Monday, November 14, 2016

November 14, 2016 The End?

Ladies and Gentleman, drum role please................................................

Saturday, the 12th of November, marked exactly 2 years since I left my home (meaning traveled across town and lived in college dorms for a week) and entered the MTC to prepare for my full time service in the South Dakota Rapid City Mission.  Friday, the 18th, is the day that I will hug the angels that my Father in Heaven has sent to be my guardians in this life, otherwise known as my family.

It has been a long, hard road folks!  Let me tell you, it's been tough.  But it was worth every single second.  I will always remember this place (even though the geography is kind of bland), and the people here will always have a place in my heart.  

I can promise you that I am not the same person I was when I left.  I am lil ol' Jesse Carter, but I am much more than that now.  I have learned who I am, and who I can become.  I've learned who my Father is, and who my Savior is.  And I can never be the same, nor do I ever want to be.  

I was reading in Alma 5 yesterday, and I want to share what I learned.  Alma asks the people of Zarahemla "My brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?  Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble? That your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem his people from their sins?  Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life."

Then I started wondering "would I be ready for the 2nd coming if it came today?"  I normally think ".... well, not yet!  I'm not ready!  I've still got a long way to go before I am."  Then I reread this section.  Have I felt to sing the song of redeeming love?  Yes, and I do feel so now.  Have I been sufficiently humble?  Well, I'm still prideful, but the Lord is pleased with my progress for now.  Will the humility I have now be sufficient for tomorrow?  No.  But it is for today.

Well, that's all I've got time for folks!  This is Elder Carter, signing out for the last time.  I love you all, and can't wait to see you again soon!

Elder Carter V

P.S. If you want to email me, hit me up at

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

November 7, 2016 My Thoughts

Well, we knocked a lot of doors this week.  We helped 2 people rake their leaves, and that's about all the new stuff this week!    Perks of being in Rapid City though is that this week the weather has stayed in the 70's most days.  So nice.  Definitely won't hear me complaining about that!

I had my last ever ZTM this week.  I got to bare my testimony for the last time (in front of the missionaries, of course), as well accompany a couple Elders for a musical number.  

Aside from that, we've literally just been trying to find people to teach.  Hopefully this week we see the fruits of our labors!

The last few weeks there has been a very common theme in the things that people have said to us.  There have been quite a few people that would let us in for a little, and the 1 thing that everyone and their dog seems to know about the LDS church is that we believe that we have a responsibility to do what is right, and to keep the commandments.  I can't tell you how many times people have brought up that we believe our works save us, and I know that I have already done this a million times, but I wish to debunk that myth once more, right here and right now.  This is absolutely positively false.  The saddest thing is that it is a myth that members of the church carry!  Too many of us think that we must do this much, then Jesus makes up the difference.  Sorry folks, but that's not how it works.  "since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself" (Alma 22:14).  That's about as plain as it can get.  We cannot merit anything of ourselves.  We are eternally falling short of perfection, which is the requirement of entering God's presence."And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."(Romans 11:6).    There are countless scriptures that say the same things.  But don't the scriptures also say that "it is by grace that we are saved after all we can do" (2 Nephi 25:23)?  Don't we read that "faith without works is dead" (The book of James brings up this point over and over and over again), and that we must "work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling"? (Philippians 2:12)  Yes, they do.  So what are we supposed to understand here?  This has been a subject of concern for people for centuries!  Obviously it was a problem in the time of Paul and James which was less than a 100 years after the death of the Savior.  The Apostles of the time wrote these letters to try and correct the issues that were being disputed over in the places where they had preached.  I feel comfortable assuming that the Romans had put too much emphasis on their own works and not enough on the Savior, so he told them countless times that it is grace alone that saves us.  And yet, in the same letter he poses this question to them.  "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  God forbid."  (Romans 6:1-2).  

