Friday, July 26, 2013

July 22, 2013

Dear Family,
As far as my letters being short…….ummmmmm I think Tanner's right I'm just slow at typing.
I don't have any one to compare to but I thought my letters were really long to be honest.
It rains all the time here...and not like calgary rain. It’s like you have swimming pools instead of puddles in an hour. In fact a couple days ago we were riding to an investigators house named Jose (he's super cool) and it just started. Luckily we were really close by that point so we just went to go knock at his door. Unluckily he had a doctor’s appointment and wasn't home.
Elder X. looked at me and said, "Well worse things have happened to mankind."
At this point though I wasn't sure that that was true though because we were going to be soaked.
But there wasn't a lot we could have done right there so we decided to try to go to a member’s house and take shelter. So here we are, this is something like my second week, and we are biking through torrential rain, with lightning dancing around us, as we ride on big metal bikes.
But I remembered in church being taught that whenever you were having a hard time, just sing a primary song so there in that storm I started to sing, “I like to look for rainbows."
But yeah Miami is cool. The people are great and we eat beans and rice for every meal.
It rains a ton but honestly I after the first week it wasn't a big deal.

Elder Low's Weekly Report:

So his week, for Book of Mormon studies, I thought a lot about Alma 56, which talks about the 2000 stripling warriors. I don't think the words of Helaman ever hit me so hard before. "they had never seen battle, but they did not fear death... for they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers then they did upon their lives.... we did not doubt, our mothers knew it."
One of the most foundational parts of the gospel message is love for our fellow man.
Jesus said in the New Testament that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord thy God with all your heart might mind and strength, and the second is like unto it, that thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself, upon these two laws hang all the laws and the prophets.
This is reiterated in Corinthians by Paul when he gives his discourse on charity, saying that all we do is for not if we have not charity.
This week I have found that truth is not enough to change the hearts of men, it has to be the spirit, but we cannot use the power of the spirit if we do not truly love and want the best for the people we claim to be trying to help.
How the message is presented is just as important as the message itself. Even though the message is the true, it will be the spirit brought about by your love of your God and the love you have for the person you are teaching that will touch their hearts and prove to them that it is true.
As important as our studies and work are, our tools and our teaching skills, they are nothing in comparison to the love we have for people.
It was this love that gave the 2000 their strength, it was the love that the mothers had for their two thousand that instilled them with that faith, and I have learned that it is this love that converts people, that this is the reason we want to convert people, so they can have that love in their hearts as well.
Everything I have been taught about missionary work has said that if I have not the spirit, I shall not teach.
This is true but I don't think I ever understood how I would obtain that spirit before. What was the proper environment by which I would have the spirit to teach?
The more people we harvest and talk to the more I realize that they remember very little of what we say, and remember a lot more of the love they felt behind our words.

I pray for you always family.


