Monday, March 24, 2014

Lose Your Life

Hello hello!

It's been a busy week. Not too much really happened, but it was busy nonetheless.
We were able to see most of our investigators this week, but none of them came to church.
One investigator, Teresia/Whoopie, who had been sober for many months now had a relapse just before our appointment with her. It was so sad to see her like that, especially after she had been doing so well. The next day, however, we were able to have probably the best lesson I've had with her. We talked about the atonement. We discussed her problems and she really opened up to us about her concerns. I know she was feeling the Spirit strongly and she was excited to attend church, I just don't know why she didn't show up this week.
We are co-teaching a family with the sisters here. Bob, Parker and Cami Lewis are their names; they are awesome! They came to church and we are meeting with them twice a week now. I don't know if I've ever seen anyone desire to understand something as much as Bob wants to understand the gospel. His only struggle is smoking, but I know he will be able to overcome that. They really are so awesome.
We've been finding a lot of new people to teach lately. The problem is we can never meet with them a second time so they never become actual investigators. We are not giving up though. I know we're going to have a breakthrough soon.
The past 8 months have been the most fulfilling of my life. Sometimes I can't believe just how happy I remain in facing disappointment. But this work is a joyful work.
I am so thrilled to here about the Smiths neighbor!!!!!! That is so cool!!! See! There is missionary work to be done in Utah! That is so exciting!! I can't really remember the last convert baptism in our ward. I don't think there has been one since I've been there. I can only imagine the excitement everybody is feeling. Keep it up! There is still so much to be done. Being able to participate in this work is a blessing enough, but more blessings are promised to those that do participate. And remember, those that lose their life in this work shall find it again, while those who keep their lives shall lose it. I know that's true. I challenge everybody to have the faith to lose your life in helping other come closer to Christ, and I promise blessings if you do.

I do hope each of you know how much I love you. You are all so dear to me.
Have an enjoyable week.
Love, Elder Curtis

Some Pictures...

The closest things to mountains they have out here: The Ozarks.
We found a slide. I had fun on the slide.
Elder Davis was so tired... After our planning session he fell asleep on the couch with his name tag on his head. Precious!

Monday, March 17, 2014

HOPE- Having Only Positive Expectations

Oh how I wish I could have seen Brandons' reaction to my spider experience! Sorry for scarring anyone... It was quite the night-mare but still a testimony building experience for me as I was able to handle everything I was faced with through divine assistance. In life we will face scary things that make us feel uncomfortable and aren't pleasant. Challenges are hard and difficulties are not easy to go through. We are going to be tempted to quit, knowing it will be so much easier to turn around go back. But relying on the Lord for all our strength and trusting Him; willingly trading our will for His, gives us the strength to endure it well. The Lord never promised it would be easy, but He does promise it will be worth it. I know that's true now more than ever before.

It's been a slow week but a good one just the same. My new companion, Elder Davis and I get along very well. It's easy to keep each other laughing which is such a blessing to me right now. I will miss Elder Julian; I may have struggled with him, but he has one of the purest hearts I've ever seen. He was such a great example to me in many ways and has definitely helped me learn more about the Savior.

We're still struggling to find people to teach. However, restaurants seem to be the place to find them around here. Remember how we found Theresa at Pizza Hut due to an instant craving of pizza rather than hamburgers? Well a couple days ago our hamburger crave decided it still needed to be justified, so we went out to lunch at a place called Steak and Shake. We were there, eating our food when a worker there, who must have noticed our "strange" apparel and the nametags came up to us and asked us what we do? We were happy to tell him what we are and what our purpose is. This led to us asking him if he would be willing to meet with us and talk about the gospel of Jesus Christ with him. He was pleased to accept our invitation and gave us his contact information. His name is Jessie; we will hopefully be meeting with him tomorrow!
Goes to show again that the Spirit can guide you in many ways. Always listen to your stomach. :)

Being a district leader definitely keeps me busy. I'm not just thinking or worrying about me, my companion and my own area anymore. I have the responsibility of thinking and worrying about every other companionship and area in my district as well as helping them resolve problems/concerns, giving them approval to do various things, getting information form them non-stop... it's a lot. But there are blessing that come form it as well. The Lord definitely qualifies when He calls. I have felt the influence and instruction of the Spirit so powerfully on behalf of the missionaries I am over. It is so cool! I also get to give trainings in our weekly district meetings. Last week was my first district meeting I was in charge of. I gave a training on hope; one of my favorite Christ-like attributes. Near the beginning of my mission I realized that I didn't quite understand exactly what hope was, so I studied it. I studied a lot; I studied it off and on as well as regularly for a few months. Finally I have learned what hope is to me, as last transfer was the hardest transfer I've had on my mission so far. Hope is what kept me going. I couldn't have made it without hope. Hope to me is trusting that God will fulfill His promises to me. Hope it what allows me to endure to the end. Hope is expecting something to happen when we do what is right and hope is believing that all things will work out for our good. While hope and faith may sound similar, they are not quite the same, but to possess either faith or hope sufficiently, you must possess the other just as much. Faith is our actions on a belief, hope is what drives it. Hope is the fuel for faith, just has gasoline is the fuel for and engine. An engine makes a car move forward, but only when it has fuel to ignite it. Such is the case with hope and faith. Hope is manifest through optimism, encouragement, enthusiasm and patient perseverance. We can find the ultimate "gas pump" of fuel in Jesus Christ and His atonement as well as knowing that God is our loving Father and we are His sons and daughters; all things He does are for our good. That source for hope is infinite and unfailing. Throughout my mission, when faced with doubt or discouragement I have always remembered hope, and I say to myself: have only positive expectations. Look at that again:
That has made the difference for me when faced with the temptation to doubt or to become discouraged. There is true power in that. It has made me realize that no effort I make as a servant of the Lord is wasted. Every act for good has a merit. I know it. Focusing on Christ is the only way to remain strong in the faith; remembering your belief in Him. In Ether 12:4 it gives us a process to obtaining blessings and miracles: believing leads to hope, hope leads to faith, which then leads to an increase of hope, which leads to an increase of faith and so on until you recognize the blessing and the miracles around you because of your faith in God and you are led to glorify Him. I have seen this process take place so much in my life and as I look back on life I realize this has taken place in me a lot. Always be believing in God, have a perfect brightness of hope, exercise your faith; the miracles will happen; they do.

