Monday, December 28, 2009

Farewell to 2009

Dear Family,

I know you want an update, but last week is no longer in my memory, so I will do my best. Monday evening I went on an exchange with Elder Stocks. I went to Union and Elder Corona came and worked with Elder Redston in Spartanburg. We both had good days. I was able to interview Trumain Morman for baptism, and as of Sunday he is now a Mormon. :) All day Tuesday I was in Union. We had a very successful day. We found six new investigators and two of them were really cool. I'm glad we were able to find some people because the previous week they had only found one new investigator all week. Elder Corona and Elder Redston had a great day as well. They were working Woodruff (the town on the farthest tip of our area). They found five new investigators. They were able to see the Stewarts and they had a great lesson with them. Elder Redston and I went by to see them last night and Brother Stewart was sleeping, but we talked to his wife and daughter. They are such a humble family. Brother Stewart was asleep because he had been in pain all day (he's disabled).

Wednesday morning was an unplanned, combined (with Greenville West Zone) Zone Development meeting. The assistants called the day before and told us that we were going to have the meeting and that President and the assistants were going to be attending. Elder Redston and I threw together a training on the preparation it takes in order to find people to teach. I already gave you an update on Dawn Tucker; we had a great lesson about the spirit world. Unfortunately, she did not come to church this week. We are going to continue to work with her, but it may be time to use some tough love. Tracy and her children are doing great. They have a baptismal date of January the 9th.

Well I think I'm done. I'm fighting a cold. I'm going to take a nap today...the first one in a couple of months. :) Keep the faith, follow the spirit.

Elder Cowan

Monday, December 21, 2009

Week of Travel (No P-day)

Dear Family,

Hello! You were right mother. We changed our preparation day to Friday so we don't waste two days. I don't have time to write much, but this week flew by. Wednesday I was in Columbia, Thursday in Woodruff, Friday in Simpsonville, Saturday in Woodruff and Pacolet, Sunday church and then we went to Greenville and Greer. We are really trying to not only have success in our respective area, but for the entire zone to have success! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Adam (23), Christmas Eve(24), and I can't wait to talk to you on Christmas! I will be calling around 5:30 South Carolina time. I can't remember how many hours behind you are. 3? 2? I need to send my weekly email to the assistants to keep them updated on the zone! I love you!

Elder Cowan

PS I just realized I will be at my 10th month mark on Christmas! AHHHH! It is going by too quickly!!!!

Trevor at Zone Conference at Ft. Jackson

Monday, December 14, 2009

Blessings from Listening to the Spirit

Dear Family,

Wow. I can't believe how fast time goes by! I'm already half way through my first transfer in Spartanburg! There is always so much to do and no time to do it! To start off, I want to thank you for including me in your 12 days of Christmas. It has been quite fun for the first two days. I don't have too much time to write because I have to do some paper work on the computer for our meeting with the Stake President this week. I will only have time for the highlights. The biggest thing--India Johnson was baptized! I had the opportunity to confirm her a member of the church yesterday during sacrament meeting. I am so excited for India. It is great to see the fire burning in recent converts. I hope I never become complacent with my testimony, but that I will always have a desire to spread the gospel.

This week Elder Redston and I planned to knock an apartment complex, and while we were walking and talking, we both stopped and the same time--Elder Redston was in the middle of his sentence--we looked at the apartment building at the top of the hill. We both shared with one another that we thought we should go up there, so we did. And.....we met Monica. We had such a great lesson with her. The spirit was so strong and she cried from the time we shared the first vision up until we left. What is even more exciting is that she is the same age as India and they are exactly alike. India is coming with us to teach Monica on Tuesday night. Monica has been reading the Book of Mormon and she has accepted a baptismal date of January 2nd. I am excited to continue to work with her.

Elder Redston and I continue to work with Dawn Tucker. Her countenance has completely changed from the first day we met her. Dawn is no longer depressed and she is always so excited to see us. Dawn has not come to church. Elder Redston and I have planned a "do or drop lesson." I know the spirit will testify to her of the importance of church, and it will be so strong she will not be able to deny it!

Another cool story. Thursday night as we arose from our knees to begin our planning for the following day, Elder Redston pointed at the map and said, "We need to go to this street." Elder Redston was pointing at Quinn Street in Pacolet. He then went on to say, we need to go there between these two times. So we planned it in, and when we got to Quinn Street we met a mother who had been praying for some help to get back into church. She has been struggling with depression and I am so thankful that Elder Redston was in tune with the spirit so that we could be an instrument in Heavenly Fathers hands by being an answer to this sweet sister's prayers. More to come on that story this next week. :) 

One last story. Last night Elder Redston and I had been out contacting and we ran out of plans. I turned on my GPS and I looked at the area. I felt prompted to knock a street, and I told Elder Redston. He said he had already been there with Elder Bowles, but he said we could go try it again. As we pulled onto Grant Cir, he told me there were only four houses on it, but I kept on driving. At the end of the street, it turned into a townhouse community. Elder Redston had never seen it before. We parked the car and we knocked on Lamont Glen's door. We taught Lamont about the Restoration and he told us that he has been searching for a church. He has committed to come to church this week and we are seeing him again on Tuesday. :) I feel so blessed to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost. It is one of the greatest blessings. I know I could not do this work on my own. I also feel so blessed to have been given the responsibility to offer others the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Priesthood is real, always live worthy to use it at a moment's notice.


