He will give a report on his mission on Sunday, May 25th at 11:00am, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chapel on 4300 Dale road. You are all invited to attend.
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Monday, May 12, 2014
Dear Family & Friends,
It's hard to believe Jacoby's missionary service has come to an end. I will admit, I cried through this whole letter. Tears of joy to have the honor to be his mother, tears of joy that he will be coming home soon, yet tears of sadness that this wonderful experience has to come to an end. This is the last email you will be receiving from him as a full-time missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It has been a wonderful two years of watching our son grow and mature (through emails) in ways that he couldn't have experienced anywhere else. We appreciate your letters and prayers and support to him throughout his mission. As most of you already know, he will be returning next Tuesday, May 20th at 11:25am. He will give a report on his mission on Sunday, May 25th at 11:00am, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chapel on 4300 Dale road. You are all invited to attend.
Thank you again for all you have done for Jacoby, we truly appreciate each and every one of you!
Darlyn Remington family
Family and Friends,
Last week I went to my last leadership conference. It was incredible. They are usually just with the zone leaders but this one was with all the district leaders too so I got to see and chat with a lot of great friends for the last time. It was a blessing. In the middle of his training, as he was teaching important principles of working with members, President Amaya gave a little pause smiled and said that we all need to remember the training that Elder Magill and Elder Remington gave in October about the three keys of working in unity with members: image, communication, and attitude. He then asked Elder Magill and I to come up and give that training again. Very surprised but happy and ready, we both stood up and (although we hadn't given the training in over 7 months) without even skipping a beat we gave the training together and it went super well. President has NEVER done anything like that before with any missionaries. That training of the three keys with members is the only training of assistants that he has asked for to be repeated a second time back in October with the new missionaries so we were super surprised then but THREE times asking for the same training is something insane so we were both shocked. We weren't sure how much time he wanted us to take up of his training so just in case we gave a much briefer version and skipped over some parts at first. Haha but then we we finished he just kept staring at us and said, "Continue please." So we both smile and nodded at each other and went over the other parts in greater detail with quotes and analysis from PMG. We finished with our testimonies of the importance of these principles, backed up each other's words, taught smoothly and in unity, and promised blessings to all who applied these three keys. President thanked us. We sat down. My buddy Elder Strang gave me a fist bump and whispered, "Killed it, great job man." I then looked over at Elder Magill and he gave me a wink and smiled. Good stuff.
At the end of the conference all of the missionaries from my group and I gave our last testimonies. President told us all to keep it just to 2:30 minutes and we did and it was much more direct and powerful that way instead of some Elders who go on and on and on. It was one of the most spiritual and powerful moments of my life. Several missionaries were in tears and the Spirit was thick. I felt a strong burning in my heart and happiness and joy. Elder Garzon shared a brief experience of how he had practiced preparing the Sacrament when he was 10 years old and compared it with the fact that his whole life he had prepared himself for this moment... to be a missionary and serve the Lord and how wonderful it felt to have done so these last two years and to have done it well. His feelings were mine as well. Elder Maddock shared a great testimony of how he suffered a huge injury that prevented him from going to the Olympics but lead to him deciding to serve a mission and testified of how trials and pain can lead to growth and blessings. Elder Randall gave a tender and sincere testimony and started to cry at the end. You could feel the love and sincerity in his voice. He shared that a good attitude will bring you success in all that you do. Then it was my turn. I shared my testimony of the love our Heavenly Father has for every single one of us, that we are His children and thus we all have divine gifts and talents and the divine potential to become like Him one day. I know that Jesus Christ died for me and saved us all from sin and redeemed us and through His atonement we can become clean and be born again and have joy in sharing this glad message with our dear brothers and sisters (Alma 36:23-25). I know that Joseph Smith is the Prophet of the Restoration and that he translated the Book of Mormon. I know that it is the word of God and truly changes hearts and changes lives. I know that Thomas Monson is a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and that if we apply his teachings in our lives we will be better and be safe. I know that this is God's true church. These last two years have been the happiest and best two years of my life. I know that with marriage and children even better years are to come but I know that these two years will always be the best two years for my life. I know that it is a privilege to be a missionary and that anyone who serves with all his heart, might, mind, and strength will be blessed more than you can possibly imagine. I closed my testimony and then heard a powerful and moving testimony of my dear friend Elder Magill. He testified of the three lighthouses of President Amaya and of what a privilege it is to be a missionary. He said that he wasn't going to cry yet. Then we sang the last hymn "Called to Serve" with all our heart. When we finished before the last prayer, President Amaya stood up and called up Elder Magill and I and thanked us for all that we had done and said that we were like Nephi because we had been born of goodly parents and were exemplary men. He said how much he loved us. It was very moving. Elder Magill cried. It was a very tender and spiritual moment. I am so thankful to have had such a wonderful mission president and to have served by him for six months with an amazing companion.
At the end of the prayer, dozens and dozens of missionaries asked to take pictures with Elder Magill and I. We were astounded by how much each of them remembered things we had done for them or things we had said so long ago. They thanked us and we likewise thanked them and complimented them for specific and important things they had done. These were very tender moments. The recognition wasn't what really mattered, what most mattered to us both is that we knew and felt and the Spirit confirmed to us that we had done a good job and that the Lord accepted our offering :) a wonderful feeling. I am happy to be in an amazing area with such a wonderful companion like Elder Galvan.
I love you all.
Monday, May 5, 2014
Next week will be Jacoby's last email from Ecuador as a missionary. If you want to write him one last email, send it before May 12th, because that will be his last day to check emails.
Also, if you would like to hear Jacoby report on his mission, he will be speaking in church on Sunday May 25th, at 11:00am. It will be at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints located at 4300 Dale Road, Modesto, CA.
Thank you for the love and support that you have shown him throughout his mission!
Elder Remington's Mother
Family and Friends,
We had a tender baptism this week of Alejandrina Loor. She is the mother of two less active sisters and grandmother of several less active children. Her family was a referral of a ward missionary and when we first met them all she wasn't interested at all. The first few times she wouldn't even join us in the lessons or is she did she'd hardly say a word or just tell us that she was Catholic and wouldn't change and that was that. We pretty much wrote her off and focused on other people. Then one we went to their house to teach her daughters to reactivate them but they had left and Alejandrina was the only one home. My seasoned, calculating, and efficient mind told me that teaching her would be a waste of time and her odds of progressing were very low thus our time would be better spent teaching other investigators with greater odds of progressing.... but the Spirit gently touched my heart and I had the subtle feeling that we should stay and give her a chance... so we stayed. We listened to her. We showed genuine interest, love, and concern. She opened up to us. She shared that her husband had been unfaithful and left her for another woman several years ago and that she was sad and lonely. We also detected that she greatly lacked confidence and felt timid about participating in our lessons not because of a lack of interest but because she didn't know how to read and felt embarrassed about it and nervous that we might call on her to read and she wouldn't be able to do so. We shared our love for her and taught her of the love our Savior and Heavenly Father have for her and that they're always there to help her as she turns to them. We read and analyzed the doctrine of Christ in 2 Nephi 31 with her and I felt the distinct impression (I had never done it before) to testify to her and promise here that if she was faithful and obedient to God that in this life or the next He would bless her with a good and faithful husband that would love, cherish, and respect her and she could be with him for all time and eternity. We taught that God is merciful and just and He won't rob her of any of the blessings of exaltation if she is faithful and does her part. A gleam of hope brightened in her eyes as she listened to us teach and testify. We set a baptismal date for May 3rd in that very first lesson and she accepted tentatively. Day by day she became more and more comfortable with the idea and after a week she was excited to be baptized. It was a lovely experience and lovely baptismal service :) I love this work and I'm grateful for those gently promptings of the Holy Ghost to guide us to the elect of God because we'd be lost without them.
