Saturday, November 29, 2014

Missions are not easy, but they're certainly worth it.‏

 November 24, 2014

Good morning folks!

It's been a pretty great week in Carolina Norte. We definitely taught some great lessons this week and I continue to learn more about the Gospel and about myself.

I'll just go through the highlights of the week for ya:

Tuesday we helped with the baptism of an 8-year old in the branch. Being in a branch is super fun because the missionaries do EVERYTHING. We set up the Sacrament on Sundays, we interpret for all the meetings, we give blessings, we clean people's yards, counsel recent converts, and even escort old ladies to the pulpit. It's really a blast. But this baptism was different because it was in Spanish, which means the interpreting was done in English. I had the honors of interpreting. It felt kind of strange, but it worked out nicely. Something I've definitely seen on my mission is the Gift of Tongues and the Gift of Interpretation of tongues. Whenever I interpret, I feel the power of those gifts. It's like the words just flow. But the baptism was great and very spiritual. I enjoyed having the opportunity to serve.

On Wednesday we didn't do too much, nothing to report at least. But we did visit a man named J. He stays in assisted living because of cancer and some mental disorders, but he's great. We go over and talk with him and share spiritual thoughts, and give him blessings of comfort. It's funny, every time we go he either asks for a dollar or some candy. I usually carry some Werther's with me, so I always give him a few. But that's not the point. The point is that when you visit the sick and afflicted, you feel something very special. You're just filled with love that you can't even really describe. I left his room feeling very uplifted and I went to bed with a smile on my face that night.

Thursday we had a great lesson with our baptismal date, A. We talked about the Holy Ghost and the Gift of the Holy Ghost and how to recognize answers to prayers and things like that. At this point, he really REALLY has a desire to know if the Book of Mormon is true. He says he hasn't received an answer yet (that he knows of), but he will keep reading. I think the key with him will be getting him to church. We're hoping to get somebody over there to fellowship with him this week so he doesn't have to go alone. But please pray that he gets an answer to his prayers! That will make all the difference in the world!

On Friday we did a surprise visit with our old friends O and P. We got there and they hadn't changed a bit. They're old and unhealthy, so they don't move much haha. O just loves us. She calls us her "adopted sons." She said something really funny. "When I"m healthy and can get out of this chair then we'll dance." But she's super exaggerated especially when she feels the Spirit. She always talks out loud and claims it's the voice of God speaking through her. I still don't know whether to believe her or not. But we gave her a blessing of health and she was really happy that we stopped by. We talked briefly about prophets and she said "I hope you two become the greatest prophets that have ever walked this earth." We'll see about that haha.

Sunday was a pretty big day. We had been preparing for a few months for a fireside that we had last night. Brother West, the branch mission leader, wasn't expecting anyone to show up. So we originally set it up in the relief society room. But people just kept coming and coming! We weren't even expecting thirty, but I think we had almost sixty in attendance! That made me super happy. So the fireside was great! We had a member of the stake presidency speak to us about conversion. And I sang again! I sang "I Need Thee Every Hour." The song was great, and actually in my range this time. I really enjoyed it. I think between that and the great speaker and fellowship, the fireside was a big success. Definitely made my night. Well week, actually.

So that was my week! We had a lot of fun this week raking up leaves and teaching lessons! Although serving a mission is by far the hardest thing I've ever done, it's all worth it for the joy that it brings.

Have a fantastic week!

-Elder Landon Carroll
Landon received an "orange" package from his family for Halloween!
Landon saw this "tractor-tron" on the road.

Monday, November 24, 2014

It's A Miracle!

 Landon is visiting a funeral home in this picture.  I really didn't get the story, but a little odd!
November 17, 2014

Pues....good morning!

Another week has passed in the missionary life of Elder Carroll. I can call myself that now because there's only one Elder Carroll ;) It's been a pretty good week. We didn't do too much this week, but we did witness some miracles.

I'll just go ahead and get right into it. Y'all know our investigators M and A? Well three weeks ago they were bombarded by anti-Mormon information. We thought they were gone, but the Spirit told us not to give up yet. So here's the news. M is still indifferent about the church, but A has a baptismal date for the 3rd of January! He started to read the Book of Mormon and with that I guess he forgot about all the negative things he read on the internet. In his prayer at the end of the lesson, he said "Lord also please bless my brother M. Even if he doesn't decide to become a Mormon, please help him to find the right path." That implies that A is planning on becoming a Mormon! How great is that? So we'll have hopefully a quick visit with him tomorrow and then a church tour on Thursday to really help him dive into progression. So that's the miracle for the week.

