Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas :)

Family and Friends,
Jose, Elder Ayala, Johnathan, Luis, Elder Remington

We had a very special baptism this weekend :) Here we are in the picture (in order from left to right) Jose Andres, Elder Ayala, Johnathan, Luis Angel, and the funny lookin tall guy there. The spirit was so strong when Jonathan shared his simple but powerful testimony after the baptism. He said he felt great joy inside, that he knew God had now forgiven him for all his sins, and that he will stay strong in this church for the rest of his life :) I am very thankful that my Heavenly Father blessed me to be there and be able to baptize and support my three great friends; Johnathan, Luis Angel, and Jose Andres. Last weekend was the weekend of transfers where it is very possible that you'll be called to serve in another area. I had already been in this area Albonor for three transfers and usually President Amaya moves you after 2-3 transfers... therefore last Sunday night I was very nervous and thought for sure that I was going to get transferred so I said good-byes to everyone but everyone (especially Roberto and Johnathan's family) said no we don't want you to leave don't worry we're going to pray that you stay. Haha. I tried to explain that it doesn't work like that and that the Lord knows best where we need to go and that this is all part of the mission life but they said no no just have faith Elder you've gotta stay here haha. Especially Jonathan he was joking around and said Sunday night, ¨Hey man are you kidding me you can't leave me we gotta finish this race together you're going be the one to baptize me we're going to finish what we started.¨ This made me laugh but honestly it made me even more nervous cause I was thinking shoot man if they're all having faith and praying that I don't leave but then I get called to leave anyways I don't want them to lose faith or be sad... oh man I hope I stay here just one more transfer... and sure enough our prayers were answered and I stayed :) I was completely willing to do what the Lord wanted me to do and submit to His will but I'm very glad that what the Lord wanted corresponded with what I wanted :)

I sure love this area its great! I've really made a lot of good friends here with nearly all the members and luckily we have really gained the trust of the members. I remember before leaving on the mission my uncle Matt Hawkins gave me some great advice that a key to having success is being able to inspire confidence in the members. It's very true! I have seen some missionaries who have a light about them, their smile just says ¨You can trust me¨, they are confident in themselves but not prideful, they look people in the eye, they say hi to everyone, they are happy, they're someone people want to be around, and people naturally follow them. At the beginning of my mission I set the goal to always and to have an attitude of ¨how can I serve¨ and fortunately it has worked well. The little things really do make a big difference. The way you give reports in ward council, the way you welcome everyone in the chapel on Sunday, and the way you are friendly and respectful when the members serve you food, and more than anything else how many converts you have all help gain the confidence of the members. Hard work, obedience, and sincere love for the people luckily have brought us lots of success and the members recognize that. After the baptism various members said wow congratulations Elders, good job, or wow you two are doing good work here. We just smile say thanks and say that its not us its the Lord we're just the instruments in his hands. When we said that one of the Bishop's counselors said, ¨Well I sure hope the Lord keeps using you two as His instruments in our ward¨ likewise tons of members in these past few weeks have invited us over for dinner on Christmas and Christmas eve also many have given us various gifts and said ¨Here you go you two have earned it¨ :) It's good to know that the ward is pleased with our labors but more importantly its good to know that the Lord is pleased with our labors and I really have felt that a lot recently and honestly I think that its one of the best feelings in the world. To me personally, the knowledge that the Lord is pleased with what you are doing is true happiness. So let's all be obedient and make good choices so that we can all be truly happy :)

Merry Christmas to all :) Enjoy being together with family and remember that we will have a better CHRISTmas if we focus our thoughts on Christ.

I'm happy to be a representative of Jesus the Christ in this happy time of celebrating His birth :)

Elder Remington

Monday, December 17, 2012

Scripture Study = Solid Conversion

Family and Friends,

This morning I got to open a package full of sweet Christmas cards from lots of family members and friends :) Thank you to everyone who wrote me the Christmas cards and to all who have sent me cards or written me through DearElder.com :) I truly do enjoy reading them and hearing how everyone is doing and what you're all up to :) They always put a smile on my face. Please forgive me for being super busy (you never have enough time to do everything you want as a missionary) and being awful at writing back but I'm trying.

