Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Letters from Dad - Obedient as Adam and Eve

It's always good to read your letters. I can almost picture the things you describe. At least I can picture what you are doing and saying and how my little girl is handling things. I know that sometimes missions aren't always what we thought they would be, especially at first. It's not always fun and happy and successful and inspiring. However, it is a wonderful opportunity to test our faith, testimony, endurance and fervor. Missions are an opportunity to learn obedience.  When Adam and Eve are offering sacrifices unto the Lord. We read in Moses 5:5-6, "And he gave them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord. And after many days and angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me".
A few things about this stand out to me. First, Adam and Eve were obedient. Second, Adam and Eve were obedient, even when they didn't understand why. Third, it was after "many days" when an angel finally came to them to explain the why. Sissy, The point is to be obedient no matter what, even when we don't understand why. And when we are ready, and in the Lord's time, he will help us to understand. But we have to have faith that he will and we will be blessed for it. D&C 82:9-10 states: "...I give unto you directions how you may act before me, that it may turn to you for your salvation. I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise."
I know missions are challenging, especially at first. They are meant to be. How do we grow if we aren't challenged? How can the Lord bless us if we are not obedient? If we want to get to the part where we have the fun, happy, successful and inspiring things that missions provide, then we need to follow the rules and we will have the spirit to be with us and direct us. I know through my own experience that this is true and I promise you, that you will too. Have faith, trust in the Lord. You are doing his work and he wants you to succeed. He will help you to succeed. Put your whole trust in him. I know you can do it.
God bless you. I love you.

Sister D 1.14.13- Meeting the "holy Spirit??!!"

Hello to all,

Happy late Birthday to Blake and Uncle Paul and Happy early Birthday to Aunt Amanda and Grandpa Brown. Love you all and hope you have/had a great day.

I received letters from Grandma Brown, Christin Werner, Ma, Ashley Nielsen, and Elder Quam. My email day is today but I won't be able to write letters until Thursday because that is our p day this week. Our district is going to the temple and so we have to move our p day to that day. P day's are the busiest day ever. Little did I know that I would have so much random stuff to do to get myself ready for the next week. So I'm shooting for responding to all those letters Thursday.

Funny Story:

We were in an apartment building looking for a lady who had talked to missionaries in the past. We knocked on her door and no one was home so we went to the neighbors to ask if she still lived there. When we knocked on the neighbors door, the gal inside took one look at us and said, oh you want apt. 217. and then shut the door. I couldn't help but think, "this is not a place that we want to go" but my companion was determined so off we went. As we knocked on this new door, a larger half naked gentleman opened the door wearing pants and a HUGE golden cross on his chest. He looked VERY excited to see us, "Do you believth?" he asked. I had no idea that he was talking about so we told him that we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Reedemer. To which he responded well but then he said, "what do you think about same sex marriage?" (interesting next question) We started to tell him about how we believe marriage is between a man and a woman but that being gay doesn't make us act different towards anyone else. He responded, "Well, I believe in Man, Woman, Child, Baptism and that's all I believe. I am the Holy Spirit. It was quite a treat that you should be able to see me because I am usually not in my physical form." To say we left quickly is an understatment.

We are teaching this great sister named Elizabeth. She was in our area book as an old potential from a few years back. All that the form said about her was that she was Catholic. So we were in her area and we figured we would give her a try. We were able to have a great discussion with her on her doorstep, set up a better time to reach her and then left her with a prayer. When we met up for our lesson the next week, she wanted to know how we knew that she was in trouble and how come we turned up at her house that night. We then went on to tell her that we didn't know that her needed help but God knew. She is so sweet and we have been teaching her about the plan of Salvation and how it can help her find purpose in her life. I feel so blessed to be used as an instrument in the Lord's hands to bringing comfort to one of his daughters. We are meeting with her tonight and I can't wait.

Love you all

Sister D

Picture of Elder D in front of World Map

  When you get to the MTC you want to take your picture in front of the Where in the "World" are you serving Map.

Elder D 1.14.13 "Welcome Xenia"

Dear friends and family,
Me and my beloved Elders, this past week, have been working really hard to wrangle some gators. A dog almost took my face off. I'm talking more and it's getting easier to introduce the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to people. My companions are really helping me become more comfortable to talk to people. It's a work in progress but it's working.
I'm staying in the Xenia apartment which is really small with 3 elders.

