Monday, September 30, 2013

O to Grace How Great a Debtor, Daily I'm Constrained to be.

Hello wonderful people!

I hope everyone is doing well. Things continue to move along here. We have done a lot of tracting this week. A lot. We met a couple people who showed interest and said that we can come back and teach them, so we will be seeing them later this week and I really hope it goes well with them. 
We were looking through a list of former investigators to see if we could find one who may still have interest in learning about the gospel. We found a John Drochelman who had been dropped by the missionaries a few months ago but it didn't have a reason why he was dropped so we decided we would go see him to find out more. When we got to his house we were welcomed in with open arms. He was very pleased to see us. He explained how he has been turning his life around lately and therefore was very willing to sit down and listen to missionaries again. He has a great desire to become a member of the church. He loves everything about Mormons. His only problem is his wife. She just has sketchy feelings about Mormons I think and so she's not very willing to sit down and listen to us. She is also quite timid. We really hope we will be able to help John out regardless. The first time he met with missionaries was probably just not the time for commitment, but hopefully now is. As we left he gave us big hugs and said, "I really think God sent you guys here today for a reason." The Lords hand is so evident in this work! 
All of our other investigators seem to have hit a wall and aren't progressing anymore. Hopefully we will be able to help them get over those walls and help them see the importance of the gospel and how it is vital to them. 
Last night I had a little time to myself. Elder Vincent was figuring out the weeks numbers (he is district leader), so I decided that instead of just waiting there for him to be done I would go in the other room and listen to some MoTab. It was the first time in so longs that I have been able just sit and listen to that beautiful music. I was singing along and feeling the spirit SO STRONG!! There really is power behind music. I find that singing hymns is one of the most satisfying ways to bare testimony. Tears flowed down my face from how strong the spirit was. My companion said he also enjoyed listening to me sing valiantly. 
I love the song 'Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing". As I sang the words " O to grace how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be." It made me think of the atonement. How Christ in His mercy, love, and grace suffered and died for all of us and how it is because of Him only that we will live with our Father in Heaven again. We owe Christ everything! We are continuously indebted to Him and can never repay Him for the great gift that He gives to us. But we can show Him our gratitude by the way we live our lives. If we continuously try to do better and be like Him and to give up our will and follow His instead, we show Him that we love Him. He asks so little when you think of how much He offers in return. We tend to think He asks a lot sometimes, but if we think of just how much we will be given in eternity by following His commandments in this life, every second of every day and everything we have becomes worth it. 
I hope we will all focus on becoming more like the Savior this week and recognize the blessings that He gives us. 

That's my thought for this Monday. 

Happy birthday to my wonderful grandma R!! I hope you have a fantastic day and know how much I love you. :)

Family, I got your package. The office elders held on to it forever, but I finally got it. Thank you so much! I loved it! I love you guys. 

For now just use this address to send letters and packages:

7009 Weil Ave Apt. 302
St Louis, MO 63119

I love you all!

Love, Elder Curtis :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

I Am a Child of God

Hello dear people!

