Monday, February 27, 2017

02/27/17 - Wilmington, North Carolina

Happy days happy days, these are the happiest of days!! I am in love with serving God!! :) You guessed it, this week was another full one! Last Monday we bought some amazing groceries: salads, carrots, juice, bagels. What more could we ask for?! We then played soccer and I accidentally gave my companion a black eye! I was running with the ball and my elbow accidentally whacked him in the face.. I feel so bad! We taught Sharon our investigator that night and we solidified our baptismal date with her for the 18th of March! We got an amazing referral on Tuesday from a woman that wants us to come and baptize her daughter! They are Hispanic too! We are very excited to hopefully bring that whole family into the church so they can receive the eternal blessings! We taught our pastor, Patricia, Tuesday afternoon and it was hands down one of the most powerful lessons I have ever had. We taught her boldly the message of the Restoration and the Spirit was there testifying of everything that was said. She told us that she was given the Book of Mormon years ago by a friend! When she received it, she was told that even though she didn't need it at the time, she needed to put it on the shelve for a future day. She was told that one day many years later after she had already grown up and learned about God, she would be reminded of it and she would be taught about it. She was told that in that day, she would need to take it out, dust it off, and read it. That is exactly what happened on Tuesday. We taught her what that book is and how it is going to change her life. After we came into her church on Saturday, she prayed to God and asked what our purpose was for being there. He reminded her that she had invited us to come back. He then asked her what she was going to do when we returned. She told Him that she would listen with an open heart. That is what she did. She told us that she is not tied down to any church, not even her own! She doesn't believe that her church has the fulness of the gospel. With much humility and sincerity she told us that if the Lord guides her path, she will follow. She feels that she is still waiting for the lightbulb to go off in her life! We promised many blessings and testified with all the strength we could muster. I felt so strongly that the Lord needs her in His church. He has prepared her and her heart is open! I was in tears as I boldly testified to her that the Lord has lead us to her for a reason. Wow. Such an noteworthy moment of my mission. I testify in the name of Jesus Christ that the Lord is preparing His children. His work is moving forward! It is such a blessing and honor to be a part of it. Tuesday night we had a stake meeting with President James, all of the bishoprics in the stake, and our stake leadership. We were asked to give an instruction and President James gave one following us. It was powerful, he is so inspired of God. After the meeting, we were talking with him about some struggling missionaries. He gave great advice: "If you treat a man as he is, he will remain as he is. If you treat him as the man you want him to become, he will become that man." He hope to be able to do that with all of our missionaries for we love them so deeply! We had interviews with President and Sister James the following morning and they went very well! President and I had a great conversation about being instruments in God's hands and we were both in tears as we testified to each other of the importance of this work. He asked if I would offer the closing prayer and I sobbed the whole way through it. I was simply full of so much gratitude. I closed the prayer and silence followed it. After a few moments, President thanked me, got off his knees, and told me it was a privilege to be in my presence. I love that man so deeply. He is truly influencing my life for the better. As I came out of the interview I noticed that we had been in there for an hour! Haha so much for 10 minute interviews.. We went on an exchange afterwards and I brought Elder Miller here to my area. We had such a great exchange! He was excited to be able to teach in three languages: English, Spanish, and Swahili! We met one man that told us he was a demon and another man that is 90 years old by the name of Otto that let us right in! We shared a quick message of the Plan of Salvation and a few days later he called us and told us he wanted to come to church on Sunday! We went to the hospital after teaching Otto to give a less active a blessing. He had a serious tragedy and accidentally shot himself in the head. He had staples all across his forehead and all the way down the middle of his head. Elder Miller gave a very powerful blessing. The Spirit enveloped that room and we all felt of the love of God for that man. We finished the night by taking Johnny out to a new Congolese family we found! Johnny did a great job translating as we shared the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! The family loved it!! We exchanged back the following morning and we did a tie trade: classic. We then went up to Falls Lake (Raleigh area) to do an exchange with the Assistants for the day. I went with Elder Jorgensen and we had so much fun!! We tracted pretty much the whole day and even though nobody accepted the message, we had a blast!! Haha we were laughing and smiling and loving life! We were simply loving being in the service of God, despite the outcome of our efforts. I gave him a haircut that night and the next morning we had a meeting! We had MLC with all of the zone leaders and there were some great instructions given. We covered a lot of questions for our discussion as well and got some new things figured out to help our missionaries. We drove to Jacksonville after the meeting and did a baptismal interview. He passed with flying colors!! Saturday was a great day. We did a service project in the morning for a less active that needed some help moving, and then the Sisters had a baptism in the afternoon! They asked me to sing at the baptism and I sang "When I am baptized". It was a beautiful service (apart from my song of course). We took Johnny out that night to find some more Congolese and he was very excited to do missionary work! We found a few more families thanks to him and we also found out that the children of the Mashinga family (our Congolese recent convert family) speak Spanish! Haha Sadiki, the little tiny boy, was scratching my back while we were there and was cuddling with me! It was so cute! We went to teach some Hispanics afterwards but they were all drunk so we boldly told them that we couldn't teach in such an atmosphere and scheduled another appointment. Sunday was fantastic! We had many people come to church including Sharon, her mother, and Otto! They all loved it and promised to come back again. We taught the gospel principles class in Swahili for the Congolese and the member that was in there with us thanked me afterwards for my teaching. She told me that every time we have a lesson with them, she learns something new! She told me she thought I was truly inspired and I told her that the Spirit is the real teacher. He really is! Without him, we can do nothing! Haha a member in Elders quorum made fun of my "goofy smile" but said that it tells him I have a testimony of and a love for the gospel. We ate dinner with the Arne family and she made me a lemon bundt cake just like my Dad makes them! It was amazing!! We finished the week by teaching a less active hispanic family. We told them that we need them to be able to start this Spanish group and they are excited to get aboard! I am so truly blessed to be serving this mission. I AM SO HAPPY!!

