Monday, September 26, 2016

09/26/16 - Raleigh, North Carolina

What a week! What a week.. Well, it started off on a little bit of a bittersweet note. Mostly bitter. Last Monday night on our way to our dinner appointment with a member and the other Elders, I crashed the car... We were driving in the straight lane as we approached a stoplight. Well on this certain road the straight lane becomes the left hand turn lane! Which I didn't know. So I thought we were still in the straight lane! The light was red so we stopped and waited and after a few moments, it turned green! Everyone began to move forward and assuming we were in the straight lane, I pressed on the gas. I turned to Elder Summers to tell him something and literally a second later he started screaming out! I jerked my head forward just in time to find that the truck in front of us had stopped completely! I guess because we were in the turn lane, he was moving at first but simply inching forward. I slammed on the brakes but to no avail.. We rear ended the commercial truck. We got out of the vehicle and spoke to the man from the other car for a moment. After wiping the paint of our car off of his, he stated the painfully obvious truth by saying "Well, I think my car is fine. But look at yours!" We then pulled the cars off into a side parking lot. He explained that because it was a company vehicle, it was their policy to call the police. So he called them and we waited. For a good two hours. But as we waited we were able to answer many questions about the church and our missions. The man's name is Thomas and he was a very kind man! We got to know him pretty well and were even able to teach him the message of the Restoration! We happened to find one copy of the Book of Mormon in English in the back of our car. We don't really know where it came from, but it was perfect to give to him! After teaching and testifying of many restored truths, he looked at us and said, being a salesman himself, "Wow, that's a pretty convincing argument you have there!" He agreed to read the Book and pray about it. The police finally came and evaluated the situation. He went to his car, printed off a little form that he gave to both of us and went on his way! I didn't even receive a citation! A definite tender mercy.. Thomas also told us as we were leaving that there was a gas shortage in North Carolina and that by the end of the night, all of the gas would be gone. Our gas light conveniently went on as we drove away. We went to the dinner very very late, but had a great time with the family. They had already fed the other Elders earlier, but were so kind to us and brought the food back out! They really opened up and shared some things they are going through. We searched for gas afterwards, but did not find a drop. All of the gas stations were completely shut down. It was a pretty devastating day, but looking back on it, there were many tender mercies! We were able to teach Thomas about the restored gospel, I didn't get a citation, we were informed about the gas situation and as a result were able to inform our zone leaders who told the zone, and we were also able to hear about some concerns the members are having that they didn't share in the earlier dinner with the other Elders! So I have learned that there are always things to be grateful for! And also that God has the ultimate plan. I didn't do anything to deserve that crash, it was simply something that happened. I guess that's why they call it an "accident"! God sees the bigger picture and it is our task to have faith in Him and let Him cut us down so that He can build us back up. Tuesday morning we took the car to the shop and got an estimate.. It looks like the damage will cost $4,600 to repair... I feel absolutely terrible. It has been haunting me all week... I am pretty sure I am going to get my driving privileges taken away, but the mission isn't sure yet. Either way, Elder Summers is now driving in my place. Wednesday we had our district meeting and talked about the Book of Mormon. We talked about how to introduce it and how to best use it in our teaching process. Super good meeting! We had a lesson afterwards with our investigator that has cancer, diabetes, and a blood disease. Upon arriving and finding him in a less than desirable condition, we changed our lesson plans. We shared the will of God video and talked about the purpose of our trials. It was the most spiritual lesson we have ever had with him. We sat in complete silence for a few minutes at one point and just enjoyed the peace of the room. An incredible testimony builder of the power of the Spirit when we are humble enough to change plans and heed its promptings. We came home, ate dinner, and went back out to work for the rest of the night! While studying that day, I learned a very profound truth. It does not matter the condition of the circumstance we may find ourselves in, if we are still able to bear testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ, all is well. I am grateful than through thick and thin, I have been able to open my mouth and testify of His divinity. I am a happy camper through it all because of that ability. That is why I smile continuously day and night!! Because He lives!!!  Thursday we went to teach a less active about the Atonement and we had another great lesson with him. We gave him a Book of Mormon and he is excited to read it and turn his life around. Following the lesson, we had one of the best dinners ever! Chorizo-filled empanadas!! Whoo! I ate way too many.. We then went to teach Jesus, the husband of our recent convert. Another breakthrough lesson with him! As we talked about baptism again, he finally said that he is going to be baptized. He kept repeating it over and over again! "I'm going to be baptized. I'm going to be baptized!" It was thrilling to watch him fill with excitement. Friday morning I did a tie trade with another Elder from the zone and got some beautiful ties! We taught the nonmember daughter of our ward mission leader in the afternoon and she is making progress. She has been invited to baptism many many times by many different missionaries, but has never prayed about it! We are working with her on that. She recently had a baby so we think that is softening her heart. We came home, I ate tuna and celery for dinner, and we went to teach Rony, our other recent convert!! He is so strong! We talked about Nephi going to get the plates from Laban and he had many great questions. I love teaching him! He is going to be the best missionary ever. Saturday was a little bit of a strange day as I woke up sicker than I have ever been on the mission before. My head felt like I had just been hit with a sledge-hammer and my throat was on fire! On top of that, I was having a hard time breathing I was so congested. I slept for a little bit, and then took a really hot, really long shower in the pitch black. By 3 o clock, I couldn't stand staying inside any longer so we left. I don't really remember anything that happened up until dinner, but Elder Summers said I was pretty out of it. I guess at one point he lost me, but quickly found me over at an ice cream truck getting some ice cream! Super weird.. we ate a really spicy soup for dinner at a members home, but Elder Summers had to do all of the talking because I couldn't understand nor speak any part of Spanish I was so tired. But the soup set my body on fire and helped wake me up. We went to contact a referral after dinner and boy was it amazing!! His name is Carlos and he is soo elect! He has gone to many churches and just wants to know which is true. He let us in his home immediately and we had a very long lesson with him. He asked all of the perfect questions, and was thrilled to have the chance to read the Book of Mormon! We had a kneeling prayer at the end of the lesson, and he offered it! Excited to see where his conversion process goes. Sunday was amazing as always! We had a little correlation meeting with our ward mission leader and a few of our ward missionaries and they are starting to get really involved in the work. It is amazing to see what our new ward mission leader has already done in his few short weeks of having this calling! A very quick week, but one full of learning and growth! Still a bit under the weather, but staying diligent in the work of the Lord!

