Wednesday, June 1, 2016

May 30, 2016 The Kids and the Older Kids

Well, for the first time ever, this holiday will be spent as a P-day, due to transfers on Thursday.  We all know what Transfers means!  I get to drive to Fargo and back!  Only problem is.... I don't get to drive...  Lame!  Gotta love that!  3 hours 1-way without driving....  Woo....  And Elder Dewitt is getting transferred.  It's been a short but fun companionship.

This has been an eventful week!  A came to the Book of Mormon class and loved it!  Afterwards we gave her a tour of the church and walked her around the Temple, explaining it to her.  She thought it was super cool (who wouldn't haha!).  She is one of those people that just soaks everything up.  When we have our lessons with her and S, S will ask questions, A will be like "Yeah, that's a good question.  I didn't even think to ask that!"  Then we answer it, and immediately A accepts the answer, while S gives a bunch of "What if"s.  It's always a blast at their place!  A has a 3 year old daughter named J, who is just a hoot!  She likes to act like jungle animals, so while we're having a lesson she'll be crawling around the room, quietly growling like a tiger, then the next thing you know she pounces on you.  Never a dull moment!  And, to put the icing on the cake, all 3 of them came to the first 2 hours of church!  They really enjoyed it, although J didn't want to go to nursery, she wanted to go look at the baptismal font again.  But, her mom convinced her to go to the nursery.

Okay, I just want to say, children are the best.  If it weren't for kids, being a missionary would be pretty..... rough.  Adults see us and hide.  We're pretty scary, right?  But when kids see us, they kinda stare at first, then when we smile and wave at them, we become best friends!  Plus, they just love learning.  We knocked on this door and started talking to a mother of 5 kids.  She was nice, but obviously not interested, but we kept talking with her and found out she's a member, and then her 10 year old son, P, and daughter (i forgot her name) came out and talked to us for a second.  After a little bit, we realized we recognized him.  He rode by on his bike once and flagged us down, started talking to us, then left.  So Elder Fillmore looks at him and goes "wait a sec, we know you.  You talked to us on your bike the other day."  He looked at us like he'd just been caught, then said "uh.... nope!"  So we keep talking with his mom, but eventually he owned up to it.  What a punk haha!  So, as we were talking, P asks us what we are doing (cause he missed the whole missionary intro thingy), and we told him we are missionaries who go around helping people learn about God.  "How did you learn about God?"  he asks.  "Well, there are men called prophets.  They speak with Him and tell us what we need to know, especially about our relationship with him."  We kept talking about that for a bit, then talked about Jesus and showed him a picture (one of the ones that we used our top secret time machine to travel back and get a bust of him), and he said "wait, is that God?"  "No, this is His son, Jesus."  "But what does God look like?"  That's when I pulled out a picture of the 1st vision and showed it to him.  He was a bit confused cause he said "wait, you can't SEE God.  He's a ghost, remember?"  Yay for another inspired question from a 10 year old!  "Actually, He isn't.  He has a body, like yours, but perfect.  He can't get hurt or sick or anything like that."  He was absolutely blown away.  Then he turns to his mom and says "Mom, they have to come back.  I want to learn more about God!"  We just smiled at his mom, who now actually seemed to like us.  And, just so you know, we are going back this week!!  The sad part of the story is that P is going to a summer boarding school...............  But his mom said she can deliver stuff to him if we want.

As for the Andrews, H is preparing to receive the priesthood to baptize L!!  They have been coming to church actively for the last month, and they are just doing great.  H has opened up so much, and I just love him.  Amy has always been great, and L and C are the funniest, smartest kids.  It's never a dull moment around that house!

That's all the excitement this week.  Love you all!!!!!

Elder Carter

May 23, 2016 My Thoughts on Obedience and Repentance

Well, many people have asked why those were my spirit animals, so here goes!  The cat is because I am crazy curious.  I am always looking around at the most random things.  And the cow is from E. Polatis.  Almost every time I see him, I'm tired and decide to smack my jaw at him, and he said it looks like a cow, so yeah!  That is the reason.  Any other suggestions for my spirit animal are welcome ;).

What a week!  Elder Martino of the 70 came to Bismarck for Zone conference!  We had about 50 extra missionaries for P-day, and we played soccer and ultimate frisby and football and kickball, and it was a blast!  Then on Tuesday, we had 90 missionaries for Zone conference and we were all spiritually fed at the feet of a servant of the Lord.  It was so amazing.  I learned so much, but I'll share my thoughts at the end.

