Monday, August 25, 2014

What I've learned this week

This week has seemed really long because a lot has happened. With S just getting baptized we've been meeting with her pretty much every day to give her the new member lessons (basically just reteach her the lessons) and her whole family decided to sit in on them too! When we went over to teach her the first one she made her kids join and all their friends who were there came too, so we had 8 people we were teaching, haha! Her daughter really likes it and even came to church yesterday and said she'd come next week! It's awesome to see what a great spirit S's decision to be baptized brought to her whole family!

On a less exciting note, one of our investigators got taken by CPS Tuesday. I guess it's good that he's away from his parents who were horrible examples and didn't really care about him and his siblings. We think he's in a foster home in Brady now, which is still in our mission so hopefully we'll be able to get the missionaries there to find him and help him out.

We found out that J, who was in jail out of state, got let out, but still has to stay up there until her court date. So that's really good, but she's been having a rough time away from home. Hopefully this will help her to start coming to church again (she's been somewhat less-active for a little while now) and she'll start making better decisions (we think she might have gotten back into drugs). Her cousin who went to jail with her (and worships Satan and does drugs) most likely isn't coming back because she wasn't even supposed to leave the state because of her probation, which is probably good because she wasn't the best influence on J.

I hope everything is going well with everyone who reads this. And remember it's ok to have questions about your faith, but remember to search for the answers in the right sources (the scriptures and God/prayer). But don't let those questions get in the way of what you already know. Always remember what you have a testimony in even when those questions/doubts arise. If your testimony is rooted in Jesus Christ and you've felt the spirit testify on His gospel and church, you don't need to understand everything about His doctrine. We all learn little by little at our own pace. That's what I've learned this week. I love you all and remember that God does too!

-Elder Carlson

Monday, August 18, 2014

First Baptism!!!!!!!!!!

This week was fantastic! It was kind of hectic getting everything ready for S's baptism because neither Elder Christensen or I have ever planned someone's baptism. We got everything figured out though and it was such a great service! I got to baptize and Elder Christensen confirmed her.
The font was a lot cleaner than before the last baptism which was really good. This time we just had to sweep out some of the dead bugs and dirt before we filled it. Hopefully it'll be used a lot more frequently from now on so it doesn't get as nasty as it was.
Nothing else too big happened this week and I'm having trouble remembering everything that happened, haha. We went to Plains to meet with the P's (a part-member family we're teaching) which was awesome because we can hardly ever get out of Seminole to do anything because we don't have a car. Luckily a member could drive us out there. We've been pushing for a car here because as much as I love riding bikes (sarcasm added), we can't cover our whole area because we have like four more cities we're supposed to cover that are impossible to get to on bikes and the members who do live in Seminole can't drive us a lot of the time (especially since all of those cities are at least a half hour drive).

We have a new elder in Lamesa because Elder Ross went home (I'm not sure if I told you that was his last transfer). His name is Elder Heninger and he's from Alberta, Canada. I met him Sunday and he's pretty cool. I had to teach Sunday School again this week with Elder Christensen, but at least it's not in spanish so I can actually understand what's going on. At church Sister A was talking with us and mentioned that her husband said he's ready to be baptized. We kind of freaked out inside because he's been coming to church for a long time and has had all the missionary lessons about a thousand times but for some reason has never been baptized. When we've talked to him before he said he just hasn't received an answer it's true. We're going to meet with their family tonight, so we're hoping that goes well.
I'm so lucky to be serving here while so many of these miracles are happening! I was struggling for a while wondering why I was sent to Texas of all places, but I know now that it doesn't matter where I am as long as I'm doing my best to do the Lord's work. He can work through me to touch any of His children and bring them to Him as long as I do my part. Unfortunately I can't do my part perfectly but I'm doing my best and am doing better at it than I ever have. I hope each of you can continue to improve yourselves every day and fulfill a little more of your full potential all the time. President Heap said a while ago that a mission shouldn't be the best two years of your life, but the best two years of your life so far. Every day can be better than the last.
-Elder Carlson

Monday, August 11, 2014

Baptism next week!!

