Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21, 2014

Hello there!

I hope everyone is doing well and had a fantastic week.
I am doing really great here in Waterloo! My brand new, greenie companion's name is Elder Johnson. He is from Logan, Utah, or more specifically Nibley Utah. So far, I love him! He's great and very easy to work with. He has a deep desire to do good and to do his job as a missionary right, but especially a desire to help others. The greenie fire is burning all over him. I love it!
We had three appointments scheduled for the day after he arrived and one for the day of, but they all cancelled, so he learned very quickly how things work around here. However, we were able to get him one lesson this week with our awesome investigator, Alyssa. Earlier in the week Elder Bowen and I met with her and ended up setting a date for her baptism! Thursday was our follow-up appointment and we had decided to reteach her the restoration. It all went great and she has been keeping the commitments we left her such as reading the Book of Mormon and praying. She is starting to recognize and understand the feelings of the Spirit. We have hight hopes and good feelings about Alyssa.
Our appointment we made with Pat, who we met on Monday of last week, ended up being one of the three appointments that cancelled. But, through coordinating with his initial fellowshipper we were able to reschedule an appointment with Pat for this coming Thursday. And guess what? Pat asked if he could bring three other friends of his to the lesson as well! We are overjoyed! I can't wait to get in there and teach these guys.
One other thing going on this week: tomorrow we have the opportunity to go to a Cardinals game! Every year the Cardinals baseball team has a "Mormon Night". This year I guess they asked for a missionary presence at the game, so all of the missionaries in the four zones surrounding St Louis will be at the game. I'm pretty excited about it. I've never been to a baseball game, especially a professional one, but being out here where baseball is HUGE, I have definitely caught the Cardinal Fever.
Another cool thing that happened this week: There was an investigator here named Tiffany that has been meeting with the missionaries for alomost four years. When I got here it was primarily the Sister missionaries working with her, but I had the privilage of working with her quite a bit. Over the weekend she was finally baptized and confirmed! It was so awesome to witness her make that first step toward home and to see the tremendous support from the branch that has grown to love her so much over the years. It was truly a glorious and joyous occasion. Angels sang praises the entire time.
Things are continuing to look up here and slowly but surly we are progressing with this area. I absolutely love this church and this gospel. I absolutely love Jesus Christ and I love my Father in Heaven. This is His work!

-Elder Curtis


This Is Brother Bergman. He took us fishing one morning. He is so funny just becuase he is so old and always has a disgruntled look on his face. What a stud!


Me and Elder Bowen. Check out my shnazy tie!
A proud father of two: Elder Ivey, Elder Curtis, Elder Johnson. And once again, observe the beauty of the tie.
I've gotta spend two whole transfers with this guy?​

​Jesus Christ wants YOU!

July 14, 2014

Hey guys!

It's been a rather long week over here in SO IL. (That's Southern Illinois). I went on exchanges this week with some Elders in my District to a small town called Mascoutah. Exchanges are always a good experience. It allows me to get one on one with the elders in my district to help them in any way that I can in their work and also their personal concerns. So I love that.

I can't believe it, but it's already been six weeks since I got to Waterloo, so that means transfer calls. Saturday night we got the news: Elder Bowen is going to be leaving me and I am staying here in Waterloo where I will be training a new missionary for the second time. Ahhh! There is nothing more nerve-racking to me than training. You never know who you're gonna get and there is so much on the line. So I've been kind of restless the last couple of nights awaiting Wednesday morning, but I'm excited to train again. It's fun and it's good to go over the basic principles of missionary work again. I'm obviously going to learn and grow a lot, so I'm looking forward to it.

This morning we met with a young member of the branch who is preparing to serve a mission in Mexico. He wanted to introduce his friend Patrick to the missionaries! Awesome right? We discussed our basic believes and introduced The Book of Mormon to him. On Thursday morning we will meet up again to teach him the restoration! It's going to be great, I just know it. He is a super solid guy and has a genuine desire to do good.

We were unable to to see many of our investigators this week but should be able to next week for sure. I pray an hope that they will continue to progress and come to understand the things we are teaching them. It is the greatest feeling ever to see someone receive their witness of the truth of this gospel and give up all of their desires to follow Christ. To be a witness of that so often is just the best thing I could ever ask for. Life is so wonderful. :)

-Elder Curtis

July 7, 2014

Hello everybody!!

I don't quite know that I have many highlights from the week, other than setting a baptismal date with one of our investigators, Julia... So I guess that's pretty cool. The date is set for Sept. 11, but we'll be working to get that moved up sooner, which I'm sure will happen as she continues to learn, grow and understand the gospel. She is awesome; she's been reading the Book of Mormon and is actually retaining it very well. She is in 1 Nephi chapter 11 and can easily tell us everything that's been going on so far. The key right now is for her to pray about it. So if you could keep her in your prayers, that would be fantastic.

Also, if you could keep another investigator of ours in your prayers: Marry. She is going through some very hard trials right now. She desperately needs the help that the gospel brings, and she knows it, but let's just say her kids make it very hard for her. Please, please pray for Marry!

