Monday, August 29, 2016

08/29/16 - Raleigh, North Carolina

What an incredible week!! We started off strong by going to an outdoor laser tag last Monday. A member owns it up in Wake Forest so we got to play for free! Plus it is usually closed on Mondays, so we got to play alone! It was a great workout. The guns are weighted and are very realistic. You even have to remove the clip to reload it! A great preparation day. That night we had a lot of success too! We finally were able to meet many people that we hadn't seen in a while. The Spirit was strong as we taught the restored gospel to many! On Tuesday morning, Elder Summers and I went to his "First Transfer Training Meeting". It's pretty much a meeting for all of the missionaries in their first transfer. Just like it says haha.. There were about 40 people there and we received a lot of great instruction! The meeting lasted for about 8 hours. A few times throughout the meeting, President called up certain companionships to do a role play in front of the group. He was very hard on all of us! He gave much feedback after each role play and was really very nit picky. It was for our good though! We were picked to go up. Twice! One of which was to teach the Law of Chastity. We weren't even given any notice.. President just said "Alright, I am now going to have someone teach me about the law of Chastity. Elder Shearer and Elder Summers, how about you come and try it?" I was quite nervous to tell the truth, but as we prayed for the Spirit in our hearts, it was there! A few scriptures flooded my mind as we taught with clarity and power. We promised many blessings as we invited President and his wife to get married. After we finished, he just looked at us and said "Beautiful. Beautifully done. That was just perfect." It was such a testimony builder for me that the Spirit really can and will bring all things to our remembrance! I have been studying long and hard to learn the scriptures and I know that if I hadn't have put in the effort, I would have never qualified for those blessings. We came home after the meeting and with only 30 minutes left before dinner, I sat down to finish preparing my district meeting for the next day. I lacked quite a bit of material. I started with a prayer and as I closed in the name of Christ, scriptures, talks, concepts, and stories began again to flood into my mind! They all happened to work together as I put them on paper and somehow was miraculously able to plan a very powerful meeting in the little amount of time I was given. Later that night I learned that the Sister Missionaries had taken out our recent convert, Josefina! They said that she loved it!! She literally wants them to take her out every night. Such a great missionary already! Wednesday we had one of my best district meetings yet. It was on motivation. We discussed our call to feed the sheep of the Lord. By the end of it we were all on our feet repeating the words "This is my day of opportunity! I will not waste it." The Spirit was very strong and I hope we all walked away with a little more fire in us to do the work of the Lord. We went to Hibachi again and I almost died!! I eat way too much when we go there.. Never again!! We went to teach Rony after (Josefina's son of 13 years) and he as well is solid! He had received the Priesthood, passed the Sacrament, is preparing to go the temple on Saturday, and even gave a talk in Sacrament meeting yesterday about his conversion story! He is the light of my soul. A member brought dinner to our house and she brought a bunch of bags of groceries! It was the sweetest thing ever! We rode our bikes quite a ways out to our appointment that night, but it was well worth it! We taught the best lesson of the transfer and easily one of the best of my mission. We started by setting solid expectations. We taught the Restoration with simplicity and with power. Brought the Spirit with the First Vision, and explained with urgency the need to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. Pedro and Leopoldo told us that they want to be baptized and I felt that they really meant it. They truly have a desire. Pedro's wife is already a member so that helps him have some support. Thursday