Tuesday, December 27, 2016

12/26/16 - Wilmington, North Carolina

What a splendid week we had here in the Wilmington! It started off on a great note as we got a "preacher's discount" while getting lunch last Monday! It was 10% off! We had a zone activity here in Wilmington and had a great time playing chair soccer and volleyball. Some of us also played candyland! Good times, good times.. Later that night, I gave Elder Nadauld a cut of hair! Tuesday, we did accounting with the zone as per usual and afterwards had interviews with President and Sister James! They went very well. I just love them both! Upon seeing us, President said "Elder Shearer, I see that you wore your general authority suit today. Looking very good." Haha he's really got a sense of humor! My interview with President was again very spiritual. Great memories made! We went on exchanges with the other Wilmington Elders after our interviews and I was with Elder Peseta. It was such a great time! I love that Elder. He is Polynesian and we were having a great time talking about his culture. I learned a thing or two from Elder Niko... ;) I gave him and I both haircuts that night! The following day we went on another exchange with the Leland Elders! I was with Elder Arveseth. He is a very strong missionary! We had a great time out in Leland teaching a Book of Mormon class and knocking the doors. We ate some dinner back in Wilmington that night with an investigator and it went well! He told us he is very interested in the church! Another highlight of that day was getting a package from my boy, Elder Summers! It ended up being a beautiful tie!! Thursday was a full day as we had zone conference out in Fayetteville! We had to wake up at 4:30 to make it out there in time. But it was very enjoyable. It was a Christmas conference! After lunch, we had a talent portion and heard many amazing songs performed. From the harp, to the ukulele, to the organ, to the piano, to singing, many of our missionaries are very talented! I performed a song entitled "Don't Let Go" from Gentri. They put me at the very end of the program! I think it went well.. I hope so anyways. All I know is that God definitely helped me get through it! We taught the Congolese after getting back and finished up the lessons with Johnny to get him ready for his baptism. I asked him who he wanted to baptize and confirm him and he said "Even you! The person speaking!" Haha I was speechless! But then said yes. :) Friday, we spent most of the day getting ready for the baptism. Made the program, cleaned the font, got some videos ready to show, things like that. We also found a lizard in my bathroom! It ran under the sink and we lost it, but the next day we found it in our bedroom! We caught it, named him Larry, and made a home for it. It didn't like it very much though, so we let him free.. Sad day. We also had a bike stolen that day! Elder Hutchings got a bike stolen last Sunday and within a week, his replacement bike got stolen too! We went out looking for it, but couldn't find it anywhere.. Saturday morning we woke up and found a text on our phone from Johnny. He told us that he had hurt his foot the day before playing soccer and that he wasn't able to walk on it. It was crazy because Friday while getting everything ready for the baptism, I got a feeling that something bad was going to happen! I didn't think anything of it though and just brushed it off. Johnny told us that his roommate was telling him he couldn't get baptized anymore because of how bad his foot was, but Johnny told him that it was not going to stop him. He told him that he would do whatever it took to be baptized that day! He said that he would even learn to walk again on a broken foot if he had to. We told him to come to the church as quickly as possible and once there, we gave him a Priesthood blessing. He said to us "My beautiful day! I cannot believe this happened to my beautiful day." But we watched some church videos with him to bring the Spirit and help his faith grow while we got everything set up for the baptism. It was beautiful. The program went perfectly and I was able to perform the baptism in Swahili! After he came out of the water, he gave me the biggest hug. I helped Johnny hobble down into the font and helped him get to and from his chair. It was truly something I will never forget! Later that afternoon we got a text from the other Elders telling us that they had found the stolen bike! We went to inspect it and upon determining that it was the stolen bike, we called the police. So we waited. And we waited. We then waited some more and after 3 hours of waiting, decided that we were not going to be doing any more waiting. So we locked the bike up with a few of our U-locks, left a note saying "Next time, don't steal God's bike. He'll find it. Merry Christmas!" and went to a Christmas Eve party. We got there just in time to watch the Congolese children reenact the nativity scene! They then sang us a few African songs to express their gratitude and it was a beautiful sight to see. We were in tears. They even got up and started dancing too! We had the other Elders spend the night with us and I gave one of them a haircut! We drank some hot chocolate afterwards and watched Mr. Krueger's Christmas as we fell asleep! We woke up the next morning to Christmas!! It was a very warm Christmas, with it only being 70 degrees! We opened all of our presents, one missionary at a time, and had a blast! My family is incredible. They sent me many beautiful ties and some incredible watches! Church was just glorious. We had a combined Sacrament meeting with the other wards and Johnny was confirmed / received the Holy Ghost! What a great Christmas present! I as well performed the confirmation in Swahili! The Lord really blessed me to learn it. A random less active Hispanic walked in so I translated the meeting for him! We are going to meet and have a lesson tomorrow morning! We were able to visit a man in need after church to give him a blessing and it was definitely a highlight of the day for me. The best way to spend Christmas, visiting the afflicted! We went to the Arne's house afterwards and that is where we skyped our families! Elder Nadauld went first and then I followed! It was so great. I love my family!! They are such beautiful people!! We shared many laughs, a few tears, and some great stories. :) We ate dinner with the Arne's after and had some sweet potato casserole! The best Christmas dinner I could ask for! All in all, I'd say we had a pretty good week. :) I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you the best with the New Year!! Know of my love for each of you!

