Elder Zachary Payne

Elder Zachary Payne

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Last Email!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much love,
See you soon,
Elder Payne!
 
 

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Light at the End of the Tunnel!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,
Elder Payne!

 

Happy Mother's day!

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

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

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

Love,
Elder Payne!
 
 
 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

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

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

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

 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Challenges and Blessings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,
Elder Payne!

 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Lots of Work to be Done!

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

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

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

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

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

More adventures to come soon!
Love,
Elder Payne!

 
 
 
 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I'm Off to Red Cliffs!

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

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

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

Love,
Elder Payne!

 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Another Great Conference​!

Wow what a week we've had! It's been great, lots of adventures. First of all though tell Bryson HAPPY BIRTHDAY tomorrow for me!! Gosh he's old. I was reading my journal this morning of the day he was born....crazy how time flies! I wouldn't be too surprised if he walks up to me as soon as I get home and asks how I'm doing. Total Tommy Pickles status. We'll see! So we're just over here at the Family History library in St. George and the whole mission is on edge because today is the day that the new AP gets the call. We've been gathering some hints here and there. They have to replace 8 of 14 zone leaders and 2 AP's and like 4 STL's within the next two transfers. Of the 6 ZL's not leaving, 2 of them were just barely put in. So that means there's really only four options for the next AP: Elder Lewis (my comp), E Jensen, E Richhart, and E Berven. We'll see what happens!

Oh shoot! We just got a text....It's Elder Berven!! haha crazy timing. He's a good missionary, he was trained by the AP that brought me into the mission, Elder Hawkins. He's a strong example of quiet dignity, so he'll be a pretty good replacement for E Nye who is the same. We thought E Lewis was going to be put in this whole transfer, but I guess it makes sense. The other AP is an and extroverted clown, Elder Captain from Mesa. haha and so is Elder Lewis. E Berven will create a good spiritual and companionship balance. Sweet!

Anyway, this week we got a text saying that we're now Facebook approved!! Crazy! So we're starting it up this week. It's kinda up in the air and all we really know is that we need to add President Center as a friend. I guess he's going to email us some guidelines and expectations. Crazy huh?!

Just kidding, april fools. No facebook. We don't need it yet (obviously or else they'd say otherwise.) This week we had MLC on Wednesday followed by zone meeting on Friday. We had a great time! At MLC, Elder Lewis and I had to role play with Elder Captain in front of everyone, and guess what we had to teach? Yep, the Law of Chastity. Using the pamphlet. Have you seen the LoC pamphlet?? It's great but the pictures are super awk haha. It's a good thing they told us before hand so that we could be prepared haha. It went well, and the very next day we had to teach a less-active family the LoC to the whole family, ranging from a little 8 year old girl to a newly engaged couple and their single dad, and everything in between. Pretty good variety! Somehow, with the help of that role play and especially our Heavenly Father we were able to teach that lesson with a perfect balance of "little kid-ness" and an appropriate and clear amount of "adult understanding." Whew! The Lord provides a way haha. 

But yeah, zone meeting was pretty good! We did a few trainings....the first one was on Revelation through Church Attendance and the other one was an exclusive "Priesthood session" training with just the elders. (The STL's were asked by sis Center to gather all the sisters in the zone together to talk about whatever they felt inspired to talk about...typical. Rest assured we will never argue with that.) It was super nice to just train the elders haha we had a good time. We were thinking about just shooting some hoops in the gym but we decided not to. Instead, we broke down our numbers and briefly trained them on Teaching more Lessons. Our zone's been struggling with that lately. We committed all of them to teach 5 more lessons a week than they have been, pushing our companionship average from 13 a week to 18 a week and our zone average from 169 a week to 200+ a week. We'll see how it goes! Gotta love being able to be as bold as you want without worrying about getting any hurt feelings from the sisters haha. Whew!

Speaking of the sisters though, a couple companionships in our zone got 5 baptisms combined this week! They're getting work done, and there's always room for improvement.

Conference was really good. No temples and only one talk on missionary work...a change of pace! I like it....especially the throw downs on allllll the controversial matters in the world right now. (Neil L. Andersesn's talk referencing gay marriage, Dallin H. Oaks in the Priesthood session about women and the Priesthood.) Elder Oaks talk was one of my favorites. The men are NOT the Priesthood. Both men and women are entitled and can be endowed with God's Priesthood power and authority. Boom. Indisputable. We were practically cheering after that talk haha. There were some other great ones...I loved the one on communication. (Don't ever let your wife jump out of a moving truck haha) and Elder Bednar's about the Savior and the importance of carrying loads to obtain spiritual traction. I'm still tripping out that I got to shake his hand in September. All of those speakers are men and women of God! What a blessing it is to have their influence and guidance in our lives. We watched each session at different members homes, including the Priesthood session, which was kinda weird but awesome!

Oh and this week we were asked to speak briefly at a pack meeting and share how cub scouts helped us become the men we are. It was fun! We got to relive all our cub scout experiences....pinewood derby, building little boats, shooting model rockets....fun times! It made me want to go back to cub scouts haha. Thanks to sis Wright for helping me along in my cub scout journey! Anyway, I better run!

Love,
Elder Payne!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Flat Tire by the Temple

Woah the wedding pictures are sweet!! haha that's awesome! we got a good kick out of them. Families can be together forever! We've had a pretty slow week in Little Valley but we're keeping our heads up and enduring to the end. We finished out the week with only 11 NM,LA,RC lessons. Not the greatest! I love the audacity of President Center in regards to not meeting our goals: "That's terrible!" haha yeah.... I think the main struggle right now is meeting consistently with our investigators. No matter how much we try to avoid it, there always seems to be an empty hole right after a baptism, an elevator effect if you will. Satan is not a slouch! And we shouldn't be either.