Elder Low

July 15, 2013

Dear Family,

Sorry I realized that I forgot to tell you where I am. este es comico.
I'm in the city of Miami, Florida, the zone is the Miami Beach zone, but I'm actually still in main land Miami, and I am not allowed to go near any kind of beach.
I was going to show you some pictures but we rushed out the door and I forgot my camera, sorry about that.
Also you probably have some questions regarding my other letter, so I'll define some terminology in just a second. The ward is cool, it's completely Spanish though so I have a difficult time communicating and understanding what most people are saying. Basically they say something and I just say lo siento rapitar por favor, then when I get tired of them repeating words I don't know, I just get Elder X my trainer to translate.
It's weird, when I was in the MTC I prided myself in being able to understand most of what the teachers and investigators were saying, but I got here and it's a whole other ball game.
I've come to believe I was actually in the wrong class in the MTC;
I was being taught Spanish, but I should have learned Cuban.
Oh also, in our mission no music except tab choir is allowed, that includes seminary sound tracks and stuff, so even though I haven't asked if I'm able to bring my gentile sheet music out, I'm pretty sure the answer is no.
Sooooo just keep that home until I get back.
Anyways, as for the last letter, there are a few terms I didn't have time to define that I'm sure were terribly confusing. Our mission (the Florida Fort Lauderdale mission) is a very... different kind of mission. It focuses incredibly on exact obedience, and has several completely unique missionary tools which I'm told did not exist in any mission until this mission president (President Anderson)was called.  As for the effectiveness of these new tools, apparently they work, because I have been told on multiple occasions that either right now or just a while ago, we were the highest baptizing mission in America.
One of these tools that I can already personally attest to the effectiveness of is one mentioned in my last letter called harvesting. Harvesting is the thing our mission has instead of tracting. I've been out almost two weeks and I have yet to do tracting in the sense of the word we traditionally think of it as.
It has a lot of similarities. It involves a lot of knocking on doors, and getting doors slammed in your face, but the crucial difference, that the ultimate goal of the door knocking is not to teach a lesson, (or whatever the goal is in tracting, I know very little about it) but instead to leave a blessing, in the form of a prayer with the family, or person depending on the circumstance, and if that is accomplished, to invite them to baptism right after the prayer is finished before nearly anything is taught.
If you're looking at your screen right now and going... why, you’re not alone. This made no sense to me when they first told me about it; but it works and the reason I've found is actually quite simple.
A lot of people simply do not have enough time to have you give them a lesson, or a lot of people don't think they want to be converted at that time, but when a couple of missionaries come to your door and ask if they can just leave a blessing, which could take less than a minute and appears to have no purpose other than goodwill, it disarms people, makes them a little more likely to accept.
The second part is even more crucial than this though, because as we know the words of missionaries will never convert people, but the spirit of the Lord, and when you give people a chance to stop and take a moment to listen to that spirit, their hearts are softened and they are changed.

Love you
Elder Low.

July 8, 2013

Dear Family;

Okay I have to do this quick. I have arrived in Florida. The weather is great actually, not really any problems there.
My trainer is Elder X and he has two transfers left, so I'll probably be his last companion in the field. As far as the language thing is going; I pretty much a best two years thing going on.(That's not the language they taught me in the MTC).
No I can't speak Spanish yet unfortunately but the work is still going great.
I haven't found out about music yet, next week I'll have more time and be able to tell you my address.
As for food I'm eating, cereal mostly.

Elder Low's weekly report:

This was my first week in the field and has probably been the strangest, most stressful, and yet inspiring part of my life that I have experienced as far as I can remember. I've been here for four days and already I've taught lessons (or at least tried to help teach), found and blessed families, and had my fair share of doors slammed. I knew I would be doing a lot in a short amount of time but I don't think I ever understood to what degree. There have been many nights in which I have completely understood what Elder Holland meant when he said work until you fall on your bed in gleeful exhaustion.
The most inspiring experiences so far however I think, have come during harvest blessings. It is incredible to me how our blessing can take someone who is hesitant and uncomfortable, and completely change their demeanor. They feel the Holy Ghost and it's like looking at a whole other person. Being constantly striving to obtain and be worthy for the presence and companionship of the Holy Ghost so that I can teach as a missionary is so important.  I guess I never realized that some of these people don't even know what its presence feels like, and then when they do feel it, the incredible power it has to change hearts, and calm souls. It is truly humbling to have the opportunity to direct such a power.
As for what I've been learning in the Book of Mormon, it's hard to know where to start. I bit ago I was studying in 2 Nephi 9, and I got to the part where Nephi states oh the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and really stuck out to me. When I came out I recalled you saying that on their missions boys are forged into men, but with the humbling experience that was my week, not being able to speak Spanish and all, the more I come to realize that that is not the method God uses to make great missionaries, but instead men come into the field, that they might be broken down into children, who's most powerful tools are their love and the spirit of God that directs them, that the wise may not be confounded by the learning of men, but the power of God.

Love you guys.

Elder Low

1. The Missionaries going to Chile
2.  Me and one of the Chilean Missionaries
3. Me and everyone else
4. From left to right, Elder P my first companion, Elder K one of the Chileans, Elder T my second companion, some dude with short hair who jumped into the picture for no reason (oh that's me).
5. My district drawn by Hermana N from another district.
6. My zone (except me).

