Friday, October 23, 2015

Elder Kopischke visits NC

Hey Ya'll!!!

Sadly Elder Clarke did not survive transfers. He's packing as I type. Pretty sad to be losing him, we were pretty tight, but I'm also excited to see who my new companion is.

Highlight of my week: Elder Kopischke of the first qurom of the seventy was at mission conference!!!!! He's spoken in General Conference a few times and is such a cool guy. He's from Germany and knows a ton about the gospel. He started out by talking to us about listening to the promptings of the Spirit, and then just opened it up for questions. For four or five hours we just asked him whatever questions we wanted, it was so cool. I asked him what are the best things we should be studying. He told me to study The Book Of Mormon, The Four Gospels, The Pearl of Great Price, and The book of Acts in that order. He also talked about the cycle of faith using Alma 32:27-29. He explained that faith is a principal of action and power. We have to do all we can to act on our faith  or the action side, and then God takes care of the Power side and that's when we see the miracles happen. He said we're really only responsible for the things we can control. Sometimes, especially as missionaries, we feel guilty for things we can't control, but we shouldn't at all. We just have to focus on the things we can control and trust God for the rest.

After the conference President Alexander selected a few missionaries to interview with Elder Kopischke, Elder  Clarke was one of them. I sat in the hall while they interviewed and got to talk to Sister Alexander for a bit. Turns out she has some family in Newburg! It was nice to get to know her a bit more, she's so kind and loving and is just filled with charity for everyone.

So yeah, that was super fun! We also have three super solid investigators, Ivan, Holly, and Siena. They came to church yesterday and are progressing really well and are on date for baptism on the 7th of November so we're super excited for them!

So it looks like I'll be in Danville for the next six weeks! I'm pretty happy, there's a lot going on here as far as missionary work and I'm making pretty good friends with some of the ward members. I love you and let me know if I can doing anything for ya'll!

Elder Earnest

An excerpt from Grandma's letter:

So I'm not sure if I mentioned it it in my weekly email home, but a few weeks ago we had a huge mission conference all about family history and the spirit of Elijah. Our mission president's son-in-law works for the church's Family History Department, and he was there and gave a great training on how we can use family history as a missionary finding tool and also trained us using family search. I have the family search app on my ipad and have been doing a bit of family history work lately. Most of the work is done on all sides of my family, but I was able to search through some records and attach someone to their wife so that was pretty cool! At that huge conference they said something I thought was cool. They said the Spirit of Elijah can usually be felt a lot faster than the Spirit of the Book of Mormon, so if people aren't interested in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, they might be interested in family history and that can lead to the gospel. So that's been a big focus in our mission the last few weeks. 

Elder Earnest and President Alexander

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Families are forever

Hey ya'll,

Glad to hear everything is swell in Redmond.  I'm so jealous you got to go to the temple! I wish there was a Charlotte North Carolina temple.

We've been teaching a mother and daughter that live in our neighborhood this week. They both want to get baptized, which is awesome, we just need them to come to church.  Anyways, the daughter called us Sunday afternoon and told us her sister wants to meet with us now and wants to be baptized into our church.  We went and met them, there was some crazy junk going on in that neighborhood so we didn't stick around long, but they seem super nice and we're super excited to teach them!

We ran into a couple while we were looking through a list of perspective elders. They weren't really buying the church's stance on some issues so it was awkward and we didn't really know what else to share with them.  Elder Clarke told me he was trying to think of something to say to get us out of there, then I just randomly asked this guy if he'd done any family history before and we ended up having a hour long conversation on family history and If they're not interested in religion you can usually get em' with family history.

I've been studying the Book of Mormon a lot lately. I did a really deep study of Nephi's vision in 1 Nephi chapters 11-15. There's a lot of really cool stuff in there. I've also been reading parts of Isaiah that talk about the grea
t apostasy and the restoration and the last days. Basically I'm just trying to deepen my testimony of the restoration and the need for Christ's gospel to be restored to the earth.

So far I think my favorite part of my mission has been studies. It's so nice to sit and read form the scriptures for 3 hours a day. I've learned a ton! I'm gonna try and read all the standard works before I hit my year mark. Speaking of which, next week is the last week of the transfer! I can't believe how fast time is going!!!! I don't think I'm going to get transferred though, and we're hoping Elder Clarke is going to stay too.

I was talking to a member the other day that recently moved here from Utah. He said on the first day of school, his kids came home really confused. They said all the other kids at school were asking them who they lived with.  They couldn't understand that some kids still live with both their mom and their dad. It's so sad how much the family has been degraded in the past few years. I've been in and out of many homes here and it's rare that you find a family with a married mom and dad and kids. It's so sad. I'm so grateful for my family and even more grateful I can be with them for time and all eternity. I'm so grateful the priesthood has been restored so that families can be bound both in heaven and on earth and that marriages are not "till death do you part" but are "for time and all eternity". God's plan for us is perfect, and it's centered around the family and the gospel of Jesus Christ. One of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon is 2 Nephi 9. It talks all about God's plan for us and why we're on this earth and what we need to focus on while we're here. Great stuff, I'd invite ya'll to read over it when you get a chance.

