March 28, 2011

I have come to love listening to talks and lessons given by inspired leaders of the church. Recently I have come to realize how much I have missed in the past when either General Conference has come by or other firesides by the church have been given. In the MTC I remember I absolutely loved General Conference so much more than I ever had, and if you can believe it I am even more excited for this time around. Though the opportunity to sing was a once in a lifetime event that I will never forget. General Conference as a missionary is so much more different and quite eye opening. It seems that every single talk was written for you to hear for some reason or another. Another one of those mission experiences that you just can't get anywhere else.

This week we had Zone Conference and I was able to learn many valuable lessons and enjoy a training on the Apostasy and Restoration. I can't really explain it now, but it blew my mind to a certain extent of how true our church is. :) When I come back I can show you more about it. A lesson that I learned was given by Sister Bullock. She only spoke for about three minutes at the time, but she talked about how we as children of God and especially as members of the church are responsible for the talents and abilities that we have that we have been given by God. Elder Boswell also commented later on how we are given those talents for the reason of building up Gods Kingdom on the earth. The law of consecration when given was not only speaking about our possessions, but also what we have inside of us. It is giving our whole.  I have been pondering a lot recently on what I am doing here on a mission and how I can best change to grow and help others come unto Christ. I have been too hesitant with my talents and have not used them to my full capacity because of fear of one thing or another. I am looking to become better at seeing God during my day and being accountable for opportunities and talents I have been given.

Yesterday I was able to learn first hand the importance of doing everything that you can to get investigators to church. The whole of Sundady morning Elder Chan and I were running around trying to figure out how to get our investigators along with some recent converts to church because of some plans that had fallen through. By the time church came around we were able to get everyone planned on to church but I felt like we had not been productive in our time that morning. Later one of the investigators was talking to me and said something about church had helped him realize more of what we as a church and our teachings are about. I realized that the power of the spirit at church is very important for our investigators individual spiritual growth. The whole morning running around was not only worth it, but completely necessary in order to help this investigator build his own testimony. Once again, I am thankful for inspired leaders who give us instructions and promised blessings if we then follow those instructions.

Recently we have been working with an investigator with the name of Sun Wei Di. He is a student from China and is very open and willing to learn more of what we share. A couple of days ago he explained something to me that I had already known but realized how important it is for my missionary work. He was explaining that no Chinese people have a belief in God because it has never been any part of there life. If anything they have been told all there life that God does not exist and YOU are the only one that can do ANYTHING with your life.

He explained that he just like all the other Chinese had a problem with believing in God. It has been so frustrating for me not to be able to simply take my knowledge from my head and transfer it to his. These people have no concept of God and don't know how to even start believing in him. Luckily Sun is open minded and very willing to meet with us to TRY and see if there is a God. He has read to the end of 2nd Nephi and prays every night, in other words he is very willing and has the desire. I would ask you as a family to pray for Sun to be able to recieve the spiritual confirmation needed for him to gain a testimony. I hope that as he comes to General Conference he will once again be able to feel the spirit and know that there is something special about the Prophet and the Apostles. In other words, that they are called of God.

Sun is amazing, we watched the first half of Testaments with him for a lesson and talked about faith. We then left him a commitment to finish it before we came the next day. He not only did that but started it from the beginning and watched it all the way through to understand it more fully. When we asked him about it, he said that he really liked the movie and that the end was amazing. He loved it saying that he felt so happy and good after watching it. If you remember the end, it is when Christ appears to the Nephites and heals Jacobs father. Sun had felt what we call the spirit. Now I believe all we have to do is help him realize that that is what it was. :)

There is not much more to report from this week except I played cricket for the first time last P-day. (very strange and complicated sport but very fun). It was a great opportunity to bond with two of the Zone Leaders recent converts from India and Pakistan. (They love Cricket). I am so thoroughly convinced that this is the greatest work you can do. The light you see come into peoples eyes is just miraculous and moving. From knowing nothing of Jesus Christ and God to knowing that they are here for a reason now following a plan of happiness is amazing. I love my mission. Despite the lack of progress in my chinese at the moment (my fault) I feel very fulfilled in what I am doing here. I have a long ways to go before I truely become a sacred missionary, but I know that through diligence and obedience it is possible.

