Monday, August 30, 2010

Lord Continues to Pour Out Blessings

Dear Family,

Thank you for all your prayers. The Lord continues to pour out blessings upon the Camden area and the Ft. Jackson Military Post.

This week I need to update you on Jerry Favor. Elder Taylor and I found Jerry as we were trying to find an old media referral. He was sitting on his porch and he let us begin teaching him as soon as we said we were servants of Jesus Christ. As we taught Jerry about the Restored Gospel, he stopped us right in the middle of a sentence and said, "I have never felt this way before. I feel uplifted." We then were able to bear testimony of the Holy Ghost and how he confirms the truth of the Gospel. We had him kneel down and ask God if what we had taught was true and he received an immediate answer. He has set a baptismal date of September 18th. On Tuesday of this week, I was on an exchange with Elder Hancock and we arrived at Jerry's house for our return appointment. We had planned to followup by reading the introduction of the Book of Mormon, and the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, but as we began to talk, I asked him the baptismal interview questions that correspond with what we were going to teach him.
"Do you believe that God is the Eternal Heavenly Father?"
"Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the World?"
"Do you believe the church and gospel of Jesus Christ have been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith?
As Jerry answered all of these without hesitation, I did not feel it appropriate to teach him something he already believes. I jumped right into the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we taught him about repentance, he really enjoyed it. He expressed that earlier that same day he was wondering what he needed to change in his life to come closer to God. It was a great lesson. Jerry was excited to begin to repent of his past transgressions.

We taught Jerry again on Friday. We taught him the law of chastity and the Word of Wisdom. Actually he sorta taught us. As we began to teach he already knew the things he needed to do. Jerry needs to get a divorce from his first wife in order to marry his girlfriend who he has been living with for the past 16 years. Jerry also accepted the invitation to come to church. He was so excited to come to church. On Sunday morning we got a call from Jerry and he apologized that he would not make it to church. His sister is in the hospital in Columbia and he was leaving to go and see her. We have an appointment with Jerry this week. I love teaching Jerry because of his humble heart and his excitement for the Gospel.

Update on  Annette. Annette had to cancel our appointment on Wednesday because her sink burst and she had to get some repairs done. She rescheduled for Friday at the same time that we were supposed to have dinner with one of the active members who lives down the street. We asked the members if we could invite Annette over and they agreed. On Friday evening we taught Annette the Plan of Salvation in the Parrot's home. It was a great lesson. Even know as I think of it--the environment, the lesson, the testimonies were perfect. We invited Annette to be baptized on the 25th of September. She accepted!! Annette attended church yesterday and Sister Dent, who helped us teach last week, took Annette under her wing and introduced her to everyone! After Church, Annette asked to see the baptismal font. It was a great church experience.

The Lord also poured out another blessing. A lady named Ana Baker came to church. Ana Baker is the grandmother of a young lady who joined the church in the military. Her granddaughter told her she needed to check out the church and so she came on her own! This was actually her second time coming and she loved it! She even stated that she is interested in joining the church!

Last update. The Military Post. I interviewed Walker before sacrament meeting. His battle buddy, BROTHER Allred performed the baptism. I performed the confirmation. I interviewed Brother Schuetter for baptism, but I was not able to witness the baptism because Brother Watkins wanted to visit with me. Brother Watkins feels that the church is true, but his parents have asked him to hold off. I invited him to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost but he is still hesitant. I hope and pray that the Lord will resolve his concerns this next week. Also, two sisters were baptized on the base. :) What an exciting time to be a missionary!

I love you all!
Elder Cowan

Monday, August 23, 2010

Another Great Week!

