Friday, June 24, 2016

And he's home! - sweet reunion!!

Final week!!

Well, I could probably just tell you everything that happened this week when I get home, but I'll at least tell you a little bit. We were blessed to be able to go to the temple to do baptisms for the dead with H this week. The Dallas temple is a beautiful building (even though the traffic to get to it was kind of nuts). It was such a refresher to be in the House of the Lord again and H said it was a wonderful experience. I hope he continues to get opportunities to go often.

We participated this week in the Community Rehab Project that they have annually here in Comanche. We were placed with a group of other Christian youth and a youth pastor and we all worked on fixing up a house in De Leon (one of our out-lying towns). It was a lot of fun to work and feel the spirit with them. From this experience, my testimony was strengthened of what Sis. Oscarson said this last conference: "this Church is more than just a good place to go on Sundays and learn how to be a good person. It is more than just a lovely Christian social club where we can associate with people of good moral standing. It is not just a great set of ideas that parents can teach their children at home so they will be responsible, nice people. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is infinitely more than all of these things." They were great kids and we learned truth together, but as we participate in priesthood ordinances, the power of godliness is felt to such a higher degree.

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and I love His church. I love the work I've been engaged in these two years and I will miss being a full-time teacher. I do know, though, that the work of saving souls will be wherever I go in the world and I can continue to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord every day.

Elder Carlson

Monday, June 13, 2016

Go on an errand for the Lord

It's been a good week. We got five new investigators. One of them is the father-in-law/husband of a family we've been teaching. So now we're teaching the whole family, which we're super excited about because that's what the gospel's all about: families. The wife and the two boys came to church yesterday. We were very excited about that, but they were our only investigators that came this week.

We've also been meeting with a girl named M this week. She just graduated high-school and is a pretty typical teenage girl, but is very sincere in wanting to learn and even wants to be baptized. We set a date with her, but will have to move it because she didn't come to church.

There's been a couple people we've talked to this week who have let us into their homes and tried to Bible-bash with us. I dislike when people try to bash because the Spirit is never there. We simply bear testimony and try to encourage them to pray. "Some things can only be learned by faith," as Elder Oaks says.

We also had interviews with President Heap this week on Thursday, which is bike day, which meant we had to bike to the church in our suits in the heat. It seems like they're always on Thursdays, haha. During mine, President shared something pretty neat with me in Alma 26:1-3. He said it was a mission reunion and the mission president, Ammon, is asking the question, "What blessing did we get while on our missions?" He answers for them and tells them, "that we have been made instruments in the hands of God". And I believe that's a blessing that doesn't only apply to full-time missionaries. All of us can have the tremendous blessing of being an instrument in God's hands and we pray for and search for opportunities to serve every day.

I love you all and hope that you can go on an errand for the Lord this week and make a difference in someone's life.

Elder Carlson

"Where is your faith?"

It has been a very wet week. Yes, we've gotten a lot of rain and there's a bunch of flooding. Not too much in Comanche, but there's a lake near us, Lake Proctor, which is way flooded and a couple of the bridges out near it are completely flooded over. We were told by a member who drove out there they saw some people just sitting in the road at the edge of the water fishing. We've only had problems with the flooding when we've gone out of town to try and visit some less active members. On some of the county roads, we're basically driving trough a river.

We had a really good, productive week, I think. We had four investigators committed to come to church this week, but only one ended up coming; G. We were super happy that G came to church and the branch just took him under their wings. Unfortunately, H didn't come this week because of car troubles, but I'm not sure if I told you that he got the priesthood last week! We were super excited about that, but were sad this week because he didn't get the opportunity to pass the sacrament yet.

This week in the My Plan course I'm taking to prepare me for going home, I watched part of a talk by Elder Andersen. He talks about a man who reads a talk by Pres. Kimball about how God wants us to start a family. He goes to talk to Pres. Kimball about this. After Pres. Kimball listens to his excuses of not going to be able to provide for children and how he needs to finish going to go to school to become a doctor before him and his wife will have kids, the prophet looks at him and says, "Brother, where is your faith?!" Needless to say, they had their first kid about a year later. But I learned from that how important our actions are in determining how much faith we have. Faith without works is dead and even if we can't see the end result, if we have faith, we'll still move forward according to what God's told us. I feel like those investigators that didn't come to church simply didn't have strong enough faith, but that's why we're here; to help them strengthen their faith. We're all constantly making decisions each day that either strengthen or weaken our faith. So we might as well act on what we know is right and trust that everything will turn out all right.

I love you all!

-Elder Carlson

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

One step at a time.

It's been a long week and it feels like a lot has happened, but no t very much at the same time. I guess that's how my entire mission's felt so far, but I'm still not used to it, haha. We had zone training in San Angelo this week and exchanges with the ZLs before hand so we were in San Angelo from Monday night to most of the way through Wednesday. I feel so isolated in Comanche that it's always weird going to San Angelo, which seems so huge to me now. I'll probably die back in Utah because it will seem so big and busy.

