Thursday, May 28, 2015

May 18, 2015

What a week.

This week was another witness to me that this work is in the Lords hands.

Coming into Zwolle a month ago, the work was doing ok. There were a lot of things that needed to be done, like looking up referrals, and increasing our teaching pool, so we made a goal to do that. For the first two weeks of the transfer, we spent a majority of our time finding and looking up referalls, hoping and praying that it would turn into something. This last week, we taught 8 new investigators, had 7 investigators in church, and baptized. Just on Saturday, we taught 6 lessons. That is unheard of in Europe haha. The joy that you feel after a day like that, then laying in bed knowing that you have a baptism the next day, is indescribable. We are being very blessed, and it is an incredible way to end my mission.

One of the coolest miracles of the week happened on Sunday during church. We have an eternal investigator of over a year here, who has had baptismal dates fall through, then she decides she wants to be baptized again, and it falls through again. Her name is Vena. What happened about 4 months ago, is the ward decided that the missionaries should stop teaching her, and they would fellowship her until she really is ready to take the lessons and be baptized. On Sunday, the ward mission leader comes up to me, pulls me aside and takes me into an office with Vena, and another brother in the ward. She told me that "it's time'', and we need to teach her all of the lessons this week, so she can be baptized next week on the 30th. Just imagine what is going through my head at this moment. My companioin isn't even here! haha. This is every missionaries dream. I talked to her, got to know her better, and we made a plan for her to be baptized next week. We will teach her tomorrow, and hopefully a couple more times this week to help her prepare. The Lord is good.

Just typing this, and thinking about all that happened this week (I could go on an on about other things that happened), it makes me think of one of my favorite scriptures. Alma 26:12.

Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.

This ward is great. Zwolle became a ward 4 weeks ago, and they don't want to stop. They are ready to see success, and because of them and their faith, this is happening. The same thing happened when I was in Genk, Belgium, and I think we all remember that experience.

We had a great Zone Conference this week. We learned a lot, and I receieved a lot of personal insight from the Holy Ghost of how I need to finish, but also goals that I want to set for home life. I can't believe that we need to think about that, and start setting expectations for who we want to be. It isn't hard to focus when all we are doing is teaching.... haha. It's great.

I love you all. Thank you for your prayers. Because of your prayers, this is happening. This is the last week of the transfer, and Elder Kartodirjo is going home. I have learned a lot from him, and am going to miss him, but we are going to have a great week together.

Have a great week! AiA

Elder Elkins

May 11, 2015

What a week!

With Mothers day and Skype behind us yesterday, there isn't much for me to share with the family in this email, but we had an incredible week.

Sometimes I sit and wonder why my mission has been soo good. I have been spoiled, to be honest. I can't complain. The Lord continues to show His hand in this work. I love it. This past week, we wanted to work hard so that we can set up success for the next transfer. Knocking doors, riding bikes in-between look ups, street contacting, travel contacting, all in the rain. It's all part of this wonderful work. We honestly got hit hard with rain this week. I remember at one moment this week, I believe it was on Tuesday, we were having a hard day. We traveled to a beautiful city called Kampen, and wanted to look up a couple of former investigators. We got to the first one, and they weren't home. It started to pour... We knocked some doors, and were hoping that we would get let in because they feel bad for us, but nobody did that. We got on our way to our second look up, which was about a 30 minute walk, and he wasn't home. I remember thinking in my head, "Well, since it is raining, we can take shelter and plan until it passes, or we can go visit a cool member", but it hit me. We need to show the Lord that we have Faith, and that we will do His work no matter what. We got on the doors, and people still weren't letting us in. It was just one of those experiences that you dwell on, knowing that you made the right choice, but that you hope something will come of it. It sure did. On Sunday, we had 7 investigators in church. One of which is a former investigator who showed up, and said he wants to prepare to be baptized, and another was a random lady that walked in saying that she googled the church and wanted to see how it was. This is why we knock doors in the rain.

I am grateful for experiences like these, because they shape the course for the rest of your life. Sometimes we are faced with opportunities in life to make a choice. You can make the right choice, which is sometimes harder, or you can make the wrong choice, and might not have a consequence. If we wouldn't have knocked doors, I don't think we would have been punished, but by choosing to do so, and proving our Faith, I know that the Lord is blessing us with success. This taught me a good life lesson.

I love my mission. It is hard, but well worth it.

I love you Mom! I am grateful that we were able to Skype for a bit yesterday! You all look so happy and healthy, and I felt like I was at home for a minute! :) I thought last night, would I be here on my mission if I didn't have my Mom? Probably not. My mission has made the biggest impact of any choice I have made in my life, and that comes back to my Mom. I love you! Have a great week!