I wanted to tell you all about a great investigator we have that is going to be baptized with his two nephews this Saturday. His name is Johnathon and he is a wonderful man and great friend. I remember the first day we met him we had been knocking on doors for a couple of hours because all of our appointments cancelled on us or weren't there (for those of you unfamiliar with missionary work door to door contacting for multiple hours on a hot day in Ecuador is usually not that fun, its better when you have appointments and are teaching people indoors) and almost everyone we had talked to was busy or weren't interested at all. I was feeling a little down but then we were walking down a street and my companion and I both felt that we needed to stop and visit a house on the corner. We quickly responded to that prompting and visited the house and Johnathon answered and happily received us. Usually we talk for a few minutes in the doorway and schedule a time that we can come by another day to teach them but Johnathon invited us to sit down and teach him in that very same day. He had a lot of great questions, was very interested, and was very receptive to the message we shared. We gave him a Book of Mormon and since that first visit he has read the Book of Mormon everyday without fail. Every time we visit him he shares with us what he read and what parts stood out to him that he liked or asks us some questions about what he read :) He told us that all of his life he has been looking for something to quench this thirst he had and has gone to various churches but in all of the churches he still felt empty inside. But now he says that when he reads the Book of Mormon and goes to church with us he finally feels that his spiritual thirst has been satisfied and he feels that he's finally found what he's been looking for... let me tell you those are the types of comments that you live for as a missionary :) We love that guy so much and we're way grateful that we've had the privilege to find and teach him and be his friend :)

I've been realizing lately that the key to having a firm testimony and unbreakable conversion to Christ is having daily scripture study. In 2 Nephi 31:20 we learn that we must feast upon the word of Christ in order to endure to the end. When I was a kid up until high school I would read my scriptures from time to time but it was never a regular daily habit and I would never really feast upon the word of Christ. I’d usually just kind of nibble a bit or snack on the word of Christ. I’d open up my scriptures and read a chapter or two but I wouldn’t really get into it and often my thoughts would wander and I’d be thinking about what I was going to do tomorrow or about basketball or something else not really immersing myself in the words of the Prophets. Then in high school when seminary started and especially when I went to BYU for a year, I really started the daily practice of feasting upon the words of Christ. I read everyday without fail for at least 30 minutes, I always started and ended with a prayer to invite the Spirit, I would take notes and write down spiritual impressions that came to mind, and I would truly apply the things I was learning. When you do that hearts change, miracles happen, and strong conversions to Christ occur. I’ve seen that my strongest investigators, strongest converts, and strongest companions that are truly truly converted to Christ they always have the daily habit of studying and applying the scriptures. I invite all of you to study the scriptures every single day without fail and apply what you learn. You will find peace of mind, solutions to life’s daily problems, and a growing desire to choose the right.

I love you all very much and hope you're all healthy and happy :) Enjoy life
Elder Remington

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Conference :) Good Times

Family and Friends,

This week we had a Christmas Conference with President Amaya and 3 other zones at the Guayaquil temple :) I love going to the temple and as missionaries we only get to go during Christmas time so it was a very special day. I always feel such a quiet peace inside at the temple and its a great place to ponder and receive personal revelation of some things you can change and improve on. I felt there that I really need to focus on improving my Spanish even more so that I can better communicate and relate to the people and that I the Lord needs me to be an example for other missionaries. I've been studying Spanish much more diligently and trying to always be a good leader in obedience and having a positive attitude among the other missionaries because people observe you more than you think and a positive influence can make a big difference in the lives of others.

Elder Linares and Elder Remington
I would know that because one of my best Zone Leaders, Elder Linares, really made a big impact on me with his example of diligence and strong leadership. He was my first Zone Leader and whenever we did a split for the day and I was working with him he really impressed me with how hard he worked and we got along great cause we were both walking super fast, analyzing how we could've improved in the lesson, talking about what we did well, and just working super hard. He's the type of person that inspires confidence in others and makes you want to follow him because you respect him. He is now the Assistant to the President and he was there at the conference the first picture is with him. He taught me that we should motivate and inspire people and help them want to do better instead of trying to intimidate them or lecture them. He's a great friend and I continue to learn a lot from him anytime I see him at leadership conferences. Also he knows how to work hard and have fun. He, Elder Lopez, and I were always joking and having a good time together and we still joke about a lot of the good times we had in Empalme back in the day.

Elder Remington and Elder Magill
The other picture is with my good buddy Elder Magill. He and I were good buddies in BYU and had a lot of the same classes and would study and hang out together a lot. Then when we both got our mission calls and found out we were going to the same place at the same time we became even better friends and always joked about being companions together one day. I could tell just from talking with him for a bit at the conference that he is doing great and working hard. You truly can see in the eyes and countenance of someone what type of person they are and the light of Christ and his enthusiasm for the work were very evident in his eyes. It was great chatting with him and it was cool that when we said goodbye we both said at the same time ¨keep working hard¨ haha great minds think alike.