This week was good but seemed really long for some reason. S came to church this week and is doing great on quitting smoking! Today will be her 9th day without a smoke. She also had her baptismal interview yesterday and it went great. I'm so excited because she's getting baptized next week! She's so solid, but the adversary is going to work hard on her so it'd be great if y'all could pray for her.
The bad part about this week is the K family didn't come to church and when we texted them to invite them again, they said their dad doesn't want to come to our church anymore. We haven't been by yet to talk to them since then. It makes me sad when people hold others back from accepting the tremendous blessing of the gospel. I can tell the whole family likes our message and is willing to at least give it a chance but their dad is holding them back. Also, there's a boy who we've been teaching and really wants to be baptized but his home life is really messed up and his parents are telling us not to talk to us because we're Mormons. She even threw away his Book of Mormon. We've actually started talking with all their children now and they're all interested, but we can't even talk to their parents because they avoid us at all costs.
There's been quite a bit of excitement with one of our members. We've started teaching his brother and his wife. He has been taught the lessons before but stopped investigating for some reason, so hopefully they'll be more open to it this time. Also, his wife went out of town to help one of her friends move to Missouri. We woke up one morning to get a text that she was in the hospital there! I think they found someone to come give her a blessing and she's ok now but then Sunday we got a text that she's now in jail there! That's been pretty intense hearing about all this stuff happening to her without being able to do anything about it.
Sunday was pretty great. I finally got to get a break from going to Spanish Sunday School because Elder Hansen decided to go with him this week. So I was excited to actually be able to understand the lesson for once, but then found out like a minute before class that I had to teach it with Elder Ross. It actually went really well. It was on the Lord's law of health from Gospel Principles. I think you learn a lot more when you're the teacher because I really learned a lot and enjoyed it a lot.
We got transfer calls Saturday night. We' re both staying in Seminole. Elder Christensen is happy about that because tomorrow's his birthday and he didn't really want to spend his whole birthday on the transfer bus. Anyway, this week should be fantastic because we get to plan S's baptism, which I'm so excited for.
One thing that's helped me this week is that all we need to do is give our best. If we give Christ all we can, He will make it enough. Just like he was able to take what little food that young boy had and make it enough for the multitude. I love you all and never forget that God does too, no matter what.

-Elder Carlson

Monday, August 4, 2014

Seeing miracles

Elder Christensen and Elder Carlson
This week was a really great one. We had 8 investigators at church!! It was awesome! The Mennonite family finally came because we taught them on Saturday and really stressed church attendance and how that's one of the fruits by which you can know whether this church is true. It was a great week for them to come too because testimony meetings always have such a strong spirit and this weeks was just amazing. Everyone talked about how they know this church is true and I think it really helped them. I can't wait to meet with them again and see what they thought about it.

Also, we were having a branch fast this week that our branch will grow and it has been so amazing. Before we even had the fast we've had three new active families move in. Then that couple I told you about were baptized. And now that family came to church and that bumped us up to 72 people at church this week which this branch has never been able to do without anyone from the stake there. We're very hopeful that we can finally hit 100 people in the branch and can finally become a ward!
S finally set a baptism date! We've been trying to get her to set a date because she knows it's true and has even been calling herself a Mormon but she didn't feel like she knew enough to be baptized. Then we go on exchanges and she sets one while I'm in Lamesa! But I'm just glad she's finally set that goal. We still have to work with her a little because she's been working on quitting smoking and she didn't come to church this week (that's kind of a long story), but she's really solid.

Exchanges were fun. I went to Lamesa, Texas with Elder Ross(he looks quite a bit like Kevin James if I haven't mentioned that before) and Elders Christensen and Hansen(our district leader) stayed in Seminole. I liked Lamesa. It's a little bigger than Seminole but there aren't many members there so they're in the Seminole Branch too. It was nice to have a car too and get a break from biking, haha. We mostly did morning finding while we were there, but we also gave L a blessing because he's been pretty sick lately. We also got to sit down with this guy we morning found and taught him the whole restoration lesson! It went really well and they're still teaching him, so hopefully he'll keep progressing and accept the gospel.

I think that's about it, but this was a fantastic week!! The Lord is definitely helping us along here and we're seeing miracles. A while ago it was unheard of to teach any Mennonites but now they came to church and hopefully felt that spirit and have the desire to come back. I love the gospel and I'm so grateful for the privilege to be here helping to hasten the Lord's work.

Love, Elder Carlson

Pioneer Day Celebration and Spiders!

This week has gone by so fast but it's been great! We finally had an investigator come to church! She's been planning on coming for a while, but things always come up. We forgot to tell her that church is three hours, haha, but she still loved it and is planning on coming again next week! We still need to help her with the Word of Wisdom a bit before she can be baptized and she doesn't feel like she knows enough about the church to be baptized anyway. She has received an answer that this is true, though, and so I think it's just a matter of time until she feels that desire to be baptized.
That tarantula in my pictures was right outside of the church (which is right down the street from our apartment)! Luckily we haven't had any in our apartment, but Elder Christensen saw a black widow on the outside of our window once. We'll definitely keep our windows and door shut because I don't want any of those in my bed.
(Brian took a traveling gnome to take pics with on his mission! You can see how big the spider was compared to it.) 

We actually did have a pioneer day celebration here, which was weird. I guess a while ago someone moved here from utah and gave the branch here that idea. Elder Christensen and I helped with it and invited our investigators but none showed up, but a couple less active families came, which was great! They made us cut the watermelon (which I found out I suck at, haha) and we got dutch oven cobbler at the end. It was really fun!
We had zone training in Hobbes on wednesday before the pioneer day thing. It was really good and I got to see some of the elders I came out with because there's a couple in my zone.

We talked about a lot of things but one of the things that stuck out to me was how we are called of God and even though what we say isn't perfect, the spirit will testify of it and make it so our investigators can understand if they have an open heart. All we need to do is bring that spirit and he'll do the rest.
Elder Carlson