Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Hannakuhmas to All!

Delivering goods on Christmas Eve.

Let me send you a little letter concerning the dealings of Vancouver around the holiday season.  The “Couve” filled me with Christmas cheer.  The whole store of Winco is converted because of our Christmas caroling.  However, we sounded like American Idols top ten worst.  GOOD THING THEY FELT THE SPIRIT THOUGH!  We caroled, delivered, shared, smiled, and celebrated.   How about a Christmas miracle?  We went to visit a fella we are teaching named Lucas on Christmas Day.  By the way, most people don't want lessons on Christmas Day... BUT Lucas needed a visit.  His ex- wife happened to be there and we began talking with her.  We learned she is actually a member of the church.  She wants to meet with the missionaries where she lives and come back to church!  She said we need to push Lucas so he will bring the kids to church!  The cool part was... she only stopped by to see Lucas for 15 minutes on Christmas and that's when we just happened to show up with a fairly decent sized picture of the Savior for him to hang on his wall. You just have a small thought to visit Lucas... and when you show up you begin to unite a family forever. You ready for something you won't hear about every day? Some Christmas week magic  (Polar express status):  We had an hour long conversation with a girl we found by sledding down a hill.  Yes, we sled down a hill after her and she said she would meet with us.  We came back the next week and she didn't think we would :).  We showed up and watched her battle the spirit for an hour until she caved in and agreed to take the lessons.  While talking to her on the doorstep we just couldn't seem to take no for an answer. I mean typically we are annoying, but we just couldn't take no.  After 40 minutes we promised her "the reason she came to earth now is because before she was born she promised Heavenly Father she would raise a family and bring them back to him".  I thought to myself... how do you even know that Elder King?  GUESS WHAT?  The next day when we went back she said... "When I was younger, I almost committed suicide... but I failed.  There was something more for me here.  When I had my first kid... I knew that was my purpose here".  How cool is that?  After some tears and a little doctrinal commentary concerning the plan of salvation we feel she is going to be sealed to her family while she lives yet on this Earth.  I definitely learned that if you have a prompting and you're listening... you can know it’s from God.  We ate dinner with the mission president yesterday for our Christmas dinner.  His grandkids kept calling him “gramps” and I kept looking at them weird.  To one of the grandkids I even said, "You know his name is President McAteer right?!" That made the little kid laugh!  What a special day with some special people.  Bishop gave us gift boxes on Christmas Eve to deliver to ward members full of cans of WHO HASH and the RARE WHO ROAST BEAST.  We loved playing Santa Claus as we delivered the boxes full of food.  It has been the best Christmas of my life.  I think it is because I finally decided to try and make it about others.  It's better that way. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

A skype call on Christmas morning from Elder King.  Best Christmas gift ever.  What a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Yule Tidings From Your Boy

My Christmas Table.

Vancouver Zone in the snow.
Yep, you guessed it, this past week was the next best week of my life.  Hot chocolate from the local coffee shops & everyone thinking about Jesus Christ makes for a good week.  We got snowed in a couple days this week... which means we just get to walk  whipped out a scarf this week to amp up the class of my outerwear with my trench coat.  I figure I will tell you a few miracles.  P.S.  It's getting harder and harder to email.  Let's throw a good miracle out there first:  Picture this! Friday night & all our appointments cancel!  It's 30 ish degrees I'm bundled in a trench coat / cardigan combo to try and stay warm and the whole city of Vancouver is pretty much shut down!  When it snows the north westerners have no idea how to react.  They shut down the schools!  But, not us missionaries!  We just threw the truck in 4 wheel ;).  After showing up at one of our appointments where no one answered...Elder Pabst & I looked at each other and started walking right towards the exact same door.  We knocked and a kind lady suffering from cancer opened the door and asked us "what message are you sharing tonight?"  She got a little more than she bargained for. Before you know it we had a return appointment.  The next door after that was answered by a lady striving to follow Christ.  When she heard about the BOM she told us she better start reading it ASAP.  It was pretty dang cool to see what happens when our lessons get cancel for the 3949495th time out here.  Church this Sunday  before church for a couple of hours and nobody answered... but uh... you get credit for trying right?  Because 6 investigators showed up to church and 6 less active members as well!  We felt like celebrities at church with all our peeps surrounding us.  We sang a little Christmas music for the hymns and we had quite the sacrament program.  A kind brother from the ward began to sing us a tune during his talk.  Amidst the belting out, he pretended to be Richard G. Scott (a former apostle) and walked away from the pulpit for a second to perhaps... find his character?  He then came back and changed his voice and began reading straight from his talk.  It was priceless!  We even had an infant cause a ruckus about either cheese balls or a Thomas the train engine toy during the administration of the sacrament.  I went down to Portland for a day exchange to visit with some of my former YSA ward friends.  One less active member we taught a year ago has progressed to the point where he has a calling and now is preparing to go the possibility of him serving, How cool is that?  Stay tuned for the upcoming Christmas card featuring Elders King  been on my mind lately... is... using faith to promise people blessings of living the gospel.  This week I committed to promising blessings the minute the spirit prompts me.  My companion did the same.  We thought to ourselves... if you believe in Joseph Smith... you believe the priesthood has been restored.  That means the power of Jesus Christ set us (missionaries) apart from the world and ordained us to preach the gospel and help people repent.  Part of that power is promising blessings or (prophesying).  Sounds churchy and big... but it works.  We promised a bunch of people this week if they came to church, read, prayed and took this seriously the power of the Savior would manifest to them.  Seems simple?  But think about that! That's the power of Jesus Christ working through us telling someone.  I'll report next week on all the people getting manifestations ;).  Have a swell week.  Merry Christmas.  Happy Hanakkuh.  Yuletide Joy.  Gay Happy Tidings.  The church is true.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Christmas in the WVM