Last week, my great friend Sister Walker sent me some wonderful advice that I felt inspired to share with you all, Now you are approaching the last leg of this part of your life. In track, when you run a distance, there is something to be said for pacing yourself, for keeping yourself strongly in the race, but remembering you needed to save something for the end. Now you are to the point where you thought you were already giving it all, but you can dig a little deeper and give a little more.
Thank you Sister Walker! What a great thought and solid analogy. To be completely honest two years of working hard all day really does tire the body, mind, and spirit haha a LOT! Of course it is a good tired, a happy tired in a positive way but its tiring nonetheless and there have been days where my body begs for rest and a long nap seems so appealing... BUT that's when we really show the Lord what we're made of and just how much we love Him and just how dedicated we are to His work. Anyone can work hard and positive when they feel well rested and there's a nice breeze and there are lots of investigators progressing and things are going great. Its when you're rejected, all your appointments fail, you're tired, hungry, and the sun is blazing hot... that's when it really takes diligence and heart to keep going with a smile and faith and hope in the Lord. When we do so the Lord helps us and when we kneel and ask for the strength to keep going, He hears and answers. Its not always the answer that we want but its always the answer that we need. As we trust in Him and work our hardest things work out. Several times this week these words from Sister Walker came to mind and helped me work even harder.
There are many of you who are probably wondering why I put the title of Three Lighthouses and if that means I went to the beach or something like that haha lighthouse is faro in Spanish and it has a bit of a different meaning in Spanish. Our beloved President Amaya has three "lighthouses" (that's the literal translation but it'd be more like the three keys or three fundamentals) of the mission that are the key to success that he always teaches us. I'd like to share them with you all.
1. Concentrate your mind on the mission. Don't have a girlfriend to distract you, don't think about home, don't get absorbed in thinking about what you're going to buy or do or see on p-day, avoid all distractions, and stay focused always 100% on your investigators and your work as a missionary. Have a balance of being fun and happy yet focused and obedient.
2. Submerge yourself in Preach My Gospel. There are many good things to read and study and focus on during the mission but the most important, most relevant, and thing that will most help you grow as a missionary is PMG. Love it, study it, live it. Every single day study it for at least 20-40 minutes and if you want for the whole hour. Do the activities. Look up and ponder on the scriptures. Watch and analyze the videos. Be a PMG missionary. President teaches that you know you're a PMG missionary if the Holy Ghost whispers parts of PMG to your heart and mind at times. Its happened to me on several occasions and its a great feeling. PMG really is the most important and it sets a foundation for the rest of our life.
3. Have your Mission Purpose in between your eyebrows. In all that you do be focused on bringing souls unto Christ. Put baptismal dates in the first lesson without fear. Always think about how to better improve your sector and bring more souls unto Christ. Every lesson and everything you do should be focused on completing with your missionary purpose.
Many months ago in a car ride with President Amaya I asked him for specific feedback on how I could improve as his assistant. He chuckled and repeated to me the three lighthouses and said "Elder if you have the three things down then all the rest will take care of itself. Focus on those three things and that's all." At that time I was a little bit let down because I wanted something a little more specific but I now realize that his answer was very wise and that those three lighthouses really are key and as I've developed and perfected them more and more during the mission since that car ride its brought me more and more success.
I love you all!
Monday, April 28, 2014
|Jorge Luis's baptism from April 2013|
Family and Friends,
This Saturday we had the tremendous blessing of attending the sealing of three families from the Andres de Vera ward in Portoviejo where I served a over a year ago with Elder Carrillo and Elder Tibanlombo. A young couple, a family of less actives who were reactivated, and my great friend and convert Jorge Luis Briones and his wife Johana Solorzano were sealed together for all time and eternity. It truly was one of best days of my life and such a blessing to see old friends, converts, and hear about how well many converts are doing :) wow!
In February 2013 my first Sunday in Portoviejo, an active and wonderful member Johana Solorzano brought her nonmember boyfriend Jorge Luis Briones to church and we taught him with her and put a baptismal date. He didn't accept very well and said that he was Catholic and needed much more time to think about it. A week later he fell off the map and no matter how many times we called or tried to visit him he never answered and we didn't see him for over a month.
Fortunately, his girlfriend Johana was very strong in the gospel and very determined and insistent that he would be baptized and they would be married in the temple one day :) every time she saw us she asked how Jorge was doing and always tried to make things happen and bring him to church and never gave up no matter how uninterested or tough he was. She wasn't overbearing, rude, or pushy but she wasn't timid or lazy about it. She applied what Elder Scott and Elder Ballard taught in their excellent talks last conference. She was bold and persistent and gave a good follow up (Alma 38:12) in many ways. For example we told her that he never answered us, she asked him why, he said he never answers unknown numbers, she gave him our number and had him save it in his phone, then she told us to call him again. Finally at the end of March she brought him to an activity and we taught him again. I'll never forget the awesome lesson we had with Elder Tibanlombo when we read and analyzed Alma 32 together with him and he totally "got it" that he had to do his part with diligence and patience and faith to make the seed grow. He went to General Conference. The seed grew. And he was baptized on April 13th 2013. As they say the rest is history.
A good follow up, persistence, and never giving up really paid off for my dear friend Johana. At the end of the sealing she had tears of joy that poured down her cheeks as she stood by her eternal husband hugging and shaking hands with everyone who passed by to congratulate them. When it was our turn she gave me a huge smile and said "Thank you so much Elder Remington for teaching and baptizing him!" Truly, that was one of the tenderest and sweetest moments of my life.
It was also quite fun and entertaining to see all the members and converts. I don't have time to write all the details but literally 90% are strong and active especially the Gonzalez family, Michele, Cesar, Walter, and many many more. One of the members that is now the boyfriend of Michele thanked me sincerely for the work I had done there and told me the details of the lives of all the converts we had and the progress they're having in the church... he smiled and said you did a good job there! Few things make a missionary more happy than hearing about the progress and achievements of his converts in the church.
I am very grateful for the wonderful leadership that the Andres de Vera ward has. I know for a fact that 90% of the converts wouldn't still be active if it weren't for the fantastic Bishop they have there. He truly is a saint and a stud. He is loving, kind, patient, strong, and he never tolerates gossiping or criticizing others in his ward. He knows that gossip and getting offended are some of the biggest reasons that people leave the church or that a ward doesn't function well. I testify that such is the case. He is a wonderful example to me of what a leader and father should be and I plan to follow his example in my life. What a blessing to have served in such a strong, happy, and united ward :) there are many friends for life in that ward for me :)
There are many more things I would love to share but there isn't enough time...
