Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Home

     So two years ago we dropped off Dawson at the Calgary airport to fly to the MTC in Provo. His twin brother was to arrive a week later so they never said good bye, it was more like- I'll see you next week. Both were to learn Spanish so we figured they would run into each other in their six weeks at the MTC. Little did we know that Derek would run into visa problems and have to start his mission in Calgary for six weeks, then go to Provo to the MTC to learn Spanish, then go to his mission. Weird start eh? So the twins never actually got to say good-bye to each other as Dawson was gone by the time Derek got to the MTC. It was actually very sad. Well tonight they were reunited. It was so awesome to see them hug at the airport. All the way home they chattered away in Spanish. It was very soothing actually to just listen to them. Our family is all together again 







Monday, 1 August 2016

Final Thought

Game over.... See you tomorrow! Thanks for everything.

"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at
hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have
kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at
that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his
appearing." (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
- Elder Strate
From,
The Great Utah Salt Lake City Mission



Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Last Mission Letter

     Good morning everyone!
     This is my last weekly letter for my mission. Next week I will send some pictures with captions if I get a chance to email but that is it. It's been a remarkable two years of service. I have loved it! I try to think of one word that I could use to describe my mission but I cannot think of one that accurately describes it. That's how amazing it has been for me. The closest word I can think of is "perfect", but that's not possible because I am not perfect. I suppose that a more accurate response would be "marvelous", or "outstanding". Somewhere between "marvelous or outstanding" and "perfect" could be an accurate measure, yeah we'll go with that!
     We had a very good week. We taught almost 40 lessons this week which is incredible! We have been very busy teaching a lot of people, but we have been struggling in terms of helping them accept a baptismal date or attend church. This week our focus will be more on how to keep the Sabbath day holy and the blessings we receive from our Sabbath day worship and by virtue of the sacrament. Hopefully it turns out well!
     This morning in my studies of the Book of Mormon I read the first ten chapters of 3 Nephi and tomorrow I will be starting the Savior's ministry among the Nephites in ancient America. I'm excited to learn more about the Savior's life and the way that he ministered to others. I think something that we as members of the church don't remember is the purpose of why we do missionary work, home teaching, temple work, etc. It's because there are lost souls or struggling children of the Lord that need to be ministered to and served. They literally need us and we can be an answer to someone's prayer everyday if we ask the Lord for that opportunity. That's why I do missionary work. That's why I walk around everyday in the blazing hot sun here in Utah looking for more people to serve, help, and love. If we did so with the same intent, I know that our desire or "fire" to spread the gospel would never cease. We would always be searching for missionary opportunities around us and never hesitate to share our testimonies of our Savior Jesus Christ. 
     I know that charity -"suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh nother own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things,endureth all things." (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Without charity, we are nothing as Paul writes (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). I know that the reason God gave us the plan of Salvation is because he loves us. The reason He restored His church through the prophet Joseph Smith is because he loves us. We have living prophets and apostles today that receive revelation for the world because he loves us.
     I know that God gave us His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, because He loves us more than we can comprehend. Christ did not give up during his earthly ministry because he knew that His gospel is the best path for us and because he loves us. Love, love, love, love, and more love!
     Christ was driven by love for His Father in Heaven and for us when he suffered His Atonement for us. His Atonement is the supreme act of goodness and grace that only a god could perform. Through it, all of the terms and conditions of the Father’s eternal plan of salvation became operative. Through it are brought to pass the immortality and eternal life for us. Through it, we are saved from death, hell, the devil, and endless torment. And through it, all who believe and obey the glorious gospel of our Savior, all who are true and faithful and overcome the natural man, all who suffer for Christ and his word, all shall become as their Maker and sit with him on his throne and reign with him forever in everlasting Celestial glory. We may be saved my physical and spiritual death.
I know that Christ's resurrection is unconditional. All mankind, evil, good, or in-between, will be resurrected and saved from physical death. However, in order to conquer spiritual death, or sin, the affects of His Atonement are conditional on terms of repentance. Mercy cannot rob justice. We must repent, change, and try our best to become like our Father in Heaven to overcome spiritual death. That is why we needed a Restoration. We needed His gospel to be restored so we could access the process to overcome spiritual death and change. Through His restored gospel being; faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism by immersion, the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and enduring to the end, we truly can be saved and prepared to inherit the kingdoms of our God.
      We do not know, we cannot tell, no mortal mind can conceive the full import of what Christ did in Gethsemane.
We know he suffered, both body and spirit, more than it is possible for man to suffer, except it be unto death.
We know that in some way, incomprehensible to us, that his suffering satisfied the demands of justice. He ransomed our penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin, and made mercy available to everyone that will believe in his holy name, even Christ the Lord.
     I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. Not because I have seen or heard His presence, but because I have felt His love and everlasting grace through His restored gospel. Before my mission I believed that Christ was the son of God and I knew that this was His church. But, now I know because I have felt Him change me. Words cannot accurately describe how grateful I am to Him for the person that I have become. I know that this progression will not end when I finish my two years of full-time service in His work if I continue to apply His teachings into my life and the life of my future family.
      I know that Christ lives. I know that God gave us a perfect plan in the pre-mortal realm and we all accepted it. Everyone on this planet has already accepted His plan and His son Jesus Christ as their Savior once before, so why would they not do it again? I know that God's purpose truly is, "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." Jesus Christ brought immortality as a gift to us by virtue of His resurrection. However, eternal life, or living with our Father in Heaven again in His kingdom is dependent upon our obedience to His gospel and His commandments.
      My plea to all of you is to not allow our Redeemer's sufferings to be in vain. Please repent, change, and look for opportunities to improve. If we do not live His gospel then he virtually suffered for nothing! Please take advantage of this great gift and give the Lord a chance. Please, I'm begging you, don't forget who you are and who you can become. I testify that God is our Father, and we are His children. If we could comprehend and understand that simple statement then I believe that we would have no reason to do wrong or treat each other poorly. I know that our potential is limitless through Christ, our Savior, Redeemer, and most importantly, my friend.
I love you all so much. I am eternally grateful to everyone that has supported me through these two years specifically but also throughout my entire life. You have all played some kind of role in my life and I am certain that I have learned valuable, life long lessons from all of you.
      I titled this letter, "Thank You", because that is my simple message today. I am grateful for my family, friends, acquaintances, and God for demonstrating sincere love. Thank you so much.
     Have a great week! May the Lord bless you and comfort you in your times of need. I know that He will do so if you will simply reach out to Him.
     Saturday was Pioneer Day I was at Liberty park and I met Will Tukuafu! He is the starting fullback for the Seattle Seahawks. He was a way cool dude. We shot some hoops with him and the Tongan Elders for a bit and then took a picture.
      Sister Henrie! She is from Raymond and went to school with me in Magrath for a little while back in junior high! She is in my zone.
     The picture of me and Sister Henrie also has Sister Eisele, from Michigan. She is going home in one week too.