May I echo the words of the author Ecclesiastes in 12:13.  "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man."  C.S. Lewis, when asked the question "which is more important?  Grace or works?"  Responded by saying "I really have no business commenting on the matter, but it seems to me like asking which blade on the scissors is more important."  If we try to put more emphasis on 1 verse of scripture more than another, we create a serious theological problem for yourslef.  We cannot ever earn our way into heaven.  Period.  Jesus is the one who payed for it, not us.  Are works the Savior?  No, Jesus is the Savior.  But if we truly believe in Christ, than we must believe His words, and He taught us countless times, both anciently and in modern times, the importance of obedience.  If we are disobedient, will we even want to live in God's presence?  No.  Nor has He ever told us that we don't need to do anything.  God's love is unconditional, and His Grace is sufficient for all who come unto Him.  Without Him, all is lost, and we can never see the kingdom of heaven.

I'm sorry if my thoughts are broken, time is short, and so are resources haha!  Love you all tons!  Thank you all for your prayers, they have helped me a ton.  

Elder Carter V

October 31, 2016 Octoberween.

Well, I have no idea what to say this week.  H dropped us (said that she's just happy where she's at) and C dropped us (she forgot the feelings she had and said that religion just isn't for her) and we haven't been able to meet with any of the other people we've been trying to.  We did a lot of walking cause it's the end of the month and we wanted to be sure we had miles, and we got fed real good this week!  We had some great experiences at members houses, and it was great to be in their homes.  We really do have some just wonderful people out here.  Other than that, it was almost literally a week of tracting, trying to find people on the ward list or who have said we could come back and teach them, and that's about it.  So, we had a week full of the normal work, and not much else.
We did decorate our trunk for the Trunk or Treat!  Had some people that just walked into the parking lot for free candy walk by our car and ask "who are you supposed to be?  Mormons?"  I laughed and said "as a matter of fact, yes!  But we are actually the Mormon Missionaries."  We laughed together, then they left haha!

Love you all!
Elder Carter

October 24, 2016 An "Ammon"ish Experience

Hello all!
This week we didn't end up meeting with the Carvers.  As usual, they got busy.  I've decided that "busy" is the acronym for "Burdened Under Satan's Yoke".  The only problem with that is that being busy is a good thing.  But!  Being too busy for the best things is when the devil is winning the battle.  So, moral of the story, find time for the best things.
Do y'all remember D?  Guy from Jamaica that we helped move in a couple weeks ago?  Well, every time we talk, he thanks us for that day that we helped him and reminds us that he is forever indebted to us for helping him in a time of need.  He came to church yesterday, and seemed to enjoy himself!  After church was over, he had us over for lunch, and man, may I just say, that real Caribbean food is the best.  Hands down.  So good!  He's a chef, so he really knows what he's doing.  We had a great time at dinner, and then we were able to share with him and his wife, P, the message of the Restoration.  They accepted a Book of Mormon and said they would read it, and really seemed to enjoy the discussion.  As we were wrapping up, he asked us "what motivates you to come out on a mission?"  Elder Webb testified that we all had felt God's love for us through this message, and we wanted to share it with them because we have grown to love them.  The Spirit filled the room, and it really seemed to touch D and P.  It was a grand experience, once again, to be in their home!  They are truly some of the most wonderful people I've met on my mission.
When we were leaving, Elder Bone pointed something out to me.  When we met D, we were driving home, saw him unloading the truck and asked to help.  From D's point of view (we know this cause he's told us since) he was so glad we asked, he said yes, then he watched us drive away.  He thought we were being rude or something, then as he was coming back down the stairs, he saw that we had gone to get a couple more hands to help.  He thanked us the whole time, and as I said before has continued to thank us since.  Now, had we not done so, we never would have been able to meet D, and to share with him our message.  He has told us many times that if someone comes knocking on his door or walking up to him saying "hey, believe what I believe" he will push them away.  But when we came offering to help, he noticed something was different about us.  We didn't just tell people the word, we tried to live it. 

