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