Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Week #51

Hey hey everyone! Man what a great week this week! I hope y'all have been enjoying your summer and have had a super good week this week! Next week, I will hit my year mark. It's so weird to think that I've been a missionary for almost a year, it most definitely doesn't feel like it at all, time is flying!

So this week we have focused on finding a lot, because we've had more than a few investigators tell us they didn't want to take lessons anymore. So Elder Alfred and I set out this week to find some more people to add to our teaching pool, and the Lord definitely accompanied us in our finding efforts this week!

We have a super solid part-member family, the Swint's. Brother Swint is a member, but Sister Swint is not. All of the kids except the oldest, Thomas, are also baptized. We have been really working with Thomas and Sister Swint the last few weeks. Thomas is going to be a senior this year and loves cars and working out, so we've gotten super close the last couple weeks. Sister Swint is the most active non-member I've ever seen! She even holds a calling in the Primary Presidency and she isn't a member! It's crazy! They're doing so well and are progressing tremendously. 

So the CRAZIEST thing happened! We were at the Swint's and there was another kid there who is 20 and I've never seen before. We introduce ourselves and sit down and jokingly I asked "so how do you know these goons?" and he went on to say that he was adopted! So Brother Swint put him up for adoption 20 years ago, and they had just met like 2 weeks prior to that night! It was crazy! So Brother Swint asked me to share my story, and my story was SO similar to Spencer's. For the last 13 years, Spencer has lived in the same Stake as the Swint's, they've even been in the same building at the same time! Also, Spencer lives literally 2 miles away from Brother Swint for the last 13 years. I lived like 15 minutes away from my biological father for 13 years. His birthday is September 30th, mine is September 28th. We are the same build, brown hair, blue eyes. He just got off of his mission from Florida (we lived there at one point). It was just so surreal. We had so much in common and made so many connections. I never thought I'd hear a story like mine, and then I did, and it was so cool to relate to Brother Swint and Spencer. We really built a bond with that family. There was lots of emotion that night for sure!

The thought I'd like to share this week comes from the Book of Mormon, in Moroni chapter 7 verse 16. 

"16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God."

We all have the ability to feel the influence of the Spirit, or the Holy Ghost. The Spirit has many roles, like comforting us, teaching us, and inspiring us. Here in this verse, the Spirit invites us to do good. All good things come from God, and God communicates to us through His Spirit. When we feel peace, happiness, comfort, and when we receive inspiration, or promptings to do/not do something, along with many other feelings, that is our loving Heavenly Father reaching out to us. He is putting forth that effort to show us that someone is always watching over us, that someone always has our back. Brothers and Sisters I testify of the tremendous and unconditional love our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ have for each and every one of us. They love you. They want you to be happy. They are there to help you. The Plan that God has created for all of us is something so great, yet so simple. This Plan is a testament of God's love for us. God knows we make mistakes, because we are human. He knew we'd mess up, so He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die for our sins, our pains, our suffering. Then on the 3rd day, He rose from the dead and was resurrected. Because of that, we too can be resurrected, we can one day return to live with our Father in Heaven, and we can live with our families forever. That is the message that the Gospel brings. I challenge each and every one of you to go out and share that message. Be daring. Be BOLD! God will stand behind you, and witness to you and to those you speak to, through the Holy Ghost, that this message is true. I extend this invitation, this call, and this challenge, to everyone who is reading this. Take that step, and share the Gospel with someone you know. Do not be afraid, the Lord is on your side. Who knows what kind of change and difference you will be able to make in someone's life, just by opening your mouth and sharing the Gospel with those around you. Your potential is great, you have the Spirit with you, and you are more than capable of fulfilling this calling. So what are you waiting for? :) I testify that our Savior lives and reigns. I know the Book of Mormon is true. It is the word of God, and it goes hand in hand with the Bible to bring us the fullness of the Gospel. I leave these things with you, with a humble heart, in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Week #50

Howdy everyone! I hope y'all have had a wonderful week this week! This has been a busy week for us! The days and weeks are blending, its scary how fast this is going! Things are going faster and faster, and I'm not ready for it! 

So first things first, TRANSFERS........... and I'm getting transferred again! I'm just kidding, I'm staying in my area haha but Elder Fowkes will be leaving and going to the Paradise Stake. I'm sad to see him go, he was a great comp, but the Lord has a reason for everything and I'm super stoked for my new comp, Elder Alfred! I've served around him twice already and he's a stud. It will be a ton of fun! He's also my 9th companion in 11 1/2 months haha. I'm still the District Leader, and my district went from being really old (lots of people going home in the next few months) to really young (been out for a year or less), and I'm super excited for that as well! I feel like there will be more of that fire lit under everyone. Don't get me wrong, the older missionaries definitely work too, it'll just be a nice change in the environment of the district!