We had a really neat lesson with our investigator B this week that went along great with what we learned at zone training about "The Role of the Holy Ghost in Conversion". We went over and right off the bat she was asking questions about concerns she had about Joseph Smith and such. But that's not what she needed to hear apparently. The Spirit led us to just focus on praying about the Book of Mormon and about what the BoM is. The Spirit was strong and it definitely seemed to help her a lot even thought we didn't directly answer any of her initial questions. It just goes to show how God knows us each individually and knows exactly what we need even though we might not.

I want to share a quote Pres. Heap shared with us last week from Pres. Monson. "In the search for our best selves, several questions will guide our thinking: Am I what I want to be? Am I closer to the Savior today than I was yesterday? Will I be closer yet tomorrow? Do I have the courage to change for the better?" I know as we strive to be more Christ-like, God will help us and strengthen us, but don't get too wrapped up in what we can improve on. Satan tries to flood us with those thoughts and so we lose focus on the one thing God is trying to help us achieve. One step at a time is how I believe God works at making us perfect.

Elder Carlson

P.S. I don't think I told y'all that Elder Felts and I saw fire-flies last week for the first time in our lives! Now we've seen them almost every day since and they are so cool!! There's been a ton of rain (we just got back today from Brownwood, where it's flooding a bunch), which is probably part of the reason there's so many of them.

Monday, May 23, 2016


It's been a great week! Everything went well for H's baptism. I didn't mess up doing it in Spanish. A lot of members came and even an investigator, G, came. The sister missionaries in Salt Lake who first contacted H when he referred himself to the Church skyped so they could see his baptism too. The Spirit was really strong.

Not a ton of super exciting things happened this week other than that. We had a really good lesson with our investigator B on Tuesday. She is a very strong Baptist and so has had a hard time wrapping her head around our beliefs about the priesthood and prophets. We read a lot of scripture with her as we taught about priesthood and the apostasy. I know the scriptures are the word of God. They teach His doctrine so simply and beautifully. It really is a blessing to have them and to be able to study them so often. B just has to keep reading and praying and she'll get her answer. I am so grateful for that promise we're given that if we pray in the name of Christ, we will receive an answer.

I love you all and hope your week goes well and you learn the lessons God is trying to show you.

Elder Carlson

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Baptizing in Spanish

Lots of teaching this week (especially H to prepare him for his baptism. He's still doing great and on track for being baptized on Thursday. I still need to prepare for it because I'm the one who's going to baptize him, but we're doing it in Spanish... We'll see if I can remember how to say it. We've also been able to see a lot of our other investigators recently as well. We have one investigator, J, who we set a baptismal date with for June 4th! She is a really kind lady, but is really busy, so it's hard to meet with her often sometimes. We read through 2 Nephi 31 with her and she understood it really well. She has trouble reading, but it truly is amazing how simply the Book of Mormon teaches the gospel. I am so grateful Nephi "glories in plainness".

I don't have too much to say for this week, but I want you all to know that I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. If we live it, it is the best and most joyful way of life. We need to be committed to it and continue to proactively live those principles and participate in it's ordinances. That is the way we "come unto Christ".

Elder Carlson

Monday, May 9, 2016

Put God first

It really was great to see you all yesterday! I told you already about our sweet lesson with H where we taught him the Restoration, Plan of Salvation, Gospel of Jesus Christ, Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity, and Law of Tithing, plus we set a baptismal date with him for May 19th! He really is amazingly prepared to receive the gospel. You can definitely tell a difference between someone who is sincerely seeking for truth and someone who doesn't really care.

We did also have a good lesson with G this week, too. We taught him the Plan of Salvation and he really understands when we teach him. He's just very hesitant to commit to come to church and to be baptized. He's studied a lot of different churches and is a little leery of committing whole heartedly to one just yet.

Also, I forgot to tell y'all that on Sunday at church we had 3 investigators and a less-active family who hasn't been in about 4 years come! It was a great meeting (despite the fact that I had to give a talk). S is the daughter of Sh and they are both really great. S usually comes to mutual and has been to church before, but it was a big step for Sh to come. Hopefully we can set a baptismal date with them soon as well.

I love you all and am very happy to hear about the things happening in your lives. I want you all to know the gospel is true. Even though life gets hard and hectic sometimes, if we put God first, it will all be for our good. But it's a continual process we need to go through and live.

Elder Carlson

Loving Comanche!

I really love Comanche! There are some amazing things happening here. This week we got a media referral for a guy named H. We called him right when we got his number, but didn't get to meet him until Sunday. He is from Mexico and had met with missionaries for a couple months over there. He came to church, even though he doesn't speak much English, and when he introduced himself he talked about how he knows the church is true and he wants to be baptized! He can only meet with us on Thursday, though, so we haven't set a date with him yet and don't know if there's anything more we need to work on with him.