Being humbled by the Lord on the daily,
Elder Shearer

Monday, September 19, 2016

09/19/16 - Raleigh, North Carolina

Oh yes, what a glorious week! Elder Summers and I started out last Monday right! We decided that this week we were going to be lovingly bold and fearless. It brought about miracles I tell you, miracles!! We went to an appointment last Monday night with an investigator and upon opening the door she told us that her son was not home yet and that we should just reschedule the lesson for another day. Well we testified and promised blessings and immediately and asked if we could teach her outside on her back porch anyways. We did and it was a powerful lesson! The Spirit came so strong. She told us she knows she needs to be baptized. It was incredible! Tuesday was a little bit more difficult. As most of you probably know, I strive to listen to the Spirit and let it guide me in all phases of the work. Well lately I have been wondering why there are times when I feel lead to a place wherein we only face rejection. I have learned this week that God knows where every single elect person in our area lives. He knows the best time to visit them and He knows their name! But what good would it do us if He just lead us to them without delay. Nothing! Sometimes we are called to rejection in order to grow. It makes me feel very special to know that in those moments of rejection, the Lord is putting my progression as His immediate priority! It is a privilege to be a part of His work (us) as I watch Him change me! And speaking of rejection, Elder Summers found a few holes in his pants this week.. I guess he needed some growth too haha! We patched them up real nice but he is going to buy some more today. Wednesday was hands down one of the most spiritual days of my mission. We had zone training in the morning and I received some great personal revelation that I have been seeking for a while. Of the experience I won't share details but I just want to testify that God loves you and that prayers work! Try praying to Him and ask how He feels about you. Then open your mind and heart to the love that will come! We went on exchanges after the meeting and I brought a great Elder by the name of Elder Hunsaker to my area. It was his first exchange which now makes me his godfather! We had an incredible night with many learning experiences but for the sake of the length of this email, I will just share one. One of our appointments had just fallen through and we were left with 30 minutes before our next one. We decided to tract. But more importantly and much more powerfully, we decided to covenant (setting inspired goals and saying a prayer to the Lord for His will to be accomplished). Upon prayerfully seeking the Lord's will, we both felt that 3 new investigators was the goal to set. This Elder has been having a particularly hard time lately in his area with having success in finding. We felt that this couldn't happen, but I was reminded of a quote in Preach my Gospel that says "Lowering your expectations decreases your faith, dedication, and ability to listen to the Spirit." So with faith we prayed and with dedication we worked. We found those 3 investigators. And with each, a miracle. With the first we had already knocked the door 3 times and were about to leave when we both felt that we needed to knock one more time. We did and as we did so, we were filled with so much love for the person on the other side of the door! She opened hesitantly and we boldly testified of the love of God for her and promised the blessings of this message. She became a new investigator! The next man told us that God had sent angels to his door and that we were welcome anytime! He promised to read anything we give him. And the third investigator came in the eleventh hour. The 30 minutes had just ran out, but we felt we needed to knock one more door. As we did, a girl from the next door over peeked her head out and we began to talk to her about the church. He whole family is strongly Catholic, but we left her with the Family Proclamation pamphlet and she promised to share it with her family. We came back a few days later and she had read the entire thing to them! She told us that they absolutely loved it. My testimony grew insurmountably and I testify that using the Spirit works! It