Monday, 30 May 2016

Tony Burger is the place to be!

    Our week was really good! Unfortunately some of our new investigators cancelled some of our lessons last week, but we have rescheduled them for this week and hopefully they will turn out well! We taught a lot of less active members this week. We are taking a recent convert to the temple this week to do baptisms for the dead! We are super excited for that. It's so amazing to watch people go through the conversion process as a new convert. The adversary tries so hard to tear them down but it's amazing how they can survive his strength through the strength of the Lord. When they rely on the covenants they made when they were baptized they receive a lot of strength from the Lord. It’s inspiring for me!
    Elder Valladares and I are doing well. The area is great. I love the members here and it's cool to get to know the new people as well. We did visits on Friday night with the branch. We invite all of the members to meet at the church every Friday night at 6:30, we split into companionships, and then we go visiting until 8:00. After we are done visiting, we go and eat food at the church or at someone's house.
    It's been extremely effective for the branch because it has been having consistent success as a result. I know that as members of the church are involved in the work of salvation that the work remains constantly effective. It also lights a fire in the members' hearts to go out and do their regular home/visiting teaching. It's been really effective!
    We took Juan out to a place called Tony Burger on Thursday night. We get half off there as missionaries so we bought him a milkshake. It was chill to sit and talk with him a bit! The milkshakes were really good as well!

    I read King Benjamin's address in the Book of Mormon the other day. Mosiah 2-5 is one of my favorite sections of scripture. It's so clear and easy to understand, but every time I read it I notice something new! I want to invite all of you to take a look at that chapter once you get a chance!
    Have a great week! I know that Christ lives! I love Him and I know Him personally. I have felt His presence constantly and know that he is real. He isn't someone that we simply tell our friends and kids about so they can feel good, his is someone that we testify of because we are grateful for how he has changed us. I know that God sent Him just for us. Christ did everything for us! We would be wise to follow His example. Please look for opportunities to help others.

        Elder Derek Strate

                                                Elder Valladares and I

Monday, 23 May 2016

Trusting in the Lord

            This week was awesome! We picked up 3 more new investigators this week! We have been focusing most of our efforts to finding and we have seen miracles as a result! We have been street contacting a ton of people. I love street contacting because it allows me to test the Lord and see if his promises are always fulfilled. Let me explain.
            In Doctrine and Covenants 33:8-10 it read; 8 Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness. 9 Yea, open your mouths and spare not, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your backs, for lo, I am with you. 10 Yea, open your mouths and they shall be filled, saying: Repent, repent, and prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
            The Lord promises us that as we open our mouths proclaiming His gospel that we shall become as Nephi of old, so in my opinion I imagine that as having no fear, we shall be laden with sheaves (or converts), and finally that our mouths will be filled with what to say and how to say it. I am being obedient and I am confident and have faith in the Lord that he will send the Holy Ghost to accompany us as we do this marvelous work. I saw time and time again throughout the week that as I simply tried to talk to people that they would open up to us. As we listened we could discern or identify a key aspect of the gospel that they needed in their life based off of what they said. It was a promise filled week for me! I know that as we continue trying our best and do the work the same way that the Savior would do if he was here that we will see softened hearts and sincere conversion. I love the Lord!! :)
            We also had some amazing lessons with our investigators. We are teaching a family that has been struggling with reading the Book of Mormon. This week we decided to read it with them as part of our lesson. We also noticed that they might be holding back on being baptized because of pressure from the rest of their family. We read the story of Alma, when he was one of King Noah's high priests. We talked about how he heard the prophet Abinadi testify and was converted by his words. He was the only one who had a sincere heart and was converted by what he heard. We talked about how he ran away and how the Lord protected him from the wicked armies of King Noah. We figured it was a good example from the Book of Mormon regarding how we should always put God first. They really enjoyed the lesson and felt like it was perfect for them. Right now they are praying to ask God if they should get baptized and if he will protect them for their desire to change. We will see what happens this week!
            I'm so grateful for God and how much he loves all of us! I know that Christ lives today and he is our Savior and redeemer. He suffered pains and afflictions of all kind so we don't have too. I know that His grace is sufficient. I know that he is the only way to salvation.
            Have a great week!
                                                            Elder Strate

            Hahaha that's one huge sandwich!