We were supposed to get Shane in the water this past weekend but that didn't happen. He's not very committed to coming to the ward here in our area! He's been going with his girlfriend to her dad's ward across town, even though he keeps committing to come to ours. At least he's coming though. In fact he's been meeting pretty much all the requirements for baptism. He's just not coming to the ward that he ought to be baptized in! So hopefully this month we can redirect him. But thank the good Lord....he's quite smoking!!! Right now he's on the e-cigarette with 0 nicotine and soley water vapor. We asked Pres Center if that's okay, he said, "Yep...the word of wisdom only includes tobacco, not nicotine." Sounds good to us! But Shane is doubting himself. He wants to make sure he's completely off it, which is good, but he's scared that he'll relapse after he's baptized. He's got a little too much fear and not enough faith. He's sooo close! He's come a long way and he's become a big example to me.

Carlyn's doing well. He's still thinking and praying about baptism. This week he said that after one of his prayers, he felt something! He felt a burning in his heart, just a good feeling that he couldn't describe. Well that's the spirit my friend! He said he wants to feel that again and then he'll know for sure. He's on the right track for sure. In fact I believe he already knows it's true, he's just a little scared or nervous to commit. A little extra assurance from the Lord would definitely help! And conference coming up is going to be a big key for him as well. Should be good! He came to our St. George area recent convert fireside last night. That's when we have a few RC's share their conversion stories and testimonies...it was super good! Carlyn's close too.

And this week we started meeting with seriously the most elect returning less-active I've ever met. Her name is Lindsey (different Lindsey, we're teaching two of them). She's the one that had a seizure while riding her bike! (Did I tell you about that?) She recently went through a temple divorce. She's a single mom with three kids and she's a powerhouse. Such a strong woman! She went less-active a while back because of all the pressures of the divorce and life in general, but now she's repenting and wants nothing more than to make it back to the temple. I felt prompted to tell another lady in the ward (Sis Rasmussen) about her situation, and as I went over to her house on exchanges it turns out that she's been through almost the exact same things Lindsey has! She's a powerhouse too...super good match! Good looking out, Heavenly Father! He knows his children. Anyway we've brought Sis Rasmussen to a couple lessons and the two of them have hit it off super well. Here we are just teaching the doctrine according to the spirit, happy and confident, and then we turn to sis Rasmussen and she's weeping and sobbing and we're just like "Oh my!" and she goes on to say that she's meant to be there for Lindsey and then shares her life story with her. We've had a couple tender moments in Lindsey's home for sure. I just love it when the people I teach want nothing more than to cling to the Lord and His gospel. Such a blessing! Lindsey's doing well and reactivating smoothly.

Other than that, we've been on a couple more exchanges this week which means we've finished all of them up for the transfer! All 5 of them. Great experiences there. It's wonderful to learn so much from other missionaries in just 24 hours. I've been on this little sticky note spree. A lot of missionaries do it in our mission. At the end of every exchange we offer constructive criticism, so on the sticky note I put two columns: "What to keep" and "What to seek" and then I list some important qualities respectively. The nice thing about pondering those qualities is that a lot of times the strengths and room for improvement I see in others often applies to myself as well. Some of my favorites are complete consecration (consecration isn't perfection), be loyal to your plans, testify with conviction and simplicity, keep your "line in the water" (PMG p.152), and willing to consistently speak up and share. 

While I was away on exchanges though E Lewis managed to put two flats on our car haha. He took a turn too sharp and clipped the curb near the temple. He didn't think it did too much but when he got outside the car he could hear the air hissing out. Oops! So the car was parked by the temple for a couple days and we fixed it when we could. haha just crazy how he literally shredded two holes in each tire on the right side. We got a good kick out of it. Good thing we have E Sullivan as our vehicle coordinator now. E Woolley (our last one) would have seriously killed us! All is well though, are car is fixed and we got extra exercise on our bikes. 

Gotta run!
Love,
Elder Payne!

p.s. So E Nye (one of the assistant's that goes home with me) just told me that he has a friend serving in Thatcher. His name is Elder Merrill (however you spell it). Is he the one in 3rd ward? If so that's pretty sweet! 
 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Slim's Baptism!

So I went back to Arizona a little early this past week. That's right, back in my home state. How strange is that? It was only for a few minutes...this week we did exchanges with the Kanab 2 elders! They are stationed specifically in a town called Orderville, Utah. In order to get there we had to travel and hour and a half down through Hurricane, through Hildale/Colorado City, through Fredonia, through Kanab, and finally up and around to Orderville. It was a long trip and because of it our miles are pretty shot so we've been riding our bikes quite a bit the rest of the week! Awesome! (It's perfect biking weather too...65-70 degrees all day!)

Anyway the exchange was good. I went with Elder Read in Orderville for the day. It's a pretty redneck town. There's two wards scattered in the few tiny little towns in their area. We ate lunch at one of the bishops houses and had Navajo tacos (which I love by the way!) and then since we didn't have a dinner we ate dinner there as well haha. The bishop shared with me their ward mission plan, which is to treat all non members like cattle: gather em together, rope em up, brand em, and let em go! And I was just like "hey whatever gets the work done!" I also met this recent convert who is super enthusiastic about helping the missionaries. His name is Ricky. He has one leg and is an old war vet. He said to me "when I'm bored, I count my blessings." Good advice! We took him to a LA's house for a lesson. The house had some big steps leading up to the porch, which was going to be an interesting challenge with his wheelchair. Well he just hopped right out of his wheelchair and scooted up the steps and into her house on his bum haha and again I was just like "hey whatever gets the work done!" Then later we took Ricky to meet one of Kanab 2's investigators named Rodger. He's another old war vet down the street and he goes everywhere with his walker. So there I was listening to war stories with two older guys with absolutely no filter on their mouths haha. Seriously reminded me of the guys on Secondhand Lions. Classic. Later on I found out about the types of ward activities they have in Orderville. One of them is donkey basketball. "What's that?" I asked. "Well it's where we take a bunch of donkeys and put rubber shoes on them and take them into the gym in the church...and we play basketball while riding the donkeys!" Yep...whatever gets the work done! Awesome exchange!