is the way to do the work of the Lord. The next day while studying the Bible in my personal studies, a little note fell out that someone had stuck in there from zone training the day previous! I am not sure who it is from, but it made my day! :) At the close of our exchange, I took the new Elder to a panaderia and not only did we buy some amazing bread, but the worker thought I was from Argentina! A new one, but I'll take it! After we switched back, Elder Summers and I started a 48-hour liquid diet. He is trying to figure out some health things so our mission nurse told him to do the diet. Well I didn't want him to be alone so I did it too! It was tough. But over the course of the two days, I lost 12 pounds! My pants are actually getting a little baggy ha! Friday we drove to a homeless shelter and tried to offer some service, but they denied us.. So we went back out to do some teaching! We found a less active who is 16 years old. He was baptized when he was 8 and left the church pretty soon after. His father is in jail and his mother is now Muslim. I felt like I needed to testify of the power of church. I told him that every week I go to church, I get spiritually recharged! He really opened up to us and after confessing some addictions he is going through, he told us that that is exactly what he is looking for in his life. He wants to change. So we testified of the reality and divinity of the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and had a great contact. We found another less active a little later in the day and learned that she now has her own church! We are going to pass the Restoration with her as soon as possible. We went back to visit the first of the three people we found on the exchange and were surprised to see not only her husband, but some of his friends all outside in the lawn! We taught the Restoration and with the guidance of the Spirit, it hit them very strongly. They firmly accepted the invitation to read the Book of Mormon. Throughout the entirety of the lesson, they were staring at us and didn't lose eye contact! They really saw and felt of the truth in that lesson. We were even able to testify and confirm to them that what they were feeling was the Holy Ghost. Saturday we found the third less active family of the week! They are not Jehovah's Witnesses. I pulled out the Family Proclamation again and began teaching about eternal families and temples. As I offered the pamphlet to the mother, she got very nervous and told us that she didn't need it. She said that she already had a pamphlet about families from their church. She then pulled out her pocketbook and began frantically searching through her pamphlets. Not able to find any about the family she told us that she had one about depression and that it was equally important. We bore fervent testimonies of the uniqueness of our message and of the restored truth that are families are meant to be forever through making promises with God in sacred places called temples. They were dumbfounded and insisted that we leave. We closed our message in the name of Jesus Christ and respected their agency. We have been trying for weeks to teach an investigator in the home of a member, and on Saturday it finally happened! It was a great lesson on the word of wisdom. The testimonies of members are so powerful! A family from the ward took us to Chipotle for dinner and we had a great time. It is simply delicious! And on Sunday we were pleased to see one of our investigators come to church. As he entered the building, he had a look of pain and concern. You could really tell that something was weighing on him. But it was awesome to see that throughout the course of the church block, his entire countenance changed! As he left, he practically gave each of us Elders a hug and he walked away wearing the proudest, biggest grin on his face. I testify that this is the restored church of Jesus Christ! The one and only! It has power in it. The power of God. It can and does change lives. I love my mission! I cannot believe that yesterday I hit my halfway mark... It is going too quickly!! I thank everyone that has stuck with me through it all. For all of the love, prayers, and support I have felt! I pray the Lord will bless each of you daily. I love you! But more importantly, He loves you!!!