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

June 25, 2013

Hello Family,
Tell dad thanks for the pictures of the flood, it really made me realize the magnitude of what's going on up there, and I will continue to pray for you.
Okay so first off I am on back in a three elder companionship with Elder T, as Elder P got reassigned earlier this week, (I swear I've never heard of anyway who's had more companions in the MTC than Elder T. Most people have one. As you recall his first companion went home, than he was sort of with the zone leaders, than he was sort of with us, than he got Elder P, and then back to us. That's 6 for those of keeping track back home :) so that's cool, but even cooler is that we got our travel plans this week!
Whhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaatttt's up?  We leave the MTC on July 2 (next Tuesday) at 2:30am and fly out of salt lake at 6:00am, so that's pretty dank. I know we have a layover somewhere.... but I don't recall where or for how long. Anyways later this week you should give me the details of when you want me to call from the airport.

Oh sorry I should have expanded on the root beer thing.
It actually was really cool; we used all the stuff to have a little fiesta in the residence.
No one was really sure as to what was up with the watermelon popcorn, but it was a good conversation starter. Unfortunately said conversation mostly involved me assuring the Americans that watermelon popcorn is not a Canadian delicacy.

As for what's up down here; as you probably know there was a huge mission conference broadcast thingy that went down, which also coincided with the mission president training. Now I'm not sure when it started getting announced for you guys in the real world, but we started getting hints about it around 1 week ago, and by hints I mean they kicked us out of the main building to accommodate the mission presidents. Anyways, probably 5 days ago something weird happened. We were chilling in our residence hall and the 2 way intercom comes on and the voice says: "can elder P, Low T, K, and B please pick up the building phone and call the main desk?"
 We all looked at each other, and timidly said "...yea.."
and the voice hung up. Putting our shoes back on we were all a little freaked out. In our many days of MTC experience this was a first. As far as we knew we hadn’t broken some new no doing yoga outside rule or maybe someone had somehow figured out that it had been us that had sneaked the dart guns into the dorm (just joking, that was Elder H).
As we descended to the lower phone my companion turned to me and asked,
"What do you think it is elder?" and I said "probably the second coming."
Elder T picked up the phone and got the most cryptic message I've ever heard in the MTC.
All they said was attend a meeting at in the main building at 10:30am the next day, looking like a perfect example of a missionary. It was weird bro.
So we came into that room on time, dressed up and there were 4 other elder's in the room who had received the same cryptic call, and none that we talked to knew what was going on.
At this point I was still sure it was the second coming.
I was barely disappointed.
One of the leaders of the MTC came into the room and the man got up and said, "many of you have been told by your branch presidents that you have been chosen to serve the sacrament in the large gymnasium for all of the elders and sisters in the MTC (which we had.) but that is false."
The room went silent,
"You are instead herby asked to pass the sacrament in the mission president’s seminary, which will be held on Sunday in the room next to us. This meeting will be attended by all of the new mission presidents, 11 of the twelve apostles, the first presidency, and the prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
We were stunned!
He went on to say that for security reasons you are not allowed to tell anyone about this until this sacrament meeting is adjourned, three days from now.
I will tell you, that first day that was the hardest secret I've had to keep since the time I saved accidently over one of our cousin’s original Mario games on zsnes.
When our zone leader asked us what the meeting was about, I felt like Nephi, having just been commanded to slay Laban but I kept it on the DL.  In the end I was actually personally passing to the back of the room, but the feeling of being, not chosen, nor called, but asked, brings to mind the scripture, "many are called, but few are chosen and why are they not chosen?"
More sacred than my call to serve the prophet the sacrament is my call to serve God in bringing his children back unto Him.  I hope that through my actions and my obedience that I may be also chosen that He may say unto at the last day;
"Well done ye good, and faithful servant."

Elder Low.
(PS: These pictures are from the MTC, Elder T Elder H and Elder P)