Dear Family,
Another great week! This week we had a baptism on the post, Brother Hart. I was not able to witness the baptism because I was in charge of teaching the gospel principles class. After the sacrament meeting, all of the non-members and their battle buddies gather at the front of the room and last week we had about 20 members and 40 nonmembers. I was assigned by the assistants to teach the class. The interesting part is that while the investigator class is being taught at the front of the chapel, priesthood meeting is taking place at the back of the room. Two people are speaking at the exact same time. I gathered all of those who were to be attending the investigator class at the front of the room. As I began the class, I realized that I would not be able to have much participation from the class because if I asked anyone to read or to answer a question, the rest of the class would not be able to hear with everything else that was taking place in the chapel. So, instead of a normal discussion, I decided to preach. :) It probably was really entertaining to watch me in front of this large group. I decided that I would teach about AGENGY. I decided to use the examples of Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith. Christ used his agency to: 1) be baptized and 2) complete the atonement. Both of these were fulfilling the will of the Father. I then transitioned to Joseph Smith seeking to do the will of the Father, but not knowing what that was. At the end of the class, I invited all to be baptized. I did a horrible job. I was planning to say, "Raise your hand if you are ready to take the next step by following the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized by one holding the priesthood authority of God." As I got to the "next step" three soldiers shot their hands right up! I was expecting the invitation to be fully extended and then it wouldn't have surprised me if a second or two went by before someone would have raised their hand, but when they started to raise their hands before the commitment was fully extended, I was completely shocked!!! :) I then invited all those who wanted to learn more about the church to raise their hands. There was only a few who did not raise their hands to the second commitment. It was overwhelming to see all of these individuals searching for more truth in their lives. At one point in my preaching, I thought of Dan Jones. :D I know I am not him, but standing above the class beneath me and crying repentance to all was quite the experience. I have written letters to all those who are preparing to be baptized next week and hopefully they will all show up!
Another really cool experience was when a soldier, who I had taught the week before, came up to me today and asked if I would personally teach him next week. He said, "I hope you are not teaching the group lesson, I would like to speak to you personally because I feel you can help me out. I'm trying to follow Christ, but I'm just not sure what my next step should be." :) He has very high potential to be baptized two weeks from now.
Another random thing, as I was welcoming the soldiers, a lady stopped and said, "you were in my seminary class two years ago." This completely caught me off guard, but sure enough it was Heather. She was in my seminary class my senior year. It's a small world.
OK on to another great story that took place here in Camden. Two weeks ago the ward had a fish fry. After the fish fry, they had a softball game. We had some investigators at the fish fry, but none of them stayed for the softball game. The ward really wanted us to stay, even play in the softball game, but because we did not have anyone there we decided to leave. As we were out tracting, we met a lady and introduced her to the Book of Mormon. The lady responded, "I already know about that book, my neighbor across the street gave it to me." This really puzzled Elder Taylor and me because we have no record of a member living on that street. We knocked on the door, but nobody answered. We decided to go back this past Monday and we met Annette. Anette told us that she used to be affiliated with the Mormon church and she wanted us to come back by. Elder Taylor went back by with Elder Garcia while on exchange. While there, Elder Taylor found out that Anette is not a member. Anette asked why we had decided to park in front of her house and knock on her door on Monday. They told her about the neighbor, but the funny thing is that Anette had given her neighbor a Jehovah Witness book that she didn't want anymore!!! The Lord has his hand in all things. Because we did not waste our time and just watch a softball game, through a chain of events we met Anette. Anette is at such a point that she is ready for the gospel. She has been reading the Book of Mormon and loves it. She is so excited to come to church on Sunday. We are going back by on Wednesday to teach the Plan of Salvation.
I hope all is well back at home. I love each of you!
Elder Cowan

Monday, August 16, 2010

5 Baptisms on Base!!! Plus 1 in Hopkins Ward--Total of 6 Baptisms for Columbia Stake!

Dear Family,

I know it is not fair, but as life gets busier and busier, there is always something that does not get all the attention it needs. And like always, it seems like my weekly letter home always gets the short end of the stick. I do love my new area. We did not have 7 baptisms, we had 5!!!!! plus one outside the base (in the Hopkins ward) so a total of 6 baptisms for the Columbia Stake! The base was so busy! The soldiers only have two hours that they are allowed to be at church or else they get chewed out by their drill sergeants. So within two hours, we had to give all the soldiers the sacrament, AND interview the five men for baptism, AND have them all change into white clothing (in an extremely small bathroom), AND baptize them in our portable font, AND confirm them members of the church, AND have each of them meet with the Branch President to receive the Aaronic Priesthood! Boy, if you want to see an amusing sight, watch the four of us missionaries run around in all different directions throughout the church service. It was quite the adventure. I don't know how I found time, but I also met a soldier who was there for his first time and I taught him the gospel. He has a ton of potential. He is very spiritual, and I would not be surprised if he was baptized in the next three weeks. Elder Taylor also taught a group the first discussion and at the end of his teaching two soldiers raised their hands to indicate they wanted to be baptized!

It's always interesting going back to the family ward in Camden after being on the base. Everything feels like it's in slow motion. :) I'm once again learning all the members in the Camden Ward and knowing how missionary work goes, and as soon as I learn the area, they will move me to another city! :D I love the excitement of missionary work!

