Monday, December 28, 2015

Selwin Has a White Boxing Day

Brother Steven and Sister Christina Cameron
This is going to be really short. The rain fell the whole week including on Christmas Day which I didn't mind because it was 80+ degrees outside.  Oh yeah, my type of weather.

We mostly just visited a lot of less actives this week and tried to spread the Christmas spirit with them. I got my companion Elder Stokes to sing a few songs with me despite my voice being out because of the cold, but he was chill with it. I think he wanted to kill me later, but it's all good. Yep, awesome companionship unity.  A few of the members in the ward even bought us a few gifts which was really nice of them. It was awesome being able to talk to you awesome people including my bro, sadly though calling home to Guyana didn't work out, but it's alright. I love this awesome time of year when we remember the birth of the Savior and to really remember why He was born. I just love the Savior and I love the opportunity we have each day to be more like Him, to take on His attributes and strive to be able to live with Him one day.

Our real Christmas tree.
During my studies this week I came across the Savior’s visit to the people here in the Americas.  It was just fascinating to read about how much it meant for these people to have a personal testimony of the Savior. It reminded me of how each and every single day we are all trying to come to know our Savior even better and how with open arms He is saying 'come and learn of Me'.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. Our Christmas was good but our Boxing Day (for you who know what that is) was even better. We got to see a family enter the waters of baptism together and it was just amazing because of how important this step was for them.  From here it gets even better. It was a reminder to me of when me and my brother (Simeon) got baptized!!!.  Have an awesome New Year and remember to make becoming like the Savior part of your goals for this upcoming year.

Simeon's Christmas 2015

The Daniels family baptized on December 19
So this was the week of Christmas. It was quite normal on my end and I am grateful about that! The week started off with us going to Zone Conference and learning new things before having a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner with the senior couples in the ward.  It was pretty nice because they consider us family and we think the same of them.  On Christmas day I shot out of bed and was off to the little Christmas tree to see what good old saint nick had left me! Instead what I found was even better … a picture of my Savior being a light to the world and a light for me to follow. It was not what I expected but exactly what I needed. I thank those who took time out to send a package my way and my brothers and it is wonderful to know our family all the way in Bloomington has got our backs.

We did not have anyone to see and so we just stayed in the apartment as the previous night before we had gone caroling to the max at those we were teaching and also members home and it was awesome!!! I still do not have a good singing voice so bro you got this one but during our last song for a member we all gave it our best and it sounded great. I was able to talk with a few people later in the evening and some even blamed us for making it snow.  Now I would understand if that was 2 years ago but we are innocent of any further accusations.

We got back to work the very next day and though I still had Boxing Day in my head we went out. It was a great day.  A lot of people talked with us which is always good, so we have a few people to go back and see. The Lord's work goes forth indeed and that is always a great thing.

This week as I was studying the Scriptures I came across this in Alma 26: 26-37 ...

26 But behold, my beloved brethren, we came into the wilderness not with the intent to destroy our brethren, but with the intent that perhaps we might save some few of their souls.
 27 Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.
 28 And now behold, we have come, and been forth amongst them; and we have been patient in our sufferings, and we have suffered every privation; yea, we have traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world—not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies of God.
 29 And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their synagogues and taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been stoned, and taken and bound with strong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again.
 30 And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.
 31 Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many; yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us.
 32 For behold, they had rather sacrifice their lives than even to take the life of their enemy; and they have buried their weapons of war deep in the earth, because of their love towards their brethren.
 33 And now behold I say unto you, has there been so great love in all the land? Behold, I say unto you, Nay, there has not, even among the Nephites.
 34 For behold, they would take up arms against their brethren; they would not suffer themselves to be slain. But behold how many of these have laid down their lives; and we know that they have gone to their God, because of their love and of their hatred to sin.
 35 Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.
 36 Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land.
 37 Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.

