Elder Zachary Payne

Elder Zachary Payne

Monday, April 28, 2014

Challenges and Blessings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elder Payne!


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Lots of Work to be Done!

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

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

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

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

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

More adventures to come soon!
Elder Payne!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I'm Off to Red Cliffs!

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

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

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

Elder Payne!


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!

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!
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!