Endlessly wearing his goofy smile,
Elder Shearer

Monday, February 20, 2017

02/20/17 - Wilmington, North Carolina

Let me tell you what. I love this time of my life soo much!! Every single second that I get to spend serving the Lord is the best second of my life. Good or bad, sunshine or rain! I love it all!! I am so truly blessed and privileged to be out here. If any one of you is deciding whether a mission is for you or not, the answer is yes. Do it! You will never regret it. The only question you need to ask yourself is if you love the Lord more than yourself. If the answer is yes, He will help you through everything. You can trust Him! Last Monday we had a great accounting call with President James. He let us know that last year at this time, our zone had 5 baptisms. This year we are already at 17. This zone is doing amazing! President told us that the Wilmington zone is leading the mission!! We went downtown for our preparation day to celebrate Elder Nmesirionye's birthday, he's such a great kid! One of my favorites. While we were walking around downtown, a random Jimmy John's worker ran up to us and offered us some free sandwiches! She told us she had to get rid of them so we got free lunch! We taught some active members that night and set a date with them to have someone for us to teach us by. We then taught our investigator Sharon and set a baptismal date with her! It was a very spiritually powerful lesson. Tuesday was Valentine's Day and my delightful family sent me a beautiful yet comical box! We went tracted that afternoon and found a new investigator! She told us it might be hard to find her home because she is always busy working. We asked her where she works and after awkwardly pausing, she told us that she works at Hooters! So that was weird.. Her face was super red.. Anyways, we had an amazing dinner with a family in the other ward and they have a Dobby statue! It was awesome. We finished the night by teaching a Spanish media referral by the name of Maria and it was a powerful lesson. As we taught her about the message of the Restoration, we taught her that baptism would help her come closer to God. I felt prompted to teach her about receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and all of the comfort and peace that would provide her. She began to cry and she accepted a baptismal date! We asked her if she would offer the closing prayer and as we knelt together, she wept through the entirety of the prayer. She thanked God for sending us to her and for helping her to find peace and comfort again in her life. She told God that He knows she has felt lonely and disconnected lately. It was such a memorable night. It brought me to tears as well and as I sat there on my knees, I was filled with such a deep appreciation for the opportunity to be an instrument in God's hands. That is truly my greatest desire!! We went to Hampstead for District Meeting and it went very well! Elde Carrell and Elder Allred are great district leaders. I brought Elder Carrell down to my area for an exchange afterwards and we had a blast! We spoke Spanish the entire night and had so much fun. We found 2 new investigators while tracting with a member and got to teach a lot of Spanish lessons! A lot of them weren't very interested, but I was impressed by Elder Carrell's ability to stay positive and dedicated to find the elect! I had a great personal study that day and really saw the difference in my teaching because of it. I learned that when we "treasure up the words of life", we really do receive an increase of the Holy Spirit. As we exchanged back with them the following morning, they accidentally drove away with both our phone and theirs! Haha we had to wait at the gas station for them to realize and turn around. Such a rookie mistake.. Elder Nadauld got tricked into getting black stuff all over his face that night at dinner as we played Mormon Hypnotism with a member. We taught our Congolese after and they asked us how they can pay tithing. They have such a desire to keep all the commandments! To finish the night, we played volleyball with the YSA and some of our investigators! Friday we did some more tracting and some funny things happened. One lady told me that she thought I had perfect teeth but I'm pretty sure she just