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