Monday, April 27, 2009

First Baptism!

April 27, 2009

I do not like It takes forever to load pictures, so I only have five minutes to send my letter. I have not even had a chance to read your letter mom. Sorry. I pray life is going well.

21st and 22nd-went on an exchange with Elder Roundy. Tuesday night and I worked Greenville Wednesday.  Elder Jones (not the Elder who lives with me) came from Greenville to go on an exchange with Elder Bowles. I realized that I have taken Elder Bowles for granted. He is an amazing missionary. It was nice to work Greenville for a day.
23rd-District development meeting. I gave a training on prayer. I find it appropriate that I received Dad's email about prayer AFTER my training. :P oh well. :D Oh funny story. The day started out with no dinner appointment, then throughout the day I actually ended up with three dinners! Yummy.
24-Ward had a pot luck dinner. A lot of part member families came so it was good for those nonmember to enjoy the ward.
25-Luis and Gasper's Baptism! :D It was great! It was a little confusing because the location of the baptism was changed three times, and the last time it changed, it not only changed locations but time. The baptism was going to be at six pm but it ended up being at 10 am. We had a member who was going to give us a ride at 6 but with the change in time we had to drive out to Boiling Springs which really took a number on our miles so we will be biking the rest of the month. Brother Prestigue (their dad) performed the baptism. He was so happy to see his sons take the first big step in the gospel. The baptism was in Spanish, so it was very interesting. I loved it.
26-we have been struggling with finding new investigators but the ones we have are solid! Edna and her three grandchildren are looking great for the baptism on the 9th, we also have a man named William who is going to be baptized that same day. Oh funny story. William thinks he is a prophet. First off, everyone in the south has had some type of crazy spiritual experience in their life. William's was a vision. In his vision two foot tall Cherokee Indians surrounded him and above him was the "spirit" of God. We still have to work with him on the whole "being a prophet" but he is really excited for his baptism. I wish I had more time. Make sure Dad forwards the pictures. I love you!

Monday, April 20, 2009

First Zone Conference

April 20, 2009

Dear Family,
Be the part; Wear the part!
I have not seen a Wells Fargo. That's why I sent the check home. I'm sorry I didn't write anything. I do love you and I can only write on P-Day. I forgot to tell you last email that there is a new policy on the mission. (Dad's going to love it) All missionaries have to part their hair. :) I also was asked last week by the Ap's to play the piano at zone conference this Wednesday. I'm thankful for the little skills I have. I've had the opportunity to play the piano MANY times at different meetings. The bike I use is owned by a member. He doesn't use it so he gave it to me for my time here in Anderson. I think I answered the questions. If I didn't, I'm sure you will ask me again next week. When I received the call to play the piano at zone conference, they told me I had to be at the church by 6:00 in the morning. When I got off the phone I told Elder Bowles and he was shocked because I guess zone conference starts at 10, but I didn't know any better because I've never been to one. Our zone leaders also asked us to start a fast at 12:00 Tuesday to prepare for the special zone conference. With all the excitement about the special zone conference (the earlier time and fast), everyone was speculating what was going to happen. The two biggest guesses were 1. one of the 12 apostles were coming, or 2. We were re-dedicating the south for missionary work. All this excitement made me nervous with my assignment to play piano. :P We started the fast on Tuesday and later that day we taught Bill and Wayne (the two Catholic brothers) at the church. We focused on the Book of Mormon, and Wayne really enjoyed the thought of Christ appearing to the people in America. It was a great lesson. In order to get to Greenville by 6:00 we woke up at 3:30. :D When we arrived I went to the bathroom to get away from everyone and say a quick prayer asking that I may be calm and that my fingers may be guided as I played. I played for a half hour of prelude music and it was great. :) the Lord definitely blessed me as I played. When conference started President McConkie told everyone that we were getting in the cars and leaving. He didn't tell us where we were going but we filed into the cars and left. We drove to a State park and started hiking. After a couple of minutes on the trail we stepped off into the forest. We read the first vision and sang Joseph Smith's first prayer. I love music. The spirit was in rich abundance as 40 missionaries sang. It was powerful. We then had time to separate from everyone and have our own sacred grove time. I started with a prayer to thank Heavenly Father for revealing himself and His son to the young Joseph Smith. I then read through the words of the hymn and I was struck by the lyrics "but undaunted still he trusted in his Heavenly Father's care." I had been talking to Elder Bowles and how I wished I knew the reasons behind the rules so we wouldn't have to have blind obedience and Elder Bowles commented: "It's a chance to trust our Heavenly Father. We don't have to know why there is a rule, but where and who the rule is coming from." As I read the lyrics in the song, I thought about how I need to trust my Heavenly Father more. I trusted him enough to come on my mission, but do I trust him enough to send his spirit when I testify? Do I trust him enough to guide me to his elect? Do I trust him enough to align my will with His? These were the questions that I pondered and it was a great experience. We then went on to have the regular zone conference at the church, It was great but the best part was our sacred grove time. The focus of the conference was to "Send your investigators through the Sacred Grove." I need to help the investigator have the desire and then pray vocally to Heavenly Father asking their question. On to Thursday. We taught a man named Joel but it was very difficult because we were teaching in his front yard and the dogs were barking, and his house was next to a highway so cars were driving by constantly so it was difficult to have the spirit with us. Even with all the distractions we invited him to kneel down and pray, and he did! It almost shocked me that he would do that in the middle of his yard while cars were driving by. It was pretty cool. His friend had been listening to the discussion but at the end he got frustrated with us and we were not able to get a return appointment with Joel but later that night he gave us a call and wanted to meet us at our church so we could teach him some more and without distractions! :D Happy day! 
We continue to go over to Edna's every day to have contact to make sure she is still excited about baptism, and every time she is firmer and firmer in her determination. This week she even told us that she knew that God had sent us to her. We were an answer to her prayers. Her baptism date is the 9th along with her three grandchildren. Saturday while riding our bikes away from Ednas, we came across a huge hill and I went down a little fast, and....crashed. L:) I ripped up my shirt and my belt broke but it was so funny! I also got a little road rash on my arm but I could not stop laughing after I got up. Don't worry mom. And don't email Sis. McConkie. I am fine. It was a funny experience. Another funny story this week. I talk in my sleep, you know that, but Saturday I woke up and Elder Jones and Bowles told me I had said the Lords prayer in my sleep!  :)  Wayne and Bill must be rubbing off on me.  :)  We taught Wayne and Bill again about baptism and Wayne recognized that he has not been taught the truth in the Catholic church. Luis and Gaspers baptism is this weekend so pray for them to stay strong and that all will work out. I love you all and I pray all is well.
Love Elder Cowan