Monday, 16 May 2016

Saturday's are great!


         We had a crazy week my first week back in the Cannon 6th Branch. First off, I had two baptisms on Saturday! Two littler girls in the Lucero Ward (my last area) got baptized! Ana and Alondra Gonzales were baptized and it was an amazing service. Elder Lemmon had the privilege of baptizing Alondra and I baptized Ana! It was such an amazing experience! We taught them and their father who is wo reactivated and working in getting the Melchizedek Priesthood! He's doing so well, and I know that the new Elders in the area will take great care of them. 

         I also got to attend the Bountiful Temple on Saturday morning because a family I worked with in the Arbor Branch (also part of my last area) went and got their endowments! It was so cool to see them dressed in white and receiving more gifts from our Father in Heaven. The word endowment means gift, because that's exactly what we get when we go into the temple! We have the opportunity to make more covenants with God, and when we live up to those covenants we receive even more blessings. The way to eternal life is simple, keep the promises we have made with our Lord and endure to the end. God gives us covenants so we can have strength to endure to the end. As we live up to our covenants, we are worthy for the presence of the Holy Ghost which enables us to persevere throughout our life. I know that these blessings are available to EVERYONE that will repent, and become worthy to enter into the Lord's house.

         Isabela Chavez, she got baptized on Saturday too in my new area. Sometimes Saturday's are the best days of the week as a missionary ;)

         My new companion is awesome. His name is Elder Valladares, he's from El Salvador. We have been speaking Spanish most of the time together and that's been really good for my Spanish, but we have made a goal to speak English more so he can continue to learn English. It's been going really well. The zone is doing good but there is always room for improvement! I know this is going to be a great transfer!
         We also picked up 4 new investigators this week. They are all people that I used to teach in this area, and when I left they were doing well and I'm not sure why they haven't been baptized yet, but it's all good! We will see what we can do with them. I also have seen a lot of people that I knew in this area before and it's been really cool to experience that. I have loved it here so far!

         Have a great week! Love you all! 
                           Elder Strate

Monday, 9 May 2016

Transferred again! Back to Cannon


      Sorry if this is a short letter, but we have transfers this week and I found out that I'm getting transferred! I was pretty shocked when I found out because Elder Lemmon and I just got together in this new area, and I love it! It's been so amazing serving here. I'm sad that it was only for 1 transfer but the Lord has his ways.
     I also thought I was going to train a new missionary before I go home, but I'm actually going back to one of my old areas as a Zone Leader. I'm returning to the Cannon 6th Branch! I'll possibly end my mission there, I guess we will see what happens in the future but for now I'm just going to work as hard as I can. The last thing I want to do is go home with regrets, I'm not trunky I promise! Hahaha I'm going to work the hardest I have ever worked on my mission.
     My new companion is gonna be Elder Valledares, he is from El Salvador. He has been out for about a year so I'm excited to be with him! It's gonna be a good time! I am excited to go back to my old area! I was only there for about a month because I got transferred early, so I'm assuming that the Lord has more work for me to do!
      Well, I know that God lives! I'm so grateful for the change I have seen in myself throughout the mission. It was amazing to talk to my family yesterday. I was so grateful to see them. They are doing great, and I'm excited to see them in a few months. But don't worry, I'm not trunky! Haha

     We also are going to have a baptism this Saturday! So I will be returning for the baptism because I am going to baptize one of the girls that's getting baptized! That will be sweet! I'll make sure to
post pictures next week! Have a great week!
         Elder Strate

      We had a fun p-day last week! This is Elder Hadden and Elder Curioso!

      I found the German restaurant that dad told me he loved when he was a missionary here. The food was super good! :) if I'm ever in downtown I know a good place to stop by now! Thanks Dad.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Mommy's Day is coming !!!

