Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What do we do? Well, isn't it obvious?‏

February 15, 2016

Sooooooo.....this week was very successful. It was very cold throughout the week, but we didn't hesitate to go and and work to bring people to repentance. That is our purpose after all. We bring people the message of the Restoration and attempt to build their faith through the Spirit, they act upon it by keeping our commitments (them repenting) and then as they continue to make changes in their lives to be more like Christ, they are prepared to make and keep the covenant of baptism.

I gave an instruction this week at our zone training meeting in Fayetteville. The rest of the leaders in the zone insisted that I speak about our purpose as missionaries and what our priorities should be. I spent the whole week praying and pondering about how I would go about presenting things and everything finally came together just the Tuesday before the meeting. I really learned a lot as I studied about our purpose. I think Preach My Gospel says it best:

"President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “We are commanded by God to take this gospel to all the world. That is the cause that must unite us today. Only the gospel will save the world from the calamity of its own self-destruction. Only the gospel will unite men of all races and nationalities in peace. Only the gospel will bring joy, happiness, and salvation to the human family” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 167).

You are called to represent Jesus Christ in helping people become clean from their sins. You do this by inviting them to come unto Jesus Christ and become converted to His restored gospel. To come to the Savior they must have faith in Him unto repentance—making the necessary changes to bring their life into agreement with His teachings. You can help people develop such faith by teaching them the restored gospel by the Spirit and inviting them to commit to live according to its teachings. Keeping this commitment prepares them for the covenant of baptism and confirmation and the precious gift of the Holy Ghost. They are to put off the “natural man” and become a Saint “through the atonement of Christ the Lord” (Mosiah 3:19).

So that's pretty much it right there. Our main purpose is to help people become clean from their sins so that they'll be prepared to receive the Savior's mercy at the Day of Judgement. It's always interesting to me that the Lord would trust us with so great a task. But one thing I've learned is that He really is in charge of the work. It's His work. We're just instruments in His hands and we have the marvelous privilege of helping people find peace in their lives. It's quite amazing. So going back to my instruction, one thing I really focused on with the missionaries is our priorities as missionaries. Over the course of a few months, we've been able to see a decline in lessons taught to investigators and therefore a decline in the number of baptisms. So I basically told the missionaries that we can't be wasting our precious time with less active that won't progress. As a mission, we spend too much time teaching less actives and recent converts because it's "easy" and because it fills the time when we have nothing to do. But that's really not what we're called to do. That's what the home teachers are ultimately for. Our job is to go out and call people to repentance by teaching doctrine by the Spirit and asking them to act upon it. These are things that I've always understood to an extent, but after studying for this instruction, it all just makes perfect sense. I wish I had received this insight months ago, but hey, the Lord gives unto us "line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little." So I hope I was able to motivate someone to work a little harder and to take this calling with a little more seriousness. As I've seen throughout my mission, this time to serve the Lord is extremely short. We have to take advantage of every opportunity that's given us to call people to repentance.

Some updates on investigators. A finally came to church! We spent the whole week making arrangements so he could get there and he did it! That means he is one step closer to baptism! I'm really proud of him and the progress he's made. All he needs to do now is go to church next week, be taught a few more lessons, be reading and praying consistently, and have an interview and he'll be ready! Please continue to pray for him. He's going through a hard time right now and I feel that having the support of the church and especially having the Gift of the Holy Ghost will give him some needed consolation.

Well I guess I'd better wrap this thing up. As I come to the end of my mission, things are starting to come into perspective. I continue to learn more about the Gospel and particularly about the Atonement and it's allowed me to see a different side of life. I have great goals and desires for who I want to be when I get home. But right now I just have to continue focusing on what's important, that is, the progress of my investigators and the progress and well-being of my missionaries.

A guy threw a gallon of milk at me the other day. How dairy! (How dare he)

Have a great week!

-Elder Landon Carroll

I'm just...tired.‏

 February 8, 2016

Good morning everyone,

I remember when I was serving in Pinehurst as a new missionary and my followup trainer Elder Johnson would say to me "Elder I'm just so tired all the time. When you get my age, you'll understand." I can now say that I understand. Two years of dedicated service to the Lord certainly takes it out of you. I'm tired ALL THE TIME. I don't have problems getting up, but there are times during the day that all I want to do is lay down and take a nap. But....the good news is my companion has fresh legs and keeps me motivated so that I can go out and fulfill my purpose as a missionary!