got Elder Nadauld and I mixed up.. We ran into another family who told us to come back and teach their daughter someday! We asked what their daughter's name was and they told us it is "My Treasure"!! Possibly spelled like Mahtrezure or something haha.. After tracting, we called President James to figure some things out. There a slight problem because all of our Congolese members live in the other ward's area. However, they have been fellowshipped into this ward. So the other ward is trying to take them, and we are trying to keep them. Thankfully, President has said that he is willing to go up to the First Presidency to get them to stay in our ward. Anyways, some more Congolese have been found by other missionaries and we wanted to know who should be teaching them. As we asked President, he said "You! Period exclamation point!" I asked even if they were in the other ward's area and he replied by saying "Anywhere you can find them! You can even come up to Durham to teach them! Are there any questions? Is there anyone I need to talk to so they understand that?" It was very comforting to hear that we can teach them and help them become fellowshipped by our recently baptized members. One of our YSA members took us out on an exchange that night and we had a great time teaching Brandy. All of her concerns and questions are answered so perfectly by the message! We hope and pray she keeps her commitments so she can know it is all true!! Saturday was a productive day as we found 5 new people to teach! We also met a man who has had 2 strokes and 2 heart attacks in the past month! Not sure why he isn't in the hospital.. He was very nice and I am honestly pretty worried about him.. We downloaded a Spanish learning app called Duolingo for our Spanish studies but after sitting down with it for 30 minutes, I tested out of everything so it wasn't too much help.. It was fun though! One of our investigators invited us to a church dinner of hers so Saturday night, we went! It was an AME church which stands for African Methodist Evangelical. It is pretty much a completely black church. We opened the door of the church to go in and as we did so, we noticed that the pastor was in the middle of her sermon! Everyone's heads turned towards us and the pastor stuck her hand up at us pretty much telling us not to come in.. It was so awkward! Well Elder Nadauld walked in anyways so I had to follow! We stood in the back until someone sat us at a table all by ourselves! As we looked around we noticed that not only were we the only white people, but we were also the only men! They were having a "Rainbow Tea" dinner! We got so many glares during the course of dinner.. The pastor did eventually come up to us and after talking with her for a minute, she begged us to come back and teach her more about the church! Yeah, I'd said it was a pretty successful night. I definitely didn't anticipate walking away with the pastor as a new investigator. Haha she told us that he hates what she does! She called everyone there lazy! It was pretty funny.. And as we walked away, a bird pooped on me!! Just terrible... We drove back home through downtown and we saw some power ranger looking guys dressed in white robes! They were standing at a street corner preaching! Kind of scary actually.. We met another Congolese man by the name of Lawrence afterwards and he is very promising! Sunday was amazing as we had 3 people come to church! 2 of which were Spanish!! Maria was one of them!!! We did some tracting afterwards and we knocked on the man that thought we were robbing him last week and this time he let us right in! We entered his smoke filled home and he grabbed a Book of Mormon off of his shelf! He opened it up to a random page and began to read a verse! After he read it, he closed it and told us that he had just preached us a sermon.. We then told us to get out so we did. Very interesting encounter! We ate some home-smoked brisket for dinner last night and I was so very impressed! We taught our Congolese again and we taught them about General Conference! The loved it. We finished our week by teaching the other Hispanic that came to church, Karen! She is so promising!! She said she wants to come to church every week now! Like I said, it is simply a privilege to be here. :)