Elder Cowan

Monday, December 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Justin!

Dear Family,

I can not think of anything that I need for Christmas. I hope I don't get the package too soon, I got a package from Becca this past week, and in big letters is reads "Don't open until Christmas" and it's been a struggle to not open it. :) I decided to put it under my bed in order to remove the temptation from my sight.

To start off, I first need to wish Happy Birthday to Justin. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Next, an update on the zone. For the first week of December Spartenburg East Zone (nicknamed Shemlon Zone) had two baptisms. This next week, our zone is looking at 2 or 3 baptisms. The goal for the month is 16 baptisms. It's quite the hefty goal, but with the Lord's help, it will be accomplished.

On Tuesday Elder Redston and I met with Aleishe (Recent convert) and her aunt Tracy (came to church last week) this was the first time we taught her. Tracy and her daughter Cheyanne loved church. Tracy had already read the introduction and the first chapter of the Book of Mormon. We taught about the Restoration, and we invited her to be baptized on the 26th of December (Happy Quanza) :D Tracy is very excited. Tracy also told us that she has two sons, Jesse (14), and Jakob (12). I am very excited to continue to teach this family. They were not able to come to church because they were sick. Tracy has read through 1 Nephi 8.

On Wednesday we went on a mini exchange with the biking elders in Spartenburg. Elder Jones came with me to work my area while Elder Redston worked with Elder Otoole. The very first door we knocked on, we met Dawn Tucker. Dawn let us right in and we talked with her and she was very depressed. Dawn did not understand why we went through hard times in our lives. She also had two children die before they were baptized, so she has gone through her life hearing that her children are in hell. We read a part of Moroni 8 with her and it was amazing to see the spirit testify to her of the truthfulness of what we were teaching, and the burden and remorse of the death of her children was lifted. By the time we left she was smiling and happy. I am so blessed to see the gospel bless the lives of those we teach. We taught her again this past week. We taught her the plan of salvation. I love the plan of salvation, but I always get in trouble. I talk too much. Our lessons are supposed to be 45 minutes long, but when I taught the plan of salvation it took us two hours. :S

Last week we met a man named Russ. He met with the missionaries awhile ago, and he said that he has never felt the spirit stronger than when he read the Book of Mormon. His wife is very anti. Russ invited us to come to a Christian luncheon. The luncheon was at the library on Thursday. That was quite the experience. We met a bunch of pastors and a lot of old men. :) I felt a little out of place but the food was good, and we met a man named Dennis who may be interested in the gospel.

Friday was zone interviews. It was interesting to have a longer interview with President. We talked about the strengths and weaknesses of the zone. It was very weird to have president apologize for the zone we have. We have quite a few missionaries who are near the end of their missions and are loosing, or have lost their desire to work. I hope my desire never leaves. The assistants asked us to train for a total of 30 minutes, but when we started the training, the assistants told us that we had an hour. The training lasted for an hour and ten minutes. :)

India is doing great. We taught her the gospel of Jesus Christ, the law of the fast and we told her about testimony meeting. India also attended the Christmas devotional. She is excited for her baptism which is happening this Saturday. Life is busy. Life is great. I hope and pray all is well with you! I'm glad to hear the nativities are all out. I think of Elder Uchtdorf's talk. We all must recognize Christ as the Messiah and we must also recognize this time of year is to celebrate his birth. I love ya'll and I hope you have a wonderful week!

Elder Cowan

Monday, November 30, 2009

New Area: Spartanburg

Dear Family,

What a crazy week. I am serving in the Spartanburg 1st ward with Elder Redston, Elder Bowles' last companion. Speaking of Elder Bowles I saw him & Elder Taylor at the Transfer meeting. They are both training new missionaries! With Elder Taylor training, that makes me a "grandpa!" :) I am excited to be serving with Elder Redston bescause he wants to fulfill his purpose (to bring souls unto Christ) and not just fulfill his time. :) Things have been quite hectic. With the influx of incoming missionaries, the Spartanburg 1st ward now has two companionships. With four of us living together, we needed a bigger apartment, so this week we have been moving and cleaning.

Elder Redston and Elder Bowles recently found a young women named India. India is great. We taught her on on Saturday and the spirit was really strong. We committed her to be baptized and she accepted! :D India's baptism is set for the 12th of December. We also had a tender mercy from the Lord. We received a phone call from Elder Redston's and Elder Bowles' recent convert, Cynthia. Cynthia told us that her aunt noticed how her life had changed when she joined the church, and her aunt, Tracie wants to receive the blessings as well. We called up Tracie and she told us she was coming to church and she also asked us if we could come out and visit her to explain what she has to do to join our church! She came to church and she also brought her 9 year old daughter, Cheyanne. They both loved church and we are seeing them on Tuesday! The zone is doing great. We are really pushing for each companionship to baptize this transfer (next 5 weeks). I know it is an attainable goal and I can't wait to go out on exchanges with the members of the Shemlon Zone! I love the gospel and I love each of you!

Elder Cowan

Monday, November 23, 2009

Zone Leader

Dear Family,

First off, today is not preparation day. We moved our preparation day to Thursday so we will not go out and work that day. I will be able to write you a longer letter on Thursday...wait the library is going to be closed. That is why I am writing today. :) Because today is a work day and not a preparation day, I am only allowed to write during my lunch break--thirty minutes. I, unfortunately, do not have time to talk about our investigators, but I received a phone call from the zone leaders on Saturday. I am being transferred. That's how the Lord works. This past Sunday Brandon and Jeff both came to church and they were telling all of the members about their baptism date of December the 5th. They truly are excited. "Like a fire is burning," comes to mind when I look at both of them. I know I am needed elsewhere. "I'll go where you want me to go."