Transfer calls come this Saturday, so I will let you know if I am getting transferred again next week. I'm pretty sure I'm going to stay in Waterloo and my companion will be leaving, but we'll see. I can't believe how fast this transfer has gone though. This might have been the fastest transfer of my whole mission. I sure hope the rest of them don't go by this fast.

The 4th was awesome! We were able to spend the evening with some members in the branch: We enjoyed fishing, lawn games, delicious food, homemade ice-cream and very exciting fireworks... I discovered an unknown love I have for croquet.

That's all I've got for you today. I am doing great, the work is moving forward and I absolutely love every bit of it!

I hope you all have a fabulous week!

Love, Elder Curtis

June 30, 2014

It has been a fantastic week.

So much has happened, I don't think I'd ever get everything out into email, but there are a few things I know I want to share with you today.

We picked up four investigators this week! Woohoo! We still have loads of potential investigators to go see as well, so the work is really taking off right now.
I had the opportunity to go on exchanges with a set of missionaries in my district last week. One of them, Elder Buhler, is from American Fork, so he and I had lots to talk about. He said he knows Jenna DeHoyes and has been to their house a few times. He also told me that The Purple Turtle burnt down... Is that true?
The next day I was with an Elder Campbell, working in his area which is Belleville IL. It was a long, hot day full of lot's of walking and riding those fun city buses. At the end of the day, after trying to contact some of their potential investigators but not finding much success, we made our way back to the metro station to catch the next train to the bus station. Walking up the ramps to the boarding area, we passed a man sitting on a bench. I gave him a smile and a friendly 'hello' and kept walking up the ramp. Immediately I got this impression that that man needed us to talk to him. But for some half-witted reason I kept walking until we came to the other end of the boarding area and sat down next to another young man and talked to him a little bit as we awaited the arrival of the train.
When it arrived I got on the vacant train and took the nearest seat to me. A few moments later the same man I said hello to on the ramp walked past and sat down about half a dozen rows in front of us. I thought it was odd that he sat there. He must have walked the entire, nearly empty train to sit there. Once again I got that impression that he needed us to talk to him. Still I sat there. But I couldn't get him out of my mind. I looked at him and I was overcome with feelings of concern for him and thought there was no visible evidence I just knew he was having a very rough day. Still I sat there. If the Spirit wasn't a still, small voice, it would have been screaming at me because it was telling me very clearly and powerfully that this man needed comfort. Simply stupid rationalizations kept coming to my head such as 'Oh, I wont have enough time to get anywhere with him because we're getting off on the first stop and we're halfway there anyway.' Well this is when I felt the quiet, gentle screams of the Spirit as it chastised me for already wasting so much time. Then I swear it nudged me halfway off my seat. I finally, finally came to my senses, brought myself to my feet, and walked over to him. As I sat down in the seat across from him I said, "Hey! Been a hard day, huh?"
Surprised, he looked at me and opened his mouth to say something that would have been a optimistic response, but resisting the urge to lie, he very very quietly said, "Yes."
With 100% guidance from the Spirit I explained how I had been impressed to come over there and tell him "Jesus Christ loves you very much and He is here for you. God loves you." I can't remember everything that came out of my mouth, but I remember bearing testimony of Christ talking about the scripture in Matthew 11:28-30 and encouraging him to come unto Christ. As this happened I literally saw the light come back into his wet eyes. I saw that hope that he had lost return to him.
As the train slowed for the stop, he asked what stop I was getting off. I told him "Right here". He shook my hand and thanked me. I left him with a card in his hand and hope in his soul.
This is what this gospel brings: Access to the healing, cleansing, enabling power of the atonement of Christ, which gives us reason and ability to believe, hope, and endure all things. This is the work of Salvation: To share that with all of Gods children, that they too may have full access to the atonement and enjoy the presence of the God's Holy Spirit. It is the duty of all them who have been warned to warn his neighbor.
Leaving the train, I felt the familiar peace of testifying of Christ and helping another. However, I was also brought to humble correction of my ignorance and procrastination. Oh how I wish I had obeyed that first prompting given to me by the Spirit. How much more could I have helped that man? I have no idea what he was going through that day, but it was quite evident that God did and was desperate to give him the help he desperately needed. God works through us to help those in need of help. It is up to us if we answer the call to help or not. After that experience and thinking of what might have happened had I continued to ignore the prompting, I don't ever want to miss another opportunity. I still haven't quite gathered all of my thoughts on this. There is so much I have to learn about God and following and recognizing His Spirit from this one experience alone. I want to be more in tune and especially more willing to follow. That is my goal.
I know God is real. I know Jesus Christ is God's Son, who came to this earth to put on Himself all of our pains, trials, weaknesses and afflictions so that we could overcome all things and become like God. I know He did overcome all things, therefore we can too. I know that as we continue in faith, believing and trusting in His word, He will work mighty miracles in our lives. And as we trust Him completely and give ourselves to Him, He will improve our nature, helping us become more like Him. I know Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. He is here to help us. This is His church and His gospel and all things in it will help us find happiness. All things are possible to us because He lives! I know He lives.
I hope all of you will see the Lords hand in your life each day this week, and give thanks to Him for all He has done for you. I want to thank each of you for the influence you have had on me by following the Spirit on my behalf. I pray for your continual love and patience for me as I keep working on being more Christlike to you.
I love you all so much!
-Elder Curtis

June 23, 2014

Hey everybody!