I love you all with all my heart and hope you are happy and well.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Family and Friends,
I've been humming that lovely primary song all weekend. This Saturday April 19th, 2014, the Cortes family was sealed together for all time and eternity. For those of you who aren't members of the church, one of the most precious truths we treasure as members of the church is that when a couple is married in the temple by someone who holds the authority of God, that couple will be sealed together with their future children as a family not just "til death do you part" but for all time and even after death they will be together as an eternal family. After a year of being baptized and learning and growing in the church you have the opportunity to go to the temple and be sealed as husband and wife and if you already have children to be sealed to them as well and thus sealed to all future children that you may have as a forever family :)
Jonathon was baptized on December 22, 2012 and he baptized Maria Fernanda on February 16, 2013 [Elder Remington mentioned her baptism and was sent a picture in previous post entitled "Exciting News! :)"] and ever since then my old companion and great friend Elder Ayala (He's not an Elder anymore but thats how I remember him and he's still Elder Ayala to me ahha) and I have been following up on them through letters, occasional visits with President's permission as an AP, and facebook on Elder Ayala's part. As with all new converts, they had some trials but with our help, the help of some wonderful members in that ward, the strong testimony and consistent example of Jonathon (he really is a rock, he finished the Book of Mormon in 6 months, magnifies his calling as young men's counselor, goes to church always, shares the gospel, and has been constant in work to achieve his goal of going to the temple), and above all the divine help of the Lord :) they made it to the temple :) wooooohoooo!!! Honestly words can't fully describe how happy I am :) this is a dream come true that I've been praying and working for over a year and it finally happened! Even if all other people in Ecuador rejected me and I didn't baptize a single other person in my two years here....it would've been worth it to find Jonathon and Maria Fernanda, teach them, baptize them, confirm them, and see them endowed and sealed as a forever family :)
I had the privilege of being Jonathon's escort in the temple and Elder Ayala and I were the witnesses of their sealing. The temple worker explained to us that the two witnesses aren't just there in that moment but that their signature will forever be on the certificate of marriage and that they commit themselves to be guardian angels and look out for the family that sealed and always be an important part of their lives :) we both smiled and said that we had already been doing that and already had planned to continue to do so and that now with even greater dedication and with even more motivation and duty we would do so :) I'll always be there for this wonderful family and I'm so grateful that the Lord trusted us enough to put them in our path and help them.
Jonathon's two children Domenica and Santiago (James in English) are normally very rambunctious and noisy and frankly I was nervous that when they entered the sealing room that they would be loud and distract from the Spirit. But when they entered the sealing room all dressed in white like little angels with big smiles and a glow in their eyes... the Spirit filled the room so strong that I couldn't stop smiling from ear to ear the entire time :) I looked at Elder Ayala and we smiled and didn't say a word... words can't describe what we were both feeling. The two children happily, quietly, and reverently took their place around the altar with their parents and when the sealing was finished the four of them all gave each other big hugs and kisses and everyone in the room was smiling and a sweet heavenly exquisite peace filled the room. The temple worker said that this was a taste of heaven for all of us.... this was one of the best and tenderest moments of my life and utterly unforgettable. As the saying goes, missionaries leave their families for two years so that others can be with their family for eternity.
Elder Ayala and I were reminiscing and remembering the good times when we did companionship studies and practices dedicated to Jonathon and helping him finally accept a baptismal date :) and how much we had to work with Maria Fernanda before she finally opened up and went to church with us :) it was awesome seeing Elder Ayala and being with him again and he and the Cortes family will be lifelong friends :) it was also wonderful seeing many of the members from Albonor again and remembering the good ole days haha they will be lifelong friends as well :) After the sealing, the Cortes family invited us all over for lunch and we had a great time together at their house and I had a flashback remembering when we first contacted their house over a year ago and how much one contact has changed our lives forever (Alma 37:6-7).
After the lunch we were able to go to the terminal and return to Quevedo just in time for the Stake Conference that night and good thing too because I had to give the first talk! (By the way, we had President's permission to attend just in case you're wondering hahah President has always said that we need to focus on families thus the motivation is that all missionaries who baptize families will get to go to their sealings :) yay! Thanks President!) I love public speaking. My talk was on the Work of Salvation and how we can work even better together as members and missionaries :) based on Elder Ballard's last two conference talks especially "Put Your Trust in the Lord" that I definitely recommend reading and applying. We made a little PowerPoint sideshow of some of the baptisms we had in the stake the past few months through members giving referrals and it was great it really invited the Spirit in the room and motivated the members. One of the last pictures was of Carlos and Cristina's baptism and I had his brother Ricardo Romero share his testimony at the end of the joy he felt while sharing the gospel with his brother and the happiness he felt as he baptized his own brother and saw him baptize his wife a month later :) I know a good opportunity to invite the Spirit when I see one :) it was awesome he did a great job! There were 3 key points that as members we need to do
- Pray asking specifically for missionary opportunities and be looking for those opportunities.
- Share the gospel in a normal and constant way (first presidency message by President Uchtdorf that is great on that; "A Firmly Set Anchor")
- Give a quality referral to the missionaries at least once every three months (quality means that you help teach them and support them look up PMG quote by President Hinckley [Found in Chapter 13]).
I love you all very much and hope you are enjoying life :) remember thats why we're here (2 Nephi 2:25)
Monday, April 14, 2014
Family and Friends,
I loved General Conference :) I especially loved the talk by Elder Scott about being gentle and loving with people yet firm in helping them be better. Also I loved the talk by Elder Zwick about effective communication and being a peacemaker. Elder Ballard was great in his talk on the Work of Salvation and committed all of you to study PMG and share with your missionaries what you learned... therefore I am waiting to hear from all of you what you learned! You can do it! For all you future missionaries out there I can testify that reading PMG from start to finish before my mission was one of the best things I did before that most helped prepare me. I strongly recommend it and for those who aren't future missionaries remember that we are all always life long missionaries and we have to know what PMG teaches to work in unity. Just do it.
In these last few months we have been keeping an extra clean and tidy house and trust me that it greatly helps the Spirit be there and makes you feel so much better when you get home. Keep a clean and organized house and you'll be happy.
One of my questions before going to conference was, "How to best be in the world and not of it?" As our Prophet taught at the beginning and announced the temples that are being built, the Spirit reminded me of a great habit I had developed while at BYU that really helps us be in the world but not of it. That habit is regular temple attendance. While in Provo living so close I had the blessing of going to the temple every week and I remember often times remembering that I would be going to the house of the Lord that week would help me walk away when an inappropriate joke was said or spend time with other people when I remembered that I'd be going to the temple. Going to a little piece of Heaven regularly helps us not be of this world.
Remember the wise words that my father always taught me, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."