We have experienced our own version of Ammon and King Lamoni.  Had Ammon just come in with a soap box and started preaching, he would have been rejected (and much worse), but he chose to serve.  And because of his service, thousands of others were blessed by his example.  And now we get to see the blessing of our dear friends D and P as they come to know that what we taught is true.  I am so grateful for Ammon and his story!  He has shown us a way that we can be a light to those around us, and he truly has given us a great example of how we can be more like Christ.  So my invitation to all of you is to go out and serve!  Look for unplanned opportunities to help those around you.  It doesn't have to be a big drastic thing.  But find some way every day to serve those you meet.  For all you know, they could be going through a rough time and you could be the one that pulls them out of the rut they're in.  Maybe they will become a life long friend to you, and could bless you and your family for the rest of your lives.  You never know what the Lord has in store for you.
Here is a fun quote I found from Proverbs 25: 25.  "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country."
That's all for today folks!  Love you tons.
Elder Carter V

This is us volunteering at the soup kitchen.  We have way too much fun down there!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

October 17, 2016 Birfdays and Blessings

First off, I wanted to clarify a little about my email last week.  In no way did I mean to say that my ward here in Rapid stinks.  This ward is awesome!  I love serving here, and I love the people in this ward.  But the issue is universal.  Most of the people that I mentioned that we tracted into that had friends that were LDS were out of town.  I just wanted to make that clear!

This week has just been amazing and full of blessings and miracles!  First off, right when we finished emailing last week we went shopping, and while we were in line, a man came up to us and told us he was going to buy our groceries.  He was a member of the church visiting Rapid from Mesa, Arizona I believe.  That was a great blessing!  I hope he and his family had fun here and were able to travel home safely.  Second was how we found the C family.  E. Bone and I prayed about where we should tract and we felt like we should go to 2 specific streets right next to each other. When we knocked these streets we found 1 potential on each streets. One was this family that was very nice to us and said to try back another day cause they were just sitting down for dinner.  The other was a guy who we set up a return appointment with us for about a week later.  We tried them a few times, but had no luck. Then, when we went for the follow up visit with that guy, he told us he just didn't really care to hear our message. We felt like we should go try the family now, since we were in the neighborhood, so we walked over, knocked, they opened and seemed very excited and let us right in. It went awesome!  It's a mom, dad, and a 15 year old daughter.  They drilled us with questions.  What is a missionary, what do we do, why are we doing it, how long do we do it, where are we from, etc. etc. etc.  We were there for about 45 minutes just answering question after question, then when we felt we should let them get back to their night, we invited them to take the missionary lessons.  They seemed pretty interested in it, so we set up a return appointment, and they offered to feed us dinner. 
When we came back, we were able to teach them the Restoration.  We would teach part of it, ask a question to gauge their understanding, they understood it perfectly and would always finish it with "That actually makes a lot of sense."  As we continued teaching the Spirit filled the room.  It was so exciting, cause they were just soaking it up!  When we invited them to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, they were all for it, especially the mom.  She loves to read, so she was all for reading a new book.  We're going back tomorrow, and I can't wait to teach them the Plan of Salvation.  They are just so ready and prepared!  They are probably some of the most Christlike people I've met in a long time.

My birthday was great!  Thanks you all for your loving Birthday wishes!  They made my day!  We had dinner at the Wilbur's home and the Worsley's came and they through me a little party.  They smoked some brisket and ribs, and man, was it good.  Couldn't have asked for more.  And, go figure, they didn't make a cake!  They made brownies!  I don't think they knew I don't like cake, but it worked out perfectly.  I had a blast! 
That's about all the time I've got for this week, but It was an awesome week!  I'm loving it in Rapid!  Love you all and miss you tons.  Hope all is well back home!
Elder Carter V

Ah!  How did I forget this!  I got to go to Nebraska on exchanges, and we got to go visit the Blassingills in Hay Springs!  That was such a blast from the past!  I taught them when I was serving in Gordon.  They're the ones that would not only feed us when we came over, but would stock us up with food to last us a good couple days.  I love them so much!  Pretty much all of them asked me "When did you get back?!" and sadly, I had to say "I'm not back, just here for the day."  But, the other Elders are gonna start teaching them again.

