Monday, August 24, 2015

Soledad 2000...August 24, 2015

Well, what has been an excellent trip in Valledupar has come to an end.  Tomorrow, I will be heading back to Barranquilla (my new area is called Soledad 2000 and my new companion is Elder Puchoc).  I have learned tons of things here in Valledupar and I have been able to learn even more from my companions Elder Lince and Elder Jorgensen!  Definitely a city that I won't forget!  It is kind of weird to think however that with my time left in the mission I may only have 2 more areas... It really is crazy how fast time flies!
This past week was very awesome!  We were able to have a Zone meeting and we talked about Obedience!  A while back, our Mission President talked about three types of obedience!  They are fear, love, and for blessings!  We used an example from the scriptures that every single one of us has used and it is that of the Tree of Life.  We see three types of people in 1 Nephi 8. 
First, there are those that started along the iron rod but when the clouds of darkness came they lost sight of what was ahead of them and never made it to the Tree.  The second type of people we see are those who eventually got what they wanted (the fruit) but when nothing else was available, they were ashamed by those mocking them and they too turned away!  The last type of people we see are those that got to the Tree and stayed there.  It is not merely because they got there and liked the fruit. Temptations still presented themselves to those at the tree but in vs. 33-34 we find that they obeyed for the love of the Lord that they had.  "They did not give heed to the temptations." 
I thought alot because my companion and I have really focused on being obedient with exactness this past transfer and we have felt good because we have really been setting the example in many ways.  I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to be able to have a new start in a new place.  It gives me the opportunity to know many more people, have new experiences, and test myself to see if I can apply all the things I have learned!  Every transfer is like a stepping block or a gate into a new world. My Heavenly Father has really blessed me in many ways and given me many opportunities to grow and refine myself. 
I guess I am off to a new adventure with new things to learn!  I hope you all have a wonderful week and the Lord blesses you all immensely! 
Love, Elder Slack

Meekly Drenched in Destiny...August 17, 2015

  Well... this past week went by abnormally fast now that I am sitting at the computer thinking about what I did.  We had a good week working in our area with two companion exchanges.  I got to spend some time with Elder Godfrey (he is from Arizona and one of the District Leaders in the Zone).  He is super crazy and the poor guy has a real struggle speaking Spanish (even though he has been out for 15 months).  The people love him even though they don't understand him because he is just real crazy!  I think he stayed up until about 11 talking about all these book ideas he has (I wouldn't know what time he finished because I was asleep haha ;)  Even though they are super crazy and weird ideas I think I would buy them.  They sound interesting especially because one in the mission always thinks about how worldly things apply to gospel doctrine so underlined in the stories has to do with the Plan of Salvation, Agency, or some other gospel principle.
    I also got to spend some time with Elder De La Cruz. He is a brand new missionary from Ecuador and I was super impressed at how humble he is and how much he knows for being out such a short amount of time.  The Lord is truly hastening his work in these latter days and confides so much in us to do it.
    Even though my week did go by so fast I learned an amazing lesson this week while reading a talk given by Neal A Maxwell titled "Meekly Drenched in Destiny".  It was an incredible talk that talked about humbleness, patience, and being meek.  I was able to learn a ton more about controlling thoughts, actions, or words for when they are really important or necessary.  I think more than anything the mission has given me the opportunity to practice these things. 
    God has blessed us with so many talents, abilities, and habits that we first have to find out what they are.  Many of our qualities (even when considered strong or maybe not so good) come from God and as it says in Alma 34:32 "we are to prepare to meet God".  The talk gave me an opportunity to think about what qualities I have and see in what ways I have to refine myself so as to do the will of the Father.  I am grateful for the time I have to be a missionary and realize that I am a child of God and that he has given me time here on Earth to refine myself.  "In a comfort zone we rarely grow.  In a growth zone we are rarely comforted".  THAT IS WHY GOD SENT US HERE TO EARTH!!  We never could have progressed like we can on Earth!  I guess I would like to challenge each and every one of you to find in what ways you can "refine" yourself!  I love you all and hope you the best week with the best blessings!
Love, Elder Slack

Loving life and running fast...August 10, 2015

Well, another one down and gone, doing the same thing, yet I still learn new things!!!  I love it!!  This week we were super busy running errands and traveling we really didn't have much time in our area to work but it was a successful week!  Tuesday we spent the day cleaning and moving some Elders out of a house and they got sent to Barranquilla.  We didn't get done until about 5 then we had to get ready because the Stake President had asked us to train every ward (5 wards) about how to use a new format given to us from the Area Presidency!  Wednesday early early morning we had to go to Barranquilla for a training given by President.  My companion and I with the 2 Sister Leaders of Valledupar left at 3 in the morning (for a 6 hour trip to Barranquilla).  We were able to learn many wonderful things and talk about the needs of the mission.  The assistants gave a super awesome training on teaching more about the Doctrine, Principles, and the Application that you find in the first sentence of PMG ch. 3.  Many times we just say the What?,  Why?, and How?  It made me think the rest of the council as needs or concerns were presented to talk about... I thought it was very interesting that we normally end up talking about the same things over and over and it amazes me that 20, 21, and 22 year olds can't figure out how to clean your room, take care of your id card, send and fill out a baptismal sheets, or send reports on Mondays.  While helping Sister Searle set the table to eat dinner Wednesday night she made me laugh saying the same thing!  I always remember what our 1st counselor (Pte. Vega) said in our conference with Elder Godoy. "In the mission, we are no longer sons and daughters of God. We are to be Men and Women of God..."  I just think it is so clear and wonder why sometimes... :) I have learned some serious patience!!! ;)  Other than that we got back late Thursday night and we were able to contact a reference given to us by a member!  Her name is Esleidis and she is 32 years old with a 14 and an 11 year old!  After we said the first prayer, she had watery eyes and her hands were sweaty and she just kept saying "keep talking, keep talking"! haha It was so funny and we were able to feel the spirit super strong!!  She couldn't come to church on Sunday but tonight we will go back and visit her to teach her more about the Book of Mormon that she has already been reading!!  I love it!!  I am super good!!  Loving life and running fast (but so is time) and keeping myself super busy!!  Hope you all have a wonderful week!!
Love, Elder Slack