         See you Tuesday
                  Love,
                       Elder Strate 

Monday, 18 July 2016

Great week - time is running out

      Hello everyone!
 
      This week was great! We are still working with the same people as last week, but they are progressing! Hopefully they will be prepared for baptism my last Saturday! That would be extraordinary. I'm pumped for the upcoming week. As my mission is coming to a close I feel like my desire and fire to share the gospel has only increased. The Lord has blessed me with so much energy to keep going, and I'm so grateful for that. 
     Yesterday we took the Barrera family to temple square! We did a lot of cool things! First, we saw the Christus statue. 

     Afterwards, we continued to God's Plan for the Family and proceeded to watch the Restoration movie afterwards. I'm eternally grateful for the early saints of this dispensation. They suffered trials and afflictions beyond our comprehension but they persevered to the end. Their example for us is inspiring. I love watching that movie. I also love the example that the Prophet Joseph Smith is for us. No matter what the situation was he always had faith that the Lord was still with them. He was always willing to accept the Lord's will, even unto death. It was such a good experience for the Barreras and they told us afterwards that they learned so much! After that we went to show them the temple model and took pictures around the temple together. 
     I found a relative of the Steffensen family from Magrath! I saw her last name on a tag and saw that she was from Norway so I asked her if she knew anyone from Canada! So yep, I met one of Sabrina's cousins Miranda!
      Pretty cool eh? It was a great way to end the week.