I love you family and I hope that this next week goes very well. Remember who you are and what you stand for. From your baptismal covenant you promised to always remember him. Let us do that by the way we act and live our lives. Keep yourselves seperate from the world in the right way.

Love you,

Elder Fawcett

March 21, 2011

The work here in the mission field is still going forth despite any opposition may be coming, Boldy, Nobly, and Independent as Joseph Smith would say.  As of now it is more out on the street trying to find those specific prepared people. I think I have learned the definition of insanity: Changing a process that works, or sticking to the same process that doesn't work. As of now we are on the latter and I am trying to figure out what new we can do here in Preston to find new investigators who are ready and willing to hear the Gospel.
Can I just say I think I have the most frustrating call of a missionary?!? Or at least it seems that way. :) Right now it is extremely hard to work with those I have been called to teach and it is very frustrating. All of the Chinese students right now have classes, final exams and end of year essays. Of course being students and not having too much of a belief in God, they understandably pick school over meeting with us. This means appointment after appointment falling through. President Bullock has said it might be time to switch focus until the next batch of Chinese students come in. That is somewhat of a sad thought for myself...
Truly though all is well, yes things are a bit hard but that is missionary work isn't it, or life in general, it just comes down to how we react to the obstacles thrown at us. Grandma sounds very happy to be in Arkansas right now and especially spending time with Taft. I hope that all of you are enjoying the time with her as well. :) Grandma I love you!! Oh and mom, may I just ask why German words kept coming to your head? Did this come from all of the advise dad was giving you in German right before? :) I am sorry to hear that it did not go as planned, but I know you will do better next time!! Did I tell you I tried to talk to a German on the bus once, but only Chinese words were coming out. It was quite frustrating, but also a good sign for me to see. :) Sort of....
This week has brought many experiences and time for growth. The work is growing on me more and more and the experiences that I am having are getting better and better. Sometimes the experiences are hard ones, but they are good for me in my progression as a missionary and as a person as well. Many people talk about the refiners fire and how they don't want to go through it. Well I don't know if I want to go through it either, but I figure everyone that wants the blessing of eternal life is going to have to go through it sooner or later, so I might as well get everything out of it I can right? These last couple of days have been ones of stress and growing, and I am very glad to be with missionaries now who can help me through those times. I am very grateful for Elder Boswell and his continuous joyful attitude that teaches me to proceed with the work and don't just endure it, but endure it well.
I had never realized that being a Senior companion was so hard until these last few days. It is not that there is so much more to do, but for me it is just the knowledge of the accountability that I have now for an area and another missionary. I am grateful the Lord trusted in me and has allowed me this responsibility to learn and to be able to help others do the same. Elder Chan (my companion) is from Hong Kong and is called Mandarin speaking and is learning it as well as English. He is a very good missionary and is always striving to do better, always asking for correction, which gives me a good example of how I should act. One of the most important attributes that we can have is humility, and Elder Chan has it down very well. We don't seem to be having a hard time at all getting along at all, we both are the type of people that like at the cards on the table and then figure any problems out. I love Elder Chan!!
This week in Sacrament meeting a member gave a talk on doing the Lords work and doing it in the right way. One of the lines that they said was that if you want to actually become something you have to become a "self made man." I think that this is very true except for the fact that of course we should look to the Lord for that help in becoming what we want to become. Part of becoming is the self control required to actually do the work. Some days remind me of Ether 12:6, that the trials of our faith must come in order for us to recieve a witness of the work that we are doing and also in order to truly Become.
Some days I honestly don't want to go out and talk to people, mostly because of the people we talk with. Then I realize that I am fearing man more than God and need to change my attitude. Of course those days still come when I don't want to go out, but now I will understand more that through the help of the Lord I can become the man/missionary that he wants me to be. Once again going back to Elder Sturt, it is all about the perspective. We always think that the things going on right NOW are everything and the most important. It is the eternal perspective that I need to gain for myself and start using in my missionary work. This is the Lord's work, I certainly should not try going about it my way.
As you would say Dad, life is good because the Gospel is true, and oh how true that is. It makes everything better to know my purpose in this life and I am more able to understand why certain things happen. Everyone now asks us, if there is a God why would he let things like Japan happen. Honestly, I don't know the full answer to that question, and I don't think anyone really does, but that is where the faith is necessary. Once we know he has a plan, we should follow it in faith. How are the people in Japan doing actually?
Well family, It was great to hear from you once again. I wish you a very happy week full of learning. Love you all!!!
Onward & Upward,
Elder Fawcett

