Monday, December 15, 2014

Dec 15, 2014

Transfers came around again and I'm staying in the same area, again! This will be my 8th transfer in the Mesa Grande Ward in Mesa, which is equivalent to a full year (just about). Our Bishop is highly considering giving me a calling and the other members want to buy me a house. ;)
The companionships were switched up a little bit. I am still on the reservation part of the ward, but am now with Elder Hugh Strike from Cincinnati, OH. He is great! He went to Harvard for a year before he came out, so is a pretty intelligent guy. Hopefully I don't rub off on him too much, or else he won't be accepted back into Harvard. He is 19 too, but just like 98% of the other missionaries, he is older. Our apartment is a little backwards. I have the most time on the mission out of the four of us, but I am also the youngest. The other companionship in the ward is Elder Trout and Elder Call. Elder Trout was in the Air Force for several years before coming out. He was actually converted during that time. He only has 2 years of being a member.
The ward is doing great! The Bishop had asked us to all speak on Sunday and it turned out great! Elder Strike gave a great talk on the story of Christmas as told in the Bible, and then the 3 of us followed with powerful talks about missionary work and the effect it can have on ourselves and all those around us. Elder Call focused mostly on families and charity. In the middle of the talks, we sang Venid Adoremos. (I can't remember what it is in English. Come Adore Him?) I played the piano and the other elders sang. Elder Strike is a super good singer along with Elder Call! We are performing another musical number this Friday at our ward Christmas party. After the song, I centered my talk in a quote from PMG which basically gives the equation for success. The three things we must understand are 1. How an investigator must feel to be converted, 2. How a missionary must feel to teach with the converting power and 3. How a member must feel in order to successfully help in the conversion process of the investigator. Elder Trout then followed by relaying the overall message of the importance of every member in this work.
There is a scripture that comes to mind when we talk about a successful team of missionaries. It is in DC 84 something. Like 122-125 or around there. It just stresses the importance of EVERY PERSON on the team basically. Please try to find it and take the message to heart!
Over the last several weeks, we had 2 baptisms! Y, who we have been working with for several months, finally made the decision to get baptized! I bet you'll never guess how we were able to help her. In our mission for the past several months, we've been pushing the Temple a lot. It has definitely become a necessity for me to mention in almost every lesson I'm a part of. As we sat with Y a few weeks ago, we lovingly but very seriously explained to her that she is the link. Even if her family 'disowns her' (which they didn't), she is the way they may be sealed together after this life. The Spirit was strong during that lesson it testified to her our words were true. She agreed that same day to be baptized and hasn't looked back since. My testimony of 'Beginning with the End in Mind' has grown so much!

We also taught and baptized a younger kid named J, who Elder Pope and I worked with a lot when we were together. He had moved away before he was able to ever accept a baptismal date, but has since moved back into the ward. It's awesome to actually see a seed that we planted begin to grow and make the decision to change his life through the saving ordinance of baptism!
We have been greatly urged by members to go caroling to all those with whom we are working. Our old ward mission leader pulled us aside after our musical number on Sunday and promised us that if we did THAT with everyone we know, we will baptize THIS month and start off the year with success as well. We set aside about an hour every day to do this. We have the faith that as we bring the spirit to our investigators in this way, even if we take a teaching hour out of the day, we will see fruits from it. Please help us by praying this will work. Also, we are working together as a ward to pray for families. Please pray with us for these two miracles to happen!

I know that we are in the one and only TRUE church of our Savior Jesus Christ. He loves us more than we understand and recognize. Take time to look back on difficult times of life and witness the role He played. He always has been here and will always be here. Let's do all we can to allow His presence to be with us as we strive to bring others to His fold!
Enjoy this comforting time of year!
Elder Pilkington

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dec 1, 2014

(Again, Thomas' letter was mostly answering some questions.  We are excited to hear what happens with transfers this week!  Also, they were going to have a baptism on Friday and one on Saturday.  Excited to hear how those came about!)
 
Elder Sorensen, my companion who went home, sent me a few messages today and called us last week. He has some stomach virus that could have been a lot worse had he stayed here. I'm happy he took care of it!! He may come back out in about 4 months if it medicine can take care of it.
 
I'm so excited for Dustin! (friend who was just called to the Alpine Germany Mission) Will he be there when Chloe is still there? (another friend currently serving there)
 
Elder Gutierrez left on Saturday to go home to Mexico. President and Sister Sweeney let us go to lunch together on Friday. In fact, they went with us! We went to LoLo's chicken and waffles. It was SOOOO good!! He left behind some Mexican souvenirs to send home!
 
Thanksgiving was all traditional except one member had beans too. I was surprised. We had 4 dinners and a breakfast and I kept it all down. The 4th dinner I had to cut back the portion a lot though. The Breakfast was after a 'Turkey Run' that the Stake did. We helped set up at 6:30 and then ran a mile after. Then we had a Turkey Bowl with the Natives which was sweet! Our first dinner was with the Stake President and his family, (The Palmers). Then with a recent convert, then a member family, then the ward mission leader. I was stuffed! We don't have a scale at the new apartment, but I probably gained a few.

It sound like you had a lovely Thanksgiving! Not too busy at all. The best part is that that was your last one alone! (Well, without at least one of your kids there). I only have 5 transfers left, which will fly by. I've already been in Mesa for 7 transfers! If I stay one more transfer, I'll hit a year in this ward almost. That rarely happens!

Uhh... mmm.. ya know, the mission really makes me have a bad memory. I wouldn't know what to tell you.... But really though, I don't remember ever getting around the fire at all. (The fireplace in the basement was broken and the repairman said that it looked like someone had smashed into it and the spring-loaded connection came loose.  I had asked Thomas if he "knew anything about some horseplay/wrestling near it".  Maybe his friends who are reading this blog can help Thomas jog his "missionary memory"?  LOL!)

Dad's news is crazy! It's super awesome, but how?!?!? Please take video, pictures, everything! (Thomas' reaction to his Dad singing with Weezer this week!)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nov 17, 2014

I have had an enjoyable past few weeks in AZ. The weather is improving greatly which has been nice. No more heat for another 5 months or so!! It's actually been pretty cold!
 
We were able to have a baptism a few weeks ago of our investigator O. He has been investigating since early August after one of our members gave him to us as a referral. It is a really neat story actually:
We had been (and still are) pushing a lot for our members to help us by doing the finding. After several attempts with different families, one family came through with several referrals of families in their apartment complex. Concerning O and his family, the members told us that they would never accept the Gospel of Christ, but that we might find service opportunities if we knocked. The first time we knocked, O opened and allowed us to share a message with his family. I was able to baptize him 2 weeks ago.
 
Even when we don't think people are ready and willing, they might be. God has a different idea and plan than we do in many aspects of life, and we have to conform to His will in order to accomplish His plan.
 