Yes, the email is a day late due to our WVM Christmas gathering which took the whole of p-day to enjoy.  However, we have been approved to send an email today documenting the weeks labors.  As always, ''twas a great week”.  Spent a day in Longview and spent a day in Astoria.  The miracles were many as we invited a few people to baptism.  I'll relate a few stories. Today I have consumed two diet cokes because the lack of sleep from this morning.  12 or so missionaries were sent off towards their homelands.  I also participated in the WVM talent show during the Christmas party.  I strapped a blown up latex glove to my stomach as I acted the part of being a cow and let one of my old companions (who happens to be a cowboy) wrangle me with a rope.  Miracle #1 - the Starkel family.  The Starkel family has been in and out of activity for as far back as I know.  The BEST people you will ever meet, but been difficult to commit to coming to church.  Brother Starkel actually broke his Tibia / Fibia falling down just the other day.  Stinks right?  Actually been a blessing.  His leg was suspended in the air during the lesson as we talked about repentance.  Long story short, Brother Starkel believes his leg being broken has provided his family with the opportunity to come back into activity in the church.  It was an answer to many prayers I suppose... I never prayed to break his leg…. but we have been praying for help in getting the family to church.  I have been serving here four months now and just this Sunday the whole family was sitting together in their Sunday best. :). Brother Starkel said he didn't care how much pain he was in. Miracle #2 - Thursday was a complete snow / ice day here in Vancouver. A little snowfall and the whole city shuts down.  Schools cancelled, people feared for their lives, people slipped on ice and we couldn't drive our cars. We were counseled to walk for the day, but our area is about 45 minutes to an hour away from our home.  It was about 5 o'clock in the evening and walking around aimlessly didn't seem super smart.  We knealt down for a prayer and went to work.   We texted every member we could think of... & two members wanted to drive us around.  One of our lessons was actually with the home teaching family of one of the members.  Most missionaries stayed in... but the goodLlord provided as we tried our best.  We also did not die.  Nor fall on the nice.  Nor did anything but preach the gospel.  Miracle #3 - a few weeks ago we felt prompted to stop by and visit a family.  We had a real strong promoting to stop by the Thornton family.  We did just that, and found a kind lady with some concerns about the church.  We told her how we felt and told her we were there for a reason.  She let us come back.  She came to church.  She hasn't missed church since that day.  She hasn't missed an appointment since that day.  And to top it off, she is allowing us to teach her 17 year old daughter.  She gives us candy every time we knock on the door.  Sounds creepy, but it isn't.  She is awesome.  She read 35 chapters of the BOM and wrote notes on the first 15 to give us a good conversation the next lesson. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Lighting Up The World

Our ward missionaries December 2016.