we found a random man sitting on a rock outside reading his Bible! We went to talk to him and had a great contact. Turns out he is heading back to Mexico in a week, but we left him with a pamphlet and as we walked away, we saw him reading it! We ate dinner that night with another part member family that I love! Their names are Flor and Adolfo. They gave us PAPUSAS!!! My favorite!!! As well as CHEESE-FILLED EMPENADAS!! It was a glorious meal. And to finish it off, she brought out a homemade cheesecake and smashed my face into it! Haha I guess that is a Hispanic tradition for birthdays.. They tell you to take a bite of it and then as you lean in, they get ya! Way too much of it got into my nose... We went on a quick exchange with the zone leaders afterwards. We went tracting and just as we were about to knock a door we felt inspired to knock, a man walked out! We began to talk to him and to introduce ourselves. His name is Carlos! He is very tired of the lack of hope in the world and is really looking to come closer to God. We had a powerful contact with him and got his information to meet with him later. Friday!! Was the best day ever. For those of you who don't know, it was my birthday!! I finally turned 19! We woke up at 12:01 to open my presents and how glorious they were! I got many beautiful ties, a wooden watch, and a very classy fountain pen from my sister!! Thank you so much to everyone that sent me a card or a present!! They were all very much appreciated and very loved!! Oh yeah, and my companion gave me a cactus! Pretty cool. His name is Larry. He doesn't really do much though.. He mostly just sits there. Elder Summers made a breakfast for me and it was so nice! It just so happened that our deep cleaning day fell on my birthday so that took up most of our time, but we went to dinner at the Madrid family's house! They made us mole and then smashed my face into another cake!! Very messy the second time around I must say... To finish off a perfect day, President and Sister James called me to sing to me and to wish me a happy birthday. It was awesome haha! Saturday was as well super busy. Elder Niko was going down to Lumberton for a baptism and wanted to know if I wanted to go with him and make a pit stop in Siler City on the way there. I was super excited about it at first but then got a feeling to pray and ask the Lord. As I knelt down in prayer, I had a real stupor of thought! I can't even explain what it was like! I felt like I should open up my scriptures next and as I did I was reminded to be happy and do what I have been called to do. I found a few scriptures teaching me that no one is exempt from the law of consecration. That includes all time I have! It is truly the Lord's and not my own. While going to Siler might not have been a bad thing, I felt it wasn't the best use of time. So we didn't go. He was a little bummed about it, but he had fun at the baptism in Lumberton. That night we had a ward activity! It was the biggest one of the year. It is called the International Night! We had food from all the different Hispanic countries and we even had many people perform their native dances! It was very neat!! Josefina brought a friend with her too! We are going to start teaching her this week. Very excited! We all danced afterwards and there were some teenage girls taking snapchats with us. It was kind of weird.. Elder Niko told me afterwards that they had asked how old I was! Very interesting.. Well too bad I'm a missionary!! They gotta wait! We got transfer news later that night and found out that we are staying! The sad news though is that they are opening Raleigh 3B again which means we will go back to just our area of 3C. We are losing all of our promising people!! Those new elders are walking into many baptisms. I guess I'm happy for them.. Just sad to be leaving the people we have gotten very close to. But we are very excited for this new transfer and are going to be even more determined than ever to do the work of the Lord! There are such great blessings here in the mission field. Thank you all for reading this email! Sorry they are always so long haha.. Just so many things happening!! I hope you each have a very happy week. :)