So we have some super solid investigators we are teaching! We have Jarrell who is such an awesome older guy. He has the kindest heart and has great desires to learn more about the gospel and follow the example of the Savior. He's going to get baptized, it's just at his pace! It's something he wants, and he's doing so well.

We also have Amber! Amber has been through a ton. She's divorced and has two girls that are 10 and 6 I believe, and one of her daughters is a stage 4 cancer survivor! So she has a firm belief in God because she knows that God was the reason why her daughter survived cancer! Super cool! She's super sweet and she loves the things we teach her, especially the Plan of Salvation. She's doing very well! 

My thought comes from a verse I came across in my studies this week, and it's found in the Book of Mormon in Alma chapter 2 verse 28. It reads

28 Nevertheless, the Nephites being strengthened by the hand of the Lord, having prayed mightily to him that he would deliver them out of the hands of their enemies, therefore the Lord did hear their cries, and did strengthen them, and the Lamanites and the Amlicites did fall before them.

So in this chapter, Amlici (am-li-ky) is evil and he is trying to be appointed king. As a people, they vote, and the majority didn't want him as their king. So he and his followers left the Nephites and became their own people, and made Amlici king. With that, Amlici wanted to take over the Nephites, so he joined forces with the Lamanites (the Nephites and Lamanites hate each other) to try and take over the Nephites. All throughout this, before battle and during battle, the Nephites pray to God to protect them and deliver them, while the Lamanites and Amlicites relied only on their own power, the power of man. As a result, the Nephites prevail. Brothers and Sisters, the power of prayer is so tremendously strong. The Lord has the ability to strengthen us at any time. It's human nature to say that we might not need His help, or that the trial we are facing is something so small, that it's not worth His time. I sometimes have that same thought, it's something too small. But I'm wrong. Nothing is too small for the Lord. He cares about everything! As we turn to the Lord in humble prayer, He can change us, He can give us strength to go through our pains and afflictions, and help us prevail. He can help us come out on top, and be more prepared for our future battles. Elder Cook, one of my best friends I've ever had (and still have of course) said this to me in the MTC "God gives His strongest warriors His toughest battles". That has stuck with me ever since. We are ALL God's strongest warriors, and our strongest battles are personal to us. When we turn to the Lord, He will help us. He will get us through our battles in one piece, then He will take us, mend us, rehab us, put us through PT, and get us back on our feet. Then, we beef up, we get bigger, faster, stronger, and then come in guns ablaze and take our battles head on with more ease (they will still be difficult to some degree), then rinse and repeat. The Lord is aware of our concerns and our struggles, and the more we turn to Him, the more we will be able to overcome those trials and struggles. Prayer is a two way conversation between God and us. As we pray, we continually strengthen that connection with God, and we will be able to recognize the promptings of the Spirit more and more in our lives. It is my humble prayer that you and I become a little more humble, and submit ourselves to the Lord and to His will, recognizing we cannot do things alone. In doing so, the promised blessings are tremendous from our Lord and Savior, and we will prevail. We WILL be changed. I promise. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I hope y'all have another great week! Looking forward to hearing from so many of you! Also, keep going on that 30 minutes for 30 days prayer challenge! It's worth it! Keep me updated on how it's going for those of you who took it on! Until next week, God speed!

Elder Houssian

 When you're giving a training on being a Finisher, and on Beast Mode, so you're trying wall sits to see if you should use that in your training, all while doing follow-up calls.  #beastmode

 This is a very large cookie!

Elder De Mott's funeral since he goes home tomorrow
#riptomyexcompanion #thirdcompaniontogo home 

We'll it looks like we aren't in Spring anymore!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Week #49

Hello hello! Man what a great week this week! I hope y'all are enjoying your summer break! The weeks keep going by faster and faster, I don't know what to do! We find out on Saturdayabout transfers, this transfer has flown! 

So this week was a pretty solid week! We had some disappointing moments for sure, but the Lord gives us trials to make us stronger and to prepare us for things to come, I firmly believe that. So yea, we had 2 of our super solid investigators drop us this past week which was hard. They were actually progressing really well, but people have their agency, and I guess they haven't been completely prepared by the Lord yet. Their time will come for sure!

On the flip side, we were able to see the Lord's hand in our lives and in the work this past week! We were able to find some super solid new investigators! Two of them are a younger couple that we ran into. We went to go knock on the door of a former investigator's house, and a girl opened the door and turns out the family we tried to contact moved out. So instead there was this sweet lady named Susan and her husband Jason who were excited to see us! We were able to teach them a little bit and get a return appointment set up, it was awesome! 

