Elder Zachary Payne

Elder Zachary 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

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

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!

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. 

Elder Payne!

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