Elder Zachary Payne

Elder Zachary Payne

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS!​!

Well it's that time of year again! We've had a good week and we spent a lot of time in Gunnison this week...three trips in fact! First we did exchanges, I went with Elder Stewart for the day. He used to be an assistant so he's on the ball to say the least. He reminds me of Keith haha so that was pretty cool! We had a good time. Other than that, I did a couple baptismal interviews for them a couple days later, and on Saturday they had a couple baptisms! Awesome! They are definitely on fire. So is the 4th ward, as I'm sure I've mentioned before. We helped out in Sunday School and got a lot more people fired up to assist in the work of salvation. The bishop's wife even said "Let's give these missionaries so much to do in our ward that they will have to send in another set for the other 24 wards they cover!" Amen! A young mother came up to us afterward and told us about her less active neighbors, who we visited and set an appointment with later that day. Sweet! Hmm what else happened this week.......we're starting to teach a sheep herder from Peru! His name is Luis, he's pretty awesome. I'll be the first one to admit that my spanish is awful but at least I was able to ask him for a referral, and he doesn't really know anyone here in San Pete but he said he'll call his family and friends in California and Alaska and all over the place! Sweet! When it comes to the spanish work and my apprehension thereof, I have come to realize that if I remove all my incentives to be stand-off ish, the only thing that is left is an unavoidable opportunity to communicate and care. Rafael is coming along, but he isn't allowed to be baptized here and he leaves next month. We'll just enjoy it while it lasts! I guess Ilaisia and Elaisa got stuck up in Salt Lake due to the bad weather so we haven't seen them since last week! Helene Willardsen, a 74 year old less active lady that has become another grandma to me finally made it to church this week!!!!! after like 5 months of inviting and inviting and exhorting and pleading! Hallelujah! Thank goodness for good fellowshippers, the Wrights! I always knew "wrights" were good people haha and I can honestly say that I've never met a wrong wright. But other than that, things are going pretty well up here!

I'll be calling on Skype at 11am utah time, coming in live from (hopefully) Patricia's house! Either way, see you at 11! Except I guess Keith and Shauna. Darn I'll have to see them in a few more months. Merry Christmas you two! Thank you for your examples of christlike love, diligence, patience, and devotion to one another. You guys are the best! You guys are the best! No really! I mention that twice because it's only as cliche as you make it to be. Thanks to everyone and I love you all!

Love,
Elder Payne!

 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

New Record for Me...3 Stakes, 25 Wards!

My goodness, another week has flown by. In fact, another year has almost flown by as well! Honestly the fastest year of my life! It just goes to show that when you drown yourself in a specific purpose and work through the highs and lows and all the hustle and bustle connected with that purpose, time goes out the window! We've had another good week. It's been kinda hectic rapping my head around two more stakes that we cover and trying to keep tabs on all the information, but things are settling in for this transfer quite nicely. Plus it's now Christmas break for all the students and about 97% of them left town haha including our 4 YSA investigators. We managed to locate and contact and teach three of the four before finals ended, each are of course in different circumstances. None of them are on date for baptism except for the one guy named Sergio that we didn't get to contact this week. Haha darn!

Let me tell you about Momoe though. You see, Snow College has some sort of international student acceptance program going on because there's honestly hundreds of Asians walking around campus. Momoe is one of them! She is from Japan and her name is pronounced "Muh-moy." She's so short! But she's so awesome! We've taught her twice now and today she left for New York for a couple weeks until school starts back up. Teaching her is honestly a throw back to teaching Yoshi Suzuki back in my first area. Japanese people are the best! Momoe doesn't know a whole lot of English, but she knows border line enough. Unfortunately her translator/fellowshipper (who ironically is named Yoshi as well, different one though) is gone to Japan now and he's not coming back haha. So we need to find a Japanese/English speaking person somewhere here in Ephraim! Other than that, we stick to the basics. The lessons we've taught her are equivalent to teaching the primary kids and it's kinda awkward sometimes because her accent is soo thick that we can't really understand something as simple as "Jesus help me." It's a work in progress!

While we're on an international basis, we also picked up a new investigator named Rafael from Brazil! He's a foreign exchange student living with the Alder family here in Ephraim. (I've asked them if they're related to the Thatcher Alder's but if so it's probably a little distant.) Anyway, he's a cool kid! He's a sophomore in high school I believe, and believe it or not he doesn't know how to play soccer!! Wha!! He's from Brazil of all places! haha but he's very book smart and his English is a little better than Momoe's, but not much. We just shared a simple Christmas message from Mosiah 3 and ate some ice cream on a toasty 2 degrees night. He comes to church every week with his foster family and wants to learn more! Unfortunately he's going back to Brazil in about a month, so we'll see what kind of a seed we can plant with him. 

We're finally starting to teach Ilaisia again! I met him on like my second or third day here in Ephraim, and now that football and finals are over, he has time to sit down and take some lessons. Big man! He could probably eat me if he wanted a snack. But his heart is as big as the rest of him. haha he cancelled and rescheduled with us like 3 times this week, but we still met a couple times and taught him about Jesus Christ and prophets. He's super open! His wife hasn't participated yet because she has two kids. The other night I had a simple prompting to drive by their house, and when we drove by we saw Ilaisia and some of his giant friends trying to break into his house haha. So we got out and asked what was going on. Turns out he locked his keys and his phone inside haha. So Elder Ramirez used his paisa skills and opened the window just enough to use the wooden blinds to unlatch the window completely. He said the whole time he was wrestling with it, he was praying to open the window haha. It worked! Ilaisia thanked us like 15 times. 

Well anyway, we should have plenty to do now. We cover like 25 wards I think haha and we have 10 non member investigators now. We also are working with a few other less-active families. Other than that, we've been spending a lot more time at our bishop's homes. One bishop in particular, Bishop Stevens in the 4th ward, has really impressed us. 4th ward has been notorious for being an active ward with non members you can count on one hand and a handful of less-active families. Well, Bishop Stevens has been catching the vision with our visits and encounters with him. We're going to a Christmas basket/caroling mutual activity this week and we're going to help his wife in a Sunday school lesson this Sunday. Bishop invited us over to Priest's quorum yesterday and he committed his 4 priests to call a NM/LA friend and set up an appointment for them to practice teaching in preparation for their missions coming up. We're expecting some phone calls in the next couple weeks for that. Bishop Stevens is going to have us over for dinner on Christmas day! We're excited for that and especially for the work he's starting up in his ward. He's putting a lot of effort into his missionary work! It's cool because I didn't even really know who he was for the first like 3 months that I was here in Ephraim. He's on fire! and the rest of the family stake is getting there too....we have a combined YM/YW lesson coming up and some talks we need to give. We're starting to get pretty involved!

Well according to the communicator, I guess we can Skype for Christmas! Gosh we weren't expecting that! Hmm...we're probably going to shoot for late morning or early afternoon sometime on Christmas day because we have that dinner at 2pm. We just need to schedule around some members' schedules and I'll have to let you know for sure what time next week. I forgot how all the skype thing works haha but I'm sure the members here will guide me and walk beside me. Let me know what your plans are! 

Love,
Elder Payne!

 

Monday, December 9, 2013

This week, I froze!