For our monthly Mission Leadership Council, we were able to hear from Elder Larry R Lawrence yesterday. He is in the Second Quorum of the Seventy. We discussed many things that we've seen in the mission, both good and bad. We discussed several topics of concern and decided that our 'mission culture' needed to be changed. After some discussion and even dispute, this is what we sustained:
 
1. We are exactly obedient missionaries
-Perfect study schedule
-In/out of bed on time
-Avoid all forms of worldly entertainment*Music: The only artist we may listen to is Mormon Tabernacle Choir (No more 'MoTab'); We may only listen to hymns or children's songbook by them
-Never waste time
 
2. Our missions are spiritual experiences
-Live up to our baptismal covenants (Mosiah 18:8-10)
-Be lovingly bold with commitments
-Read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year, marking all references of Christ
 
3. We are accountable
-Each mission leader (me) will help each companionship to be exactly obedient by:
*Going on exchanges with each missionary to help them meet their goals and live up to the mission culture
-Inform our branch/ward/stake leaders of what we are doing
 
4. We are dignified and joyful representatives of Jesus Christ
-We use dignified language
*Refer to missionaries as Elder or Sister
*Refer to members and investigators as Brother or Sister
*Refer to leaders by their appropriate title (ie; President Monson, not Tommy)
-We are light hearted with great reasons to rejoice
 
 
I can't describe the joy I have with this new standard! It may seem difficult to follow, (especially with the music), but I know how much it will help each of us and our mission as a whole too.

We were able to gather as a mission on Wednesday and discuss these things. We were also taught about certain doctrine in the scriptures for several hours by Sister Lawrence that morning. I never thought I would be so mesmerized from a lecture on scriptures, but it was incredible.

There have been changes in companionships for me this week too. My companion who I was training became really sick at the beginning of October. He had struggled with this illness for over a month until the decision was finally made to send him home. He left late Thursday night. I hope the illness will be diagnosed at home and that he will have another chance to serve.  I was moved in with Elder Call and Elder Swanson (again), and we will stay in this companionship until the next transfer, which is December 9. The chances of me staying another transfer after this one has shot up now! If I stay one more transfer, I'll complete a year in this ward. They might as well give me a calling. ;)

If you'd like to see what we do on Pdays, check my facebook for some great shots of cricket! If you've written me in the last month and I haven't gotten back to you, I'll do that soon :)
 
 Keep the Faith
 
Elder Pilkington
 


 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Nov 3, 2014


Another short report for these last two weeks...
 
The zone only had a few changes with this last transfer, and none of them were with our ward. We are all the same setup. We do live together for now (zone leaders, but each training different companions), but President is thinking about switching us up a little bit to help some other missionaries stay on task. We are the only spanish ward in the zone. There are several spanish branches in Phoenix and one in South Scottsdale. One of my buddies and I are talking to President about opening a new spanish branch in North Scottsdale. If it actually does happen, it won't for some time. 

The Spanish trainings we do are for the spanish missionaries in the valley zones. We get together and have discussions basically of what we can do to improve. 

The facebook is going well. I'm not supposed to chat, but if you have referrals for missionaries, I'd love to help :)
 
I was able to go for Halloween and I took a family name! I did the baptism, confirmation and initiatory for William Pilkington. I found out that the 'duplicate check' that I did probably wasn't the most thorough and that he has probably already had his work done. Oh well, it was cool for me either way.
 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Oct 21, 2014

The last few weeks have been great!
 
We finally were able to baptize our investigator Oscar last night. It ended up being his birthday as well, so a great day! He has had to push it off the last two weeks because of his new job, which is great, but we were concerned that he wouldn't go through with the baptism. We finally sat him down early last week and discussed it with him. He has two younger kids who are taking lessons too, but are a little behind him in their progression. We invited him to 'prepare himself to be able to baptize his kids, by first being baptized and receiving the Priesthood.' I think that is what finally got him to commit 100%. Now that he has been baptized, we will put the majority of our focus on them to help them get ready for this amazing step of baptism.
 
There has been a pretty big struggle in Spanish work recently in our mission, and our Mission President has instructed us to hold 'Spanish Training Meetings' regularly. We went to the first one a few weeks ago. We have another one tomorrow. Hopefully with these new tools, we will find ways to help our areas improve. For now, Elder Sorensen and I have 4 people on date, all for 11/01. Please pray that these dates will go through!!
 
We've been given a little time each day to get on facebook and invite others to meet with missionaries! We even have permission to have skype lessons for the first 3, too. If you aren't a member and would be interested in learning more, or if you know anyone who would, please send me a message on facebook! Thanks :)
 
Not too much else to report on. We have transfers this weekend, so we won't be back on emails until Wednesday the 29th. My compa just got an email from the pres saying that we will be together for another transfer at least! Wahoo!!! That's like 10 months in this area almost :D I love it.
 
TTFN  (for those who aren't familiar with Winnie the Pooh, this means "Ta-Ta For Now")
 
Elder Pilkington
 
 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oct 13, 2014

Our baptism didn't happen this last weekend, but this weekend FOR SURE! We announced in church and everything. He still hasn't decided who he wants to baptize him, but I'll send home pictures eventually.

I'm feeling a lot better! I was fine all day on Friday, but after I finished the taco, it was lights out.  I was doing better through Saturday night, Sunday and Monday morning, but again got a huge dizzy spell and decided to stay in Monday night. We talked to the mission nurse and she thought it would be best to have me go into Instacare.  They did tests on me there, and told me I was just dehydrated from vomiting so much on Friday night. She gave me some medicine, and it has helped.  There was one other elder that was throwing up on Friday too, but we didn't find out until Sunday about that. After, several other missionaries got really sick too. They think mine was just because of Taco Bell... I think there was a really bad stomach virus. Pres and Sister Sweeny helped me while I was at their house, and checked up on me every few hours when I wasn't. Sorry for freaking you out, Mom!

The week has been good. We have 8 baptismal dates now! One this week, and the rest in November.

Nothing much new, Elder Sorensen is doing well.  It's tough at times for me to balance the ZL responsibilities and trainer responsibilities, but I'm juggling them well.
 
Just a short update this week.  More to report next week!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Oct 6, 2014 (Happy 42nd Birthday, Uncle Dave)

What a weekend! Conference is always a great time of year.
We had plans to go to the Stake Center to watch all of the sessions, but those plans changed a little bit on Friday night.
We went home a little bit early to finish planning, and while doing so, a lady came to our door. We had only talked to her once, and she had expressed to us that although she was not a member, she had close family who were members of our church. When we opened the door, she explained to us that her aunt asked her to buy food for the missionaries she had talked to. She was just leaving to run some errands and offered to buy us food. We denied the offer, but she wouldn't accept no for an answer. We gave her our Taco Bell order, (always a mistake), and she left. A little while later, she returned with our bag of Taco Bell. I'm pretty sure I only had a few bites when I started feeling a little bit different, but that didn't stop me. The last bite of the taco just about killed me. The room started spinning in circles around me and I saw four different Elder Sorensens surrounding me. I barely mumbled out to him that I felt a little sick, (a big understatement), before I just about blacked out. He caught me and dragged me to the bathroom, where I threw up everything in my system. It was awful. I'm pretty sure the lady spiked my food.
Anyway, we ended up going to the mission home and watching conference there with President and Sister Sweeney for the Saturday sessions.
We were able to get home and go to the Priesthood session that night, and Sunday we went to the Stake Center as well.
My conference highlights were:
Lynn G Robbins- Apostasy= lowering the Lord's standards to the level of inappropriate, worldly behavior. There are a lot more 'apostate' things going on than most of us think.
Chi Hong (Sam) Wong-  Every calling is important.
Dallin H Oaks- Even though we are in the world, we must not be OF the world.
Neil L Anderson- Despite what comes, this great cause will go forward.
Tad R Callister- I just want to thank my mom and dad for providing Suzie and me with our spiritual breastplate, shield and sword as we grew up.
Lots more, but not much more time. Sorry.
Elder Pilkington

                                                       Elders Pilkington and Sorensen


                                                               Breakfast of Champions
 
 
 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

9/30/14

(In Thomas' email this week, he is mostly answering my questions...)
 
