Elder Zachary Payne

Elder Zachary Payne

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Last Email!!!

Ahhhh! Well it's just about time already! My two years are up. Zip...see ya! Time to come home. But it's all a part of God's plan and design. I have done my part and I have accomplished the Lord's work here in His vineyard. It all started at the Provo MTC where I learned to rely on the Lord despite my many prevalent weaknesses. Then it was off to meet my trainer Elder Gomez who had the biggest beam on his face I've ever seen! He taught me the importance of optimism, which was shortly tested in my next area in Cedar City. My first several weeks with Elder Ramirez were tough, but we learned to push through and find common ground in the work of the Lord. From him I learn the importance of boldness and confidence. (Our visa waiter Elder Price also added a sigh of relief to the tension...I hope he's doing well down in Mexico!) Soon enough it was time for me to head back down to St. George in the Little Valley stake with Elder Betham. What a clown! Although his polynesian tendencies got the best of him sometimes, he really taught me the importance of building relationships with others.

All these attributes carried me over to my next assignment, which was to white wash into a brand new area, Buena Vista 2 in St. George, and train a new missionary Elder Bradford! Up to this point I had been junior companion for 8 months, so I was super excited and nervous and all of the above! Turns out BV2 would quickly become my favorite area of my mission. I put into practice everything I had learned up to that point on my mission. I faced the assignment with optimism, boldness, and confidence. I soon started building lasting friendships with the people, and eventually the assignment to be a District Leader fell into my lap. I finished training Elder Bradford and got Elder Linville,and ultimately in my 6 months in BV2 I learned the importance of leadership, joy, and charity to name a few.

Well before I could blink it was already time for a new area....Ephraim Bilingual! I showed up and thought I had been transferred to Pima. I relied on my companion Elder Stephens for his Spanish and he relied on me for what I could offer. Pretty soon an old friend came back to serve with me...again! Elder Ramirez and Payne back together! We put our experience together and in the process we started to fire up the members. The hastening of the work was beginning to take effect as I waved goodbye to Ephraim after 6 months of highs and lows. I can look back and say I left the area better than I found it. 

The Lord requested that I finish my mission as a zone leader, and He put me in an unexpected area to do so! Back to Little Valley, this time with Elder Lewis. The area was just as dry and tough as the last time, but it was here that I really learned the importance of diligence and hard work. Then it was time for another unexpected transfer...this time to Red Cliffs stake on the other side of St. George. And here I've finished my last 6 weeks with Elder Richhart, with whom I have learned to lose myself in the work, talk with everyone, and contribute what I know for the benefit of others. I have learned to strengthen my companion while exercising everything else I have learned throughout my mission. 

And the results have been priceless. I haven't become perfect. I haven't experienced a Saul to Paul conversion. But I have helped the Lord and His children by being and instrument in the right places and at the right times. That's all He has asked me to do. I thank Him dearly for this remarkable experience. 

President mentioned in my exit interview on Sunday that the work you do on a mission, or in life in general, will create a big effect on those you have touched. Generations will be changed because of the work you have done. "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" is a humbling thought. Thanks so much for YOUR support throughout my mission. The prayers have been answered. I have been led to the honest in heart. I couldn't have done it without a family who was so supportive of me. Thank you thank you thank you!

Much love,
See you soon,
Elder Payne!

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Light at the End of the Tunnel!

Wow this past week has been a blessed one! It's been challenging, particularly for my companion. He's been getting really frustrated with the work in the area lately, and it's really starting to affect him. He's becoming discouraged, which is weakening his faith, just like it says in Preach My Gospel. There's a lot of factors that are contributing...lack of committed investigators and lack of member support to name a couple. It's a super good reason to be discouraged to be honest...he's sooo focused on the work all the time. Like when we both hit our heads on the pillow at night he'll ask me something like "hey elder what can we do to help the zone meet their goals??" It's a big blessing for me to have such a focused companion. But yeah he's struggling a little bit and we're both afraid that he's just going to stop caring pretty soon. Well if there's one thing that I've learned on my mission, especially from my trainer Elder Gomez, it's that life's too short to be pessimistic. Be positive!! Look at the good in everything, because if you don't then you won't be happy...ever.

