Thursday, February 18, 2010

Charity is the key

Whew! I am glad that the Dunn library is open today. Most libraries are closed for the holiday, but today we had to stay in Dunn for Preparation Day. So, I get to e-mail today instead of tomorrow.

Missionary work: "We've had a real good week. We've had some interesting experiences. First off, we tracted into a lady from Mexico named Evangelina and Elder M taught her in Spanish. She *might* be golden, we'll see.

We were able to help out some of the ward members with their home teaching and get in contact with less-active members who hadn't heard from the church in years.

We got to teach Jesse again at Bro. A’s house. He's very humble and would accept the gospel if his parents weren't so anti-Mormon. Hopefully he will make his own decision.

We went over and taught Jordan and Nate again. Jordan is very well read, and tries to connect everything in the Bible to the way he believes. Instead of trying to prove him wrong, we pointed out where we thought he had misinterpreted something or where the Book of Mormon taught something on the contrary. It was good, we weren't confounded by him.

We started teaching Timothy, who is slightly handicapped, how to read. Hopefully when we're done with him he'll be able to successfully read the missionary pamphlets and understand the contents of them.

And then the craziest thing happened on Thursday morning - we were doing weekly planning when a man by the name of Jeff called. He's read a bunch of the Book of Mormon and wanted us to bring him the "other half" (the D & C). I went with Bro. M to teach him. He's going to require a little bit of work but I think he'll come along. It's truly amazing to see the Lord's hand in everything that happens. We're staying pretty busy and enjoying it."

So yeah, we are pretty busy. We're trying to get members involved too, which just makes us even busier. But busy is good…

.I had the opportunity yesterday to speak in Sacrament meeting on the subject of charity. Charity is so key in everything we do. If we don't keep the commandments out of love, then we won't progress. Missionary work is really hard if we do it out of a sense of duty. If we do it because of charity, it becomes much easier and those we share it with feel our sincerity. We need to remember not just what to do but why we do it.

Being a district leader is treating me pretty well. This transfer President Cotterell is giving us topics for our district meetings, which is nice. Last transfer they had us come up with everything, which to be quite honest was a little stressful. It should be slightly easier now. There was only one elder transferred out of our district. Elder W was transferred to none other than Harker's Island. He'll be treated well there, he'll definitely see a huge difference between Harker's Island and Fayetteville!

Speaking of Harker's Island, Elder C (who took my spot there) sent me a letter a few days ago. Bro. G is putting together a book of all the missionaries who served with him (he is the WML), so I need to fill out a survey and send it back. I definitely feel a close bond with the members there. I will be sure to visit them again.

Well, I'm glad everything seems to be going good. Let me know when the baby comes and when Michael finds out about BYU. Oh and yes, it has been cold. It snowed again this past weekend. What the heck!!! This weather has been worse than back home in Eastern Washington. And the humidity just makes it worse. Hopefully we're through the worst of it.

I think that's about all I have. I love you all and I have a testimony of this work. Until next week!

Elder Casper

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mild North Carolina winter weather


Sorry I got behind on this blog. Here are the latest letters--

Jan 10—

I hope you all are doing well. This past week has flown by. It's been great, we've been working pretty hard.

This was my letter to President Cotterell: "This past week has been a good one. Elder Moreno and I are getting along very well. We both are learning a lot from each other. There are many good things happening in Dunn right now.

I believe this week could just about be described by this quote from Pres. Packer: 'Missionary work is work! It can be dull and repetitive and difficult, and at once exalting and marvelous, but it is work.'

We have 3 investigators with a baptismal date right now. Angela and Tia are solid, and I believe they will be baptized on their scheduled day. Unfortunately we've had to move Dolores' date back a week.

This week was pretty much spent biking around Dunn in the coldest winter they've had since the 70's. It was a lot of work, and there were some disappointments. One of those was Dolores' baptism being postponed. A couple of our investigators dropped us and told us they weren't interested. We'd even arranged for one of them to have a ride to church, and he cancelled on us the morning of.

But we've seen some miracles happen too. Last night we went out to the very edge of our area to drop off a DVD to a man who hadn't even ordered it, and when we got there he had a Book of Mormon on his coffee table with a bookmark in it. He had no idea where he got it but he had picked it up and started reading it the night before. He's read through the Book of Jacob. It was incredible, I can see big things happening with him and his wife.