But we make it work. I have actually grown to like tracting. It's so much more fun in a tripanionship. We tract for at least 5 hours a day if we don't have any appointments. You have a lot of time to think when walking from house to house.
It's difficult to be covering 2 areas. We have to work with 2 wards, plan twice as long, and divide our time so we can work in both areas. It's a work in progress and slowly getting better.
You are always on my mind and in my prayers. I will be writing letters to as many of the people that I know back home as I can. And I want you to do the same. Letters are candy to missionaries. I would love to here more about your lifes and about what's going on at home.
Love, Elder Ephraim Kade DeCoursey.

Letter from Dad-" Bare testimony of JS when..."

Hello son.
Good morning. We received your package this week, finally. The one that had Mom's church bag, letter and an SD card in it. You're right about the photos being grainy. I don't know if that can be or how to fix that. Maybe there is a different setting on the camera you can use to get better quality pictures? The boys loved the video clip you included. They thought it was neat being able to see your flat and to see that you were still "Eph", the happy and sometimes goofy brother they love. All of those things your mother really appreciated. Send more photo's etc., when you can. We don't want it to distract you from the most important work you are there to do.
I was thinking about some of the comments you have made about tracting and approaching people, talking to them about the gospel. I can totally relate. I hated tracting. It was my least favorite mission activity to do but necessary at times. However, once I got started, it wasn't so bad. In fact, it stopped being a chore and became fun. The point is to be engaged in the Lord's work, to just get out there and do it and the Lord will bless you for your efforts and obedience. I can promise you that (see D&C 82:10).
I have been reading a book called "Matthew Cowley, Man of Faith" by Henry A. Smith. I know that's a shock for me to be reading because you know how much I love it, but seriously, I can read believe it or not. It's a book about the life of an apostle from the 1950's. It tells a lot of Matthew Cowley's missions and apostle activities to which I am interested in because he served in New Zealand. In fact, he went on his first mission to New Zealand at the age of 17 and was there for 3 years, some of that time he served without a companion. He went back a 2nd time as mission President and was there for 10 years. Then as an apostle, he was assigned the south pacific area which includes Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and you guessed it, New Zealand. Needless to say, he spent a lot of time among the Moari's of New Zealand and had a great love for them so you can understand my interest in the book.
Brother Cowley shares with the readers the counsel his father gave him right before he left on his first mission. I will quote:

" 'My boy, you will go out on that mission; you will study; you will try to prepare your sermons; and sometimes when you are called upon, you will think you are wonderfully prepared, but when you stand up, your mind will go completely blank.' 'What do you do when your mind goes blank?' was the concerned query. (Eph, here's the part I want to share with you and you remember son) ' You stand up and with all the fervor of your soul, you bear witness that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of the living God, and thoughts will flood into your mind and words to your mouth.' "
I thought of you when I read this. I thought about your description of your first door approach and it still makes me smile. I can totally see you doing what you described and I know you sometimes have trouble saying things and expressing your thoughts to others, especially to strangers about the gospel and I thought this advise from Bro. Cowley's father is good advise for you. When your mind goes blank and you can't think of what to say, just bear your testimony about the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Lord will fill your mouth with things to say.
I hope you have had a good week. I love you and hope you are well.
Love, Dad.

Restoration of the Gospel Lesson

Sister and Elder DeCoursey,
Do you remember Pres. Pedersen's experience with the minister that they had come to a zone conference and how Pres. Pedersen was able to help the minister feel the holy ghost and accept the witness of the holy ghost to him to be baptized.

Stories from my Life Book by Herschel N Pedersen -Dale's Mission President from New Zealand