On Sunday I received a phone call from President McConkie. When I looked on the caller-id, I thought to myself, "with 18 new missionaries coming into the mission, there are going to be quite a few trainers." I answered the call expecting him to inform me that I was training, but boy was I wrong. President has asked me to be a Zone Leader. :O Wow. I know I don't know how it feels to be called as a stake president (like Dad), but the thought that I am going to be accountable for 20-25 teenage missionaries is frightening. I go forward in faith and pray that the Lord may be with me as I accept this new assignment. I love you all, and I wish I could share more of my experiences with you, but my lunch hour is over.

With Love,

Elder Cowan

Monday, November 16, 2009

Another fun filled busy week as a missionary!

Dear Family,

Another fun filled busy week as a missionary! I can't believe this is the fifth week I have been in Lexington! This coming Saturday we will receive a phone call from the Assistants in which we will be told if we are staying or going. I feel I will stay in the area, but after being transferred out of Simpsonville after six weeks I have no idea what will happen. There is going to be a big change in the mission this next transfer. There are five missionaries going home and there are 18 missionaries coming in from the MTC! As time goes on, it is very strange to realize that all of the missionaries that I look up to, are going home. Hopefully I can fill their shoes and be a good example to the younger missionaries.

Tuesday: Elder Andersen and I tried to visit a lead that we had met last week. She told us to come by on Tuesday at 2:00. When we arrived, she was not there, (strike one) so we decided to give her a call and leave her a message. Kaneetha called us back and she apologized for not being there and she wanted us to come by the next day at the same time. We went by on Wednesday and Kaneetha was home, but she was the only one home so we could not go in (strike two). We set another appointment for Friday and this time we decided to bring a sister from our ward to come with us. We took Sister De Rosa with us and Kaneetha was home and we had a great lesson. Sister De Rosa had to be home at a particluar time to pick up her kids and right before she had to leave, Kaneetha's boyfriend arrived, so we were able to keep teaching her after Sister De Rosa had to go home. We have an appointment with Kaneetha and Freddie this evening.

Last Sunday we met Melissa while knocking doors and she told us to come back when her husband was home on Wednesday. As missionaries we get that comment quite a bit, and when we return for the appointment the husband runs us off. I didn't think much about it, but we stopped by on Tuesday and we met Melissa's husband, Jeff. Jeff grew up around members (the bishop's wife of the Gilbert ward tutored him when he was in high school). He loves all the members he has ever met, so we sat down with him and taught him the first lesson. When we finished, he told us that he had heard bits and pieces of what we believed, but he had never heard the whole thing. Jeff became very excited to read the Book of Mormon and to come to church, but he works two jobs and one of them is on the weekends. :( We set a return appointment for Friday and when we came back, Jeff was standing at the door waiting for us. :) He invited us in and he told us that since we came by on Tuesday he has just been in a happy mood. He was so excited for us to come back by and teach him. We followed up on the commitment we had extended, and he had not read but he had begun to pray. We taught him the importance of reading the scriptures and especially the Book of Mormon. We also gave him the Restoration DVD. He committed to read the Book of Mormon and to watch the DVD, and he wanted us to come by after work on Sunday. We went by yesterday and he had read the introduction, the testimonies of the three witnesses, the eight witnesses, Joseph Smith's testimony and the first chapter of the Book of Mormon. He also had watched the Restoration DVD and when it finished, his comment was, "that was it? I want to learn more!" So he decided to watch it again! We are seeing him again this evening. He is on fire. He wants to learn everything so we are going to give it to him. :D Elder Andersen and I are trying to get his wife to become more excited. She used to be married to an inactive member that was addicted to drugs. We are trying to find a good fellowshipper from the ward that she can become friends with. It's going to be difficult to try and find someone to come out with us on a Monday night but we are going to find a single person to come with us.

To start this next story, I need to give some background information. A couple of weeks ago, Elder McMurray (another missionary in my District) came to Lexington on an exchange. When we were working, we knocked half of a street. This past week Elder Andersen and I went back to that street and started working from the other end. As we came near the middle, I knew we were getting really close to where Elder McMurray and I stopped a couple of weeks before, but I was not sure. We knocked on a door and a man answered who I had talked to when I was with Elder McMurray. I was worried that he was going to get upset that we came back after he told us he was not interested, but I let Elder Andersen contact him. To my surprise, he told us that he was busy, but wanted us to come back! We went by on Wednesday and we taught Mr. and Mrs. Hall. We had a great lesson with them. They have a seven year old daughter and another child on the way. They were not able to come to church this weekend because he had to go out of town for work and she visited her mother down in Charleston. We have a return appointment with them this evening as well.

On Wednesday we were able to meet with Brandon again at the Connor's home. We had another great lesson with him, but he is having a difficult time with his girlfriend up in Union, SC. the only time he can visit her is on the weekends, so he has still not come to church. I am trying to get his girlfriend's address so I can get ahold of the missionaries in Union and together we will tag team him.

