Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Kyle has been serving his mission for...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Canberra Zone Week 11

It's been a wonderful week! Our area is pumping, the district is pumping, the zone is pumping. Everything is just getting better and better! :)  We set a new record for the amount of lessons taught in our zone this week by a large margin and it seems as though it won't just be a spike, but that the trend will continue to grow. Our Stake President stood up in 2 of the wards yesterday and called all of the missionaries to the front as part of sacrament meeting. It was pretty awesome, but also awkward as he asked rhetorical questions to the congregation. He said "brothers and sisters, these are the missionaries serving in your ward. There are 6 of them. Each of them has sacrificed 2 years of their lives, away from family and friends, to come and serve the Lord. Their job is to teach, not to find. Who is to find? We are. The time for missionaries tracting is over, we need to be doing all that we can to join together in helping the missionary work be successful here in this ward." Now, that wasn't word for word, but it's about as close as I can remember. The fact of the matter is that the Stake President was making it very clear that we need to continue to grow together as ward members and missionaries to help the Lord's children here in this area. He referenced many times to President Monson's recent comments on the matter and enforced it with his own testimony that when we work together, the work moves forward. All of us missionaries were so excited!! Though we felt a little out of place standing in front of the whole congregation, I think it really helped to get the message accross that we are here to work and serve. I am grateful that our Stake President supports us in our desires to achieve the Standard of Excellence established by President Lew to be teaching 20 lessons per week to investigators, recent converts, and less active members and realizes that this realistically can only be effective with the accompaniment of the ward members. They have a much more important role than what most of them realize I believe. So to my famiy and all friends who are not full time missionaries reading this- thank you for the work that you do. Even something as small as sitting next to someone new at church and greeting them goes a LONG way. As missionaries one of our greatest concerns is that first time an investigator comes to church. We want to make sure they have friends to support them and guide them because realistically, the members can do a job that we cannot. They will stay when we will leave, they can relate and be the friends that we cannot since we do not experience the same difficulties of work, raising families and other stresses of life that naturaly happen. Yes, we as missionaries can teach, but we cannot always testify that we know how it is to raise a family where we are serving, or to find a job there, etc.... So, in all the good that you are doing- thank you! Also, I can promise as you continue to dive into missionary work, there will come an added measure of happiness and joy that cannot be found elsewhere. Helping someone come closer to Christ is so enjoyable! Why? Because it brings you closer to Him as well. There is greater love and charity towards all men that develops as you strive to bring others more happiness and peace that is found in following His example. As you focus on others, you become less focused upon yourself, and being less focused on yourself brings happiness. If you don't believe me- I encourage you to try it :) Then let me know how awesome it is because I have tested it, and it is true. Selfless service is the key to happiness.
Last night Elder White and I had the opportunity to eat at a members' home and then go and teach Noni right afterward. She was planning to come and eat with us at the members' but something came up last minute with one of her daughters falling and getting hurt and crying so hard she got a headache, so she felt it best to stay at home rather than bring a crying child along for dinner haha. But she welcomed us to come and teach her more about our living Prophet, Thomas S. Monson. We watched a video that explained briefly his life and some of the sacrifices he has made to serve the Lord. I am so grateful that we have a prophet on the earth today. It helps me to know that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and loves us just as much as He loved His children in times past. Though we may not have to cross the Red Sea in running away from our enemies, there are many current problems that we are confronted with, and having a living prophet's guidance and inspired counsel today is so beneficial. Even though the kids were running all over the place, she still mentioned that watching the video and discussing about having a living Prophet today helped answer many of her questions that she has had. She is such a wonderful soul, and will be blessed so much for the steps she is making in coming unto Christ. Let us all this week endeavor to be a little better, and take one more step towards Him. No matter where we are or what we have done, His arms are always open towards us in friendship and warm welcome. I know this to be true because I have felt it time and again. I love my Savior and know that He lives, and it brings great peace to my heart.
In closing, I will include my letter to President to share some more miracles seen this week:
This has been the best week so far that I have had in Canberra! The Lord has blessed us with so many miracles! We were able to accomplish our member present, other lessons taught, and new investigator goals for this week! Each week we keep improving and our area is right on track for achieiving the Standard of Excellence in teaching on a weekly basis. That gets me so excited because my transfer goal was to be steadily achieving Standard of Excellence by the end of the transfer, and it is going to happen! :) Unfortunately, the 2 baptismal dates that were scheduled for this month had be to pushed back just 2 weeks for different reasons, but they both are still prepared and very keen to be baptized the first and second week of December. It will be great for them as they begin to walk on the straight and narrow pathway back to our loving Father in Heaven. Also, a great miracle happened this week that will bless my life and studies for as long as I am here. We added a new investigator who grew up as a Jehovah's Witness. On our first meeting he said that he has always just wanted to know what the Mormons were about. So he decided to walk up to the Elders in the Belconnen area and talk to them. When they found out he lives near us, they passed him over and Elder White and myself have had the privilege to start teaching him. He definitely knows a LOT about religion and especially the bible, but has a deep craving to find the truth. He has read almost all of the Book of Mormon, has watched almost every video available on LDS.Org- even the District training videos- and still wants more. He is a very logical thinker and finds it hard to believe things just based upon faith without evidence to back it up, but His desire is still there and he loves to learn more and really enjoys meeting with us. I will admit, he has made me study into questions further than any investigator has previously. One of his concerns is the fact that the bible contradicts itself upon whether or not man truly can see God and live, and so he is not sure whether it was possible for Joseph Smith to see God the Father or not and is desirous to find out that possibility. One thing that I really love about meeting him though is the amount of boldness we use when we teach him. He asks questions others normally wouldn't but which always allow us opportunity to boldly declare that we do know the Book of Mormon to be truth and that Joseph Smith truly did see God the Father, and Jesus Christ. My favorite thing he said on our first visit goes as follows "I believe that there would be only one true way that God has given us, I am just not sure which one it is.... so, sell me." Needless to say, I am very excited to continue to teach someone like this. He definitely isn't going to just take our word for it, but will test every thing that we say to know for sure it is truth, which is exactly how it should be. We testify and invite him to come to know for himself that these things are true, but it is only by him acting that he will understand and come to know the truth. He gets that, and I am glad that he does because when he comes to gain that testimony, I believe he will be as the Lamanite converts spoken of in the Book of Mormon where it says that "as many as were converted, never turned away."
Another great miracle we had this week was David. He is a referral we have been trying to contact for several weeks, but because of exams he has been too busy to meet with us. We finally had an opportunity to meet with him and he is awesome! We met him and explained to him more about The Book of Mormon and how the Spirit works in helping one come to know the truth. He asked many great questions about how the Holy Ghost really operates and how we can know whether our answer really is from God. He too has great desire to know the truth, and even though we will only meet him once more before he goes home to China for 3 months, I believe he will meet the missionaries again upon return. He promised to read the Book of Mormon everyday and pray daily as well. He has already been keeping that comittment, so I think by the time he comes back from a holiday in China, he easily could have read the whole thing and come to know of its truth, then upon arrival back in Australia it will be easy for him to continue to prepare himself for baptism.

In studying Chapter 2 from Preach my Gospel this week, I have learned more of the importance of studying by topic- especially in answering questions. I have started a new practice to have my companion ask me one question our investigator may ask us the next day and study to answer that question. Doing this has helped me to study for my investigators more and suprisingly, as I study to answer their question, or questions they potentially would ask, I come to find that there are other questions I have that are similar and can find answers to them! So it is a win-win! Even answering a question as simple as "does God love me?" deserves more of a response than just one of us saying "yes!" But, in answering that question, we should help them discover for themselves how they can know God loves them. Thus, I will start searching into scriptures examples of God's love, and scriptures to find out how they can feel the Holy Ghost confirm to them God's love. I love studying by topic and answering questions that our investigators do have, or are likely to have- it really brings the Spirit and helps me to learn.
Elder Shafer

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