Well hello! Good to hear from everyone, and thanks again to Keith for reminding me about the wonderful weather we have up here haha. Up here we had a couple nice days, then it got nasty and the temperature dropped like 50 degrees. It snowed all afternoon on Tuesday and into the night, then the next couple days the high never got above single digits with a low of around -20, so the snow hasn't had a single chance to melt yet. Then on Saturday it snowed like crazy alllllll day haha. And for some reason Heavenly Father thinks it's funny to put a thatcher kid behind the wheel in the thick of all this haha. I got our malibu stuck on the side of the road like 10 times this week! haha we just laugh every time because I'm such an awful snow driver. But hey, I'm learning quickly! Thank goodness the traffic here is equal to thatcher. suuuper slick roads, we basically slide to all of our appointments now. We had to drive to Richfield which is one hour away on icy roads, so we took it slow and made it safe haha. Gotta watch out for that black ice! No wrecks though mom! Heavenly Father is still very merciful haha. We tried parking the car a few times and walking in the negatives, and my scarf covering my face kept freezing solid haha. What's it like in Thatcher these days? I heard that St. George got pounded with snow and they had to shut like everything down, even church yesterday was cancelled haha. Crazy weather here in southern Utah! Don't come here

Well, despite the weather, it's been a pretty good week for us! I'll cut to the chase as far as transfers goes...we're both staying in Ephraim! Gosh that means I'll have been here at least as long as I was in Buena Vista! By the end of this month I will have spent 11 months in two areas. President Center likes leaving people in areas longer than President Leonard did. Anyway, we're both stoked! We're especially excited because we're getting the addition of Ephraim YSA as well, exclusive for this transfer only! So the sisters are both leaving, s Randolph is going home and s Keenan just got her visa to go to Brazil. We'll definitely miss them from our district, and with them leaving and winter break coming up this week, they decided to just hand everything to us for now! haha sure we'll take it! School gets back in session Jan 6, and this transfer ends Jan 20 so we won't have a whole lot of time to do a whole lot, but we'll see what we can do! So yeah, we now cover all of Ephraim...everyone, and we cover the entire county minus Gunnision in Spanish. Should be lots to do!

And with the new transfer comes new opportunities to make some changes and improvements. We had a zone conference this week with Elder Arnold of the Seventy. No iPads were announced, nor facebook privileges. But the Spirit resonated far beyond your normal church meeting. For some reason, there's so much authority with general authorities! Elder Arnold is the type of guy thats serious faced all the time, but he jokes around a lot. Whenever an elder would say a really great remark, he would immediately call them up to the front, dead serious. Once they made the long walk and stood next to him, he would turn to them and give them a big hug and say thank you. haha The meeting was basically a mixture of any normal zone conference and the mission conference with Elder Bednar. Long story short, there's lots of things I was reminded of in new light, and it's up to me to make some changes. One thing he said was (quoting one of the prophets) "if you go to a meeting and don't change anything because of it, why did you go?" Good question. We should all keep that in mind. 

Well I was asked to give the closing prayer. He did kinda the same thing to me too. I made the long walk up there and stood right next to him. Then he said how whenever the prophet would look him dead square in the eye, he felt like he was piercing into his soul, and that's exactly what he did to me haha. Pretty intense! He closed with a powerful testimony and then told me to say the prayer. I said a simple but convicting prayer and afterwards I expected a mere handshake from Elder Arnold, but instead he gave me a big hug and said thank you. From that example I've been able to better understand how it's possible to gain consistent charity for all men. It doesn't matter who the person is, if we but look for the good within them and look for their potential, we will have a greater capacity to love them as the Savior would, even if we never see the person ever again. 

Well with all that in mind, I was definitely lifted up and ready to go get the plates from Laban or something. We're excited for the new transfer, and we're in a perfect position to take a step back, take a deep breath, and get involved with the members in Ephraim and get to work. We've been doing some "bishop blitz" nights and we're getting a lot of refreshed direction on what exactly needs to be done. We've already met with one of the YSA stake president's and we've gone to a couple ward councils. We have invites to participate in lessons and ym/yw activities and ward parties and FHE's and you name it. The members are starting to see the light, and they're getting fired up. Although there may not be a whole lot of interested non members or less actives here, at least we're all starting to faithfully do our part, yoked together in unity with our Master, Jesus Christ. What an honor it is to be serving right here, right now! 

Well so we'll see what we can do from here. It's not very often you get to spend all the Halloween's, Thanksgiving's, Christmas's, and New Year's with the same companion on your mission one state away from your home, so that's pretty cool! haha and this week a local missionary had to come home briefly for gull bladder sugery. He is still set apart and is serving in the Fresno, CA mission. He says he knows Elder McMaster who just left that mission to Brazil. Cool! and in the Spanish branch here there is a brother Scholes. Awesome guy! He's waiting to go on a mission with his wife to Chile after fixing some medical things. Anyway, he said he was companions with a Harold Payne from Thatcher, and I believe he served in Uruguay. He's 65 years old. Hmm...

Well that's all for this week!
Love,
Elder Payne!

 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Another Successful Thanksgivi​ng!

Well guys it's good to hear from everyone, whether or not they sent an email! Looks like you guys had a great Thanksgiving. Ours was pretty good itself! We only ate two thanksgiving dinners this year! Last year we packed three haha. Anyway we ate at the Prigmore's and the Hancock's. Bro Prigmore is the high counselor for missionary work, so we work with him quite a bit, and Bro Hancock is the ward mission leader for the 7th ward. The Prigmore's had the whole set up...big dinner, lots of family, and we ate in the garage! haha which after they had decked it all out turned out really awesome! The Hancock's are empty nesters and have a son on a mission in Mexico who also comes home in May. They both served missions and in fact they met on their mission...they served in the same zone and hated each other! Interesting story. Anyway I'm scared now because I hope I don't marry any of the sisters in this mission! But yeah after the food and all that we had a "half-zone/San Pete" activity at the Ephraim YSA stake center. We played pool and ping pong and basketball and knockout and sprout ball...super fun! There wasn't a single missionary that didn't have a fun time. That's what I love about this zone is that all of us get along really well. Even the missionaries that are polar opposites and have nothing in common get along and have fun. It's such a blessing! We had a great thanksgiving.

Well I opened the envelop that night and read it haha. Man it looks like the thoughts I wrote down were written by a 1st grader! and mom's thoughts were like a top-selling inspirational novel! Anyway, I guess we'll have to stay tuned for 2018! Maybe the Savior will have come by then, who knows!

The work has been pretty slow this week, whether it be the fact that it was Thanksgiving or the fact that Kelly is all moved to Nevada or the fact our other investigators are cooling off...either way, it was pretty slow. However, the work should pick up a lot this week. We have some more potentials coming up through the cracks and President will be doing an interview this week for one of our investigators, Caroline, who is Jason's wife and Bobby's mom. Anyway she used to be fundamentalist and didn't really practice and has been "mormon" for years now, she just hasn't been baptized yet. Couple interviews should fix that!

Yesterday we got a call from a member named Bro Carter. He has a spanish family that he's been trying to reach out to. Last year he gave them some Christmas treats. This year he's going to give them a Book of Mormon with his testimony. The problem is that he doesn't speak spanish! So he called us up and sought for help and approval. We're going to go over this week and help him out as he delivers it. We never told him that we've tried and failed to connect with this family a couple times, but we don't want to spoil his efforts. I'm personally impressed at Bro Carter's desire and effort to do some legitimate missionary work. He's a very timid person and isn't exactly sure what to do, he's just doing it. What a good example! He's one of the first to have stepped up and give us a call to help with his friends since I've been in the area. Other than him and a couple others, our work comes solely through bishops and leadership and ourselves. So don't let that happen in little old Thatcher and Safford! Stay involved and reach out. Remember Bro Carter haha. 

Hmm, other than that, we helped one of our excommunicated investigators move clear across two parking lots and a street. She's a nice and interesting lady...Isabell is her name. Anyway, she and her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend and us were moving things. They realized they didn't have a strap for their SUV and they were going to buy one real quick so we could move the mattress. Well I suggested that E Ramirez and I just carry the thing over to Isabell's new apartment. Haha so soon enough we were both strolling down main street in Ephraim past a stoplight carrying a mattress! Haha gotta love being in small towns.

This week we're having a zone conference in Richfield with Elder Arnold of the Seventy. Apparently (use that loosely...rumors in this mission are worse than rumors in Thatcher) Elder Arnold is the one that's been going to different missions and announcing iPads and Facebook. While I was on exchanges this week with Elder Berven in Mt. Pleasant, we got a ride from an RM who served in North Carolina. He said just before he left they approved Facebook in the mission, and they had to spend a mandatory 1 hour each day on Facebook, and they had to use their own from back home and "missionary-proof" it within a week. He also mentioned that it's like Facebook stalking but worse because it's kind of real haha. He said in their planners they would just write "Facecreep Time" for laughs haha. Anyway, we'll see what the truth is this week, if Elder Arnold announces anything big.

well, until next time!
Love,
Elder Payne!


