Monday, February 28, 2011

Alex Stancell's Baptism

Dear Family,

What a great week! With the new transfer started, I switched planners. I always use my planner to look back at the week and review all the events that have occurred. Without the planner, I may lose some details so bare with me!

Zach has been very flaky with us. He knows what he must do, but he currently lacks the faith that he can accomplish what the Lord asks of him. He did not come to church this week; he decided to go to his uncle's church instead. (His uncle is very anti.) I texted Zach this morning and he told us that he's not sure if he wants to visit with us anymore. Whatever happens, I know he felt the spirit bare witness to his soul of the truthfulness of the restored gospel. He will remember the feelings he's felt and he will return to them when everything else fails.

Mark Minium. We met with Mark this week with Elder Seamons (Zone Leader) and Elder Taylor (Assistant). They helped us teach Mark concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ. Mark is a really good guy. He wants the best for his son. He makes sacrifices every day to make sure they have a roof over their head. We pray for him that all will work out. He currently has four job interviews this week. I just hope and pray that he gets employment with someone who will honor his request to have Sunday's off.

Friday morning Elder Fisher and I were walking down a trailer park that we had knocked before, but we felt like going anyways. We knocked down the street, with nobody answering (which is really strange for trailers). We finally walked down to the last trailer on the right. We knocked on the door and we heard some noise inside, but nobody was coming to the door. We continued to wait and then Tiesha answered the door. We asked her if she would let us in and teach her about the Restoration of the Gospel, and at first she was not super interested. The door then opened wider and Lovy was standing next to Tiesha wanting to know who was at the door. Tiesha is 29 years old with a 7 year old Son. Lovy is 23 and she is pregnant with her first child, which is due in September.

We asked them which church they go to and Lovy told us that she attends the Baptist church, while Tiesha attends the Jehovah's Witnesses. They then explained to us how different their churches were and asked, "What do you think happens to us when we die?" We began to answer when they invited us into their home. We answered their question and then Lovy said, "How can I know what the truth is? I am so sick of all the confusion, I just want God to tell me a clear cut answer." Also, "How am I supposed to know when God  is talking to me? Maybe he's been answering my questions this whole time and I just don't know how he will answer." We then went into the Joseph Smith story about Joseph's similar questions. The spirit was really strong. It's amazing how the spirit always comes when we bare testimony of the restoration. Without it, we would just be any other church created by man, but I know that God is at the head of this church, this is why the spirit comes so strongly when we bare testimony of the restoration.

After we taught of the restoration, we taught them about the Holy Ghost, and how we can recognize the answers God sends us. We explained the still small voice and Tiesha began to cry. She explained, "I wasn't going to let you in, but the voice in my head said 'open the door' I now know that it was the Spirit telling me to let you in." Tiesha and Lovy asked us (before we could invite them) to come to church. We told them we wanted to give them a church tour. We asked if we could do it the following day, but they were busy all day Saturday. Tiesha asked, "Can we do it later today?" I was shocked that she would want to meet with us a second time within the same day. We set up a time for that evening to give them a church tour. Tiesha and Lovy showed up 15 minutes early for the tour and we had a member with us and had a great experience. Unfortunately, Tiesha & Lovy did not attend church. We will stop by today to see what happened.

Friday night we received a phone call from Brother Porter, asking us if we were sure the baptism was taking place on Saturday. He said he was calling the members to invite them and many of them said, "They decided to post-pone the baptism for another two weeks." I was shocked by this information because nobody had told me. I tried calling Allison, but she would not answer. We drove over to her house and knocked on the door and no answer. I went to bed Friday night stressed that we may not have a baptism the following day.

Saturday morning, we receive a text asking, can we post-pone the baptism? I replied saying we had it all organized and ready for today. Allison then told us that we could go forward with the baptism and they asked if Elder Fisher would perform the baptism! :D It was such a great surprise! 5:00 Saturday evening, Elder Fisher baptized Alex Stancell.

Sunday, Mark came to church, but Alex was not there! I was sitting in the pew trying to stay calm as we sang the opening hymn, but at the end of the hymn, Allison, and Alex walked into the chapel. Alex was confirmed by her grandfather. It was a great experience.

Life is going good! I love being a missionary. We received transfer information. Elder Fisher and I are going to be in a three-some with another missionary for the next four weeks. We will be picking him up tomorrow. I don't know who it will be! We shall see!

Life is great I love being a missionary, I will always be a missionary!