A little long I know but right to the point which is that we should rejoice in the trials and success we receive.  Though we may not exhaust our strength in doing so still rejoice for you have overcome a trial or helped someone to or someone has been brought back into the fold or even baptized into the fold.  In this we should be happy for this is why the Savior was born and this is why he died and he did all for everyone of us. May we ever rejoice and be glad at the blessings we do receive for who knows it may help bring some soul closer to our Savior Jesus Christ and who knows maybe even our own.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Selwin Celebrates Christmas in - and with - the Cold

Packages and more packages at the door!
So this week was the second straight week where things have just been weird. One member told us it's probably because everyone has their  heads in the clouds to which I responded, "nope, I don't think so. I think it's in the stores right now.”

Anyhow the week was still good.  We visited a lot of less actives and even went out caroling with a few members but with the cold I got singing 'Silent Night,” trying to hit the high notes was just a no, no. But the members we visited still loved it, so that was a good thing. I also had interviews this week with my mission president and at the end of our visit I said, 'President, I will do all I can to get the work done despite me not feeling well.”  He then reminded me of the words of King Benjamin and said, “Elder, it is not requisite to run faster than you have strength.”  Good advice from a wise man. Yesterday we had our ward Christmas program and it was awesome, despite the occasional cough coming from me in the congregation. 

Me and my boys on P-day
Can't believe it's Christmas already, but it's that time of year again where we celebrate the birth of the Savior and really remember why He was born. And that is so salvation could come to all mankind. I really love the story of His birth as described in the Luke 2:6-21.

I can't help but ponder in my mind how we all were singing when the Savior was born because we knew what it meant. We knew the plan created by our Father in Heaven was going to be fulfilled. We knew salvation came because He was born. “He is the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in Him though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in Him shall never die.” 

Simeon Has a New Companion, a New Ward and a New (Clean) Apartment

Me with Elder Keller
Well, here I am again, and phew, it has been an interesting last few days! I got transferred to the Atlanta Ward which means out of the 6 English speaking wards here in Atlanta I will have served in 4 of them.  It seems  someone besides the Lord must need me here and I will find out who.  I am in the exact same building where they filmed "Meet The Mormons" with then-Bishop Sullivan who is now the Stake President.  Good times and I already know quite a few members there already so that is a plus. 

My new companion is Elder Keller from Preston, Idaho.  Yep, the Lord sure picks my companions well but he is an awesome young man and a state champ at wrestling (in his weight class). I also said see you later to Elder Stewart from G-town and he was super excited to be going home.  We have adjusted well since we got into our apartment last Wednesday because it was a disaster in there.  Cleaning it out was tough.  There was more garbage in that apartment than in Davy Jones locker and it was sad to see but hey it looks wonderful now!  

We found this week a super awesome gentleman by the name of Ricky who had a true concern about what makes us as members of the church different from everyone else. I proceeded to explain and did so with smoke in the air as his wife forgot the burger patties in the oven, but no smoke could have stopped the Holy Spirit from being there and that made it even more awesome. We also met a part-member family who speaks Spanish and English.  They have two teenagers who really want to do what is right. As they were giving us food (and if you do not know our wonderful Spanish members just love to feed us) the daughter said, to this question we asked, "what do you want for Christmas?"  She replied, "I already got my Christmas present ... You Two!"  Now that was special and awesome and we all felt the warmth of the Spirit when she said that.  We look forward to seeing them move forward toward being sealed in the Temple of he Lord forever in a year. 

This week as I was studying I came across Alma 17:9-11 that made me realize how blessed we are as missionaries and members to have the Restored Gospel.  It says:

Me outside of the Army reservation.  Phew, talk about protection.
 And it came to pass that they journeyed many days in the wilderness, and they fasted much and prayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of his Spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God to bring, if it were possible, their brethren, the Lamanites, to the knowledge of the truth, to the knowledge of the baseness of thetraditions of their fathers, which were not correct.
 10 And it came to pass that the Lord did visit them with his Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted. And they were comforted.
 11 And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.

