Monday, July 17, 2017

07/17/17 - Raleigh, North Carolina

Good morning y'all! I reckon this was another fantastic week! Last Monday we spent our preparation day painting with Sister James! She is quite the professional artist and she was kind enough to give us a painting class all day long! I had specially requested it so that I could paint my mom a picture for her birthday, and Sister James was sweet enough to paint one for my mom as well! After exhausting the extent of our creativity, we went out to work in the Lord's vineyard! We had an incredible visit with Mike and his son. Boy are they elect! They fed us some delicious deer chili with homemade cornbread and then we had a lesson.The Spirit was so very strong as we taught and testified of temples and the sealing power restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith so that our families may be eternal. My heart was full of absolute joy as we watched Mike fall in love with these restored truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is an honest seeker of truth. Tuesday morning in my personal study I read a talk from Elder Bednar that changed my whole way of thinking! He taught me that talking is not teaching. Teaching is observing and listening. I was reminded that we are not out here to teach lessons, but to teach people. And in order to do so, we must seek spiritual guidance and direction from our Heavenly Father only available after we do our part to listen and observe. We went on an exchange with the Tri-Lake zone leaders and Elder Barlow and I brought Elder Hawks up to Falls Lake. We had a wonderful time tracting, tracting, and tracting! I learned a lot from Elder Hawks and the way that he contacts on the doors! After tracting the day away, we had a quick active member lesson with the Bodily family. Elder Hawks grew up with them and has waited his whole mission to see them so it was definitely a blessing! We had a zone conference on Wednesday with the Wilmington zone and it was our best one yet. The Spirit we felt was remarkable. President James said that there has never been a better zone conference in history with better instructions than the ones that were given. I have my companions to thank for that compliment! They both gave powerful, spiritually awakening presentations. It was a blessing to be able to enter the holy Temple of the Lord with such a profound spirit as the one we felt within us. I so testify that the Temple is a holy and sacred place. It is the Lord's house. I count it one of the most heavenly privileges to enter its walls. I pray it is a gift we use often. After our meetings, we ate dinner with a man in need of a spiritual boost. Yet as we left his home, I felt he had blessed our lives much more than we had blessed his. I truly believe God puts us where we are in life to love and lift those around us, and yet I also believe God puts them in our lives so that likewise we may learn from them. That night, we visited Sahr and he expressed his deep desire to invite God more into his life. He then offered a very heartfelt prayer and we felt he will find what he is looking for in this message. Thursday was my angelic mother's birthday! Happy birthday Mom!! We spent the morning in the office so that we could reconfigure the entire number reporting system for the whole mission! We then drove down to Fayetteville to exchange with our zone leaders down there. On the way down, we stopped to get lunch at a restaurant called the Pik 'N' Pig. It was incredible! They have a landing strip there so that airplanes can land and grab some food on the go! Almost like a drive-thru for airplanes! I had an enjoyable time that day with Elder Johns as we worked in his area. We spent most of the time tracting and it was refreshing to feel of his zeal and great enthusiasm for the Lord's work. The following morning on the way back to Raleigh, we made a few quick food stops to give Elder Chiu some essential experiences. The first stop was at a bakery in Fayetteville that makes some of the best donuts around! The second stop was then at Sunni Skies, an ice cream shop that is very very famous. It has even been on TV! We did a little office work upon our return and then went to do my favorite thing, tracting! :) We found a lady that is the only Christian in her whole family. She is seeking to strengthen that faith in Christ and we know she will as she acts on the things we share. We had the opportunity to go to the temple again that night to go through with one of Elder Barlow's recent converts! What a tender experience for him to have been there and witness his convert draw even closer to the Lord. A dream for any missionary! Saturday was also very busy, we began with our weekly meeting with President. We discussed the coming transfer and then Sister James made an exquisite lunch! We were anxious to get back to work and as we did, we met a man the Elders used to work with. He has gone through quite a few trials in his life and we all felt he can benefit greatly from the gospel. We are excited to teach him again! We visited a few less actives and committed them to come to church the following day, which they did! Every one of them! The Lord is working miracles in this area, more than we deserve. We taught Anthony also and he is so anxious to be baptized. He again prayed that it will come soon and we made some plans to help them get divorced quickly! I love his level of faith and devotion! Sunday was a day full of miracles. Mike came to church again and loved it! He told us that when we come by this week, he wants to share some revelation he received. We hope he's received an answer that the Book of Mormon is true! We'll keep praying for him! Yuliya also came to church and wow has she come a long way. She is very excited to be baptized and although we had to postpone it a few weeks so that her family can fly in for it, she is looking forward to it and has it all planned out! Her and her member husband were talking about being sealed in the temple a year from now and it was so fun to watch! All of the members have done such a good job fellowshipping her and she so much support. President James has been praying for her, we have been praying for her, and I know that the Lord is blessing her. As we said goodbye and walked away from them, I was jumping and jumping with joy. Literally! I was then reminded that it was the Sabbath Day and I was in church so I toned it down a little, but it was difficult to contain my excitement! The joy and happiness I have felt on my mission, especially as I watch God's children progress in the gospel, have been something words cannot express. I love the Lord! I pray and plead daily that I may sacrifice more and more to align myself with His plan for me. I know that He will put us on the path that is best for us and for our salvation. Of this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Spiritually awakening more and more each day,
Elder Shearer

