Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Poniendo Nuestra Confianza en Dios :)

Familia y Amigos,

Ahora solo voy a escribir en español. Entonces les aconsejo que ustedes aprendan y puedan entender español si queiren leer mis correos electronicos :) van a ser bendicidos por su esfuerzos de entender un otra idioma de los hijos de Dios. ¡Jaja bromeo no se preocupen! 

{Loosely translated:
From now on, I will only write to you in Spanish. Then I counsel you to learn and understand Spanish so you may read my emails :) You will be blessed for your efforts to understand another language of God's children.  Don't worry, I'm just teasing!}

No don't worry I won't do that to you. But I realized the other day that I now officially think and have dreams in all Spanish! At first it took a lot of effort to force myself to try and think in Spanish because I knew it would help me learn faster but now it comes naturally and its strange to think and speak English. The weirdest thing is that if I remember something that happened back home, I remember what happened and what was said but translated to Spanish. It's really strange and I'm not sure if that's something that normally happens with foreign missionaries but it's pretty intense. 

Anyway this week we had a conference for all the new missionaries with President Amaya that was incredible. I learned a ton and have been putting into practice a lot of the insights I had there. Something that really hit me was that we need to focus on teaching the doctrine. One of the Assistants Elder Hansey taught that the doctrine=why, the principle=what, and the application= how. Often times we focus on the principle but we don't help them understand the doctrine of why that principle is so important. For example, in Ecuador its very for couples to live together, have kids, and live like a normal family but they never get married and therefore we often have investigators who want to get baptized and have testimonies but they have to get married first. Many times as missionaries we just focus on the principle or the ¨what¨ they need to do... Get Married!! We just keep telling them that marriage is important and they need to get married to be baptized and we try to commit them to do it. Much more effective than that is teaching and helping them understand why marriage is important and why they need to be married and promise specific blessings of how it will bless them. We need to teach them the fundamental doctrine that the power to create life is a sacred gift given to us lovingly by our Heavenly Father and that this gift is so sacred and special that it should only be used in the bonds of marriage or we are misusing this power that God has entrusted us with. We need to teach the doctrine that they will be blessed with more peace, self-confidence, and inner-respect by keeping this sacred commandment and being married. If we teach them and promise them that they will have more love in their home, be better examples to their children, and be blessed with greater capacity to raise their children in righteousness by being married then we won't have to try and convince them to get married. If we teach true doctrine and they understand the true doctrine, they will have a sincere desire within themselves to make this change in their life and keep this commandment of God. As President Packer said, ¨True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.¨ Helping people understand the doctrine is key. 

For all the future missionaries out there remember that and apply it in your missions because it will help you be much more effective and it will bless your investigators. And really this can be applied to any situation. Future missionaries, Sunday school teachers, parents, and anyone else who wants to teach effectively. Teach the doctrine. If you have a child who won't share his toys with his brothers rather than just trying to correct the behavior by telling him ¨what¨ to do... ¨Share with your brother!¨ instead focus on the doctrine of ¨why¨ he needs to share with his brother and how it will bless his life. Teach him the doctrine that when he serves his brother by sharing he is serving God (Matthew 25:40 and Mosiah 2:17). If the child comes to understand this fundamental doctrine you won't have to force him to share... he will want to share with his brother and he will want to be better. 

In our ward we our having some problems with a lot of people gossiping and saying negative things about leaders. Remember that leaders are called of God and that we need to support them and love them. Also remember that we should never gossip AND we shouldn't listen to gossip. I know that its natural to want to know what happened because we're curious but we need to not gossip ourselves and we need to not encourage gossip but not listening. It's hard but its important. 

Something else a leader said is that there is never a good reason to raise your voice and raising your voice never makes things better it always makes things worse. No matter how upset we are it is much better to pause, take a walk, take some time to think, get a better perspective of things and then communicate calmly with love. I think that if we put this principle in practice it will greatly help us in all of our relationships. 