Elder Elkins

May 4, 2015

We had a great week, but it flew. It is funny how days can seem like eternity, but weeks are just a blur. I think that is how the rest of our lives will be.

I heard somebody make a comment this week about how the MTC trains you for the mission, and the mission is the MTC for you life. That is a great way to put it, I think. The emotions, experiences, and just different circumstances that you find yourself in on your mission are never-ending. I love it. I love that Heavenly Father answers our prayers, and helps us become His disciples. Why are missions amazing? Two years, one on one with the Lord. You are in his hands. Safe from physical and emotional danger. If you do what He asks. It is amazing what you can achieve and become if you do what He asks. I have a strong testimony of that.

We had a good week. Because of the Facebook project from last transfer, the missionaries in this city received 23 referalls, and when I got here, they had only looked up two of them. So what did we do last week? We looked up as many as we could. Most people just order the item from Facebook because it is free, but we had a couple of people who invited us back to teach them about Jesus Christ, so that was worth it. Our investigators are progressing. Gerson and Anderson headed down to Belgium unexpectadly because their little brother, who was recently baptized, is sick and in the hospital, so they weren't able to come to church. They are excited about the gospel, and I am excited to see how much they have progressed since out last meeting when we meet with them again this week.

On Sunday, Elder Kartodirjo got permission to attend church in another ward, because his cousin lives in that ward, and they blessed their new baby. It was really weird to be in another ward on a Sunday, but it was fun. Travel is always fun on Sundays, because that is when they do most of their construction on the train tracks. The train was shut down, so we found ourselves on another bus for 2 hours there, and 2 back. It reminded me of Belgium. Man, those were the days! :) We talked to our Ward Mission Leader last night to ask him how church went and who of our investigators came, and he told us that one of our investigators, Naylees, invited her friend, and another random woman walked in during Sacrament Meeting! Of course that would happen when we weren't there. The last and only time that happened to me on my mission was with Freddy, in Genk. We all know that story. I am sure this one will turn out similarly.

This past week was one that I really needed spiritually. I haven't been this close to the Lord in a while, actually. These reality checks in life are necessary, and they remind you why, who, and how you serve. Time is winding down. It feels so far, but yet so close, honestly. It is the weirdest feeling. I am grateful for all that I have learned, and continue to learn. It is a blessing that I am still able to help others come unto Christ, but the greatest blessing as a missionary, is the same happens to us. God hears our prayers, and answers them in ways that we may not clearly understand. He requires us to do our best. He is always there!

Mothers Day is on Sunday! Skype! I love my Mom. She is one of the biggest reasons I am where I am and who I am today. My appreciation and love for her grows everyday. I look forward to p-days not because of the break, or because of fun, but because I know that she will be online when I get online to email. I think she has only missed a handful of weeks on my enitre mission. I will always be grateful for that! I look forward to seeing her soon as we Skype, but also in person in a few short months. It will be great! I love you Mom!

Thanks for all that you do everybody. There are people to save! Read the Book of Mormon, and be somebody's hero this week. :)

Elder Elkins

April 28, 2015

Hey guys!

I thought that time would have started to slow down, but it seems that it is actually just the opposite. We had a crazy week last week, so maybe that is why. With the Netherlands celebrating Kingsday yesterday, the mission had our p-day last Saturday, so that we could all work in the free markets and have a booth. It was a little too much having two p-days in one week, not gonna lie. It was still great!

The weather here is soo funny. One day you will be sweating, the next day you find yourself back in your winter coat, wearing thermals. Spring is gorgeous in the Netherlands, but when it gets cold, it gets cold. The humidity here doesn't help one bit. It always keeps you one your toes though! I sometimes wish that there was a way that we could know the weather as missionaries haha. In this time of year, it rains 6 days a week, so we are pretty safe to make educated guesses. :)

We had a lot of fun last week. It seems like we were constantly doing something, which is how it should be. Gerson is progressing, and came to church again. We went to his house to teach him the Plan of Salvation, and his little brother was there. They both loved it, have testimonies of Jesus Christ, and want to live their life in such a way that they will be Disciples of Christ. That is perfect. We are focussing on bringing others unto Christ, not unto the missionaries, or even unto Joseph Smith. The purpose of the Book of Mormon is to bring others to Christ, and it is really working with those that we have been working with lately. 

There are a lot of kids in the families that we teach, as well as just kids in the ward. It is soo much fun. You should see how good kids are here at soccer. Even the ones that you would never guess would be good soccer players, always suprise you. Last week, I learned how to play soccer, how to fight crime with Spiderman, and the best way to eat ice-cream. Kids teach you so much. 

