Thursday, November 25, 2010

Amazing and Exhausting Week

Dear Family,

What an amazing week! I will be completely honest, I am exhausted. I've never had such a difficult time staying awake. On Sunday at church, Sister Drake was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was not there to witness it because we were at the Ft. Jackson military post. On post we had another baptism and confirmation, Brother Gee. It was great. I also met a soldier named Brother Brandt. Brother Brandt is amazing. He is so in tune to the spirit. Brother Brandt watched the baptism and confirmation of Brother Gee. Brother Brandt has committed to be baptized next week. :) I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve on the Ft. Jackson Military Post. After the services were over on the military post, all the missionaries gathered together to update each other on what was accomplished during the two hours on post. As we shared who was getting baptized next week, we noticed that there is a potential of 5 baptisms next week. The Lord is truly blessing our efforts on the post. I am so grateful that our Father in Heaven is sending his prepared children to the military post.

When we left the military post, we drove straight over to the Windsor Lake Ward, like usual, and we were able to catch the end of Priesthood. Then we had the baptism of John Crew. Also, Greg Rosado, the young man the sisters have been teaching (they've had Elder Tran and I come and teach quite a bit because Gregg responds better to men) was baptized as well! It was an amazing day. We also had one of our new investigators attend church and the baptismal service. Her name is Barbara. As she attended the baptismal service, she felt the spirit very strongly. I am excited to continue to work with her. John is planning to be confirmed this upcoming Sunday.

Sunday night we had a missionary fireside. We had a recent convert and her missionary come up and they both shared their testimonies concerning the conversion process. It was very sweet. I love listening to recent converts share their testimony. They are so full of the spirit and are willing to do anything for the Church.

Monday I was in the office for the first half of the day and the second half we went to the mission home to do transfer planning. It was a spiritual experience as we prayed and planned together where missionaries should go and who they should serve with. We were led by the spirit and were able to have transfers planned faster than President has ever had before.

Monday night we stayed up late putting together a DVD that would have all of the "I am a Mormon" profiles from We were at the office until two in the morning. We then had a specialized leadership meeting with the Nephi and Ishmael Zones Tuesday morning starting at 9:00 a.m.. We were up by 6:00 a.m. The meeting was great, it lasted 8 hours, by the end of it Elder Tran and I were very tired. During the meeting, President McConkie stated over the podium that all missionaries would receive a copy of the DVD that we had made for President to show during his training. Tuesday night we were at the office until 12:00 and Elder Tran and I were falling asleep at the computer, so we decided to go home for the evening, and come back the following day.

We woke up at 5:00 and drove to the office. We completed all the DVD's just in time to get to the church at 9:00 for the meeting. Elder Tran and I were so tired. We struggled staying awake throughout the trainings. What was worse, was that all the missionaries could see us as we sat up front. Overall, the meeting was really good. I felt we focused on the 8 points that the missionary department has asked us to work on.

After the meeting, we went to the office to grab a few things and I noticed in my little slot that I had an envelope addressed to me. I grabbed it quickly and tore it open. I was really excited; I knew what it was. It was my father's conversion story. I did not have time right then to read it because President McConkie was having difficulties with his laptop at the mission home. We drove over to the mission home and we fixed the computer (it wasn't even broken, President was just hitting the wrong button :) ) and then we had dinner with President and Sister McConkie. Mother, if you ever want new recipes, ask Sister McConkie. She makes the best food. I am excited to go over to their home in a couple of hours and eat all of their food!

When we arrived home last night I began to read father's conversion story. I was doing well, up until Brother Genet spoke to dad. I could not hold back my tears of gratitude for that man and all of the Mormon students at the school. It was a very spiritual experience. I wrote in my journal my feelings from reading my father's experience. I have an even greater desire to give my all and if it's Heavenly Father's will, to help a young "Mike" who will grow up strong in the gospel and one day have sons who are eternally grateful, like I am, that my Father joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Well, that's the update for now. I am creating DVD's for all of the missionaries as I write this email. Hopefully, I will have them all done for the rest of the meetings we will be having the rest of this week and all of next week! I can't believe how fast time is going! Elder Tran and I realized that today is our 21 month mark! I have been and will continue to give my all until I have accomplished everything the Lord would have me do here in South Carolina.

Elder Cowan

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lots of Miles and Miracles!

Dear Family,

Eight Hundred and twelve. This is the number of miles I have traveled in the past six days. :) Life sure is busy. Monday we traveled to Union with President McConkie for a specialized district meeting, Tuesday we drove to Sumter for a specialized district meeting. After the meeting, we went over to President's home and watched a video in Preach My Gospel and discussed it for his meeting he had to go to Wednesday-Saturday.