So after my own personal episode in the Andy Griffith show, I finally made it back to Little Valley! We've had lots of other adventures this week but none as great as Slim's baptism! Everything came together really well and he had some family come in and lots of friends and buddies from school. There was about 70 or so people there! Pretty good turnout. We started in the chapel and then crammed into the RS room for the ordinance. Bailey's boyfriend Chase did the ordinance and they got it done right the first time! Whew thank goodness...I always get nervous that they'll have to do it more than once since that kinda kills the spirit and memory of the sacredness of the ordinance. All was well! The program was sweet and we all went over to Slim's house afterwards for some bagels and snacks. Success! And yes Slims mom took a TON of pictures...Slim was getting a little irritated haha. That's probably how he's going to remember his baptism.....the pictures. The cool thing though is that the parents are reactivated and hopefully they'll start looking toward a temple sealing as a family! We're going to do our best to help them all get there. Bailey got baptized last August and now since Slim just got baptized and confirmed then the goal is in sight! The confirmation yesterday went well...his bishop did the honors. What a blessing it is to provide opportunities for elect and prepared people like Slim to participate in such an important saving ordinance. Slim really looks up to us and his cousin serving a mission, and Slim said he wants to serve a mission too! Haha he's awesome and super chill. After every lesson he says "stay sweet."

We haven't been able to catch up with the Demarco's this week. Go figure, roller coaster again. We'll keep trying, but we don't want to be too pushy. Shane is doing really well! Today he should be completely off tobacco and nicotine! He's been hopping to a bunch of different wards though so we're not sure where he's going to end up being baptized. But at least he's meeting the requirements, and for the right reasons too! Lindsey is still nonexistent. We met with the Alo's and even though the wife was at work we asked if we could just meet real quick with the rest of them. Bear (the dad) thought that was really cool for us to do that. His heart is pretty open right now! Everything else is going pretty well.

Other than that, we spoke in the Stone Hedge ward yesterday about food storage. Just kidding. We spoke on missionary work. (What else?) It turned out really well. In Priesthood we sat down next to our ward mission leader Bro Warner. He introduced us to his friend from Idaho Falls. Automatically we kinda assumed he was, well you know, mormon....right? So E Lewis jumped right in and jokingly said "Would you like to repent and be baptized??" And he kinda chuckled and looked like we had just pulled a hunting knife on him or something haha. Then Bro Warner said, "haha...he's actually investigating the church right now!" ooops! haha it was all good though, at least he knows our purpose!

Gotta fly!
Love,
Elder Payne!

 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Go About Doing Good!

Well thanks for all the updates! Gosh Bryson has better motor skills than I do. What do you think...200 meter dash state champ senior year? I can see it. This week has been pretty good! We had a big zone conference this week at our stake center. We have zone conferences every 3 months or so. This time it was only the St. G East and West zones, about 70 missionaries. We spent an hour setting up the night before, which paid off because it was a success! We had trainings by President Center, Sister Center, the Assistants, and more. We had another standard vehicle safety training. I can see QP being a mission vehicle coordinator. The Lord is raising you up! haha anyway we even had an etiquette training by some ladies in the Quail Valley ward! It was good. The main trainings were based off of our MLC meeting the other week, so now all of the missionaries in the mission have been trained up on how to use the pamphlets especially in lesson 1. This was my last zone conference! Crazy to think about that...it was nice though. I talked with an Elder Lunt during our lunch break. He's Sherri and Clel's nephew. I guess president called him and let him know Sherri passed away. He was pretty shocked when I told him that Clel was my first home teaching companion. Haha interesting connections...

So I think I've mentioned here and there about the Demarco's. They are nonmembers and are probably in their 60's and moved in from California just before Christmas. The members here have just been super kind and loving and have given them cookies and food and everything. They've had a super warm welcome to the neighborhood! Well long story short, they've been remodeling their whole house and now they just need to finish up a few landscaping chores. This week we saw them outside just before we were going to take off for lunch. (Normally for lunch we go with other missionaries somewhere, but for some reason everyone was booked so we were just going to go by ourselves.) They were out shoveling rock to put on the ground around all their little shrubs. Debbie has bad back problems and so Tom has to do all the work. We told them we'll be back in 10 mins. So we rushed home and switched clothes and grabbed a couple shovels. We spent the next hour and a half shoveling rocks into 5 gal buckets and spreading them around all the shrubs! Gosh they were suuuper grateful! Debbie kept saying things like "Oh I don't want you to get dirty!" and "start thinking about what you want for lunch!" and "can I give you money...a donation?" haha Elder Lewis straight up said "You know you worry too much!" and she just laughed haha. Their hearts are being softened big time though. We invited them to a ward cookout and they couldn't make it but really wanted to go. They asked if next time they have a cook out they can provide burgers and hot dogs and drinks and everything haha they want to be involved! We got a text from them the other day: "We would truly appreciate the opportunity to thank the Bishop for ALL you guys have done to help us. As well as let him know how great we think you both are." The scriptures don't lie....Ammon was right. Service is the way to go! It worked in Ephraim with Chelsea Stafford (who was baptized) and it's softening the hearts of the Demarco's too! One step at a time.

Slim is doing super good. We took him through the visitors center this week and we're pretty much done with the lessons prior to his baptism. He's on schedule for this Saturday!!! It's about time we had a baptism! haha thanks to Heavenly Father. He has 0 concerns and keeps his commitments. He's submissive and soaks it all in. We're super excited for his baptism. It's gonna be great!! We're playing pickle ball with him this afternoon. Even heard of that? Me neither, until I started my mission. It's right in between tennis and ping pong. We've heard it's super fun!