Bringing souls unto Christ this Christmas season,
Elder Shearer

Monday, December 19, 2016

12/19/16 - Wilmington, North Carolina

Whoo, this week was so full I hardly had any time to sleep! Let us begin with the story telling! Last Monday we went Christmas present shopping for our families in downtown Wilmington and we both found some very cool things!! Haha as we came back to the car, there was a parking violation on the windshield! We were 1 minute late to the meter and they got us! Elder Nadauld was going to take it so we went down to their offices and he tried to appeal it. We'll see what happens! We accounted Tuesday morning with all of our District Leaders and thanks to our new accounting format we made, it went by very smoothly!! Some members picked us up afterwards and took us out to Golden Corral for lunch. That place is delicious here in the south!! Mm, the sweet potato casserole was the best!! Following lunch, we started our three days of back to back to back exchanges! We started by exchanging with the Assistants. I went with Elder Canlas, my former zone leader / roommate in Raleigh! We had fun teaching a lot of Spanish lessons. We even had a Spanish speaking member come out! The member afterwards told us that we were rock-stars, it was a very successful night! During the course of that day, we were asked to give 3 Priesthood blessings at different times. It's such a blessing being able to use God's power to bless His children in their afflictions! We wrapped up our exchange the following morning and drove out to Jacksonville for district meeting. We had a fun time doing many role plays teaching the Plan of Salvation. We then exchanged with some of the Elders up there and I brought Elder Tobler back down to my area. He actually started out his mission here so it was fun for him to be back! We had a great night using the Spirit and witnessing miracles. We taught Johnny, Elias, and Gaston again, our triple threat from the Congo! There are so very strong! We taught about commandments and they loved it! We contacted a less active that night and he invited us right in! We are now teaching his girlfriend! We had a very productive day and after sending in our daily numbers to President James, we received a text back telling us how proud he was of us and the great work that was being done. The following morning we drove back up to Jacksonville and exchanged back with those Elders but immediately after began another exchange with the other Elders up there. Exchange number three! We had fun! I went with Elder Stringfellow and we started by visiting a less active woman. She opened up and told us about the many things that were going on in her life. A scripture came to my mind, so we shared it. She burst into tears and we had a very powerful lesson on her porch. She is now going to read the Book of Mormon every single day after not having read it for years. We went tracting afterwards and set a covenant with the Lord as we did so. It worked, we found a new investigator! That night we drove up to Falls Lake to spend the night with the Assistants. I gave Elder Brezenski a haircut and then we went to bed! Sleep! Just a little though.. We woke up and drove to the Temple for our Temple trip!! I loved it. Even on the car ride there, I began to cry. I cried as we entered the Temple, and again as we changed into our clothes. As we took our seats I broke down and just felt so much peace being in the Lord's house. I've missed it!! I didn't want to leave. I learned many things while there! We had a little devotional with the Temple President afterwards and then we drove the 3 hours back down to Wilmington. We then had our baptismal interview for Johnny. A member of the Mission Presidency drove out to do the interview for us and it went very well!! President Catlett told us that Johnny is going to do great things in the church. Johnny was smiling from ear to ear and he is so excited for his baptism! The following day we had to take our car in to get a state inspection and while we waited, we walked over to the McDonald's to weekly plan. While at the McDonald's, we had a group of three elderly women hit on us!! It was so funny.. So we gave them our number! On the back of a Christmas card haha. We planned, picked our car up, and went to help an investigator move a big cabinet in her living room. It was incredibly heavy, so that was a good workout. And then she fed us chili afterwards! We drove back down to Wilmington for an appointment with the less active and his girlfriend, but on the way decided to pull over and cut down a Christmas tree! While driving, we found a perfect pine just sitting all alone on the side of the busy road. We quickly pulled over and I jumped out with a pocket knife! I went to cut down the tree and before I knew it, I slipped down a mountain! While sliding down the muddy slope, I yelled "Elder!!!" I finally hit the bottom and I could hear my companion laughing. I stood up certain I had fallen a good 50 feet and quickly came to see that I had in fact only fallen about 2. I began to slice it down and it took foreeeeeever. Elder Nadauld said all he could see was the top of the tree swaying from side to side. I finally got it and it gloriously fell on top of me. I sneakily climbed the slippery hill with tree in hand and upon checking for oncoming cars, I flew the door of the car open and stuffed the tree inside. We sped off and went to put the tree in our living room. Our lesson with that less active went really well afterwards! They made us tacos and we talked about the Book of Mormon! She is really interested! Yesterday we had 11 people come to church, all from the Congolese family! I was asked to sing in Sacrament Meeting and it wasn't the greatest.. Last night we taught our three musketeers again, and had to break the news to one of them that he can't get baptized until he comes to church. His job requires him to work every Sunday, so it is tough. He was devastated to hear that he couldn't be baptized this coming Saturday with Johnny. He broke down into tears and told us that he had made a promise to God that he would be baptized on that day. He asked us what he was to do now? Very upset, he covered his face and slept through the lesson while we taught the other two. His father was getting pretty upset too and was not understanding how their agency can stop his son from following God. Their desires are so touching. I felt so disheartened for Gaston, the son! The lesson went pretty well though and I offered the closing prayer in Swahili. Johnny said it was perfect! We are so excited for him to be baptized on Christmas Eve!! He will be confirmed on Christmas Day and will receive the Holy Ghost as his Christmas gift. What a better way to celebrate the holidays than by bringing souls to Christ. Merry Christmas everyone!!

