Sunday, March 27, 2011

Miracles and Mission Work

I am posting this wonderful teaching experience written to me at my request by Elder Maxfield. It is such a beautiful example of Elders doing the Lord's work in the Lord's way. What a miracle! We love our missionaries. They are obedient and faithful.

"Dear Hermana Laycock,

Claudia is an "antiguo investigador" (old investigator). We found her by looking through our Area Book. There was no reason stated for why the missionaries had dropped them, and when we talked to the family, they didn`t know why either. We began to teach them, realizing they had plenty of doubts, worries, and misunderstandings. One lesson was particularly difficult. On Tuesday, 15 of February, we taught Claudia and her husband, Diego. It was hard to share the doctrine because of their constant interruptions with doubts. In the end, Diego left feeling frustrated without giving us the opportunity to explain the doctrine. Claudia was left feeling flustered and doubtful. The only thing we said before leaving was: “We promise you will receive answers to your questions.”

On Thursday, the 16 of February, we returned. The first thing Claudia said was “Let me tell you about what happened to me yesterday.” She then shared with us her miracle.

Wednesday, Claudia had gone to work at the hospital, and during a break, she noticed a co-worker not drinking coffee and jokingly asked him if he was a Mormon. Later he approached her and told her that he was. They talked for a moment, and he lent her the movie “Legacy” to watch in her spare time. As soon as her conversation ended, her phone rang. On the other end was one of the bosses of the hospital, Gabriel Garcia, who is an Area Seventy of Chile. He began his conversation telling her that she had been on his mind for some time, and that the Lord had told him to call her. He stated that he had spoken to the bishop of our ward who informed him that Claudia had still not attended church. He then told her something to the effect of: “Let the Lord into your life. Let him bless your family. Let him help you. Let him in.” And immediately after, he began to expound on the exact doubts and concerns she had – all by the power of inspiration and revelation. We had not talked to him, and neither had she. This was the first phone call he had given her. At the end of the conversation, she was left speechless. She knew she had experienced a precious miracle. And as she hung up the phone, she began to pray expressing her gratitude to the Lord.

We knew we didn`t have much more to do that day. Elder Garcia had already committed her to attend church with us on Sunday. So we confirmed that and said we would stop by to pick them up.

Sunday came, and they (Claudia and her seventeen-year-old daughter, Dani) were ready when we stopped by. They both walked with us to church. We had already called and planned for some members to help us when they arrived at church. The members were there waiting, and they welcomed them very warmly. They sat with them during Sacrament Meeting and then introduced them to the Bishop after the meeting. They stayed for the second class with “animo” (excitement) and participated with thoughts. After the prayer, Claudia shared the same experience from Wednesday with those in attendance and began to cry expressing her love for the Lord knowing that he was watching over her. The members again accompanied her to Relief Society, and they both felt very welcomed. At the end, she expressed to me that the hours “flew by.” These same members drove her home.

This experience helped me realize that the Lord is doing His work. The Holy Ghost is so important, and causes miraculous changes in people. I know that as we listen to the Holy Ghost, do the Lord`s work in his manner, and work with all our heart, might, mind, and strength, then miracles do happen.

I love Claudia, Dani, and her whole family. I know they will get baptized if they continue doing as the spirit directs them, and as we help them. I feel immensely blessed to have been a part of such an experience. We have high goals for them this change, including a fecha this week, and baptism in the coming weeks."

Here is the follow-up that I received a few weeks later from Elder Maxfield...

"This week was wonderful! As we worked on forgetting ourselves so that we could focus on our investigators, we saw more miracles. Claudia and Dani both had “fechas” (baptismal dates) for the 20th of March. We planned to go by their house every day to make sure they were progressing well and were on schedule for the baptism.

On Tuesday, we went by and the first thing Dani said to us was that she was not going to be baptized on Sunday. That came as a shock because she was usually the more enthusiastic of the two. We spent a good amount of time talking to her and encouraging her. We gave her about 10-15 minutes to be alone to contemplate and pray, to ask God whether or not she should get baptized this Sunday. By the end of our visit, she was in tears and confusion, and she held firm on her decision to not get baptized on Sunday. She said the reason she did not want to be baptized was that she had had a dream in which she arrived Sunday for the baptism, and someone said, "If you are not 100% sure about this, it is better that you do not get baptized."

That dream really made her question herself, and it caused her some confusion. Let`s just say that after this lesson, it became a matter of sincere prayer for us. I prayed really hard for Dani and Claudia the next few days. Wednesday, we had a “noche de hogar” “(family home evening) with members. Thursday, we had more members come to her house to talk, and then we showed up and taught her a lesson. By the end of the lesson, she mentioned that 3 Nephi 27 (the last reading assignment that we had given her) had really touched her. She was somewhat bewildered that we had not left that scripture with her earlier. But at the end, she told us that she wanted to get baptized with her mother. We finished Friday, and Saturday we had their interviews. They both went great. It is so satisfying to see the changes that have taken place in their hearts and in their eyes over the past 2 months. They have completely changed and learned to rely on the Lord for everything.

The baptismal service was wonderful! We started filling the font with water before the meetings. After sacrament meeting we realized that the “calefont” (heater) was not working, and that we only had cold, cold water. I didn`t know what to do, so I uttered a few silent prayers asking the Lord to warm the water to the degree that we would not feel the affects of the cold.