We've given about 5 or 6 blessings this week. Most of them were for sister missionaries in our zone, but this week our two high councilmen for missionary work took us to the hospital for lunch! (of all places). It was actually super good food! Fresh salads, pasta dishes made to order, just a healthy environment! I got the grilled salmon with lemon and a side of mac and cheese and broccoli with a side salad and water. Super good! and pretty cheap too...four big plates of food for like $15. How's the hospital food over there these days?? ANYWAY was with pretty much any trip to the hospital as a missionary, you usually don't end up leaving without giving a couple blessings. We're not supposed to solicit them obviously, but we had two people ask for blessings. Such a humbling experience. I love the ability to exercise my priesthood authority and see the power that comes as those we bless have complete faith and trust in us. One sister was furious because she had a heart attack and they flew her in from Page and all they did was put her on oxygen. Thousands of dollars for nothing was the way she described it. She wanted a blessing to calm her heart down (dual meaning there) and rid her of the contention she felt wrapped up inside her. After the blessing she couldn't withhold tears and she thanked us and you could just see her countenance being lit up by the spirit. It was such a tender moment. Good looking out for your children, Heavenly Father! It definitely was not a coincidence that we went to the hospital that day. 

Well we've had a lot of other adventures this week and our ultimate hope is to just continue to be an instrument for the Lord. I hope each of you will do the same. Do something good for someone this week. Serve them, and you'll forget about your own worries and struggles. Serve someone out of charity and not only will you uplift them, but you will uplift yourself. Just do it!

Love,
Elder Payne!
 

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Roller Coaster

So the work has proven to be a roller coaster, especially in this area! We were all pumped about hitting standards last week and then this week we coasted back off haha. Consistency is always a struggle! We still have only met with Lindsey twice in the last four or five weeks. She's super busy with cheer and everything. Then the Alo family we picked up last week hasn't been able to meet with us due to illness and other things getting in the way. Darn! But despite all the set backs, it's just such a privilege to truly testify of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sometimes it's easy to say a rote testimony, but when you share a heartfelt powerful one, that's what brings the spirit. That's what we did in our lesson with Carlyn last night. He had a concern about knowing which prophet is the true and living prophet of God. (He has a polygamist background, so he grew up with Warren Jeffs as the "prophet"). We shared Moroni 7:5,16 and bore pure testimony of the simplicity of knowing if this is true (Thomas S. Monson, the book of mormon, the church, etc). After the lesson we asked if he had any questions. He pondered for a few seconds and looked up at us and said, "No.....I guess it's just up to me now." I love it. The Spirit taught him and answered his question! He knows exactly what he needs to do, and it's up to him to do it. It's just so awesome in moments like that when you realize you're truly fulfilling your purpose. We did our part!

Slim is still solid for the 22nd of this month. We taught him the Law of Chastity on Saturday haha. No problems, thank goodness. He's a good kid. Shane is on the lowest level of the e-cigarette, and he's been off the real stuff for several days now. We're still planning on the 29th to make sure he's clean. We're hoping we can still baptize Lindsey on the 29th as well. We should be able to crack down on the lessons after she gets back from cheer nationals on the 15th. Wish us luck!

In other news, I finally killed Elder Ramirez! Yep, you better believe it. He came down and stayed with us for his last night in the mission. He's been up in Ephraim this whole time, since the first bit of October. So yeah, he stayed with us for the night and we chatted it up and relived all of our adventures we had together. It was quite the honor to spend some time with the companion I served over 25% of my mission with. 7 and 1/2 months! Crazy. The next day we just ran him around town and to the mission home and mission office and all over. Then we dropped him off at the temple, and that was it! He's back home now.....just crazy to think of that! Unbelievable. 

Well, time to go!
Love,
Elder Payne!



We Finally Hit Standards!

Wow!!! Gosh how exciting! All the pics are awesome and it looks like everything turned out well! I wish I could have been there! If worst comes to worst you can just reenact the whole thing for me when I get home haha. Dang qp that suit is fresh! haha everything looks beautiful. I'm glad everyone made it including the rain how nice of it. It looks like I made it to everything too so that's cool! hahaha yeah since I meet new people constantly every day, I'm always telling them about my family, which means lately I've been telling everyone about the wedding! So yeah there's people that you don't even know that are happy for you guys and wish you the best. They always ask me if I know Julie haha and I just tell them I met her on skype. Pretty crazy and it's weird to think both of my brothers are married now. Life just keeps moving along! I just hope it's all not a big joke and you guys are tricking me haha. Congrats and I'm soo happy for you guys.

We had a really good week this week. We finally hit standards of excellence. They lowered them a few months ago so that they were more achievable. The standard is 20 lessons taught and 3 on date for baptism and 4 NM/LA at sacrament meeting and 2 new investigators. This is on a weekly basis. Well we managed to hit it on the head! The Lord helped us to teach 20 lessons and find 5 new investigators to teach this week. We had a total of 10 NM/LA at church and last night right before we sent in our numbers at about 9:20pm our investigator Shane finally called us back. He's still struggling with smoking but he's willing to shoot for March 29th for baptism! And we got a text earlier in the evening from one of our RS presidents who is the fellowshipper for Lindsey. She said that Lindsey and her friend were waiting for us at her house for a lesson! So we rushed over and shared a quick scripture and recommitted her for the 29th of March as well. We hate pushing dates back but we don't have a choice at this point. It's just been crazy because we've only met with Lindsey twice in the past 4 weeks! AAHH! haha but other than that, we still have Slim on date for the 22nd and he's solid. So yeah, we hit standards! E Lewis was super pumped last night! haha he hasn't seen a baptism since he's been here, and he got into this area back in October. This area's been pretty dry for about 6 months or so. We kind of have the reverse problem that most missionaries face....our area has soooo many active members in it! "Can you just not come to church for a while?" haha but yeah things are improving!

Something that we're trying to improve on specifically is our style of teaching altogether. We had another MLC this week (Mission Leadership Counsel). Brother Hemmingway and Randal from the missionary department were there and spent a majority of the time teaching us how to teach. He said in our mission we've focused too much on splitting up our lessons. In other words, normally it takes us three or four visits to complete a lesson in PMG. But they showed us a way to teach all of the lesson in one short and powerful visit, which is what I've always wanted to do on my mission! The secret is using the pamphlets we hand out to people. When the angel appeared to Nephi and taught him, he used a basic template for his teaching. It was "Look!" "What Beholdest thou?" "Knowest thou....?" and then he taught him the doctrine. The pamphlets are set up to do the same thing. So we're almost going retro style, almost back to flip charts haha. We use the pictures in the pamphlet and use the same template. It's simple, basic, and powerful. That's how the missionary department wants us to teach, and president said that's what he wants us to do now. It's hard! haha we have this style of teaching we're sooo used to, and this is very different. It's like learning how to fix a chevy truck engine for 21 months and then learning how to fix a dodge engine for your last 3. (or vice versa, whichever you like better haha). They both are meant to do the same thing!