Anyways, thanks for writing to me! I like to hear about what's going on at home in ya'lls letters. It's not so much what's in the letters, just that you write them to me. I love reading them so keep sending them I'll try to send more letters to the kids! Till next week,

Elder Earnest

Making use of his Eagle Crest golf course maintenance experience.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

General Conference is awesome!

Fishing was a bust. It rained the whole time and I didn't catch any fish.

General Conference is awesome as a missionary!!! We watched all five sessions at the church and I've got about 6 pages of notes. It was really weird that they all started at 12 instead of 9. I learned a ton though. I'm not sure if anyone else noticed, but I'm starting to get the feeling we need to be keeping the Sabbath day holy. A couple other key things I took out of it were that we should pray and ask the Lord each night what we need to be improving on. Ask what's keeping us from progressing and then listen to the Holy Ghost. It will speak in your mind and your heart and give specific customized answers. I realized the importance of living worthy of a temple recommend and keeping ourselves pure and unspotted from the world. This way we can have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. The biggest thing I took away is that we need to be patient and trusting of the Lord. It seems to me that we express our faith by trusting the Lord and trusting that as we do as he says, everything will turn out all right. When we pray, we ask what we can do to better follow Him and align our will with His. Then we listen to his guidance and follow through and trust it will all work out. I'm so grateful for the blessings that come from having modern day prophets and apostles that receive revelation specific to us in our time. Before conference started I had six questions written down referring to what I wanted to learn about during conference. All six questions were answered and a few very specifically. The Lord has not left us alone in these days. He has restored His gospel and called a modern day prophet to lead and guide us and when we adhere to His message, we cannot go astray. 

That's exciting ya'll are reading the Book of Mormon together again! As for why Laman and Lemuel went astray even after seeing an angel, I think of the quote from the Bible dictionary relating to faith: "Miracles do not produce faith, but strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness, although miracles often confirm one's faith." So even though they saw an angel, which should confirm one's testimony just as much as any miracle would, they weren't being obedient and diligently following Jesus Christ. I think of the verse in the 2nd chapter of James that states "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." It's not enough to believe in Christ, you must act on that belief. Laman and Lemuel were not acting on that belief, or after the angel appeared, knowledge. If we're not acting and trying to improve ourselves because of our faith what good is it to have faith at all? "Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead..."

It's been raining a ton here. That hurricane brought lots of rain and wind our way. At one point they thought it was going to come through Danville, but we got lucky and it didn't. Because of general conference, an exchange to Eden, and a mission conference, we didn't teach a whole lot last week, but we're looking to get back at it this week!  Love and miss you so much! 

Elder Earnest  

Friday, October 2, 2015

Answering Mom's questions...

Hey Mom,

It's been raining all week. Luckily we had the car this week so we didn't have to ride in the rain.

The lady that's been teaching us how to cook is Sister J.  We're actually going to her house tonight and she's teaching us how to make a special pasta. Also, she makes really good Nutella cupcakes.

I have a new favorite general conference talk. Next time ya'll drive out to Madras as a family listen to "Know Thyself, Control Thyself, Give Thyself" by Paul H Dunn. It's the best general conference talk I've ever heard, but listen to it, don't read it. The way he speaks is great. It's from priesthood session from April 1972.

Right now we're teaching a kid named J who's trying to stop smoking. He was a previous investigator that used to meet with missionaries and stopped. The first time we met him his grandma came at us with a ton of anti mormon stuff and we just testified what we knew to be true and the spirit really softened her heart. There's been a few times where I start bearing testimony, and the spirit has just been so strong. I love it.

The Tubbs family in our ward has been really kind to us. They always have us over for dinner and are super nice. Also, Brother Hales is awesome. He drives us to meetings all the time and bakes us treats a lot too!

This week I learned how important the Book of Mormon is for one's conversion. If we don't have a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon, we really don't have a testimony of the church we belong to. The Book of Mormon is just as important as the Bible. In fact, without the Bible, the Book of Mormon would lose most of it's purpose. I've heard it explained that the Bible is the tool and the Book of Mormon is the instructions for the tool. I'm not really sure if I fully like that analogy, but you get the point. If the Bible was really all the instruction we needed, than we wouldn't have hundreds of different Christian churches teaching different doctrines. "One Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5). The reason the Book of Mormon is so important is that if the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith was a prophet, and if Joseph Smith was a prophet, then Christ's priesthood
has been restored and Christ's one true church is again on the earth today. If not, then our whole church is false. It really comes down to if the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be, or if it's false. And the only real way to figure out whether or not it's true is by reading it, thinking about the message it contains, and then praying and asking God if it's true. Once we ask we need to pay attention to the feelings and impressions the Holy Ghost gives us. "By the power of the Holy Ghost you may know the truth of all things."

I'm feeling pretty healthy I guess? I haven't passed out so that's good. I've slowed  down on losing weight, but I still weigh 15 lbs less than I did three months ago, and I didn't weigh that much to start with. For P-Day today we're going bass fishing with a member and I'm super excited!!!!!! 

Okay, I gotta go fishing, but I'll send you pics when I get back!

I love you mom!!!
Elder Earnest