Still smelling the cheesecake,
Elder Shearer

Monday, August 22, 2016

08/22/16 - Raleigh, North Carolina

Why hello there all of you beautiful people! I'm back! Many stories this week, I hope to keep them short.. Last Monday we had a multi-zone activity at a place called Defy Gravity, a trampoline park! We had a lot of fun and a great workout! On our way there, I got a strange feeling that Elder Summers was going to get hurt! I tried telling him to be safe, but right at the last moment he panicked on a back flip and landed on his neck!! It was terrible, he's been in pain all week.. I felt so bad, like it was my fault! I probably should have just not said anything.. But anyways, back to the stories! Tuesday morning we had possibly our best lesson of the week. We taught an investigator by the name of Bertha. She has been taught for quite a while by the missionaries and still doesn't quite understand the message. She understand the need for priesthood authority, but believes that the Catholic church has it. We went over to her home and had a lesson about the apostasy using just the Bible. After explaining it to her, she asked "So where did the church of Christ go? What happened to the truth??" We then shared the first vision and testified of its truthfulness. She has her eyes opened at last and it was the greatest feeling helping her get there. Later that night we taught a part member family we have been working with about temples! They are working on the father's divorce, Adolfo, and then going to be married so he can get baptized! And a year later they are planning and going to the temple together! Wednesday we had district meeting about obedience. It was a very powerful one. I opened it up to a discussion and everyone had great insights! We talked about needing to let go of ourselves and then give ourselves to the Lord. It is incredible that I have already seen a difference in this district and in these missionaries since that day! I am serving around so many good missionaries. The rest of our Wednesday was very full of tests. In just that one day we were confronted with quite a bit of anti material. While eating at Chick-fil-a for dinner with a member, a woman approached us trying to "save" us. We simply smiled, bore testimony, invited her to know of our church for herself, and left as soon as possible. The same day we also received some anti CD's in the mail which I quickly found a new home for in the garbage. While tracting later that day, a man opened a door dressed in a KKK outfit! It terrified me!! The whole day there was much opposition and trial! Yet we wore our smiles proudly and went about our labors with joy. We then received a referral from Salt Lake City for a man requesting a Book of Mormon! We contacted him that same night and had a great lesson with him. It was a great testimony builder for me that when we are strong in our trials and continue to brightly beam with the love of our Savior, everything works out for the best. We had another amazing lesson the next day as we again taught an investigator about the apostasy. He wasn't understanding anything the entire lesson until we took a step back and taught about it. And then he got it! Very well! He's going to read and pray to receive an answer. My testimony has really grown this week of the apostasy! I have found that from there comes all of the confusion. If we can just teach the apostasy from the bible and help people come to feel of the need of a restoration, the Spirit can do its work. Tracting later that night, we found 3 new investigators within the space of an hour and a half! Miraculous. We also had a lesson with Jesus, the husband of our recent convert. He finally opened up and shared that he knows this church is true. He even knows the Book of Mormon is true! He just lacks desire. We are working with him on that. We gave service Friday to a less active and helped him pick up a table in Garner. He rented a U-hall van but it only had 2 seats! So I sat in the back; the cargo area. It was scary! Many stickers warning me of my inevitable death. But after being thrown around for a bit, I survived! And we ate lunch! At a Chinese buffet! We got a referral for someone in Mexico later that day from a member, so that was neat. And in the middle of the night, around 11:30, we got a phone call from a potential investigator! Really confused and half-asleep, I answered it! He was very drunk as he tried to get me to pay him $500 dollars so he could help us build our church. It was pretty comical. Saturday we taught an investigator by the name of Eladio that has cancer in his kidneys. He is hanging in there as he waits for his insurance to let him go on Dialysis. But we had a great lesson as we tried to build his faith and his hope in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Following that lesson, I gave my first baptismal interview! It went very well and the candidate is ready for his baptism this Friday! I also got a few birthday packages and I can't wait to open them! We had a neat experience with goal setting too on Saturday. We had planned to find one new investigator for the day and after tracting for quite some time, we hadn't spoken to a single person! We tried driving around looking for other neighborhoods when we felt prompted to go to visit one of our investigators. Turns out, her daughter has been in the back room the whole time and is actually really interested! We had a great lesson with her and were able to find the soul we were looking for. Elder Summers and I are doing great together. We are speaking Spanish every odd hour of the day and we are both growing more and more each time! Oh! On Sunday one of our recent converts, Rony, got the Priesthood! Elder Summers was able to give it to him and it was a very special experience. Rony even passed the sacrament the same day! Josefina, his mom, was beaming the entire time and there was such pride and joy on her face! Very touching to me. This week I have been very humbled. I have really come to a sense of my nothingness and my need for the Lord. I have caught a glimpse of just how little I know and how much room I have for improvement. But I am willing! To change, to grow, to do the Lord's will. I simply hope and pray I can become even more of an instrument in His hands. I have quickly learned that that is all I ever want. And with that, possibly my favorite thing that I learned this week is that today is the day of my opportunity. And for that, I will not waste it. Each day we have no more than today to change. Today is the day to act. To make a difference. I have learned that we must use all opportunities and each day to become the best versions of ourselves we can possibly become. So let's get to work! At least for me, there's a long way to go... I love you all and hope you have the best of weeks!!

Building this church through business deals,
Elder Shearer