Thursday I had the opportunity to interview a baptismal candidate. I love holding interviews. It is great to see the fire in the investigators eyes and the excitement they have for the gospel. The young man I interviewed is qun (sounds like quwin) he has been meeting with the missionaries for 8 months now and he got baptized and confirmed this past Saturday and Sunday. Before the missionaries knocked on his door, he did not believe in a God, so he has come a long way, and now that he is baptized, he will continue to progress and learn. He is supposed to receive the priesthood next Sunday. I love the gospel.

The Zone Leaders asked me to train again at the Zone Development Meeting on Friday the 13th. I was asked to give a training on the power of the Holy Ghost. I was excited because that is the same topic I was asked to speak on in the Gilbert ward. The training and talk went well.

Stephanie moved to New York. The man who tried to kill her earlier in her life is getting out of prison and for her safety she left. Hopefully she will continue to learn up there. She promised she would call the missionaries once she got up there.

I love each of you and I love hearing about your lives! Keep being great examples to those around you! I am so pleased with your determination to serve the Lord! I heard a poem this week called:

When You Don't Understand Why This Happens to Me
My life is but a weaving between my God and me.
I do not choose the colors, he worketh steadily
Oft times he weaveth sorrow and I in foolish pride,
Forget he sees the upper and I the underside.
Not till the loom is silent and the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful in the skillful Weaver's hands
As the threads of gold and silver in the patterns he has planned.

I am so thankful for the testimony I have received of the restored gospel. I know Heavenly Father has a plan for us and as we follow his guidance we can pass through this "second act" where we pass through temptations, tribulations and trials, then we will reach "act three" where the happily ever after occurs.

Elder Cowan

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pray for Missionary Experiences

Dear Family,

I can't believe Careena is having a child! Do you know what gender it is? I can't believe Cherry and James are at BYU! I am so involved in the work that I forget every one's lives continue even when I'm not there. :) When does James turn 19? I still think of him as being in high school! Yes, the flu is bad here. Last week 7 of our investigators had the flu. This past week one family that we are teaching had their five month old twin die from the swine flu. Elder Andersen and I are trying to be as precautious as possible by using hand sanitizer multiple times throughout the day.

I am sorry Blake was injured while he was running. Daniel Throckmorton injured his knee while he was running in a cross country race. I received your package and the memory card. I really appreciate the talks. If this is a short letter, I apologize. The computer shut down on me! :)

On to this weeks activities. Yes we are still working with Stephanie and Vonda. We are not working with Melissa Rhodes. "The seed was eaten by the flows of the air before it could take root." She decided that she is going to go to the church down the street from her instead of driving 45-55 minutes to our church. Stephanie had a bad experience with some of her previous friends. They came over to her house drunk and making a mess everywhere. The experience strengthened her testimony of the gospel and how important it is that we associate with those who have high standards. We had an appointment with Vonda on Wednesday in which we brought Brother Newburger with us. Vonda was really busy so we a had a quick lesson/follow up on the commitment we had extended to her. Vonda has not read from the Book of Mormon or the pamphlet we left her, but her children have. :) The children are excited to learn more about the gospel. We now need to have Vonda get excited.

The highlight of this week was Brandon. The first week here Elder Andersen and I ate dinner with the Conners. We promised them that there was one person they knew who was ready for the gospel and that in order to know who that one individual is, they needed to pray and ask Heavenly Father. Sister Conner took our invitation and she prayed for missionary experiences and also she prayed that the Lord would present a situation in which she could invite her former student Brandon to receive the missionary discussions. This last week we received a phone call from sister Conner and she explained that she had been praying every day since our visit, and on Tuesday night Brandon called up Sister Conner and asked if she would teach him more about religion and Jesus Christ! We taught Brandon at the Conner's house and the spirit was so strong. Brandon was crying for the majority of the lesson. He accepted a baptismal date of December the 5th. (I can't believe we are almost into December!!!) His biggest difficulty is that he has a girlfriend in North Carolina and he visits her on the weekends. I wish I had more time to explain more of what happened this week but I must go. I love my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and I am eternally indebted to him. I love each of you!

Elder Cowan

Monday, November 2, 2009

Really Cool Experience

Dear Family,
I first want to thank you for the package. I really appreciate it. It did make it here in time for Halloween. The muffins are always great. They stay moist and soft. The brownies were good as well. They seemed extra spongy different than what I remembered, but extremely delicious. Thank you again.

So I have a lot to update. On Friday the 23rd we had a District development meeting. It was great to join with the other companionship in the District and to give and receive wonderful trainings. After the DDM, the Zone Leaders came and blitzed our area for three hours. I worked with Elder Kailiponi while Elder Andersen worked with Elder Quakenbush. The exchange was great. Elder Kailiponi and I found a lady named Stephanie. Stephanie has recently come to know that Jesus Christ is her Savior. She began to go to a non-denominational church and when we taught her about the Book of Mormon, she became really excited and said, "This goes way beyond what they teach me at this other church. All they use is the Bible. You use both. That's deep." It was a great lesson. Stephanie committed to come to church. On Sunday Stephanie did not come, but a woman we met while knocking doors came. We were not able to teach her because she was the only one home, but on her door step we invited her to come to church, and she came! Her name is Najha. She is from Trinidad. She really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, she is moving out of our area so we will not be able to continue to work with her. After church we stopped by Stephanie's house to check on her and see why she did not make it. As we talked with her she explained that while she was getting ready for church the preacher on TV was preaching against the MORMONS. This scared her so she did not come, but then when we showed up after church, she was really touched to know that we truly did miss her.