With President out of town, Elder Tran and I decided we would go on exchanges with all of the zone leaders throughout the mission. :) We were not able to visit all of the zone leaders, but we got pretty close. On Wednesday, I went with Elder Pack in Camden while Elder Tran took Elder Ernst down to our proselyting area in Columbia. Elder Pack and I visited one of my former investigators, Trish Helton, and we had a great lesson with her. The reason I had dropped her while I was in Camden was because we simply lost all contact with her. When we stopped by on Wednesday, Trish explained that she had to move unexpectedly when I was serving in Camden. It was a miracle that she moved back and we came by again to see her. :) At the end of the lesson, both Trish and her daughter, Dasney, committed to come to church and they both want to be baptized on December 11! It was great to see them so excited to meet with the missionaries again.

Wednesday night we met up with Elders Pack and Ernst and Elder Tran and I drove down to Charleston. Thursday morning, Elder Tran went with Elder Peery, while I was planning to serve with Elder Stoneman for the day. Elder Stoneman is a Spanish missionary, so while he was studying Spanish in the morning with his usual companion, Elder Williams and I went proselyting with Elder Peery's normal companion, who's name incidentally is Elder Williams also. I was only with Elder Williams for one hour, but during that hour we found an inactive member who wants to go back to church. It would have been easy for Elder Williams and I to wait in the apartment while the Spanish missionaries were studying, but because we decided to use our time effectively, the Lord blessed us to cross paths with this sister who really needs help at this time. After they finished studies, the two Elder Williams went with each other and I worked with Elder Stoneman. I really enjoy serving with the zone leaders. They are all so focused and committed to fulfilling their responsibilities. Elder Stoneman and I found one young man who wants to be baptized. We also had a miracle, Elder Stoneman has been working with a lady and she recently attended a baptism, and she really wants to get baptized, but the Elders thought she was living with her boyfriend. As we taught her the Plan of Salvation, she told us she was not living with her boyfriend! Because she is living the commandments and she has a sincere desire, we decided to baptize her right then and there in the creek.....ok maybe not, but we moved her baptismal date up two weeks! :) At the end of the evening, Elder Tran and I got back together and drove up through Columbia and kept on driving all the way to Spartanburg. We got there late at night.

Friday, I served with Elder Lund in my old area in Spartanburg. We had a great day. We taught seven lessons and they now have four more investigators with a set baptismal date! We also went to a sister's baptism and I was volunteered to play the piano. :D It was great to be at the baptism. I was able to see the Baker family. I love the Bakers. Sister Baker told me that she reads the blog, so I'm sending out a shout out for the Bakers: I LOVE YOU GUYS! :D

Friday night Elder Tran and I got back together and we drove to Seneca to visit the other zone leaders on the other side of Greenville. We stayed the night with them last night, but Elder Tran and I remembered that we had not interviewed John Crew for baptism. We decided to leave early this morning. As we walked out to the car, both Elder Tran and I pulled out keys to drive the car. As we did this we realized, that I had a pair of keys that did not belong to us! The keys belonged to the Elders in Spartanburg! We drove back to Spartanburg, dropped off the keys, then drove home. :) It's been a crazy week and next week is going to be even more crazy! President just called us during his break at his mission president seminar and he told Elder Tran and I to organize zone conferences all throughout next week so he can quickly visit all of the missionaries and have them immediately apply what he is learning. :) Life is great! John Crew is getting interviewed tonight, Sister Drake is getting confirmed at church tomorrow, and we should have two baptisms on the Ft. Jackson military post. I love my life and I hope you love yours!

Elder Cowan

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Grateful for Plan of Salvation and Eternal Marriage

Dear Family,
"Congratulations!" "Have a wonderful life together," "You two should have done this a long time ago," these were the type of remarks I heard all morning. This is because John Crew and Vivian Thomas were married!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D It was very exciting to be present for such a momentous day in both of their lives. It was fun and I am so excited for them to continue to progress in the gospel and be sealed in the temple next year! :) It really hit me when in the ceremony Bishop Strickland stated, "which covenant will last throughout the remained of their mortal lives." It really stuck out to me. I am so grateful that I have been blessed with a knowledge of the Plan of Salvation and know what will take place after the grave. I am also grateful that accompanied by this knowledge we are blessed to live in a time where temples dot the entire earth. All those who have a desire to receive the greatest of all of God's blessings are having the opportunity and access to go the temple.

In preparation for the wedding, we were asked to provide the cake. :) This was quite the experience. Luckily, John and Viv were not interested in a tier cake.  All they asked us to make was a fruit pizza. Fruit pizza is made by taking sugar cookie dough and making a big pizza crust, and then you cook it, and then you put cream cheese on top, smother the whole thing with powder sugar, and then top with sliced fruit, and then sprinkle with powder sugar on top! Elder Tran and I decided to make it last night, but our first attempt failed miserably. Both Elder Tran and I forgot about the cookie dough cooking, so we burnt it really bad. :) This morning we ran back to Walmart and grabbed some more cookie dough and this time we decided to form the dough into a giant heart. It worked out perfectly. And it passed the delicious test. Within Five minutes of bringing out the cake, it was all gone! :) Success. John Crew is getting baptized on The 20th of November.