March 16, 2011

As you probably know by now I forgot to tell you that transfers were this week and that I would not be writing on Monday like usual. Sorry... :) Unfortunately it being transfer day we don't have too much time at all. So i will make it short and sweet. To answer the questions you might have, yes I am still in Preston and no we are no longer in a foursome... technically. Elder Moss our District Leader and Senior companion was called to be a Zone Leader in Newcastle and then Elder Boswell has now come to our flat and companionship. Sort of.

The way President Bullock did it was Elder Chan and I were put together as a companionship me being the Senior companion and then Elder Peterson and Elder Boswell together with Elder Boswell being the senior and District Leader. So now I am responsible and accountable for an area and another Elder. Lets just say I thought it would be a bit longer before I was made senior, but hey, what do I know? :) This next transfer should be really interesting and a challenge. As I have said before the area of Preston has been hammered with missionaries for the past 9 months or so. It seems everyone knows who we are and want nothing to do with us. So this is where the trial of our faith comes in. I hope we can pass.

This last week we were recieving a training in our District Meeting on the spirit. Elder Moss asked us two questions: Why is the spirit important and how do we use it in our teaching. And, What can we do better as missionaries to invite the spirit into our lives and also into our teaching? These to me have always been major questions because I have been constantly searching for the best ways to invite the spirit into my life and especially into my teaching. I learned that it is very important in our personal study to do all we can to learn so that we can be filled with the spirit then and use it throughout the remainder of the day.

Also I noticed something in 2 Ne. 33:1 that somewhat comforted me when looking at all the people there are in the world and why they are not all accepting the Gospel. Paraphrasing it says, "when a man speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost, the Holy Ghost carries it UNTO the hearts of men." I realized that even if we have the spirit and we feel it in our lessons or on the street, it ultimately comes down to those that we are working with having there hearts soft enough and open enough to feel the spirit. We can not force the truth into the hearts of men, only give them an invitation.

The Chinese teaching has been a little slow. Over the last couple of weeks we have been speaking with many chinese students, many of which have said that they are leaving in the middle to the end of April. This has raised some concerns for teaching them and then having a baptismal date. I feel hesitant to teach someone in four weeks and have them baptized then one week later having them return to China. I know that it is important for them to be baptized, but I also feel that when they leave they will have no connection to the church until they come back again if they come back at all. The other question I had was whether or not we should give the Chinese investigators (not baptized yet) the information to call to find a local Chinese ward. I never thought teaching the Chinese people would have so many challenges and obstacles. Being a pioneer is not so easy. :) Now I just need to learn all I can for those that will be coming after me.

This last transfer has been hard but at the same time very rewarding. I have very much enjoyed the time I have had with Elder Moss. He is a splendid missionary who really knows how to connect with everyone; ward members, investigators and of course other missionaries. Elder Moss was a great example to me on how to be patient with the trials that WILL come on a mission and still have a happy attitude towards it. It is amazing the chance we have to go on missions serving the Lord and learning from each other despite the trials. I know that they help us learn and grow. At least looking back I know that. :) Haha, at the time it feels like a huge weight on your shoulders that will never lift. I look forward to serving with Elder Boswell and in the future other sacred missionaries. This mission sure is full of them.