This week was somewhat uneventful. We had all this great stuff planned out and things just got in the way...people's agency, sickness, work, whatever it was. A lot of things just fell through so we had to do a lot of adapting. We were able to knock some doors and we found some good prospects. Tracting is not my favorite thing to do, but it's proven to be successful on my mission. You just have to know how to talk to people and how to help them have a spiritual experience on the door. It's not easy, but with practice you can get pretty good at it and as long as you're consistent, you'll have success.
Now an update on our baptismal candidate A. He's doing pretty well! We had a pizza party with him and his friend F and it seemed to inject some positive motivation and friendship. As we've taught him, I've really been able to see him get more and more excited about what is to come. He's made a lot of changes in his life and his sister even came to church to see what this was all about. Others are apparently starting to notice the changes as well. The only thing holding him back write now is church attendance. Until he can prove that he wants to be a member of the church and participate with some consistency, we just can't baptize him. He didn't come to church this week because of some stomach bug, so it's really crucial that he comes the next two weeks in a row. That's his commitment and I'm praying that he can fulfill it.

I could write about some other things we did, but I've chosen to ramble instead. 
As I continue to gain a greater understanding of the Gospel and how it fits in my life, the need of it in the world becomes more and more evident. I'm not completely up to date on everything that goes on the world, but people keep me sufficiently informed to be able to understand a lot of what's going on. The world has changed a lot these past two years. Society continues to crumble as things that fifty years ago would never have been acceptable eat away at the Christian foundation this country was built upon. Sin today is acceptable and in many eyes even desirable. The ways of the world and the ways of God continue to drift farther and farther apart. There is a distinct separation between those that follow God and those that have elected to follow Satan. It's really sad if you think about it. We truly are in the last days. The signs of the times are here. People are losing hope in things they thought would last and they have as it says "stopped looking for the truth for they know not where to find it." I look around me sometimes and I'm able to almost visibly see holes in people's lives wherein if the Gospel was planted, happiness and peace would be restored. This is why the Restoration came about when it did. God knew that these times would be perilous so He called another prophet to guide those who would listen. Some of my favorite verses come out of Doctrine and Covenants section one:

"17 Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;

18 And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets—

19 The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—

20 But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;

21 That faith also might increase in the earth;

22 That mine everlasting covenant might be established;

23 That the fullness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers."
It's truly comforting to know that the Lord hasn't left us alone. Because of modern-day prophets, we have all the tools necessary to combat the insecurity of the world. The Gospel truly is the answer to everything we're facing in life. And the beautiful thing about it is just how simple it is! Sometimes it's so simple that we don't even think it'll help us, but as we humble ourselves and follow the counsel of the Lord and His servants, we will be blessed to overcome the world. I have my own weaknesses and struggles, but I know that through the Gospel and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, everything will be made right in the end. We just have to remember what we've been taught and hold on to what we know to be true and right.

I could ramble all day but I'll just end it right there. Please share the Gospel with someone this week. People are starving for the truth. Also please continue to pray for our investigator A. He needs it.

Have a great week!

-Elder Landon Carroll


February 1, 2015

Good afternoon!

I've had a good week and hope y'all have as well.

As my mission slowly rolls to an end, I try to take every opportunity I can to just teach people the Gospel and testify of how it will bless their lives. Sometimes that's all I can do. There are times when struggles cause me to lose my footing in life and in the mission, but something I always hold on to is my ability to teach the Gospel and share my testimony of the hope that it brings me. And although people don't always respond to what I have to say, I at least leave edified knowing that I laid everything on the table.

An update on A. He's the young man who has 17 years (excuse my Spanish) and a baptismal date. It's currently set for February the 13th, but I think we'll move it back just to be sure he's ready. As we've gone through the teaching process with him, I've really seen him grow-both in knowledge and testimony. We had him over to a member's home on Saturday to give him a better learning environment and he really opened up about some of the things he's been feeling. Brother Knight, our Ward Mission Leader, asked him some questions about the Spirit. Alberto opened up and said that ever since he started feeling the Spirit through reading and praying, his anger has nearly left him. That's really where his testimony lies at this point and what's great is that he recognizes where it's coming from! The only thing holding him back from baptism right now is a couple more lessons and his church attendance. If we get through those hurdles, he'll be a member this month!

Other updates on the work include but are not limited to...
1. Three new investigators!
2. Out of those three, one man has offered to make us Puerto Rican food!
3. We had some less actives come to church.
4. We helped a man who's addicted to caffeinated beverages switch his habit to flavored water!
5. I got a haircut.
6. Elder Christensen got a haircut.
7. We had a great district meeting.
8. Had an awesome linger-longer after church yesterday.
9. Avoided the temptation to hold a baby.
10. Had some awesome beef tacos!

I really wish I had more to write, but these weeks sometimes just mesh together. I guess that's what happens when you do the same thing every day. You know, it's funny. I'll have these crazy dreams where I'm at home or at Wal-Mart or at College, but in almost all of them I'm still a missionary and somehow end up sharing the Gospel in my dreams. Well, sometimes that's the case. One of my dreams this week involved me and a couple of giant pet cows. I guess when you associate yourself with an Idahoan farm boy for long enough, it starts to get to you.