 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Kelly's Baptism!

My goodness what a rewarding week we've had! Kelly's baptism was all finalized and good to go! It was a little tricky trying to coordinate between the now three wards that he's involved in. He just moved from the Gunnison stake to elko nevada, but he attends here in ephraim haha. So we had a couple bishops there and lots of supporters! There was a pretty big crowd, about 30 people or so, including two more of our investigators, Manny and Patricia! Plus one of gunnison's investigators, who is Kelly's niece, came as well! Kelly's ex-brother in law baptized him. The baptism went very well and despite some nerves, Kelly came up clean!

It's was special in a different sense this time around. Usually when the investigator we've been working so hard with goes down into that water and comes back up, I get the goosebumps and the spirit is super strong. This time I didn't get that feeling. It felt more as if it were a little over due...as though the baptism had already happened long ago. Recently I've been trying to change my vision on missionary work. Instead of focusing mainly on baptism, I've tried to change my main focus to repentance because baptism is merely a symbolic reflection of the change that has already taken place in the investigator's heart. Repentance is where the true change happens, and if the investigator doesn't understand that, he or she is just getting wet at their baptism and it doesn't mean anything.

So anyway, that's how I felt at Kelly's baptism. I realized that he has truly understood to the best of his knowledge the power and vitality of repentance. He mentioned to us one lesson how concerned he was that he couldn't feel or recognize Godly sorrow for a past sin, and he was worried that he couldn't be forgiven because of that. haha he's very sincere and wants to do what is right! He's been repenting long before we even met him. Those are my favorite converts (if I'm supposed to have a favorite)...the ones that have already experienced the change of heart and you don't have to convince them of anything. They just accept anything that comes their way with faith and diligence! I love it! And that's what Kelly has done.

The day before his baptism, he was feeling doubts and questions on all sides and he was super nervous for his interview. Before we all got to the George's for the interview, he decided to just relax and read from the Book of Mormon. He opened up to a random verse and read Alma 34:31. When he shared that with us, it blew me away. Such a perfect verse for him at that time! Heavenly Father is a curious one! Such a small but significant blessing of reassurance for Kelly!

Yesterday I got the privilege of confirming him a member of the church. It's just like I told president Center in my letter to him a few minutes ago...the confirmations and blessings that I've given on my mission have been some of my most sacred and favorite experiences on my mission. It's amazing and humbling to witness the Spirit work that directly through me. All I have to do is sanctify myself and demand the Spirit to speak the Lord's will to the individual. The rest is just me moving my mouth. I'm rest assured more and more that giving blessings must be one of my gifts of the Spirit.

This week we were also led to the door of a young spanish mother named Tania. We got the referral a week ago at sports from the Mount Pleasant north elders. Well long story short, we drove over to her apartment and knocked on the door. She answered and immediately let us in. We barely were able to introduce ourselves before she started up her whole life religion-based story. I'm getting a little better at understanding spanish, but I still couldn't quite catch a whole lot of the conversation. Basically she's been praying for someone to come visit her and her family, and she asked us with real intent and with an honest heart what the Book of Mormon is all about. We set another appointment for tuesday, so we'll see where it progresses from there.

It's good to hear about what's going on back home. Happy thanksgiving everyone! I'm looking forward to the package mom thanks!! and thanks for mckenzi's address. haha Keith I hope your efforts to reach out to your non member lady friend are going well. I haven't heard anything about it, but I was able to share some of the same advice with everyone...and your own situation...with the young married ward yesterday in a talk I gave to them. Hope you don't mind me sharing that! haha

Love,
Elder Payne!

 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Funerals and Interviews

We've had a pretty slammin week this week, not gonna lie. In fact our whole district is tearing it up right now! We should be having 4 baptisms this weekend if everything goes well, one of which will be Kelly on Saturday! We've been busy and teaching all week and have almost doubled the amount of lessons taught. It's been great! We taught Manny yesterday which was really good because we haven't been able to catch him for like 2 weeks! He's still kinda in the same spot, so we're gonna try to meet his parents and show them what exactly Manny has been teaching and have them sit in on a lesson. We're trying to pull an Alma 20 out of this (more or less, but hopefully less) so hopefully that will work out! Kelly is doing really well and has taken off to Nevada for his new job. He'll be back on Friday for his interview and Saturday will be the big day for him! We're sooo excited! The George's are just one of the awesome families I've met on my mission...yet they're the only ones to have fellowshipped two different investigators at the same time. That's where we taught Manny last night, and they fed us stroganoff and "Grandma Bitsy's" banana cream pie! We're well taken care of here in Ephraim. We have about 28 or so offers for thanksgiving. I'm afraid it will be a flashback to last year in Cedar. Too much food! But definitely lots of blessings. The people here are wonderful to us, whether or not they go to church.

Well this week a local 2 year old hispanic boy had a seizure in the bathtub and drowned all within about the 30 seconds that the mom was out of the room. Anyway it has really shaken up the society, especially all the hispanics in the county. The funeral was on Friday, and since we have a few Spanish investigators that were going, we thought we'd show up as well. They did it at the Catholic church here in Ephraim. Kinda interesting...I've obviously lived in Thatcher my whole life because I've never been to a Catholic service before. Thing is though that the whole place was packed, so we had to stand next to the door squished between a bunch of hispanics way in the back. It was roasting in there and my legs were tired and I couldn't really understand what all was going on too well because the whole service was in spanish, except for like 5 random minutes when the pastor spoke in broken english. Anyway, there was definitely a different spirit there...a sullen and cultural spirit. It was a cool experience! Unfortunately though Irma, one of our investigators, got super pumped up to cultivate her Catholic roots because of the funeral, so she's cooling way off now. Darn! But her kids are still okay with being taught, so we'll keep going by. There names are Miguel and Erica, 22 and 20 respectively. Also, we haven't made real contact with Patricia since the funeral, so we're hoping that the same thing won't happen to her as well. She was set to be baptized this Saturday, but we'll have to push her back at best now. Keep up the prayers for her!

Other than that, we had interviews with President and Sister Center before/during our district meeting on Thursday. Well they got a little behind schedule and I ended up starting my interview about five minutes before I was supposed to start the district meeting haha so needless to say, I had a short chat with both of them. They're really awesome though! I can't imagine how tough it's gotta be to handle 180 kids haha. They do a wonderful job. Anyway, as far as interviews go, I got to interview a 10 year old girl for baptism over in Gunnison on Saturday! Her name is Hunter, and her dad of course joined us. She's definitely a spunky little girl and she knows a lot about the gospel! The dad went to EAC back in '79, which was cool to hear. It's always strange when I introduce Thatcher to people and then they gasp and say "I used to live there!" That's only happened a handful of times on my mission. Anyway, Hunter is good to go for baptism. I don't know if I should say this but it's nice to have an ex-assistant in your district. Elder Stewart and Elder Becerra doing work over in Gunnison! They found seven new investigators two weeks ago and taught over 30 lessons last week and are planning to have 10 on date for baptism by the end of this week. They're crazy!

Well that's about all I can think of for this week. Thanks for the pictures of grandma and grandpa! Tell them hi for me and that I love them! I'm looking forward to that package, I won't lie! And Keith when you're done hunting over there, come to San Pete and get rid of some of these deer please. They're everywhere! haha

Love,
Elder Payne!

 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Things are Picking Up!

Hi family! And whoever reads this on moms blog too haha much love to whoever. Anyway this has been a good week. Kelly is on date for baptism on the 23rd of November! He's pretty solid...we've gone over everything except tithing and a couple more commandments. I won't go into detail but I've just been super impressed at how open he is with us and he's not trying to hide any details from his life that would prevent him from being baptized. That's a strong sign to us that he's truly honest in heart and that his heart has been changing. I love teaching people that have already made changes prior to meeting the missionaries. They're so submissive and faithful! That's what teaching Kelly has been like...all we have to do is teach him the gospel and invite him to incorporate it into his life, and he takes care of the rest by himself. He understands repentance now, and he's living it. He's gained a testimony that the gospel is true, and although he still struggles with little things like being interested in the Book of Mormon, he tries and tries to overcome those little things. He'll be moving to Nevada for a new job later this week, but he is going to come back on the weekends to keep in contact with his family and friends and to go to church. Things are looking good for him!