Anyway, we've taken this new style of teaching and we're routing it into our brains asap. We picked up all 5 new investigators using this style...a family of four named the Alo's (Polynesians from Hawaii!) and a former FLDS young man named Carlyn. We invited all of them to be baptized, and most of them accepted! The Alo's mentioned that in their 12 years of living here, no missionary has ever taken them that far in the lessons. The lesson was only 20 min long and we had already invited them to be baptized and to pray to know if our message is true. It was killer! The mom says she has some questions and believes she's already been baptized, so we're going to answer her q's tonight! Perfect opportunity to come back! But yeah, the pamphlet thing is really working well for us, and we're practicing on everyone so we can get good at it haha, including active members and bishops and you name it. We're teaching everyone! It's great. 

But yeah, that's about where we're at right now. We got transfer calls last night and we're both staying here in Little Valley. There will be a few changes going on in our zone, some that are definitely needed and some that are unexpected. Either way, this next transfer is going to be a good one. As a zone, we had 9 confirmations this past weekend!! Our goal for the month is 18! so we're already half way there and it's only the 3rd! Things are looking good for the St. George east zone!

We had 2 eight year old baptisms that we participated in on Saturday....and they were both at the same time haha typical. I was asked to speak on baptism at Carter's, who was the one mom got a pic of in the text from Sis Matthews. When I was in Little Valley last year, E Betham and I baptized Carter's older brother Kason. Now it's Carter's turn! haha good kids, I'll definitely have whoever comes and gets me meet them after my mission. Anyway, his baptism went well and I kinda got caught bouncing between Carter's and the other one, Kaylee's. Turns out I was supposed to be a witness for Kaylee's and stand in the confirmation for Carter, but they were literally at the exact same time, so I had to choose one or the other. So I rushed down the hall to try and make it to Carters conf but seriously was like 5 seconds too late. By the end of it I rushed back to Kaylee's and her ordinance was already done haha. Oops! But at least I got to stand in on her conf. It all turned out really well. 

Well that's about it for this week! Lots of adventures yet to come! Soo many things to keep track of but the Lord is being super good to me and E Lewis. We'll keep on keepin on! Git r done! Work hard and have fun! Love you guys keep being happy and stand strong! Take care family!!

Love,
Elder Payne!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Happy 0th Anniversar​y!!! Wooo Q and J!!! Wish I could be there!

Well we've put in some good effort this week and didn't teach as much as we would have liked to. Things with Slim are going pretty well. He's so chill, and if he didn't keep his commitments so faithfully I would think that he's just passively taking the lessons for who knows why. After our first lesson when we were leaving all he said was "stay sweet" so that's what we tell him now every time we see him. He's scheduled to be baptized on March 22, in about a month. He's solid. We're currently teaching him about the Plan of Salvation, and everything's going well. Shane and Lindsey are both being turkey's right now. Shane hasn't responded to our texts or calls for a few days now, and he's supposed to be baptized and done with smoking this weekend. Ugh. We'll see. haha good guy though. He got his job back which is a blessing because it's work and money but a curse because it's a roofing business and lots of his co workers smoke. Hopefully he hasn't been giving in! We finally scheduled another appointment with Lindsey for tonight. That means in 3 1/2 weeks we'll have met with her twice. That's awful! haha but it's okay, we'll just have to move her baptism back a couple weeks now.

We have some potential investigators starting to commit to lessons, so that's good. A poly family of four from Hawaii, a nice Catholic lady from Wisconsin, a newly retired couple from California, and a few others. Hopefully we can start teaching them this week!

We went on exchanges this week with the assistants. I went with Elder Nye and stayed here in Little valley. It was awesome! Elder Nye is the type of missionary that's the definition of quiet dignity, and he's kind and patient and composed. He's super athletic too...played ultimate frisbee in high school and is a baller too. He's a solid missionary. It was just cool to serve with him because we have similar personalities and being as used to missionary work as we are, we were able to learn a lot from each other in just 24 hours. After explaining to him what facetiousness is and what an ambivert is, we decided we both need to work on those two things, as well as some other characteristics. It's nice to serve with the best of the best in the mission!

Well I'm super excited for Quentin and Julie! Holy smokes you guys are getting married! It still hasn't hit me yet. It probably won't until I'm home. Either way, just know that I love you guys and I support and sustain you all the way! What a tremendous blessing it is to partake of the ordinances of eternal salvation, especially the most exalted of all of them. We had a less active couple get married by one of our bishops not too long ago. We were going to go, but we didn't have time. It's amazing to know that through the priesthood, the blessings of eternal companionship and families can and will be realized. Do everything in your power to continue to thwart Satan's attacks. Start now to establish your relationship and future family on the rock of your redeemer, who is Christ. If you do so, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you! That's a promise from the Lord (DC 33). Oh and remember, happy wife, happy life. You guys got this! Q+J 4 eva! I'm a fan for life!

When you see that big cheesy smile from my card board buddy this weekend, just remember that in reality, I probably have that exact same cheesy but genuine smile on, trying to help someone else come to know what I know, and what you know, which is that this gospel is true! And that families can be together forever, if we put in our effort.

Well, I love you guys!
Elder Payne!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Time Flies When You're Having Fun!

Oh my gosh this week fllleeewww by so fast! Every day just keeps zipping by! We've been super busy this week, and last week I think I mentioned the difference between just being busy and being effective and productive. Well, we're super good at the former, and the latter is picking up momentum as well.