Might I tell you that Christmas as a missionary is actually really great?  This last week we served some homeless people early in the morning, we moved some furniture, we taught some elect & we had a ward Christmas celebration.  And on occasion we even purchased a heaping gallon of chocolate milk.  This morning it started snowing as we listened to Nat King Cole (yes, I understand this sounds like a chick-flick but I do not love my companion like that)  However, he is great.  Let’s kick this email off with a miracle:  THEY HAPPEN EVERY WEEK YOU JUST NEED TO EMBELLISH THE STORY A LITTLE!  Our mightiest district leader decided to present us with a challenge to do a 40 day “fast” from little things that keep us back from feeling and following the spirit.  When he presented this challenge I kind of immediately rebelled in my mind because he wanted us to fast from actual food for a day or two and it was right before fast Sunday... and because I really wanted to eat rice & maybe a few chicken nuggets.  As I rebelled a little phrase flooded my mind that I, myself, told a less active member of the ward a few days earlier.  "What is more important, the inconvenience you feel right now, or your eternal salvation? Don't give up your salvation for something that is just an inconvenience."  So, we started this 40 day fast by writing down a list of things we could give up very prayerfully.  Almost the very moment that we did this we found six people wanting to hear the message of the gospel.  One of those we were teaching started crying as we read the chapter heading of Alma chapter 42.  We invited him to baptism and he came to church the next day dressed up with a white shirt & tie.  Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven!  
Next miracle:  With one of our favorite part-member families we taught about repentance.  We felt our main man Phil needed a sweet message about repentance.  He sort of cried during the lesson (he was in the marine core for many years).  The spirit whispered to us correctly because he told us the very next day he had the chance to do something he would have done in his past, but he didn’t do it.  He texted us and told us he is trying out this repentance thing and he feels good about it.  You know that moment when you feel like you're actually fulfilling your purpose?  THAT MOMENT WAS ONE OF THEM.  Let me tell you about the great faith of another member of the church we have been teaching.  She was baptized in her teens & then someone said something dumb to her (this person happened to be a member of the church). I probably wouldn’t have wanted to go back to church after that comment either…but anyway, we contacted this fine child of God & have been meeting weekly for gospel discussion.  She texted us this week to say, "I told myself I would never set foot in an LDS church ever again & now I can't imagine what else I would do on Sunday".  In our next lesson she said Christ is changing her into a better person.  She made us cookies too.  The Savior and his gospel is real.  Other random news:  Elder Pabst my companion put a tortilla in my toilet when I had to go to the bathroom.  We colored placemats for a homeless shelter at the ward Christmas party.  We volunteered at the winter hospitality overflow program.  At this program they allow the homeless to sleep indoors during the cold weather and we prepare breakfast, lunch & a little dinner for them.  What a treat to serve even if I was half asleep because it was sooooo early.  We are going back this next week early in the morning too.  I can’t wait!  I really like being a missionary.  