Something else I've worked on a little bit this week is becoming bilingual. There are a lot of Hispanics in this area, and I want to be able to help teach some of our potential investigators. So in my spare time (not during study time), I've started learning some basic gospel Spanish. Not anything too fancy, hopefully enough so that I can contribute to what my companion says.

Anyways, I guess the point of that quote is that you can labor and labor in missionary work, and then God will place those who are prepared for the gospel in your path, and you will have marvelous experiences. Not because you or the work you do merit them, but because God is willing to give those gifts to us if we are willing to receive them. I hope you have a good week, I will see you at interviews."

So, I thought that North Carolina was supposed to have a mild winter. We've been biking around pretty much this whole last week in the 20's and 30's! Holy smokes, it has been cold! This cold mixed with humidity gets you good. Thank goodness I bought some earmuffs, or I would probably have an ear infection by now.

The members here are pretty good. We get an exchange 6 nights a week, which is just incredible. One of the members here actually served in the Spokane mission and spent a few months in Basin City! His name is Bro. Marc Junker. He told me that someone traced his outline to make that pioneer memorial that's in front of the library. He served from 96-98. He told me he remembers the Mendez family, he did a lot of Spanish work while he was here.

I will agree that my decision to serve a mission is by far the best choice I could have made in my life at this time. I've learned so much in the brief 6 months that I've been out here. I don't regret coming out here in the slightest!

Well, this letter is also going to be fairly short. We are going to go do some shopping and play some volleyball with a bunch of other missionaries after this. Preparation Day here close to Fayetteville is definitely a lot more exciting than it was in Harker's Island.

I hope all is going well for you. Don't forget to ask, seek, and knock. I love you all, and I guess I will hear from you in a week!

Jan 19—

Well, I hope y'all didn't freak out when you didn't get an e-mail from me yesterday. It was MLK Day, which meant the libraries were closed. So, President Cotterell said we could e-mail today.

From my LTP: "We've had some good things happen. I would like to specifically talk about one miracle that we saw last night. Here in Dunn we have to be very careful with our miles. We set up an appointment with Sherise, who seemed really interested and solid. But, we had to drive out there ourselves because it was a Monday night. We called her the night before and she said they were looking forward to it. So we drove all the way out to Angier to go teach her and her husband, and lo and behold they were not there. We were very disappointed that we'd driven all the way out there to get stood up.

So, we decided to stop by some of our investigators, two of which have a baptismal interview scheduled for tomorrow. We showed up there, and it was a visit that was completely unexpected yet desperately needed. Tia had a couple of questions answered, Robert (who is not committed to be baptized) had his testimony strengthened, and Angela received some support and comfort that she was really in need of. I know that the Lord wanted us in Angier last night!"

I'll tell you a little more about my area. The ward is pretty good. There are a lot of inactive members here, which is pretty much the same as everywhere else. Dunn is a bigger town. There's actually a Wal-Mart in it, ha ha.

The demographics are much different than my last area, if you know what I mean. Let's just say that yesterday was probably more appreciated here than in my last area. A lot more appreciated, ha ha. There's a good amount of ghetto, some nice homes, and some country. Plenty of people to talk to. I probably wouldn't want to come back and live here, but it's a good place for missionary work.

We have a full-time car, but we are very restricted on miles, so we mostly bike. Elder Moreno was born in Mexico and lived there for a while. He speaks Spanish and is half-Mexican. I think he said his mom is Swedish or something like that, which would explain why he doesn't look like a Mexican.

As a district leader, I conduct district meetings every week and do some training. I go on exchanges with the zone leaders to receive training from them and conduct exchanges with the elders in my district to give them training. A little more responsibility, and a little more work. It's good though, I enjoy it.

I'm glad you are enjoying yourself in Dallas, Mom. It has warmed up a lot over the last 3 or 4 days. I thought I was going to freeze here after those first 3 weeks. It's really neat to here about the niece and nephews that are on the way! I'm going to have lots of new family to meet when I get home! And they're going to be old, too. That's really weird!