So first of all, we did exchanges with two companionships this week. On Tuesday morning after studies we drove out to Hurricane and ate lunch with E Hendershott and Blauer. Then I took E Blauer back to Little Valley for the day! He's a pretty awesome missionary. We only had two appointments that day, but they both went pretty well. The rest of the time we were contacting potential families and key contacts for those potentials. Elder Blauer is really good at opening his mouth...he's not afraid to share his thoughts and his purpose with everyone! He reminds me a lot of Elder Linville (shout out) so it was awesome to serve with him for the day. He has a natural talent too...he can sight read music and play it on the piano. Jealous! 

Then the next day we exchanged back (exchanges are for 24 hours) and I told Elder Lewis everything that happened and showed him our plans for the day, then we exchanged with the other DL companionship in Hurricane, E Holmstead and Anduro, about an hour later. E Lewis took E Anduro to Little Valley, and I stayed in Hurricane with Elder Holmstead! My very first companion! We kept telling everyone how awesome it was to be each others' very first comp the minute we arrived at the MTC. Good times. Needless to say, we had a great day in Hurricane. In fact, we found a potential investigator at home and stopped by. Well he let us in and we taught him the message of the Restoration and put him on date for baptism next month! It was awesome haha and it was just cool to see how natural it was for us two to teach together. We've both come a long way since those first few very timid lessons in the MTC!

Then of course there's our own area. Elder Lewis and I got a little behind on our goals this week because of exchanges and some other things. So on Saturday we decided to put three of our investigators on date for baptism, no questions asked. Gosh I wish I would have done that for the past 20 months of my mission. We just geared the lesson plans based on the baptismal invitation and wherever the respective investigator was at in the lessons. 

We're teaching a 16 year old named Slim. cool name huh? He's awesome. He doesn't even live in our area haha but we were asked by the sister missionaries who cover him to go ahead and teach him. Okay! So on Sat was our third lesson with him and we watched the Joseph Smith dvd with him. He's pretty reserved and doesn't say too much, but he's opening up a lot more now. He's a stud! haha he's super athletic and kinda reminds me of Eric/Brennin Angel. He wants to be baptized! I invited him to be baptized on March 15!! We saw him yesterday at Zion's and he said he'll have to move it back a week for his family to all be there. But he's committed! 

Later on we started up the Plan of Salvation with a 15 year old girl named Lindsey. She's like the same as Slim...very quiet but proactive. She's probably the quietest cheerleader I've ever met. But same thing...she's opening up a lot more and she committed to be baptized on the 8th of March!! Her mom is atheist and her dad is super inactive, but Lindsey's fellowshipper Jerri Jorgensen (who is awesome by the way!) asked Lindsey's mom a while back if she wanted her to be baptized. You know what Lindsey's mom said? "I've always pictured Lindsey marrying a mormon boy!" boom, we're in...and we're capitalizing let me tell you! 

And we didn't stop there. On Saturday night we met with Shane. Have I told you guys about him? 26 years old and he's been taught everything and wants to be baptized for the right reasons. He's just trying to quite smoking. We've been helping him and encouraging him and setting plans with him. He's gone from 12-14 cigarettes a day to.....drum rolll......none!!! Well kind of! haha yesterday he switched from 2 puffs of a normal cigarette to about 5 with an electronic one. Hmm, well, we'll take that as improvement. We committed him to March 1st. He has to quit smoking for at least a week solid to be baptized. He's so close!

On Sunday night a couple wards put on a youth fireside at one of our chapels. The entire middle rows were packed with kids and there leaders/parents. The bishop asked Pres/Sis Center to speak to them, and the night before President called us up about it and asked us to speak 10 mins on bofm and the other 10 mins on pmg. We literally flipped a coin haha. I took PMG. The fireside itself went really well! All four of us spoke respectively and trained all these future missionaries on what to expect and how to prepare successfully. Some of the kids were taking some serious notes! It was awesome. It was just one of those moments where you can say as a missionary without hypocrisy that you're doing what you need to be doing and you're truly being a light on a hill that cannot be hid. It was humbling and reassuring for sure. Plus one kid came up to us right before the meeting started just to tell us how good our brownies were haha. We made some earlier this week and gave them to some bishops. He must have been right on cue, because Pres/Sis Center were right next to us and they're the ones that told us to do that in the first place haha. Brownie points! 

So we came across a part member family and the dad is from Safford, AZ! Woah! Brother porter is his name, and there's a few porters in st. george that I've met that are from safford. Anyway, his dad is Dorren van porter if that rings a bell (probably to dad or grandma). His uncle is Rick Haller and his first cousin is Eric Haller, who was like the best 8th grade Social Studies teacher and track coach ever! haha weird connections.... Also we ate dinner with an older couple this week. The wife is from La Paz Bolivia, so we got to talk about the country and culture a little bit. I always get super excited when I meet someone who has been to Peru or Bolivia, especially if they're natives from there! "Ohh! my brother served there!" haha

So yeah yesterday we went to Zion's National Park. President's day is a free day there! We got permission from President to go early and do a couple hikes there. Suuuper awesome! One of the coolest guys in our area Bro Stout took us. Just the three of us! It was incredible. That man is full of wisdom, but he's super crazy haha. I learned a lot with him yesterday, and I wrote it all down in my journal. Anyway, there was a ton of people there for the holiday. On our way down from one of the hikes, we passed a big group of missionaries going up haha. It was the place to be! I think we heard "Elders?! great p-day activity isn't it!" like at least 500 times haha. The recognition of us missionaries in Utah is ridiculous haha. We had a great day.

So Julie is going through the temple for her endowments? Well if I had more time I would throw in some great advice. But in short, just enjoy the ride. Your first experience can either be a fire hose to your face, or it can be a nice little sip at the drinking fountain. My first experience I tried to take a sip of the fire hose and well that doesn't work too well. haha so fast and pray before hand, read through the temple prep pamphlet and ponder over your patriarchal blessing, then just take it easy the first time. Keith always taught me to take short choppy steps when trying to push a big vehicle, so go often and get a little bit here and there.