We also got a new investigator on Saturday. We knocked into G a couple weeks ago and he talked about how he's been studying the Bible a lot and felt like he was like the children of Israel when they started turning away from God so he's trying to change his life. When we taught him he was very receptive and understood the Restoration very well. He's a little hesitant about baptism, but he knows he will need to be if he gains an answer about the BoM.

On Friday I made a big mistake. The W's took us out to this restaurant called "Cook's". They have all-you-can-eat steak and catfish. They usually take all the missionaries there at least once while they're in Comanche and we have a competition to see how much steak we can eat. I ate 3; Elder Felts ate about 3 1/2. We both almost exploded. Never eat that much meat in one sitting. It's not wise.

Something neat that I've learned this week comes from Moroni 6:4. Moroni talks about Christ as being "the author and finisher of [our] faith". A lot of people we talk to feel like they can decide what's true for them. Whatever path they decide to walk, as long as they say they accept Christ, they're good. But if He truly is the author of our faith, He should be the one who decides how we should live our lives. And that's what the gospel is. Christ is teaching us how to live our lives to be on His team, to receive a fullness of joy, and live with our Heavenly Father again. I know that it's only through Christ and His gospel that we receive those blessings.

Elder Carlson

Monday, April 25, 2016

Pictures in Comanche


So this week after district meeting we went on exchanges with the elders in Brady. They both came here to Comanche with us so we were able to do a lot of work. We got two new investigators that day along with another new investigator (who I told you about talking to last week) later in the week. So it's been a pretty productive week I'd say. One of them is a lady named B. She is a Baptist and has gone on some humanitarian mission trips for her church. Elder Felts and Elder Walston taught her on exchanges, but from what I heard, it was an amazing lesson and she is super prepared to hear the gospel.

We did quite a bit of service this week too. It was the first week since we've been here that we finally hit our goal of 10 hours of service. A lot of it was for Sis. M who's in our branch. The missionaries before us broke her riding lawn-mower so we had to fix it. They had told her the drive belt had broken, so we took it all apart to replace the belt and found out it wasn't broken at all. So we put it all back together  and found out the only problem was that a pin that holds the belt on one of the pulleys was bent... It was a lot of fun, though, and after we mowed her lawn with it.

We also did some more service for the museum here in Comanche by moving some furniture for them from the library to the museum. Another place we like to do service at here is "Caring for Comanche". It's kind of like a thrift store but they give a lot of the clothes away to those who are in need. Some of the churches in town are assigned a week when members of their churches come and volunteer to be the ones who run the place. Since most of them are older, we do a lot of taking out trash and moving around the heavy bags of clothes. It was pretty neat this week because the church that was volunteering was the Eastside Baptist Church. I'm not sure if I told y'all that we went to a revival at that church a couple weeks ago (we were invited by an investigator) but because we went, some of the people there recognized us from that.

I know that this truly is the Lord's work. This is Christ's true church and it holds the fullness of His gospel. I love serving the Lord and am honored to hold His holy priesthood.

Elder Carlson

Monday, April 18, 2016

Service and Finding

This week has been full of service and finding. We have been meeting a lot of people, but it's difficult to meet consistently with them. I think making and keeping appointments is a forgotten art in todays world, haha. One day, when we were knocking an apartment complex here, we were talking to this guy about prayer. He was talking about how he never asks for anything like a TV or something he wants. It reminded me of what it says about prayer in the Bible Dictionary: "Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other." As I taught him that, it really stuck out to me. Our will is really the only thing that is uniquely ours that we can give to the Lord. If we are truly praying with real intent then we are wrestling to pull our wills in line with our Father's.

We've done quite a bit of service this week too. When the first missionaries got to Comanche about 3 years ago, we were told, there was not a very warm welcome. So many people had pre-conceived notions about who the Mormons are and how horrible people they are. Doing service was key to opening the hearts of the people here. Now when we go to places like the museum, the dog shelter, or chamber of commerce, we hear a lot of praise of past missionaries and what they've done. Service truly is the gospel in action and can change people's hearts.

I love you all. The gospel is true and was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. Remember how blessed we are to have the blessings of the priesthood in our lives including the opportunity to participate in priesthood ordinances. Never take those or any restored truths of the gospel for granted.

Elder Carlson

Last Zone Conference

This week has gone by so fast. Part of the reason might have been because we were in San Angelo for a couple days. We had zone conference on Thursday and went on exchanges with the zone leaders after that until partway through Friday. The change of feel between big cities and small towns is so different. I'm still getting used to being in a small town where there isn't usually lots of people out to talk to.