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Week


April 13, 2009

I'm surprised you got my email last week! I pressed send and there was 40 seconds left on the computer. The computer was "thinking" but it never said the email had been sent. I'm glad you got it.

Thank you for the package. I've been eating more candy than I think I did in my life. :D I'm feeling much better. I have been drinking a ton of water because I did not want to get headaches or sore throats but the water did not prevent it. I bought a water bladder that I keep in my backpack and it has a hose so I can have easy access to water at all times.

Time for investigators. I don't know if I told you about Barry Brown, but he was a large, let me repeat LARGE man. He use to play in the NFL, anyways we have been teaching him, then we didn't see him for a couple days. We were wondering where he was but then we got a call from his wife who told us Barry had congestive heart failure and that he was in the hospital. We were worried about his health but we were glad to know why he was not answering our phone calls so we didn't think much about him, but this week we got another call from his wife, and she told us Barry had passed away. I'm thankful for the gospel and the truths that we know. Even though we were not able to baptize him, I know the missionaries on the other side are continuing to teach Barry the lessons.

Tuesday we visited Shirley Payne and she told us an amazing experience. Shirley was at the store and a lady came up to her and told her to be careful when it comes to the "Mormons" because the lady had heard we worship Joseph smith. Shirley turned to the lady and told her "you have been misinformed. The Mormons worship God and his Son, Jesus Christ. Maybe you should look into something before you start talking about it." I was so proud of her! After teaching Shirley we tried to teach Melonie who has been lame and avoiding us, she told us she didn't feel good and then shut the door on us, so we went to the side of the road and ate lunch. While we were eating it began to snow! :0 Crazy! the weather in South Carolina is crazy! It will be warm one day, then rain, then tornado, then snow! I also performed my first service on Tuesday. We planted a tree.  :)  we didn't find any new investigators during the day, but we called Luis, and I'm not sure what I told you last, they change almost every day, but he wants to be baptized! We drove out to teach him and we had a wonderful plan of salvation lesson, so its great to have them as investigators again. Hopefully this time they will stay committed to the gospel.

Wednesday. We went over to the Busbys for dinner (they feed us every Wednesday) and before dinner we have an ugly tie contest. I received 25 ties from a man in the ward and I must say they are pretty ugly. All four of us had really ugly ties and for the first time in the Busby Ugly tie contest, there was a four way tie!  :)  It was quite funny. After dinner Brother Busby came out with Elder Bowles and I, and we went to a media referral for Rick Shuffler. Rick has a friend in UT and Rick went to Utah recently for a funeral. He and his friend spent four hours talking about their beliefs. we brought him the Book of Mormon he ordered, and he already had questions for us. He seems really interested, but he's either going to accept the Book of Mormon, and we won't have to work very hard (because he will believe everything we say) or he will find something in the Book of Mormon that he sees as a contradiction to the Bible and he will want nothing more to do with us. Either Extreme. We are praying for him.

Thursday we taught Hunter and Stephanie who used to be the other missionaries investigators but they suddenly had to move and they lost track of them and then on Wednesday night they showed up at the church to do family history. They want to be baptized but it will be difficult because they live with Stephanie's mother who is anti-Mormon.