The time for the baptism arrived. Dani went first. As I descended into the water, it was freezing! But as I stood in the cold water of the baptismal font, I smiled at her. I saw the tears of joy in her eyes, and the cold went away. My legs and body suddenly felt warm. During the whole ordinance and afterwards, I did not feel the cold. Later, I asked the other three who had also entered the water if they had felt the cold. Each one of them said that during the actual baptism they did not feel cold at all. It was a miracle in answer to our prayers.

Through their tears, they both bore pure testimony that sounded like they came from the lips of members of 20 years or more. Claudia and Dani are miracles."

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fundamentals From Preach My Gospel Teaching More Effectively

On the Tuesdays and Thursdays during March, we conducted trainings with every missionary on the initiative: "Fundamentals from Preach My Gospel Teaching More Effectively" to continue to help missionaries become more powerful gospel teachers. We practiced together and learned together. We enjoyed being together and learning how to better do the Lord's work in the Lord's way. We want to be strong and powerful Gospel Teachers. We want to be able to bring many souls to the waters of baptism so they can receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the promise of Eternal Life. We know that to do this, we must be excellent teachers. The trainings included 8 powerful lessons on the following topics:

1. The Doctrine of Christ--The Missionary Purpose (March 8 and 10)
2. The Role of the Holy Ghost in Conversion (March 8 and 10)
3. Revelation Through Prayer (March 15 and 17)
4. Revelation Through the Book of Mormon (March 15 and 17)
5. Revelation Through Church Attendance (March 22 and 24)
6. Teach People, Not Lessons (March 22 and 24)
7. We Invite. They Commit. We Follow Up (March 29 and 31)
8. How to Begin Teaching (March 29 and 31)

We thoroughly enjoyed learning together as we conducted these training sessions. We saw great progress in the abilities of our missionaries to be bold, to listen to the Holy Ghost, and to teach with clarity and love.

Flu Vaccinations

After our Zone Conferences in March, our dear Elder (Dr.) Welch and his wife came to the chapel and administered flu shots to all of us who chose to receive them. We didn't know that doctors still make house calls.

These pictures are a good reminder to all of us to take good care of our physical bodies so that we can have the health and strength we need in order to be able to serve with all our might.

We love Elder and Sister Welch. They do so much to help us stay healthy, and we know they work long and hard to be good missionaries. They are truly on the Lord's errand.

Don't worry, these shots really were not painful...we just thought they would be. The anticipation was much worse than the shot itself!

Flu Vaccinations

Flu Vaccinations

Flu Vaccinations

Flu Vaccinations

Flu Vaccinations

Flu Vaccinations

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March Zone Leader Council

Revelatory Experience (Zone Conference) March 3 and 4, 2011

This sweet Zone Conference focused us on two key elements of sharing the Gospel:
1. The significance of the Book of Mormon and the wonderful conversion power it contains.
2. The need we have to seek out, teach and bring all of God's children to accept the truthfulness and joy of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

We felt the Holy Ghost bear witness to us, and we experienced the Lord's love as we toiled together.

We often talk of the Holy Ghost being the greatest gift we can receive in this life. We also talk of Eternal Life being the greatest gift of God in the next life. Elder Saenz and Elder Wilkey (Assistants to the President) taught us the importance of working with all our heart, might, mind and strength to obtain both of these desirable gifts. They conducted an object lesson as they had an Elder do the wall sit for as long as he could possibly do it. As time went on, and it became more challenging, District Leaders were allowed to offer encouragement, then Zone Leaders, and ultimately, President Laycock. As the Elders fought to reach their goal of staying in the wall sit until the set time, their muscles began to tremble. The sweat dripped down their faces, but they were absolutely determined not to give up and quit. We all offered love and encouragement, but we could not take their burden completely from them. This was a wonderful lesson in the importance of each one of us doing our part to help one another remain faithful and strong as we serve together and build the Kingdom of God in the Chile Santiago East Mission. We have such fantastic missionaries! We love them all.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Revelatory Experience (Zone Conference) March 3 and 4

The theme for Zone Conference on March 3 and 4 included the following:

"Invitamos a toda persona, dondequiera que se encuentre, a leer el Libro de Mormón, a meditar en su corazón el mensaje que contiene y luego a preguntar a Dios, el Padre Eterno, en el nombre de Cristo, si el libro es verdadero. Quienes así lo hagan y pidan con fe lograran un testimonio de la veracidad y la divinidad del libro por el poder del Espíritu Santo" (Introducción al Libro de Mormón, párrafo 8).

"We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost" (Paragraph 8 of the Introduction to the Book of Mormon).

Elder Matthews taught us that our leaders can help us
to have the courage to do all that we are asked to do.

Elder Owen taught us that with the help and support of good leaders,
we will be able to do all that is asked of us.

Revelatory Experience (Zone Conference) March 4, 2011

Revelatory Experience (Zone Conference) March 4, 2011

Revelatory Experience (Zone Conference) March 4, 2011

Revelatory Experience (Zone Conference) March 3, 2011

Revelatory Experience (Zone Conference) March 3, 2011