Monday, April 27, 2015

Email Update: 4/27/2015

Dear Everyone,

Thank you for the birthday wishes! It was a low-key birthday, which is about what you expect out here. We actually spent most of the day doing yard work around the church building, then we went over to the Lemckes home and helped Jim paint their ceilings. I think that the only special thing we did for my birthday was go out to eat. Memo to me, just because a restaurant gave a free birthday meal to one person, does not mean they will necessarily do it for you. I'm glad I didn't get the super expensive meal!

As for the rest of the week, things were pretty slow this time around. We did have a couple of really good visits with a less active lady named Alisha. She has been having a hard time with her non-member husband, who while not actively working against her coming back to church, has been acting in ways to make it difficult. Alisha has been really trying to work towards going to the temple, including paying tithing, quitting coffee and other Word of Wisdom issues, and coming to church whenever her work schedule allows it. That one has been really bothering her, because she's asked to have Sundays off, and was even told that she could, but they keep scheduling her anyways. We were able to let her know that she is trying, that Heavenly Father knows it, and that as long as she keeps trying, it'll all work out. Elder Reischman gave her a blessing yesterday, which she was really appreciative for, and she will figure it all out.

We also were able to start teaching the full discussions to Dan. We had been talking about doing so for a while, and we finally taught the first one yesterday. The only problem is our timing---he had just woken up from a nap, so he was pretty much out of it. We aren't too sure how much he actually understood, so the next time we go over, we are going to run at least a quick refresher course before starting the next one. Dan is still doing really well after his mom passed, and I'm really impressed with how much he trusts that he will see her again. He says that he still can't eat a triple Cheese Burger from McDonalds, but other then that, he is really ok. I hope that it stays that way, and that he will continue to work at coming back to church.

Finally, it's less then a week until Kodi (I've been spelling his name wrong this whole time---sorry) gets baptized! It'll be a bit of a crazy week for us, since we still have a whole lesson and a baptismal interview before Saturday, but I know that it will work out. I still am not used to having someone take notes while we teach; it's a bit of a heady feeling! I just have to remember that it's not really me who is teaching, but the Spirit, which Kodi is super in tune with. In our last lesson, we taught on the Commandments, and one of his comments was that he wished that he had known all of these earlier in his life. He told us that his trip with the Lallatins was awesome, and that they were able to visit the Draper and SLC temples as well as the Payson open house. Kodi's favorite one was the Draper---even though it was wet and rainy, he made everyone get out so that he could touch it. I think that he is excited for Saturday.

Well, I think those are the major points from this week. Thank you all again for everything, and I hope that you have a good week!

Love and Insanity, Elder Stuver

Monday, April 20, 2015

Lindsey's Baptism

Email Update: 4/20/2015

Dear Everyone,

I hope all of your weeks went well! Ours was a little slow, but we did have some really good times throw in here and there. We've been progressing really well with Cody, and he is getting both more excited and more nervous every day as his baptism gets closer. We just taught the first half of the Commandments yesterday, and he reiterated that he's been doing most of them already. I can't say how cool it is to see people making good choices on their own, simply because they are learning the truth. On top of that, Cody is actually going down to Utah this weekend with Audrey's (his girlfriend) family, for her graduation from BYU. While they are down there, they were able to get tickets to go to the Payson Temple Open House! I can't think of a much better way for him to get ready for his baptism then feeling the Spirit as strongly as he will there. 

We also have gotten to see how Lindsey has been doing after her baptism, and it's been really great. The way she put it, it's been getting better and better every day, and she's starting to really recognize how she has the Spirit more in her life. We learned about the Sacrament in Gospel Principles yesterday, and she was saying how she can feel that fresh, clean feeling that she did after her baptism every week when she takes bread and water. She also mentioned how that feeling starts to wane toward the end of each week, so that she looks forward to Sundays to take it again. There are two of the Ward missionaries working with her through the New Member discussions, and one of them is actually Audrey, so she is in very good hands. 