One year over and wiser too. Happy Missionary work... to me!
Elder Shearer

Monday, September 12, 2016

09/12/16 - Raleigh, North Carolina

Hello all of you beautiful people! This weeks email will be a nice short one for you! It has been a full week. Not of lessons, or of teaching, but of opposition and chances to grow! This has probably been one of the most opposition-filled weeks of the mission. It feels like a month went by! Many little things were thrown at us to test our patience this week. Many many lessons, dinners, and members fell through on us. But! Through all of it, we have kept a smile on our face and kept on in the work of the Lord. Last Monday night we read 3 Nephi 11 with one of our investigators and he seemed to enjoy it! A few days later before our appointment with him, his wife texted us and cancelled telling us he would like some time to "study". We hope he really is!! From the Book of Mormon! Tuesday we had zone council, which I love! Discussed the needs of our zone and made some great plans for this coming month. Going to take things back to the basics and use Preach my Gospel more! Speaking of which, I have been studying it diligently for a while and it has been great. Every day I have little things I read earlier come into my mind of things to do or ways to teach! Later that day we were attempting to contact a less active, but couldn't find the house. I had just finished telling Elder Summers that "we might not know where he lives. But the Lord knows! And He will tell us if we listen." when I turned to my left and saw across the street, through some trees, the number of his house! It was amazing! He wasn't home however.. So we tracted for the rest of the night and seemed to only find Black people. They all tried referring us to where they thought the Hispanics lived, but it was only a wild goose chase! We finally found some women outside who gave us a specific door to knock and with 2 minutes left, we did! We found a solid new investigator who even downloaded gospel library right there on his phone and promised to read it. He is a stylist and a little feminine, probably the first Hispanic like that I have met on the mission. But all people need the gospel of Jesus Christ, right? Wednesday we had a great district meeting entirely focused on the Restoration and it went well! I made cookies for our district and we had fun eating them after. Coming home from district meeting, Elder Summers and I came to learn that we had lost our keys! We ended up having to wait about 45 minutes in the heat until the other Elders came home to let us in.. And later that day while riding my bike, I got hit by a car! They were turning out onto a busy street we were riding down and must not have seen that I was coming. I was just about to pass by in front of the car when they floored it and smacked into me! They ran right into my leg and the back tire of my bike. It actually lifted my bike off of the ground and swung me around! I somehow caught my balance and pulled to a stop. They had sped off as I looked down to examine the condition of my bike, obviously dented or possibly even broken. To my amazement, it didn't even have a scratch! And my leg as well didn't even bruise! A true miracle and blessing from the Lord. Although I imagine that the car is quite scratched up. I feel super bad about that.. The next day we had a belated birthday lunch for me at Cheesecake Factory. It was amazing!! Orange Chicken and the 30th anniversary cheesecake. Incredible. We weekly planned afterwards and made some great goals! Our dinner was with a less active and they kept calling to move it forward by half an hour after we had waited the half hour! We finally ate with them and by the time we got out, we had about 15 minutes. We decided to go be obedient and knock some doors. Well after knocking for a few minutes, a man pulled up to us in a car and let us know that there was a man with a machete walking around the next street over. We quickly went home. Friday morning I accidentally got into the wrong car which just so happened to be unlocked. I didn't notice until Elder Niko yelled at me telling me it was the wrong one.. A little while later, while checking Facebook, we got a reply from a promising investigator we haven't seen in a while. we had asked him if he would still be interested in us coming by again and his answer was a simple "No." It broke my heart! We went to dinner afterwards and we put our bikes in the back of the truck. I guess I forgot to close the truck bed because after we began to drive for a minute, Elder Summer screamed "Oh no!! Your bike is falling out!!" I looked back just in time to see Shivani, my bike, take a dive out of our 35 MPH truck. We quickly pulled over and found that the seat had been torn up pretty badly and that my water bottle had flown off and was completely busted. But other than that, it was fine! Another blessing from the Lord. That night we were also blessed to find a few new investigators and teach our new ward mission leader a little more about his calling. Saturday was a long day. I woke up with a fever and felt just terrible. But we quickly got out of the house anyways to do the work of the Lord! We biked around in the heat for about 7 hours with no success. We attempted visiting investigators, potentials, recent converts, less active members, and even tracted for quite some time. No one wanted to answer the door! We did get to talk to one Hispanic woman and she told us that she remembers two young missionaries like us that once upon a time visited her! She said that she still had their book too! Surprised, we asked to see it. She then proceeded to pull out a Jehovah's Witness bible. Haha so close... We also found a woman that had her records removed from the church a few years ago and she looked so dead! In her eyes I saw such a void and need for the gospel. We left her a plan of salvation pamphlet and our number as well. I hope she calls us. It was a long day and a testing day, but as we stayed diligent and kept working with smiles on our faces, we saw a miracle. In the eleventh hour we received a referral that lived on a street I had noticed for the first time earlier that day! We raced over to this house at 8:15 and began to teach the family. They became new investigators and my testimony grew of the need to be obedient and hardworking at all times. Right up until the last door. It might have been a week full of struggles and faith-testers, but I know we were on the Lords' errand.