            We had an amazing week this week! We found 3 new investigators and they all seem really solid so far! One of them we found last night, his name is Daniel and he is from Venezuela! We have been focusing our efforts on finding new people to teach through less active members and recent converts. It's very effective because it is a comfortable way for a less active or recent convert to let us in, and as they help us with missionary work, their testimonies too are strengthened. I've witnessed countless miracles because of this technique.
            We visited the Brito Family, also from Venezuela. We taught them last week and they told us that they had some friends coming from Venezuela soon. We talked to them about introducing the gospel to their friends through a visit from us. They agreed, and we met with them last night! It was amazing. We testified of the Savior and His Atonement as first lesson.
            I've noticed that there are a lot of people that will open up to you or listen to you if you start with Christ. Who He is, what He did, and what we can become as a result. It helps others recognize their divine nature as children of God and they always soften up as a result. The spirit that penetrates the hearts of others is incredible when we testify specifically of Christ and His mission. Daniel wants to go with us to temple square this week with the Brito family and learn more about the temple and the history of the church. He also has a wife, but we haven't met her yet! That was a miracle we saw last night! :) it was amazing! I'm so grateful to the Lord and how he effects the work every day.
            Yesterday was fast Sunday. I love fast Sunday. When I was younger it was hard for me to appreciate the chance to give up 2 meals or more but as I've matured in the gospel I have come to appreciate the chance to fast at least once per month. Yesterday I fasted for my understanding of the sacrament to be increased and for a specific finding opportunity in the evening after dinner. We were going to visit less actives that we had been teaching and I fasted that we might find someone new. The story I told before was a result. Now, my understanding of the sacrament was increased as I read this Hymn, in Spanish, after I had partaken of the bread and water.
            The hymn in English is called, "O God, the Eternal Father". I read the second verse and I had an amazing insight after doing so, which reads; "That Sacred, holy offering, By man least understood, To have our sins remitted And take his flesh and blood, That we may ever witness The suffering of thy Son, And always have his Spirit To make our hearts as one."
            During the sacrament we renew our covenants to follow the a Savior and keep His commandments. As we do so, we are promised the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.  I love this song. I testify that the hymns we sing every Sunday at church are a form of us praying to our father in Heaven. In the verse that I shared we are taught that Christ's Atonement is "By man least understood" but the presence of the Spirit makes "our hearts as one".
            Even though the Atonement of Jesus Christ is something we can teach others and learn more about, it is something that we don't understand very well yet. I cannot even attempt to comprehend how the Savior could have possibly taken all of the sins, iniquities, anguish, sufferings, and pains of all mankind on His shoulders. But, what I can recognize is the influence of His Atonement. His Atonement binds us with Him as we partake of it each week at the sacrament table. The spirit that is there binds us together as a congregation or ward family. That insight inspired me. It inspired me because I realized that completely understanding a principle or doctrine is not the reason we have the gospel. The reason we have the gospel is to know where to go, what to do, and who to ask for help when we feel pain, anguish, and sorrow. Christ provides a source of peace, comfort, and love during these hard times. The spirit that brings us together each week during the sacrament provides another source of support during those tough times. I know that is God's truth.
            Doctrine and Covenants 25:11-12 reads: "And it shall be given thee, also, to make a selection of sacred hymns, as it shall be given thee, which is pleasing unto me, to be had in my church. For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads."           
            I know that the doctrine taught here is true. I want all of you to think about that the next time you are singing at your local congregation. I think the hymns will have a greater significance of we recognize that the words we are saying are praises to our Father in Heaven.
            I'm so excited to see my family this week! I promise that I am not trunky! You can even ask my companion on Sunday if you want! Hahaha we are having a lot of fun together, it's been a blast serving with Elder Lemmon.
            Have a great week! I hope everything is going well for all you! Thank you for all of the love and support. Today for p-day we are going to play softball and have a Mexican barbecue. Elder Lemmon and I are the Mexican chefs for the zone hahaha we made some salsa, Mexican drinks, and we are going to barbecue some meat today and show the zone what real food tastes like. It's gonna be sweet! I haven't hit a ball in almost 2 years, I can't wait to play today.
            Have a great week! Love you all and thanks for the constant support through your prayers and letters.
                        Elder Strate

                                    Mothers Day is coming! I'm so excited to see my mommy!!!! :)