We got to meet with a man named M this week. I'm not sure if I told you about meeting him last week.  He is very open and it was one of the best lessons I've ever had. He really understood the restoration and the need for it. He really wanted to come to church, but had to work. He also committed to be baptized and we'll set a date with him next time we meet with him.

I had to bear my departing testimony at zone conference because it was my last one on the mission. It makes it seem like it's almost over, which just makes me want to make every moment count from now on. I love doing missionary work! I've grown so much and there's nothing better then feeling the Spirit work with you and seeing how the gospel changes people. I love you all and pray you will continue to let the gospel change you every day.

Elder Carlson

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Eventful week!!

So it's been an eventful week. A lot has happened. Comanche is a neat little town and Elder Felts and I are both amazed at how green it is here. Elder Felts is new to Comanche this transfer as well, but served in Abilene previously, which isn't too far away. Even so, it's still the greenest place we've seen on our missions. I also noticed when I first got here that it's a lot more humid than Roswell, which isn't hard to do. 

Tuesday (transfer day) was long. We had to leave the Roswell chapel at 7:00 NM time for Hobbs. I was there until 4:00 NM time when I left with a member and was dropped from member to member from Hobbs to Odessa to Big Spring to Abilene. I got to Abilene at 9:30 TX time (which is 8:30 NM time) so we stayed the night and first thing in the morning drove to Comanche. 

When we got here, the first people we met were the W's. They are a very kind member family who basically take on the role of parents to the missionaries. They feed us almost every day. All of the members here are great. There's only about 13-14 members that come actively. We spent the first couple days trying to meet a lot of them. 

Elder Felts is from Logan, Utah and has been out for a while as well. He came out about two transfers behind me. He's a ginger. He's a really good guy and I think we'll get along great while we're companions. He was also companions with my trainer, Elder Christensen, so we both have some funny stories to tell each other about him.

My time in Comanche I can already tell will be eventful. Our second day, we were out knocking some doors to finish up the day. At the last house we decided to knock, the door was open and they just had the outer glass door shut. There was a man in a recliner who looked over at us when we knocked. As he got up I saw him reach over to the table and grab something that he put behind his back as he answered the door. He opened it a crack and just stared at us, so I start in with our finding approach. As I'm talking, he puts his hand one the door frame and I finally see that what he grabbed was a big, curved knife. He didn't get to use it, though, because he suddenly and unexpectedly fell, face first, toward us. Elder Felts tried to catch him, but the man fell to the porch and hit his head on the metal pillar thing on the corner of the porch. His wife runs out to find his head bleeding and with a finger with a compound fracture. The first thing this man says when he comes to is, "Get me a cigarette!" So he laid on the porch and smoked until the ambulance arrived.

Well, that's my Comanche story for y'all so far. There will probably be a lot more where that came from. I love you all and hope your week goes wonderfully! 

Elder Carlson

Monday, March 28, 2016

Transferred to Comanche, TX

So I'll start out by talking about transfers because there's a lot of new stuff. I am being moved to Comanche, TX (from the far west of the mission to the farthest east, haha). I'll be a district leader with my companion Elder Felts.  I also think we're white-washing the area. Here in Roswell Zone they are making Elder Wardell (who was a DL) the other zone leader with Elder Woodland. They're also moving them to Rio Hondo ward and the sisters are moving to Linda Vista.
It's been a really good week. We got a couple new investigators and got to go on an exchange with the assistants in Lubbock. We did a lot of contacting people on Tech campus, which is very different from missionary work I'm used to. There's just so many people there.

On Easter Sunday, it was a very spirit filled day. We had church and since it was fast Sunday and all of the elders are leaving the ward, Bishop wanted us to all bear our testimonies. We did plus there was a beautiful musical number sung by one of the members. One of our new investigators, A, we met with that day. She is Hindu and is originally from India. We had a very spiritual lesson with her watching the #Hallelujah video and teaching her about the atonement. Then we had dinner with another member family and they invited non-member friends over. It was a lot of teaching and testifying of Christ and His Atonement. The meaning and promises of Easter is beautiful and I am so grateful our Savior, Jesus Christ endured the will of the Father and made it possible for us to find new life.