Still crazy stuff for sure. We have been doing our very best to keep up with lessons even though I'm busy with ZL stuff. Somehow, we are leading the zone still in all of our numbers, which is good to see. My comp is doing well. We get along super well and teach great together!! He has been a little stressed so far with the language and having to be a comp to a ZL, but overall I think he likes everything. 

There is a family coming soon! On Thursday night they'll be there and I believe that they are planning on being there until Sunday at some point. They are going to the conference, but I'm not sure at what time. Other member families are going as well, but are staying in other places around the valley.  The dad reminds me of my dad so much!!!! He's a goofy guy haha.  They don't speak any English except for a few of the kids speak a few words. 
 
 
I love AZ a lot, and even the heat this year didn't  kill me like I thought it would. (I was in a car, so that helped.) I wouldn't mind living here, but I do love my snow during Christmas time. 
 
We will probably have 2 baptisms this week!! :D 

Have a great conference weekend and do all you can to get something from it! :D 
 
Thomas



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

9/21/14-Elder Sorenson

We have 6 new investigators! Training is so great, but I feel bad that he has to sit through my ZL duties so often. We'll have to do several exchanges this week for different meetings that we'll be going to.
 
When does Suzie have Pday? I want to talk to her :)
 
We were able to sit with, shake hands with, and listen to Elder Nelson on Saturday! That was incredible. I absolutely know that he is an apostle of Jesus Christ and I can't wait for General Conference to listen to him again and the other amazing men and women! It really is my favorite time of year. I can now admit, that it is a more important time for me than the Super Bowl. (I wouldn't have ever said that 1 yr. ago). The importance has really hit me.
 
Speaking of General Conference, would you or Grandma and Grandpa be willing to host some members that are going out this time? I'm not sure how many are going, but one of our investigators may go as well. What are your thoughts?
 
I'm so happy to hear how your week goes
 
 
                                                          Elders Pilkington and Sorenson

Transfer Day with new missionaries

                                                           Trainers and New Missionaries
                                

Thursday, September 18, 2014

9/17/14-New Assignment AND Companion

Suzie, I love you! :D I'm so excited for you to be in San Diego and enjoy the Spirit that you will feel throughout the next 17.5 months. It'll go by fast, so make the most of it!!
We got calls early last week due to a conference President had to be at. He called Elder Swanson and me on Wednesday. He asked me if I would train!! Of course I accepted it. I'm staying in the same area with the car on the reservation. Then he asked if Elder Swanson would train a missionary into Spanish work. He has been out for a while but is switching to Spanish. THEN he asked us if we would still be Zone Leaders..... So now we are split up but still the ZLs for this zone.
My companion is super cool. His name is Elder Matthew Sorensen from South Jordan, UT. We get along great and it will stay that way. He has awesome desires to serve and do the best he can. We are just going to follow the spirit in everything we do and we know we'll be blessed from Heavenly Father.
The two baptisms we were planning on won't happen this week either, but Y will be baptized on the 27th. She has told us already that she is ready, she just wants her family to accept it more than they do right now. O is close as well. He told several members, during church last Sunday, that he was going to be baptized soon. He also has two young kids who we are trying to teach as well. More on that to come.
Something that has been impressed on my mind strongly this past week are family home evenings. For those who don't know, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Monday nights have been set aside for family time. During this time, we are encouraged to set goals together, learn about certain principles and guidelines that will bless our family, and really just be with one another. Even if your kids are grown and out of the house. Our church leaders have counseled us on the importance of doing them regularly, and I have seen lots of blessings go to families who do it. I want everyone to have the same blessing! :D
Wish me luck on this training thing so I don't ruin the rest of Elder Sorensen's mission! ;D
Elder Pilkington
PS It's been raining and flooding here a lot! It's fun to drive in though ;)
PSS Elder Nelson is coming this Saturday to address us and the Mesa mission!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Happy Birthday, Thomas!

I'm finally am setting apart some time to fill people in on my life. These things are going to be super out of order probably, but I'll at least give you some decent detail.
First off, HAPPY BIRTHDAY SUZIE!!! :D:D:D I love you.
OK, let's move on.
A few weeks ago, one of the elders that was living with us got a call from our president, explaining to him that his step father had passed away. His mom can't take care of herself too well, so he finished early and went home to be with her. That left his companion to be with us. It has been a great few weeks with him, other than not being able to get to his area a lot. Our area has been so busy lately!! (More on that in a few minutes). Anyway, the elder that has been with us got a call on Friday, and was switched to another area, leaving me and my companion with the whole ward by ourselves. We've gone from 6 missionaries to 2 in a matter of 3 months. That has really piled on the work!!
Other than our own area, we have been doing A LOT of zone activities. Temple trip, zone conference, exchanges with other missionaries, Mission Leadership Councils, Zone Training Meetings, etc. Not to mention the countless doctor appointments, chiropractic appointments, and LDS family service appointments that we give rides to. It seems like we barely have time in our area some days.
Let me give some more detail on some of these activities:
Temple Trip- We are able to go to the temple once every other transfer, or every 3 months. We had the chance to go a few weeks ago with our zone. I can't even begin to describe the answers and the feelings that I received from the Spirit while we were there. If you are member and haven't been to the temple for a while, I highly encourage you to take the opportunity and GO!! IF you aren't a member, find the closest temple with a visitor's center, and learn more!
Zone Conference- We have the privilege to meet with our president once every 3 months to have a small conference. This one was incredible! We talked about several different ideas or principles, but one of the most powerful was the discussion about Peter. In the Bible, we learn that Peter has ups and downs during the period of time before the Resurrection. He shows his faith by getting out his boat, but then quickly loses that faith and begins to sink. We see this same concept when he promises to the Savior that he would NEVER deny him. Shortly thereafter, we learn that he denies Jesus three times. We talked about how this often happens to us as members and missionaries as well. We often tell ourselves what we believe and make promises to ourselves to become better. We set goals to do so, but sadly, we often forget our own knowledge and understanding. We continued to study about Peter after the Resurrection of Christ. He becomes a completely different man. He goes through the 'Refiner's Fire' so to say. We are now focusing on making ourselves better through his example.
Dang, that was a long one...
MLC- We usually have one MLC at the beginning of each month, but this month we were lucky to have two! The first one was great. We had a few trainings given, and had some discussion of different matters in the mission. That one was good, but the one with Elder Lawerence E. Corbridge was a little better. ;) He is a member of the seventy that came and spoke to the 30 ZLs and STLs in our mission. (Zone Leader and Sister Training Leader). It was such a spiritual, enlightening meeting. I always love hearing from General Authorities, whether in person or not.
SO much more to talk about!!! I'll keep it short..ish.
A couple weeks ago, one of the elders in our zone got hit by a car and got some gross looking road rash to the face. He's doing OK now, don't worry. The funny part, is that after he got hit, his companion wasn't paying attention and smashed into the side of the car. Karma I guess.
We have 2 baptismal dates for the 13th! One of them is an 18 yr old girl and the other is 40ish yr old guy. They were both referrals from one member family, and now they both have dates. I'll keep you updated on them.
We have been implementing several new finding ideas in our ward. One of them is a sports night, (which I bought a new bball for), and another is an English class, which nobody comes to.
We've had some cool services recently that have involved mowing lawns, cleaning up wood piles full of lizards and scorpions, and cleaning churches. Gotta love the service!
We have pizza a lot at the church. We call it capizza. (capilla+pizza=capizza) Capilla means church in spanish. So like church pizza, churizza, but it flows better in spanish.
I got a jar of syrup for my birthday from the Stake President and his wife! :) It's good stuff!!
Yeah, that's pretty much it. I hit my year mark on Thursday, and that's pretty cool too.
I'll probably get better at blog emails. This one was scattered. Apologies.