Tho the Journey was tough for these men, they trusted in the Lord and he did comfort them and promise them that despite the trials they may go through or persecutions they may face as they keep doing all that the Lord has and will ask of them, he will make them examples to the unbelievers.  It made me think of all of us as we try our best to do what we have been asked by God through his Prophet to do that as we do so we are being examples to others and will bless and change their lives and even bring many souls unto Salvation. I pray that we may never forget that the little things we do to always follow our Savior and Heavenly Father does not go unnoticed even if we never see immediate results.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Elder Selwin Has A "Good Teaching Week"

Modeling our Christmas ties!
Well, first of all, thanks for all the birthday wishes. You people are awesome. The day was spent working as hard as we could just like any other day. This week both myself and my companion Elder Stokes felt drained and neither of us could figure out why but we kept going because that's just how we do it!!!.

This week was a good teaching week even though we didn't find any new individuals to teach, but a lot of our visits were to people who had told us to come back, so that was awesome. We also got a visit from Elder Kopischke of the Seventy. It was just awesome. One whole day of interacting with this amazing servant of the Lord was incredible. He focused a lot on the cycle of 'Faith' and how we need to do all we can do, then let the Lord do the rest. But he stressed the importance of helping those we meet know the Lord really and truly does love them. He also advised us to invite everyone we are teaching to do an experiment.  Oh boy, that word “experiment” makes people really want to do what we ask of them in finding out for themselves whether or not the gospel is true.

Awesome horse
During studies this week my attention was drawn to how the Savior dealt with the opposition he faced and more so, how those He had healed testified of Him. One great example of this was the man who was blind from birth and was healed by the Savior. He first testified saying it was 'a man by the name of Jesus.’ He then went on to call the Savior a 'Prophet' and finally he accepted him as the 'Son of God' of this Elder Bruce R. McConkie said:

"Conversion is a process that seldom occurs in an instant suddenly. Gospel grace dawns gradually upon most believers".

But my favorite were the following verses taken from John 9:35-39 which read:
35 Jesus heard they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?

 36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?

 37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.

 38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

 39 ¶And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind."

This really made me think of the foundation on which the man had built, which was the Lord Jesus Christ and though the pharisees tried to discredit what he was saying he held firm because he knew his foundation was secure and would not fail him. The Savior promises that if men build upon a sure foundation which is He, Himself they will withstand everything that comes their way. Yes, there will be scars and bruises and, yes, the world will look at us differently but we will know of a surety that we will withstand all things because the Savior Himself is our foundation. That is the promise of the Savior to us all.

PS: Met a Trinidadian this week.

Simeon is Transferred

Me at Zone P-day.  We won the football game!
So, the news has come at last!  This morning at about 6:35 am I was told I will be leaving Decatur and whitewashing into a new area and training a new missionary again.  So, in about a week and a half I will have to get to know an entire ward and so probably no Christmas dinners as of yet.  But, hey, on the bright side, it's Christmas so I will be teaching the Gospel.

This week I had a really good birthday.  Hey, Selwin HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRO! Yeah, it slipped my mind last week until someone reminded me who had the same birthday as we do.

We had it a little tough this week as we went through the phase of letting people,  we are teaching, go.  It is tough because they have experienced the blessings of the gospel in their lives and have even gained a witness from the Holy Spirit this gospel is True.  So that is what we had to deal with this week.  I think back to what Sel said in his blog from last week about where else we can turn for salvation but to our Savior Jesus Christ.  It brought me comfort to know we must set our sights, hearts and souls on always staying with the Savior and never leaving him for where indeed shall we go?

I have learned a lot from just being here.  My companion reminds me of Sel a lot though I will say, “you are smarter, bro” but still pretty much the same.  It is incredible to see how the Lord helps you love your companions and those people you teach which is something that always impresses me.  It helps me to know how the Savior and Our Heavenly Father feel about us and how much they love us, even when we think things are not going the way they should, so I am happy to have been here to learn this lesson.

During my studies this week I came across Mosiah 28:1-4 that helped me remember what truly is at stake here for us and others in this life:

Well, you get it!
1 Now it came to pass that after the sons of Mosiah had done all these things, they took a small number with them and returned to their father, the king, and desired of him that he would grant unto them that they might, with these whom they had selected, go up to the land of Nephi that they might preach the things which they had heard, and that they might impart the word of God to their brethren, the Lamanites—
 That perhaps they might bring them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and convince them of the iniquity of their fathers; and that perhaps they might cure them of their hatred towards the Nephites, that they might also be brought to rejoice in the Lord their God, that they might become friendly to one another, and that there should be no more contentions in all the land which the Lord their God had given them.
 Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.
 And thus did the Spirit of the Lord work upon them, for they were the very vilest of sinners. And the Lord saw fit in his infinite mercy to spare them; nevertheless they suffered much anguish of soul because of their iniquities, suffering much and fearing that they should be cast off forever.