Elder Carlson

Monday, March 21, 2016


I don't even know where to start. It's been a good week, but really busy getting everything ready for R's baptism. We had her baptismal interview on Tuesday. We were still a little hesitant on moving her baptism forward, but on Wednesday we had a really spiritual lesson with her and knew that it would be good for her baptism to happen on the 19th. So despite the extra work it took, we got everything ready and her baptism went great! (I'll send some pictures) It was very spiritual and there was a lot of support from the ward.
Another thing that added some hectic-ness to our week was a last minute zone conference on Wednesday night. It was kind of crazy setting it up the day before and trying to fit it around mutual, but it was a really good meeting. It was about the new Easter initiative, which I'm so excited about! I love these initiatives because they bring the Spirit so quickly and make doing missionary work so easy and Christ centered, just how it's supposed to be.
Recently, throughout the mission we've been focusing on the basic principles of missionary work and simply working on making our training meetings more focused on training and practicing those basic skills. Since starting that about 5 weeks ago, it's been amazing the change there's been. The mission went from about 2-3 convert baptisms a week on average to there being 15 convert baptisms these last two weeks! The basic principles of the gospel are so important and if we focus on those and simply strive to understand and apply those most basic aspects into our lives, the Lord can trust us and He will provide. If we choose to do things our way, we're left to "kick against the pricks", but doing things the Lord's way assures us His help and miracles.
I love you all and pray that you will remember Christ and the beautiful message of Easter, that "He is not here: for He is risen." Because of that miracle, we can find new life through Jesus Christ.
Elder Carlson


It's been a really fun week! Tuesday we went up to Ruidoso for district meeting and then just stayed up there in Mescalero for exchanges. I love that place so much! Every time I go up there I realize how amazing mountains are. The drive up from Roswell is almost surreal because I'm not used to mountains anymore, haha. We had to leave early on Wednesday to get back for interviews with President Heap, but we came back up on Friday to interview one of their investigators for baptism.

Sunday was a crazy day, too, but really enjoyable. We had to wake up extra early (and not only because of the time change). There was a new high councilor called for the Fort Sumner Branch named Bro Logan, and he's really pumped about missionary work up there. He's going to start driving us up there two weekends a month for Saturday and Sunday. So yesterday we got to go up there with him for church. During sacrament meeting a sister did a musical number where she played her guitar and sang, which was really good and brought the spirit very strong. Something like that would only happen in a place like Fort Sumner, though, haha.

We got to make it to the last hour of church in Roswell, too, and right when we got there R told us she had decided to be baptized on the 19th rather than wait until the 26th. In our lesson on Saturday, Elder Woodland brought up jokingly to move it to the 19th, but she was super excited about that, so we invited her to pray about it. So now this week will be hectic trying to prepare her for it and get everything ready, but I'm kind of happy it got moved up. She's super excited and was telling everyone at church about it.

I want to share a quote I learned from Elder May in Borger, but the principle it teaches I've been very impressed with this week. Winston Churchill said, "To every man there comes that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a special thing fitted to his talent. What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the work which would be his finest hour." And then Pres. Monson said, "When the time to act arrives, the time to prepare is over." I encourage you all to prepare yourselves. Keep God's commandments, learn to recognize and follow promptings of the Holy Ghost, and stay worthy by making the right choices day to day (even if they are small decisions) to fulfill the work the Lord has in store for you. I love you all. Have a great week!

Elder Carlson

Improving training meetings

This week has seemed long because a lot has happened but at the same time it feels like it's flown by. Tuesday we had zone training. Throughout the mission we are focusing on improving the productivity of our training meetings (district meeting, zone training, etc.). Rather than the leader getting up there and giving a sermon/teaching the whole time, we are now focusing on role playing and practicing the skills being taught. That way it's more us learning and applying skills like it should be. So we focused on recognizing and relying on the Holy Ghost when we teach. I feel like God's been trying to teach me that a lot recently. I need to get better at and put more focus into recognizing when the Holy Ghost is speaking to me. As a missionary, the Lord blesses me with His spirit so abundantly in order to do His work. Anyone who is fully engaged in His work receives a more abundant portion of the Spirit.
We've also been meeting with R every day this week almost to get her ready for her baptism. Yesterday at church we were talking about the Holy Ghost in Gospel Principles and she shared a really neat, powerful experience. On Saturday we taught her about fasting because the next day was fast Sunday and so she decided to fast for her husband to get off probation in Texas soon so he could move to Roswell with her and their family. It really hit her that night how hard it was to be a single mother, but as she prayed she felt the Lord's Spirit telling her to just hang in there and keep going. I know the Lord loves us and that He sends the miraculous gift of His Spirit to show us the great  magnitude of that love.
We also started teaching a couple named M and J. They are very kind and sincere and asked a lot of questions during our lesson (missionaries love questions). J is very passionate about modesty and loves that the Church is "old fashioned" as well. They will make great Mormons, haha. We also taught the institute class at NMMI yesterday. One of the cadets has been bringing non-member friends and a couple of them are interested in learning about the church.
Overall we have been blessed this week and we are going to get to go up to Mescalero on exchanges this week! I'm way excited! I love you all and hope that you will feel an increased measure of the Spirit as you strive to serve the Lord.
Elder Carlson

Monday, February 29, 2016


 with Elder Farmer

with Elder Woodland

Elder Carlson with his most recent 3 companions, ha ha!