Traditions...August 3, 2015

This week was very crazy but very inspired as we got to hear from our President in our Zone Conference!  We started off the week very normal and were able to work very hard in our area!  It is something we have gotten to do and focus on a couple of people who are progressing towards baptism and activation.  Wednesday we were able to work with one of the Assistants named Elder Black and he is from Arkansas.  It is pretty funny to see some of the faces on people as they watched three Gringos walking down the street talking a good amount of Spanglish!! (sometimes I laugh at me and my companion because we will start a conversation in English and by the end we are talking Spanish again!! :)
On Wednesday we had Zone Conference!  The assistants trained us on a new sheet that the First Presidency has come out with called Traditions of a Latter Day Saint!  It was very interesting as it explained how traditions (when taken from it's root in Latin) means deliver yourself and we know it means an action or habit.  Then he used the example of Nephi and how he was instructed by his parents (1 Nephi 1:1) and how the family then split (2 Nephi 4) and how his older brothers then destroyed the "Traditions" of Lehi.  It is kind of like a snowball effect from there...
Those traditions (Keep the Sabbath Day Holy, Tithing, Live the principles taught in the Proclamation of the Family, Prayer, Scripture Study, Family Home Evenings, and Go to the Temple) then kind of lead into what President Searle taught about which is always obedience!  He just kind of explained that the mission is a MTC for the rest of our life and we can be obedient because of fear, or we can be obedient for love of our Savior.  It kind of reminded me of a phrase that was said by Pte. Vega (Missions 1st Councilor) "We need to be Men and Women of God.  No longer children of God"  It has had an impact on what I do!  Reading in Preach My Gospel just affirms that saying that if the people don't recognize us as representatives of Christ right when they see us then we aren't doing what we should be doing!  It all starts with our obedience and then our conference was all tied together saying that if we can't start to live those 7 principles in the mission we won't be able to teach them to our kids in the future or be able to teach them with a good example and then turned back to the example of the Book of Mormon and Lehi's family. 
I am glad to say that I have been raised by goodly parents and I have been able to experience many wonderful things in the mission.  I feel the Lord has been able to do what he would do with me to this point and I am so glad that I have so much time left to learn so much more!  The mission truly is a time in our life to become completely converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I know it is true and I know our Savior lives!!  I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!!!
Love, Elder Slack 

Agency is important..July 27,2015

What a great opportunity to be a missionary!  I have really been able to see the results of obedience, diligence, and good old blessings!!  My companion, Elder Jorgensen and I this week really kicked it into to gear, reviewed houses, did exchanges, and worked very decently in our area!  We have been obedient with exactness in all we can and have felt the blessings!  It is a little frustrating because I haven't felt like our area has been progressing.  As I was reading in my personal study I was able to think about 2 situations presented to Nephi in chapters 16 and later in 18.  In 1 Nephi 3 and 8 they were being strictly obedient to all that the Lord had commanded them to do yet in verses 18 through 23, they have some troubles when Nephi's bow and arrows break.  As I was thinking about it, God was definitely punishing them because they weren't keeping the commandments but as I continued to read into chapter 18 I realized that later on, they were blessed.  But when Laman and Lemuel tied Nephi up in the boat and God sent the whirlwinds and terrible storm it was truly a punishment.  Later in the week I was able to have an exchange with Hno. Pablo Hernandez who is a returned missionary (while my comp was with some missionaries) and we had a super wonderful talk about agency (which I think has become one of my favorite gospel topics!!).  I was able to truly see in the scriptures that difficult times simply come to test us but more as ways to see what type of person we really are.  My dad always said that there are 3 types of people or members of the church. There are those who are really the less actives (go to church every once in a while, sometimes read scriptures, sometimes pray, or do it when they need it). There are those who I would call active (read, pray, because they were taught to do it, go to church but if they miss an extra meeting they feel fine). And then there are those who are COMMITTED. They are the type of person who would go to all the meetings they have to, they have a dedicated scripture study and feel inspired while reading, have meaningful prayers to bless the lives of others, and will one day face the Throne of God with Confidence (a talk by Elder Klebingat). I realize that missionaries are the exact same and the interesting thing is that you can tell them apart very easily. Our agency is important because that is what will determine our trials or our punishments.  God will obviously test us while we are doing our best to grow more.  He will push us until we can't think we can go on and if we prevail, put all our faith in Him and just ask "what else will thou have me do?!"  (1 Nephi16:23) He will bless us immensely and sometimes our blessings will come in the form of more trials because God knows what our potential is... It is to become like Him. (Romans 8:17) I love you all and hope you know I am doing super awesome!!  I hope you all have the best week ever!!
Love, Elder Slack