Oh and I got a little valentines package from the Goodmans! Can you let them know for me? Tell them thanks!

Time to go work!
Love,
Elder Payne!


 

Ministerin​g vs. Administer​ing

Well let's start off with a scripture this week. I read it this morning and liked it! D&C 97:8 is the one. Sometimes, at least for me, I get wrapped up in all the expectations and responsibilities I have. I don't necessarily get stressed out or anything but sometimes we just need to take a deep breath and relax and realize we're trying to do what's right. And if we're honest and moldable and willing and obedient, then the Lord will look at us and regardless of whether we're struggling or doing okay, he'll be pleased with us.

Well it's been a pretty crazy week! We had MLC which is our mission leadership counsel meeting for zone leaders, sister training leaders, assistants, and Pres/Sis Center. Super good meeting! It's just nice to know you're among some of the best missionaries in that meeting, coming together and talking about the same thing, which is our purpose and how we can carry out the focus of President Center to the rest of the mission. We learned a lot of things in the 5 hour meeting, but most of it was exclusive to our own leadership assignments. The idea behind the meeting is to take notes and use what we learn to form an outline for our zone meeting a couple days later. So we prepared a training on the importance of goals, planning and preparation, and we assigned the STL's in our zone to give a training on revelation through the Book of Mormon. 

The only problem was that we got caught up in our own area the night before our zone meeting. We were teaching our closest investigator to baptism, Shane, about the Plan of Salvation and things went into overtime, plus we gave him a blessing to help him quit smoking. So by the time we got home it was like 9:45pm haha and then we had to plan the next day as well as prepare for our training the next morning. We went to bed at like 11 and woke up and got ready and started up our zone meeting at 9 am. It turned out pretty good! We were kind of all over the place, but the spirit was there guiding us and that's the main thing. It was nice to just finally meet all the missionaries in the zone...our zone goes out to Kanab and Kaibab! Anyway, President and Sister Center were there as well just for fun or something beats me. But it just goes to show if you have an extra 10 minutes to burn, just ask President an inspired question about how we can be better missionaries and he'll fill up the time! haha but the sisters gave a great training as well and the whole meeting itself was a success in our opinion. It's just been tricky to find the balance between ministering and administering between our own area and all the missionaries we cover. We're getting a hang of it though!

I got to go on exchanges with Elder Pukahi from Hawaii after zone meeting. Such a big teddy bear! One of my favorite elders! He's working in the Pineview Spanish area, so I got to speak some spanish! que bueno. We had 0 appointments though and like only 4 people answered there doors all day, so not a whole lot happened. But we did get to go into Buena Vista 2 for a little bit! Gosh I miss that area! We contacted a couple spanish families that I had run into while I was there last year. I'm honestly more trunky to go back there than I am to go back home. But oh well! Elder Pukahi has been out for 6 months and half of his mission has been in English, so his spanish is about as good as mine haha. We made it a fun day though.

Yesterday we decided to go to the Crimson Cliffs ward to get more involved and maybe meet a potential part-member family. Well, turns out the ward was doing part of their "Mission Impossible" program going on, which is the ward's little exclusive missionary effort for the youth. Part of it was that the youth needed to prepare talks in advance because as a missionary you never know when you're going to get called on to speak or teach a lesson. So the bishopric called up like 7 random youth to speak, and they had a musical number by the young women, and even after all that, there was still 20 minutes left of sacrament haha. So the bishopric pulled one on Elder Lewis. Haha the counselor re-emphasized the fact that as a missionary, you never know when they'll ask you to speak... "...so we'd like to ask Elder Lewis...if he could give us a few remarks..." hahah I was laughing at him! I was thinking the whole time that we'd probably get asked to go up, and so I was thinking of scriptures and experiences. But they only asked him to go up! haha shoot. He did a good job and shared a couple great thoughts. Lesson learned though, and the bishopric definitely got the point across!

Other than that, we've eaten a lot of Mexican food this week. I think the families we've eaten with have all conspired because we've gotten tacos, tacos, fajitas, and tacos respectively this week. Go figure!

Well, gotta run!
Love,
Elder Payne!

 

We're Busy But Not at the Same Time!

Well so first of all I just realized that last week I got an email from someone named Julie, so I figured it was like Julie julie, as in quentin's beloved new bride (almost). But it wasn't haha. It was someone from my last area in Ephraim. Woops! Well, either way, hi julie! haha I was excited to see the cardboard cut out...gosh I look handsome! My new new year's resolution is to get as fit as george bush. Looking good! Hope everything with the rest of the family is going good!

I'm trying to remember what happened this past week haha...Elder Lewis got sick yesterday and died and so I'm getting a new comp today sometime. just kidding but for real, he got a pretty nasty bug right after we finished teaching the young women. The class went pretty well! We introduced the plan of salvation to them and got some group participation and watched a couple mormon messages. They were "Men's Hearts shall fail them" and "Mountains to climb." Super good! Anyway, after that Elder Lewis got nailed with something. The assistant's and I gave him a blessing last night and he's doing much better today though so that's good. Got plenty of rest! 

Well we're busy pretty much all the time, doing one thing or another. Running errands, proselyting, teaching. The only problem though is we are pretty short on people to teach right now! We're teaching Shane, who is on date for Feb 15 and all he needs to do is quit smoking. Then there's Krista who is 14 years old and has a little baby boy named James. yeah! She's a good girl, but she's sooo young to be in her situation and she seems very oblivious and distracted all the time. She's willing to meet but her desire isn't really there. And we're teaching a couple others, including Lindsey who is 15 and is a cheer leader but she's super quiet which doesn't make sense to me but I'll roll with that. She accepted to be baptized but we haven't set a specific date yet.