Patricia came to stake conference yesterday and she's doing super well! The only problem right now is the fact that we're getting rushed on the lessons since there's less than two weeks until her baptism as well. We'll pick it up though. Our district had a slammin week too! We put 5 investigators on date this past week and we found 9 new investigators. I got to do a baptismal interview for a 13 year old kid named Johannes for the Manti elders. He's solid, and he loves to ride his super expensive scooter with friends and play x-box, and he lives with his Finnish grandparents. Nice! Anyway I'm really starting to see the momentum pick up for the Lord's work! It's exciting! 

On top of that, this weekend was a big regional stake conference for pretty much our whole mission as far as I know. The stake president called us and asked me if he could scan a few pages of my planner on Tuesday. In the Saturday night adult meeting they had an "informal" meeting that was more interactive, very similar to what Elder Bednar did with us a couple months ago. Anyway, pres Averette showed a few pages of my planner on the big screen and everyone in the stake got to see what the past few days have looked like on our schedules. On one day we had only one appointment, so I had written down a bunch of names to visit and off to the side I wrote "Pretend these are appointments!" haha and pres Averette pointed that out to everyone in a humorous way. We got a good laugh out of it haha. He exhorted everyone to help us out and get us more appointments. What adds more to that is that this week the mission released new Standards of Excellence, which are basically the "numbers" we strive to achieve, like how many baptisms a month and lessons a week, etc. Well the new standards have specifically incorporated reactivation and less-active work, so now we are expected to report every week on not just non member work, but less-actives too. I'm glad the change was made! The standards dropped a little, which is okay with me because I rarely achieved them anyway. It seems more realistic and achievable now, especially since many areas have been split in half with all the new missionaries. Man, I wish this happened when I was in Buena Vista! haha

Hmm so things are definitely picking up, and although this email might make it sound like a lot is going on, it's still a step by step process. I'm still learning personally and I feel like by the time I leave the mission I'll be ready to start. A saying I always use is, "If you're not green, then you're old and dead and no good anymore." Gotta keep that greenie attitude and keep the fire for missionary work every day!

Love,
Elder Payne!

p.s. I didn't take any pictures this week! Shameful! So I'll borrow some from E Ramirez from the past couple weeks.

 

Monday, November 4, 2013

We had a Baptism! Well sort of...

Hey well it was awesome to hear of all the things going on back home! Oh yeah happy Halloween! I like the where's waldo outfits haha classy. At one of the ward party's we went to this week there was a lady with a blue t-shirt and cotton balls stuck all over her shirt. She had cotton ball ear rings too. We asked her what she was supposed to be and she said "I'm partly cloudy..." then she pulls out a spray bottle and sprays us "with a chance of rain!" haha gotta love it. Anyway good luck on the remodeling kp. I remember when I helped you with the insulation and man I hated it haha. I'm still pretty sure all the wedding stuff is still a dream, but it's definitely a good dream. You and those college girls mom...a bug bomb sounds fun! but oh well :)

Anyway yeah! We had an 8 year old baptism this Saturday! His name is Bobby, and he's an interesting little kid. He's really shy and likes to play video games haha so believe it or not teaching him was pretty fun! We did all kinds of object lessons with him the past few weeks in preparing him for his interview with bishop. But the reason why we got involved with that family is because they're reactivating into the church, and the dad Jason wanted to do the baptism and confirmation. So this past week, Elder Ramirez got to ordain him to be an elder in the Melchizedek priesthood! So awesome! Jason has a weird line of authority that goes to Pres Packer now haha. Anyway the baptism was a success! Bobby turns 9 years old in a couple weeks and they request he get baptized as a part of stake baptisms before then. So that's how we got involved, and although they're kind of a strange family that lives way out in the boonies by themselves, they're awesome! 

Hmm well a couple other things happened this week. First of all we had to help out with transfers. Our last DL got moved down to St. George to be a ZL halfway through training (which is unusual) a missionary named Elder Pukahi from Hawaii. Gosh man those Hawaiian elders are something else. They're soo chill and funny! haha I sometimes envy Elder Goodman. E Pukahi has a copy of the NT in pigeon called "Da Jesus Book" seriously the funniest book of scripture there is! Anyway, we had to drive to Salina and take him with us for about 24 hours until his companion got here from the trainers meeting in St. George. Well his companion is Elder Engan from Africa. Oh my gosh what a character he is! Perfect match right there...those two elders will have a great transfer.

But yeah we had Halloween this week of course. Last year the rule was we had to stay at home from 6 to 9 pm unless we had an appointment. Well we had the same rule this year, but thankfully we stacked our night with appointments so we didn't have to go home haha. We met up with Kelly and the George's at a ward party and then had a lesson with him. He got his answer that the gospel is true. He clearly recognized it, and he wants to be baptized and all things considered, he feels ready! He wants his ex-brother-in-law from Wyoming to be there, so we're dependent on his schedule for the baptism. Plus Kelly has really been pondering whether or not he wants/needs to take his new job offer in Nevada. If he does, he's still going to be coming down here on the weekends, so we'll probably baptize him here either way. But yeah things are still up in the air until tonight when we meet with him again. We were supposed to meet yesterday but he was sick! But regardless, Kelly's progression is pretty big news! We haven't been able to meet up with Manny for about a week now, which has been kinda tough. Things will work out for him eventually though. We're not sure if his parents' hearts are softening toward his decision to be baptized or not. Patricia is still going strong and is planning to get baptized on the 23rd of November. She missed church yesterday though! Darn! (I'm sure kp, qp, and dad can think of times like that on their missions haha) Her kids aren't very enthused in attending church at all though, so that's her biggest trial right now. Irma and Miguel are progressing slowly, which will be the key with them. They agreed to take the actual lessons, so we're going to keep sneaking those into their home throughout this week haha. Irma in particular is really starting to see that God is moving her into this direction, so that's been really good. Other than that, one of the less-actives we've been working with named Fenishia got married to a solid RM a few weeks ago and she's reactivated now. We're teaching another awesome middle-aged couple who are trying to be re-baptized into the church. They've had the lessons for months now and so we're swapping roles and they are going to start teaching us this week. Should be fun!

Other than that, we had a district meeting this week. It just so happened to be on Halloween, so E Ramirez and I dressed up in spooky costumes and I gave out all the rest of the candy mom sent me to everyone, so that was good. We have Elder Stewart in our district who finally finished his reign as an AP, so that's been interesting but awesome. There's only 4 companionships in the Snow District...Ephraim Bilingual (Ramirez/Payne), Ephraim YSA (Sisters Randolph/Keenan), Manti (Pukahi/Engan), and Gunnison (Becerra/Stewart). We have only four investigators on date as a district, so help us out by praying for us as missionaries to keep finding appropriate times/ways to invite our investigators to be baptized, and pray that our investigators will be willing to accept and act on that invitation. 

Love,
Elder Payne!

p.s. It's snowing right now! Pretty chilly up here!

 

Monday, October 28, 2013

We're Staying Put! But....

Well we've had a wonderful week and lots of new adventures! I think I wrote last week about Kelly and Manny. Well they are progressing for the most part, Kelly more so than Manny right now. Kelly's leaving on Nov 18 so hopefully he'll choose to get baptized before he takes off. Keep praying for him! Pray that he will recognize an answer of the truthfulness of this gospel. Pray that he will be willing to act on that testimony, and pray that he will know that true repentance and baptism is the next step he needs to take. Pray for Manny that he will have the courage to ask his parents about baptism. Pray specifically for his parents, that they will be understanding of his earnest desires to follow Christ. Pray that his testimony will soften their hearts! While you're at it, pray for Patricia that she will continue to follow the feelings of the Spirit and make baptism a priority.

