Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Epistle - 7.29.09

What? July is almost over? That can't be true!

I'm closing in on the home stretch of my mission, and within a meer week will have less than a year left on my mission. Ladies and gentlemen, these are scary times.

On to the news.

My new companion, Elder Levie is awesome. He was homeschooled, so he sort of has that same rough, "I am me and i'm not quite sure what to do about it if you don't like it because I never went to public school" personality and sense of humor that I do. We get along very well. We work hard together, and we laugh hard together. Honestly, what more could you ask for in a companion?

Our area is going through a flush right now. My previous companion Elder Kelly held on to a lot of potential investigators and such that we hadn't talked to since I got there. Once he was gone we called through the list, left voice mails saying "Call us back if you're interested" and dropped about half of them.

We did the same thing to investigators. One of the most common methods of "Sifting" investigators is something called a "Conditional Baptismal Commitment". Basically you make sure the spirit is really strong by bearing testimony, etc, then you ask a question along these lines: "When you've prayed and asked God if our message is true, and have received an answer, and KNOW THAT IT IS TRUE because God has told you so, are you willing to act on that answer from God himself and be baptized by authority in to this church?"

Shockingly, some people are capable of saying no to a question like that. So then we will generally try and break it down really simple to make sure they understand what we're saying by saying something like "So if God himself walked in to this room, and told you that what we have taught you is true, that this is His church, and that he wants you to join it, you would not be willing to do that?"

And, incredibly the answer is sometimes no. At which point we say then there is nothing we can do for you, and meeting with you is not going to be a valuable use of the Lord's time. And we stop meeting with that person. If someone does not yet know that our message is true, we can help them gain that testimony. We can work with them and bring the spirit and encourage them to keep praying until they know for themselves whether it's true or not. What we can not do is help someone be willing to do what God tells them to do. That's their agency.

So we've been doing a lot of thought and have, figuratively, trimmed the vineyard.

Now, why do we trim a vineyard? Because we don't want as much good fruit? Because we're wasteful and silly? Nope. When we trim it, better fruit grows. You knock all the bad apples off of a branch, and the ones left, and the ones that will come after will be better. So we've already started to see some of that and have met some awesome people know that we've got some weeding done.

Well everyone, I really do love you all. I appreciate your prayers, letters, and even good thoughts.

Take care of yourselves, and keep writing those letters!

-Elder Ted E. Bear

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Epistle - 7.22.09

Good Wednesday Everyone!

I hope you are all doing well.

News of transfers: I am staying. My companion, Elder Kelly, has left and I am receiving Elder Levie, who is from Arizona.

It was interesting last night to go and take Elder Kelly to those people in this area whom he helped to join the church.

As we left a particular families house, by the name of Sam and Kady, both Sam, a large west african with black belts in several martial arts, and Kady could not restrain tears.

In one sense it is a profound testament to the character of a missionary to see how their investigators care for them, but it is also a testament to the blessings these people have already felt from the gospel. Their gratitude towards the servants of the Lord who brought them that gospel is indicative of their love for the gift given.

In that same household is Kady's mother. She speaks Creole, and no English, and she is Muslim. When the missionaries started coming in to the home she wanted nothing to do with them, but as she has seen the changes that the gospel has brought to those whom she loves, such as helping Sam kick heavy drinking, smoking, and drug habits in the course of mere weeks, she has grown to love the missionaries dearly for the blessings they have brought in to her home. It was touching to see her conveying how much she would miss Elder Kelly to him in Creole, and Kady let us know that her mother had been crying earlier when she found out he was leaving.

We truly grow to love these people, and some of them grow to love us, and yet it's funny that we really have nothing to offer them in and of ourselves, but only that which we have been commissioned to share with them.

If you look at any LDS missionary's name tag you will see two names, larger than anything else on the name tag. The first is our own, ELDER ADAMS. The second is whom we serve, Jesus Christ.

I testify that Jesus is the Christ. He is my Lord and Master, and I love Him dearly.

I hope that I can merit the blessed title of servant from His lips.

-Elder Ted E. Bear

Friday, July 17, 2009

Epistle - 7.15.09

Good day everyone!

Last night was another "Night of Music and Inspiration". I sang a solo arrangement of "This Is the Christ" It went well but I always end up wishing I had more time to put in to preparing it, BUT that will be for another time of my life when I have a different focus!

Things are going well in Derwood, before the Night of Music and Inspiration we took Mary to the Visitor's Center to watch the Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration movie. She enjoyed it.

Next week is transfers, we're not really sure what's going to happen. Most likely I will stay, and everyone else in the appartment is up in the air, but we saw how much ground that held last time, so we'll just have to see!

My Spiritual Thought this week comes from the Book of Mormon, in the Book of Mosiah, 13th Chapter, 9th verse, wherein the prophet Abinadi makes his bold declaration in the face of certain death, which reads: "But I finish my message; and then it matters not whither I go, if it so be that I am saved."