Monday, July 10, 2017

07/10/17 - Raleigh, North Carolina

We of course had another delightful week! I have seen the hand of the Lord many times in His work and what a privilege it is to be here. It was the best week of my mission!! Last Monday we went to Raleigh's zone activity and we played laser tag together! It is always fun to spend time with all of the missionaries and try to inspire hope and find the one that needs a friend. This mission has been such a wonderful growing experience for me. My favorite part is trying to forget myself, my own stresses, my own trials and look for someone else that needs even more help! The gospel of Jesus Christ is beautiful. :) After that zone activity, we tracted the night away and loved every second of it! Such a blessing to testify of truth. :) Tuesday morning we visited Rich and he was as excited as always! He has a strong faith in Christ and is always wanting to learn more. We had a very spiritually powerful lesson with him as we talked about baptisms for the dead and the doctrines behind it. He had many great questions and we were grateful that the Holy Ghost did such a great job in answering them. Of course the fourth of July was on Tuesday so happy fourth everybody!! Happy Birthday America! We ate dinner with the Salgado family and had a delicious Mexican barbecue. We even ate flan for dessert and it was out of this world!! We ran to the mission office after dinner to finish planning for our zone conference instructions. After receiving more advice from President James, much prayer and thought and deep pondering and studying it out in our minds, we came away with what we felt to be what the mission needs to hear. Wednesday we had our first zone conference and this transfer we are doing our zone conferences in conjunction with our temple trips! That means we get to go to the temple five times! Woohoo!!! :) Our Zone Conference thankfully went very well and the Spirit was very present. Our theme of this zone conference is "The Great Awakening" and we made bookmarks for each missionary in the mission to be able to remember this special time in the North Carolina Raleigh Mission! We have been going through many physical changes in the mission and we are taking this opportunity to also go through many spiritual changes. We desire as a mission to develop a more profound sense of conviction and learn how to bury our pride for Christ. I was very grateful for the instructions given by President James and both of my companions. They are very inspirational speakers. Elder Barlow spoke on visualizing success, Elder Chiu instructed on pay the price and sacrificing to get there, and I instructed on relying on the Lord unconditionally. Many people commented that it was an exciting time in the mission! THIS MISSION IS ON FIRE!!! The Temple was marvelous and following our meetings we came back to Raleigh to preach the gospel! We visited a Taiwanese part member family which was neat because Elder Chiu is from Taiwan! They were very kind, despite the fact that the wife said over a hundred times. "Please come inside for ice cream, but don't share the Book of Mormon!" or "Don't talk about the Book of Mormon!" and even "We don't need to bring up the Book of Mormon, just eat your ice cream!" I of course left a copy for her on the table as we were walking out, but she caught me so I took it back. It was pretty funny, but she'll get baptized, we know she will! We have full faith that the gospel changes hearts! We were blessed to serve the missionaries by doing some office work on Thursday, but thankfully got out in time to go on an exchange with our zone leaders up in Durham. Elder Chiu and I brought Elder Jones to our area and we had a great night together. We did some tracting and taught a few good lessons together! One of which was with Michael! We walked in there knowing we needed to read the Book of Mormon with him, but not knowing which chapter. As Elder Chiu offered the opening prayer I said a silent prayer in my heart that we could receive revelation to know what would be best for Michael. As