We picked up four investigators this past week, two of which were Kelly and Manny. The other two came to the Spanish branch yesterday, thank goodness! It's Irma and her oldest son, Miguel. We took them on a "on-the-fly" church tour Saturday night after eating some delicious homemade tostadas. Irma is like 99% Catholic. She has a few member friends, and they were absolutely thrilled and mostly shocked that she actually came to the Mormon church yesterday! You see, Irma has been thinking about life a lot lately and has a bunch of doubts and concerns. She's literally in the process of being prepared! She's considering divorce and so forth, which hopefully doesn't happen. Either way, she connected with E Ramirez soo well and we've been able to help her understand the need she has for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately my Spanish is still ground level, so I don't get to participate a whole lot, but the main thing is that she is feeling the Spirit fill an empty hole in her heart right now. It's awesome! I hope and pray that she will continue to roll with that momentum. Miguel is a good sport. He has an LDS girlfriend that lives in St. George. He's pretty open to the gospel now as well, which is great. 

Hmm well other than that, we had a cool experience on Friday night. (This isn't your typical "Friday night" experience by the way.) So we were walking away from Patricia's after setting an appointment and to be completely honest we heard some dairy cows mooing like crazy so we thought "hey let's go check it out." haha well on our way E Ramirez said "Oh shoot! We need to go see Irma tonight!" thank goodness the Lord put that into his mind because otherwise we would have been looking at cows all night. Well as we were walking across town to Irma's we walked in front of the Senior Citizen center. Right as we passed it, the fire alarm went off. I checked my watch...7:44pm sharp. We paused and hesitated. You see, us humans have this interesting instinct to ignore fire alarms because they're almost always fake. Well we thought "hmm maybe we should just check it out." So we peeked into the front window and saw a couple old ladies with walkers covering their ears and squinting real hard. The alarm was loud! Then a door opened nearby and a nurse came out with two other older ladies. We asked if they needed help and she said yeah and that there was in fact smoke inside the building somewhere and that they needed to evacuate all the old people. So I stayed outside with the old ladies and kept them company while E Ramirez went in to help evacuate everyone. The poor old ladies were awfully cold, so luckily I had a towel in my backpack (for a visual aid for a lesson we had earlier) that I wrapped around one lady's feet right as E Ramirez came out with a big blanket. Anyway by now the whole neighborhood was getting involved and helping evacuate all the old people and gathering blankets for them. The fire chief and some other guy showed up in a few minutes, and 12 minutes after the alarm went off, at 7:56pm, two crew trucks showed up. I'll admit it was super inspiring to see them show up and head inside with their turnouts...my respect went out to you Dad and all those fire fighters out there! Well everyone was completely fine and they suspected it was some sort of electrical problem in the attic. But either way I was glad I could help in whatever way I could, even if was simply keeping an old lady's feet warm. It just goes to show, whosoever shall be chief among you, let him be your servant. That's paraphrased of course. Neat experience!

Well this week we got to go to Chelsea's baptism on Saturday. I helped her move in and move out a month later to Mt. Pleasant when I was with E Stephens. Well she got baptized! Elder Gomez and Wade taught her. Hooray! She was happy to see me there. Yesterday at her confirmation we got enlisted to sing "Battle Hymn of the Republic" in Sacrament haha. Not bad! Then we had a recent convert fireside last night and a few of us missionaries sang a medley of hymns 6 and 100. Not bad either! It was a fun experience, and we had a pretty good weekend. 

Well we got transfer calls yesterday morning. President called! Hi President! He said that we're both staying here in Ephraim, and that I will serve as District Leader! Cool! Another good learning opportunity for sure. The "Snow" district is pretty small...four companionships. Should be fun! E Gomez is going to die out in Price, training a new missionary who will be my little brother! I'm super excited for him. He goes home in two transfers. Elder Linville is still in Buena Vista 2, and now he's a relief society president haha so that's awesome. But yeah transfers have an exciting ring this time around with lots of cool changes, so that's awesome. Either way, the work will move forward! E Ramirez and I...Halloween part 2! I spent Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas with him last year, so let's see if we can do it again! haha I love you guys and hope the best for this week!

Love, 
Elder Payne!


Monday, October 21, 2013

Another Week in Ephraim!

Yeah not a whole lot of new and interesting things happened this week. We picked up Cheyenne as a new investigator on Monday!! She's pretty awesome, but she didn't make it out to church yesterday, so when we meet with her tonight we'll lay down the accountability hammer. We'll try to set her on date for baptism as well. I really hope that will work out! Our biggest trial has been putting our investigators on date. Every lesson we prepare for it, they end up cancelling or something comes up that prevents us from inviting them. It's a challenge! We'll see how that works out.

The other day we got a call from a member saying that he has a friend that wants to start up the lessons! I love those phone calls! Well we met with him last night, and we also met with a former investigator that wants to start up the lessons again...both in the same house, same appointment! So the former investigator's name is Manny, a 17 year old Spanish kid that is "good friends" with bro George's younger daughter. He's got big hair! He seriously reminds me of the reincarnated Ronaldinho. He's a monster at soccer! We watched a bit of their game on Saturday and he and his team won the championship, and he was MVP. And he plays sweeper! Awesome! and the other guy's name is Kelly, and he is also "good friends" with bro George's older daughter haha so hopefully they're both taking the lessons for the right reasons! Kelly though seemed very sincere. His son took the lessons and got baptized several years ago. He said he just didn't feel like it was his time to get baptized back then. But now he's gone through a divorce and is thinking about life and what he wants out of it. He is in need of hope and peace! We saw him at church yesterday, so I think he'll start progressing pretty quickly. 

Other than that, we had a zone conference this week which went really well! But man those things are like 7 hours! I was pumped up after the first two and I wanted to just get out there and get back to work. It kinda dragged on after that, but it was all super good either way. Anyway the take away that I got from ZC was that as missionaries, we need to be the ones to initiate "operation: member missionaries" instead of waiting to be asked to help. One of the simple ways to do that is through service. Recently President Center asked all of us to put in at least 2 hours of service a week. Well this week I think we put in like 5 or 6 haha...lots of leaves! We helped out a couple less-actives we've been working with, and they were both extremely grateful for our service. It was rewarding, and a unique experience to see that type of gratitude in someone I've been working with like that. Usually it's just in a lesson setting, reading the scriptures or talking about the gospel. But this type of gratitude comes from seeing the fruits of the gospel and love in action. It's been good!

Well that's about it for this week! Transfer calls are this Sunday!

Love,
Elder Payne!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Digging to Find More Potential

Well another week has gone by! We've had a pretty good one up here in Ephraim. The transition from Elder Stephens to Elder Ramirez has been good! (Although it was very abrupt). Anyway it's been really cool to see how we work so much better together now. When we served in Cedar together last year, it was literally black and white haha. But through our experiences since then, my heart has waxed bold and his heart has gotten more compassionate. We're blending together much much better and the work is moving forward even faster. Elder Stephens was awesome, but he was about as quiet as me, and unfortunately he hasn't had a lot of experience yet as far as teaching lessons, so often times I would teach the whole lesson (if it was English) but then he would have to teach pretty much the whole Spanish lesson. It was weird! Anyway it's been a big blessing to have Elder Ramirez here! But yeah, the bigger challenge isn't the companion....it's the work in the area! A couple investigators we've been working with have had some things come up lately to the point where it's been almost two weeks since our last solid teaching appointment. Elder Ramirez still hasn't even met Stephanie, so that's been a struggle. We were going to put her on date for baptism this last Monday but she cancelled again because of work. At this rate I might not see her be baptized, but the things I've already taught and shared with her have made it worth it. She'll come along soon enough, when she's ready! Other than that, we've found a few more potential investigators in the area, and since Elder Ramirez and I breathe soccer, we've been trying to set up a game with some of the Spanish kids here in Ephraim.

Anyway, if you want to pray for our investigators, they are: Stephanie, Patricia, Juan, Fenishia (LA), Helene (LA), Marty (LA), Christensen's (EX), Isabell (EX), and Bobby (8-yr)....as well as some of our potential investigators: Irma, Miguel, Chano, Lotaki's, Danny, Leonardo, and Cheyenne. 