I´m learning a lot from these humble, happy, friendly people in Ecuador. I can feel the Lord shaping me and molding me into the person that I need to be. For any of you out there considering going on a mission I have three simple words... just do it. It has blessed my life in so many ways and already in just three months I have made incredible changes and overcome major weaknesses like my impatience, inability to remember directions, and my pride just to name a few. On top of that I have been able to strengthen my talents even more and use them to bless the lives of others. I promise that the decision to go on a mission is one you will never regret :) 

Elder Remington 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Messages from Elder Remington

Dear Friends & Family,

The past two weeks Jacoby hasn't written a general email message to everyone. And since many of you actually wait for his Monday letters to arrive, and want to know how he is doing, I decided to put together an email that has messages that he wrote to his sisters these past two weeks.  I asked Jessica and Eliza if they were ok with me sharing this advice that Jacoby gave to them, with everyone, and they said yes it was ok.  So just remember as you are reading the messages below, they were written to Jessica and Eliza, but I think it's good advice for all of us.  Enjoy:

"Keep being a good example to others and keep learning and growing every single day. Improve everday. Remember that the Lord wants you to be better next year than you were this year."

"Make scripture study a daily habit that you keep with you for the rest of your life. It will get you through any hard times you have and will make your high school years much more happy and secure :) I love you lots little sister!" 

"Reading the Bible is a great idea and if you want to do it...do it! But make sure that you always read the Book of Mormon along with reading the Bible, as they are both testaments of Jesus Christ and work hand in hand.  Remember that the Old Testament of the Bible was written for the children of Israel and the New Testament was written for the saints following the time of Jesus when the Apostles were ministering in different parts along the Mediterranean Sea. The Book of Mormon was written specifically for us. It was written for our time in these the latter-days :) President Ezra Taft Benson has several great talks that emphasize specifically the importance of the Book of Mormon (I highly recommend looking them up and reading them on lds.org) in one of them that I'll never forget he points out something I hadn't thought of before that made me really appreciate the Book of Mormon even more. In restoring the Gospel of Jesus Christ back to the earth one of the first things the Lord did was reveal the gold plates to Joseph Smith so that he could begin translating and eventually publish the Book of Mormon. Before the Aaronic Priesthood was restored, before the Melchizedek Priesthood was restored, and before the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially organized with its first meeting, the Lord began the translation of the Book of Mormon because it is the convincing evidence of the truthfulness of the Restoration. As the last paragraph of the Introduction to the Book of Mormon clearly explains that by gaining a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon we can know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet called of God and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's Kingdom once again established on the earth. Essentially, reading the Book of Mormon everyday fortifies our testimony of the Book of Mormon and thus our testimony of this gospel. And on top of that it brings the Spirit of God more abundantly into our lives to lead and guide us, helps us feel inner peace, and when we apply it to our lives it provides answers to our everyday problems and trials."

"A mission is a lot of hard work, has lots of ups and downs, is extremely spiritual, an experience in which you can feel the Lord molding you into the person that He needs you to become, an incredible adventure, the best two years of and for my life, and an experience that I want my future wife to have because I don't care who you are you can't tell me that 1.5 years of service dedicated 100% to the Lord isn't going to make you a better person (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, etc) than you were before your mission. Yep. That just about sums it up :) "

From, Elder Remington

Monday, July 9, 2012

New Companion!

Family and friends,

Elder Lopez and Elder Remington
This week we had changes and I got a new companion :) His name is Elder Lopez from Reu, Guatemala and he is incredible. He's hilarious, positive, upbeat, works hard, loves the people, teaches clearly and with the Spirit, knows his scriptures like the back of his hand, and he is obedient. I love the guy and we get along great! He also knows quite a bit of English too which is fun because we can have little discussions sometimes if necessary and no one has any idea what we're saying. We are very similar in that we know how to work hard and enjoy ourselves at the same time. He has a good sense of balance with that and a great sense of humor. I never realized how important having a good sense of humor was to me but it seriously makes a huge difference in a companionship. It's especially helpful during tough days when there's a lot of rejection or investigators that aren't progressing. It helps you stay positive and keep going with a smile :) I'm very grateful to the Lord for blessing me with Elder Lopez as a companion. The best thing about him is that he is completely focused on his purpose as a missionary. He is here to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them received the Restored Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, BAPTISM :), receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. He's a great example to me, I'm learning everyday from him, and I'm enjoying it. 