Next week I will have more time and will tell you more specifically about Elder Boswell and the investigators we are working with now. Also a bit more about how our companionships are working out. If you have any specific questions let me know and I will do my best to answer them.

Love you,

Elder Fawcett

March 7, 2011

This last week has been full of challenging yet wonderful experiences that only now looking back I realize that the Lord really had a role in the circumstances. Or in other words, He had a plan. Of course I know the Lord always has a role but this week I have really realized that the Lord does work in mysterious ways, or at least they seem mysterious to us as a people. I have gained a much stronger testimony of trials of our faith over the last couple of weeks. Many times at the beginning of the week up towards the end we had been faced with setbacks that at the time really didn't make sense as to why they were happening, then along came miracles. When we set our mind to always being exactly obedient and following the Lord we are eventually blessed.
Just for one example: This Tuesday Elder Moss and I went to go to an appointment that we had set up with a student names Sam. We had already met with Sam three times before this appointment and he was really progressing well. (Read through to Mosiah) When we to to his flat and knocked we were met by one of his roommates Ben who had sat in on one of our previous lessons and stated he was a devout Atheist and just wanted to listen. He then proceeded to smugly tell us that Sam was no longer interested in Mormonism and it would be a waste of our time to talk with him further. He said that Sam has found a "better" way.
Needless to say this was quite a sock to the gut and me and Elder Moss were slightly discouraged. (We still have not been able to contact Sam or Isaac for that matter) Now at the time this seemed like the worst thing in the world that could have happened. Then all of our other appointments fell through for the rest of the day. So we went finding for a long while. People seemed to be more rude and atheist than most days in Sam's area so we decided to head somewhere else. We then met two Chinese students who set up appointments. One specifically being Sun.
We had a quick conversation, in doing so learned that he didn't know if he believed in God but had been trying to find out recently if he did. We set up an appointment for the following day and taught him along with a friend he brought. We invited using the Commitment Pattern, and he then accepted an invitation to baptism and also to come to church with us the next day. He loved going to church and had many questions wanting to know more about Jesus Christ and God. We will also be meeting with him tonight. They are experiences like this that help me to love missionary work and my mission even more. Being able to see someone I just met have understanding come into their eyes from the message that we share.
Looking back me and Elder Moss realized maybe why Sam dropped us and why everyone else was so rude to send us in a different direction all together to go finding. To find Sun. Sun trying is amazing and I feel that he will grow a lot in the gospel. The principle is that we don't know why God lets things happen, but he does. So trust him. At the time it may seem horrible, but he knows best. Now Sun may drop us in the future, who knows, but I do know that God has a plan and it would of course be wise to follow it. :) So family, like being in Arkansas right now, utilize the time you have to the fullest and understand you can learn from every situation and that you are there for a reason.
This week I also had the wonderful opportunity to go on exchange with Elder Sturt. Elder Sturt is one of the 3 Assistants to the President right now and is an amazing Elder. Despite the shortness of the exchange (2 hours, exchanges usually being 24 hours) Elder Sturt somehow managed to completely change my view of my mission and the Lords mission as a whole. He shared with me a piece of advice that has become very valuable to me. "It is all about the perspective." As missionaries (or anyone else for that matter) we need to learn to have that broader vision of why we are here, what our purpose is, and how we coupled with the Lord can achieve that purpose. When things are looking bad, Elder Sturt said, just step back and look at it from the Lords perspective, or at least as close as you can get.
Of all the things I have learned this week, the most important is God's plan for us. Live it and love it. The trials will be hard and they will come, but they are there for a reason. I can't remember if I told you this already, but a RC from Romania asked us in a Lesson if Satan tempts us every day or if he takes days off. :) Unfortunately it is every day, and we can not let our guard down no matter how hard it may seem. As I learned in the D&C this week, let us put on the whole armor of God. And then keep it on. :)
I know this one is a bit shorter than the last, but I hope you find it helpful. Family I love you and appreciate the time I can spend writing you, letting you know how things are going, and hopefully at the same time uplifting and enlightening you. You are always in my prayers.
Onward and Upward,
Elder Fawcett