Last week during my Book of Mormon study, I started reading in Alma 24. What a powerful story this is. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies are such a great example to us of Repentence, and Faith. When we learn that they felt remorse for what they committed, which was murder, and that they wanted to repent. What they did is exactly what we need to do when we recognize a fault in ourselves. They took their weapons of war, and burried them deep in the ground. Never to be used again. They had such a desire to change, and so much faith, that they literally burried their sins. We also learn that when the Lamanites attacked them, they sat upon the ground, and were killed. They still didn't do it. We can compare this to when the adversary tempts us, we won't dig up our sins, and fall back into our old selves. After the Lamanites did this to the ANL's, they saw the example of their old brethren, and also repented of their mistakes and converted to the Lord. Man. You never know how God will perform His work here upon the earth. Others look to us as examples, and notice when we make the right choices. This story is soo applicable to us today, and their are soo many things that we can learn from it. I encourage you all to study it. 

 14 And the great God has had mercy on us, and made these things known unto us that we might not perish; yea, and he has made these things known unto us beforehand, because he loveth our souls as well as he loveth our children; therefore, in his mercy he doth visit us by his angels, that the plan of salvation might be made known unto us as well as unto future generations.

 15 Oh, how merciful is our God! And now behold, since it has been as much as we could do to get our stains taken away from us, and our swords are made bright, let us hidethem away that they may be kept bright, as a testimony to our God at the last day, or at the day that we shall be brought to stand before him to be judged, that we have not stained our swords in the blood of our brethren since he imparted his word unto us and has made us clean thereby.

I love you all. I hope that you all had an incredible week, and that you find time to read and study in the Book of Mormon. Keep it up! Till next week!

Elder Elkins

April 20, 2015

Zwolle, Netherlands. My new home. I have only heard good things, and I am going to make my best to make this city live up to it. It will be good.

With transfers happening last Wednesday, and leaving what I felt like home, I am now in Zwolle. It is gorgeous! Such a cool little city, with students everywhere. This is a student city, so that is actually a big difference from any of my other cities. There are students everywhere! It is pretty fun. We had a pretty good week. The adjustment truly caught me off guard. I didn't realize how different my life has been the past year of my mission being a leader, but it truly is different. I have felt like a new missionary coming into the mission field. Getting used to the missionary lifestyle is hilarious! I catch myself worrying or stressing about things that I don't need to worry about anymore, which is actually a blessing!

My new companion is Elder Kartodirjo. This is his last transfer on his mission. He is from Surinam, which is a country right above Brazil. He has too much swag to handle, so maybe I can take some from him. We have a good time.

I came to this city, and of course, don't know my way around, or don't have much say in the planning, so I have just been doing my best, and following my companion around. On Thursday, we went and played soccer with a recently added investigator named Gerson. He is really cool. He is 25, and a huge soccer player. I had the weirdest feeling when I met him. I shook his hand, and instantly knew why I was called to Zwolle. I look forward to working with him.

The branch here is a lot of fun. About 35-40 active members. I got to know a few of them, but at church, they all wanted to make appointments with us, so now we have dinner provided all week, and lunch on some days. It was actually a big suprise on Sunday. They called an ''emergency unit conference''. The Stake President came, and stood at the podium, and read a letter from President Monson, saying that Branch Zwolle is becoming Ward Zwolle, so now it is a ward. That was really cool for everybody, and now there is a new Bishop. Not bad for a first week in a new ward. We had four investigators at church, and they all seem to have the same problem. They aren't married, but live with their boyfriend/girlfriend. That is a major hump that we need to get over. They all know it is true, and want to be baptized, but have to wait until they are married. We will work with Gerson to help him be baptized in the next few weeks though.

I am glad that I can be here. I loved Den Haag, but this is where I need to finish my mission. We are the only companionship in the ward, and this is my first time on my mission having that. We are spoiled, and have a lot of work to do. I have never been more motivated to work and baptize than I am now. It is going to be great.

I have been reading a lot in the earlier chapters in Alma. It is incredible to me how applicable it is to our daily lives. I learn new things everyday. I love the Book of Mormon.

As your mission winds down, you think a lot about who you were, have become, and one day will be. There is a scripture that I LOVE and it has really helped me as I ponder these things.
  3 Nephi 27:27 "... Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be?
Verily I say unto you, even as I am."

I think we often confuse ourselves into being something that we are not, or striving for something that we think we should be, when we learn clearly in the scriptures who we truly should strive to be. Just as Jesus Christ is. How do we do that? I think Preach my Gospel chapter 6 is a wonderful place to start. I would highly recommend it :)

I love you guys. Thank you for everything! I hope that you have a great week, and that you read, pray, and serve daily.