Finally, we got to see the girl from Dairy Queen again, and the first things she said when we pulled up to the window was, "I didn't make it! But I'll try to make it this week." We also were able to get her name this time, Mira. 
Sadly, she still didn't, but I've got a really good feeling that she will soon. She seems to really want to come, and that desire is one of the most important steps to getting to church. If she really wants it, she will find a way to make it, and I really do think that she really wants it. All that needs to happen is for her to look to Christ for a hand when things get in the way. When she does, she'll make it to church, and when she makes it to church, she will feel the Spirit testify that she made the right choice.

Those are the major things from this week. I hope you all have a good one, and that you are happy!

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver

Monday, April 13, 2015

Email Update: 4/13/2015

Dear Everyone,

Don't worry, pictures will come, as soon as I can steal them from Elder Reischman---my charger cord for my camera disappeared somewhere along the line, so i can't get any off of mine. Tell the M's that i say good luck, and I hope they will still be able to see me when I get home! 

Speaking of home, I got something very unexpected in the mail today. In missionary lingo, they are known as your "pre-trunks," or the form that you fill out and send back to the mission office, detailing your departure schedule. (Your actual departure papers are known as "trunky papers"). So, it kind of just hit me that I really only have a few months left. Yikes. Just so that you all know what I had in mind, I was hoping to fly home, so if anyone had other ideas *coughcoughmom*, they should let me know.

 As for stories for this week, we had one cool one, that's mostly a continuation of last week's. Because of general conference falling on the weekend Lindsey was baptized, she was confirmed a member yesterday! I had to laugh a bit; she said that she was just as dizzy after the confirmation as she was after her baptism. I was able to explain that baptism and confirmation are two parts to the same whole, so it would only make sense that she would feel similar after both experiences. All in all, things have been going very well for her, with the only sad thing being that, now that she has been baptized, her parents, especially Lindsey's mom, are getting some flack from some of their coworkers, and it's starting to freak them out about all of this. Nick has apparently been great about trying to teach and testify to the things that he knows, and to answer their question and concerns, but Lindsey's mom is still having a hard time with all of it. We were able to talk to Lindsey and Nick, and give them some suggestions about how to help her mom specifically to overcome the different things that are thrown at her, and in spite of all of this, Lindsey is still going strong, and is learning and growing more and more. 

One other cool story, that happened Saturday night. Elder Reischman is a huge fan of Dairy Queen, so right before we headed home for the night, we went through the drive through, and he ordered a shake. When we got to the window, one of the girls working there first complimented his tie (a really good looking pink paisley), then asked if we were with the LDS church. We said yes, and she asked what time things started tomorrow, and that she would try to make it. It was really cool to see, and even though she didn't end up making it, it was pretty much a direct answer to a prayer of mine, that we would be guided to those who were prepared to receive the gospel. Now, we just need to catch her again and set up a ride for her this next Sunday

I think that I will call it there for this week, with a huge thank you for every thing that you do for me, and all of the prayers that you say on my behalf.

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Email Updates: 4/6/2015--Happy Easter!

Dear Everyone,

Happy Easter!!! Hope you all had a good one, and were able to get stuffed with a bunch of candy!

On a more serious note, I really love it when General Conference falls on Easter. I can't think of a much better way to remember Christ's Atonement and Resurrection then hearing His apostles and prophets testify of Him. Jeffrey R. Holland's talks are always some of the strongest in that regard. I loved how this time he went back to Adam and Eve, to explain in such great detail, yet so simply, the need for a Redemption. Because of the choice that our first parents made, and because we all were going to make choices that would take us away from God, we would've been lost. Because of Jesus Christ, we all are made free from the Fall of Adam and Eve, and we are free to choose whether or not to follow Christ, keep His commandments, and be exalted with Him and our families. The fact that we get to choose is always one of the things that sticks out to me the most. God loves us enough to let us make our own choice, even when that choice takes us away from Him. He also makes sure that we have everything that we need in order to know what consequences our choices will have, good or bad, so that we can make an informed choice. Finally, He made a way where, when we make the wrong choices, we can repent, change, and become the person that God wants us to be, which is the best version of us that we can be. That, to me, is awesome. 