We were talking about it the other day and I honestly got tired of his negativity and for the lack of a better word his complaining. I wasn't mad at him or anything...I just felt depressed! haha so I spoke up and just told him straight up that our zone and area are doing the best they ever have been. We're baptizing and hitting our goals better than we have in the past several months. We're getting to the top of a peak, and Satan knows it. He's trying as hard as he can to discourage us and throw us off track so that we'll go back down. And he's starting to do it. A ton of missionaries in our zone are getting discouraged because Satan just wants us to fail and feel like dirt. We can't let that happen! The ONLY way we're going to keep going up and progressing is if we push through these little trials and remain optimistic. Otherwise Satan will win. 

Well I told him something along those lines and he perked up a lot. Plus he's been studying and pondering on what he can do. He just feels stuck, and I've been there too so I know what it's like. We had interviews with President this week and I told him that I feel that a big reason why I was sent to this area was to lift encourage inspire and help Elder Richhart get back to where he needs to be. President agreed and said that's what he feels too (among other things). So even though he's still discouraged, I'm helping him to help himself focus on the positive things.

We had a couple baptisms this weekend! The first one was Lily, our little 9 year old investigator. Super awesome little girl...she just told her mom one day that she wanted to be baptized. Her mom's not a member, but she supported Lily's decision. Lily didn't really know why she wanted to be baptized, but after teaching her the lessons, she knows exactly why. It's sooo cool! She's a huge example to us and especially to her family near and far. She even went to all three hours of church by herself one week! And she apparently drilled her LA biological dad with the baptismal questions the night before her baptism and he didn't know the answers to some of them! haha but yeah the baptism went super well, except for the fact that her grandpa baptized her with his left arm to the square the first time and we didn't catch it until a bishopric member mentioned it haha. I knew something wasn't right. But everything went well, including the confirmation the next day! 

Our other baptism was for Dave! He finally got baptized! He moved into the Green Valley sister's area so it counted for them and for their stake. But that couldn't prevent us from going! His went really well too. I'm just glad he finally took that step. After his confirmation yesterday, he was just beaming from ear to ear and at that moment I was reminded that what we teach and preach as missionaries...Faith, Repentance, Baptism, and Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost...is real, and it truly affects the children of God for their benefit. He just looks so purified and cleansed and happy. It was awesome! 

Focus on your blessings this week! I love you guys!

Elder Payne!


Happy Mother's day!

Well I'm just over here at the Family History center...staying weird haha. Skype was awesome! Apparently the family we were with had their son facetiming them at the same time that I was skyping you guys haha. We had a great week this week. The member work is really lacking though in this area, which I'm not used to. My last two areas we worked with members all the time and now it's just the two of us doing all the work. Well that might be an exaggeration but still, it's a struggle. That's been one of my goals...to get the members excited about helping us out, because I'm not a fan of doing all the finding and teaching and contacting on our own. I think it's starting to work little by little.

In the mean time we're teaching some awesome people. Lily is on track to be baptized this weekend which is awesome, and so is Dave. We picked up a new investigator who is probably 75 or so and is super Catholic, and he's white, which is usually the most brutal kind of Catholic here in Utah. The hispanics are "catolico" but don't really do anything about it. John on the other hand does his whole cross thing when we pray and even participates in Ash Wednesday. He's a super nice guy! Retired doctor and currently volunteers at the St. George hopsital. He's a big believer in the fact that it's unethical to tear down other faiths, so in that spirit he's decided to learn about the LDS religion from the source, which is the missionaries (hey that's us!) He's super respectful but very literate in the fact that he tries to find records and books about church and religion history. He found what's apparently called "The Elder's Journal" (never heard of it) and in it someone asked apostle Orson Pratt "Who founded the Roman Catholic church?" and Orson Pratt responded "The Devil!" and so John called us and told us about it and thought that was a little harsh haha. Oh boy. Well we're just going to do our best to help him act in a way that will help him feel the spirit, because that's what converts people. 

Hmm but yeah things are going well! I got the itinerary from mom, so thanks. It was good to see everyone! Back to work!

Elder Payne!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tough Week, But Still Lot's of Work to Do!