Expecting the imminent destruction of his bike,
Elder Shearer

Monday, September 5, 2016

09/05/16 - Raleigh, North Carolina

Weeks are flying by like days!! Last Monday we played tennis and basketball as a district and had a grand ole time. We visited a few people that night that we were losing due to transfers. We said our goodbyes and are now back in my original area of Raleigh 3C! I was very sad to be leaving so many people dear to my heart, but I know they are in great hands with the new Elders. Tuesday morning before our transfer meeting, we went and had breakfast with our Bishop and his family. It was amazing!!! His wife is from Spain and she cooks sooo well. She always gives us some kind of goodie that she bought from Spain. We were able to coordinate many things with him as far as the progress of the work and the ward go. We went to transfers afterwards and saw many missionaries I hadn't seen in a while! Our new missionaries to the district are Elder Garvin and Elder Hunsaker. Elder Garvin is training Elder Hunsaker and they are both doing very well. Well, other than the fact that both of their bikes broke in the first 24 hours!! It was a nightmare for a bit.. But we're good now! Wednesday we had our district meeting and I instructed on quality vs. quantity. Instead of discussing the quality and quantity of our teaching however, I touched on the quality and quantity of missionaries here in the field. We want to be quality missionaries that the Lord can count on! The power of one consecrated missionary is so much greater than 100 mediocre missionaries. We want to become that one! We talked about the significance of Jesus Christ in our work. We talked about receiving our daily bread! We learn from Exodus that this bread helps us walk in the path of the Lord instead of our own. This bread is truly our Savior, Jesus Christ. We receive him and his word through diligent study. Daily study. We also learn about the feeding of the 5,000 in the New Testament. If we give thanks for the daily bread we have received through our study and desire to share it, the Lord will magnify our labors and will help us touch the hearts of many. We went to teach our recent convert Rony after our meeting and he is doing so well! We shared Lehi's vision with him and I tried drawing it for him. It didn't work too well.. But he got the idea! We taught his father Jesus later that night and we made some great progress with him! We felt we needed to teach him the message of the Restoration even though he has heard it many times before. It turns out, he didn't know that the Apostasy was a thing! But now he does and now the message of the Restoration has true relevance for him. He also said he hasn't put in an honest effort to read the Book of Mormon so we are going to work with him on that. We invited him to pray at the end of it and he got very uncomfortable. After a few minutes of waiting, he did it. And it was amazing. He was so proud of it too! It was a great moment. Later that night, Elder Summers was feeling pretty sick and actually threw up quite a bit in the bathroom. I went in to help him out as I patted his back and I just felt so bad for him! I told him to go lay down and I cleaned it all up for him. I was super worried for him! He was thankfully feeling much better by the next day. Thursday, we went to teach an investigator about the importance of prayer and made a promise to ourselves that we weren't going to leave until he offered a prayer. He always avoids it! The time finally came to end the lesson and we extended the invitation once again. She awkwardly tried to push it off and make one of us say it, but we just kept looking at him with smiles on our faces. We re-passed the steps of prayer and bore fervent testimonies of his need to pray. He finally did it! It was amazing. First time we've heard him pray. As you can tell, we have really been focusing on having the investigator pray at the end of the lesson. It really needs to happen in the first lesson otherwise they gain a sense of comfortableness and it is harder to have them do it later on in the teaching process. That night we witnessed a miracle. We had felt prompted in our planning the night before to branch out into our area more and try to go to a town called Wake Forest. Well, with faith and after having said a prayer, we started driving. We passed a turnoff and it caught my attention. The name of the road was "Height Lane". We kept driving when I noticed another turnoff that connected back to height lane! Prompted to turn, I didn't. I don't know why! I suppose I was unsure if it was the Spirit or not. Well we kept driving and after a few more minutes, I saw a second