I love you all, thanks for the support. You make a bigger difference than you realize, just from your prayers and thoughts.

Elder Pilkington

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pictures!! August 2014

 Doing Service with a Machete!
 
 Good 'ole Thumbs Up
 
 Elder Clements and Elder Pilk
 
 Being Zone Leader and the hospital responsibilities that go along with it
 
" Haboob"  Major dust storm!
 
 Elder Pilk and Elder Swanson-current companion!
 
 Proud to say that Thomas is officially pepper-spray certified against dogs
 
Baptism for Manuel
 
Elder Clements and Elder Pilk

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July 28, 2014 (Elder Swanson)

We had a baptism on Saturday, which was great! The investigator, Manuel, was so prepared. He had investigated about a year ago, and had loved everything he heard. He wanted so badly to be able to move forward and be baptized, but he wasn't able to keep commitments at all. He was married to an Indian Woman who was physically and mentally ill. She was actually raised in the church, but had been less active for most of her life. He was her primary caregiver, and it was such a time consuming job for him, he wasn't able to make time for God. Unfortunately, about 3 weeks ago, she passed away from a heart attack. As sad as it was, he realized that he could now accomplish his goals in the church. A week after her death, my companion and I decided to pass by and check on them, (not knowing that she had died). He quickly progressed and was able to be baptized. His testimony of the baptismal covenant is the strongest I have ever heard of from recent converts or strong members of the church.

Our area continues to progress! We have seen so many miracles with various aspects of the work. Members are starting to understand the importance of helping in this amazing work, and have given us so much support. Several great studies that I've had in the last few weeks relate to this idea exactly!
The first study I did, was about plans. Just plans in general. As I continued through the study, I thought about plans that are in action today. The biggest plan we have, is God's plan. I studied how God has such a successful plan, and what we should be doing as a ward, to copy Heavenly Father's plan for us and create a successful mission plan. I hope we are able to implement that with our ward soon! I know that as we mimic the way the Lord has done things, we will be successful as He has been.

The other study I did, was with Fellow shipping/ Home & Visiting Teaching. I had never really thought of it as being something super important. Growing up in Utah, there weren't a ton around me  that weren't members of the church, and those members were almost all active! At least the ones my Dad and I were assigned to. As I have experienced new things on my mission, I have come to understand the great need for these small visits. I quickly realized how many opportunities I missed to share the gospel. Even my neighbor across the street wasn't a member, and I rarely talked to him. The times I did were about the weather.
How often do we miss opportunities to share the gospel with others? How many times have we neglected our duties as home and visiting teachers? How much do we truly think about our baptismal covenant of helping others in every circumstance?
Why not invite someone to the next church activity or family home evening? Why not suggest their name to the missionaries?

Let's work together to help everyone have the happiness that we do!
Elder Pilkington

July 14, 2014...a little late!

IPADS!! We found out that ipads have been approved for our mission, and we'll get them in the next 2 months or so. The only thing, is that we have to pay for them, but I'm fine with that! No more paper records!!
We have assisted 2 funerals this week. One of them was for the young girl that died last Sunday, and the other was for the wife of one of our investigators. This particular investigator has been taught for quite a while and therefore knows quite a bit, but unfortunately had never been able to go to church because he was always caring for his mentally and physically ill wife. After she died of a heart attack a few weeks ago, he met with us and basically told us he would conform to the will of the Lord. At the funeral, he introduced us as his 'teachers' to the Pastor who was conducting the service. He has a lot of respect for the church and is completely willing to do whatever is asked of him. He accepted a baptismal date for July 26! As we talked about tithing during church yesterday, he leaned over to my companion and asked what the quickest way to pay tithing was. We're very excited to see his progression this week and up to the point of baptism.
We had a neat experience yesterday with another one of our investigators. She has been taking lessons FOREVER because of marriage problems, but we solved that all yesterday! As my companion Elder Swanson was teaching a different lesson across the balcony, I was sitting with Emma and talking about her future. We decided that it's time to set some goals and work towards them. I invited her to think about and set her own goals for marriage and baptism, and set did without hesitation! She chose August 9 to be married, and chose August 16 to be baptized. We are also working with her boyfriend, trying to strengthen him again as an investigator.
We had a really neat experience with Nikki, a girl we decided to talk to one night. We were on our way to an appointment, and saw Nikki folding some clothes outside. I kind of got the impression to start a bigger conversation with her than just , "Hey!". I walked over and my companion followed and we began to get to know her. She has been going through lots of struggles recently, and hasn't known where to turn for help. She has some friends and family tell her to ask the 'mormons' for help because 'they help everyone'. She didn't feel comfortable seeking us out, so she prayed for us instead. And we showed up! We got her set up with the English Sister Missionaries, and she seems to be doing a little bit better. It just shows us that the Lord truly does put us in certain places at certain times, even if our intended plans don't work out.
Have a good week!

Elder Pilkington

Monday, July 7, 2014

July 7, 2014 ZONE LEADER (Elder Swanson)

The last couple of weeks have been insane!! SOOO busy.