Now, I've just got to figure out how I can have the same attitude that He does, with some of the people that I'm working with. It can get really frustrating when you're outside looking in, and you can see exactly where a person's choice will lead them, and you try to warn them, and they choose not to listen, to continue down the same road, and to miss out on a lot of the amazing things that we can have. I've been out here for 21 months, and too many times have I seen people that choose to run down the same ruts that they have their whole lives, having the same problems, and feeling the same sadness and pain as always. When we try to point them in a way out of all that, some of them start to try, but when they realize that starting off, they have to climb out of the ruts, they slide back down, because right now, it seems easier. We try to explain that after the first push, after new habits are made, life just gets so much easier, happier, and more meaningful, but that first change, those first three weeks of building new habits, scare them off. They choose the normal, the ingrained, over the unknown, the new, not trusting the voice of those who care about them, instead choosing to trust what they already know, even if it hurts. 

The worst part of all this? I know exactly how they feel---I felt the same way. Before I was knocked over the head hard enough to rattle me free, I was doing the same things I just ranted about. I know what it feels like to slide back because I know what it feels like, because I don't want to feel the strain of working to try something new, something that looks like too much for me to handle. I know how easy it is to look around at the rest of the world, see them making choices like mine, and deciding that, if they can do it, so can I---it can't be bad if so many people are making such and such choice and seem so happy. I see so many people make choices different from what the gospel teaches, and I see a life free of commitment, free to do what I want, when I want, with whomever I want. Seems appetizing, relaxing, easy, comfortable, and able to fit in with the people around me. Why should I need to change? What benefit could there possibly be to me restricting myself to rules and regulations that are strict, often hard, and often not what I want to do at that time? Why on Earth would I as hard as people say to, if I can just stay the way I am, and live in the excitement of the moment, without any price tied to the choices that I make? Logically, why should I pay a price to something that I don't want? Why should I tie myself to something that ties me down to a set of actions and customs that simply require more work in the long run, when I can pay no price, stay the say I am, and live the life I want to live?

It took me a long time to figure it out, and a lot of outside help, but I finally figured it out. Fact is, even when it doesn't seem like it, there is always a price, to whatever we do. Some prices can just be deferred, paid on credit. We can say that we want this now, take it, and forget that for every cause, there is an effect. You leave a banana on the counter long enough, it will rot. You don't mow the lawn, it will eventually grow out of control, and die, with weeds and other things choking it out. You leave a bike outside, out of cover, it will at a later time rust and break. Most of these things take a long time to happen, but they will happen, unless action is taken to reverse the process. The same thing happens with the choices we make. A price will be paid, and a reward given, for every choice we make. We cannot change that. We cannot choose what that price is, nor the reward given, anymore then we can live without air. All we can do is choose what we want before we make a choice, and choose to act in whichever way will give us the effect we desire. If we do that, if we look before we act, suddenly it's easy to choose what to do. All we do is choose to pay a smaller price now, rather then a larger price later.

I am glad to say, we've gotten to work with someone who figured it out. Lindsey, a 20 year old girl who chose to change her life for the better. Getting to work with her has been a breath of fresh air, cool, fresh water in a drought. Here is a young woman that felt the pain of her choices, and decided that they weren't worth the price. She got herself out. She listened to the voices of those who cared for her, ultimately to the greatest Voice of all. She set herself right, and turned to God and Christ. She paid the price of this new choice, which is following the commandments, and turning herself over to Christ. Because of that choice, Christ blessed her with truth, light, and blessings more then I can count. Saturday, Lindsey was baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I had the chance to see someone so filled with the Holy Ghost, that she almost lost her strength to stand. I've seen her do more in the last few weeks to help others come to Christ, then many members have their whole life. She had the courage to make these choices, even when her family might object, actually kick her out. She even had the guts to invite them to her baptism!! She knew her weaknesses, and turned to the Lord every time they surfaced, through personal prayer, and through priesthood blessings. She was willing to take the steps to repent of her past mistakes, and to become a "new creature," like it says in Mosiah chapter 5. It has been a long time since I've seen someone make that kind of change in their lives. That's really what it's all about. I came out because I wanted to see people be happy, and I've had that chance with Lindsey. It's been worth all of it, all of the frustration, all of the sadness, just to see her grow happier and happier. 

Well, I think that should be enough of a bomb for this week. Thanks for letting me soap box, and for taking the time to read these things. It really means a lot to me that you do.

Love and Insanity,
Elder Nathanael Stuver