        Yesterday at church I gave a talk. Our branch mission leader, Genaro, told the Branch Presidency that I had to speak before I left haha so they gave me a chance yesterday! The asked me to speak about the temple.
     In preparation I read Doctrine & Covenants 109. This section is when Joseph Smith dedicated the first temple of our dispensation in Kirtland, Ohio. The promises that came from this prayer apply to us in any temple anywhere in the world. I read the section and studied it carefully. After studying it, I made a list of the Lord's promises given in that revelation to Joseph Smith.
     The Prophet Joseph Smith asked the Lord that the Saints receive the blessings promised to them in various revelations already given:
  1. That God’s glory would rest upon His people and upon the Kirtland Temple (see D&C 109:12–13).
  2. That those who worship in the temple would be taught properly (see v. 14).
  3. That the people would “grow up” in the Lord, receiving a fulness of the Holy Ghost. (v. 15).
  4. That the house of God would be all it was meant to be with no unclean thing permitted therein (see vv. 16–20, which are paraphrased from D&C 88:119–20).
  5. That when the Saints transgressed, they would return quickly to the Lord (see v. 21).
  6. That His servants could go forth armed with power and protected by the angels to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth (see vv. 22–23).
  7. That He would establish His people forever against all the enemies who fight against them (see vv. 24–33).
  8. That their sins would be forgiven (see v. 34).
  9. That the powers of Pentecost would come upon them (see vv. 35–37).
  10. That the servants of God would have the power of the covenant and bear testimony of it throughout the world (see vv. 38–44).
  11. That the servants of God would be delivered from the calamity of the wicked and the judgments that are promised (see vv. 45–49).
  12. That the Lord would have mercy on the nations of the earth, softening their hearts to prepare them for the gospel message (see vv. 54–58).
  13. That stakes of Zion would be appointed so the gathering might roll forth.(see v. 59).
      I know that the Lord always fulfills his promises. He is a perfect being and cannot lie! These blessings are real, and I know that I have seen and felt them. My talk went well, at least I think it did! Hahaha
      Well, that's what I have for this week! Take care!
             Love,
                  Elder Strate


Friday, 15 July 2016

Cool Lunch Appointment

     Today the Hewlett family took Derek Strate to the Red Iguana in Salt Lake City for lunch, thanks so much! Their son is a missionary in Magrath and we have feed him so they wanted to return the favour. Only 18 days until he returns home. 


Monday, 11 July 2016

Soccer

Soccer activity today at Liberty Park. Tons of fun!
I'm in the bright lime green shirt.