We had transfers two weeks ago, and President Sweeney called me to be a Zone Leader in Mesa. As Zone Leader, I have been busy with so many missionaries. The first week, a sister went home. We had to emergency transfer another sister over to replace her. In another companionship, a sister went back to her old area for stress related reasons, so we had to figure out the situation with her companion. Another companionship was having problems arguing, and one of them eventually got emergency transferred as well for un-related issues. SO many changes happened that we were apart of. Plus, we spent several hours in the middle of the night in the ER with a companionship due to an asthma attack.
I didn't think this calling would be so chaotic, but I was mistaken!
We have been involved in various other appointments and meetings with missionaries every day. It's great to serve others, but it has been a little difficult to balance it with our area and investigators.
Our mission started using pepper-spray for the sisters recently. We had an accident with one of our sisters getting attacked by dogs, and because of that, started doing trainings to be 'certified' to use it. I am proud to announce, that I am now pepper spray certified.... Wahoo.
We woke up one morning to the sound of a waterfall in our kitchen. We realized we had a leak from the ceiling. That went on for a couple days unfortunately, but has now been taken care of. Who would've thought I could live in AZ AND a rainforest at the same time? Now we know.
We had a super cool experience in the middle of a haboob this week. We were instructed to pull over immediately and turn the car off, so we sat inside the hot, humid, stinky car for about 45 minutes. Pictures will be coming.
The WORST part of my week was a tragedy in the ward. Yesterday after church, a single father, recent convert and his 4 young kids were going home from church. As they walked into their apartment parking lot, his youngest daughter Jackie, (2 yrs old), was hit and killed by a large SUV, who took off after hitting her. We were called and notified, as well as the other members, who all went to help. What an upsetting time for this family! Please keep them in your prayers and thoughts. The dad, Genaro, is having a really hard time as you can imagine.
Elder Pilkington

Monday, June 23, 2014

June 16, 2014 (Elder Clements)

What a week!
 
Unfortunately, we weren't able to get the amount of lessons that we had been getting in the past, but we had a lot of service, and great lesson with less actives. We have now helped 2 families get back to church, and are working hard with others.
We have been meeting a lot as missionaries of the branch, and had a meeting to review the 3 areas in the branch. After fasting and praying and meeting with our Mission President, we have decided to shut an area down. That means two of the missionaries here right now will leave. The boundaries of the branch will be re-adjusted into just 2 areas. What we have been told so far, is that most likely, I will stay and train somebody, and they will bring in two different missionaries to white wash the Sisters area and the area that's being shut down. We'll see what happens with that.
 
Bigger news! We had been told all week that there were big things going on at church, but we all kind of thought the Branch Presidency was getting switched. To our surprise, President and Sister Sweeney were there, the Stake Presidency was there, and Elder Wright, Area Seventy was there as well. They announced that after having talked to the First Presidency of the Church and reviewing everything, the Mesa Grande Branch is now qualified to be a ward!!! We now have 2 Spanish wards in the Mission!! It was great to hear the story of how the Branch was started not too long ago. What progress!! Along with that, the Sisters had a baptism on Saturday and the new member was confirmed yesterday. We just continue to build up the Lord's Kindgdom wherever we go! The life of being a missionary is stressful at times, but what blessings and miracles come from it!
 
Short email this week, but great changes are being made. I'm excited to see how we continue progressing!!
 
DC 26:1
 
Elder Pilkington

Monday, June 9, 2014

June 2, 2014 (Elder Clements)

This week has been awesome! So many lessons and so much progression!
 
Before this area, I wasn't used to getting high numbers. My past companions and I would have a mentality where we wouldn't be agents. In other words, we wouldn't act or make things happen. We would wait for others to come to us, wait for people to prepare themselves, etc. We would average maybe 8 lessons a week total, where we should be getting 20+. We definitely were not doing the best we could now that I think about it. Once I got switched to this new area, with a new companion, I decided to change it up. My companion had a similar experience in the past. He has only been out for 3 transfers, (4 months), and always just followed along without being part of anything. We both decided to take a leadership role in the companionship and work together more. It has definitely proved to be the right decision. We are now accountable for our goals! It has really changed the way we work.
 
Now, we are hitting almost all of our daily and weekly goals. We have been teaching more than 20 lessons a week and have 2 baptismal dates later this month.
 
My point with all of this, is that we need to be agents. We have to wake up knowing that our goals will be met, and we will have success.
 
This mentality has helped me so much as a missionary, and I have seen so much success between me and my companion. 
 
One of the 'fruits of our labors' was uncovered yesterday at church. We have been teaching a less active woman and her daughter for a couple of weeks now. They went through a rough time when the dad took off one day, and never came back. They were confused and upset and turned to the church, which was great of them to do. The only thing, is that they saw 'complete' families at church. They felt left out and unwelcome. We decided to really focus on teaching them about families, the Plan of Salvation, and Temples. I know the Spirit has helped them the last few weeks, because I have seen them change. Right before church started yesterday, they both walked in, still seeming a little uneasy, but they were there. Immediately, almost every single member gave them both huge hugs and told them how much they had missed them. With the guidance of the Lord, we had helped this family come back. It was incredible.
 
The Lord lives and this work is real.
 
Elder Pilkington 

Memorial Day 2014

This transfer has been great so far!

The work has increased tremendously with 5 new investigators over a two week period. We cover the Pima Indian Reservation for Spanish people, and have a good amount of work out there. In fact, most of our work is on the res. We were able to find a Spanish family early this week, who have talked to missionaries in the past, but didn't make much progress with them. I admit, it is hard to find them home, but that's true with any Spanish family here. They are always working. The lessons we have had with them have been great! With more and more contact and lessons, they will really notices good changes in their lives, especially if they're reading and praying consistently.
Another family we found has been incredible. We were walking to contact a referral one night and this guy was walking down the street with his son. Of course we stopped and talked for a few minutes outside, and he quickly invited us to his house on the spot. We spent the last few minutes of that night talking to him, answering questions, and teaching about the Restoration of the gospel. You to see the Spirit working hard on him. He seemed to obtain a glow as we taught him, which was amazing to see. Over the last week, we have taught him various times about the Plan of Salvation and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With every single lesson, he has changed. After some of his life long questions were answered with the Plan of Salvation, he expressed to us a feeling that he had. He went on to describe what we know as the Holy Ghost. We testified to him of the Spirit and invited him to be baptized. He accepted June 21 as his date.
We have gone all over the area trying to get in contact with every single one of our less actives and former investigators and seen great blessings from it. We have seen people change in a matter of days, and I know through help of the Lord, they will find their way to His Gospel and He will give them blessings along the way.

I know that nothing in life is easy, but everything we do in the church is done for a reason. It will all be worth it in the end. The Lord gives us His promise, that as we conquer evil and do our best to stay clean, we will be given eternal life.
Keep this in mind as you get through this week. Have a good one!