Each of us has the opportunity and the responsibility to discover our standing with God. We can know where we stand, if we but ask him. There is great power in knowing the answer to that question, "Who's On The Lord's Side Who?" and knowing that the answer is "I am!"

That we may all be on His side is my prayer.

-Elder Ted E. Bear

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Epistle - 7.8.09


I've probably mentioned before that so far every single transfer has gone by faster then the preceeding transfer. But this one has just gotten MEAN. This transfer every week has gone by faster. I feel like I just talked to all of you, and here we are again, all of you expecting something inspiring, me trying to remember what even happened to the last 7 days, and realizing that in what must be about 12 hours I'll be writing next weeks epistle.

At least the highlight for the weeks is easy to pick.

Stefanie Pollard's baptismal service took place at 4:30pm on Sunday. It was a beautiful service, with some wonderful talks. The baptism (the wtaer part) went by without a single slip up (Sometimes they take a couple tries to get everything right). I sang "I am a Child of God" A Capella, which was a unique challenge as it was fast Sunday, and normally I drink LARGE ammounts of water preceeding any vocal performance! Makes life exciting.

Our most promising investigator right now is named Mary. Her story starts with Netta. Netta has been a member for a little under a year now. She gave us a call last week and said "Elders! My Daughter-In-Law and grand-daughter are coming in to town next week! I want you to come meet them!"

So, we came over Wednesday, right after they both woke up from their post-flying nap. (Netta's Grand-daughter, by the way, is 6 months old). We met them, had a nice chat and left. A day later Mary ran in to us as we were out on the street talking to people and she started chatting with us. We walked with her and basically taught her an entire first lesson (Which is about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the Prophet Joseph Smith). She liked it and said she'd be at church on sunday. She liked that too, and she invited us over for dinner tonight and will be feeding us "Chicken Spaghetti" I assume an Arkansas staple food :)

Other then that not tons to report. I love you all and hope you're all doing well.

The gospel is true, Jesus Christ's atonement is real, God IS our Loving Heavenly Father and the life is the time for men to prepare to meet God.

What more could you want to know?

-Elder Ted E. Bear

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Epistle - 7.1.09

Dearest friends, families, acquaintances, extended families, friends of families, ward members, interested readers, and uninterested readers who feel compelled to read:

To all of you I say, Good Wednesday!

This past week has gone by exceedingly quickly. So much so that I'm struggling to think of what to relate to you.

Stefanie Pollard, who is scheduled for baptism this coming Sunday (July 5) passed her interview with President Mansell on Monday. That was exciting.

Yesterday was CDM (Combined District Meeting) where we have a large meeting of missionaries as well as each getting our personal interviews with President. I always enjoy that so it was nice.

The weather is heating up. I've contemplated launching massive chunks of ice in a high adventure, space flying sci-fi assault on the sun, and believe I have, in fact, solved our global warming problems... now to invent the launcher...

I'm really not sure what else to relate...

As missionaries we receive a lot of heckling. Yesterday as we talked to a young man (20) on the street a man driving by in a jeep yelled out, "Don't Believe It!" Even back home when I was with the missionaries someone yelled out, "Go to Church!" We responded quickly be yelling back "Ok, Come with us!" On other occasions people have yelled things not quite so civil, and not quite so worthy of relating to you, since it would consist mostly of random assortments of symbols (ie. *#@!%)

Now upon hearing of this, many of you might be inclined to feel sorry for us, the missionary.. but the funny thing is, it really doesn't bother us very much. I feel very sorry for these poor people.

If you take a moment to reflect on the times in your life when you have said something mean to someone or about someone or really anything mean in general, you will find that each time generated a very similar feeling within you. We can refer to that feeling as "contention", and be as confident as our several beliefs in God are, that that feeling is from the Devil. Regardless of any belief in God however, we can ALL agree that it is not a pleasant feeling.

Based on this understanding of how WE feel when we say something mean or contentious, you can understand why I feel so sorry for these people who wreck a precious moment in their lives by yelling such mean things at such harmless people as ourselves, who are crazy enough to (or who have a stong enough testimony of the gospel to) give up 2 years of our lives, and pay to walk around on the streets in a white shirt and tie to try and help people be more happy.

But, we can't change them. We can change us.

Galatians 5:22 reads:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
longsuffering,gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

These are feelings we can all recognize, and are feelings which the spirit of the devil is in exact opposition towards. Let us learn to recognize both of these feelings, and govern our words upon this test: "When I say these words, will I feel the 'Fruit of the spirit' as described in Galatians 5:22, or will I feel that nasty feeling of contention?"

As we do so we will find joy in our lives, and create joy in the lives of those around us, and there is no more Godly pursuit than this.

I love you all.
Elder Ted E. Bear