Headed to the U of U today

Hello!
     Our week was amazing! We taught a bunch of lessons this week. They were good quality lessons, and we had some investigators at church yesterday too!
     We have 2 investigators on date for July 30th at the moment. Their names are Anthony and Lluvia. They are progressing towards their baptismal date nicely and are amazing kids. 
     They are both 12 years old and are cousins. This week we are planning on taking the young mens' and young womens Presidents to our lessons so they can start to get more involved with youth activities in the branch. It should be a fantastic week!
     We also have a lot more investigators! We are teach the Velasco family, the Iscarra family, and the Barrera family. We also have some other people. Overall, everyone is doing great!
     The Velascos and Iscarras live in the same house. They are cousins so that's why they are staying together. It's interesting what happened with them, let me explain. When I got into the area the Velascos were the only ones living at that house. We were teaching them and they were nice and let us into their home,  but they were not very receptive. They would argue with what we taught, they would just tell us that they were Catholic and stuff like that. Well, the Iscarra family moved in with the Velascos because they were going through some family issues in California. Once they got here, they were much more receptive to us. As a result, all of them are receptive at the moment.
     We are going to teach them tonight and tomorrow morning we are going to watch, "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration" at temple square. We strongly believe that after they watch this movie that they will be put on date for July 30th as well. Yesterday we were fasting for all of the people that we are teaching. That they might recognize answers to their prayers and be blessed with eyes to see and ears to hear. I remember when I was younger that I used to despise fasting. I always thought it was so annoying to miss meals because I love food! I'm a hungry Hank (that's a shoutout to you Grandpa Strate). But I have changed and I now enjoy my opportunities to fast. I find that I am more humble and receptive to the spirit when I am fasting and that blessing alone has been sufficient for me. We are going to try our best to bring as many souls back to church or into the church this week! The branch seems to be getting a little bigger every week. Yesterday we had a good number of investigators, less actives, and recent converts attend church. We hope that our efforts will continue to bring souls to Christ.
     Read Alma 32!! It's such a good chapter. I read that chapter this morning and I love what Alma says in verse 6, "And now when Alma heard this, he turned him about, his face immediately towards him, and he beheld with great joy; for he beheld that their afflictions had truly humbled them, and that they were in a preparation to hear the word."
      Alma recognized that the people were ready to hear the word of God because they had been humbled by their circumstances. After he recognized this, he taught them a powerful lesson in faith and how we can grow our faith like a seed. It's so powerful, please read it with a humble heart and an open mind and ask yourself, "What can I do to increase my faith?" I promise you that the Lord will reveal something that you can do to increase your faith. Once He does, i invite you to change and try to become better at whatever the specific thing the He tells you.
     I went for lunch on Thursday with the Linfords. Their son is serving in Magrath as a missionary right now and spends time with my family. We ate at a place called Cafe Trio, it was pretty good! It was like an Italian cuisine, it was delicious. 

     They are really good people. They live in Kaysville which is the north side of our mission. I know which area they live in, I've never served there before but I know where it is. They live in the smallest geographical stake in the world. The Kaysville Haight Creek Stake is tiny!! The missionaries up there that cover it and the Kaysville South Stake because they are both small in terms of land area.
      Today for p-day we set up a thing with a student at the University of Utah. He is going to provide us with those big inflatable balls that you can go inside of and run into each other with. I will send pictures of that later today! It's going to be so cool!

     Have a great week!
     Love,
       Elder Strate
    

Monday, 4 July 2016

Lots of teaching

Hello!
     We had an amazing week! Honestly one of the best ones of my entire mission. We found some amazing new people to teach! We found a family from Colombia, the Barrera family, and they are super open to the gospel. I am so grateful to the Lord for helping us find the elect.
     I'm also grateful to him for helping the members around us find the elect. We taught a lot of lessons this week! 35 and found 9 new investigators. We taught the restoration and the plan of salvation many times this week. The history of the restoration is one of my favorite things to teach. I love being able to testify without any doubt that the Book of Mormon is true and Joseph Smith was a prophet of God! I am amazed as I see people take the restoration into their hearts, ponder it, and pray about it to see if it is true. Every time they ask the Lord, he tells them that it is true through the Holy Ghost. I am amazed how the Lord knows each of His children perfectly. I say that because he always gives answers in a way that we can recognize it if we are truly searching. When we ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, and having faith in Christ, we can know all things. I notice that it talks about faith in Jesus Christ; not faith in Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, or the church. We have faith in an immortal being. Someone that is perfect and loves us dearly.
     I know that when we have faith in Christ that we will always find the truth. The honest seekers of truth and true disciples of Christ cannot deny the truth once they find it.
     We have 2 people on date for baptism for July 30th and we are trying to put a bunch of other people on date for that day too. It is my last Saturday. We will see what happens!
     Friday was Canada day! I hope you all had a fun time up there! Today is July 4th here so we are bound to have a fun day! I'm sure there will be lots of parties and fireworks around us! Hahahahaha.
     I have been trying to figure out a way to help investigators receive a better understanding of the necessity of baptism and confirmation in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
     First, that's why I testified of the restoration. Without the priesthood that comes with that restoration we could not perform sacred ordinances such as baptism and confirmation. Also, we wouldn't be able to seal families for time and all eternity in the temple.
     We are told that baptism is the gate. We are also told that the gate is straight and the way is narrow. In a sense, baptism is essentially registration not graduation. It's the start of our covenant making and keeping with our Father in Heaven. It's also the first ordinance of salvation that we need to enter the Celestial Kingdom. I found a really cool quote the other day while I was studying the topic of baptism, and I wanted to share it with you;
     "The metaphor of the strait gate and narrow way is an interesting one. The word strait means narrow, but it also connotes another English word, straight. Not only is the gate strait (difficult), it is also
straight (undeviating). In fact, the same idea is also implied by the
word righteous, which comes from a similar root. In English, we still
say “Come right home” when we mean “Come straight home.” A righteous person is a person who comes straight home to God through the strait gate. I find it interesting that a gate in Christ’s time was often a place where people would cast garbage--just as we cast off our imperfections when entering the strait and narrow gate of baptism."
      - Arthur R. Bassett ("Floods, Winds, and the Gates of Hell", June 1991 Ensign)
      I love the last line in that quote. I think if the people we are teaching at the moment will realize that baptism opens a way for them to rid themselves of imperfections that they will choose to be baptized. Baptism opens a door to receive a remission of your sins constantly through the cleansing power of the Holy Ghost.