What a week. I wont go into details but we had a very interesting experience concerning us, a few Bosnian members, the bishop and an ex-mafia leader... I don't know what else I can tell you other than that. We are alright and we resolved the issue but I regret to inform you that because of this issue Sabrina (the 11 yr old girl we baptized), and her family had to move away to Chicago. It was so sudden and unexpected so it was hard to take in. It was especially hard on her sister, Zilha who was baptized with her. She is having the "hardest week of her life." Apart from her family moving away her daughter is sick in the hospital, her car broke down, she can't find a job, and the electric company is telling her that they are going to take her electricity away from her if she can't pay her bills. As you can imagine she has been extremely stressed in many ways this week and any prayers you can give for her are very appreciated and needed. 
Besides all of that it has easily been the slowest week of my mission so far. I knew it would happen eventually, but all of our appointments with people have canceled minutes before we arrive. The only people who we were able to go see were the Albanian people who came to church last week. But I can see how this is a blessing to me. Because none of our investigators or recent converts could see us this week we were able to tract for the second time of my mission. That's right. Only the second time. That's how busy we have been. The first time was just because I was on exchanges and I wanted to see what it was like. This was the first time I was able to do it with Elder Vincent. Man, there sure are some strange people in this world. We knocked on this door when a large man walked out the door and as soon as he realized who we were he said "You know, you need to take your cult down the street and figure out what's wrong with you." I honestly had to stop myself from laughing! The very thought that we are a cult and that we are so "wrong" is so silly to me. Elder Vincent wasn't as amused. I saw a little fire in his eyes as he replied "Oh yeah?" I wasn't sure what was going to be said next but I quickly thanked this man for his opinion and wished him a great day. Later Elder Vincent and I were both able to laugh about it. The very next door after his we were able to land a Book of Mormon! Tracting is fun!
So as I was writing this very email a young woman with Down-syndrome sat next to me to whom I said hello and smiled to and she shook my hand and said her name was Gracy. She asked me where I was from. I told her I am from Utah. She then explained how she didn't understand why she sees people like us, dressed in white shirts and ties and walking around everywhere. I explained that we are missionaries for our church and we go around and talk to people about Jesus Christ. She lit up (even more than she already was) and said "talk to me!" and she then sat straight toward me, ready to listen. This was awesome! I talked about the Book of Mormon and handed her one and told her it testifies of Jesus Christ as our Savior. I then explained how and why we have a Savior. I then told her about how God is our loving Heavenly Father and he loves us and wants to bless us more than anything. She was taking everything in SO well and saying things like "Wow" and "that is so good" but then she had a question about why God gave her down-syndrome. I started by telling her that Heavenly Father has a perfect body of flesh and bone and how when we lived with Him we wanted to have a body of our own, so God sent us to live on earth where we could receive our bodies but that this is also a time to learn and get experiences but one day after we die we will get our bodies back and they will be perfect and flawless and how it is certain to happen because of the atonement of Christ when He rose from the grave, making it possible for us to do the same and that is when we will have perfect bodies. After all of that she was so excited! She kept saying over and over, "He loves me! He loves me! He is my Father! I will have a perfect body!" Smiling so big, I said. "Gracy, I know that one day you will live with Heavenly Father again. You are going to. And you will be happy forever." She gave the biggest, cutest smile and said the most sincere thank you ever! She then said, "Can I hug you for this?" ...She was just so happy and thankful for that knowledge. I am so grateful to God for sending Gracy to me today. Her spirit is so strong and my experience with her was so touching! I will never forget it! I don't know if I will see her again here, but I can't wait to see her in her kingdom of glory where she will have that perfect, glorified body that she longs for today and that eternal happiness. I sit here amazed at the feeling I had while talking to her. I am grateful for the atonement. It is the greatest thing ever!! I know it, and now so does Gracy! I love this gospel!!!!! I love being a missionary!!! I love being a child of God!!! I love the Savior with all my heart and I love each of you so dearly! Thank you for you letters, thoughts and prayers. Keep God close and always remember how much He love you.

love, Elder Aaron Curtis

P.S. To any of you who have sent packages, if you used FedEx or UPS to send them then I have not received them. The office cannot forward packages from those companies. I guess I will just give you my apartment address... which I just realized I do not know and do not have it written down. I guess I will give the info to you next week.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Great week in Carondelet!

Hey everybody!!!!!
So it sounds like Utah has been pretty stormy... that disappoints me because I love storms and I'm missing all of them. Usually Missouri is really stormy around this time of year but we haven't been getting anything. Maybe Utah is just really sad and upset to see me go and Missouri is happy to have me...?
Quick shout out to my darling sister and niece: Happy birthday Alicia and McKenna!!! I love you so much and I hope you both had a fantastic day!!!
Another shout out to Alex: Happy birthday buddy!!! This is a big year for you. I know that receiving the priesthood will bless you for the rest of your life. Live worthy to hold it and respect it. I wish I could be there to see you get it. It is so weird to imagine you passing the sacrament. You are still ten years old in my mind. Anyway, happy birthday and congratulations!!! I love you!