So on Tuesday we had a cool little experience. We originally had three appointments at 6, 7, and 8 pm respectively. The last two cancelled, and our back up plans quickly expired as well. So we started roaming the streets of Ephraim when suddenly the Spirit reminded me that Ilaisia's wife, Elaisa, was going to have a C-section the very next morning. Our ward mission leader and I had talked about giving her a blessing a few weeks ago. We had mentioned it to her before, and she was all for it! Anyway, I gave out a long, drawn out "Oh yeah...!" and I told Elder Ramirez about it. So on the way there we saw the Elder's Quorum President all dressed up, walking to their house as well. I rolled down the window and asked him "Are you going to the Lotaki's?" "Yeah!" "Are you going to give them a blessing?" "Yeah!" "Can we come along too?" "Absolutely!" So yeah he and his counselor had gotten the prompting as well, and while we were talking to Ilaisia at the door, our WML showed up as well acting on the same prompting. Awesome! So there were five of us there, talking with Ilaisia, but Elaisa was at the hospital getting checked in for the morning. So about an hour later we got a phone call from the EQP saying that she was home again, so we all rushed back to give her a blessing. After cracking a few jokes and chatting, the EQP briefly described the "why" of priesthood blessings and then he anointed her. Guess who got to do the actual blessing? Yep this guy! As soon as I had started I was like "Oh shoot I'm giving a blessing!" but then all of the sudden the Spirit kicked in and I stopped thinking but my mouth kept spitting out words that weren't even mine. After the blessing, both Elaisa and Ilaisia had a few tears and just kept thanking us for coming by. They appreciated it sooo much! And our WML added the fact that we don't just come to their door to push religion on them...we come to be their friends and show our love for them. Such a good experience for them, especially since they're both non members.

The surgery went well, Elaisa and the new baby are fine, and even though Ilaisia and his team lost to EAC last weekend, they won their game a couple days ago. I'm not even sure if he was there haha, but still! Blessings! The whole experience reminded me of how aware Heavenly Father is of His children, and that He is in control of our well-being. He lives! How else could five people be prompted of the same idea at the same time and be willing and worthy to carry it out? This is His plan, and He is in charge of it! All we have to do is be a pure vessel and let His Spirit fill us and direct us to those that need our help.

Until next week!

Love,
Elder Payne!
 

Monday, October 7, 2013

New Companion!

Hey everyone! It's so good to hear from you guys, even if it's just a sentence or two, like half of qp's letters haha. Anyway shoot so conference was sooo awesome! I loved it! It's inspiring to see the spirit teach me things that weren't even said. As a few of the talks were being given, my mind kept going out to those that we've been teaching in this area. I kept getting side-tracked, or so I thought, until I realized that it was the Spirit teaching me what those people need to hear. One guy in particular named Chano was almost baptized several months ago but hit a sour spot with tithing. Elder Stephens called it...a talk devoted solely to tithing! Elder Bednar! So much respect for that man. I've looked that man in the eyes and shaken his hand, and with that thought I was reminded that he is indeed an apostle of the Lord, chosen and blessed with power and authority. We couldn't get any of our investigators to watch it, but we got to watch it at our recent convert Alex's house with his family. It was fun! They have a lot of flies in their trailer, so when we saw the fly attack that one brother at the pulpit Sunday afternoon we had to chuckle haha. Anyway, conference was great!!

Well so yeah! On Thursday night after planning at around 10 pm we got a call from Pres Center himself. He said that they needed to shuffle the Delta Elders around and that we would be getting none other than (drum roll) Elder Ramirez! Haha whoa! so yeah he's been spending the last couple days with us, which has been awesome. Ephraim was his first area, so we've been visiting a few families he knew when he served here a year and a half ago. Anyway, flash forward to yesterday afternoon, we got another call from President. He said there's a change of assignment and Elder Stephens is taking off to Delta this afternoon! And Elder Ramirez is staying here with me for the rest of this transfer! haha he's seriously been following me my whole mission. As soon as I left Cedar and went to St. George, he got transferred into St. George a couple months after me. We served as fellow district leaders in the same zone. Then he came up north with me, he went to Delta and I went to Ephraim. And now we're back together! Haha I've noticed over the last few days that we're both much more experienced and I'm excited to see how these next three weeks will play out! I'm excited for Elder Stephens to move on and experience a new area. He's been here his whole mission so far! 7 months! So there will be a lot of growth within him as he moves on to Delta. But yeah even though it was kind of abrupt and all, it will be a good experience for all of us. 

Oh and Snow College played EAC on Saturday in Thatcher! Did you guys know that? We have a potential investigator that's on Snow's team....his name is Ilaisia Lotaki. Big man! Anyway, I guess a few members from Ephraim went down there as well. I found out about the game a couple days ago, otherwise I would have had someone send something home to you guys haha. Did anyone go to the game? Let me know! It's not often that someone I've been working with takes off to Thatcher like that haha. 

Anyway until next week!

Love,
Elder Payne

 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Manti Temple!

Well thanks mom and qp for the emails! It's nice to hear that my little spiel on member/missionary work helped you out mother! It's funny because we got a picture of us at the Smith's when I first got to the area but she never sent the photo! So we took another one and I guess it got to you just in time. Awesome! But yeah I was glad I wrote all that down last week because this Sunday was of course the fifth Sunday of the month, so naturally we got about 4 or 5 phone calls of requests to do missionary presentations for combined meetings. We were able to schedule in three of them, two primary's and a regular priesthood/RS meeting. The latter was sandwiched with the two primary's haha so we had a pretty fun Sabbath yesterday! 

The first primary went okay and we just introduced ourselves and asked all the little kiddos how they can be missionaries. They said "teach them about the gospel!!!" and "teach them about Jesus!" and even one little girl said "Jesus!" haha so that was fun. The adult meeting went well. We laid it down to them Elder Holland style and invited them to try something they've never tried before, to get out of their comfort zone and go and invite someone to participate in the gospel. We shared pretty much all of my thoughts from my last email and then some. Then we did some role plays and they got to practice "opening their mouths." They really enjoyed it and everyone learned something specific that they needed to better fulfill their missionary responsibilities. We told them that we depend on them and we cannot do everything alone, so we're expecting some more help from the members. 

Then we went to the other primary and kinda combined the other two meetings by introducing ourselves, talking about the song "I Hope they Call me on a Mission" and how they can be missionaries right now, and then we did some role plays with them too! haha it was the best. We asked for volunteers and of course the whole room lifted up their hands at once, so we picked a few of them to practice inviting each other to church and to watch conference. Cutest role plays ever! haha The Bishop and Ward Mission Leader added their primary-level input as well and we got to sing some songs and it was great! I'm going back to primary after my mission!

So this week we finally went to the Manti temple! Wow what a treat! It's a beautiful temple, I highly recommend it. It was my first live session, which was interesting. I was really looking forward to that! It's cool to see how much better the dialog and presentation flows when it's live. Gears kicked into place and things made more sense. There was even very light comical sense to it due to the fact of human error, not that I could do any better at all. Satan was pretty funny haha he was played by an old man in a black suit, and he was very passive and nonchalant haha. Anyway I'll stop right there before I go too far. But it was a good experience nonetheless! And I got to chat with Elder Holmstead at the veil and Gomez in the celestial room and reminisce on our first temple experiences of our missions. It was awesome!

Well, to follow up with our little miracle in the making, it's still in the making haha. Last week we knocked at the door and this week we've been trying to hear Christ's footsteps inside. We can definitely hear Him. He's coming soon! We met with Stephanie and her LA husband on Thursday after the temple trip. Holy cow...they are elect and honest of heart but man they have a lot of questions and concerns about the church! Thank goodness for solid fellowshippers. Bishop Shelley knows what he's doing and answered every single one of them on the spot in a calm and dignified, confident manner (i.e. why can't women hold the priesthood? why isn't there physical evidence of the BofM? why do you believe in three kingdoms instead of heaven/hell? why can't we drink coffee or tea? why did the church practice polygamy...isn't that adultery? and so forth.) It was a good experience for all of us. They got their questions answered confidently, Bishop gained more of their trust, and we learned in greater detail the answers to those questions. We met again last night and started up the first lesson, and they are progressing well.