On Monday we had a really cool experience. We were working on one side of town and I had the impression that we needed to see a former investigator on the other side of town. We were on the bikes so I was hesitant to ride my bike across town, but the Spirit persisted so off we went. We ended up biking for 45 minutes straight to get to this former's house. We walked up to the door and Kenny came out and we invited him to hear our message, and he was nowhere even close to being interested. I thought it was strange that Heavenly Father told me to bike across town just to have a man tell us that he was not interested. We then knocked on the door next to Kenny, and we met Vonda, and her daughter Taylor (age 12) and her son Tyrun (age 9). We taught a wonderful first lesson about the Restoration and they just ate it all up. Before we left, Vonda thanked us for coming over. She said that she was standing at the sink doing dishes, and the thought came to her that she needed to get back into church, and as she thought about it, we knocked on her door. I love being a missionary! It was such a blessing to see the Spirit direct me to her door by impressing upon my mind the need to see the former investigator. We are teaching Vonda and her family again on Wednesday.

Had interviews on Wednesday the 28th. I worked with Elder McMurry on Thursday. Saturday was Halloween. Stephanie came to church on Sunday. Sunday night we set her up on a quit smoking program. She is progressing toward her baptismal date of November the 14th. I continue to receive letters from my recent converts back in Anderson. Edna Bentley is still strong in the gospel. She just finished the Book of Mormon. Kent and Holly are doing great. I have been so blessed, and I continue to be blessed with the opportunity to watch the Spirit change peoples lives. I love you all back in AZ, but I never want to go home. It was scary when I reached my 8 month mark. I feel like I just got here. It's hard to grasp the idea that 1/3 of my mission is over. I am more determined than ever to make the most of every minute and to rely completely on the Spirit as I am a Representative of my Savior Jesus Christ. The atonement is real. I am so thankful for my opportunity to apply it in my life every week as I take of the sacrament. I pray for each of you and especially for Dad during this busy time. I love you.

Elder Cowan

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Life is great as a missionary!

Dear Family,

So this is going to be a short email since it has not been a full week, and we spent the day volunteering at the State Fair, so I don't have much time to write anyways. The highlight of this week has been teaching Melissa Rhodes. Melissa ordered a free Bible from We called her up last week and we set up an appointment for October 20th at 5:00 at the church. When we were at church this last week we looked for a member to be at the church so we can first, be obedient and not be alone with a single women, and second, have someone to begin to fellowship her. We met Sister Fastnaught and she was excited to come help us out (especially since she forgot to feed us last week, and this was a way she could repay us :) We met at the church and gave Melissa a tour of the building. When we entered the chapel, Melissa noticed that Elder Andersen has hearing aids. She was very interested and curious to see what type of hearing aids he uses, because she is hard of hearing as well. So that was exciting that she was able to relate to Elder Andersen. Then as we were asking more questions about her, she told us she was a CNA, and this excited Sister Fastnaught because she is going to school to be a CNA. As we walked around the building, Sister Fastnaught and Melissa became best of friends as they talked medical talk. :) After giving a tour of the building, we entered a room and shared the message of the Restoration. The spirit was very strong. We invited her to be baptized, and she said she would pray about it. I need to become a better teacher and help people recognize on their own that they have already begun to relieve an answer by the way they feel. When we were setting up a return appointment, Sister Fastnaught invited Melissa to be taught in her own home! Melissa accepted and we are going over next week! The sad thing is that she has to work the next two Sundays!  :(  Boo. I can't wait until she is able to come. I know she will enjoy it. That's about it.

Oh quick update on Jessica and Anthony. We went by for our return appointment and Jessica informed us that her mother had ear surgery, so they were going out to go stay with her for a week to try and help her recover. It's sad that they will probably not be able to make it to church this week either.

Life is great as a missionary. From now until the end of the month, Elder Andersen and I are going to be on the bikes since the previous Elders in the area used most of our allotted miles. :) I love to bike. Thank you for all your prayers and support! I love all y'all! Do one random act of kindness for someone today, you never know, it may end up being a perfect opportunity to share the gospel! :)

Love Elder Cowan

Monday, October 19, 2009

Exciting Week! New Area Lexington

Dear Family,

Wow! I am shocked to hear that Dad was called to be the Stake President. What an exciting week for all of us! Stake Conference back home, and transfers for me! As I sat in the transfer meeting, I was excited and also nervous for the change. As I saw my face on the screen, I immediately looked to see who my companion was. My companion is Elder Andersen (The son of a member of the 70. You may remember the talk from April Conference in which the story was told of a young man who used the only Spanish he knew "Tu iglesia hoy!" to activate the teachers quorum), yeah that's my companion! :D) Mom and Dad, you may even know his parents. He graduated from Westwood. He took the Crandall girl to prom  :)  What a small world. Anyways, after I noticed who my companion was I noticed that above his picture, it had the same words as above my picture: "Transfering In." I then noticed where we were going: Lexington. Elder Anderson and I were "whitewashed" into the Lexington Area. :) I found out later, that the other companionship in my district (Elder McMurrey and Elder Adams), was also "whitewashed." Our entire District is new. None of us know the area but this first week has been a blast!