On to the second star for the week! Bo Hyon Drake. Sister Drake is from South Korea. She is the nicest lady in the world. Every time we come over to her house, she makes us food. We always tell her that we do not need the food, but she insists until we submit to her wishes. Sister Drake loves Jesus Christ. Her greatest desire is to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. We have been teaching Sister Drake and she accepted the invitation to be baptized! Sister Drake quit smoking and drinking coffee just because we told her it was a commandment. Sister Drake reminds me of the scripture in Alma Chapter 32:16, "Blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is [she] that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe." Yesterday Sister Drake was interviewed by President McConkie and was found worthy to be baptized! Her baptismal service is scheduled for tomorrow right after church, then she will be confirmed next week during sacrament; the same time John will be confirmed! The Lord is truly blessing us. It's because Elder Tran is the coolest missionary ever!

The rest of the week went as follows:
Monday: In the office during the morning. We had a specialized training meeting with the Newberry District in the evening. I've always know President is inspired, but Monday was really cool. A missionary has been struggling and I didn't agree with the way it was being handled, but in the end, President saved the day. It was humbling to see the Spirit of the Lord work through President McConkie.

Tuesday: Elder Tran and I were "volunteered" (more like "volun-told" as they say it in the army) to clean out the storage unit. It was an all day process. It's still is not perfect, but it is 100 times better than it was when we first got there.

Wednesday: During the morning we had Correlation with Brother Edwards. In the afternoon we had a Specialized Training meeting with the Downtown Columbia District. The meeting was really good. After the meeting we drove to Sumter to swap one of the new cars with a car that was sold this week. Sumter was the half way point between Marion (where the old car was and us, with the new car).

Thursday Elder Tran and I had the opportunity to proselyte the entire day! In case any of you wanted my opinion on black lights, I feel they are of the devil. Every time I have met someone who owns one, they always have an evil spirit about them. We met a man who had a very contentious spirit and his entire house was lit by black lights.

Friday : We began the day with a Post Development meeting. We were honored to have two chaplains attend our meeting. They both spoke about their experiences in the army and also gave us background info about basic training. I feel I will be able to relate better to the soldiers now that I have learned more about them. The rest of the day was tracting!

I hope all is well with all of you! I love each of you and keep being examples to those around you!
Elder Cowan

Saturday, November 6, 2010

"We are always on the move!"

Dear Family,

I have no idea how or what I should share in this email. Things are just crazy! We are always on the move. 

Monday we filled out reports for the mission and then at 3:00 p.m. we began our Zone Leader Council. The meeting was really good. I hope and pray all the zones will succeed in the month of November. We had a very good month of October: 65 baptisms in the mission. I hope and pray we will be able to be consistent in our missionary efforts!

Tuesday we were able to proselyte! :) We were able to visit some of our investigators. I love being able to teach. These people are great! I love sharing the gospel.

Wednesday we had a specialized Training meeting in Florence. As I arrived, I recognized that the majority of the missionaries who were serving in the district are my posterity! Elder Taylor (my son) is the district leader, he is training Elder Carlisle (my grandson) and there is also another companionship Elder Caldwell (my grandson) who is training Elder Hinckley (my great grandson) :) It was great to visit all of them and give them some training on how to improve as a missionary. After the meeting, Elder Tran and I went on an exchange with the district. I went with Elder Taylor Elder Carlisle while Elder Tran went with Caldwell and Hinckley. The lord blessed us to have much success in the short time we were there. Elder Taylor, Elder Carlisle, and I were able to find a man and put him on date. The lesson was really good. Elder Tran was able to help the other companionship firm up two of their investigators. By the end of their lesson, the man who had been smoking crushed his cigarette's and he and his girlfriend poured out their alcohol and set a date to get married! 

On Thursday morning Elder Tran and I took a missionary to the airport. After serving for 23 months he is now back home. After that, we traveled to Elgin to complete a similar specialized training meeting with that district. We are finding that missionaries are not role playing very often and it is negatively affecting their ability to teach. The meeting was centered around fixing this problem. Thursday night we traveled to Spartanburg to stay the night there in preparation for the SDM (specialized district meeting) we would be having in Greeenville the following day.

On Friday we had two meetings right after the other. One with the Spanish district and then one with the Boiling Springs District. (Random note--Before the Spanish meeting, I realized that one missionary knows Becca and Tara from BYU-Idaho and another Elder knows Cherry. What a small world--to think that all three of us would be in Greenville South Carolina was so weird!) Yesterday evening we traveled down to Columbia and visited with a lady who just got baptized. The sister had been working with her, but the sisters were having a difficult time trying to get the 14 year old son to progress. They asked if we would come to see if he could relate to an elder better. We taught him and he is a very sharp young man. Before we left, he accepted a baptismal date in two weeks. I love this work and I love each of you!

Love ya!
Elder Cowan