Well I best be off to get a haircut! Until next week,

Love,
Elder Payne!

p.s. It's getting colder up here! We froze in the rain earlier this week...it caught us off guard haha.
p.p.s. Please watch and apply the words of general conference!


 

If You Knock...

Hey family! Well so let's see...it's been a great week! We had a Spanish baptism on Saturday! His name is Alejandro "Alex" Torres! He is married to a white wife who doesn't know any Spanish haha and has 5 kids under 8 years old.  Pretty fun family! Alex knows enough English and I know enough Spanish to where we can communicate pretty easily haha. The baptismal service was nothing short of perfect, and Alex has quit smoking and is coming to church more regularly! So yeah that was a big blessing for him and for us as well. It's not often (at least in this area) that we find a Spanish person that's not Catholic, wasn't sprinkled as a child, and wants to take the lessons.

Well this week I was reading the Missionary Newsletter, and I read the one from Derek Christensen over in England. He asked some of his missionaries in his zone to put down a goal of 1 baptism and 1 confirmation even though they didn't have anyone planned to baptize. So they did and they got a phone call with a golden referral and they got a baptism that week! I read that and it blew me away. Then a couple days later we found ourselves doing weekly planning. We were kind of in the same situation...we were going to baptize Alex and then we would be down to one investigator. Normally you just automatically put 0 bap and 0 conf. But that story came to my mind and I thought "Shoot if the Lord can help them, then surely He can help the people in our portion of the vineyard as well!" So I told Elder Stephens about it and he was on board! We're goaling for 1 baptism and 1 confirmation this week! The DL called us and the ZL's texted us about it, and we told them what's up and they support us 100%! We're putting the Lord's words to the test while keeping His will and His timing in consideration. We're going to demonstrate our faith and trust in Him, and we know He can do miracles! We prayed and covenanted to do our part if He does His!

So that has upped my motivation by at least 217% now. I'm so much more proactive now that I'm accountable to the Lord for my faith. I'm doing things that used to hold me back, and I'm breaking barriers that I've never broken before because they were too inconvenient or uncomfortable in the past. I'm talking with more and more people, and I'm inviting more and more of them to partake of the gospel. We've been hitting up any potentials that have slipped through the cracks...old referrals...everything. The only problem is that we haven't seen any fruit of our labors yet, which is fine. 

Then late Saturday night we went to a bishop's house to get some copies of our progress records. He gave us a big smile and welcomed us in and told us to sit down. Mind you this was right as the big BYU/Utah game was starting, so we knew something was up! He asked, "What can I do for you elders?" and we said, "Oh we just need some copies..." and he replied, "Oh I can do that....hey I have someone for you to teach!" And my heart jumped and I was like "What! Who??" And he told us all about this lady named Stephanie who's husband is less-active and they're both trying to quit smoking and they want the missionaries to teach them! And the best part is that they've taken the lessons before and they just weren't ready for baptism yet. But now they feel ready and they're willing to give it another shot! They're honest in heart!

And that's where we're at right now. We were supposed to meet last night but they had to cancel last minute. We'll see where this plays out from here. In the mean time, we're still looking for anyone else! We're keeping our momentum and we're not going to slow down in terms of our faith. Even if we don't hit that goal this week, we'll get it next week, or next week, or whenever Heavenly Father says, "Yes, it's time!" 

So Mom wanted me to share my thoughts on the importance of members in the "hastening of the work" and what they can do to participate:

Well yeah! I think we often try to separate gospel principles into their own little boxes and look through them whenever it's necessary. Members and missionaries are one in purpose, or at least they ought to be. This is what the Lord is trying to teach His Church right now. Missionary work is the #1 focus of the Brethren, and the Lord is included! I heard a statistic that 95% of stake presidents know the #1 focus of the Brethren, and 80% of bishops, 41% of ward council members, and about a measly 5% of the "members" know it. That's too low! We need to change that! I'm anxious to see what the focus of general conference will be, seeing as though missionary work has dominated the last two. 

Anyway, with that in mind, our purpose as members and missionaries of this church is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. We are one in purpose! However, we each play different roles. Basically the members are full-time finders, and the missionaries are full-time teachers. Once we start finding and teaching, then an investigator will begin developing stronger faith, repentance, and so forth. But nothing happens until we find someone to teach!

And thus we see the importance of "members." It would be selfish for us as missionaries to try to find and teach and baptized on our own, without the help of members. We need them! They are missionaries in disguise! They don't have name tags! Their time table is way different than a missionary's. We're on a fast-paced, six week time limit. Go, go, go!! Find, teach, ahhh! But members can slow it down and take extra time to build relationships with less-actives or non members in a normal and relaxed way. Members get to be themselves, and that's how we find people to teach as missionaries! 20 out of my 21 baptisms were from member referrals. They build the relationships with them, and then when the time is right, they can refer that person into the fast flowing river of missionary work. If they haven't been prepared  enough or they aren't quite ready for it, they will panic and try to get out of the raging water. It will be too much for them! So members are kind of like the kiddy pool I suppose. They help our friends get their feet wet and ready for the gospel.

D&C 33:8-9 tells us a universal finding principle. This will work for any good and faithful member who wants to begin finding and doing their own missionary work. The principle is to open our mouths! Because if we open our mouths, then they will be filled. We know enough to start! We just have to trust that the Spirit will keep our mouths going! If our mouths are filled, then there will be an invitation, and the person will come unto Christ, and our purpose will be fulfilled, which means the Lord's work will be moving forward! On the other hand, if we don't open our mouths, then they won't be filled, which means there won't be any invitation, and the person will not come unto Christ, and our purpose won't be fulfilled, which basically means the Lord's work will be damned to a degree. Yikes! Consider the wisdom of the quote, "Don't say no for another." Give them the opportunity to say no for themselves. But we must ALWAYS invite (but be careful not to be naggy or annoying haha because that doesn't help either). Find a balance! Open your mouth and it shall be filled!

So keep that in mind. It's important to be a good example. It's important to open our mouths. The latter without the former is hypocrisy. The former without the latter is an empty invitation. Again, find a balance! But most of all, just be a good boy or a good girl and be yourself! The Lord's work isn't fake, it's real...so let's be real and let's be ourselves, united with the same purpose, which is God's purpose, "To bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man," one step at a time! Elder Stephens and I are starting to reverse everyone's thinking. Whenever someone honks at us and says "Go missionaries!!!" We call back to them "Go members!!!" because we love the members and we need them as much as they need us!

Anyway sorry this is extremely long but I hope you all enjoy it! I love you all!

Elder Payne!



Time for a change...more or less!

Well first of all, we got transfer calls last night at 10:44pm! That's the latest I've ever gotten them haha I'm sure we were probably last on the list. Anyway, turns out we're both staying here in Ephraim!! So nothing's changing, but we're making some changes, personally and as a companionship. We need to up our efforts. We can be even more obedient and diligent. We can do more than we are, especially me! I can't afford to stay put or go backwards, so in response to this transfer call I'm going to go forward and push myself. I feel like the Lord is testing to see if I can make my own changes instead of waiting for transfers to change them for me. So we'll see where this takes the work, and most importantly the people I'm serving! I'm expecting miracles. And ultimately the success will be shown not in the numbers of baptisms or lessons, but in the lives of those we touch and bring closer to Christ.

Hmm with that in mind, we're pretty hopeful for this transfer! This week was pretty good, but we're still in the process of sifting out the elect in our area. We're down to two investigators, one of which is getting baptized this Saturday. We've had to set aside a few people just because they're not quite ready to progress. But the Lord wouldn't have it any other way, so we're moving forward with faith!

