s letter (below) as much as I did! ***
January 2, 2018
Wednesday-Inside Work Cold! Prioritize, Melissa, BOM in Cold
Thursday, BOMs to Service, Weekly Planning simple
Friday-Interviews, Vogels, Mary Cruz
Saturday-Firestone, St. Hilaires
Sunday-Sam, Karlee, BOMs, Marbles, Br. Page, 129, 199, Martinellis and Cheesecake
Happy New Year!!! I hope you all had a great New Year’s Eve and Day. It’s weird to think that it is 2018 now…2017 was a great year, but time moves on. This week was an amazing one and I hope to share some of the amazing miracles that happened here in the Waterbury District!
At our last District Leader Council, the Zone Leaders presented goals for each week that built on one another. One on handing out copies of the Book of Mormon, the next week on finding new investigators, the next with bringing people to sacrament meeting meeting, and the last being setting dates for their baptisms. This was the first week in the set of four, and we felt like we should go big! Our district set a goal to handout 127 copies of the Book of Mormon, which came out to about 30-50 copies per companionship. The week previous had been amazing, as we had met our goal for new investigators, so we went forward in faith with this goal as well!
It has been really cold this week, so we started the week with some more inside work on the colder days. It was rough, because the missionary spirit comes a lot when you work outside, but we made it as worth it as we could. We were asked to spend no more than 20 minutes outside because we would be at risk for frostbite and hypothermia. Yikes! Well, we did our best and experienced the cold in the evening on Wednesday! It was below 10 degrees, and we were FREEZING! We had one stop by to do, but it was in the evening. We went to drop off a Book of Mormon to a new investigator, but he didn’t answer…so we had a few minutes before we had to leave. We tried to follow the Spirit and some amazing things happened. We knocked on one door and it happened to be a potential that we had talked to and we didn’t have her address. We almost walked right past the door too, but we felt prompted that we would regret it if we didn’t, and now we don’t regret it. It was getting late, and we were going to be late, but I felt like if we talked to one more person and taught a short lesson, that it would be enough to get us home by 9:30. There was one guy who was walking up a hill by our car, and I told Elder Goodman the prompting, and he said, I guess so, let’s go for it. So up the hill we went, but no one was up there. All I could think of was,”Heavenly Father, just give us one person. I don’t care who it is, but all we need is one person!” We kept looking around, and then, out on the far side of one of the buildings, a guy in his 20’s started walking our way. When he got close enough, we had the chance to give him a Book of Mormon and teach him a short lesson. I know that Heavenly Father always answers our prayers!
On Thursday morning, we have service at a soup kitchen in Waterbury. We are good friends with the people that work there and they know that we are missionaries and we have had conversations with them in the past about religion, but nothing has really ever come of it. Elder Bushman gave us a call in the morning and said that he felt that we could hand out some copies of the Book of Mormon to the people that work at the kitchen. I was really hesitant because it is owned by a church, and so technically we could be proselyting near a house of worship, but I wasn’t sure. So the morning went on and we headed off to service. There was a new guy volunteering and as we talked to him, he was interested in religion. He had faith in God, but we got to talk to him about how to use our faith and more about religion. At the end of service, we gave him a Book of Mormon. One of the workers, Christina, was standing there and looked at the book and said it was way to small and she could barely read it. We asked if she wanted a copy and she said,”Sure, but it has to be bigger!” Thankfully, we have a large copy 🙂 Another of the workers, Paul, was there as well and he told E-shawn, the newer guy, that we were “the real deal” and are true Christians. We didn’t even know that he felt that way about us, but it was a really humbling moment for both me and Elder Goodman. Later, we asked Paul if he wanted a copy as well, and he accepted one too!! We were also able to give a copy to two other people who help out at the kitchen. I don’t know of any other way that we could have given them copies of the Book of Mormon unless Heavenly Father had prepared them and their hearts in advance. I’m so grateful for our Father in Heaven and that prepared the people that we care about so that we could give them the best gift in the world. Later in the day we learned a lesson about planning. We were having struggles with organizing everything, and our missionary leaders encouraged us to plan simply and to not overthink it. Thankfully the gospel is simple, and when we don’t overthink our lives, we are able to help people more, and especially with what they need.
We had interviews on Friday and I think that Elder Goodman or I are being transferred on the 17th. Elder Goodman has been in Waterbury for about 6 months so he might be leaving. He is the best an I am so grateful that we have been able to serve together. He has taught me so much. President Miller is such a blessing though. He has developed a great love for the missionaries in this mission and it is evident every time that we see him. He gave us some amazing counsel on how to be more consecrated and how to see more miracles in the district. President is the best!
Later in the week, we were struggling a little bit with our goal, but everyone in the District had amazing days! We handed out 10 on Thursday (2 people just happened to be playing Pokemon Go! outside of the chapel, and they took two copies of the Book of Mormon, and Harry, our investigator, took three copies to hand out to his friends at work!!!), the Spanish Elders handed out 31 one day, and the Southbury Sisters consistently passed out copies throughout the week. It came to the last day and we were at about 91 copies. Everyone put in a lot of effort, and things worked out amazingly. We had about an hour and a half to hand out a lot of copies, and so we felt to call a few media referrals, and the responded that it would be ok for us to come that day, within the hour or so, and give them the Book of Mormon or Bible that they requested. Heavenly Father definitely had a hand in allowing us to work effectively that afternoon and to be able to hand out about 5-6 copies meaningfully in the short period of time that we had. Everyone worked hard on Sunday, even the Spanish Elders, who had already met their goal the day before. Before we went to dinner that night, we saw a couple of guys near our member’s house and felt like we should talk to them. There were a lot, so we parked and rushed over. They had just gotten back from a skiing trip and were all getting ready for bed, but one of their roomates was outside. We talked to him and he asked us if the new temple in Farmington was from our church. He said that his mom had toured it during the open house and said that is was really pretty. He knew a little about the church and we gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon. We asked if any of his friends would also like a copy, and he took two more as well. Dinner was good, we got to talk to Brother Page, a very smart and wise member in the ward. He helped us with some questions that we had been asked, but he also caused us to self reflect. He talked about our role in Waterbury. He said,”When you leave, what evidence will there be that you were ever here?” Baptisms, new investigators, teaching records? Well, baptisms aren’t the goal of missionary work, new investigators don’t always pan out, and do a lot of teaching records show that you did good work? He said,”The only thing that will really show that you are here are the spiritual impacts that you have on others.” Think back to people you remember. Think about the relationships that you had with them. Most times, in the gospel, it is because they have had a deep spiritual impact on you that went far past the surface. It made us really think. What have we done here that will affect others? Are we doing more superficial things or digging deep to help meet people’s needs and affect them deeply? As we pray for experiences to serve others, the Lord will put others in our path to serve. He loves His children, puts His angels around them, and allows us to learn and grow as we do His work, or in other words, serve our fellow man (Mosiah 2:17). Suffice it to say, we had a lot of thinking to do…lastly in the evening, we called together with the District and announced that we had met our goal by passing out 129 copies of the Book of Mormon that week and that our Zone had met their goal of 293 as well and had passed out 299 Book of Mormons! When we are in the service of our fellow beings, we are really only in the service of our God. I’m grateful for a merciful Heavenly Father that helps us in our trials, in our failures, and our weaknesses. I know that through the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ, that we not only can be forgiven of our sins, but that we can be healed and comforted. This week, ponder on Alma 7:11-13 and think about what the Book of Mormon teaches us about Jesus Christ and His Atonement. Through God, anything is possible!
Elder Matthew Davis
Massachusetts Boston Mission