It's been a really good and busy week with a lot of teaching and business to take care of. We submitted our ideas to Pres. Heap for the new areas and we're going to move a companionship to Carlsbad next transfer so there's a companionship in every ward in Roswell and Carlsbad. For now, we are splitting the new ward, Linda Vista Ward, with another companionship (the elders that were in 1st ward) because in our ward there's the biggest chunk of city so more people to try to teach. It is really hard to change, and I've definitely seen a lot of people taking this change pretty hard. Since we're in the new ward and we meet at 1:00, there's a lot of people I'm sure don't come that should. It's neat how we've talked a lot as a mission about repentance, which is change, and how to repent is the purpose of this life (Alma 34:32-34); then this big change happens and we have to deal with a lot of people who resist this change so adamantly.
I'm not sure if I told y'all about our investigator, R.  She is a young mother who is roommates with a less active member, C. When we went over to give C a blessing she requested, R expressed interest in the church and being baptized. We've taught her a lot this past week and she even came to church! She's planning on being baptized on March 26th! Another investigator that we gained just this week is J. We were walking down the street contacting, when he pulled up and yelled, "Are y'all Mormons?" He had met with missionaries for about two years in Farmington, NM before he moved here and now wants to start coming to church again.
I've been studying a lot recently about the role of the Holy Ghost in conversion in preparation for zone training this week. One thing I've learned is in 1 Nephi 17:7-13, when Nephi is commanded to build a boat. In there the Lord points out how the purpose for Nephi building the boat is so the Lord can carry His people to the promised land. The Lord is also their light in the wilderness and makes their food sweet. The only thing Nephi and his family does is pray and seek inspiration, keep the commandments, and provide the physical labor (like hunting or building the ship). Similarly in our lives, we need to do things in the Lord's way. If we try to take charge, there's no way we're going to make it to our promised land, but as we seek inspiration every day and live worthily, we will succeed in any endeavor the Lord would have us do.
I love you all and pray that you will embrace the changes and obstacles that come in your lives with positive attitudes and child-like obedience.
Elder Carlson

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The importance of Love!

So the rest of this week has been a little hectic as well. The work never ends. On Thursday night we left for Lubbock. This time the district leaders were invited as well so we all squeezed into our little truck. And to make things even more fun, our three DLs are pretty big guys. On the trip there I had to squeeze in between two of them in the back so one of them could have shotgun. We stayed the night on Thursday and had MLC on Friday. It was different than usual because we all split up into different mock district meetings and the assistants demonstrated how to do one so we could all learn how to improve our training meetings we do. Then we split up a couple different times to receive different instructions.
The weekend didn't stop being crazy after that, though. We had stake conference this weekend and Pres. Heap wanted to meet with our whole zone before on Sunday morning, so one of our district leaders stayed the day Saturday to save on miles. This stake conference was exciting for everyone because they split the two wards in Roswell into three and did the same in Carlsbad. And since we know the area better than President, it's the zone leaders' responsibility to figure out how to change the missionary areas.
One thing I learned about at MLC was about the importance of love in leadership. We make the biggest influence in the lives of others when they can feel how much we care about them. We can learn from the scriptures (the 1st vision, when Samuel's called, etc.) how an important Godly attribute is remembering people's names. When you take time to understand little things in people's live, they know how much you care about them.
But this week we've been able to get missionary work done, too, don't be deceived by me talking about all our traveling. One neat person we're working with is M. We found him knocking, but a long time ago, when he was sick in the hospital, he came in contact with some missionaries. They came by and offered to give him a blessing. His family allowed them to (he was unconscious) and soon after that, he recovered and said that God was with him the entire time after that. He's very sincere and humble, but struggles with being able to come to church because of church even though he has a desire to be baptized.
I love you all and hope that everything will be amazing and you can feel of the Lord's love and share it with others this week.
Elder Carlson

Have an Attitude of Gratitude

Holy cow, it seems like it's been so long since I've emailed. You're right, Mom, that the library was closed on Monday because of the holiday. Then on Tuesday we were on exchanges with the Artesia elders and didn't want to take time out of the opportunity to proselyte with them since it took so long to get back from Carlsbad after district meeting. We were going to yesterday, finally, after we dropped the Artesia elders off back in Artesia, but found out we needed to drive clear out to Carlsbad again to pick up a suit we'd need to bring to MLC on Friday.

It's been a pretty busy week and a half since I last emailed. You now know about all the craziness and driving around this week, but last week was similar. For transfers I had to drive Elder Farmer and some other missionaries to Clovis and pick up Elder Woodland and another missionary and drive them back. To say the least, I'm sick of dry, flat, barren, New Mexico, haha. And today we get to drive to Lubbock for MLC!

That night after Elder Woodland got here, we got to meet with one of our investigators who I'm not sure if I've told yall about yet. She's the girlfriend of a less active member and wants to learn about the church so she can better understand her boyfriend. We had a really good lesson with her. She was way more into it than she had been before and she even brought up a concern that she was breaking the commandments by living with him, and we were able to give her something to study from the Book of Mormon to address it. Then, to make a long story short, the next time we saw her, she dropped us because she decided to start going to the Catholic church again.