We got to do exchanges with the Shadow Canyon Elders, and both of them are former companions of mine! Haha so I went with Elder DeMott into their area, and man we went hard! We were able to find two new investigators in the first 30 minutes of the exchange, it was awesome. That night, we got to go meet up with our recent convert from the area we served in together for dinner, and she invited the other missionaries who had taught her as well (and their companions haha) so it was awesome to run into some of them, and see Elder Moen, one of my other former companions! Overall, it was an awesome exchange. We had a lot of fun together just like the good old days! Plus, he's WAY into cars, and so there was talk about him making my car go way faster after I get off of the mission haha. 

This week I want to share a scripture and a quote on grace. This comes from Moroni 7:48 and the quote is from the talk given by Brad Wilcox titled "His Grace is Sufficient".

“A life impacted by grace eventually begins to look like Christ’s life.”

48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.

Brothers and Sisters, God's grace is sufficient for everyone. No matter what. You cannot sink lower than the infinite light of Christ's Atonement shines. Because of Christ, we can be forgiven of our sins, we can one day be resurrected, we can become perfect. Because of Christ, we can one day live with our families forever, and live with them in the presence of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. This life is a constant effort to become more like the Savior. As we turn to the Lord for help, for support, and for forgiveness, we will be able to be changed by grace. We will be able to change and be able to be more like Christ. I know that to be true. I hope and pray that y'all will continue to turn to the Lord with any doubt, struggle, pain, sadness, and anything else. He is there to help you. And when we mess up, use the Atonement. If you want to show appreciation and gratitude for what the Lord did for us, then use the Atonement, use what he's freely given to us. I know my Savior lives, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

I hope this week is a great and fun week for y'all! Until next time! God Speed!

Elder Houssian
Dinner with the recent converts! 

 The door-knocker had "Heaven" engraved on it #knockknockknockingonheavensdoor

Work hard, rest hard

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Week #48

Howdy y'all! Man this week flew by! I hope this week has been a great one for y'all! Congrats to all those who have/are about to graduate, and enjoy no school! I've officially been out for 11 months. It's crazy! Time is flying by and I don't know what to do with myself. This week has been a super busy week, but miracles have happened and the work is progressing here in Vegas!

First off, we had the baptism of the Tso family on Saturday! They are such a sweet family, and they have progressed a ton! So Ginger (the mom) has a sister, Carmelita, in one of the other wards we cover. Carmelita and her family were baptized a few months ago. When they were taking the lessons and were baptized, Ginger could see the change that the gospel brought into her sister's family, and she wanted the same for her kids! So she started having the missionaries come over and teach her and her family, and a month and a few weeks later Ginger, Kyler, and Kaleb are now baptized and confirmed as members of the Church! It was a wonderful experience and the Spirit was felt strongly by all who attended the service!

Also on Saturday, we were able to participate in the baptism of a 9 year old named Mike! He has been taught by the sister missionaries, and being new to the ward they are in, they didn't know too many people. So Mike's mom told the sisters that she wanted elders to do all of the Priesthood parts of the service, and she asked me to baptize Mike. It was the first time I had ever baptized anybody. It was such a surreal experience. I wish I could explain how I felt during the ordinance. It was such a testimony-building experience, and something that I will never forget.

We had a really cool experience at church this past Sunday. With it being fast Sunday, it was a testimony meeting. At one point, this one lady named Nicole, who was visiting the Ajayi family, got up and bore her testimony. It was a powerful testimony, and after the meeting was over we went and talked to her and thanked her for her testimony, and came to find out that she wasn't a member of the church and it was her first time attending an LDS service! So crazy! She wanted to start taking the lessons as well, which is awesome!

My thought this week isn't a spiritual thought but a challenge! So we had dinner with this awesome family, the Colledge's. They're like 25 and 22 and are here for the summer for an internship. While we were eating and talking with them, Brother Colledge told us about this challenge he was given on his mission. It's call 30 minutes for 30 days. He told us that his Mission President's wife gave him this challenge, and then told us what it was. So, for 30 days in a row, when you say your prayers you pray for 30 minutes. WHAT. I was blown away haha and he said it was definitely tough, but it changed his world. And starting today, I am going to take that challenge on, and I want to challenge y'all to do the same. I know the power of prayer is real. I know God hears our prayers and answers them in His time and according to His will. I know that if we pray with faith and then act on the answers we receive, we will be blessed and will continue to grow closer to our Father in Heaven. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

Let the games begin! Haha I hope y'all join me in this challenge. It will be hard, but I firmly believe it will change your life. If y'all end up taking it on, send me an email about how it goes throughout the 30 days. I want to hear about your experiences and thoughts! Until next week y'all! God speed!

Elder Houssian

 Mike's baptism
 Tso family Baptism
Summer is here . . . .