I prayed fervently, a chapter came into mind that I had previously read twice in that same day! I knew it was our answer and as the prayer ended, I opened the Book of Mormon to where I had my finger sticking in it. It was already on the exact chapter that came to my mind during the prayer! It is amazing to see those miracles in answer to prayers! We read the chapter together and Michael was in tears by the end. It really hit home to him. He thanked us after for the lesson and told us it was a good one. I've never heard him say that before! The Lord truly does provide when we forget ourselves, seek His will, and then act in faith! We had another zone conference on Friday and it went even better the second time. President James's instruction was very powerful, one of the best I think he's ever given! The Temple was beautiful and I learned many things! After the meeting we came back to Raleigh and visited the Rathavongsa boys to get them ready for their baptism! We got everything planned out and solidified and then the following morning, miracles happened! After years in the making, Ryan, Brandon, and Dylan Rathavongsa entered into a sacred covenant with their Heavenly Father to follow Jesus Christ. It was a breathtaking service. The Spirit there was so strong. Sister Rathavongsa was in tears the entire time. We love those boys and are excited for the great things they will do for the Lord! President James wasn't able to make it to the baptism, but we met with him for a few hours afterwards to go over some important things happening in the mission. At the end of the meeting, he lovingly told me that I need to polish my shoes. Haha I told him I am so busy spending all my time tracting that I don't ever have time for that! He laughed and I ran home to polish my shoes. I've repented and they're looking good now! :) We tracted the rest of the night and although it downpoured for three hours straight, we smiled the entire time and had true joy in the service of our God. :) Today was a wonderful day as Ryan, Brandon, and Dylan were not only confirmed members of the church, but also received the gift of the Holy Ghost! They couldn't stop smiling afterward! Their mom even told us that they changed since receiving it! Elder Chiu and I performed a special musical number at the baptism on Saturday and apparently the Bishop liked it so much, he asked us to perform it in Sacrament Meeting! Either that, or he just had an empty spot in the program. Probably the latter. But we performed it again and it went well! We tracted after church and were blessed to find an honest seeker of truth. We met a man named Matthew and he is a Messianic Jew. As we shared the First Vision and the Book of Mormon with him, the Spirit came into his home and he asked us many questions about the Book of Mormon. He wanted to know all about it! What it was, what it taught, where it came from, how we have it, why more people don't know about it, what truths has Joseph Smith restored, etc... We had a wonderful time answering his questions and committing him to read and pray. We believe he will be baptized very soon as he quickly comes to feel that these things are true. We ate dinner with a member in the Raleigh Spanish ward and it was great to see them again! We did some more tracting after dinner and met a man that tried to bash us so hard, it was laughable! We stated our purpose and after telling us that he would never ask God if the Book of Mormon is true, we told him we wished him the best, even loved him, but were going to take our message elsewhere. We ended the week by teaching Anthony and Nicole again. Anthony is amazing, he wants to get baptized so bad! As soon as the divorce gets figured out, he will be ready! He prays for his baptism to come soon and he is one of the most humble people I have ever met. I love my mission brothers and sisters. I never want it to end! I love my area, my companions, and I love the Lord my God! He lives and works miracles according to our faith. Let us be a believing people and show our faith by following Christ daily.