Elder Cowan

Monday, February 21, 2011

I Love the Work!

Dear Family,

We are not able to write very long because of the holiday. We are doing great! I love the work! I wish it could never end! I am so excited! Alex is getting baptized this weekend. Zack came to church again this week! Zack is such a good kid! He does have a major trial to overcome before he can be baptized. He smokes tobacco and weed. :( He is willing to give it up! Pray for Zack. He will make a huge sacrifice to come unto Christ. He has to not only overcome the anti he is receiving from his role-model, but he has to overcome the physical addiction.

We are also working with a man named Mark Minium. His wife left him after 16 years of marriage. Mark came to church. We will continue to work with these individuals. Well, I need to go. I think we are overstaying our visit with the members. I love you all!

Elder Cowan

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Lord Provides!

Dear Family,

What a wonderful week. Things did not go as planned (go figure :) But just as Elder Calton stated in his homecoming talk, we must trust in the Lord and he will provide, and boy did He provide this week!

Tuesday we had a church tour set with Melissa. Melissa has been investigating the church for three and a half months. We continue to work with her for she desires to learn and grow. We had Sister Leckie come with us. We had a great lesson with her in which we shared Joseph Smith's experience with her and the spirit was really strong. I don't know what it is, but whenever we teach Melissa I always have to fight back tears. :P Melissa feels Joseph Smith is a prophet, but she will not be baptized for she "does not feel ready." We continue to love her and encourage her so that one day she can let go of the regret and hostility she has for others and allow the Savior to heal her wounded soul.

Tuesday night we were able to go with the Easley Elders to Daniel Langley's home. Daniel is the nephew of a recent convert who lives in my area. Daniel came to church with Brenda and we all assumed he lived in our area, so Elder Fisher and I stayed with him throughout the meetings, but we found out later he actually lives in the Easley Elder's area. We decided that it would be best for the first lesson to have Elder Fisher and I present since Daniel was comfortable with us, and then we would be able to transfer the teaching over to Elder Keller and Elder Geslison for the rest of the lessons.

We went over to Daniel's house and everyone was quiet, (it's a little awkward having four missionaries teaching). I just began to ask Daniel some questions about church and the thought came, "Invite him to be baptized." I thought that was a little silly, since we had not taught him much and we had just arrived at his house, but the thought came again, "Invite him to be baptized." So I did. :) Daniel accepted very quickly and continued, "I have been wondering what I needed to do to join your church." The other missionaries were shocked. First, by my invitation at the beginning of our meeting and also by his sincere desire to be baptized. It was a testimony to me of the power of the Spirit. Ultimately, we are here simply to invite. The Spirit will do the teaching. It's not by our eloquence or the way we speak, but by the "still small voice" which inviteth all to come unto Christ. Daniel has given up his chewing tobacco and cigarettes in preparation for his baptism. :) I can't wait.

Wednesday we were able to meet with James Marrow who recently was baptized. We had a great lesson with him and answered some of his concerns with the Restoration. We then met with another recent convert, Robert Williams. He came with us to teach Ken Madden. Ken really wants to come to church, but with how is radiation treatments are set up, he has no energy on Sundays. He's really close to being done with his treatments, so I feel he will be able to progress much quicker once that is all done.

Wednesday night was scheduled to be Alex Stancell's baptismal interview. We were not able to visit with her because she was sick. :( but it worked out that the zone leaders were able to visit with her the following day to complete the baptismal interview.

Thursday was the major miracle. I am running our of time! I We were walking down a street and a we said, "hello" to a young man as he biked passed us, and then he asked, "Is smoking weed a sin?" We explained that it was and we introduced ourselves. The young man's name is Zack. Zack proceeded to ask some really good questions. We introduced him to the Book of Mormon and he said, "I have that and the Doctrine of Covenants!" We were surprised, but we set up an appointment to teach him that night. We went over and he had so many questions and wanted to learn everything. We invited him to be baptized on the 5th of March. He accepted. We looked at his quad and it actually is from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We did not have time to explain what the difference was, but we set a return appointment at the church for a church tour. Zack would not accept a ride to the church, but said we should ride bikes. We agreed.