Here's a funny story. You know that man we talked to who claims he's Moses reincarnated? Well we went over to help him rake leaves on Thursday. He's under the impression that God has called him to save people's lives. He says "when I go to sleep at night, I leave my body and I go around the world to save people. I appear in their rooms as a beam of light and then save their lives. Like one time I went to the home of a woman in India. She was sitting at her desk in her office and I go and whisper to her that she needs to leave the room. So she left and then about ten seconds later a tree comes and destroys the whole room." Crazy, right? We're under the impression that he's either super out of his mind, or was visited by and angel of light (of the devil) or both. We attempted to teach him the restoration, but he thinks he's a prophet himself so we'll definitely have to approach the situation at a different angle. He said "God give me power to do things. Hopefully next month he give me power and I can bless you." So...we'll see what happens there haha.

Right now as a missionary, I'm working on building my confidence back up as a teacher. These last three weeks have been pretty hard so I'm trying to rebuild myself a little bit. Satan has a way of confusing missionaries into thinking they're inadequate, not good enough. But it's our job to push out those negative voices and do what we were called to do! That is, bring souls unto Christ!

We've been studying a lot lately as a companionship about what it means to truly be converted to the Gospel. Have you ever asked yourself if you are truly converted? Do you have no disposition to do evil? Are you constantly seeking to be like Christ? Do you constantly seek the companionship of the Holy Ghost? Are you not just "going through the motions," but actually living the Gospel with a purpose? If not, then figure out what you need to do to be more converted, and do it! (I take the liberty as a representative of Jesus Christ do do missionary work even on my family and friends. Ha!)

But that was my week. We're having a lot of success and witnessing miracles. Even though this work is hard, it's not impossible. We just trust in the Lord and keep walking.

Have a fantastic week!

-Elder Carroll
Landon thought the little geese in this picture were strange...they kind of look like some sort of turkey or hen to me.  Any thoughts from the blog readers out there?

Another Week Already?

November 10, 2014

Good morning!

Here I am trying to think about what I actually did this week. It's kind of hard to just think on one week when they all seem to just mesh together. So I'll start with the investigators/work.

So Monday was just preparation day, nothing to report. But Tuesday we had some good stuff. All of our appointments fell through during the day, but we definitely had some success in the evening! We had an exchange with Brother Lowrimore. He's 78 years old and is in the middle of fighting stage 4 cancer. Pretty impressive actually. But he was super funny. I don't know what it is, but I love talking with old people. It just makes me happy. So he went to an appointment with us and when we asked him to introduce himself, he just started bearing his testimony. That works I guess! The name of the man we visited is J. He's a referral from the sisters who is supposedly golden. The only hang up he has is that he doesn't believe in modern day prophets. Brother Lowrimore's testimony really helped diffuse some of that. He's a convert of about three years, so he was able to tell his conversion story and invite J to "soften his heart" and listen to the Spirit. I think J felt the Spirit that night, so hopefully he gains a testimony soon.
On Wednesday we taught a young man named M. I think I might have mentioned him last week, but he's 14 and we had a great lesson with him. Brother West, the branch mission leader, was with us, so the lesson was super powerful. M has a hard time believing in God because he "allowed his grandpa to die from cancer" so we really tried to hit on a few key points of the Plan of Salvation: "Why is life full of hardships?" and "Where do we go after we die?" We might have actually blown his mind with some of the doctrine we were throwing down, but he's a smart kid and he understood everything. We had him say the prayer and invited him to start praying to God every night, so hopefully he comes on top with a strong belief in God.
Thursday we had interviews with President. Let me tell you, President Bernhisel is an inspired man. With the keys he possesses, he basically knows exactly what each missionary is going through and what kind of missionary they are. But that was a good interview. He helped me to address some concerns I had about myself and about the mission and now I feel more ready to move forward and continue working. After that, I went up to Dunn for exchanges with Elder Mora. Elder Mora is a really great missionary and we had a lot of fun together. From the exchange, I definitely learned that I need to learn to invite the Spirit better during lessons. We have a few investigators who would really benefit from a spiritual experience. *hint M and A*

On Friday we had a great lesson with a new investigator named G. She's an old black woman who was just curious as to what we could bring to the table. So we taught the Restoration and it was REALLY spiritual. She understood everything, including the great apostasy, and when we asked her when we could come by again she said "I was actually gonna ask y'all when you could come back." That's a good sign! That means she felt the Spirit!

Not too much to report about the Weekend. Just church and eating food haha. Nobody came to church this week, so we definitely need to work a little harder on that.

