Monday, July 27, 2009

Every minute counts!

Dear Family,

You probably get bored of me saying this, but I can't believe it's preparation day again! The weeks just seem to fly by! This is going to have to be a short email because myldsmail has been giving me some difficulties. :( Oh well life goes on and we work through it!

Tuesday: Elder Taylor and I went on an exchange with Brandon Dial. We planned to go see a media referral that was way south in our area near Lake Secession. It took us 35 minutes to drive down to the area and find the road, but then we could not find the house. We drove around on the road on which she lives for about twenty minutes trying to find her address. Elder Taylor and I finally jumped out of the car and started knocking on doors with the intent to ask the neighbors if they knew where this lady lived. The first door we knocked on was the house we were looking for! :) We came in and taught a lesson, the lady was not very interested, but her son-in-law, Mark was very interested. We turned our teaching focus from her to him, and we taught a really good lesson. I'm excited to have another investigator, but it is going to be difficult to get down that far south to see him. I guess this is the Lord's way of making me stretch and grow and make me use the members more. :)

Wednesday morning Elder Taylor and I were out knocking doors and we met Colleen. When we introduced ourselves to her, she told us the reason she was talking to us was because she was so curious what we believed because all growing up whenever the "Mormons" came knocking on the door, her parents would close the door and blinds and tell everyone to be quiet until the missionaries left. This extreme reaction made her want to listen to our message. As we taught, she opened up more and more, and by the end of our lesson Colleen realized that our church teaches what she feels to be the truth (God loves us--not the belief that some preachers believe that God is a jealous God and if we do anything wrong he is going to thrust us down to hell.) When we asked for a return appointment, she asked us to come back that night to teach her husband Roy. We came back and taught another lesson, Roy is not as excited about the church, he feels its just another group of people worshiping God, but we will fix that....well I guess the Spirit will fix that as he comes to church. They have three daughters ages 12, 9, and 7. It is exciting to have a family to teach.

Laura is still doing great and progressing along very smoothly. She came to church yesterday so I think we may move her baptismal date from the 15th to the 8th. I'll have to see how what she says when we bring that up.

Thursday we went on an exchange with another member and after we saw everyone that we had planned, we were dropped off at the apartment at 8:50. The rule is that we have to be in at 9:00 unless we are teaching a lesson. We had ten minutes. There is not a lot of things one can do with ten minutes, but Elder Taylor and I decided to knock our apartment complex, and the first door we knocked on we met Brian. We taught a really good lesson. Brian has strong ties to another church so we will see what will happen there, but when we left he told us that he really needed to hear our message. I did not reply so he stopped us as we were walking away from his apartment and he said, "no, you don't understand, I REALLY needed to hear that. I know God sent you tonight." It was a great experience, and if Elder Taylor and I had decided to end our day ten minutes early (which I have never done and never will do), we would have missed out on that wonderful experience. It also taught me the importance of every minute. I love this work. I'm out of time. Have a great week!

Elder Cowan

Monday, July 20, 2009

Another transfer

Today starts another transfer! Start of number 4. It's scary to think my mission will only consist of 16 or 17. :O Oh well. I have to make the most of what I got.
I was looking at a calendar and Ammon Opie, Josh Boehme, and Nik Crawford should all have or be receiving their mission calls very soon. I would love to hear where they are going.

With the start of the new transfer, I also start a new planner and Elder Taylor can testify that my planner is my brain. So with a blank planner my mind also is blank...
Steve and Lisa are not getting baptized. Lisa was the one who was dragging the rest of the family along, and when we taught the Word of Wisdom, her response was, "I know smoking is bad, but I have no desire to quit. I'm not even going to try." Since she does not have a desire, there really is nothing Elder Taylor and I can do.

Brother Trotter joined the church a little over a year ago. He has a really cool story. From a very young age, Brother Trotter knew there was a God. He had answered his prayers on numerous occasions. Brother Trotter, however, did not know which church to join. He searched and searched. He could not find God's church. He then had an experience, dream, or vision. I'm not sure what you would call it, but in this experience he walked with God and He told Brother Trotter about His church and the characteristics of it (prophets, revelation, temples...). After the experience Brother Trotter continued to look for a church that fit the description he had received. He could not find the church, and while he was praying and asking God if he was supposed to organize the church he had been told about, the missionaries knocked on his door. Anyways it's a really cool story and he's a really good guy. He came out on exchanges with Elder Taylor and me and he wanted us to stop by his nephew's house. We went over and taught Kent and Holly a great first lesson, and then we went by the next day as well, and they came to church this Sunday! :D I love when members give us referrals! I'm excited to see what happens with them. The only problem is that Kent has a 3rd grade reading level. He has a difficult time with the Book of Mormon, but we received the Book of Mormon Stories book and we are going to give it to him so he can read it to his kids and hopefully he will understand it as well. We will have to go slow with them but with Brother Trotter's help, I feel there is a lot in store with them.