Oh my gosh we missed standards by 1 new investigator! Noooooooo haha that's the worst. We've had some other general let downs this week including giving one of our investigators to the Green Valley sisters. Dave is his name, and he's quit smoking and is getting baptized this upcoming saturday! But he recently moved out of our area and this week at MLC president said that investigators have to be baptized in the ward that they live in, no questions asked. If they want to be baptized into any other ward, they need permission from the Presiding Bishopric of the church. Oh! didn't know that. Well I had the WML blow up on me on the phone when he called to find out about it. He was not happy that he was losing a baptism in his ward! But he had a change of heart and is on our side again. Anyway yeah. I'm okay with it though because of the progress he's made. I feel super good about it actually because he went to his new ward yesterday and this ward has really good fellowshipping already. Plus we're being obedient and putting him under the proper stewardship. I'm not sad at all that we're "losing" him. He's still getting baptized and we're still going to be there for it! Dave such an awesome guy...he's like Shane from Little Valley only more elect and committed (but I still love shane to death, don't get me wrong!) He's gone from over a pack of smokes a day to nothing. He knows what he's getting himself into and he's willing to do it. Such an awesome example!
Despite the struggles of this week, we're still super blessed. Our church attendance is starting to go up, and we've taught a ton of lessons this week. Plus we had a baptism this weekend! It was Bill's turn this time. What a character. At his wedding a couple weeks ago for the big "I Do" he said "Yes...well I kind of have to...it's on Facebook and we have over 75 comments" haha and his new bride smacked his arm haha. They're a cute couple, both in their late 30's. Anyway, Bill's baptism was one of the best on my mission honestly. It came together sooo well and I think what really added to the atmosphere was the family/friend support that was there. Elder Richhart and I got to be the witnesses and his knee came out so they had to do it twice and everyone laughed especially Bill, but it was still super spiritual. He got up unexpectedly after the talks and bore his testimony. He's a changed man! Then the bishop got up and shared some strong remarks about being cleansed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Then we sang "God Be with You..." and I had a flashback to the MTC when we sang it in spanish the night before we all left to the field. My whole mission flashed before my eyes! Super awesome moment....all the happiness of my mission concentrated into one moment!
We had my last zone meeting this week! aaaahhhhh crazy! We had a good meeting. There were 27 young missionaries and 4 stake senior missionaries, plus Pres/Sis Center joined us as well! It flowed really well. ZM's are three hours. For the first hour we led the meeting in a discussion about the atonement of Jesus Christ, which is the reason behind everything we do. Super spiritual. Lot's of missionaries said it was the most spiritually uplifting zm they've ever had. We shared scriptures on the atonement and then sang hymn 195 and had all of them write down their thoughts on their Savior. It was super powerful!

We had my last MLC this week, which means at the end all the missionaries going home get to bear their testimonies. Hey that's me! There were four of us at MLC that are leaving this transfer, and I was last out of them. I don't get too emotional when I testify...in fact only a couple times on my mission have I actually cried as I shared my testimony. Well I managed to fight back my emotions pretty well but I definitely got a little shaky and teary. It's soooo crazy to be in this position. It feels unreal...more unreal than saying bye before I left. So needless to say, I'm giving it my all these last three weeks. I'm working harder and smarter than I have my whole mission, and the key is to rely on the Lord to put all of this experience I've gained into one last blast!
Well I'll see ya in a few days! haha dual meaning. Lot's of the missionaries here that are passing by me have been joking about that. "See you in a couple weeks mom!!" and then they laugh at me, which is weird because that's what I've been doing to dying missionaries for the past two years. Anyway I'll skype on Mother's day at 8pm my time, which is 7pm AZ time. Be there or be square!
Elder Payne!


Monday, April 28, 2014

Challenges and Blessings

Well another week has come and gone! It's been a crazy one for us over here in the Red Cliffs stake. We had a baptism this weekend! Her name is Emma and she's 9 years old. Her mom's name is Kristen and she was baptized about 3 years ago by missionaries that I've met on my mission which is crazy. Anyway, Emma has been a tough one for Elder Richhart. She's really confusing. She started out not liking the missionaries and would not pay attention in the lessons and for some reason she kept taking the lessons. Then slowly she changed a little bit and by the time I got here she wanted to be baptized. The only problem is she hasn't been coming to church consistently, but she'll be coming more now. The service itself was interesting. Our WML started the service and then paused it because Emma wasn't in the room! First Kristen left to go find her, then a minute later Emma's grandma left to go find her, then we left to go find her! haha E Richhart was about to have a heart attack! We were just like "where in the world did you go kid?!" haha but soon enough we found her just waiting in the baptismal font room. Thank goodness...we had thought she took off down the street or something! Then the next day we were flipping out because as sacrament started the whole family was nowhere to be found! So after the opening hymn we went out into the foyer kept calling and texting like 5 times....no answer! Then the bishopric guy asked everyone who was invited to participate in Emma's confirmation to come up and we just looked at each other like "oh shoot!" hahaha so we went back in to give the signal that they weren't there and as we walked in we saw Emma magically walking up to the front for her confirmation!! Turns out they were all sitting up in the corner of the chapel and we didn't even see them! ugh go figure haha but all is well!