So that's about it. We had a lot of success this week and I'm glad to be part of this great work.

Until next week,

-Elder Landon Carroll

Exito...Mucho Mejor

November 3, 2014

Hello everyone!

Hope you all had a wonderful Halloween. Mine was definitely pretty.....missionary-y. But I'll get into that later.

So last week in my letter I talked a lot about investigators that we had discontinued teaching, lack of interest, lack of success, and some unfruitful hard work. But this week was not like that! We were able to really go out and work and we found nine new investigators! And they're all pretty well interested! That just goes to show that the Lord promises success to those that consecrate their lives to Him and work hard.

So on Wednesday we had a branch fall festival. The saddest part about that is that more people attended than we ever see on Sundays. I imagine it has something to do with free food? I don't know really. Maybe if we just made the Sacrament bread a little bigger, more people would come to church. We often talk with our branch mission leader, Brother West, about how we need to go out and baptize people that will "stick." You know, the kind of converts that don't just get baptized and then fall off the radar. It's really sad when that happens. Right now we're focusing our efforts on truly finding the elect who will hear the voice of the Lord when He calls, know it's Him, and then hold onto the iron rod all the way to the end. So with that being said, one convert who is truly committed to living the Gospel is far better to have than ten converts who don't ever come to church. But enough of the rambling. Let's talk about the investigators we saw this week....

A and M: So we went over to their house one more time just to really hold them accountable for judging the church by what they read on the internet and then choosing not to act on the information given directly from the source. So we invited them to really investigate and find out if Joseph Smith truly was a prophet of the Lord. So they will have hopefully started reading and praying about the Book of Mormon.

M: He's a fourteen year old boy who claims he's agnostic. I believe it's more of just a "I don't see the importance of God so why believe in Him" kind of thing. We had a cold lesson with him last night outside his apartment and we talked a lot about the purpose of life, God, and commandments. We left him with a Plan of Salvation pamphlet to read so hopefully he comes to us with some good questions. He's a very logical thinker, so it should all make sense to him.

F: F is a black man with dreads who believes in Rustufarianism. If you're not familiar with that religion, I encourage you to look into it. It's actually quite interesting. Basically he believes that life is what you make it and that everything is somehow an illusion that we have to overcome. So we're gonna teach him the Restoration next time. The funny thing about him is when he introduced himself he said "My name is can call me Cowboy." Haha so now we just call him cowboy haha.

C: C is a twenty-one year old who's life is just not where it should be. From the sounds of things, he has no clear direction of where he wants to go. He said that he's investigated many different religions, but never ours. So we taught him the Restoration yesterday (in the cold) and invited him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. We're hoping he gets an answer because he said if he comes to find out that this is the way God wants him to go, he'll get baptized.

So those are just a few of the investigators we're working with right now. Of course we have more, but to keep things concise, I'll just focus on the ones that you don't know about.

As for Halloween, it was pretty fun. We didn't do anything apostate, but we were able to enjoy the day still. I remember the whole day I just had this feeling that I wanted to go to a haunted house. I'm not the biggest on those, but you want what you can't have right? But we didn't do that. We went tracting for most of the day and had a few very solid contacts. President told us not to do anything after 6 pm unless we had appointments scheduled, so we stayed in for the night. We went to the church and finished weekly planning and then afterward....BASKETBALL. I kind of miss being able to play every week in Pinehurst, but I don't think my body does. As we speak, my back hurts, my knees are aching, and my ankles are stiff. I guess that's what happens when you go all out for two hours not having played for a month. But it was still fun! Definitely a good stress reliever for me. Speaking of basketball, I was thinking about the NBA on Halloween and about how obsessed I was before my mission. Something that I've come to realize since being on my mission is that there are more important things in life. Am I ever gonna stop loving basketball and video-games and stuff like that? Probably not. But there are better things to do. We really should focus on spending time with our families and enjoying the time that we have with them. I guess YOLO would apply in that situation haha. I wish I had realized that before my mission.

There I am rambling again. Well overall, this was a great week. It felt long, but now that I look back, I see what I learned and how I've grown. My testimony of Christ has definitely been strengthened this week. It took me a long time to actually comprehend the fact that Christ is my personal Savior. He knows me perfectly because He's experienced everything I have and ever will. Through His Atonement, everything that is unfair about life can be made right. Living the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way for us to be truly happy, and it's absolutely the only way that we can return to live with our Father in Heaven.

I hope y'all have a great week. Thanks for all the prayers my way. And once again, WELCOME HOME DALLIN!

-Elder Landon Carroll