Another cool story this week. On Friday Elder Taylor and I were looking for less actives, and while we were going down the street we stopped at a house and we met a lady named Laura. We taught her a first lesson, which I did not think had gone well at all because there were disruptions all throughout, but when we invited her to ask Heavenly Father if Joseph Smith was a prophet her response was, "I do not need to ask. The spirit has already borne witness of the truthfulness of your message." :O!!!!!!! What? I've never had that response before. We invited her to be baptized the 15th of August and she accepted, we then invited her to church, and she accepted and when we asked when we could come by for a return appointment, she responded, "How about you come over after church and I'll feed you lunch?" I truly think my jaw hit the ground. You must remember we just met this lady, and she committed to church, baptism and feeding us. Laura has kept her commitments thus far. She attended church, and she fed us afterward. Talk about elect! Well I know this is not a very long email but you will have to survive. :) I love you all and I would love to hear from all of you (Justin and Blake) :) I know the Church is true and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Redeemer of the World.

Elder Cowan

Monday, July 13, 2009

Another week gone by!

Dear Family,

I really can't believe another week has already gone by! I need time to somehow put more hours into a day. If you think of a way, let me know. :) I really need to work on my memory skill. I can't remember what day it is let alone what happened this entire week, but I will definitely do my best.

Monday evening we met with an old lady named Sheb. She frustrates me. We started to teach the Plan of Salvation, but then Sheb started telling us how she does not believe the things that are being taught at the church she attends. The biggest thing is that she does not believe in the Trinity (as she shouldn't because it is a false sectarian notion brought forth by the Nicene Creed). I kept asking her why she goes to a church that she does not believe the teachings, but she never gave me an answer. She kept saying she likes the people there. RRRR! Frustration. I promised her she would love the people in our church as well, and she would be taught the truth, but she didn't quite grasp it. We will see what happens with her. We are thinking of bringing Sis. Cinelli over. She is an older lady who thought she was too old to change churches because of the roots that she had with people, but she tells anyone who will listen to her, "I wrestled with God, and He won." Hopefully, she will be a good fellowshipper with Sheb.

Tuesday we had our return appointment with Ralph who we found last Sunday night. When we knocked on the door, a lady came out and yelled at us, "HE WANTS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU, AND NEVER COME BACK!!!" She then proceeded to slam the door in our face. I started to walk away, but I didn't feel right. So I decided to write a short note to Ralph on a post-it note and I snuck up to the door and placed it on hoping he would see it. I can look back now and see that I was being led by the Spirit. At the time I had no idea, but I 'll finish the rest of the story later. :) 

Tuesday night we went out on exchange with Bro. Ennen. We first went to Michelle Grant's house (she is the one who told us she wanted us to baptize her children) and as we walked up, Michelle came out and confessed that she is seeing a man who is married to someone else! Surprise! We did not get to address that problem because we had already planned out a FHE with all her kids. We watched the Restoration DVD, and then we were planning to play "Don't Eat Pete," missionary style, but we ended up not having enough time before our next appointment. We then taught Mack who is this really cool, down to earth man, but his problem is that he lives with Joyce, who he is not married to. We decided that we would wait to teach the Law of Chastity until they would both be there. Our lesson was centered around the Book of Mormon. The what, where, when, and why it is important in his life. He has been reading. Hopefully he will have a strong enough testimony of it when we teach the Law of Chastity. As Bro. Ennen drove us home, we thanked him for coming out on exchanges with us and he then told us how he has drifted in and out of activity in the church for many years, and that this one experience truly helped him. It was a nice reminder that the Spirit in the lessons not only touches the investigator but the members as well.

Wednesday. Elder Taylor and I went on an afternoon exchange with brother Armey and boy was that an experience. Just a heads up on brother Armey-Brother Armey suffers from antidisestablishmentarianism. He took us out to lunch before our exchange, and all he did was bash the Anderson Ward, the Government, the school system etc. It was quite awkward. Elder Taylor and I just ate our food and nodded once in awhile. :)  The exchange was good, we delivered a media and taught this lady a lesson, but she had her two grandchildren there, and they are devils! They were yelling, screaming, running in and out of the room during the entire lesson. Brother Armey finally left the room and tried to keep them entertained in the other room while Elder Taylor and I taught. After that lesson we then taught Suzie who is an older black lady that lives with her 93 year old mother. Suzie has not made it to church yet because she has to watch her mother. This next week she said her brother could watch her, so hopefully she will come to church.