     Have a great week! Keep working hard! :)
      Love,
           Elder Strate

Monday, 27 June 2016

"What are some possible "nets" in our lives?"

Hello!
      This week was amazing! We had some of the best church attendance by our investigators, less actives, and recent converts this week! It was so awesome! We taught a lot of quality lessons this week too. Elder Valladares and I have been focusing a lot on how we can teach a lot of quality lessons. Not just teach a lot to get numbers or something like that but to teach people and what they need. I know that the spirit was guiding us this week. It was very inspiring for me and helped me
grow a lot in the gospel. The part of my testimony that was strengthened a lot this week was how relying on the spirit brings miracles. During a lot of lessons we tried very hard to listen to the people that we were teaching but also to the spirit. We saw testimonies strengthened as a result. I loved it so much!
     We also went to temple square yesterday to watch Meet the Mormons with Juan Martinez and his family. That was a fun experience.
     I read a lot from the New Testament this week. I love reading about the a Savior and His earthly ministry. He is the perfect example for us and I know that if we try to be like Him that we will receive
Heaven's help to become better everyday. At the end of Matthew 4 I learned a valuable lesson. It's during the part when Christ commanded His future apostles to follow him. They were simple fishermen before they heard the call. Casting their nets into the Sea of Galilee, Peter and Andrew stopped as Jesus approached, looked into their eyes, and spoke the simple words, "Follow me."
Matthew writes that the two fishermen "straightway left their nets, and followed him." Now let me ask you a questions, If the Savior were to call you today, would you be just as willing to leave your nets and follow Him?’ I am confident that many of you would.
     Now, what are some possible "nets" in our lives? We might define a net as anything that entices or prevents us from following the call of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. Nets in this context can be our work, our hobbies, our pleasures, and, above all else, our temptations and sins. In conclusion, a net can be anything that pulls us away from our relationship with our Heavenly Father or from His restored Church. Many of us enjoy watching television. But if this simple activity makes us neglect our families or ignore the opportunity to render acts of Christlike service, then television may also be an entangling net.
     Joseph B. Wirthlin stated the following; “It is impossible to list the many nets that can ensnare us and keep us from following the Savior. But if we are sincere in our desire to follow Him, we must straightway leave the world’s entangling nets and follow Him” (“Follow Me,” Ensign, May 2002, 15).
     My goal for the upcoming week is to identify some of the "nets" in my life and drop them. I want to invite all of you to do the same. It doesn't have to be something big. Pray and seek the Lord's guidance and I promise you that you will find some form of "net" to drop.
     Love you! Have a great week!
     Love,
      Elder Derek Strate

       Someone surprised our car! I think they got the wrong car though because my companion and I aren't greenies! Hahaha