So we had a couple of really great experiences this week. On Sunday we had a lesson with a potential investigator who we have been trying to teach for weeks. It was just so good to finally sit down with him and talk. We taught him the restoration of the gospel. He was so attentive and we could just tell he was feeling the spirit very strong and that it was testifying to him that what we were teaching is true. We invited him to be baptized and he immediately said "Yes!" There was no hesitation. He said it so quickly and surely. We could tell he wanted it. We are hoping to have him ready by the end of the month!
Yesterday we had a cool experience. We were in a Walgreen's trying to find some sort of adapter for Elder Vincent's G.P.S. On our way out we were kindly stopped by a police officer. He wanted to buy us some water because he likes the fact that we are good people so he wanted to help us out in some way. I just wish he would have let us teach him a gospel principal as well, but we were very grateful for his kindness. As we walked out of the store and across the parking lot we heard someone shouting at us: "Hey! Hey you! Wait!" We looked across the street and saw a security guard motioning us to come over to him. We crossed the street to meet him. He explained that he was a security guard at the bank a couple buildings down the road and how he saw us walk out of Walgreen's. When he saw us he dropped what he was doing and ran out the door after us. He then explained how he avidly reads the Bible and how a few nights ago he finished it from cover to cover but when he finished it he had the most profound feeling that he needed to read The Book of Mormon. He didn't know why or even how to get one; he just knew he had to read it. So when he saw us he knew we would be able to tell him how to get one. That's when he asked us, "So, how do I get a Book of Mormon?" Elder Vincent and I looked at each other in amazement and I reached for my bag and said, "I can give you one right now!" I pulled out a Book of Mormon and handed it to him along with a pass-along card with our number on it. He looked so excited and pleased to finally have his hands on it. Elder Vincent very briefly explained a little about it before he(Doug) said he really needed to go back to work.
That experience was so neat to me. I know that God is preparing the minds and the hearts of people all around us and that experience gave me the excitement and urge to go find more. We had a mission conference on Monday where Elder Godoy of the Seventy gave us a lot of great counsel. One of the things he said to us that came back to my mind after our experience with Doug was "Leaders, bishops, Stake Presidents, sealers, temple workers and general authorities are all around us. The only problem is they aren't members yet." I am so happy to be on my mission, to find those people who are ready and willing to hear the gospel. I love teaching the truth. I have seen the effect that the gospel has on people who have lived their whole lives without it. The gospel truly blesses our lives and the lives of our families. It brings lasting peace and joy. I am so grateful for the gospel in my life and even more grateful for the chance I have to share it. I know it is true and I love it with all my heart! Christ is the head of this church and when we make the gospel our first priority our lives will be blessed and everything will go much better!
I love you all! Thank you for your love and support! Have a great week! :)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

First Baptisms!

Hello my beloved family and friends!

I sure have been blessed this week with more amazing experiences. I got my first baptism of the mission!!! We baptized two investigators, Zilha and Sabrina Suljic. It was truly an amazing experience!! I baptized Zilha first and then Elder Vincent baptized Sabrina. There is nothing quite like the feeling you get when you teach someone the gospel and then baptize them and see them receive the Holy Ghost. I wish I could describe it for you, but I can't. Just know it is fantastic and I am so happy because of it. 

I have learned a lot about hope over the past couple of weeks. I have gained new new insight of it. Hope is a firm trust in God that He will fulfill His promises to us and trusting that He will bless us for our faith. Hope, or H.O.P.E. is Having Only Positive Expectations. Hope and faith go hand-in-hand. Our faith feeds our hope while our hope gives our faith a purpose of foundation. There is a lot more about is hope that we can learn. Just remember that we need to have a perfect brightness of hope and have faith in doing what is right and what The Lord wants us to do. I know God blesses us when we have hope in Him. 

I don't have time to say much more. I am doing very well out here and I am learning so much. As I have put my whole heart into serving The Lord I have come closer to Him and I know that in your everyday lives there are opportunities all around you to serve those around you. By serving them, you serve The Lord. By serving Him we come closer to him and that is our purpose in this life. 

I love you all. I know God loves you and wants to bless you. Keep Him close.

-Elder Curtis