I think I'm realizing that our diligence is headed in the right direction. We had one day with 6 scheduled teaching appointments and walked away with 2 of them, and another day we had 6 more planned and only 3 of them didn't cancel. Story of my mission haha. But we finished the week with 14 lessons with a member present and 1 other lesson and 6 LA/RC lessons. That's good and all, and that means that we're doing our part and being obedient and diligent. But for Pete's sake so many of our investigators are soooo flaky!! It's kind of hard to help all of our investigators progress when only 10% of them are attending sacrament meeting! But that's the life of a missionary. Plus having these kinds of challenges really helps us know exactly what we need to work on, which is boosting commitment and helping everyone understand the importance of church. It's paying off though, and we're determined to help all of these people progress!

In the mean time I'm continuing to learn the importance of talking with everyone. This week we went on exchanges with our district leader Elder Davis, who came to our area with me. Since I don't know the area too well yet, I was limited on where to go all day. Luckily we have a ton of apartments in our area and people are always out and about. Luckily x2, Elder Davis is set on talking with everyone anyway, which is one of my favorite characteristics in a companion. So, we just started walking and knocking in the Utah "ghetto" which is a high concentration of non members, so tracting kinda works for once. The blessings of talking with everyone between appointments got us three return appointments with two part member families and a less active family. 

We've already met with the LA family, and they are honestly seeking the truth! They are a young couple who are attending a different non denominational Christian church instead of the LDS church. They said they feel happy now that they've switched churches, and a big reason why they left is because they felt the people of the church were judgmental and too condemning of small mistakes such as drinking a cup of coffee. Now they feel happy without the church, and what we're trying to help them understand through the regular missionary lessons and the spirit is that their "happiness" seems to be more of relief from pressure that was trying to help them grow and be refined. They feel comfortable now because they don't have the restrictions and opposition that comes from striving to keep Heavenly Father's commandments. Their "happiness" is not allowing them to progress. So that's what we need to help them identify. Plus they don't believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, but they believe the Book of Mormon is true because they "can understand it." They have problems and concerns, but they are moldable and they trust us. They want us to come back to answer their questions and teach them the lessons.

Also, this week a part member couple we were teaching took off to Avondale, AZ. Their names are Paul and Samantha and they have two little kids! Paul is less-active. Holy cow the lesson I've learned from him is "don't judge Paul by his cover." haha his initial image reflects his past life pretty well. He's been involved with some crazy things which I probably can't share in this email! But gosh he's sooo sincere and wants to change and be a good father. He asked us if it's ever too late to repent. We shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them and it's exactly what they needed. Samantha loves the gospel already and wants to be baptized. Super prepared and super golden! The only problem is they're leaving! She'll be baptized soon (hopefully) down in AZ. What a blessing it was to get to know them and teach them and help them take the next step. We will miss them!

Goodness we've had a lot of other good blessings this week now that I look back at it! It's so awesome to see the blessings that come from this work. I've missed two days in my journal my whole mission. I've collected a lot of blessings. The church is true!

Elder Payne!


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Lots of Work to be Done!

Well we had transfers this week! haha about that....we had Elder Linville come down the night before and stay with E Lewis and me. We took him around to some families/investigators to say bye to before we got transferred. Such a clown!! I miss that guy. He's done with his mission now, back in San Marcos California. Rest in Peace! E Lewis and I packed all our stuff and at the transfer van we said bye and all that jazz and my new comp E Richhart put all my luggage on the van before everyone else's thinking it was E Lewis' haha so once I found out, we had to take everyone's stuff off just so that I could get my bags haha woops! E Lewis went up to Helper and he says it's cold up there! I went a whopping 10 minutes west to Red Cliffs!