Being blessed with baptisms,
Elder Shearer

Monday, July 3, 2017

07/03/17 - Raleigh, North Carolina

Woohoo!! I love my mission!! :) It is such a blessing from God. Last Monday we ate dinner with a young man that was preparing to leave on his mission! He left on Wednesday and he will do great things. We ate with his family and gave him all the advice we could. I told him that some of the keys to a good mission are obedience, hard work, and joy. They change everything and are essential in inviting the Spirit! We went tracting for a few hours after dinner to exercise our faith that God has prepared people for us to receive! How true I know that to be! Tuesday we had to drive across the mission for a few hours to trade some cars around and get everything ready for another great transfer! We had fun and enjoyed every minute of the trip! Once we got back, we visited Yuliya and had a great lesson with her. She set her own baptismal date for July 22nd! She feels that she needs to be baptized in July so we are fasting and praying that she will make that day. We know that if she reads the Book of Mormon and prays daily, she will be there! We tracted again after teaching her and met a man named Sunil, he is from India and is very kind! We are hoping to return and teach him and his family sometime this week. We were able to go to a district meeting Wednesday morning and had a wonderful time. I especially loved all of the role plays! Some people say that there are aspects of missionary life that no one likes, but I can honestly say that I love it all! Following the meeting, we took a 5 hour road trip down to Fayetteville and back to move another car around and we were anxious to get back to start working again! We of course went tracting because that's what we do to find God's elect and we found a German woman by the name of Danny. She is atheist, but was very open to our message. We hope to meet her husband and help them both build their relationships with their Heavenly Father! Thursday was a very administratively heavy day. We were blessed to have time to tract in the morning from 10-12, but we then needed to go into the mission office to get some things accomplished. We spoke with President James for a while and planned out our zone conference instructions for this week! Our theme of the zone conference is "The Great Awakening" and I will be instructing on relying on the Lord through our covenants! Once we finished our work in the office, we had to run to a members home to use their Photoshop software. Elder Chiu designed a bookmark for the mission according to what President James wants. He got it looking real nice and we went back to the office the next day to meet with President again. He made a few changes so Elder Chiu fixed it all up and now we should be on our way to getting these bookmarks out to the mission! We visited an investigator by the name of Q that night and set up a time to come teach him and his family. He told us that his wife is a little stubborn, but we told him that we accept the challenge! We told him we were excited to see both him and his wife at church on Sunday and he said he liked the positive attitude! We had our Saturday meeting with President and picked some trainers for the next transfer. We are getting in 19 missionaries!!! It is going to be a huge group. There is a fastfood place here called Cookout and they sell watermelon milkshakes seasonally. They sell them from July-August and they are President James's favorite! We all got them after our meeting and he was so happy to have the first one of the season! They are pretty good, I have to admit! We went out to work after being fed well and made our first stop to the Rathavongsa family! The mother is a member, but her three sons are not. We have been working with them and teaching them for a few months now and they are going to be baptized this coming Saturday, July 8th! We are very excited for their decision to follow Christ and keep his commandments!! After meeting with them and preparing them a little more for the future events, we ate dinner with the Buday family. Mitzi the mother and Brady the son were baptized about a year and a half ago. Michael the father has been investigating all that time and has yet to make a decision. He is a wonderful man and is very kind! We love teaching him and the family. We had a great lesson about repentance and Michael was almost in tears, as were the rest of us! I not only love the Atonement of Jesus Christ, but I love being able to share it with others. That is what it was meant for, the benefit and salvation of others! After that spiritually moving visit, we met with Anthony! We have been teaching Anthony for just a few weeks now and he is very anxious to be baptized. We are helping them to get some divorce papers done so that they can be married and then for him, baptized! We watched the Restoration video with them and he just loved it. We love him, he's awesome. And today of course was the best day of the week because it was the Lord's day! We had many investigators come to church and they all thoroughly loved it! We ended up having 6 come, but were hoping for many more! Oh well, they will be there next week for sure! We had a great Asian dinner cooked especially for Elder Chiu and then we spent most of the night visiting people that our two Bishops asked us to visit. We made some great contact with less actives, new move-ins, you name it! We made sure to contact them quickly so that we could quickly report back to our Bishops of the progress of his ward members. We try to build relationships with our Bishops in any way possible! We love our wards and we love our area. This is the work of the Lord and we are beyond blessed to be a part of it. We do not deserve the daily privilege we have to work in His vineyard. But we are grateful for it and strive to accomplish His will in all things. I know that when we seek Him first, true joy is found.