I am so grateful for the gospel in my life. I would not be the same with out it. How blessed we are to know the truth about God and to know His plan for us. I am so grateful for Jesus Christ. I learn more about Him every day, and every day I love Him for. "Oh how I love my Savior because He first loved me!" I know and testify that Christ does love us. All He ever did was because He loves us. His love is unending and pure. He is my salvation. I love Him with all my soul. I am so blessed to have this short opportunity to represent Him in this land. I know that only by Him and through Him we can and will obtain eternal life. That is amazing to me. Oh how I love Jesus Christ!

I hope all of you have a wonderful week. I hope you know how much I love you. :)

-Elder Curtis


Hey everybody!!
So transfers are this week. Fear not if you have sent me mail for I am not going anywhere. I'm staying here and Elder Julian is going to Cape Girardeau which is only like two or three areas north of here (but still a rather considerable distance due to the fact that the areas down here are huge). Oh, they also made me the new district leader. Not entirely sure why. The Lord continues to have greater faith in me than I do. That might be something for me to work on. I trust the Lord knows what He is doing though.
I don't have any news for you about investigators. None of ours are progressing. I am really, really hoping to find new ones this week; some who are really prepared, as long as that's what the Lord wants. I've learned a lot about following the Lords will instead of my own in this area.
Last week we were able to do a ton of service for people for instance: A member of our ward was in dire need of insulation in his house and he asked us to do it for him, as he has a bad back and couldn't do it himself. Of course we were willing to help our fellow brother! So we arrived at his house with another member of our ward and awaited our instructions. I had never insulated before, so I only had a vague idea of what we were going to be doing; I thought we would be inside the house, putting it up in the walls. I was sorely mistaken. He needed the insulation underneath his house, however, he does not have a basement. There is one floor in his house which is held up by cemented cinder blocks all the way around the border of his house. He led us to a small hole on the back side of the house that led underneath the floor. The member who came with us and I were to crawl under there and put up the insulation while my companion (by his insistence) was to wait for us to finish a section and supply us with more insulation when needed. So under I went.
There was maybe a foot and a half of space to crawl through, two feet tops in some places. It was dark and cold and the ground was damp and quite muddy in some spots. Sounds pleasant, right? Soon they handed me a light to see. There were bugs everywhere. All kinds of them. There were giant crickets things too which I have never seen before. They looked like something you might find in a magazine about exotic bugs from far away places like S. America or Indonesia. That was just what the ground was like. Looking up I saw spider webs extending from the ground to the bottom of the floor above. They were everywhere as well. It was the sticky kind too, we're talking Frodo in the spider cave type of webs, okay? Hanging in them were corpses of dead bugs and dead spiders. Live spiders were seen wherever you looked. There had to be thousands of them; sized ranging from tiny to the size of my fist. There were also a lot of soft looking white balls about the size of a nickel all over the place. I soon found out that they were spider egg sacks and to pop one would release a thousand tiny spiders all over you.
I spent four and a half hours under there, lying on my the ground, putting insulation up above me. And yet, despite the claustrophobia, and the strong dislike of spiders, I was able to stay completely calm and relaxed the whole time. I was able to focus on the task and wasn't bothered by what was crawling around me. I know there was divine help. Had I been on my own I would have most likely started freaking out eventually, at least from the tight space alone. Oh how I love the blessing from our ever loving and ever aware Heavenly Father!

A cry of warning to all of you: My younger brother Andrew is now learning how to drive. Use extreme caution. Do not go out unless it is an absolute emergency. He is wild and extremely dangerous!
-In case of emergency dial 911.

Just kidding Andrew. ;) Congrats on getting your permit. Be carful out there. Try avoiding American Fork and Kneaders. Good luck, bro! (And happy birthday tomorrow! I sent you a letter which should arrive soon).

I hope everyone is doing well. I love you all so much! Thank you for all of your prayers and your love. I miss you all. Take luck, everybody!

-Elder Curtis :)