Teaching pastors,
Elder Shearer

Monday, February 13, 2017

02/13/17 - Wilmington, North Carolina

This is the greatest time in my life. :) God is so good! We witnessed many miracles this week and had many great experiences. Last Monday we toured a really nice apartment complex just for the fun of it and while we were there, a man came up to us and asked to take a picture with us! It was hilarious. But wow, the apartments were so nice. We toured the USS North Carolina afterwards for a zone activity and it was amazing!! Such a big battleship. I was absolutely fascinated by everything and I was almost convinced to join the military someday! Almost.. Tuesday, we took Elder Nadauld to the dentist to try to figure out what has been happening with one of his teeth, but they said that nothing was wrong with it!! Super strange.. We ate dinner with our Branch President for the YSA that night and brought him out on exchanges afterwards. We had a great night teaching in Spanish and setting baptismal dates! He later told the Elders Quorum on Sunday how much he loves going out with us and how great it is to teach the gospel. He told them that even if they don't speak Spanish, I will translate for them and set them up perfectly for opportunities to testify. He is a great man. We had a zone training on Wednesday and the Monsen's (a senior couple) drove all the way down from Raleigh to take pictures for us! Haha Elder Monsen told me after the meeting that I have a million dollar smile on camera. He said "I don't know who paid for it, but is sure is nice." I told him that I was pretty sure it was only because I was standing next to Elder Nadauld in the pictures! Great instructions were given in the meeting and Elder Nadauld and I had the opportunity to instruct on becoming consecrated missionaries. We were pretty bold and pretty much lit everything on fire. One of the things we said was "Our pride will not stop the work of the Lord, but it will stop us from being a part of it!" The Spirit filled the room and we earnestly tried to express our love for these missionaries as we tried to help them realize the importance of this concept. We will not benefit personally from or even change from the mission, unless we first consecrate ourselves. Later that night we were asked to be witnessed for a wedding! A 68 year old couple that dedicates all of their time to driving around the country in an RV stopped through last week and asked the bishop if they could be married. So he set it up! We attended the wedding right there in the bishop's office. As I shook the groom's hand afterwards and congratulated him, he replied with "hot diggity!!!" I half expected him to jump up and do a heel click too! Oh, and speaking of Wednesday, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY UNCLE STEVEN!!! I love that guy. Thursday was a full day. I got a package from my family and it was awesome. My Dad sent me a little Spanish bible that I can carry around with me!! We also went on exchanges with the Assistants and it was grand. I was with Elder Brezenski and we started off the day by going tracting. While we were tracting, a man we ran into told us that he was a prophet! He explained that ever since he was 12, there were signs of him being a seer. It was an interesting conversation to say the least haha! We did meet a girl by the name of Drina though and she is very elect! She has such a deep desire to know if the Restoration is true and fell in love with the message on her doorstep! Excited to go back this week. After dinner at the house, we went to a really nice neighborhood and covenanted that we would find new investigators. We knocked literally the entire neighborhood and door after door was slammed in our faces. They weren't just uninterested, they hated seeing us at their door. The greatest part was that even though we were screamed at and insulted, we were so happy to be in the work of the Lord! We were still smiling with every step and our faith didn't decrease in the slightest! The very last door we met a man that invited us back the next day! As we went back he was very interested and was smiling from ear to ear to have us in his home! I know that covenanting works and I know that faith brings miracles! We finished our exchange by teaching the Congolese. When we got there, they had a whole bunch of food laid out for us! It was the most authentic African food they've ever given us! We rinsed our hands in a bowl of water and then grabbed a ball of rice. We then reached into a bowl of spinach and ate it all with our