After transfer meeting was completed, and we were swapping our luggage from one car to the next, one of the Assistants, Elder Hepworth, pulled me aside and told me he wanted to talk to me about the area. Elder Hepworth started by telling me that the area in which I have been transferred, was the highest baptizing area one year ago. Since that time, there have been some disobedient missionaries that were sent there, and that the area has not baptized in the past 6 months. He then proceeded to let me know that the President has great faith that we will baptize while here. I was not sure how to respond, but I do know and I told Elder Hepworth that there are people everywhere who are being prepared for the gospel, and if I am living right, the Lord will use me to accomplish his great and marvelous work.

I have not even begun to talk about my week and my time on the computer is almost up! :) Elder Andersen is great. I cannot believe I never met him before the mission. We know all the same people! Elder Andersen has only been out on his mission for a couple of months and he still has the "fire." We have set a baptismal goal of four baptisms this transfer. Oh I know this email is way random and my thoughts are scattered, but in this area, Elder Andersen and I cover two wards: Lexington Ward and Gilbert Ward. This is my first time covering two wards and it is quite the experience. Church is interesting. We jump back and forth between the two wards.

This week has been a blur. Elder Andersen and I have a lot of work to get done. The previous missionaries left the apartment in a mess, we need to update our map, and we are still trying to hunt down the investigators the previous missionaries were working with. The previous Elders did not keep any records!! But among all of the crazy projects we are working on, I have already seen so many miracles occurring here in Lexington. The biggest one of all was meeting Jessica and Anthony. We were walking down a street yesterday and as we walked up to a house, a car pulled up at the same time. Inside the car was Anthony, his wife Jessica, and their three children ages 7, 3, and 1. We told them we were servants of Jesus Christ and they welcomed us right into their home. As we sat down on the couch, before we had even said anything, Jessica asks, "My husband and I are searching for a church. We want to get baptized, but how are we to know which church is right?" :D!!!!!! We then taught the Restoration, and the importance of prayer to find the truth. We are seeing them again on Wednesday. I love this work! I am so blessed to witness the Holy Ghost bare testimony to the people we teach. I know this gospel is true. I know Jesus is the Christ, and he called Joseph Smith to be a prophet through whom he restored the Gospel. I love you all!

Elder Cowan

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Surprise Transfer

Dear Family,

What a week! The zone leaders blitzed our area, Elder Snow from the seventy is touring our mission and he trained us at our zone conference this week, and we received transfer information! On Saturday evening I received a phone call from the zone leaders and Elder Stephans is leaving the district and......I'm leaving as well. :( I just got here. Six weeks is not long enough to get to know the members, and build up a teaching pool. I am packing up my stuff today and tomorrow morning I have to be in Irmo, SC for the transfer meeting. In the meeting I will learn who my companion is, and where I will be serving. Life sure comes at you fast! I was not expecting this. Oh well! I know wherever I go, it will be the Lord's will and there will be people there that I am to teach and bring this gospel to.

Yes, I have talked to the Dr. about the rash. We still do not know what I am allergic to, but I have not had the rash for the past two weeks. If you are going to send a package, please send me talks. :) I could care less about music, I love talks. I can't think of who did it, but there was one speaker who did a set of talks in which he went through the lives of all the modern day prophets. I also have heard a talk by Bruce R. McConkie entitled "Joseph Smith: The Revealer of Christ." I would not mind having that. Also, "The Mortal Christ" By Christenson (I think). I also know you have all of John Bytheway's talks at home. If you could make me a copy of each of those, I would really appreciate it! Anyways, I would appreciate any and all talks about gospel subjects. :) I also need the information for our new stake president when that changes. How long has Bishop Smith been Bishop? Well that's enough about that. I am going log back onto the computer and give an update on this week's events.

Elder Cowan

Dear Family,

I am starting my letter with Wednesday. Wednesday Elder Bjarnson and I were walking down one street and everyone one was home sitting on their porches. This excited me. I knew that out of all these people, we would find someone to teach. We walked down the entire street, and it was the exact opposite of what I thought was going to happen. Everyone told us to leave and no one would even listen to see what we were even doing on their doorstep. When we reached the end of the road, I told Elder Bjarnson how shocked I was that nobody would talk to us. We decided to walk back to where our bikes were locked at the top of the hill, and while we were walking, a man called us over and he was interested in hearing why we were out walking the streets in our suits. We were able to briefly teach about the Book of Mormon, and set up a return appointment before he had to leave. That was the first tender mercy from the Lord that day. After Elder Bjarnson and I had tried to talk to everyone on the street and when I thought we were defeated, Tavarus calls us to him and we are able to teach him. We walked up to the bikes and I hopped on mine and began to ride down the hill. When I got to the bottom, I turned around and could not see Elder Bjarnson anywhere. I waited for a second to have him catch up, but no one came. I started to go up the hill and Elder Bjarnson turned the corner riding down. I asked him what took so long, and he showed me the back of his bike. A piece of his bike frame snapped. :) He could still sit on the bike and ride down the hill but other than that, he was down and out. It was impossible to peddle the bike. We decided to continue on with our plans, but in order to do this, I had to hold my handle bars with one hand, while using my other hand to push Elder Bjarnson's back while he sat on his broken bike. There was one particular hill in which I was pushing him, and I was really tired and I saw a man walking on the side of the road. I decided to steer Elder Bjarnson toward him so he could contact him while I caught my breath. The man's name is Sterling. He is cool. We taught him a brief first lesson on the side of the road and set up a return appointment for the following day. This was the second tender mercy of the day. If Elder Bjarnson's bike had not broken, I most likely would have ridden my bike right past Sterling on my way to our destination.  :) The last miracle of the day was when we went to see Betty Stoddard. When we arrived at her house, she told us that she had been under the weather the past couple of days. The previous night she was hurting really bad and she had a ton on her mind. While she was thinking of all the difficulties she has in her life, she began to cry, but then the image of two young men in suits came to her memory and all of her pain and trouble disappeared. When she was telling us the story she told us that this experience was a message from God telling her that she needed to be baptized. She has a baptismal date of October 31-Halloween.