Friday. Boy did it come down today! It rained really hard. It was quite fun though, I was in such a great mood. We had planned Thursday night to ride bikes all day long so we decided to stick with our plans. I was drenched completely through but the whole time on the bike I kept singing "There is Sunshine in my Soul Today." We stopped by Shirley's and I've decided she is completely crazy. She told us she believes she is going to be God's wife, and she told us a vision she saw of a tornado that is 50 miles wide and will destroy SC. It was creepy. I don't think we are going to keep seeing her. We found a man named Lawrence a couple days ago and when we first taught him he told us he had become really good friends with some missionaries a couple years ago, he even cooked them steak! We taught him the Plan of Salvation and it blew him away. I know I'm not supposed to judge the other missionaries that used to come over to his house, but Lawrence told us that they discussed the gospel every time they came over, but he had never heard of the Plan of Salvation. When we taught that the belief of only heaven and hell was incorrect he completely agreed with us because he had always wondered about those who never had the chance to hear about Jesus Christ. There is a lot of potential with Lawrence. There was a tornado warning Friday night and it was a crazy storm! The zone leaders called in a lock down so we had to return to our apartments early, and when we arrived the power was out. What a crazy day!Wow Saturday the Lord really blessed us. Within an hour Elder Bowles and I taught three lessons, and from those three lessons we picked up six new investigators! We taught Edna and her grandchild Trinity. They accepted everything we taught them, it was a powerful first lesson. We then taught Wayne and Bill who are brothers who live together and they are catholic. They both accepted the commitment to be baptized, but they will have to come a long ways before they will actually be comfortable because their whole life they have been in the Catholic church. We then went over to a leads house his name is JR, but he was not home but two other people were so we taught them and they accepted the commitment to be baptized, I 'm really excited because we could get the whole household to be baptized.

Sunday we only had Sacrament meeting because the power had still been out from the storm Friday. It was a great service. Edna came to church but it wasn't just her. She brought three of her grandchildren with her! Trinity, Billy, and Felicia. Their ages are 9, 14, and 11. they really enjoyed church and we are teaching them again tomorrow.  Wow I hope my emails make sense. I just ramble and don't really make sentences. Oh well.  :)  I love you all and I'm thankful for Easter, for the opportunity to celebrate Christ's resurrection.
I love you all!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Conference Week

April 6, 2009 
It was nice to read dad's letters. I spent too much time this week reading emails, but I will do my best to make this a detailed email.
I was a little under the weather this week. I'm still not better but I think I am finally getting better. It has been really annoying. I've had a constant headache and sore throat all week, and my nose has either been clogged or running. :)  I think its allergies so I've been taking medication and it seems to be working. Yes mom, you can email me while I am on the computer. Grandma can email me directly. Sean can email me directly as well (as long as his mission president allows it). I can print stuff off, I'll definitely have to start doing that. I know you had more questions but I can't think of them. I would also like David Abner's myldsmail address it you could get that for me. I can't think of anything particular to put in the package. If you can have Blake ask Schreiber where he bought the Encore pens, I would really like more ink for it. It was a really nice pen. Only twenty minutes left and on to the letter!

This week has been a blur because of my sickness. I've been drinking a ton of water this week trying to make the sore throat go away, and because of all the fluid I have been drinking I've been in some sticky situations because we are not allowed to use investigators or members bathrooms. Tuesday we ate at the bishops house and I really had to go to the bathroom.  :)  My headache was particularly bad that night as well so It was a painful but funny situation to be in. It didn't help that the bishop doesn't trust missionaries. He thinks we are young (and we are) and that we don't know what we are doing. It was quite a funny experience trying to be respectful while I thought I was going to burst. After dinner we went to Luis and Gasper's to teach them a lesson. Luis was not there so we taught Gasper the second lesson. He really enjoyed it. We also set Gasper and Luis on a calendar and gave them assignments of what scriptures to read and when we would see them up until their baptism. While contacting on Wednesday, we met a lady named Shirley Payne. This lady has lived a difficult life. She lives in a mobile home which leaks, she has no running water or heat. When we met her she was cooking food over a candle.  :(  We taught her that god loves her and she told us a little about her life. When she was a young lady she was kidnapped and raped. Shirley is so positive, as she told us this, she said it was a blessing because from the experience she had a son. She looks on the bright side of life even with having so little. She also had her identity stolen, and her husband divorced her anyways the list goes on but she is an example to me that nobody can take your attitude away. We have the choice to choose our outlook on life.

Conference was great. My Allergies were acting up really bad, and in between each talk I had to run to the bathroom to wash out my eye. This is because throughout each talk, my eye would slowly seal shut. (See picture) :) I loved Elder Hollands talk. It was amazing! We watch conference at the ward building. It's been great to hear the prophet speak. I'm sorry I could not write more. I love you!

Mom-I loved your letter, I had to skim some parts because of lack of time
Dad-You are alive! I was wondering why I had not heard of from you! :P
Justin-enjoy those free sandwiches
Blake-keep running!
Kevin-Do choir! you will love it! and the girls in choir are pretty! Love you all!