hands. It was yummy!! We had a great lesson after teaching the plan of salvation. Elder Brezenski fell in love with the family. We did some P-90X abs when we got back to the apartment and Elder Brezenski told me that our exchange took the cake for his favorite exchange ever! It was pretty great. So two other tracting stories really fast! One night Elder Nadauld and I were tracting and a naked man opened the door! He quickly hid behind the door and then told us that last time missionaries knocked on his door, they robbed him! We said "Who robbed you??" And he replied with "YOU DID! Now you're trying to do it again..." He began to slowly close the door while staring us down and then slammed it shut. So weird! Another story is that while we were tracting, a garbage man stopped us and asked if we were doing the same thing that Jehovah's Witnesses do. I "apparently" (I don't remember this part, but Elder Nadauld tells me it happened) told him that we do pretty much the same stuff, except we share the truth. Haha he then told us he was a Jehovah's Witness... awkward.. yeah anyways.. Friday was a great day! We had interviews and they went very well! I love President and Sister James. Sister James asked how I was doing and when I told her I was extremely happy and loving everything, she told me that she wouldn't expect anything else from me. President gave me a lot of great counsel. That man has really changed my life. They took us and our Congolese family out to dinner that night and it was so much fun! They just fell in love with the family. At the close of dinner, President said, "Now I want to hear some Swahili come out of Elder Shearer's mouth!" He pulled out his phone and first recorded me having a conversation with them. He then put the phone right in front of my face and told me to bear my testimony in Swahili!! It was so nerve wracking.. But that night was a great memory! Saturday was great too. We found a very elect Hispanic. She recognizes how precious the Book of Mormon is! We also found a possum and tried to catch it! It ran away though.. We got transfer news that night and found out that Elder Nadauld and I are staying together for another transfer!! WHOOO!! I am sooo excited. :) It is going to be the best transfer yet! Sunday was a special day as Johnny received the Priesthood! We were able to stand in the circle and he was in tears by the end of it! Such a powerful moment. After church we were talking to the other Elders and they told us that their bishop's daughter apparently talks about me.. A little strange.. A random man walked into church and told us that he was an ex-marine. When he asked me what kind of a church it was, I smiled and told him that it was a Christian church. A Mormon church! He yelled at me and told me that it wasn't a laughing matter and that he wasn't laughing! He then turned to Elder Nadauld and asked him the same question and Elder Nadauld gave him the same answer!! He said "Thank you! That's what I wanted to know!" I guess he didn't like my smile very much.. We knocked into a girl that afternoon and she tried bashing us! She asked us why we believe the Sabbath day is Sunday. She explained that in Genesis God rested on the seventh day and that on any calendar you can clearly see that Saturday is the last day of the week. We didn't know what to say! We came to the church and did some research. Now we know!! "In Old Testament times, God's covenant people observed the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week because God rested on the seventh day when He had created the earth (see Genesis 2:2). After the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which occurred on the first day of the week (see Mark 16:2), the Lord's disciples began observing the Sabbath on the first day of the week, Sunday (see Acts 20:7)." ( I loved that answer! We believe in a living Christ and what a better day to worship than the day he rose from the grave and made our salvation possible! We taught the Congolese again last night and I just love them so much. We again went over the Gospel of Jesus Christ and talked about how faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end aren't a list of steps but rather a way of life! It is truly a lifestyle. Every part works together and it is all one! It is all about following Christ! We told the Congolese that we are staying one more transfer and they were so happy! Johnny bowed his head and started shouting "Thank you thank you thank you!!!" It was truly a great week.

Full of happiness and peace,
Elder Shearer