Well, I need to close for now. We have permission to write emails to the soldiers on base and I feel that it will help those I met have a desire to come back next week, and I want to congratulate those who were baptized. Therefore, I need to stop writing this letter. I love you all and I hope you have a wonderful week!

Elder Cowan

Monday, August 9, 2010

"I love serving at the base!"

Dear Family,
What an exciting week! I informed you last week that I knew I was going to be working with the Assistants to the President on Sundays and throughout the week I would be working in a town called Camden. I was a little nervous who my companion would be because I knew that Elder Taylor (the missionary I trained back in Anderson) had been serving as a Zone Leader in Camden for 71/2 months. His companion, Elder Seamons, had only been there for one transfer and I was worried to work with Elder Seamons because we go about missionary work in different ways. He is a great missionary, but I was nervous for the change.

When I got to transfer meeting, for the 40 minutes I was sitting and waiting for the meeting to start, I was harassed by many missionaries coming up to me and making remarks about me going assistant. Oh how grateful I am that they were wrong! The meeting started and as they went through the power point presentation, Elder Seamons was transferred to Greenville! I was certain I was going to be serving with him, but the Lord had other plans. I continued to watch earnestly to see who I was going to be serving with. President announced the next slide before it came up on the screen. "Staying in the Camden area is Elder TAYLOR and transferring in is Elder Cowan!!!!! I was so excited to serve with Elder Taylor for a second time! What a great blessing it is that I am able to serve a "second round" with one of my favorite companions! And I may have to call this my favorite area!

Thursday, Elder Taylor and I stopped by a less-active who originally is from AZ! The less-active, Tyler Miller, was not home, but we taught his aunt, Trish Helton. Trish is an amazing lady. She recognizes the joy that the gospel brings into Tyler's life and it has opened her up to want to know more about the church. We had a great lesson with her and we will continue to work with her. We had a Zone Leader Council on Friday and then Saturday, while trying to see Trish, we ran into a former investigator, taught him, and he too was really receptive, but then on our way home, we got our car stuck in a sandy road! It was quite the adventure as we tried to no avail to dig our little car out of the sand. The Assistants drove up with a local member to save us, but two minutes before they got to us (unknown to us) a neighbor, who we had previously asked for help, called her son and this good Samaritan pulled us out of the sand pit. It was really funny.

Sunday was an amazing day. Elder Taylor, the two Assistants, (Elder Tran and Elder Poll) work at the Ft. Jackson military post. It is so sweet! Church is only two hours long. We weave through the congregation and half of the people who attend the branch are non-members! I ran into a problem I have never had before--I had to determine which of all the non-members there were worth my time. I came across one young man and began to teach him, but he was not going anywhere, so I stopped teaching him. A member, Brother Day, introduced me to his "battle buddy" Bro. Harper. At the same time another member, Brother Bradberry introduced me to his "battle buddy" Bro. Poulos. I taught both Bro. Poulos and Bro. Harper and they have been prepared! I taught them about the Restoration and they both committed to be baptized! The thing is about the base, after they come to church next Sunday, the baptismal service is right after sacrament meeting, and then they have water side confirmations, and then they are given the priesthood immediately after that! I am excited to see both of these two enter the waters of baptism. They are not the only two who are getting baptized either. This was also Elder Tran's first time on base and he has three people for next week and Elder Poll has two individuals as well! We had two baptisms yesterday and it looks like we are going to have 7 next week! What a great outpouring from the Lord. I love serving at the base!

I need to close for now. I have a meeting with President in Columbia in an hour. I love you and keep up the great work!
Elder Cowan

Monday, August 2, 2010

Transferring to Columbia East Zone


I knew your birthday was this past week, but with our crazy schedule I did not go shopping last preparation day, let alone go anywhere where I could buy you a card. This week has been really interesting because Elder Fitzgerald and I have been living on leftovers and anything we can find in the cupboards. Well its hard to believe, but we received a transfer call on Saturday and I am being transferred. President called me today and told me where I am going. I am going to be the Zone Leader of the Columbia East Zone and I am going to work with those on the military base. I will be working right along side the Assistants to the President. It is going to be interesting, but "I'll go where you want me to go dear Lord." I am sad to leave the people here in Florence. I don't know how many more times I am going to be transferred. . .I am trying to make the most of each day. I appreciate your prayers in my behalf. I hope everyone is doing well and ready to start a new school year! I love you!

Elder Cowan

P.S. I know this is short, but it will have to do.