Monday, November 28, 2016

44 oz of Spiritual Glad Tidings

Enjoying 44 oz of diet Pepsi after a week full of miracles.
I'm a little bit excited to write this email right now.  The week filled my heart to the brim like a frothy cup of hot chocolate.  I think I had the greatest moment of my mission right before I drank a 44 oz Diet Pepsi.  The Pepsi was the reward for the day. The church was true this week just like the week before.  We spent a day in Gresham this week and we spent a thanksgiving dinner with a couple of awesome families.  Some serious turkey, some serious stuffing, some serious apples to apples & a lot of gratitude.  Miracle story number  1:  Upon spending our day down in Gresham with a couple of Elders we celebrated one of the Elder’s birthdays.  We went out to lunch and had the greatest miracle of all my life.  We went out knocking doors that night (it was raining pretty hard and only about 40 degrees. ). No biggie for us missionaries, but most people don't want to come outside and talk. We knocked about 10 or so doors and eventually we found a door with the "Jesus fish" sticker on the front door. Seems like someone that would want to talk?  We knocked and no answer... as we walked away the DOOR OPENED!  A little dog ran out as a middle aged man yelled, "SICK EM!"  Honestly I got a little scared but realized he was just  kidding.  I also realized the dog was nice and we went to talk to this guy.  He invites us in and we meet his wife.  They sat us down and gave us pie, sparkling water and told us how much they loved our church.  Pictures of Jesus covered all the walls.  Kinda dawned on us... if you love Jesus & you love our church why haven't you joined?  So we asked and an hour long discussion commenced.  No joke she told us every concern she had.  All of which were minuscule. We read John 7:17 with her and invited her to read the Book of Mormon.  A long pause followed... the spirit you could tell literally penetrated her soul!!!!  It was so great and she kept trying to think of things to say but after a few minutes she just said, "Okay I can't promise you much, but I will read the whole book once and pray about it.  You also have to let me feed you soon and we can read together".  No one in 20 months has told me they would read the whole Book of Mormon as a commitment.  Greatest day of my life.  I have never seen the spirit work someone over like that.  She told us to call the next day and sent us off with goods & told us she can't wait for us to teach her whole family.  WHAT IF we had given up after the first few doors?  What if we gave up when she told us all her concerns?  This family is going to get sealed together!  MARK MY WORDS!!!  Miracle number 2:  We had a great thanksgiving.  We played in the turkey bowl all morning long with the ward.  Tons of less actives came out to relive their glory days back in high school.  No injuries but we got creamed.  I definitely was reliving the high school glory days because we always lost anyway.  After that we raked leaves for 2 hours in the rain.  It was a lot of fun because we knocked doors to find a rake and find some trash bags.  After some trench foot and a broken phone we cleaned up for dinner.  Turkey , good times, good spirits and I won playing apples to apples.  Taught some lessons on thanksgiving too!  People still wanted to meet.  We had 8 people we are teaching come to church.  Before church we visited everyone and told everyone we saw to come worship & found some success.  It was a good time sitting back and looking at our peeps gathered at church. We kind of felt  like momma & poppa hen with our chicklings gathered at church.  Good week.  Good times.  Feeling thankful to be alive.  It's going to be a white Christmas in the McLoughlin Ward with some baptisms.  I'm trying not to be too preachy, but this week I learned a lot.  I woke up this morning with some serious revelation.  To slow down... just slow down.  The spirit cannot be in the midst of anxiety and stress.  If you're life is filled with both of those take a little time to pray & listen.  Actually listen.  I'm talking spend a few quiet moments with the spirit.  Being busy all the time isn't something we should strive for.  You don't want to miss the precious moments with the still small voice.  Things will still get done  I promise.  OKAY I CANT STAND THE SERIOUSNESS.  I GOT A HAIRCUT today from a lady who had a pet marmot and the blonde hair is falling all over me.  I am about to go win the NBA P-DAY Basketball championship.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Weekly Roast

Saying good-bye to Elder Iler.
New companion Elder Pabst.

Here we go for the weekly roast:  I might hit you up with one really great story for this week & then send some pictures.  I am sorry for my neglect of email lately, but uh I just have sore fingers from lesson reports this week. The work is always good and I bought eggnog this week to supplement my days and kick off the holiday season.  Okay here's the weekly story - get ready.  Buckle up and batton down the hatches:   Many months / moons ago I served in the Clark Young Single Adult Ward of Vancouver Washington.  The sun was bright & the vibes were chill in the Clark YSA.  We received a referral for a young man named Andrew & we visited him weekly.  He lived with a few other roomies and together they rented a home together. The other fellas usually smoked various things and grilled various meats while we taught Andrew.  They typically sipped on some booze while listening. We asked a few if they were interested and got some smoke blown in our faces and a few laughs but no hard feelings.  After many months and many moons I have wondered what happened to those lost souls of our Heavenly Father.  Well…let me tell you what happened with one of them. This last Saturday night our lessons cancelled.  (Always my favorite thing because it means miracles happen).  So here's what we did.  It's really complex.  We prayed, we followed the spirit, and we worked to find who we needed to see.  We decided to visit Beth a potential investigator living next to a member we know.  We showed up at the apartment complex and to our dismay... none of the apartment numbers were posted.  What the heck?  So we decided to just start knocking.  The first door we knocked on... guess who opened?  Yep, one of the guys from the old YSA smoke-house.  He opened the door and let us in immediately.  Just last week his daughter was assaulted.  He needed some comfort.  Now he is a new investigator. HEY, there is a lot of people in Vancouver.  You tell me the odds of us showing up at this house with the same guy I met months ago?  He had just moved here two weeks prior.  The church is true friends & family.  I really like it.  Some members fed us some chili last night, and I woke up feeling like I had a kidney stone to pass.  First experience getting some food poisoning out here in the Vancouver.  Other than the chili incident, things are pretty calm here.  No more riots in Portland from the election results.