Since transfers, our lives have been full of punched lessons and struggling to even meet with any of our investigators or less-active members at all. I've been a little stressed, but there's been plenty of times this week where I've learned the importance of remaining joyful and positive through trials. There's so many blessings we receive every day and things could always be worse. I hope you all can have a continuous "attitude of gratitude" and will "count your many blessings" every day. I know that as you will, you really will be "singing as the days go by"

Elder Carlson

Elderr Carlson and Elder Farmer

Monday, February 8, 2016


First off, I'll tell you transfer doctrine we got this week. Elder Farmer is getting transferred to Amarillo and I'm getting Elder Woodland as my new companion. He was in Amarillo when I was in Borger so I'm pretty excited to serve with him! There's also five other missionaries getting transferred out of the zone.

At church this week, we had two less active families, the A's and the D's! There was also this lady who works at Salvation Army, where we do a lot of service, who came! Plus K came . He's a young man who we've been helping work toward going on his mission because his home life is rough.  His mom is super anti-Mormon and his dad is less active because of that.

There was one day this week when we were trying by people and not having any luck contacting anyone so we started doing some knocking. It was the same every house where somebody answered. They'd open the door and either right then or after we talked to them for a minute or two,tell us they weren't interested and to go away. We were talking about how frustrating people are on the way back to the truck, but then the last door we knocked on this guy, W, answered. We start talking to him about Christ but then (somewhat off topic) I asked him something about prayer. He said, "It's funny you bring that up. I don't know if y'all came here planning on talking to me about praying, but recently I've been praying for God to guide me and I've been trying to simplify my life a lot." It's meeting people like that, who you know Heavenly Father has prepared to hear the gospel, that makes missionary work so great. Amid all the rejection and hate, we are blessed; even though many times those blessings don't come until "after the trial of [our] faith".

I know that this is the Lord's work. The priesthood of God has been restored to the earth. Without it, men could not preach the gospel of Christ or administer the ordinances thereof and we would be continually lost and in the dark. And even though dark times still come, we just need to focus on the specks of light ahead of us or that we know we've seen in the past in order to get through.

Elder Carlson

District meeting and Service

It's been an exciting week. For district meeting we got to go up to Ruidoso. It brought back a lot of memories even though I wasn't even on the Res. That day we brought both of the Mescalero elders (Elders Meza, who's the DL, and Jewett) back to Roswell for exchanges. They recently changed exchange policy in the TLM so the whole companionship comes to the leader's area instead of switching the companions. The reason being that the leader's area is supposed to be an example of how to do missionary work effectively, so we bring them both here so they can learn. I'm really bummed they didn't change that after exchanges with Mescalero. It would have been great to go back to Mescalero, but at least I got to hear all about it.

We've also been able to do quite a bit of  service this week, which is always fun. We go help at Salvation Army a lot and this week got to go on a "run" to pick up some things people were donating. So we got to help move some things and put together a foosball table. On Thursday we got to help out at Harvest Ministries, where they hand out food to people who need it. We got to push the carts out and help people load the food up. It's so neat being able to serve others and I'm glad we were the ones going out and meeting these people.

We got a couple new investigators this week! S is a young father who's wife has recently gone to prison and he lives with his father in probably one of the sketchier parts of Roswell. He loves talking with us even though his dad is super anti-Mormon. He still wants to learn, but it might be harder teaching him because he's distracted very easily and there's plenty of people/things to distract him. D is an older gentleman who has had a hard life and isn't sure if there's a God. It's such a blessing in life to have faith in God and be able to recognize His hand in our lives. Without faith, life is so dismal; even if you are a good person despite not having faith.

None of our investigators came to church this week, but the A's and D's were there again as well as Sis. B (another less active member). I actually got to go up to Fort Sumner for church and speak, though. There's a little branch there with about 10 or so active members. I went up with the high councilor for the branch, Bro. J. There used to be missionaries there, which was great for the branch, but the number of missionaries in our mission has dropped quite a bit since I came out and so now we cover it. Hopefully we'll get to start going out there more often, but it's hard to figure out rides for that (we don't have enough miles to drive ourselves out there). There's such a different feel between cities like Roswell and little towns like Fort Sumner. It's going to be weird trying to work both.

One more thing that I learned from one of the sisters in Fort Sumner. She gave a great cowboy analogy. If you watch a fly land on a horse, you can see it twitch because it can feel the little fly. But if the horse has been out working and sweating all day in the sun, is it as likely to be able to feel a tiny fly land on it? It's not as sensitive to it's touch. In our lives, promptings of the Spirit come in a very similar way, quiet and still. If we're still and listening for it, we can hear His voice, but if we're too distracted or too busy, we'll be too preoccupied and He won't yell over the ruckus of our lives. I love yall and hope you will take time to listen for the subtle promptings of the Holy Ghost this week.