Elder Elkins

April 13, 2015

Hey guys! Only got about 15 more minutes, so I will give you a quick run-down of what went down this week. It was great!

Our weeks was honestly stacked. Sunday was conference, then Wednesday, we had temple conference. Half of our mission went on Tuesday, and the other half on Wednesday. It is always a huge blessing to be able to go to the beautiful Den Haag temple twice a year. It was spiritual, and felt like I was just there. Time flies. We then went to Keukenhof after. The huge tulip garden in Holland. It was gorgeous, but wasn't as nice as last year, because the flowers weren't as sprouted.

Knowing that this was my last week in Den Haag, I gave it my all...

We had a wonderful lesson with Johan this week. Miracles are coming. All that I have wanted to do these last 6 months in Den Haag was serve the zone, and help them baptize. I am not gonna lie, a huge part of me wanted to baptize in my own city. My prayer was answered on my last Sunday in Den Haag. I think it was my best Sunday on my mission. I love this ward. Biggest ward in the mission, and they are family. It was pretty much a farewell, because everyone knew I would get transfered. I was asked to share a short testimony, and take pictures with everyone after Sacrament Meeting haha. I really felt like I was part of the ward, leaving on my mission. It was great. After, we went to a lesson at Johans house. He just keeps progressing. We had an incredible lesson with him. He was telling us that he knows it is all true. Usually with a Dutch strong Christian, they will show you how Catholic or Protestant is correct and bash any idea we have using the bible, but he supported the Book of Mormon with the bible. I invited him to be baptized on May 23, and he got an ugly look on his face. I was expecting a comeback saying that he was already baptized, or doesn't need to be baptized, but he shot back "That is too long away!"... I was in shock haha. We talked about it, and decided it is a good date for him. The Lord is good. I will baptize in this city. I told him I am leaving, and got super sad. He gave me his cherished bible, and I will never forget him. He is very spiritual.

I love this city. I will always be grateful for it, and never forget the experiences that I had. It was fun being so close to President and Sister Robinson. They are amazing.

I am getting transfered to Zwolle, with a good buddy, Elder Kartodirjo. He is from Surinam, and is going home in six weeks. We are going to baptize.

I love you all. Have a great week!

Elder Elkins

April 6, 2015

Hey guys! What a great week. General Conference, Easter, missionary work, and miracles. The weather is getting better, and you cannot complain when you are driving around, tulips everywhere, windmills spinning, and speaking Dutch. I love it.

This week was amazing. Miracle, after miracle. Once again, we were really busy with exchanges. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, with Mission Leader Council on Friday, District Leader Council on Saturday, and General Conference taking up our evening on Saturday, and whole day Sunday. We were busy, but let me tell you about a man name Johan.

On Thursday, I was on exchanges with Elder Thomas. We were working in Den Haag. Our mission is really good at using Social Media to advertise things around certain holidays... for example, with easter, we put advertisements on Facebook to order free 'finding faith in christ' dvds. The office would send the video, and we would follow up by going to their homes and asking what they thought. We had about 10 of these to follow up with these week just in our area. Thomas and I went and looked up one of them. He wasnt home, so we knocked doors in the area. Not much success, but we finally got somebody with a speaker bell and he was talking to us through that. He told us that he is already Christian and we should help someone else. We told him we have a video we want to share with him about easter, so he said kom maar binnen. We went up the stairs, met him at the top, and he said "you guys must be the boys with the dvd". I was super confused. He told us to come in. We introduced ourselves, and he told us that he is Johan. I started to put things together in my head, and realized that this must be the same Johan who wasn't home. What is he doing here? Miracle that we found him. I explained the situation to him, and that he wasn't home, and told us that this is his painting office. He is a painter, and goes there to work, then goes back to his other place to sleep. It was amazing that we were able to catch him there! He told us that he beleives we are angels and appeared unto him like angels to abraham haha. Long story short, he asked if he could come to church on sunday, so we told him to come at 6pm... which was the live broadcast of General Conference. He was amazed when he came. He said it was a blessing to come when it only happens twice a year, and loved every second of it. He was bawling during Elder Hollands talk. That was powerful! We taught him the restoration afterwards, and he asked to be baptized. He told us that he heard God tell him it was a good church, 5 minutes into conference.... It is all true.

This is one miracle this week. There were others... Like a member that we have been working with finally wants to quit smoking and go to the temple. That was insanee!

I love this work. I love easter. I think it was Holland that mentioned what Easter means. It represents the resurrection, but also our personal triumphs through Christs atonement. What a special meaning it has. I felt the spirit very strong during Conference.

I love you all. Thank you for all that you continue to do. This work is true, and Heavenly Father is hastening His work. I am a personal witness! I love ya all!

Elder Elkins