Thursday Elder Bowles and Elder Redston blitzed our area. Elder Bjarnson worked with Elder Redston while I had the opportunity to work with my trainer for a day. Elder Bjarnson and Redston were able to see Sterling who told them at the beginning of the lesson that he was supposed to be picked up any minute, but they decided to teach him anyway. They were able to teach the entire lesson and Sterling accepted his baptismal date of November the 7th. When Elder Bjarnson and Redston left, Sterling made the comment, "I believe it was God's will that my ride was late so I could hear this message." Elder Redston and Elder Bjarnson also saw Brandon that evening and he accepted a baptismal date of October the 31st. Elder Bowles and I were able to see one of our media referrals named Vernesa. Vernesa had ordered a DVD back in December, but for some reason the missionaries never delivered it to her. We taught her a first lesson and the spirit was really strong. Vernesa has also accepted a baptismal date of November the 7th. Before we left, Vernesa turned to me and said, "I now know why I had to wait so long to get my DVD. I had to wait until you got here." I love this work!!! Simpsonville should change its name to Miracleville. :D

Friday was zone conference, with a guest speaker, Elder Snow of the Seventy. It was amazing to listen to him. He had not prepared a talk, but he had prepared spiritually. For three hours he just followed the spirit as he trained us. It was such a neat experience to literally see the Spirit work through the apostle.
I love this work I am sad that I am being transferred with so many things beginning to happen in this area, but I know I am needed elsewhere. I pray for each of you every night. Keep the commandments, follow the spirit, and everything else just falls into place. :) I read Omni 1:26 this past week, "offer up your whole soul unto Christ." I am striving to do that more and more everyday. Keep it real!

Elder Cowan

Monday, October 5, 2009

I Love Conference!

Dear Family,
Hi y'all! How y'all doin? :) Life here is great. I thought I would start with an update of the "rashes and raincoats." Dr. Hamilton ordered me a prescription of an oral steroid which I was to take for six days, each day lowering the amount I take. The steroid was to suppress the reaction and hopefully give me enough time to figure out what I was allergic to. I had assumed it was my rain coat, but then on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m., while I was still on the medication, the rash came back. I called Dr. Hamilton (mission doctor) and he was highly confused. He was really shocked because he has never had someone have a reaction while taking the medication. With the reaction still occurring, it makes it very unlikely that I am allergic to my raincoat. The investigation is still on. Besides calling the doctor, I also called the zone leaders (Elder Bowles and Elder Redsten) and asked them to send a message out to the zone and have everyone pray that the rash/hives would go away and that I would be able to focus on the work. It was not that it caused any pain, but it was difficult to focus on the work when I itched all over. ;) I also asked Elder Bjarnson to give me a priesthood blessing. As soon as he finished the blessing, I could instantly see a change in my skin. After 15 minutes, the rash had completely disappeared and I didn't have any more problems for the rest of the day. I am so thankful for the priesthood and for the opportunity to be a missionary and to have another worthy priesthood holder with me at all times. This experience has strengthened my testimony of prayer and the power of the priesthood. On Wednesday, at the same time, 11:30 a.m., the rash came back. And then within an hour it was gone again. We still don't know what caused the problem, but I've finished the medication and I have not had a problem since. I have no idea. Enough about my medical adventure/investigation. Someday I will figure out what has been causing the reaction.

Now it's time for the more important things! The people we are working with! At the top of the list are Brandon and Jessica. They have been the focus this week. We went to see them on Tuesday evening with a perspective elder, Jonathan Gawrych. I am so thankful for the support that we receive from this ward. When we arrived at their appointment, Brandon was not there. His car had broken down and he was out walking somewhere, but because we had a member with us, we were able to go into the apartment and teach Jessica. Because Jessica was not there the first time we had taught Brandon, we went over the Restoration and right when we were going to commit her to be baptized, Brandon showed up and we missed the opportunity. :( Jessica had had a difficult time at work and it was amazing to see her attitude change as she listened, asked questions and got involved in the lesson.

Wednesday was the last day of the month which means bike day. Elder Bjarnson and I biked all day Wednesday. We have to be obedient. Staying within the mileage limitations the Lord has given us equals an increase in Heavenly Father's trust for us; therefore, entrusting us with the opportunity and responsibility to teach more of His children!