I don't have a lot of time to write this week unfortunately but one thing I wanted to share with everyone is that I've been learning to not worry about what other people think of me and just focus on what God wants me to be. A big weakness of mine is that I often worry way to much what others will think or say about me. I'm improving on that and I sincerely want to make that weakness a strength of mine because the truth is that it doesn't matter what others think. I encourage everyone to really sit and ponder and ask yourself if you're doing things for other people or for God. Focus on God. When we put Heavenly Father as the first priority in our life then every other aspect of our life will improve. It's that simple. 

I love you all and wish you the best :) Remember to be grateful for everything that you have and smile :)
Elder Remington

Monday, July 2, 2012

Upward Only

Family and friends :)

I'd like to share one of my favorite quotes from the book Our Search for Happiness by M. Russell Ballard that describes the blessings a missionary receives through his experiences as he continues to learn, "Weaknesses become strengths, challenges become opportunities, trials become triumphs, and adversity becomes an adventure in the service of the Lord- another fruit of gospel living." Wow that quote really hit me! It is such an accurate description. And it doesn't just apply to missionaries it can apply to all of us in our everyday lives. Everyday we can learn from our mistakes and become better and more like the person God wants us to be. Heavenly Father truly wants us to be better this year than we were last year. He wants us to learn and progress every single day. This quote reminded me of something my great friends Drew and Ashton Hosford shared with me. Their phrase is "upward only" and what it basically encapsulates what Elder Ballard was saying that as long as we're always repenting and learning from our mistakes and trying to do better than our lives will be like a steady incline going upwards only. Eternally progressing and becoming more like Jesus Christ. Through the Atonement and our desire to change, literally being perfected and molded by the Lord into the person that we need to be. Upward only. There's power in that phrase and power in living with a mindset like that.

I sincerely recommend that everyone read Our Search for Happiness. It's brief, clear, spiritual, and powerful just like we try to be as missionaries. It teaches the doctrine of Christ plainly and it isn't just for members of the church. For those of you reading this email who are not members of the church that have wondered what it is that we believe and would like to know more about our beliefs I'd recommend that book its perfect for you. Also while I'm recommending books I realized the other day how much a certain book has helped me here in the mission, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Now I realize that as a missionary it isn't the most common book to recommend but seriously it is incredible. I read it my senior year of high school and I use principles from that book every single day. It teaches fundamental principles like the importance of smiling and how much of a difference it can make, expressing sincere appreciation to everyone, and precious pearls of wisdom like the importance of remembering people's names. Remember that to everyone the sound of their own name is the sweetest sound in the English (or Spanish) language. Little things but they make a huge difference trust me :) as missionaries we meet tons of new people everyday and there is such a huge difference between the Elders who always say "Oh sorry remind me your name again" and the Elders who testify of gospel truths and apply them personally to the investigator while using the name of the investigator (while having a big smile on their face). These are all small things but remember Alma 37:6-7 ;) 

But of course of all the books that I can recommend by far the most important book that anyone can read is the Book of Mormon. Read it everyday. And don't just read it. Study, ponder, pray, feast upon the word, and really submerge yourself in the Book of Mormon and apply personally to your life and problems that you're having or questions that you need helped with (1 Nephi 19:23). While at BYU the year before I left for the mission I had the privilege and opportunity to read the Book of Mormon everyday for thirty minutes. What a blessing! That strengthened me so much in my life, helped me overcome great struggles, and prepared me substantially for my mission. Remember that reading the Book of Mormon is like brushing your teeth. I used to have the attitude of "Oh well if I don't read it today I can read extra tomorrow or extra on Sunday its no big deal." Wrong! That's like saying oh I'm not gonna brush my teeth this week because I'll just use seven times the toothpaste on Sunday and it'll be the same I'm still brushing my teeth its all good. No way! That would be disgusting and your teeth would rot and your breath would stink horribly. The same principle applies with reading the Book of Mormon. Our teeth have plaque that builds up everyday and so we brush our teeth everyday. We sin and make mistakes and have temptations every single day and so we need to read the scriptures and pray everyday. It strengthens us and keeps us protected from the onslaught of temptation we have to face everyday. When you don't brush your teeth you have dirty teeth. When you don't read your scriptures and pray its like having a dirty soul. Which is more important to you?     

Study the Book of Mormon every single day and it will bring great blessings of protection, spiritual strength, peace, comfort, happiness, and joy in your life. 

I love you all and hope you're happy and learning and growing everyday :)
Upward Only!
Elder Remington