Monday, April 7, 2014
Family and Friends,
Last week we had the wonderful and interesting privilege of doing inspections with President Amaya and the Assistants Elder Rounds and Elder Curriden. As leaders we have a copy of the keys of every house in the zone and from time to time we show up unannounced in the morning to see if they are being obedient and to make sure they are taking good care of the house. Frankly, I've never been a big fan of doing inspections mostly because of what my dad taught me about not trying to be a police officer for your missionaries and I prefer to follow Joseph Smith's advice of teaching correct principles and letting people govern themselves. My dad taught me that it is much better to just motivate your missionaries and be a good example to them and love them and catch them doing good things and compliment them instead of trying to trying to always catch them doing something bad and lecture them about it. He's right. And there are definitely many leaders who sadly haven't learned that and they fall victim to pride (D&C 121:34-40).
However, occasionally when done with the proper amount of humility, maturity, and the correct perspective and trusting but verifying and wanting to help them not hurt them or make them feel bad... inspections can be important, wonderful, and necessary. Thus we went and inspected all of the houses with that attitude and it was awesome. There was one house where four missionaries lived and the week before President asked us to decided out of three of them had who we recommended as the new district leader (our other district leader is a zone leader now and very well prepared I might add). It was a tough decision and we took some time to think it through because two of them had a lot more time in the mission, had been district leaders before, and were very dynamic outgoing and talented. The other missionary had less time and is a little shy but he is super obedient, pure, loving, happy, a great teacher, and really has a great spirit about him. Despite that he was a little shy and had less time on the mission we both felt that he was the right choice and we told President. Therefore, when we arrived at their house at 7:58 to do inspections what we found brought a calm reassurance to my heart and I knew the Lord had inspired us to make the right choice. Two of the missionaries were scrambling to get their ties on and get to their desks. One missionary was just barely coming out of the shower. And the humble and obedient missionary that we had recommended as district leader was completely dressed, knelt down praying at his desk, and had a serene and peaceful spirit about him. It was awesome. The difference in power and spirit between those missionaries was palpable.
The other missionaries received a loving but firm correction to improve and the obedient missionary received a big hug, big smile, and a big congratulations from President Amaya. I couldn't help but smile and think of what it'll be like when the Lord comes unannounced...how will he find us? Obedience really does have its rewards.
There was a missionary who arrived in our zone a few months ago discouraged, disobedient, and a little lazy but WOW has he had a drastic change. You can truly see more light radiating in his eyes these days. We were persistent, loving, and patient with him and he has a great companion to help him and he has improved and transformed into a loving, happy, upbeat, obedient, smart, hardworking, direct, bold, brave, and wonderful missionary. I know that one of the keys was that when he first got here we didn't get frustrated or give up on him and just classify him as a problematic and disobedient missionary and that was the end of it. Instead, we saw the potential he had inside and saw what he could become and helped him reach it. And when we arrived at their house unannounced early in the morning it brought a big smile to my face to find them both dressed, alert, diligently studying, and with the house clean...not perfect... but clean. Its wonderful to see what a change people can have :)
Lots of leaders in the mission spend their time looking all over for tips and keys for success and they ignore or undervalue or forget to study and apply the divine guidance given by the First Presidency. Often times in my personal study or in my free time while in the bathroom or waiting for a baptismal interview, etc. I'll pull out my Missionary Handbook and go over the leadership section. I highly recommend it. I would like to cite a few pearls of wisdom on leadership from the Missionary Handbook page 60, "A leader helps other missionaries most when they feel a leader´s love. They should feel that a leader is motivated by a sincere concern for their welfare, not by his or her own interests." This is one of the most important and perhaps most underrated aspects of successful leadership. Everyone knows that you have to be strong, smart, efficient, have results, and reach the goal. But they often forget that if you just focus on the results and walk over people to get them then you won't have happy people nor will you likely have good results. Remember the following from the Missionary Handbook page 57, "A missionary leader must be an effective administrator in keeping order and carrying out the work of the mission. A leader's most important influence, however, comes through ministering to others in harmony with the Savior's teachings and example." You have to pray for them all by name everyday and really watch out for them and care for them and love them. Be willing to go the extra mile. If there is a companionship that is really discouraged and struggling be willing to go to their house listen to them, let them vent, love, give them kind advice with scriptures and PMG, and give them a blessing each one to improve and strengthen them and they will LOVE you for it and know and feel that you are there to help and serve them not just to use them to have better results for your own selfish reasons. When they feel that they will follow you out of love and respect not out of fear or for obligation and thus they will trust you and won't question your motives and they'll work better. Thus you will have happy people and happy results :)
Monday, March 31, 2014
Today in my personal study I felt a wonderful calm and distinct impression that God is pleased with my labors here :) trust me, there are few feelings better than that. In fact I believe that having that feeling is the only thing that truly gives peace of mind and lasting happiness... the knowledge God is pleased with you and that you are living in harmony with His laws is priceless.
The other day I was in finishing an interchange with a great missionary in our zone and during the companionship study he shared with me some of his struggles, stresses, and feelings of inadequacy. He's a wonderful missionary with a pure heart, deep love and passion for the Lord's work, very obedient, hard working, happy, service oriented, and righteous. He's just has a hard time being organized and remembering all the things he has to do such as appointments, copies of the progress report, give daily follow up, send the goals, etc. etc. and whenever he forgets something or doesn't do something just right he gets a little down on himself. He was very frustrated that morning and shared with me that he feels like he's letting the Lord down and failing when he forgets something or something goes wrong. I kindly listened and felt a prompting to read pages 10-11 in PME [Preach My Gospel] together about what makes a successful missionary. We each read different parts and analyzed it together and I helped him see how much of an awesome missionary he was citing specific examples of things he does great. Then there was a very special moment when we read the following part of PME 11, "When you have done your very best, you may still experience disappointments, but you will not be disappointed in yourself. You can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when you feel the Spirit working through you." Tears started to stream gently down his cheeks as he read those words. He finished reading. I waited a few seconds and then quietly asked him, "Elder have you felt the Spirit working through you?" He looked up and with tears in his eyes and a smile on his face said confidently, "Yes." The Spirit filled the room. I told him how much I loved him and how grateful I was for his great service and how I happy I was to work side by side with him.
These are the moments that one remembers and treasures from the mission. This missionary and his companion are both very new and very inexperienced and one of them is just starting the mission and hardly speaks Spanish.... yet they were the sector with the most baptisms and investigators in the church each week. They baptized 10 in the month and week after week after week they brought 15, 12, 14 investigators to Church. Stunned, my companion and I asked ourselves how is this happening? We had thought they were going to struggle and couldn't believe nor understand how they were having such great results when they barely knew how to use the daily planner, area book, etc, and barely knew the language!!! The following Scriptures came to mind.