The Andrews are doing great!  L wants to be baptized and we are trying to get H ready to do it, and I bet he will be ready pretty soon.  Here's hoping!  They've come to church actively for the past month or so now!

S and A are amazing!  We taught the rest of the Plan of Salvation.  The Spirit World made a lot of sense to them, and S started to get upset at that point, cause we showed her in the scriptures where it talks about it, and it just clicked for her.  Then we got the Kingdoms of Glory and she was pretty confused, but then we explained them to her and showed in 1 Corinthians 15 that talks about them, and she looks at the Bible, looks at the pamphlet, then slams it on the ground, furious!  She practically yells "Why didn't anyone tell me this?!  I went to Bible school, I grew up going to all of church meetings, studying the Bible, and no one EVER told me this!"  She was absolutely beyond herself, and I felt so bad, cause I couldn't help but smile!  She was so sincere about it!  So after she finished ranting, I told her "Don't be mad at your teachers and preachers!  They don't know this either.  Do you remember the Great Apostasy, when Christs church and the fullness of doctrine was lost?  That's why no one knows this anymore.  And that's why we are out here, to share the knowledge that has been lost."  She calmed down after that, but not completely.  She seemed pretty lost in thought after that.  And S came to church on Sunday!  Afterwards she had a ton of questions, but she didn't want to ask them yet cause we wouldn't have time haha.

Alright, here's my thoughts!

In todays world, we have the mentality of "how far can I go before I'm breaking the rules?"  Where does that mentality get us?  Into rough patches.  What kind of blessings do we receive from pushing the limits?  Minimal.  Why?  Because we will be blessed for willingly surrendering to the Fathers will, where it is as if we didn't even do good if we keep complaining about it.  Why does God give commandments?  To restrict us?  To keep us from having fun?  Or is it to protect us and help us to be truly happy in the long run, rather than momentarily happy only to find darkness and regret setting in when it's over?  Commandments are a funny thing.  God has given us all agency.  We can choose between good and evil.  That is an eternal gift from our Heavenly Father, never to be taken away.  But what we can't choose is the consequences.  So what kind of consequences do you want?  That's really the question.  If you want to be happy, have peace and no regret, then do what is right.  If not, that's your own decision, but the promised blessings will not be yours.  God is just.  If He wasn't we could not have faith in Him.  So put your faith in what He has said.  I heard a talk where the speaker is talking about how some people think that they just aren't good enough to get Christs help.  He asks a friend "Do you believe in Christ?"  His friend responded "Yes, of course I do, you know I do."  Then the speaker responded "But do you believe Christ?"  That surprised his friend, and he goes on to say that too often we believe in Christ, but we don't believe what He says.  If we truly believe him, then self pity and doubt will fade away and be swallowed up in the hope of Christ.  

So what happens when we are disobedient?  We must repent (which is Hebrew for Change.  Cool, huh?)

I was listening to this talk, and I read this and thought it was sweet!  I was thinking about repentance, and I have had 2 differing opinions about it.  First opinion is that once you have repented, you shouldn't feel any regret, that if you have truly repented, your pains should be swallowed up in the Atonement of Christ.  So you know you have repented when you don't have any more remorse for your sins, and it's a sign that you haven't truly repented when you still feel bad for it.  The second opinion is the one illustrated in the following quote.

"[Repentance] involves suffering, and we have a natural inclination to shrink from it.  Like psychotherapy, it requires us to walk in the valley of sorrow and to suffer for a time before we can truly reorient ourselves.  President Kimball reminded us that "If a person has not suffered, he has not repented." - Allen E. Bergin "Repentance and Psychology"

Now, having established these, and as pondered the differences and what I felt was the truth, I was reminded of something Elder Oaks said.  "The repenting sinner must suffer for his sins.  But that suffering has a different purpose than punishment or payment.  It's purpose is change."  We must suffer for our sins, but we learn in Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-18 that Christ "suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—".  So, conclusion, remember the words of President Kimball up top.  We will suffer the consequences of our sins, but it need last only long enough to change us, then we will be filled with the joy of knowing that we not only have been forgiven, but that slowly but surely we are becoming who God knows we can be.  