Positively preaching,
Elder Shearer

Monday, June 26, 2017

06/26/17 - Raleigh, North Carolina

Hello friends and family! It was an incredible week! It of course was the best week of my entire mission!! :) Our new companion Elder Chiu is the best missionary in this mission!! We love him!! He is from Taiwan and wow, his spirit is so strong. He has also been teaching me Mandarin! I'm loving that. :) Last Monday we had the privilege of going to pick up the new missionaries! They are a great group. They all have strong testimonies and are very excited to be out here serving. We had a great night in the mission home with them getting them broken in and ready to meet their trainers the next day. Tuesday was a crazy day! We started the meeting off by having our trainers meeting and then brought the trainees in to meet them! Following the meeting, we had transfers and most of the mission got switched out so many people were up here! We rolled out the big reveal that I was talking about last week. We have officially changed the mission from 7 zones down to 5 zones. The names are Raleigh, Durham, Tri-Lake, Fayetteville, and Wilmington of course! We closed a few areas, and reorganized all of the districts! It was a pretty legendary change in the NCRM. We handed out the new map of the mission and everyone seems to be pretty excited! After we got all of the transferring missionaries taken care of, we loaded up our car and took all of the departing missionaries to the mission home. We had a party!! We first had a wonderful dinner and a powerful testimony meeting. It is always amazing to see the difference in the testimonies on Monday night in comparison to the testimonies on Tuesday night. Once we finished the testimony meeting, we got out the ping pong table and literally played all night! We never even went to sleep! We stayed up until we had to take everyone to the airport at 4 in the morning! It was hard to say goodbye to this group, there were a lot of people that I have gotten really close to. Elder Brezenski, Elder Flake, and many more! Missionaries that have really impacted me and changed my life for the better. I wish them the best back home and hope they enjoy the real world! After dropping them all off, we drove back home and took our mandatory/authorized nap from President James. It was glorious! Once we woke up, we went back to the mission home to update the transfer board! We finished the night by teaching a new investigator by the name of Anthony. He is very strong in the gospel already! He just moved from Utah and was taking the lessons out there. He is really wanting to be baptized! We had another busy day on Thursday as we stopped by Rich to plan out his baptism! We visited the Rathavongsa family and set another baptismal date with the three boys, they will be baptized in two weeks! We had a great time teaching them and then ran over to the mission office to get some things readjusted and scheduled for the new transfer. We had a leadership meeting for most of the day on Friday, but even that was a blast! I love everything that we ever get to do! It's just a privilege to be on a mission! :) Saturday was a day full of miracles! First of all, WE BAPTIZED!!! FOR THE FIRST TIME IN OVER A YEAR, THE ASSISTANTS BAPTIZED!!! God is so good, he truly does work miracles according to the power of our faith! Richard Kent Blewitt the Second was baptized Saturday morning and he is the joy of my life. He knows what it means to feel the joy of the gospel! Elder Chiu sang a special musical number and President James gave the talk on baptism! Elder Barlow was picked to perform the baptism and it was beautiful to watch! After the baptism, President stayed and interviewed one of our investigators. It went very very well!! They are well on their way to baptism now! President said that without the things that happened in that meeting, the investigator never would have been able to be baptized. There were a few things holding them back from progressing that President was able to help them with. It was very touching to see the investigator walk out of the interview with tears in her eyes and a new hope burning brightly. We are excited to see that hope turn into action as she is baptized!! We worked for the rest of the day and it was amazing!! I love working and knocking doors. I love teaching the gospel! Today was another splendid day. Rich was confirmed a member of the church and received the Holy Ghost! He was grinning from ear to ear. Yuliya is really progressing in the gospel and even told everyone in Gospel Principles today that she is very close to being baptized! She finally feels she just needs to do it, she has had missionaries trying to teach her for 5 years! The Atonement is definitely the key, it is what changes lives! We met with one of our African investigators after church and he received a lot of hope from the message. We kneeled in prayer with him at the close of the visit, and as we ended the prayer he looked up at us and said "I really want to be a member of your church someday." It was only our second time teaching him! Wow, the power of the gospel is so real! When we are able to address people's concerns following the guidance of the Holy Ghost, things happen. Hope is developed and action is taken. I love God and I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I love being able to share their love with everyone. I so testify that they do indeed love us, each and every one. Unconditionally and without end.

Speaking Chinese,
Elder Shearer