The last picture is of Roberto and his two sons Jordy and Junior :) Great family and definitely my strongest converts that I've baptized in my mission. I love these guys. Roberto gave an excellent talk a while back and lots of missionaries who meet him are way shocked to hear that he's a convert of only three months because he has such a great knowledge of the gospel and seems like his been in the church for years. Junior loves going to seminary and Jordy loves primary and singing hymns :) They're both going to be great missionaries and I look forward to hearing about their missions and writing to them. I know that we will be lifelong friends :) One of the greatest blessings of being a missionary is seeing the fruits of your labor and knowing that you're making a difference for generations to come and that your mission will have echoes in the eternities.
Elder Remington with Roberto and his sons

Well the church is true and life is good :) Remember that despite all the hardships, challenges, disappointments, and frustrating trials that we deal with everyday... the purpose of this life is to have joy and learn how to one day return to live with our Heavenly Father. Let's enjoy life and be happy :) Remember that happiness truly is a choice.

Elder Remington

Monday, December 3, 2012

Happy Week

Family and Friends,

After suffering through my longest period of time without baptisms in the mission, we had a great baptism this Saturday. Two girls that we've been teaching for a while named Allison and Amelia were both baptized together and at the end they both shared their testimonies. There was a lot of members there supporting them, lots of investigators there feeling the spirit :), and they both looked very happy and you could see a bright light in their eyes as they shared their simple sweet yet powerful testimonies of how the gospel has blessed their lives. It was a great moment for me and I was very happy that all our hard work payed off and the great thing is that we have a great program going here in Albonor with lots of progressing investigators, great support from the ward, and an awesome companionship that makes the work enjoyable, satisfying, and much more effective. Elder Ayala and I get along wonderfully :) He is super happy, always positive, has lots of experience and is teaching me a ton, knows how to give compliments and constructive advice in how I can improve, has a great sense of humor and we're always enjoying the day. He is very humble and knows how to receive suggestions or advice and apply that advice without getting offended, and he truly serves the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. He's a great example to me and we are really learning and growing together and enjoying it too :) Very similar to the companionship that Elder Lopez and I had :) wooohooo! I truly believe that every single companionship is inspired of God and that you can always do your part to make a companionship work and you can enjoy being with every companion and learn something from every single companion.... that being said there are some people who make enjoying the mission and having success a whole lot easier than others :) and luckily Elder Ayala is one of them.

Everyone says that the mission helps you prepare for marriage because you learn how to live with someone and make relationships work through compromise and all that jazz. Very true. I also think that it is a great opportunity to find out what type of people you enjoy being around so that you can have a better idea of what qualities to look for in a future spouse when you are dating after the mission. I know that sounds a tad weird and I'm not meaning it in a gay way at all just give me chance here to  explain haha. For example, due to my experiences with my companions I have come to the conclusion that I want to marry someone who is humble yet confident and knows how to receive both compliments and advice well. One of the biggest reasons that there is contention in companionships or relationships is that often we as human beings get offended and protective when someone tries to correct us or give us advice in how we can improve. The majority of my companions (especially Elder Lopez) have been humble yet confident, and thus I almost never fought with my companions because we both knew how to receive advice without getting offended and arguing. People who lack this trait are hard to live with... trust me. So as a missionary when you get back you can remember some of the qualities that were most important to you and then look for those qualities in a future spouse and you can remember certain qualities or characteristics that really bothered you and if you see that in a potential future spouse that can be a red flag for you.

Oh and I recently got this picture from Elder Lopez of the baptism of three girls that we taught together named Caterine, Angelina, and Marisela :) They were super sweet and very smart and fun to teach! I got transferred right before they were baptized but now I have the picture and I still get to write to them to give them encouragement. Also the guy in front of them sitting down in the polo shirt is named Johnathon and he got baptized the week after too but I still don't have the picture. But I wanted to share a neat experience we had with him when he was taking the discussions. After the first lesson we taught him how to pray and invited him to give the last prayer. He's way shy and he was really nervous and didn't want to do it. But then I said how about I say a prayer first for you and give an example and then you give one after me. He agreed to that so we got on our knees and then after my prayer he began to pray. Normally in their first prayer the investigator doesn't know what to say and feels uncomfortable so they just say some generic things and finish which is okay because its a good start but not Johnathon. This young man said one of the most sincere heartfelt prayers that I've ever heard. It was short and sweet but powerful and you could really feel that he wasn't just saying words but that he was truly communicating with his Heavenly Father. In one part he said simply, ¨God, thanks for sending these missionaries here to help me change my life¨ and the spirit filled the room :) The power of a simple heartfelt prayer is incredible :) Elder Lopez tells me he is active and doing great :)

I love you all and encourage you all to do your part to participate more in the Lord's work. Share the gospel with your friends and give the missionaries lots of referrals :) Don't be afraid its not awkward! It's the Lord's work and its true and this work progresses much better when the members support and help the missionaries :) Love you all!

Elder Remington