Elder Pilkington

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May 12, 2014-DISTRICT LEADER (Elder Clements)

The last little bit has been full of ups and downs, but that's how the mission goes.
We didn't email on Monday because we just had transfers, so our P-day switched to Wednesday instead. I got a call early on Saturday from our Mission President, President Sweeney. He told me I had a new assignment. I was thinking I was going to move to a completely different area with new people and new environment, but I was wrong. He continued, saying that I would be switching from the west side of our branch to the north side. It was pretty shocking to me, but I was super excited. All I did, was switch rooms in the same apartment. I am now working with another companion, Elder Clements, who I have gotten to know really well over the past few months. We are working on the Indian Reservation together. There is a surprisingly large amount of Spanish that live on the res, so we have good work to do. During my conversation with President Sweeney, he also called me to become the new District Leader of our district. I'm very excited to serve in this calling, but a little nervous at the same time. I know that I will learn a ton from my new calling as I follow the guidance the Lord and church leaders have set.
Saturday night, we were out visiting English member families to help them with service and to ask if they knew anybody in their neighborhood that was Spanish. With one of the families, we got a good conversation going, and stepped inside to talk for a while. When we finally left, we walked outside to find that Elder Pope's bike was gone. Somebody had come in the few minutes that we were inside, and taken his bike. Luckily and surprisingly to me, my bike was left standing in the driveway. It was a bittersweet feeling to see it. The members we were with offered Elder Pope another bike that they were going to throw away. It isn't in the greatest condition, but fixable. They also gave us a ride home that night.
On Sunday, we enjoyed a peaceful, spiritual time at church with one of our slowly progressing investigators, Ricardo. He has come twice now, and is doing everything he needs to be, just a little slower than normal. I know that he will be baptized. I have seen his reactions to the feelings of the Spirit in his life. I have watched him give up alcohol and the positive affect that it's made in his life.
Even though I don't cover his area anymore, it will be great to watch his progress even more as he comes to church and branch activities.
On Sunday night, we were able to Skype with our families! It was great to see my Mom and Dad and be able to talk to them for a while. Unfortunately, my sister is traveling London for school, so I didn't see her, but I loved being able to talk with my parents and hear about everything at home.
I'm super excited to what what this transfer brings us. I already know it will be an awesome 6 weeks and that we will get a lot of work done.
Elder Pilkington
 
Thomas' new companion, Elder Clements (from Mississippi) is 2nd from the end.  He is standing next to Thomas' former companion, Elder Pope, from Walla Walla, WA
 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

                                              Elder Pilkington and Elder Pope with Gracie

4/28/14-(Elder Pope)

This has definitely been a better week.
We had interviews and inspections this week which went really well. It was well needed. I was able to spend some time talking with my Mission President about the work, both the successes and struggles, and ways to become better in the work and as a person. He is full of knowledge and the light of Christ. Great example to me. We also talked to Sister Sweeney about church invitations while we were there. She gave us a great training on how to successfully invite people to come to church.
We were also able to teach a boy named Jose that same day. He is 17 and seems very prepared. He has had some struggles in his life. He has looked towards God for a long time. He believes that we are the answer to his prayers. We taught him several more times this week and even set a baptismal date with him for May 10. Unfortunately, we decided last night that he would do better in an English ward rather than Spanish. We will switch him to the English elders tomorrow.
On Wednesday and Thursday, we had companion exchanges. I stayed in my area both days. Those were two of the most successful days so far. We had a lot of great lessons and other amazing successes during that time. We even found a new investigator during that time.
During weekly planning, we decided we needed to make a change in our area. We had such a large group of investigators with very little success. We went from about 15 investigators to 7 or 8. It was tough to make that call, but it is so important to trust in the Lord and have the faith to do his will. I know it will be better in the long run. We even got a new investigator shortly after that. The Lord is already putting new people in our path.
We were walking around our area one night talking to everyone we saw, and we came across a guy fixing his car. We started a conversation with him and tried to help him out. His name is Joe. He told us about everything that has happened to him recently and how he isn't in the mood for God. He unfortunately 'walked in' on his wife of 13 years. They have 3 kids together. He ended up listening to us for a while as we bore testimony to him and asked 'heaven sent' questions to get him thinking. You could definitely tell the Spirit was working on him. A few minutes later, some guys pulled up to their house and I called them over. They ended up being returned missionaries themselves and one of them served in Chicago where Joe used to live. They had a good conversation about that, and Joe started changing his upset attitude. He decided he was just going to walk home rather than try to fix the car, but one of the RM's offered a ride. Joe was shocked, because he doesn't live close at all and doesn't even know the guy. He pulled Elder Pope and I aside and asked us why the RM offered him a ride. You could tell his whole night got turned around, just by starting a conversation. We asked him if he'd like missionaries to stop his house and promised him that they would be able to help him. He said that he wouldn't like that unless it was the two of us. We explained how we have our own area to cover and also that we are the Spanish missionaries. He told us that he would move down here and learn Spanish if it meant being able to talk to us more. I didn't know I could make such a big difference in people's lives. As we began to leave, he told us that he was actually baptized a member of our church years ago when he was in the Marines. He said it was because of people like us that he got baptized in the first place. Amazing experience!
I know that God works in mysterious ways. The more we trust in Him and do EVERYTHING he has asked us to do, the more miracles and blessings we will see. I know He lives and loves all of us.
Elder Pilkington

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter-4/21/14 (Elder Pope)


Happy Easter! Such a great time of the year.

This has been a really stressful week. We have had very few success with investigators. The only interaction we have had with them has been the Easter Pageant. We try to be bold with them without being overbearing, but it seems like no matter what we do, they just kind of blow us off. It is almost impossible to get SET appointments in our area.

One of our investigators has started to drink again, and told us that he will never change. He said that God loves him for who he is even if he is an alcoholic. He doesn't want us to come by as often. It's really hard, because his son and granddaughters were just baptized within the last 3 months, and I'm sure it's affecting them to watch him drink so much. Unfortunately, I don't think any of our investigators, except for one, are taking us seriously at all. I almost want to drop everybody and start over again as if we just got to the area. Luckily, the one investigator that IS progressing, is doing well!

Elder Pope and I have gotten in a lot of arguments as well this week. We're working through that little by little though.

Overall, it hasn't been a great week, which is sad, because it should be the best week! This is one of the greatest times of the year to be a missionary. I know it is Satan trying to work against us. He knows what he is doing and sometimes it's hard not to let him get involved in what we do.

On the bright side of everything, we were able to show the Easter video to almost every single contact we had this week, plus every dinner appointment and other lesson we had. It was amazing to see how touched every single person was. Especially one guy we talked to. We talked to him for quite a bit about family, life and religion. He mentioned to us several times, very strongly, that he did not believe in Jesus Christ or God as people, but just a higher power. We invited him to watch the video, and eventually he agreed. During it, you could see his demeanor completely change. After, he sat in silence for a minute and told us that he felt something that made him get goosebumps and made his hairs stand up. I know without a doubt that he felt the Spirit. Just talking about it makes me feel the same way; full of peace and joy. That video I KNOW has changed the lives of many this week!