We also received a call from Sister Hill concerning Alex. Alex's grandfather was going to perform the baptism, but at work, he spilled chemicals down his stomach and legs, which resulted in second and third degree burns. He is in no condition to baptize. We asked Alex what she wanted to do and she wanted to wait until her grandpa got better. Her baptism did not happen this weekend, but it will happen on the 26th of February! :)

On Saturday we rode with Zack to the church. What an adventure. My pedal fell off, Zack"s back wheel kept coming loose, and almost came off. I suggested we call a member, but Zack said, "I promise you that if you have faith, we will be able to make it to the church without your pedal falling off again." We also stopped at Walmart to see if they had a crank wrench. While we were there, we ran into a member and Zack introduced himself as, "I'm going to join your church!" :)  Walmart did not have the part, but we continued the journey with faith. Zack's prediction came true. We made it to the church. We had Cody Maughn waiting for us there and we gave Zack a church tour. The spirit was really strong. We explained the difference between the RLDS and the LDS churches. He decided he needed to pray and ask God for the guidance. He knelt in prayer and asked a very sincere prayer to know if he should be baptized. As we finished the prayer, he got up and he had received his answer. I love Zack. He has such a sincere desire to do what is right. Zack is 16. Zack has had a rough life, drugs, kicked out of school, but at the end of our lesson, Zack said, "I want to serve a mission after I join the church." He's the greatest!

On Sunday, Zack came to church and felt right at home! It was a great day. In priest quorum, the teacher asked, "Why would the devil come after you as a priesthood holder?" Zack answered the question. He hit it dead on. He spoke about the potential they had to change the lives of those around them. The spirit was really strong. The bishop began to cry from Zack's response to the question. He once again told all the priests that he wants to serve a mission. Before he left the priest quorum, Zack volunteered to fellowship a less-active girl at his school in attempt to get her back into the Lord's church. It just amazes me at the faith this young man has! Zack is on date for the 5th of March, but if he continues at the rate he is now. He will be baptized before February is over.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve a mission. I wish everyone could see my mission from my perspective. The Lord has given me everything in my life. Every experience I have is at the exact moment I need it. I have been praying for a "Mike Cowan" convert. I feel it's my debt I owe for the missionaries who taught Dad. I'm now at the tail end of my mission and this wish is coming true. I know that all blessings are proceeded by obedience. If I were not obedient before my mission, I would not be here in the South. If I were not obedient throughout my mission, I would not be having this experience right now. I love this work. It is true. I love you all!

Elder Cowan

Monday, February 7, 2011

Miracle in Greenville

Dear Family,

I have a hour session on the computer and the last 45 minutes I have spent writing President McConkie and reading all the emails I've received. :) It's all good. It will be a quick letter today.

I have some mixed feelings at the moment. This week we had a leadership training meeting in Columbia. It was Thursday and Friday. All zone leaders, district Leaders and missionary trainers attended the meeting. It was such a blessing to see all the missionaries. The sad part was that it was the last time I will see some of them. I will especially miss Elder Tran. I have become so close to him. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I had to serve with him for one transfer. Elder Tran plans on being at General Conference, so I will be able to see him again. I only have ten minutes left.

Things are going great here in Greenville. Alex Stancell will be baptized on Saturday. It has been such a blessing to be able to teach her, and also that the Lord would fulfill my selfish "birthday wish" of baptizing and confirming on my birthday. We are continuing to work with our investigators to get more of them to make this sacred covenant with our Father in Heaven.

I have less than ten minutes left, but I will try to share one miracle very quickly. Elder Fisher and I went to see a lead that the sisters had found. When we knocked on his door, he did not answer. We decided to talk to his neighbor and while we were talking to her a man walked behind us. It looked like he walked into the apartment where the lead supposedly lived. After our contact, we walked back to the door and knocked on his door. He came to the door and was shocked to see us. He said, "you will never believe this, but at the moment you knocked on my door, I was trying to call those young ladies who I had met." He continued, "I cannot be more sincere with you, you are an answer to my prayer. I have been pondering on the things the sisters shared with me and I finally decided to stop pondering and start acting. Where is your church located?" We informed in that it was in Barea and he said, "That's it, God, now I know for sure your trying to talk to me." He informed us that he has been wanting to move and the house he has been looking at was right next to our church! This miracle man's name is Ken Madden. Ken asked us if he could be re-baptized. We invited Ken to be baptized on the 27 of February and he responded with, "Will they allow me to be baptized that soon?" He is prepared. He cannot see very well, so he has had his neighbors come over to his house so they can read to him the Book of Mormon. More to come on Ken later. I love the work. The Holy Ghost is in control, all we need to do is listen and be willing to act.
Love ya!

Elder Cowan