Wednesday night we were supposed to teach Dev (the investigator we found at 8:35 last Sunday) at the church. As we drove to the church we called her house, and her mother told us she had already left for an appointment at a church. We were excited that she was coming and we waited, and waited, and waited. Dev never showed up but I was almost positive that it was because she had gotten lost not because she ditched us. Dev is kind of an air head. :) 

Thursday day was a lot of contacting, but that night Brother Macdonald came out on exchanges and we stopped by Dev's house. She was home and my suspicion was correct. Dev had gotten lost. We told her to read 3 Ne. 11 before our appointment at the church, AND SHE READ IT THREE TIMES! She loved it so much, and she didn't want to keep reading the Book of Mormon because she did not know if she was allowed to, so she read the assigned again and again! We invited her to be baptized, and she thought a long time before she responded, and she told us she wanted to come to one of our services before she would answer. :) The only difficult thing is that she works at Burger King and she works on Sundays. :( She is going to get time off for next week.

Friday was Zone Conference. It was wonderful. :P

Saturday we had 8 lessons planned. :) Very exciting. Long story short, only two of them were at their appointments. One at ten in the morning, and one at eight at night. It's difficult working with people. Nothing goes as planned, but then again that's what makes it exciting. Time to finish the Ralph story. Saturday night I called Ralph and he answered, and he had received my note, and he was so apologetic for what his friends had done. :) That made my night!

Sunday we contacted a lot as well. Well that's the week!

Today (Monday) we came up to Seneca to clean the baptismal font with the sisters in our district. We then went to one of their investigator's house and did service by painting. That's why this email is being sent late. I love this work. I am so grateful for your support while I am here in South Carolina. I do not need more shirts. :) Don't worry Mom. All is good. I know this is the Lord's work, and it is only going to be done His way, with the Spirit. I love you all and I can't believe there is only one week left before transfers! Ahh! The exciting!

Love Elder Cowan

Monday, July 6, 2009

New Investigator Challenge

Dear Family,
I can't believe its already been another week. :0 There are so many things to do and time seems to keep flying away from me. Elder Taylor and I have had quite the week. Each week the zone leaders give us one key indicator to really focus on, and throughout the week we have daily challenges that help us reach our weekly goal. This week's focus was new investigators. The goal: 14. Elder Taylor and I decided we were going to do everything we could to achieve the goal. We had plans to receive referrals, visit former investigators and media referrals, and talk to everyone that we met. It is really nice with a different focus every week. It helps me remember there is not one set way to do missionary work. Elder Taylor and I had 12 new investigators by Saturday night, so we had to find two more on Sunday. After church, we visited some of our investigators, but we then decided to go see leads and see if any of the people are serious and would like to hear the gospel lessons. The first lead we visited was actually home, and he, (Ralph) invited us to share our message. We taught a great first lesson and we have a return appointment with him later this week so that was 13 new investigators. During the closing prayer the name of another lead who lives on the other side of town came to my mind. I had a difficult time listening to Elder Taylor's prayer because my mind was focused on this lead. After we said goodbye to Ralph, we got in the car and I told Elder Taylor we were driving across town to see this lead. It was not the wisest use of our miles, but we drove over, and Dev (the lead) was home! We taught her and we have a return appointment this Wednesday! 14 new investigators by 8:34 pm Sunday night! It took us the entire week, well 26 minutes short of a full week, but we reached our goal!
  I wish I had time to tell you about each of our investigators, but I don't have the time, so I will only talk about one, Alisa Bentley. Elder Merell (one of the zone leaders) and I contacted Alisa on the first week of this transfer and she told us to come back another day because she was not feeling well. While Elder Taylor and I were on exchanges with a member from the ward, we were in Alisa's neighborhood, so we stopped by to see how she was doing. We taught a spiritually led lesson, and when we talked about the Book of Mormon, she asked, "I would really like to get one. Where can I get one?" Alisa just ate up everything we taught her. We invited her to be baptized and she accepted the baptismal date of the 8th of August. :D When we asked her when we could set up a return appointment, she replied, "Can you come by tomorrow?" So we went back on Wednesday and we read through 3 Ne. 11 and explained the correct way to baptize. When we asked (once again) when we could come back, she had the same response, "Can you come by tomorrow?" :) Alisa truly recognizes Elder Taylor and me as servants of Jesus Christ, and she is willing to do everything we ask of her. She started reading from the beginning of the Book of Mormon and she is praying every morning and night. Alisa also has an 8 year old son, who we are teaching so he can be baptized the same day as his mother. The only concern I have with Alisa is that she has a four month old baby which she had with her boyfriend. Elder Taylor and I have not had the opportunity to meet the boyfriend because he lives in Columbia, but Alisa assures us that he is looking for a church as well. I pray he will have the same desire Alisa has for obtaining the truth and he will accept and live the Law of Chasity by marrying Alisa
I wish I had time to talk about each of our investigators because they are all truly amazing. I am so grateful the Lord has trusted me with teaching so many of His children. I hope and pray that I may continue to follow the Lord and be obedient to his commandments and be sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit. This is the Lord's work and it is only going to be done His way. I love you all! Have a wonderful week!

Elder Cowan

P.S. I do not want pictures. :) I have the pictures you sent me and that's all I want. :)