Elder Carlson

Monday, January 25, 2016

Amazing week!

It's been an amazing week! I don't even know where to start...

First off, we've been seeing a lot of progress in some of the people we're working with. We set a baptismal date with one of our investigators, R (he's 18, doesn't have much religious background so is starting his faith from scratch, and has a baby on the way)! He is very humble and wants to learn and understands the scriptures better than most, if not everyone I've taught on my mission.

We also had 3 less active families and one investigator at church yesterday! The A's (they've now come 5 consecutive weeks; the first time in about 15 years), the D's (the first time since I've been here), and the B's (who are also working to go back to the temple in March and their daughter, A, was the investigator who was there). A is really progressing as well. She's never been interested in the gospel before now, but when we gave her a Book of Mormon, she read the chapter we gave her and prayed about it. When we asked her about it, she began to cry as she described her experience and the Spirit was so strong! It was probably one of the strongest I've felt in a lesson. The Spirit really is the only teacher and the gospel can change lives.

On Wednesday the world-wide missionary broadcast was about our doctrinal purpose for missionary work: teaching repentance and baptizing converts. I learned something cool that wasn't really said in it, but I'd like to share it with yall. So forgive my dumb video game analogy, but you know how in Super Mario Bros there's parts where you have to walk on sand? You can hop around on top of it and get across, but if you stop for only a second, you start to sink and it's harder to move and get out. It's the same with us. In life, we need to continue to change and progress. If we don't improve ourselves constantly in the gospel, we soon get into a rut and may even start to sink into apathy, being comfortable with where we're at and not ever reaching our full potential. I hope yall will continue to become better and look at how you can better serve others. That's what we're here to do.

Elder Carlson

Zone Conference

It's been a really fun, busy week this week. On Tuesday we had zone conference, which is always great! One thing they talked about was our mission's culture. Every mission has a culture of how things are done, but the Brethren want to make sure we're all focused on the main doctrinal purpose of missionary work: teaching repentance and baptizing converts. It's so important that everyone learns in this life how to repent. Repentance is changing and turning towards God and that is one of our main purposes in this life. In 3Nephi 11:37-38, Christ talks about the importance of "becoming as a little child" (through repentance) not only before baptism, but afterward as we receive the Holy Ghost and are sanctified and change gradually throughout the rest of our lives.

On Thursday we got to go on exchanges with one of our DLs, Elder Pulsipher, and Elder Brown, his companion. We did a lot of contacting on the street and knocking, but we found some awesome people who will hopefully still be willing to talk to us when we go back. One thing I need to work on as a leader is giving people assignments/invitations to study something or do something differently. That's really how we teach repentance, by inviting others to change.

On Saturday we got to go to the temple with a member, Bro. S. We went early and did some initiatories and baptisms as well as an endowment session. I love being in the temple and am so grateful I am able to be around members who are so willing to take us and go often as well.

I love you all and hope this week is fantastic. Always remember the Lord and always be open to His spirit teaching you what you can do in your life to further repent/improve.

Elder Carlson

Monday, January 11, 2016

Exchanges and MLC

It's been a pretty crazy week. I feel like I haven't worked in my area much at all so far since I've been here. After p-day was over we got to go have family home evening with a family in the ward, which was great. Then on Tuesday we had district meeting in Carlsbad and I stayed there on exchanges with Elder Farley and elder Cortez. Wednesday when we exchanged back we did some service for a member moving stuff around in his motorcycle shop he owns. Right after that we headed to Lubbock to go on exchanges with the APs. They serve in the YSA Ward in Lubbock but don't get to proselyte a ton because they have a lot of other duties as APs. So we did a lot of knocking in the student housing and we actually got in to teach these two girls. Teaching people your own age is a little weird at first, but they're still people too and definitely need the gospel. Then we had MLC on Friday and on Saturday I was finally able to have a full day of proselyting in my area. We even got two new investigators!

At MLC our mission vehicle coordinator, Elder Heppler, and President Heap really emphasized not going over our mileage allotments. When we got back to Roswell, we looked at our zone's miles and they had been assigned about 5000 miles over what we were supposed to have, so we had to cut a lot of miles back from every area in our zone with a car. There were a lot of complaints about this, but I learned something during my studies after dealing with all of that. After reading 2 Nephi 26:8-9, my testimony really grew about following the prophet and our church leaders. Even though there might be persecutions or we might have to make sacrifices (by biking more), we will know Christ so much more because of our obedience, we will have more abundant peace, and we will see these blessings not only in our own lives, but in our families as well.
I love you all! Have a fantastic week and strive to listen to what the Spirit instructs that you can be more obedient in.
Elder Carlson