Elder Zachary Payne

Elder Zachary 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,

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.

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!

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!

Elder Payne