Don't be afraid of repentance!  Love it!  It is a gift divinely instituted for our own growth, given from a loving Father in Heaven to His children to help them be truly happy.  Satan wants us to think it's scary or bad, but it is the most liberating thing we can do.  Don't let the Saviors amazing gift of Grace be wasted.  Show Him your love and appreciation for that amazing gift by using it!  And always remember that obedience is a concept of love, not of dictatorship or dominion.  

Those are my thoughts!  I love you all dearly! 

Elder Carter V

May 16, 2016 My Spirit Animals

Craziest thing that we ate this week!  There is a Tongan member here, and while we were at his house, he said "hey!  Do you know what those war fish are?"  We were a bit confused, but we finally realized he was talking about a sword fish.  "Have you ever tasted it?"  "Nope".  "Do you want to?"  'Heck yeah!"  "Well good!  I've got some in the fridge."  Little did we know that it was raw, but that's just how you eat it I guess haha!  It didn't taste super good, but now I can say I've eaten sword fish.  Good ole NoDak strikes again with odd foods!!

For those of you who like country music, there is a guy named Brandon Heath that we are allowed to listen to.  I have his album, although I don't know what it's called... But it's super sweet!  The first song is called "The Harvester", and it just gets you pumped for missionary work!  The rest of his stuff is pretty darn good too.  And yes, I just said that I liked a country artist.  I like Tim Gates too, although I've only heard his "Nashville Tribute Band" stuff and his song "Bible and the Belt" from his days in Diamond Rio.  They performed it for us at the big concert a few weeks ago!  I've been converted, but only to the good stuff!

Alright!  On to the work!  Do y'all remember the Andrew family? Well!  Here's the update!  We taught L and her parents again this week, and at the end of the lesson L said she wants to be baptized, and her dad, who hasn't been active in the church since he was about 12, has been more excited about attending church too!  They came to church this Sunday and He said he wanted to talk to the Bishop about baptizing his daughter, so we were just stoked about it.  

While on splits one night my companions tracted into S and A.  They are in their mid 20's and were pretty interested in what we had to say.  We have met with them quite a few times since then and they have just been soaking everything up!  Funny thing is, they ask us questions that I have been asked many times by people trying to prove us wrong.  But, rather than asking questions with an agenda, they have been asking them with all honesty, wanting to know the answer, and when we give them the answer they accept it wholeheartedly.  They actually let us answer their question, rather than interrupting us with their own personal interpretation.  It is super interesting to me how 2 people can ask the same question, but the one who actually wants to know the answer will be able to see that it's true, while the other will trifle with your words and try to dissect everything you say so that it fits their own personal agenda.  Crazy the contrast there!

The Elders here have decided what my spirit animal is!  The only problem is, there is a division between them.  E. Polatis thinks it is a cow, and E. Riding thinks it's a cat.  Pretty different, so I'm not sure which is right or not haha!  They crack me up.

That's all she wrote folks!  Love you tons!

Elder Carter V

April 25, 2016 Transfers and Elder Fillmore

This week was transfers!  Elder Riding is now on the North end of Bismarck and I see him every couple of days, and my new companion is Elder Fillmore.  He is super funny!  We've had a blast so far!

We saw L and C again this week.  It was great!  We taught them about the Godhead, and it made a lot of sense to them.  As we explained prophets they got pretty excited that there was someone on the earth that talked with God and Jesus and could help to answer our questions.  They struggle to read the Book of Mormon due to it's old English, but they really want to read it.  But this week they are coming to the Book of Mormon study class that the Sisters put on.  Woot woot!

I got to drive the transfer van again.  It was fun, and we got Panda Express when we arrived so we were well pleased.  

The Andrew family came to church again this week, and L and C loved it!  It was so good! M has been busy this week, but we're hoping to see him soon.

Due to transfers, that is about all that I have done this week.  Lots of running errands and driving to Fargo and back haha!  

Love you all!

Elder Carter V

April 18, 2016 The Nashville Tribute Band Concert!!!

This week was super awesome!

First, we taught the Andrew Family (the parents are less active members and L is 8 and wants to be baptized), and they came to church!!  It was so great to see them there.  We also taught a man named MCG, a less active member who has hit rock bottom and is committing us (my how the tables have turned) to help him get active again and get him back on the right path.  It was super cool to be with someone that is committing us to get them progressing in the right direction, rather than us trying to commit them to go in the right direction.  He also came to church with his daughter.  