Red Cliffs is a really good area. Thank goodness, I feel like I can breathe again. Little Valley was great and all, but everyone was soooo rich and well off and highly educated and all that. Here in Red Cliffs we have a ton of apartments and it's much lower class. There's a lot of turnover and the potential here is very high. Right now we have 18 investigators and I've gotten to know and teach most of them this week. We finished out yesterday with 6 of them on date for baptism. We even had a wedding for one of them on Saturday! His name is Bill...he's a car salesman. Good guy! He should be getting baptized this weekend if everything works out. They're currently in Vegas for their honeymoon....careful!

We have stake missionaries. Do they have those yet in Thatcher or Safford? They're full-time full-proselyting senior missionaries that work in their home stake. They go to the MTC and everything. It's pretty neat...this way we get automatic fellowshippers and rides and an extra set of missionaries for whatever we need! And they won't ever get transferred either, which is nice. The names of our stake missionaries are Elder and Sister Ferreira. Great couple! We've had them in several of our lessons this week and their input is really good. Another blessing of the hastening of the work!

We're driving the exact same model, year, color Ford Fusion that we had in Little Valley, except before I transferred in someone backed into it and put a giant dent the size of a coffee table into our back left door haha......so needless to say it's getting fixed and we've been temporarily assigned to use our "Shoebaru's." We broke out the bikes this week and we've been getting some good exercise from that, which both E Richhart and I are stoked about that haha. Plus we're getting tan! Score. 

Anyway.....lots of great things happening this transfer so far! We're teaching some awesome people and I'm super excited to dive into the work in this area for one last time before I leave. Elder Richhart is the man. He's a super nice guy....he's a big teddy bear! He's probably the kindest missionary in our mission. We've gotten a lot of comments on our teaching this week saying that we teach and work together really well, which I'm stoked about! Companion unity!! It's just awesome how at this point in my mission I can really just take a deep look at my companion....strengths and struggles and all...and ponder on a combination of other people that remind me of him. He's a really good companion and I perceive great things coming from this transfer. I wish I could stay longer than just five more weeks though!

More adventures to come soon!
Elder Payne!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I'm Off to Red Cliffs!

Well it's already monday again! We've had a pretty good week. We got transfer calls on Saturday morning. I'm going to the other side of St. George to be a ZL with Elder Richhart in the Red Cliffs stake, which is mostly in Ivins. I've been serving around e Richhart for a couple transfers so I know him fairly well. He's a good missionary! He came out with E Lewis, so he's about 14 months out. He's gained like 40 pounds on his mission!! haha we'll have a fun time. Elder Lewis is going up to Helper with Canadian Smith (we have three Smith's in the mission...Canadian Smith, California Smith, and Alabama Smith haha) Helper is up by Price, it's about the same size as Pima from what I gather. He'll be living in a trailer. Big difference than where we've been serving here in Little Valley! He's super excited to go to a small town though. I'm pretty excited to go to Red Cliffs! I'm kinda confused as to why I'm transferring over there instead of staying or going to the new ZL area in Hurricane. But I guess the Lord needs me to hop over a couple zones instead! We're getting white washed out by Elder Nye and Ball. They'll do a super good job here in our area, so we're not too worried about any of our investigators. It's always tough to leave an area but it's good some times to go to a fresh area and try something new.

But yeah they've made some pretty big changes in the mission in preparation for the loss of like almost 40 missionaries in the next couple transfers. They're closing areas and putting in a bunch of new leadership. Elder Holmstead unexpectedly got reactivated as a ZL for his last transfer and he'll be training one of my old companions Elder Stephens to be a ZL in the zone we've been covering, St. George East! Now I'm off to St. George West for my last transfer! My motto for this transfer is going to be "Just do it" with references to 1 Nephi 3:7 and Romans 1:16. I have a feeling this last transfer is going to fly by.......ahhh!

We've been saying bye to all our investigators and families and everyone the past couple days. We've met some pretty cool people! Red Cliffs will be interesting because I've never served on that side of St. George, so it's all foreign to me, including the people and even the missionaries in the zone. By the time I leave I'll have gotten to know most of them! haha but I'm excited and I'm ready to finish with a blaze. 

Elder Payne!