- 1 Corinthians 1:27
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
- Doctrine and Covenants 133:59
59 And by the weak things of the earth the Lord shall thresh the nations by the power of his Spirit.
Now don't misunderstand here. I'm not wanting to offend those missionaries saying they are foolish or weak, just that the principle really applies here that many times it isn't the smartest, strongest, or the fastest that wins the race its the one who is most persistent, full of love, full of faith, and trusts in the Lord. Those two missionaries are a living example of that to me and their example of love, passion, and dedication to the work inspire me :)
With the call of the Prophet asking us to go to the rescue, we as missionaries have been focusing much more on reactivating less actives as well as baptizing. The prophetic promise is that the more we rescue the more we'll baptize and its really true because the less actives always have more friends who aren't members and thus better referrals and thus two birds with one stone and a fuller chapel, happy Bishop, happy missionaries, and happy everyone. In this process of rescuing less actives I have realized that there are many members who don't how to treat and help the less actives as they return. Many members will make a joke when the less actives come back like, "Ooohh wow long time no see" "What happened to you?" "Did you forget how to get here?" or lots of other foolish comments that generally aren't intended to be hurtful but truly make the poor less active member feel very uncomfortable. Others will just coldly walk by and won't reach out to say hi, shake their hand give them a hug, and help them feel welcome.
Being a good member missionary includes doing visits with the missionaries, giving referrals, sharing the gospel with your friends, etc. but it also means helping the less actives come back. Remember that the worth of ALL souls is great in the eyes of God and we as members can do a much better job in helping come back, feel our love, and STAY back. I have witnessed and sadly been a part of less actives coming back but then being offended and leaving again...how sad. We need to do better. Don't say wow how long time no see or anything of the sort to make them feel bad just give them a big sincere smile and tell them welcome, its great to see you :) show them your love. That is really all they need. The majority of the less actives still have their testimony they've just forgotten who they are or have been distracted or forgotten what they're priorities are. Let us do our part to help them remember how important they are and follow the Prophet's invitation to go to the rescue :)
I lovingly encourage all to study and apply the Prophet's talk "Our Responsibility to Rescue" from October 2013.
May the Lord bless us all in this effort.
Monday, March 24, 2014
Family and Friends,
President Amaya visited us this week to have interviews and reward us for being the zone that most passed the goal last week. We ate Carl's Junior together and had a great time with him and the Assistants. Elder Galvan and I had a wonderful interview with President Amaya. He said he had sent us here to raise the bar and put the zone on another level and that we had done just that. He congratulated us on the great unity, diligence, obedience, and enthusiasm that he could see and feel were very present in our zone and he said it was all consequence of the example of their leaders. It was actually pretty funny because he said that there's lots of missionaries that came from other less obedient and less focused zones and that when they got here to our zone it was like BOOM a wake up call and shocker. They can feel that its serious business here and then they get with the program and get their act together. He started cracking himself up haha but its really true and thats been one of the most rewarding experiences here for me is seeing the huge change and improvement that all of the missionaries here have had. Sadly, some zone leaders make the mistake of just worrying about and concentrating on REACHING THE GOAL and having results even if they have to intimidate, walk over, or boss around the missionaries to do it. That NEVER works. If you focus on the missionaries as people and children of God with a divine potential as Elder Eyring advises:
"Help others recognize the spiritual gifts with which they were born. Every person is different and has a different contribution to make. No one is destined to fail. As you seek revelation to see gifts God sees in those you lead in the priesthood, you will be blessed to lift their sights to the service they can perform. With your guidance, those you lead will be able to see, want, and believe they can achieve their full potential for service in God's kingdom" ("Help Them Aim High").
and focus on their needs and their progress then they're happier, you're happier, and the goal almost takes care of itself. Yes you still need to give follow-up on the goal and focus on results but the people need to come first. President congratulated us on doing that well and said we're putting an example for the rest of the mission.
We had 4 baptisms last week but it was so crazy and busy that we didn't have time to take pictures...sorry! But it was a great experience and one of the investigators Didier taught me a lesson that I'll never forget. Didier is nine years old and his mom and older brothers are less actives that we are reactivating while baptizing Didier (the good ole hit two birds with one stone!). Didier is very very very shy and gets scared easily. When I went to baptize him the first time he got scared when he entered the water and he shot his hand up out of the water so we had to do it again. On the second time he got even more scared and traumatized by the water and shot his hand up and came out of the water whimpering and crying. I took him out of the water to help him calm down and tried talking with him to motivate to go back and try it again. The sad part is that lots of members (who had good intentions but insensitive and foolish actions) started to swarm around him and say to him or to each other ¨Are you crying? He's crying. Hey don't be scared of the water you're fine. Just do it. Hey are you alright already?¨ This obviously just made it worst and he literally curled up in a ball against the wall crying and refusing to respond to anyone. Luckily his mom and another member we're smart and he told him in a loving way that he could do it. After about 10 minutes of confusion and crying we finally took him away from everyone and went in to a room just the missionaries and him and one of the members that was a good family friend. We said a prayer together to help him calm down. We waited for several minutes very patiently not pressuring him and then I got down on his level on my knees and said, ¨Hey bud how bout we just try one more time and if it doesn't work we can go home and everything will be fine okay?¨ He agreed and we went to the fount but we closed the door and waited for everyone to leave until it was just me, Elder Galvan, and the member family friend (priesthood holder). As we entered the water he started crying again but we just waited patiently sat down and prayed and then the member made him laugh with quite a few jokes and motivated him and then he decided to do it. I took him in my arms, said the prayer, and we entered in the water together. It worked! He left the water beaming and happy having conquered his fear.
That taught me a lot about just being patient and not judging or laughing at people and being sensitive and gently persistent. Also the power of humor is very important as well. I've seriously changed since before the mission because before I would've thought what a baby and probably laughed at him a bit... I feel like I've changed quite a bit now that I think about it.
Love you all so much!
Monday, March 17, 2014
Message from Elder Remington's mother:
We received Jacoby's release date and flight plans....he will be returning home on May 20th at 11:25 am at the San Francisco airport!
These last few month of the mission are hard....because although you want to go home and see friends and family....you also don't want to leave the people you have grown to love so much in this new country! Jacoby doesn't talk about coming home at all, he avoids the topic completely, which is alright with me. I'm glad he is staying focused on the work at hand. In fact, he is not the one who let us know of his release date, rather it was the mission office that sent us an email and informed us. He doesn't want to think about it or get distracted....he wants to finish strong and remain focused on his mission. So if he writes you and doesn't mention excitement about coming home, it's not that he doesn't miss us or doesn't want to come home.....it's that he doesn't want to leave the people of Ecuador or the joy that he feels from being a missionary.
Thanks for all your love and support that you have shown Jacoby throughout his mission!!
Family and Friends,
My buddy Elder Magill was assigned as zone leader in Babahoyo and another great friend Elder Curriden took his place with Elder Rounds. They are both wonderful missionaries and will do a great job. We're leaving the mission in good hands :) and just as President promised us, Elder Magill and I will get to die with our boots on out in the field! What a blessing it is for us honestly it was hard at first to get used to the field again but now its so great and I'm so thankful that President Amaya is so inspired in all that he does and I'm happy for Elder Magill because he really wanted to be out in the field and he deserves it :)This last week we had a leadership conference and I was able to sit next to Elder Magill as a fellow zone leader just like we did for the first time as zone leaders exactly a year ago! Just like old times we said to each other haha but the crazy thing is all the other people who were in last year's leadership conference other than President Amaya and Sister Amaya are long gone in their houses and all the people in the leaderhship conference this time weren't even thought of a year ago in the mission world or were just barely getting started. We are old!