Now this is exactly how we should feel for we are all in this together.  As we focus on the things that really and truly matter we will bring Salvation not just to ourselves but to many of our brothers and sisters, as well.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Selwin in Purvis for Another Transfer

And the wise men cometh ...
So, last week was transfer week here (which I forgot to mention) but I'm staying here in Purvis in the Hidden Leaf Village as Simeon calls it.  I'm stoked and I get to stay with my companion Elder Stokes. What a combination!!!.

This week was really good despite us not being able to see any of our regular investigators who all cancelled on us. We've watched and we continue to watch as the Lord continues to open doors for us, for the last six(6) weekends me and my companion have been fasting and praying for doors to be opened and this week we saw the fruits of it come forth as two investigators, we met this week, came to church. Yes, my joy was filled.  This week we also had Christmas Nativity presentation at the stake center with tons of different nativities from around the world and performances by various individuals and by the choir, directed by the choir director from the University of Southern Mississippi.  They were just awesome.   And, no, I did not participate in it, but I did take pictures of every single nativity set there. I still can't believe it's almost Christmas already.

Then to top off the week we had the Christmas Devotional which was just amazing. All the talks hit home for me. Sister Linda K. Burton actually ended her talk by quoting a scripture in John 6 I had read that very morning, which reads:

67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life."

Sister Burton only quoted the phrase 'will ye also go away', but I really loved the response of Simon Peter. For where else can we turn for the words to ensure us eternal life?  Who else can we turn to who will teach us all things we must do to progress towards eternal life and open our understanding and create a change in us words cannot describe? Who else but the Savior of all mankind Himself even Jesus Christ, so as Simon Peter and the apostles of old, let us cling to the Savior, grasping and clinging to every word He has taught us. Knowing, as we do, our joy will be filled even to overflowing.  It is the Savior’s season so we must do all we can to emanate even more of His attributes.

Simeon on the Corner of Merry and Christmas!

On the corner of "Merry" and "Christmas"
Well, I thought I had won the fight and defeated the cold I previously had but I soon realized the war and battle had just begun.  The cold weather has returned just like how the new Star Wars movie!  I will not be slowed down by it so I will just have to get rid of it fast! This week the weather was cold again so I have to double up on clothing which I did for I am not taking any chances.

I finished up exchanges this week with the companionships in the Zone, so it will be all work now back in my own area.  I enjoyed exchanges.  While on exchanges we met a young lady named Faithful who was from Nigeria.  She invited us back so faithfully all goes well there. Everyone out here thinks we are Jehovah's Witnesses which I dislike but there is not much we can do about it.   We just say, “No, we are true representatives of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then we proceed to tell them why we are there at their doorstep. 

Me with Elder Compton
Another interesting experience happened while we were out knocking doors. We knocked on a door and all we saw was smoke and what smelled like marijuana.  A young lady peered outside and asked us if we were Jesus people to which we responded yes! She then proceeded to say, “we are doing a lot of sinning in here so now is not a good time.”  One of my companions replied, “oh, yes it is and that is why God sent us to your door!”  Let's just say, she told us to come back and hopefully when we do we won't have to walk through smoke.   

Me with Elder Esplin
As I was studying this week I came across a scripture in Mosiah 15:28-31 which reads:

 28 And now I say unto you that the time shall come that the salvation of the Lord shall be declared to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.

29 Yea, Lord, thy watchmen shall lift up their voice; with the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.

30 Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.