Things are still going alright here in Waterloo. Things are still slow... for now. We had something really cool happen on Monday: We had gone fishing that day (like I've done every P-day since I've been with Elder Bowen). But afterward we were talking about it and how fishing relates to the gospel which turned out to be a very good analogy that we tied in with scripture in Alma and used it for our spiritual thought at dinner that night which we were having a members house. After the dinner we gathered together in the other room where we were invited to share a message with them. We gave our analogy about fishing and gave the scripture. Sometimes you can share a good message with a family and it goes well and the Spirit is present. Other times you can share a message with a family and the Spirit is just consuming, overwhelming and thick. This time the Spirit was there and it was indeed overwhelming. At the conclusion of the message we asked if the family could think of anyone struggling with a death in the family, a troubled teen, a new move-in or has had a baby recently and if they would be willing to introduce us to them. Well, one member of the family in particular was indeed inspired at that time and all sorts of people came to his mind that he hadn't considered seriously before. It was so awesome! At the end of the day we had eleven referrals to go see. The next day we received two more! This member wanted to talk to all of the people beforehand to ask if it would be alright if he brought the missionaries to them to share a message and all of them except one I think have accepted that invitation. So this week we are going to get together with this member and go meet his friends and invite them to learn more about our Saviors gospel and come closer to Him. Among other things that happened last week, our area is just stacked with so much potential. It's so great!!
I love being out here to witness for Christ and to see His hand so clearly in the lives of everyone around me.
I love you all so much. I hope you have a fantastic week, as I am sure I will. ;)

Love, Elder Curtis

June 16, 2014

I can't believe how fast this week has gone by. It has been a slow yet enjoyable one. Elder Bowen is a guy who loves to have fun and make people laugh, so he's keeping me entertained most of the time. The stake I am in had mini missions this week, which is when they send their youth who are sixteen and up to spend the week with the missionaries and experience first hand what missionary work and life is all about. How cool is that! I wish I had that opportunity.

We were given an 18 year old named Devon Bledsoe, who is actually the grandson of Bishop Bledsoe who lives down in Poplar Bluff, so it was fun to have a common cohort with him. He got to bring his own car which was great because it saved us lots of miles on our car! However, he was rather reckless with his driving and he drove over several things you're not supposed to drive your car over, including an entire round-about... He was also quite the deep sleeper. He would never wake up when the alarm would go off in the morning. One morning we put the alarm clock right up to his face as it was going off. He didn't move at all. If it wasn't for his snoring we would have guessed he was dead. We finally got him up and we started getting ready for the day. I came out of the bathroom to find him standing right next to the wall with his head leaning against it, fast asleep. We had to slap the wall to wake him up. I've never seen someone sleep ON the wall before, especially when standing up. I enjoyed having Devon around. I just feel bad for the guy; we didn't get a single lesson in with him this week. We mostly did service.

We struggled finding new people to teach this week as well. I just want to find someone golden and solid so bad. All of our investigators have bailed out on us this week. But that's just part of the experience. I was reading an article by Elder Richard G Scott and a part of it really helped me and opened my mind to more revelation and peace to my soul. It said, "What sometimes seems like and impenetrable barrier... is a giant step to be taken in trust." It seems like I've been in a slump for the past few months where I'm doing everything I can to serve and help people come closer to Christ, but my efforts have not quite presented the results that I want and no matter what I do, nothing changes that. It has been what feels like an impenetrable barrier. But the Lord is in this work. It is not MY work. It is His. And I know that if I continue to work hard for Him, all will be well and work out. The same applies for non-missionary life too. It doesn't matter what we want to happen. What matters is what the Lord wants to happen. He knows all and He knows "how to succor His people" and as we follow Him, giving Him all of our trust, He will guide us and bless us and use us to bless the lives of those around us. It doesn't matter what difficulties we are facing. What difficulty is there that Christ hasn't overcome? With God nothing is impossible. All things are possible if we have faith in Him.

I am grateful for the Spirit and for it's gentle reminders to me of these things. They keep my hope burning and keeps me going through the slumps of missionary life. I know blessing will come. They may not come today, or tomorrow or even in this life, but to those who follow Christ and embrace His gospel, they come. Be a good boy. Be a good girl. Keep moving forward. The Spirit will guide you.

Thank you for all of you in my life and for faithful friends and family who keep in touch so well. I hope you all have a fantastic week. I love you guys!

-Elder Curtis