Elder Pilkington

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

April 14, 2014

This week has been a little bit slower than normal, but we have still had some great experiences throughout the week.
Tuesday was the busiest day this week by far! We got out to work around noon and we were able to have five powerful lessons. We got two new investigators that day. At the end of the day, Elder Pope and I looked at each other and discussed how we both had been praying all morning for the chance to teach a lot. The Lord definitely answered our prayers!
Unfortunately, my companion was sick for the bulk of the day on Wednesday. We were in the house for a good part of the morning to let him rest and get better, but we were able to do exchanges later in the day so we could get work done in our area. I went with another Elder in my branch, Elder Broomhead to visit people in my area while he stayed home with Elder Clements. As we went around, we found a lot of people home, but nobody wanted to talk. We stopped at a less active member's house, trying to talk to her husband, who is investigating the church. Unfortunately we found out that she had a restraining order put on him that morning. He's been put on the back burner for now.
On Thursday, we had an awesome Zone Training Meeting (ZTM)! There were some amazing trainings given by other missionaries in our zone. It was a great, very spirit felt time.
After getting our weekly planning done on Friday, we were able to go to a baptism in my last area in Phoenix; The Monterrey Branch!! One of my best friends was baptized! Aaron, who I was able to teach for a long time, had finally accepted a baptismal date! We had become really close while I was there, because we are the same age and had a lot in common. It's amazing to watch him grow! I was there for his wedding, (where Elder Gutierrez and I met him), and when his second daughter was born and then for his baptism! Of course it was great to see so many members that I loved as well. We even had time to go home and teach a lesson!
We did exchanges on Saturday. I was able to spend the day with one of my Zone Leaders, Elder Lomu. We did several hours of service!! I absolutely love service. I feel like it is the best way to share the Love of Christ with others. To some missionaries it is a waste of time, but I disagree with that completely! More than that, we are able to find other people to teach as well. After our service, we got ready and studied and got out to teach. We were only able to find a couple less active families at home, but had great, spiritual lessons with both of them. That night, the Spanish missionaries were invited to a small gathering before the Easter Pageant. We had good food and got to spend a little time with our less actives. We had several investigators tell us they would meet us there, but didn't get there until too late. Luckily, they didn't miss any of the Pageant, which outlined the Life of Jesus Christ. It was soooo good!
I have been able to feel the Spirit so much this week as I have gone around and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others. I know that as we are always seeking to learn more and be better people, He will bless us and stand by us in the things we do.

I want to invite everyone to watch the Church's new video, about Christ, to celebrate Easter. The website is: www.mormon.org/becauseofHim or
                 http://easter.mormon.org/

Monday, April 7, 2014

April 7, 2014--General Conference Weekend

What an incredible weekend!

Those were awesome sessions of Genereal Conference! It's amazing how much all the talks really do relate to every single one of us, no matter what situation we are in. The April session is by far my most favorite weekend in the first half of the year. My second favorite is the Super Bowl... but that's not important.....
There is truly nothing better than hearing our Prophet's voice. It is a comforting, re-assuring sound, that brings peace and happiness. We were unfortunately unable to get anyone to accompany us to watch the sessions, nevertheless still had a great time.
There were many great talks that were given, and I got something important from every one of them, but a few that really caught my attention were these:
First, the talk by Sister Linda S. Reeves. She focused the second half of her talk towards families. She taught us how important it is to have certain things occurring in our lives on a daily basis. The three main things that were mentioned were 1. Daily scripture study; 2. Daily prayer; 3. Weekly family home evening. As a missionary, I do these three things consistently. The blessings that have come from doing them have been incredible. I have had the Spirit with me more and been able to make better decisions in everything I do. She said we must make these things a PRIORITY in family life.
Another that I enjoyed in the first session on Saturday, was that given by President Henry B. Eyring. He focused his talk on the power of Satan. One of the very first quotes that was given, said, "The Lord does not quit, and neither do we!" The Lord is always here to help us. It may take time, but He will never leave us. We too must stand strong in the face of adversary. He continued to talk about choosing the right. "If the blessings were immediate, choosing the right would not build faith." It is so important that we are constantly doing what we can to follow the Lord and his servants the Prophets. As we do this with scripture study and observation in all things, we will have the power needed to overcome Satan.
Priesthood session was incredible as well. I encourage everyone who has not watched it to do so. Especially the talk given by Dallin H. Oaks. The best quotes from his talk were these: 1. "Forget the rights focus on the responsibilities." This one is talking about Priesthood and/or leadership rights. They are not to give people power, rather to help them help others. We can not forget the purpose of sacred callings and authorities given to us. 2. "Marriage is a full partnership." On my mission, I have seen a ton of relationships go down hill a little bit because one of the two seems to think they have more right or power to things. This, as mentioned by Elder Oaks, is not the case at all. A marriage must be treated as an equality. If it is not, it will cause problems in the future.
I don't want to write forever about conference, but here are just a few more quotes that I loved from conference:
"Who we are right now, is NOT who we can become!" Donald L Hallstrom
"Worldly things CHOKE our abilities and sacred powers." Donald L Hallstrom
"What we consistently desire, we will one day become." Randall L Lidd
"REFINE, PURIFY, and ELEVATE your desires!" Randall L Lidd
"Negative habits WILL become addictions if we don't change them." Dieter F Uchtdorf
"If you ever find yourself where you should not be, GET OUT!" Thomas S Monson
"Be the same person in the dark and in the light. Everywhere you go." Thomas S Monson
"Choose to be grateful, no matter what!" Dieter F Uchtdorf
"The Gospel is not a checklist of things to do, rather, it lives within us." Jean A Stevens
"Never think we can't change." Gary E Stevenson
"We are NOT and NEVER will be alone." David A Bednar
"Learn from, change, or accept our challenges through prayer." David A Bednar
"Blame keeps wounds open; only forgiveness heals." Thomas S Monson

I KNOW that every single one of these speakers has been guided by the Lord in the messages they shared. These are things that the Lord has purposely put into our minds to ponder and use in our everyday lives. If you haven't yet had the chance to watch these sessions, please do it! Your lives will be blessed.
I know that as we follow the counsel and guidance given, we will be blessed.

Elder Pilkington

April 2, 2014

Well, it's been a couple weeks. Still not a whole ton of exciting things happening out here.
Last week, I got a call from the Relief Society of the branch, and they wanted me to play their Joseph Smith for their activity. I had to dress up kind of and read a few paragraphs. Pretty cool stuff.
I also was invited to attend a large meeting. We had some church representatives come down from Utah and speak to us. One was the Director of Proselyting for the missionaries, and the other was the Director of Referrals. They only invited about 40 out of the 120 missionaries that there are in the mission. Still not really sure why I was one of them, but very happy to have had the chance to attend. I learned so much from them on how to become a better missionary! So many great ideas that were opened up to us. They also told us that in the next few months, we will be getting ipads. Nothing new to us, we've been told that since I got to Arizona.
We had the opportunity to do a church tour practice this week as well. Even though it was only a practice and we didn't have an investigator with us, it was great to feel of the Spirit in the building. It's crazy to think that 1 year ago, I was annoyed that I had to go to church. Now I see the Spirit that comes and the blessings as well. There is such a great importance that I guess I didn't realize before my mission. It is so hard for me to see all these less actives around me that have no desire to go back. If they only could see it from the perspective that I am at right now....
The successes that we HAVE had this week, have been small, powerful, spiritual lessons. We have been able to find a few more people, making our count of investigators about 15 now. Unfortunately, not all of them are progressing like we would like. The ones that are have honestly been prepared to be taught. One of them is new as of this week, and our very first lesson, he kept telling us how much it all made sense to him. He had a huge smile on his face as we invited him to be baptized. He happily accepted the invitation for the 26th of April.
We still have another date for April 26 with Alejandro. He is progressing spiritually, but is in an unfortunate situation with his family right now. His wife is extremely Catholic and she does not want anything to do with us. The more we go over, the worse it gets.
I have to go, but please pray for these people!