31 The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

As I read that it gave me great joy to know we are out here bringing this joy and the chance for Salvation to all of our brothers and sisters that they too might have great joy and rejoice with us. President Uchtdorf mentioned in last evening’s Christmas devotion we should all be generous and thank the Generous One who gives us all the gifts and blessings we need.  I pray we all do that not just this Christmas season but all seasons year round.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Selwin's Thanksgiving Week

The crew building a shed!
The week of Thanksgiving was awesome. On the day itself we ventured far and near to meet the requirements of those who wanted to have us in their presence.  It started out with a 'Turkey Bowl' where not a ball was thrown my way but that was all made up as we ate three (3) square meals that day. Oh, it was glorious!!!

The rest of the week was a good one. It seems these days I keep running into members of the pastor I had met a while back. And as usual I got the same questions and very limited responses, in fact, this lady said I blew her mind and also that I knew my scriptures really well, so I told her the eight article of faith. "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly, we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God," but just like her pastor she blocked out the part about the Book of Mormon. Then on Sunday we met a gentleman who pretty much thinks the creation was just an idea and we didn't live with God before we came here (which I expected).  He wanted us to show him proof, he also thinks God will leave us in darkness concerning the salvation of our souls. Very interesting, so he set up a dinner appointment with us to come over again this week.  That should be fun. 

How grateful I am to know the Lord my God will never keep us in the dark as to things pertaining to our eternal salvation and how He blesses us to know of these truths for ourselves as we diligently seek them. During my studies this week I came across a quote by Elder Bruce R. McConkie where he talks about true worship:

Twins ... Hayes and Lawson
"Our purpose is to worship the true and living God and to do it by the power of the Spirit and in the way he has ordained. The approved worship of the true God leads to salvation; devotions rendered to false gods and which are not founded on eternal truth carry no such assurance.

“A knowledge of the truth is essential to true worship. …

“… If [a person] worships the true and living God, in spirit and in truth, then God Almighty will pour out his Spirit upon him. …

“… True and perfect worship consists in following in the steps of the Son of God; it consists in keeping the commandments and obeying the will of the Father to that degree that we advance from grace to grace until we are glorified in Christ as he is in his Father. It is far more than prayer and sermon and song. It is living and doing and obeying. It is emulating the life of the great Exemplar".

Oh, how it is a blessing to know the Lord loves us so much He provided a way that we may know for ourselves the truths which will bless our lives and the lives of those around us.  What more do we need to testify to us of the goodness of our Father in Heaven and to show us that His love stretches far and beyond and cannot be measured for it is endless.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Simeon's Awesome ... and Sad Week

Alright, so this week was Thanksgiving.  It was an awesome, but also a sad week. First, the sad part.  We had to let many of the people we are teaching go because they choose not to follow Christ’s example and be baptized by someone who has the authority to do so. It is sad to see how the gospel blesses  lives but then they don't want to receive more, but hey, that is a missionary’s life. I don't know if I will ever get used to that part but I will keep trying.

Now for the awesome part! This week we were able to hear an investigator declare she is ready to be baptized! It was so awesome, though when we first met her she thought we were of another faith.  We get confused a lot but now she is moving forward.  It was wonderful to hear her say that!  We are trying our best with the rest of the family to get them on track, as well, but it may take a little while but I know they will all be baptized someday. I will look forward to that.

The weather got a lot less cold this week, probably because I was ordered to rest my ankle for three days because I was not doing it.  To be honest it has been a month since I was supposed to do it but I just could not take looking at our apartment and knowing there is someone out there who needs me.  For those two days I had to keep my attention somewhere else and, in fact, I spent those two days with the Fairbanks, a senior couple here in the ward.  When I called them to tell them I would be moving in or crashing at their apartment for three days, Elder Fairbanks replied, "Now what did I do in the pre-earth life to deserve this?" (he makes a ton of jokes off me). I replied, "hey, you promised you would, so stick to it, Buster."  He replied, "I was writing in my gratitude journal before you called … now how can I be grateful for this?"  They are a wonderful couple and they put up with me for two days so I am grateful. I still have to keep icing my ankle, which is a drag, but if I want to get better I have to be obedient for it is better anyway. 

That reminds me of a scripture I read this week in Mosiah chapter 2:41: “And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold outfaithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.”

So as we keep the Lord's commandments we are blessed for it and I pray we all continue to do just that.