Other than that we met a potential new move in. We knocked on the door to say hi and the husband answered. Very friendly and courteous, but on a conference call. So we left and then the wife Debbie came running out after us. She said she wanted to thank us for our generosity and willingness to help. They need our help to move a couple AC units this week. Both non members from California. Debbie invited us in for some hot chocolate. She says that she loves the neighborhood here and the people are super nice and welcoming vs. California. Turns out Debbie used to be a big sports contract signer and is on a first name basis with people such as Kobe Bryant, Britney Spears, Shaq, and John Elway. What!! Yeah she used to go to like every super bowl and every world series and was tight with a ton of big time athletes (except britney spears, not sure where that came from haha). Pretty crazy!! But Debbie is super humble and has a ton of Christlike attributes. She was in some sort of terrible accident a while back and had to get her back reconstructed and this and that. She's moved here to utah with her husband, and they don't really have a reason for doing so. We didn't even talk religion before we had to bounce to another appointment. We'll be going back for sure.

We had an interview with President and Sis Center this week, for an hour and a half haha. They showed up to our apartment and just talked about our area and our zone and so forth. We swapped ideas and suggestions and feedback the whole time. It was awesome!! It's so nice to be able to work with the two of them in person like that instead of sending a vague message every week. They are super great people and super great leaders! President Center is really starting to get a hold of this mission now. Sis Center is just as amazing as always. She's a fireball! They both lovingly commanded us to make some cookies to give to our bishops haha so we attempted that the next day. Turns out our "sugar cookie" mix was actually shortbread mix. Woops! Maybe next time!

Well I love you guys!
Elder Payne!

 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Back in Little Valley!

Well shoot it's been an interesting week with transfers and everything! I got to say bye to pretty much everyone in Ephraim and the transfer went pretty smooth, it just took a long time with all the stops and everything. We got into St. George around 6:30 pm on Tuesday. We've been keeping pretty busy since then! It's been pretty cool to see a few of the families I served with here about a year ago with Elder Betham! One big blessing was yesterday we went to a ward where one of my recent converts spoke! His name is Shelton Hughes, and I taught him in Dixie YSA with Elder Gomez back in October 2012. We baptized him and got transferred and I haven't heard much about him since. Well turns out he gave his "farewell" talk yesterday at church! He's a really good kid and he was super nervous, but he did a good job. He's got a lot of similarities to Jared Hatch, so it was good to hear that he spoke yesterday too! Good luck to him when he hits the mission field. That'll be interesting when Elder Goodman will be one of the first ones to welcome into the mission haha. Anyway, back to Shelton. It's just a huge blessing to see someone I helped baptize make a decision to serve a mission. The people he will help and touch the lives of...it's incredible. Such a good feeling to see the fruits of my own personal testimony taking a chain reaction like that. He'll be a great missionary!!

This area is exploding with members and families moving in, and they've split the area into two different stakes and a couple more wards since last year. At this point I've been able to meet pretty much all of our investigators, which has been good. The area has been really tough because of how active the people are. There is work though, and we're going to find it! Elder Lewis is pretty cool! He's honestly like a combination of my first few companions. He likes to have fun and has a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the gospel, but he's also humble and pretty patient as well. He's been out for like 11 months and he's a solid missionary. He knows his purpose and definitely has his head screwed on straight. We get along pretty well! He's basically from Sacramento, California and did all kinds of dirt biking, wake surfing, cycling...you name it. He was always out doors doing something fun. But at the same time he definitely prepared well for his mission and he works hard every day!

Being a zone leader is so far pretty much the same thing as being DL, only with a few extra missionaries to shepherd and a little extra authority. Plus we get to see and interact with Pres/Sis Center a whole lot more, which is awesome. It's honestly just a lot more administrative responsibilities (like sending in a ton of numbers every Sunday night and preparing for meetings and making sure missionaries are doing what they're supposed to), but there's good teaching moments that come from it. It's definitely a good opportunity! It's just weird because I've spent the past 11 months of my mission kind of isolated from all the new missionaries coming in, so now in St. George and in our zone I don't really know anyone anymore haha but I'll be getting to know them pretty quick. We have a number of sister missionaries in our zone, and if there's one thing that I've learned and that everyone tells me is just to make sure the sisters are happy. And they are! Which is good. We cover the St. George East zone, which includes a couple areas in St. George, Washington, Hurricane, Kanab, and Kaibab. There's 12 areas (companionships) in our zone and 3 districts. Our own personal area is in the southeastern corner of St. George. Pretty much everything east of River Rd and south of 1450 S. in St. George. Our area touches Arizona, which is weird. We haven't rode bikes yet, and we probably won't very much at all because of how all-over-the-place we are. We'll be getting short on miles the next couple days, so we might break out the bikes soon. We'll see! I miss riding my bike haha.

I've definitely been taking an Alma 26:12 attitude the past week. I've been out long enough to be comfortable with all the new responsibilities. I know what to expect. But at the same time I don't haha so I'm expecting the unexpected. And in the ZL position there's definitely a lot more expectations to perform to the key. But I've been prepared for this and the Lord wouldn't have entrusted me with this assignment if he knew I absolutely couldn't do it. I can do it! And I will do it, because I signed up to give him 24 months. Such a mere sacrifice compared to an apostle or Jesus Christ himself. I read a really super good talk by Elder Holland this week, and in it he mentioned that what God needs is people who will give their lives for His work. Not in the sense that they will die for the gospel, but that they will live for it, that they will give all they have and consecrate their lives to the cause. That's what God needs. It's part of my character to be obedient, which is a spiritual gift. Exact obedience is always a challenge, and standing up for obedience instead of following a disobedient decision of your companion has proven to be tough as well. But thankfully, Elder Lewis and I both have that desire to be obedient, and that is exactly what I need these last few months of my mission! We're going to lose ourselves in this work!

I've been telling everyone that I've been out for "a little over a year." haha It makes it seem like I have more time to make a difference, which makes me want to work harder.

The engagement pictures are sooo awesome haha. Love it! QP, me and you will get fat together. Thanks for the shout Julie! haha life is good, and it's too short to be pessimistic. Enjoy the optimism! Hope all works out as best as it can with Tyson. Dad kinda mentioned before I left that that might happen. Hopefully he can have the courage to embrace the gospel because of it. I love you guys! Until next week!

Love,
Elder Payne!