I am so grateful for your support!

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 17, 2014

If you read this blog consistently and don't write me at all, DO IT! I would love to hear from all of you.
We are now up to 10 investigators, which is great, but they aren't progressing like they need to be. There are a few, however, that have really made a large impact on me during our discussions this week. I'll give a little information about of few of them.
First, we met with Juan. He is a younger father of two, but his kids have been separated from him for one reason or another, and are living in Idaho. He lived in Idaho a few ago as well until he had his accident that caused him to move down here with family to take care of him. He was involved in a car accident where the other driver ran the red light and t-boned him. Luckily, he didn't die, but he is now paralyzed from the chest down. As he was describing his feelings to us, he kept including God in his thoughts and feelings. He has such an amazing testimony and knows there is more in life than what most people think. That is what got him involved with missionaries.
Another woman we met with this week has had her own problems. Her name is Lizet. She is a very young mother of 2. The experiences she has had are so amazing as well. Through God, she has been able to fight her difficulties and, the same as Juan, see that there is more in life than what she thought before. Unfortunately, she has family that is against us, and because of that, she doesn't want to follow through with anything. They believe the things we teach, but have the same problem as many. They don't want to change their drinking and smoking habits. That is somewhat understandable to me, but it is sad to see them miss so many promised blessings through something that only gives them small amounts of pleasure. Oh well, I know that one day, they will desire to change.
There is a man named Jorge who LOVES to fight us about the Bible. He doesn't really know enough to fight it in my opinion, because every question he had about a scripture that 'didn't exist', we found and explained to him. During one of these 'argumentative lessons', he stopped and looked at me for a second and said, "Te voy a decir algo. Tu eres un buen ejemplo de Cristo. Eres una persona llena del Espiritu y eres muy humilde. Te quiero mucho!". That was hecka weird at first, but then I realized he was being serious. It was incredible to see this man go from completely hot headed to calm and spiritual. I don't know what I or my companion might have done to cool him down, but the change was amazing.
We were able to participate in our Zone Conference during this past week. Our Mission President came with his wife and addressed us, giving trainings, discussions, and talks. It was great. As a zone, we sang a Tongan hymn, which turned out really cool as well. The spirit when missionaries are all singing is great! Unlike anything else.
We have been eating nothing but grapefruit, lemons, and oranges the last few days. That is the beauty of serving in AZ. Citrus everywhere! We spent a long time on Saturday at a service project which included us picking a ton of fruit! Real life Fruit Ninja has been pretty sick as well! ;)

Have a good week!
Elder Pilkington

March 10, 2014

This week has really helped us to see the miracles that God puts in our lives.
 
After a great dinner with Bob and Ginger Newell, (one of my Dad's mission comps and his wife), we had an great Family Home Evening with several recent converts and a member family. It was such a powerful message that was shared and the spirit was felt so strong.
 
On Tuesday, we got to feel more of the amazing spirit as we attended the Mesa Temple as a zone. It was one of the most spiritual sessions I have attended. As one of our strong members was helping us with some visits, he told me that his son who is serving in California right now, sent him an email asking if he knew an Elder Pilkington. That was extremely surprising to them, as it is not a common name.

Throughout the week, we have really built strong relationships with the people, and gotten to understand them better, the same they have with us.
 
I had a sweet exchange with Elder Lindeman from South Jordan, UT. Although he is an English missionary and doesn't know Spanish, it was great to have his awesome spirit with me. He really helped me focus on what the purpose as a missionary is. Awesome spirit and awesome missionary. We were able to give a blessing to an older woman who has been struggling recently. As I closed this particular blessing, she, being full of the spirit and crying, thanked us for always bringing the spirit of Christ with us.
 
We had the majority of our appointments cancel during the week, but the ones we did have were full of the spirit and truth that the gospel brings. I encourage all who aren't members or who have been away from the church, for different reasons, to come back. You are missing so many blessings and even though you may already have happiness and peace in your lives, you can have even more.
 
We taught various lessons this week with our new investigators, now 8. If you were to ask me last week about the possibility of having 8 investigators, I would have told you a low percentile. My faith was obviously lacking and I have now realized that. As I discussed my frustration with our Mission President, President Sweeney, he explained to me that we are doing what we need to be doing and that it isn't just about whether we are doing things right, but also the time frame and desire of the Lord. This is absolutely true in EVERYTHING we do in life. The Lord is in charge of it all and we need to put 100% trust and love in Him in order to be successful.

 
Bloopers of the week:
 
1. As I was 'dismounting' my bike earlier this week, my pants caught the seat and completely ripped. I had to walk home with my underwear showing.
 
2. When we got transferred, our mail was being sent to the wrong box, which we didn't have a key for. We just barely realized it, and found all the mail. If you have sent me mail in the last 2 or 3 weeks and I haven't responded yet, this is why. I'll get on that today.
 
I know the Lord lives and guides us in all we do. He gives us tests and challenges to go through in life, with the intention of helping us in the long run and making us stronger. No matter how bad a problem may be, DON'T GIVE UP and especially, DON'T try to get through it alone. God wants to help, you just have to let him.
 
I love you and thank you so much for the support I have from family and friends. I can truly feel the prayers of the people.
 
Elder Pilkington

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Pictures!

                                                                Ummm, SO Handsome!

                                                         Happy Valentine's Day, Thomas!

                                                                           Great Family!

3/3/14--6 MONTH MARK!

Man same slow week. This white washing thing is a lot harder than we both thought.
 
We still don't have investigators, but we spend all day everyday looking for and talking to everyone we see. They are all either members already or white people that don't know spanish. The main way we have been able to talk to people so far is through the members. They have given great referrals!
 
On Monday, we were driving through the reservation and we saw 3 massive Bald Eagles at the top of a tree. That was pretty cool. Also, there are lots of wild dogs on the res., and we got chased by a couple going over 30 mph. Then we saw a larger native brother on his bike getting chased by like 4 of them. His face was priceless. We probably should've helped him, but I think he got away ok.....
 
We have had several decent lessons with some less actives, but the spirit was missing in most of those. These are people that don't have much desire to return and honestly don't want us there, so it's tough to feel much spirit if there is contention.
 
The majority of our week was walking, (my bike tire popped, again), to appointments that ended up getting cancelled, and getting poured on in the rain. Two days getting soaking wet from the rain this week. When it rains in AZ, it rains. The flash floods that people talk about are real.
 
The Temple dedication for the Gilbert Temple was sweet! Awesome experience to partake in.
 
My half birthday passed on Saturday, (if anyone cares), and my 6 month mark hits tomorrow. The time has flown by. I don't even realize that I am one fourth of the way done with my mission.
 
Again, I want to thank you all for the support that you give me. It really helps to strenghthen me and my companions as well.
 
Never stray from the Gospel of Christ. 1 Nephi 22:31 has been shared by me a lot this week. It is absolutely true. We don't have much that we need to do in order to enter the Kingdom of Our Father.  
 
Elder Pilkington