Well I've been learning a lot about the Gospel this past transfer. Not necessarily new things, just new perspectives. I was reminded that we cannot be saved in ignorance, and therefore we must do what we know, we must grow from what we do, and we must learn from how we grow, for that is the pattern by which we receive experience and wisdom, which is one of the very few things we can take from this life. Elder Stephens has some cool little stories and analogies. One of them is the penny example. If you have one dirty grimy nasty penny and one super shiny penny, which one is worth more? Well they're worth the same! Or at least they have equal potential for what they are intended for. And thus we see the loving and eternal perspective of Heavenly Father!

Also, since there's no time limit on computers here in Ephraim, I've been able to find out a little about my own family history haha. I read about Edward Payne, who was the first convert in our family. He joined the church in the mid 1800's in England after hearing about the LDS religion by an excommunicated member. Long story short, he came over to the US and crossed the plains with the rest of the saints. Interesting! So yeah I was able to trace the Payne's from England up to our own day, and turns out I'm related to all the Payne's here in Utah! Well I already figured that, but now I can tell people that with confidence since a lot of people ask me where my family came from. I'm gonna try to find out more about the Hoopes side, so wish me luck haha.

Hmm well that's all I can think of right now. Thanks for the emails and support! Keep looking for those opportunities to find people for the missionaries to teach in the Gila Valley please please please please. Amen.

Love,
Elder Payne!

 

Elder Bednar!!

Hey everyone! Gosh what a week! So on Saturday Elder Stephens and I drove down to Salina for the big and 1st ever mission conference! We ended up getting there an hour early haha but that's okay because we got to see everyone in the whole mission! crazy!! So eventually Elder Bednar walked in followed by his sweet wife, Elder Whitney L. Clayton and his wife. We all stood up and showed our reverence as one of the most pure forms of the Holy Ghost filled the room. That man is astounding! So much authority and dignity, and yet so much humility. The latter three spoke first, sharing their testimony and adding the importance to be ready to listen to an apostle of the Lord. Elder Clayton added that the keys of the dispensation of the fullness of times was in that little chapel with us, and that there ought to be a sense of awe and preparation.

Soon enough, Elder Bednar got up to speak with us. I say "with" because that's exactly what he did! He didn't give us a "talk" and instead taught us how we ought to use our agency to volunteer and speak up and participate in the meeting. Then he started asking us inspired questions. Prior to the conference, he had requested that everyone read and study three of his past talks. The questions were based on what we learned from those talks. Anyway the idea was to get us to act in faith by raising our hands and opening our mouths, and then the power of the Holy Ghost would come after.

So that's how the meeting went. He would ask us a question, he would pick a volunteer, listen to their answer, ask another couple follow up questions, and then add his own testimony and insight. We did that for several minutes and then he changed it up and this time we got to ask him the questions! He told us to ask truly inspired questions because...well, we won't get an opportunity to ask an apostle a question very often. What would you ask an apostle if you had only one chance? Anyway we started asking him questions and he would answer them, and he would invite the others on the stand to answer them as well. So profound! I, in the meantime, was trying to think of a good one to ask. Eventually one came to my mind and I started raising my hand, but by then like half of us were raising our hands haha. The Lord rewards the use of quick moral agency without delay or hesitation!

Anyway, I didn't get to ask him my question, but he noted at the end that he wasn't the one answering the questions...it was the Holy Ghost. He asked if any of us had received answers to unasked questions, and most of us had! The Spirit was the true teacher. He added that you don't need an apostle to get answers to your questions. You just need faith, and then you need to exercise that faith, and then you will gain knowledge. That was the whole process of the meeting. We learned because we used our faith by participating. 

Anyway I learned so many things, and I have my own little "small plates" from the meeting. Basically the moral of the story for me was to act. I've learned a ton of things, but I need to apply them more deeply into my life. I've already started to apply the things I've learned, and it's been awesome! We got a mission picture after the meeting, but we haven't got it yet. Oh and after the "Amen" we got to shake E Bednar's hand one by one, and guess who happened to be first in line? Elder Stephens! Which means I was second! (Elder Linville saved us a seat on the first row haha) I finally got to shake an apostle's hand and look him square in the eye. Humbling, but powerful. I'd recommend it if you get the chance. 

Well other than that, we met a guy named Caleb Swallow a few days ago near the Snow campus. He served in Safford for like 9 months from Apr 2011 to Nov 2011 on his mission. It was cool to talk with him about his adventures over there! So does Elder Swallow ring a bell to anyone? Anyway gotta run!

Love,
Elder Payne

 

Happy Labor Day!

Well another week has passed. We were told to email everyone on Tuesday so here we are mom don't worry! It's been a good week! Although we cover 9 wards in our area, the work is off to a slow start. We're not sure what the future of the area will be here soon enough...perhaps a less active area. We get less-active referrals handed to us like candy, but the non-member work is slow! We've gone through family apartments only to find strong members living in them. But it doesn't matter because the work is hastening! Now that doesn't mean that the work in our individual areas is automatically going to explode. With the influx of missionaries, a ton of areas have had to be cut in half, which means the work was too. We're still in the stage where the big change in missionary work is in its infancy...the beta version more or less. But nevertheless and notwithstanding, the work as a whole is going up. More are coming unto and into the gospel than ever before! We have to keep that in our minds, especially when serving in areas like Ephraim! What a great place to serve!

Well with that in mind, we have met a lady who is practically as golden as they get. She moved in from California about the same time I got here. Her name is Chelsea, probably in her 60's or so. Such a great lady! Very well-mannered and regal and sociable. She's a non member, and just before she moved here she started talking with missionaries. She's super curious about mormons and wants to learn just the basics. She's been coming to church on her own and is developing relationships with ward members. She's basically her own fellowshipper! It's awesome haha. 

The only thing is that the house she moved into is much less than meets the eye. She was awfully disappointed to say the least, long story short, she has found a new place to move into in Mt. Pleasant, just a few miles north of Ephraim. So she's moving out of our area! Darn! haha but we've been able to answer some questions and gave her some pamphlets and videos. She's really been impacted by the kindness and standards of the people of the church and has gained a love and trust of the members here. She asked us about baptism and jokingly added that she doesn't like the idea of being dunked in water if she decides she wants to "become a mormon." Plus she did mention that she will not give up coffee or wine haha but we won't worry about that yet. Anyway, we're deciding to tread lightly and let her come to us at her own pace and in her time. She's willing to take the lessons from the Mt. Pleasant Elders (E Gomez and Wade!) once she gets moved in. She's moving this Saturday! Such a blessing and privilege to have been placed in her path. We're planting a huge seed for her, and she's thrilled to watch the Testaments tonight! haha she's prepared and ready. Finding the elect is awesome!

A big lesson I've learned on my mission is the principle of quantity vs. quality. I've noticed that a lot of missionaries get out here and focus on the quantity...their motivation is the numbers and the goals. They're successful because of the expectations of leaders. They get lots of baptisms and lots of lessons with a member present and lots of everything. They're really good missionaries! I've taken more the quality approach throughout my mission, meaning I focus more on who I'm teaching and how to make each appointment an effective one. I tend to focus on who I'm working with rather than finding more and more to teach. I want to make sure my converts don't go astray after baptism. I'm not so much concerned about hitting the goal for the month as I am with the investigator truly being ready to covenant with God. It's really helped me develop a lot more charity! But now I feel like I can step it up. I feel like the good thing is quantity, the better is quality, and the best is a balance of both.

Well in other news, we took a Labor Day hike yesterday in a canyon outside of Moroni. We went with Elders Finnie from Canada and Jones from I forgot haha. It was pretty fun! We went exploring and stuff and it wasn't nearly as bad as the hike we did right before I left haha. I'll send some pictures. Also, we're starting to teach a Daniel George, as well as Daniel and George. Two different families. Kinda weird. We went on exchanges this week and I went with Elder Betham for the day! What a clown haha he says he reads my blog every week so at least we have one fan on there mom. Well other than that, guess how many lessons I've taught on my mission so far? Well I did the math from all my planners and as of right this minute I've taught 996 lessons! Join me as I hit the four digit barrier this week! haha well I love you guys and I have hope that you will have a great week!

Love,
Elder Payne