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 Mormon.org. 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
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
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! Love, Elder Cowan
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
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. Love, 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! Love, Elder Cowan
Monday, October 5, 2009
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!