These past few days I have been a little let down a few times by people's poor use of their agency. On several occasions, missionaries, members, less actives, converts, and investigators have failed to keep their commitments when we don't give them a ton of follow up every single day. Its a little frustrating at times but then you've just got to remember to do your best and leave the rest to the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-6) some will endure to the end and others won't but we've just got to do our best part to help them and never get discouraged. I think of how poor Mormon and Moroni must have felt as they saw their beloved people rot in their own sins and be destroyed for their pride... we can't control others we can just do our part and love them and help them.
Be happy :)
Monday, March 10, 2014
Family and Friends,
Once again my heart is full of gratitude and love :) what a wonderful week we had. There were some trials and disappointments but as I've kept filling my heart daily with positive things and remembering all my blessings I've stayed happy and upbeat its great! I know many have said and heard about counting your blessings and remembering what you're grateful for and if you're like me you've kind of just shrugged it off sometimes and thought yeah yeah I've heard that before haha. I know its cliche and everyone says it but I'm telling its true! Do it! Decide to be happy and be positive and when things start to not go as planned just smile, laugh it off, and think of five things your grateful for. As we focus on our blessings and all the things that are good, just, and right in this world and we don't worry or complain about the things that are out of our control (other people's agency, the weather, culture, etc.) we find true and sustainable happiness.
I love Alma 7:23 it has many important facets of living a balanced, positive, happy, and successful life.
And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.
Apply it and you will see the results!
This week Vanessa Loor and Cristina Romero were baptized together. They are wonderful and will be lifelong converts. Vanesa is the older sister of three recent converts. She's a twenty year old, single, pregnant, college student that is very smart. She had listened to the missionaries before but never wanted to be baptized and we had never really seen much of a chance in her progressing. But then one day we went to visit her younger sisters to teach and strengthen them as new converts and while we were teaching a very distinct impression came to my mind to invite Vanessa to join us as well and I did and we put a baptismal date and the rest is history.
Cristina Romero is Carlos Romero's wife. If you remember, Carlos is the brother of our first counselor and was baptized last month. He received the Priesthood and baptized his wife with power. It was so special to see them enter the waters of baptism together and I know they'll be sealed as an eternal family in a year and I plan to be there to see it :) they are wonderful friends and they study the scriptures daily and mark them up with highlighters and are really converted to the Lord. What a joy and a blessing to know them and see them progress. We came to know them just by sharing a simple message and asking for referrals after lunch in our first week here and look where that got us. Alma 37:6-7 share messages and ask for referrals after every meal :)
I love you all and know with all my heart that this gospel is true and changes lives
Monday, March 3, 2014
Family and Friends,
I am very happy and have my heart full of gratitude these days. I am so happy and thankful for all that my Heavenly Father has given me. He's blessed me with a wonderful companion that is such a positive and humble hard worker, a zone full of good happy and hardworking missionaries, a powerful and inspired Mission President, two greart leaders and friends as APs who always give great advice and guidance, members that support us and love us, chosen investigators that are so wonderful, and powerful converts that share the gospel and have powerful testimonies. Alexandra (a convert from last month) is already in Alma in the Book of Mormon and she sits right next to our investigators that we bring to church and in the lessons with them she straight up motivates them and tells them not be scared, to trust in the Lord, and to be BAPTIZED. She shares how much her baptism and this church have blessed and changed her life for the better. Today I was singing all afternoon in the house very happy and I hope to share this happiness with everyone!
There are quite a few pictures so just to explain a few of them we had 3 great baptisms of Joselyn, Joshua, and Adrian. Joselyn is a single mom who has great neighbors that are members and really welcomed her in to the church and we're already teaching a few of her friends and they have baptismal dates :) Joshua is the nephew of some members that we're less active but we rescued them and baptized him :) two birds with one stone and now they all go to church together and they're quite happy! Adrian is the younger brother of a recent convert named Andres and he is super solid and is one of the few kids here who likes basketball more than soccer wow! It was great to see his big brother baptize him.
The picture of two crazy guys hugging each other is of Elder Rallison and I just before Elder Rallison left to Guayaquil for transfers. He is an AWESOME missionary and great friend and it truly was a joy to have him in the zone and work side by side with him. He will be missed but we know that he's doing great things where he is and it's the Lord' will so its whats best :) also the Lord blessed us greatly as a zone and we were able to pass the goal and we will be celebrating with President Amaya and the APs soon :) good times!
We worked our tails off as a zone and it paid off :) There were several keys to our success this month and many are found in the 8 Attributes but here are a few that stand out in particular. We followed all the instructions and guidance of President and the APs especially about being submerged in the Work of Salvation with lots and lots of lessons with members, referrals, and rescuing less actives. We were like pilots looking at the gauges and levels of the planes making sure the planes flies smoothly and successfully. We did the same every week and every day with the Key Indicators. Every Sunday night we counted the totals and compared with past weeks and were attentive to tendencies or weak points or progress to help keep improving every week. We focused on the spiritual growth and progress of every individual in our zone, especially with the district leaders in making sure that they became strong lions of leaders confident and capable in what they were doing so that they could then take good care of the missionaries in their district. There are many more but I'll have to share next week!
Something that I felt would be important to share... many members and missionaries think that it is just plain evil and wrong to talk about numbers and goals and that you should just focus on people. It is natural to think that at first but its important to remember that when used in the right way numbers and goals are a powerful instrument in bringing about eternal salvation to more people. Of course we need to be focused on people and make sure that we don't get to carried away with only wanting to have impressive statistics. But when used with a proper balance and an understanding that like PME teaches each number represents a son or daughter of God, then numbers and goals are necessary and valuable. As President Monson taught, When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates. And he is a living example of that as the Prophet of God. What was the first thing President Monson announced at General Conference? Numbers! He said that there are currently over 15 million members and over 80 thousand missionaries serving. The Lord has said that He has His sheep counted and it is important to count for Him so we need to follow His example. (3 Nephi 18:31).
Remeber to be humble and make changes when the Spirit gives you whispers of correction.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
I am not yet dead. There's just less hair on my head
I am not yet dead. I'll soon have to go to bed haha
Hey today was a crazy day and with President's permission we had to travel to Guayaquil and back for some appointments and office things that you can only do there. Long story short I don't have time to write much today but just so you know I'm all good and super happy with Elder Galvan and the wonderful zone that we have here working hard :) we passed our goal by 5 this month and we're well set for next month woohoo! Also President said he already did the endorsement so you should be good to sign me up for classes.
Hahaha yes yes I already knew that Connor's mom was famous lol, for me the most impressive is that his dad was a mission president! But yeah, for many reasons they really are an incredible family and its a privilege to have Connor as a friend. Thanks for all the updates on the Utah trip :) You are wonderful.
I sure love you all, and next week I'll have lots of cool pictures and stories to share!