Still picking out the tree slivers in his hands,
Elder Shearer

Monday, December 12, 2016

12/12/16 - Wilmington, North Carolina

Wow, this week went by so fast I couldn't even think about it! Last Monday we went bowling up in Jacksonville with one of the districts up there. I lost every time. But it was okay! Later that night one of our missionaries had to run to the ER for a bad migraine that had been lasting a few days so we went to see him. He was pretty loopy after he got the medicine and seems to be doing a little better. Tuesday morning we accounted with the district leaders and it took out our brains! Haha it was such a long process! But we got to teach an investigator by the name of Brandy after so that got us back up and running. She is so elect! She said she wants to focus her reading on the Book of Mormon because she already kind of knows the Bible. She was in tears during the lesson, so powerful! We taught Alfredo and the rest of the Ramirez family that night and had a great plan of salvation lesson! We were able to teach it quickly and they all understand and accept it! Incredible family. We went to two district meetings this week! The first one was here in Wilmington, but the second one was way down in Shallotte! We had gone on a blitz with the Tabor City elders the day before to help them out in their area. In that one day of our blitz, we tripled the amount of lessons they had taught in the entirety of their previous week so it was pretty successful! I got an incredible package in the mail from Yvette, one of my coworkers from Deseret Book, and it warmed me up so much! It came in the perfect time. Right when I needed it! Thank you, Yvette!! The second district meeting was a little worrisome as the district leader got up and told us he had no idea what we were going to do for the meeting. I guess he hadn't planned anything! So he told us to just role play the Restoration for the whole meeting! Very interesting haha.. We taught the Congolese once we got back into town and we taught them about the gospel of Jesus Christ. They loved it! Johnny, the one that speaks English, lights up every time we teach something new. Like something inside is finally clicking! We had a great dinner with the Stainback family that evening and Brother Stainback showed me his recording studio! He loves to make music down there and we had a fun time discussing the process. The following day, we had another incredible dinner with the Curtis family. They both served in Venezuela on their missions and actually met there! He is a cancer surgeon and showed us some pretty tasteful pictures of some of his procedures. We saw into a man's skull with his eye taken out! Yuck! We taught an investigator named Richard that night and he is very open to the message. He's not very religious, but is excited to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it! We taught a man named Jimmy on Saturday and he told me I remind him of a deacon in his church when he grew up! We went to talk to our Congolese family to make sure they were coming to our ward party that night and while we were there, we met a woman from the agency that brought them over from the Congo. No one spoke English so I carried out a broken conversation with them making sure every thing was set for the party. The agency later called our member connection in the ward and was quite angry we had come over. We were told to stop all proselyting and that we weren't able to come over to the house ever again. They did still come to our ward party though!! And two Hispanic families came! We had a total of about 25 investigators there! All of our members' eyes just lit up when they saw how many non-members were there. We gave a little church tour after the party and they loved the building. And to end the party, my drink of lemonade spilled all over my lap! Just delightful. Sunday was a very challenging day. Possibly the most challenging day of my life, but I chose to make it my best day! The Lord blessed me with some very sacred personal experiences that testified to me that He loves His children. I also had my testimony grow that prayers work. A member from Raleigh came down and I translated for her for the meeting! It was so good to see her again, such a pleasant surprise! I gave a talk in the YSA ward about why I decided to serve a mission, and it actually went better than I had expected! When we told Johnny about what the agency had told us, he got pretty upset. He said "I don't care! You are still going to teach me and I am still going to be baptized. I am a big boy, I can make my own choices. They cannot control me!" It was so inspiring to see his faith. We taught him, Elias, and Gaston last night here at the church. We discussed the baptismal questions, and they are so elect! We gave Elias a blessing at the end to help him have the strength to overcome some addictions he is going through and he was in tears by the end. He had insisted on being on his knees as we gave the blessing. Very powerful Spirit in that room last night. We are excited to watch them keep progressing and growing in this gospel!

Choosing to be positive,
Elder Shearer