The story goes like this,

"Oscar conducted the meeting. We had a song and a prayer, and then the man was introduced to the group. He turned out to be a retired Methodist Minister.
"I looked at the missionaries. I looked down at my wife, my daughters, and my inlaws. And my heart fell. I prayed, 'Lord, I have really put you on the spot. I'd like to apologize right now. But there are 240 young men out there. Here's a retired Methodist Minister. (He was still being introduced.) I have promised that the Holy Ghost would witness to him that the Church is true. I had no right to do that, but I've done it. For the sake of these 240 missionaries, and for the sake of this man's soul, you're going to have to forgive me and help me today. I don't deserve help, but this couple does. Please overlook my mess up and take care of me one more time.'
The man was now standing on my right. 'Brother McMurrow, you are a retired minister.'
'would you say something to these young men?'
He spoke for about two minutes while I stood by him, something about his ministry and what he'd done.
My old heart was heavy. Again I prayed, 'Lord, I've got to have some help here.'
On my mission in Denmark, we didn't have any set lesson, but I had prepared one special lesson. I'd read the first fifty pages of so of the Orson Pratt's works, where he wrote about Joseph Smith in a way that I'd never heard before. (insert by Tracy- to see the whole lesson go to the entry in this blog dated Jan. 3rd 2013 'Orson Pratt's works') 
'Brother McMorrow, you have read the story of Joseph Smith. It sounds like a fairy tale, doesn't it? It's a remarkable story."
"That's right. I don't believe it.'
"But the Holy Ghost is going to witness to you that it is true. I would like you to start reading the Joseph Smith story. As you read, if you don't mind I'll interrupt you here and there along the way, not to be rude, but to emphasize something from the scriptures"
"Okay, we’ll do that” he said.
So he started to read the Joseph Smith story. When he came to the place where Christ and God the Father appeared to Joseph, I interrupted: “Now, Brother McMurrow, did you know that the apostle Peter prophesied that that would happen?”
“Would you like to read that prophecy?”
“I’d be interested in that.”
So we turned to Acts 3:19-21, where it says that the heavens must receive Christ until the restitution of all things. I read him those verses, then said, “Christ is now dead, when Peter say this, and the heavens will received him until the time of restitution of all things-so that has to be a time other than his crucifixion.”
He agreed.
I continued: “If Peter said Christ was going to come, He’ll be in heaven until there’s a time of restitution. Christ will be coming back to earth, and something will be restored.”
“That’s right,” he said.
“Do you know of any other church, other than what Joseph Smith founded, which teaches that Christ came and restored anything?”
Than the minister talked a little about John the Baptist, from Matthew 17:1-12. John as Elias would come and restore all things. Again, I asked if he knew of any church that claimed John the Baptist would come as prophesied by Christ. He said he didn’t.
I’d been teaching this doctrine to nonmembers for forty years.
Eventually, we began talking about the Book of Mormon. I quoted to the minister from Ezekiel 37, and then about the Belfour Act, which established the land of Israel.
Finally, I said, “Brother McMurrow, there’s no sense in going any further. The Hold Ghost is witnessing to me now that it has already witnessed to you that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true.”
“That’s the case,” He confirmed. “I would like to be baptized into this church.”
Oscar had timed the dialog- 16.5 minutes.
“Thank you, Brother McMurrow, would you now please go over and sit down?” By now, his wife was crying-not with sorrow, but about how the Spirit had got hold of her and wrenched her heart. I was now crying myself.
I addressed the elders and sisters: “This is the way conversion happens” I turned to D&C 100 and read them 5-8, where elders are counseled, “For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.” (D&C 5:16 also)
“You simply bear your testimony” and that’s what I did.
“Brother McMurrow, I bear you my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ that the spirit has witnessed to you the truth of the restored gospel.”
I turned again to the missionaries: “This is the pattern the Lord has set in the scriptures, and this pattern also applies to home teaching. Pres. Harold B Lee once said “Home teaching means watching over the Church as the scriptures have defined it. Home teaching is nothing more than missionary work to those who are not members and to those who are members of the Church.”
About half an hour had now passed, so I announced “This meeting is adjourned.” Pres. McConkie asked, “What are we going to do now?”
“That’s up to you. You’re the mission President.”
He called some missionaries to come forward and speak, because he didn’t want them leaving early. That would have been anticlimactic-after their seeing this minister being taught and converted the way he had been.
By the way, Brother McMorrow was baptized that next Friday.
Since then, whenever I meet missionaries from that time, that’s all they remember from me; they don’t remember anything else I ever said or did, even though I’d been in that mission on and off for three years.
I don’t think what I did was courageous; it was just audacious. I’d been hoping the missionaries would bring in someone from off the street who had never gone to a church. That’s the kind of people I usually had ended up talking to. Yes, I was bold, but I just do whatever comes to my mind.
Sister and Elder DeCoursey this is an example of Simple Faith, Simply relying on He who can never fail you. I pray as often as I can to be able to hear what He would have me do and say, and the courage to do it. Pray for courage. Than just start trying. You will fail, but you will succeed also.
I love you.