Elder Remington's Mother: For those of you who grew up in Utah, Jacoby's friend that he will be rooming with at BYU has a famous mom....at least she's known in Utah. You may have watched her on channel 2 news as a KUTV anchor woman for 30 years. Her name is Michelle King, and her son Connor is Jacoby's great friend. Anyway I thought it was kind of cool to be talking on the phone with Michelle King as we set up housing for our sons to live together at BYU in the fall.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Family and Friends,
Over the past few weeks I have had several exeriences that have really blown me away and showed me how much a difference one can make. I am thoroughly convinced that all of us have a much bigger influence and impact on the world than we will ever be able to truly comprehend. We need to be sure that everyday we are giving our all and being the best we can because we never know how much good we can do and how much of a positive influence we can have.
The other day Elder Galvan told me that his companion had given a great training session on how to have a successful zone and he wanted to share it with me for our zone... he pulled out the 8 Attributes of a Successful Zone (his companion had been a district leader in one of my zones). I laughed and said yeah sounds like a good idea. Another day we were in a district meeting and an Elder started sharing the importance of giving daily follow up and shared the brushing teeth example and said that when he heard that it totally changed his perspective and helped him out big time and that we should all use it. A sister missionary from my zone a while back has a phrase that I said (that I didn't even remember) written on the front of her daily planner as her mission motto to motivate her everyday. Various of my old district leaders or Elders or Sisters that were in my zones have told me how much they used various tips or strategies that they learned with us and how much its helped them. Converts, members from old areas, and various other people and circumstances will help one's name live on forever. And there are so many things like that in which I would've never known. The other day I asked an Elder who was one of his best converts and what was it like to teach him and when he was baptized. And he told me that his best convert was someone that they found through a referral by Elder Magill when he did an interchange.. I said wow sweet (that gives me hope that some of the referals and things I did in interchanges also lead to baptisms) did you tell Elder Magill about that convert?!? He said no. Elder Magill has no idea. There are so many things that we do and ripple effects that we can have and not even realize it. I'll never forget the first assistants that were here when I first arrived on the mission Elder McGinn and Elder Hancock. There are things they did and things that taught me that I'll never forget and that I used as a assistant that helped me a lot and they have no idea. The best part is that Elder McGinn had already been out on the mission for about 23 months when I got here and he was about to finish but he still kept going strong and giving it all until the end. Can you imagine if he had been trunky and not taught me those things I would've missed out on a great learning experience that has helped me for all my mission. Its so important to go hard and finish strong until the end because you never know how much you can influence someone and how much of an impact you can have and then they will bring many souls to Christ thanks to what they learned from you.
Elder Randall shared a powerful phrase with me. He said, "You have two years to serve a mission and you have the rest of your life to think about it." That's why you need to serve the best you can and give it all. This work is true and its glorious. D&C 128:21-22 Let us go on in so great a cause!
Monday, February 10, 2014
[Editor's Note: The other photos mentioned are forthcoming].
Family and Friends,
We had a lovely baptism this weekend with 5 investigators from our sector and 2 from San Camilo 1. The first picture is of Alexandra and her daughter Daniela. When we first got transferred here the missionaries that had been here before told us about her and gave us a general description of where she lived and wished us the best of luck in finding her saying that she was a great person and super interested but... they hadn't updated the area book and hadn't made a teaching record for her so it was very difficult to find her and for the first week we searched and searched and searched but we couldn't find her. On Saturday we spent a good long while looking for her and asking people nearby where she lived and finally we found her. Hallelujah!! It was awesome when we found her because, after so many times of asking for an Alexandra Cortes and not having any luck, she opened her door with a big smile and when we asked her name she said ¨Alexandra Cortes¨ Wooohooo!! We taught her and put a baptismal date in that same day and she accepted and progressed very well the whole time. She reads the Book of Mormon like crazy and she absolutely loves it. She's already finishing off 2 Nephi and she says every time she reads she feels like she gets taken away from all her worries and feels great peace inside. Her testimony is super strong and she's already sharing the gospel with her family and friends. One of her nieces will soon be baptized and when she shares her testimony it really invites the Spirit because she talks about how her heart was full of anger and sadness because of a lot of trials she had gone through but that ever since we started teaching her and she's been praying, reading, and going to church that everything has changed and her heart is full of happiness and gratitude. I'm sure this sounds cliche and exaggerated but literally that is exactly what she says and you can feel the truthfulness of her words and you can see a light in her eyes. She is awesome and is already making lots of friends in the ward and will be a great member missionary and leader in the church.
The second picture is of Carlos Romero and the third is with his wife Cristina Romero and his brother Ricardo Romero. Ricardo Romero is the first counselor in the bishopric and is a very happy and positive man. We shared a message with his family after lunch and motivated them to introduce us to one of their friends to share the gospel with and he mentioned his brother and sister-in-law Carlos and Cristina. He said they had already listened to tons of missionaries before for years and that they always would listen for a bit, go to some church activities, but then stop listening and never wanted to get baptized at all. We encouraged him to introduce us anyway and set a date to do so. We went to their house on the same day that just so happened to be the birthday of Carlos and they received us very well, we taught the Restoration, and put a baptismal date and they accepted. They are super smart and they read and mark up and think about the pamphlets and the chapters in the Book of Mormon like crazy its awesome! They learn super well and prayed and know that the Book of Mormon is true and that the church is true. They are such good students that sometimes we show up and they've already read everything and they basically just teach themselves sharing everything that they learned and then we focus on some key points, share a scripture, testify, and commit them to live those principles. They are a joy to teach and its a privilege to know them.
Carlos shared with us the other day an awesome experience he had a few weeks ago. He said that on the morning of his birthday he was feeling like he was missing something in his life and that he needed to do something different and have some change because he was turning 33 and he felt something was missing. He said that for the first time in years he knelt down in private and prayed out loud asking God to help him know what he needed to do differently and show him the way and he would follow... that same day later in the afternoon guess who showed up at his door? His brother with the missionaries. He said that the answer from God was very clear to him and that when we taught him it just motivate him even more and so he was baptized. It was great to see his brother baptize him and we're excited to see Carlos baptize his wife next week!
Cristina has a baptismal date for next Saturday and is still a little indecisive but we have faith that she will do it! She knows it true she just has to be brave and do it!
The fourth picture is of Maria Monserrate. She had all the lessons taught and everything ready to be baptized when we got here a month ago but then she got discouraged by some of her friends from other churches and we hadn't seen anything of her since then all the sudden this week out of nowhere she decided she wanted to get baptized so we reviewed what she had learned, had her interview, and she was baptized!
The fifth and sixth picture are of Maela Espinosa and her family. She had always gone to church and was nine years old and still not baptized because all the men in her family were less active. We were fortunate enough to be eating lunch with them and find out about her situation and were very happy to help. She is a great kid and super smart and now her family is going to church again its great!
I am out of time but I love you all very much and hope you have a great week!