So I guess I'll wrap this thing up before I start rambling about absolutely nothing.

Just remember who you are this week and focus on how much the Lord has blessed you. Also remember to continue to reevaluate your life so you can make changes and receive even more blessings from Him. I know that God lives and that He loves us. Because of His love, He sent us His Son Jesus Christ to atone for our sins, giving us all the equal opportunity to learn and follow him to one day be able to stand in the presence of God again. That right there is the most valuable piece of information anyone can ever posses. Don't ever forget it. Matthew 13:44-46.

Have a great week!

-Elder Landon Carroll

Monday, February 1, 2016

Snow and ice and what have you.‏

 January 25, 2016

Weeeeeellllllllll......this week definitely had its challenges. But I'm grateful for them! We were able to help so many people this week and I'm proud of our efforts in serving the Lord and those around us. Being out here on the mission has taught me that serving others is one of the quickest ways to relief and happiness. Every time I get out there and give someone a hand, my burdens are lifted and the Spirit enters my life, bringing me indescribable joy.

Before I get to the meat of this email, we have another baptismal date! We still have A, now for the 12th of February, who is progressing nicely, along with another man named E. We found him through our area book and he seems very committed to gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon. So pray that we can get him in the water one of these days!
As I'm sure most of you know, the east got slammed with winter storms this weekend. We were told Thursday night to prepare for power outages and time inside the apartment. So we got some visits in Thursday and then the freezing rain started to come down at about 8 pm that night. My companion, who's from Idaho, kept telling me "These people are ridiculous. They're closing everything down for a little rainstorm." "Just you wait," I told him. We woke up the next morning and everything was iced over! We were tempted to go out and work, but the zone leaders texted and told us if it's snowing, raining, hailing, or sleeting in freezing conditions, not to go out. So we stayed in. We got some planning and cleaning done and I continued my journey to complete Jesus the Christ before I get home. I'm almost there ;). So we were pretty much doing that all day until around 3 pm when we lost power. Then it kind of got fun. The wind was picking up and the rain (ice) started coming down even harder. So we waited a little bit, hoped the power would be back on when we returned, and left the apartment to buy some ingredients to make tacos. We bought all our stuff: the cilantro, cebolla, carne de puerco, and salsa verde, and then we headed back to the apartment only to find that the power was still off! There was ice everywhere and no power to the stove, so I had some cereal or something and my companion went to bed with the hopes that the power would come back on so we could make our tacos. Nada. I kept reading and then I went out on the patio to see how everything was going. I got out there just in time to hear a massive tree falling to the ground. Thankfully it didn't hit anything.

Well, we finally got power at about 9 pm and then we went to bed. We woke up the next morning to SNOW! There was quite a bit, too. Probably a good three inches or so. So we made our tacos for lunch, went down to Clinton with a convert from Durham (Pedro) to have dinner with the elders down there, and then we headed to another meal. After that, we went to go check on B. He's the man with the tracheostomy. We had got a call from him earlier that day telling us that he didn't have power and wasn't expecting it until Monday or Tuesday. So we definitely kept him on our minds and then visited him when we got the chance. We got to his house at about 7:30 pm to find him sitting in his car with the door open trying to unscrew and remove the driver's seat from the car. I guess he spilled some Brunswick stew and desperately needed to clean it. It's just who he is. Things have to be clean. So we tried to convince him to stop and go inside, knowing that if he were to get sick, he could be gone, but he refused. So we helped him out a bit and then finally got him to come inside the trailer. All he had in there was a space heater and a lamp, all powered by a small generator. He doesn't like to ask for help and he's super independent. We tried to convince him to stay with a member, but he wasn't having it. He just didn't want to be a burden to anyone. So we hooked him up with a kerosene heater and left him for the night. We came back on Sunday morning (church was cancelled) to check on him. When we got there, the seat was removed from his car, his house was clean, the kerosene heater was outside on the ground, and the power was back on. What a relief! I was really worried about this man. So we spent some time helping him clean his car, kept him company, and then headed off to another appointment.

I'm grateful that the Lord has allowed us the privilege of serving his children here in Dunn. We're called as teachers and ministers of the Restored Gospel, but sometimes we're called on for different things. I'm grateful that we were able to be of help and that B is doing okay. Come to find out he grew up in Murray, Utah! Small world!

In other news, I got recalled as district leader for my last transfer in the mission. I think I'll be a lot more prepared to lead these missionaries than I was the last time. My goals before I go home are:
1. Help Elder Christensen learn to teach in Spanish
2. Help the elders and sisters in the district reach their potential and come to love the work.
3. Baptize.
4. Take every opportunity to teach and testify.

Thank you for your prayers in my behalf. I hope everyone survived the storms okay. Please continue to pray that I can end this mission strong.

Have a great week!

-Elder Landon Carroll