On Thursday, Elder Bjarnson and I received the list of medias that we were to see. I noticed on our list that there were two names from the same address that had ordered materials from the church. One had ordered a Bible, and the other had ordered a "Joy to the World" DVD LAST WINTER! It had been 8 months from the time she had ordered the video. I call the number immediately to try and get ahold of someone. I talked to Vernesa who was the one who had ordered the "Joy to the World" DVD. When I told her who I was, where I was from, and the nature of the call, she told me, "Forget it! It's all just a hoax! I ordered material 8 months ago. You must be giving my information out to a solicitor!" I explained that I was sorry she had not received her materials, but that I had just arrived in the area and I was not sure why the materials had not been delivered. I asked her to give me one chance. She told me to come immediately to her house and if I did not come today it was over. Luckily Elder Bjarnson and I were near her house so we drove straight there. We gave her the video, and the Bible for her sister, and then I told her I wanted to give her another gift, The Book of Mormon. She accepted the gift and I explained what it was. When I finished explaining, she asked, "Do believe there are prophets today?" :) Oh yeah! We explained about General Conference, the opportunity to hear a prophet of the Lord speak today and she became very excited....which leads into the highlight of the week GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!!

On Friday we had a District Development Meeting. My training was on helping the members realize that the "the field is white." So many members are willing to help us teach our investigators, but we need to encourage them to seek Heavenly Father's direction is finding out which of their friends or acquaintances are ready for the gospel today. I feel it went fairly well. After the meeting, I went on an exchange with Elder Stephens, while Elder Stocks worked my area with Elder Bjarnson. It is always a neat experience to work with other missionaries and to learn and grow from their strengths. We finished the exchange by meeting at the church building to watch conference. I love conference. The spirit definitely was working on me and I truly felt the urge to become a better example of the Savior and to be a better leader, especially with the members of my zone. I am so thankful for the insights I received and for the opportunity to hear the direction and counsel from the prophet, apostles and other leaders. Brandon came to the Saturday morning session of conference. On Sunday, Brandon and Jessica came to the morning session and then Brandon came back for the afternoon session. We also had our investigator, Hoover, come to the Sunday afternoon session.

I love you all and I hope you have a great week!
Elder Cowan

Monday, September 28, 2009

Finding a family, Brandon and Hives!

Dear Family,

I am sorry I was not able to write a letter last week. This week we are emailing from the office at our apartment and there is no time limit so I think all will be well this week. Last week I was praying for the opportunity to teach a family that lives in our area. We worked hard all week but nothing was coming from it. It was Sunday and we still had not found a family. When we came in for dinner Sunday evening, I was a little bummed because I had not reached my goal. Elder Bjarnson took a nap during dinner, but I was determined to put all my efforts into finding a family. I decided to check the former investigators and read the information that was left from previous missionaries to try and find one that may have potential. I picked out two names that I wanted to go and see, and then we went out to work. We had planned to see a media that evening (who bailed on us) and so I was curious to find out where the former investigators lived. One of the former investigators lived fairly close to where we were at. The former investigator's name is Stuart and he lives with his grandmother who is a less active member. We reached their house and talked to the grandmother and she was interested in having us come back by and she was interested in coming back to church. We were not able to teach them right then because it was getting dark and they were going to bed. As we walked down the street, I noticed a man sitting out on his porch, and the thought came to my mind "don't talk to that man." When I recognized what I was thinking, I knew the thought was not coming from God, so I was determined to talk to the man. We walked up to the door and introduced ourselves, and he let us into his house. We met Jimmy and Tikesha who are a couple with four kids. Tikesha's sister, Hope, also lives with them. We taught them about the Book of Mormon, and committed them to be baptized. They told us they were not living right to be baptized, but that they are trying to straighten out their lives. We told them that as missionaries our purpose is to help people come unto Christ. They are interested in having us come by and help them keep the commandments and follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ. At 7:45 Sunday evening, I had reached my goal. Elder Bjarnson and I found a family. :) That was last week's highlight. On to this week.

This week Elder Bjarnson and I were on the bikes. :) The highlight for this week was Brandon. We were out tracting on Thursday and we knocked on a door and a grumpy old lady came to the door and told us to leave. We politely excused ourselves and started to walk toward our bikes. As we were walking away, a man came out of the house and yelled at us to stop. The man introduced himself as Brandon. He is the caretaker of the old lady. He was interested in hearing our message. He told us, "I want to know why you are so excited." We set up an appointment for the following day. Friday we taught Brandon a first lesson and he soaked everything up. He fell away from church because of his "scientific mind," but he recently realized that all things "denotes there is a God" and he loved the idea of another prophet on the earth today. We set up a return appointment for the following day. Saturday we brought Jackson, a member from the ward, with us to the appointment. We arrived and a lady answered the door. She told us that Brandon was on his way home, and she invited us in. We talked with Jessica and when Brandon came home, we invited her to join us in our discussion, but she said she was not interested. We began to teach the Plan of Salvation. As we were talking about our pre-earth life, Jessica piped in, "so you are telling us that God knew me before I was born?" :) We had her. We told her that she was a daughter of God, and that He knows her personally and cares for her. This caught her attention and she joined us for the rest of the discussion. We have a return appointment with Jessica and Brandon on Tuesday. Those are two miracles I had the past two weeks.

Oh one last story. On Saturday it was raining really bad so Elder Bjarnson and I wore our rain coats. When we came in for lunch, I had hives on my arms and neck. By the end of lunch they had disappeared, so we went back out to work. By the end of the night, I had hives all over my body. :) The mission doctor called a pharmacy and ordered me a prescription. I am allergic to the polyester material that my rain coat is made out of. :) It has not bothered me in the past because I normally wear the fleece lining within my coat. The temperature was not very cold so I took the fleece out! :) It was quite a funny experience. Well I need to go. I love you all and I hope this email will suffice!

Elder Cowan