Friday was probably one of the most memorable moments of my mission, but not for the usual reasons.  President Hess is one of the managers for the Nashville Tribute Band, so he arranged for them to come to Minot and do a performance of "The Redeemer" album.  President invited the whole mission to come, but only under these 3 conditions.  1, we had to be good and act appropriate. 2, we were not to be wearing our proselyting clothes or name tags.  3, we were not to proselyte.  It was a non-denominational concert, and if people walked in and saw 150 young adults all dressed up with name tags on from the same church, they would probably turn right around and leave.  It was to be a good experience for them and for us.  And it sure was!  I got to see Elder Payne and Elder Warren and Elder Paye and a ton of other missionaries!  It was a blast!  And, you know, the band is pretty good.  Okay, they are super good!  It was amazing!  I loved it!  

This lady showed us a video that we thought was hilarious!  It's called "Adelle - Hello (mormon parody).  It's super funny!  It's so true to.

My companion is getting transferred to be the next Assistant, and I will be getting a new companion!  His name is Elder Fillmore.  He is so funny!  I served around him in Rapid City.  I'm so excited!  Plus, Elder Riding is still in the same ward cause the AP's cover the northern half of Bismarck, so I'll be seeing him around. 

That's about it for this week.  Love you all!  

Elder Carter V

1)  This is me and Dan Truman, the Pianist for the Nashville Tribute Band.

2)  Me and Elder Riding with 2 of the other members of Nashville Tribute

3)  Good Ole Elder Warren!  What a stud!

4)  The band had all the missionaries come outside of the concert hall to say a prayer before the concert started so I grabbed a picture with Elder's Brinkerhoff, Masaccia, and Mellville.  These guys are a hoot!

5)  Waiting for the concert to start!  From left to right: Sister Elzinga (I don't think she knows she is in this picture), Elders Prescott, Wright (My mission dad!), Jolley, Riding, Me.

3)  Me, my dad, and my 2 sons.  Cute family photo, eh?

April 11, 2015

I was asked how my rear was after the 30 miler on the bike, so here's my answer....   IT HURT!

Sister D and Sister C are still doing great!  They are bound on getting to the Temple, and I think that is motivating them to keep working hard at staying away from the cigarettes.  I'm super impressed that they are doing so good since they live in a house with 3 other smokers that have no desire to quit.  Amazing what desire can do!  R quit, but we haven't seen him since Tuesday, so we hope it's still working for him.  He was very happy to be done smoking and said that he feels much better now.  
MLC was amazing.  I got to go through the temple for the first time in a year and a half!  Can you believe it?!  I was amazing.  I can't even begin to describe how I felt in there.  It's just the best place on Earth.  

Our training for ZTM went great as well.  I'm thoroughly enjoying being a Zone Leader up here.  I just get to serve around some great missoinaries.  

Saturday and Sunday were also great, except for the fact that my comp was sick, so we did a lot of sitting around.  We did watch "How Rare a Possession" though!  It's super good!  If you haven't seen it, check it out.  It's the story of Parly Pratt and Vincenso De Francesca.  Super good, even though it was filmed about 100 years ago (hehe).

That's about it for this week!  We did a lot of planning for ZTM, so I don't have many stories for this week.  Love you all!  Hope all is well!  

Elder Carter V

April 4, 2016 15 Step Program Strikes again!

I'll start with the sad news so that we get it out of the way....  WE DIDN'T GET TO WATCH ELDER HOLLAND SPEAK!  We had an appointment, and we had to leave right when he started speaking!  We were pretty ticked, but that's okay.  Due to the miracle of technology, I can listen to it whenever and however many times I want.  Yay!

Tuesday we were able to start the 15 step stop smoking program with a guy named R!  So far he is doing really good!  He will be officially done tomorrow.  But that's not the only fun thing that happened on Tuesday.  We were super low on miles, so we decided that we were going to get our bikes out.  Man, was that fun!  Our apartment is on the Southern end of Bismarck, and we needed to get up to the church, which is on the Norther part of town.  So, we hopped on our bikes and took off!!  We headed to the church, then headed back to our appointment with R, then back to the apartment, to another appointment, back to R's, back to the church, then back home.  We estimated a grand total of 30 miles.  What a ride!

Due to general conference, my week was dedicated to much sitting and listening.  We also helped the Bismarck Sisters move and the Mandan Elders move, so that took up more time.  But it was fun!  

Thursday we had a "party" for Sister D and Sister C, who have officially declared independence from cigarettes!  We had cheese cake.  It was a blast!

That's all folks!  Love ya!

Elder Carter V