Monday, February 3, 2014
Dear Family and Friends,
A few weeks ago President Amaya told me, "Elder Remington, you can't even imagine just how many people in Quevedo are there waiting to receive the gospel from you... and there is little time." Those words of President Amaya, as always, were inspired and are coming true. The Lord really has been pouring out His blessings upon us this week with over 10 investigadores with a baptismal date, attending church, and progressing and many many more investigadores and referrals coming along our way. We are so grateful and happy and they are such chosen and receptive people and families in which the parents are married (hard to find here in Ecuador) it's awesome! We're going to start doing a lot of splits with members in order to give a daily follow-up to all of them. We really have to use our time wisely these days! It is such a blessing to be here!
This week I had the chance to interview a man named Pedro who has made huge changes in his life and was just baptized it was great! The first time I interviewed him he still had some issues he had to work out so we postponed the baptism, put some goals with him, assigned him various scriptures to study and apply, and we scheduled another interview to see how he had progressed. The second time I interviewed him he had a completely new light about him and you could see in his eyes that he had changed and was ready. He said he was excited to be baptized and born again with a new start. The gospel is true and its wonderful to see the blessings that it brings to so many people.
Decide to have a good day and it will be a good day.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Dear Family and Friends,
As a new year begins and we try to benefit from a proper view of what has gone before, I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives.
-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Those 9 wise words above and the great quote by Elder Holland have helped quite a bit in these past two weeks. For those of you who don't know, I had transfers two weeks ago and I'm now in the Promised Land of Zone Quevedo Sur 2 in sector San Camilo 2 with my great companion Elder Galvan from Buenos Aires, Argentina. This transfer came as a great surprise but has been and I know will continue to be a great blessing. To be honest at first it was really hard. I was with Elder Magill and all the great Elders from the office for 6 months and I really grew to love them and love being with them. As I was saying goodbye to them all one of the Elders (who is usually the tough guy and the one always making a joke of the group and rarely shows emotion) broke down in tears and said ¨Thanks so much for everything. I really love you.¨ Then Elder Magill said, ¨Don't you cry, cause then if you start crying, then I'm gonna start crying...¨ haha no one else really cried but we all felt a little strange and it was a very emotional day to say the least. Although it was very hard saying goodbye to Elder Magill and I still miss him a lot, I feel very grateful for all that we learned from each other and all that we accomplished. We really were like big caring loving brothers for all the missionaries here, they loved and respected us, with lots of hard work, prayers, fasting as a mission, and the help of the Lord we broke the record for most baptisms in a month as a mission in December with 331, we became more Christlike together, we had incredible learning experiences and conversations with President Amaya that I will forever treasure, I learned how to be a peacemaker something will truly bless me and my future family forever, we gave several great training sessions together one of which President asked for an unheard of encore and it was so great that even 4 months later President still quotes it and reminds missionaries of those principles that we taught, we both became stronger, better, and more Christlike leaders together, and many more things we were able to achieve that can't fully be explained. I know that it was no coincidence that we met before the mission and we're companions for 6 months and I know that we will be lifelong friends.
I started my mission in El Empalme ward, right before going to the office I was in Quevedo ward, and now I am in San Camilo ward. This is my third time being in the Quevedo Sur stake haha but I am so very grateful for the blessing and privilege because this is an incredible stake. Its great because I already have a good relationship and confidence with so many people here that its a huge advantage in working with them because they already trust me and I already know the most effective way of working with them and how things go here in Quevedo.
This is the first time in my mission that I have a companion with less time in the mission than I do... weird right! So this is a new and wonderful experience for me here with Elder Galvan. Its his first time being a zone leader so he was very nervous at the beginning as all of us are but its amazing how fast he's getting the hang of things and how much confidence he has in himself. He has a HUGE desire and faith that he is here to find and baptize FAMILIES. And he has done just that in every sector where he's been so far and now we are already starting to do that here with quite a few wonderful families that we are teaching. As always working with the members is key and we've had quite a few sweet referrals and we're teaching them with their friends and its going great.
Never underestimate the power of your example and know that you will have a great influence on several people as you truly dedicate yourself to this work. There have been several moments in these weeks where I realize how much of a difference and impact one can have :) be patient with trials and little setbacks always remembering to smile and see the eternal in things and be grateful for all the blessings that the Lord gives you. Missionaries out there, know that transfers truly are inspired and there are people who need the gospel from YOU in your sector so find them and baptize them :)
I love you all very much and hope that you put Christ as your center and you will be happy as you do so!
Monday, January 6, 2014
Christmas Eve was lovely at the Amaya home. They invited all of us from the office over and we enjoyed delicious food, a spiritual message, Christmas hymns, happy conversation, and lots of laughter. President Amaya has always taught and always teaches the missionaries that the three keys to having a successful missionary are
1. Concentrate your mind on the mission
2. Submerge yourself in Preach My Gospel
3. Have your Missionary Purpose between your eyebrows at all times.
Thus we decided to have a little fun and made him this Christmas card of the three pillars and gave it to them. It was a hit. He and his family died laughing and absolutely loved it. He said he was going to scan it and send it to the missionaries so that they never forget those three principles. Also, we had bought President some Chex Mix a few months ago and he LOVED them and kept saying how wonderful and tasty they were. They only sale two flavors here so I asked a favor of my family and they sent us a ton of different flavors of Chex Mix (thanks again :) very much) and we wrapped them all up with the card and gave it to them on Christmas Eve. He opened a bag up right there and couldn't stop talking about how tasty those things are haha he said that it was the great pride of the gringos haha good stuff.
Every Christmas Eve that I can remember has had a manger scene acted out while reading the Bible and I convinced the office that it just wouldn't be right that 2013 be any different and so we had a good time acting out the nativity scene when we got back from President's house (maybe he'll join us next time) and it was lots of fun and we finished it by singing Silent Night. Great experience.
I would like to finish with two things that come to mind. First, never give up on anyone. No matter how many times they let you down or fail, never lose faith in people. Keep following the prophetic counsel at all times to see people not as they are but as they can become. I have had many experiences in this week that have helped me remember this important principle. One of the companionships here was having a lot of problems and although we had talked with them and committed them to improve, communicate, be positive, serve each other, etc. They weren't going any where and in fact they had only gotten worse and it finally got to the point that I lost hope in them and felt that we needed to tell President that this just wasn't going to work.... but then that very same day just a few hours before I would've called President, one of the missionaries of that companionship told me that he needed help and humbly asked me for advice on how to improve. My heart melted. I was truly touched and felt an overwhelming Spirit of love and kindness and a desire to help him and a real hope that he was going to change. We went into another room and I listened to him and listened to the Spirit and we reached some important conclusions and reviewed important principles. And he HAS IMPROVED! WOOHOO! HALLELUJAH!
Lastly please never hold grudges. It simply isn't worth it. Too many people are plagued by the justification that ¨oh but its just that for me its hard to forgive that quickly¨ ¨Oh but this is something special, my case is different.¨ Its not hard. It is much easier and less painful than holding a grudge. Don't carry that heavy weight, give it up. Let go and choose the easier way (Matthew 11:28-30). The Lord is very clear that we need to forgive easily, quickly, and always and we'll be happier (D&C 64:9-12)