Well, I'm enjoying myself. There are lots of ups and downs in missionary work. It's all about trying to keep perspective. You can work and work, then all of a sudden a miracle happens. You can have great things planned out, and all of a sudden it all falls through and goes to pot. You definitely feel comfort from the gospel, though.

Thanks for everything, everyone. I love hearing from y'all and staying in the loop. I'm grateful that I have so much support. The gospel is true and changes lives. I'm so grateful for it! I hope you all have a good week, and I can't wait to hear from you later.

Jan 25—

How are you all doing? I'm glad to hear Mom made it back safe and that Derek's going to be getting some help. Here's some of my LTP:

"I hope you are doing well. This week has been a tough week numbers wise. We only got 1 member present lesson. But, a lot of good things happened. We got two new pretty cool investigators. Jordan and Nate go to Campbell University in Buies Creek (which is in our area). Jordan's done a lot of studying about the LDS church, and Nate wanted to learn more about us. We will see where that goes, they are both highly intelligent individuals.

It also took a lot of time to prepare for the baptism at the end of this week. It was a great baptism. Angela and Tia joined the church, and I believe that Robert will follow their footsteps very soon. We're also starting to get the members more involved in missionary work. We're speaking in next sacrament meeting, and we're excited to start implementing the faith to invite plan. There's going to be a lot of good things coming, for sure."

So yeah, basically there's a lot of good things going on right now. The mission is starting to put a real emphasis on missionary work. Sweet! That definitely makes our job easier and more satisfying. More teaching, more baptisms, less tracting. Not no tracting, because it's important to tract, just less. I know that President Cotterell is truly inspired and that as we follow his counsel, we will have success and be blessed.

Thanks for all the info on what's going on back home, Dad. Keep trying to share the gospel. PMG tells us that "no effort is wasted". The success doesn't come in the invitation accepted, but rather in the invitation extended. Just remember that offering the gospel comes naturally out of relationships where we love and serve others. Everyone who's reading this should carry around 4 or 5 pass-along cards to give out to anyone that they might happen to randomly meet. Give people a chance and extend the invitations. It doesn't hurt our chances for success!

Well, I love you all. I'm grateful for the support I receive from you. I can't believe that my mission is already more than a quarter over. Ridiculous. Again, I love you all and I will hear from you next week.

Feb 2—

This past week has been an interesting one. This weekend there was a storm here. We actually got snow, and everything pretty much just shut down. Church was cancelled, so we won't be speaking for another 3 weeks. We had a bunch of appointments that cancelled because of the weather. And, the library was closed yesterday because of it, which is why I am e-mailing today instead. But, I guess that just happens sometimes. We got some good work done before that.

"We did get some good things done. Angela and Tia are doing great, and we set a baptismal date for Feb 20th with Robert. He's a great guy, it's amazing how much his heart has softened. We've been working with Dolores some more, and told her she needs to be progressing or else we can't teach her. We've had to cancel two dates with her, which was disappointing. Hopefully she'll be a little more motivated. We met some really cool people and got some solid potential investigators. So we're looking forward to working with them. I'm glad to be here, there's plenty of work to do."

So, yeah. I was expecting North Carolina to have a mild winter, but since I've been in Dunn it has been anything but mild. Right now it's about 36 degrees and raining. I can't wait until spring.

I'm doing pretty well. Missionary work is a lot of work, and I'm coming to know my inadequacies more and more as time goes on. But, I'm happy.

Mom, I'm glad that you got your journal back. I can say that I have kept up on my journal. I've only missed one day. I do need to do a better job, though, and write in more detail. Sometimes my entries are only like 3 sentences. But, I think it's better to do that than to not make an entry.

Has Michael heard from BYU yet? I hope he got in. Mike, I told you I would send you something for Christmas/BDay. Do you have any requests?

I've got a couple of requests. First, do your best to invite. Success is in an invitation extended, not necessarily accepted. Secondly, a couple of less noble requests. Mom, could you send me your recipe for chicken noodle soup and my book "Where's Mom now that I need her?" That would be awesome. Also, could you try and find out what Regan R’s mission address is? He's in the Phillipines and I need to write him a letter, he sent me one about a month or so ago. You might be able to find it through my Facebook, ask Chris or Derek for that. That would be great!

Well, thanks for everything. I'm grateful for the love and support I feel for all of you. I love you all. Have a good week!