October 10, 2016 The Essential Role of Member Missionary Work

Here's the updates.  No word from J, and almost nothing from C this week, but we did get to see H for a few minutes.  I can't remember if I talked about L yet, but she is this cute little old Native lady that missionaries had taught in the past, so we decided to contact her.  Two weeks ago, we taught her the Plan of Salvation, and she just loved it.  When we came back yesterday, she had a bunch of questions for us, and we were able to answer them as we taught the Restoration, and once again, she just loved it.  The Spirit was so strong in that lesson!  Elder Bone and I taught totally unified for the first time since we've been together!  She just grasped on to what we taught, and it all made sense to her.  She asked all the right questions, and seemed to truly find peace in the things we taught her.  It was an absolutely grand experience.
As for the rest of the week, lets just say my legs were soar some nights.  We did a lot of walking and knocking doors, and found almost no success doing so.  Having said this, I want to impress on your minds the essential role that member missionary work plays in the Church, but also that this should apply to all people, whether they be a member of this church or a member of any other Christian denomination or faith.  The Lord called His Apostles to spread the Gospel to all the world.  That commandment (for so it is) is a commandment for us today.  If anything, we should feel a greater need to keep this commandment now by sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ because we know that His Second Coming is just around the corner!  The time is almost upon us, and we have no time to waste!  We should desire to bless the lives of all we see right now, not postpone it till a stranger has to knock on their door and try to help them understand the importance of their message in a few brief seconds before the door is closed in their face.
As members of the LDS church, we have been reminded time and time again of this commandment, and yet many of us still don't get it.  This is not a new mandate.  It is ancient, and it's importance has been revealed to us again today in such clear terms as "It becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor".  This is what the Lord has told us at the start of this dispensation, nearly 180 years ago, and every prophet since has reminded us of it.  Just last week we were once again taught the importance of it in General Conference.  Now is the time that we need to repent of this!  Seek the will of the Lord as you strive to share your testimony with your friends!  Pray for the gift of discernment that you may know what to say and when to say it, to not miss your opportunity, but also being patient and not jumping the gun.  Pray for the faith to act on the promptings the Spirit will give you. 
I'm sure you can figure out what inspired this rant.  It is because we have spent so much time knocking doors only to find no success thus far.  The saddest thing is that half of the doors answer and tell us that they have friends in the church.  Many say they know almost nothing about the church but don't care to know more.  Why?  Because they have never been told just how important our message is.  Why?  Because their friends have never had the courage to share it with them.  Being an example is important, but it is not enough.  We must do more.  And when we do, we have been promised by prophets and apostles for the last who knows how many years, that we will feel a joy that cannot be compared, and we will rejoice with hundreds of thousands more of our dearest friends and family as "we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" and we will only be able to do it by "speaking the truth in love" (ephesians 4:13, 15).  Notice the action word there.  Let us all have the courage to open our mouths and speak.
Once this happens, we will no longer need to have missionaries use their precious time knocking the doors of strangers, most of which are not home or not interrested, but they will be spending all their time and efforts teaching the Word of God to our friends.  What a blessed day this will be, when the vision of the Prophets will be fulfilled!!  If you want a list of talks from the modern prophets and apostles concerning this subject, I can give you a very large one. 
Well, I once again will step off my soap box.  Hope you enjoyed the show!
And that about concludes my adventures this week.  Sorry it was all just my thoughts and feelings and not so much about the work we did.  I love you all dearly and I hope all is well!
Elder Carter V

October 3, 2016 General Conference

General Conference was SO AMAZING!!  Loved every second!  Good to see my old buddy Dale (that's Elder Renlund, in case you are wondering.  We're on a first name basis.  That is, I'm sure we would be if he remembered me hehe... he...).  Shout out to the beautiful Peg Carter and the amazing Mr. Kenny Wiser, who did great with the music!  It was way too much fun to see familiar faces this weekend.
Here's some updates.  Sadly, we didn't get to meet with Cynthia this week, although she almost came to conference, then something came up so she couldn't.  We also had no luck contacting Joe again this week. 
We did a bunch of walking this week.  Lots of knocking on doors, lots of "nah, we're good"s, but all in all it was still a great week.  I cooked my first ever pork chops, talapia, and I'm still alive which either means my prayers were answered or I cooked it properly (please hold your applause).
Well, that's all I have to report this week.  I love you all dearly, and hope that you have a splendid week indeed.
Elder Carter V

Here's the picture of all us missionaries at GC.  Love these goofs!