turnoff also connecting back to height lane! Again prompted to take the turn, I hesitated. We kept driving and eventually began to take some turns here and there. We drove around lost for about 15 minutes until we finally ended up on a road I felt good about. I said to Elder Summers, "This is it. This road is taking us to where we need to be." I looked at the GPS to see where we were heading and sure enough, we were going right towards height lane. Not wanting to deny a third prompting from the Holy Ghost, we went. Parked the car, said a prayer, and began to tract. The first door we knocked, a woman opened. She let us in without any hesitation. Her husband and two daughters came out of the backroom and there we sat all of us gathered together. We shared the message of the Restoration and it was powerful. They were all watching us very intently and the Spirit came in strongly as we shared the first vision. They accepted the invitation to read the Book of Mormon as a family and to pray about the truthfulness of it. We were even able to have a kneeling prayer with them right there as the mother offered it. She let us know that the only nights we can catch them home are Thursdays! A true miracle indeed. A very strong testimony builder to me of the power of the Spirit in the work. Friday we had a leadership training meeting and it was a unique one as President invited all of the leadership from the entire mission to come together. He adressed us on the need to be obedient and hard working. He said so lovingly bold, "You can either go home or you can go to work. So let's get to work, Elders and Sisters." It built such a fire in me and I am trying even harder to improve my language and the quality of the music I listen to. Instead of looking for ways to go around the mission rules, we are looking for ways to be obedient. I know obedience brings blessings! We taught another investigator afterwards about the need to come to church and it was a great lesson. She is making an effort to come! Saturday we went to a baptism in Apex for one of my investigators from Siler City!! It was AMAZING to see all of the members again! I was even invited to stand in the circle as she received the gift of the Holy Ghost and was confirmed a member of the church. The rest of the day was a trial of faith as all of our lessons fell through.. But we stayed positive and continued to work hard! Even in the pouring rain! That night we found a sheet of ice on our air conditioning and spent a little while shaving it all off and melting it off. We finally got it all, but then the system started leaking everywhere! It was a mess... We definitely didn't go to bed on time that night.. But Sunday was glorious. Josie, our recent convert, made us knit ties! They are beautiful. We also got a new ward mission leader and his name is Brother Madrid! Literally my favorite member here. It is going to be awesome. After church we went tracting for a bit and as we did so, we saw a man fixing his car. We offered to help him, but he said he was fine so we asked if he knew anyone that could use a message. He said he didn't, so we left. After driving for minute on our way to our next potential, we both turned to each other and felt that we needed to go back. We felt terrible for not teaching him! So we drove back and praying very sincerely that we would find him, we did! We approached him again and gave him a Plan of Salvation pamphlet. An incredible contact. It turns out, he was very in need of the gospel! We saw a recent convert that has began to go a little less-active afterwards and taught the Restoration. I was in tears during the first vision! It was miraculous and he absolutely felt of the Spirit of that lesson. He agreed to read the Book of Mormon daily and pray again and again about it. And to end off our week, we saw Hilberto and his wife Esmeralda last night. We taught them the Plan of Salvation and they had great questions. They asked what the right way to get baptized was! We taught them of the need to have the Priesthood power of God, and extended the baptismal invitation. They both accepted without any delay and we even set a date with him! There were many times in that lesson when I felt that I was not even speaking! I could tell the Spirit of God was working through me and what a celestial feeling that was. I am in love! With this mission. It has taught me so much and I continue to grow. Daily. I love you all and again apologize for the length of this email. There are simply so many miracles happening here in North Carolina and I desire to share them all with you! Have a great week, lovelies!

Learning to listen to the Spirit the first time around,
Elder Shearer