Monday, June 29, 2015

Selwin Follows the Spirit

Me and my comp at a cookout
Talk about a Spirit filled week. My companion and I decided this week would be one where we would really and truly let the spirit guide us. Oh, boy, was that awesome.

We didn't find a ton of people to teach but we watched as the spirit led us as we taught those around us, from less active members to active members to investigators. It was just incredible. Yes, we do follow the spirit but a lot of times we don't act upon it's promptings, so that was our focus for this week.  It's funny … my mission president mentioned it in his talk at stake conference and it was even more eye opening when I came across it in my personal study.

It's that time of the year again!
The Lord knows how to get to us and when we are listening to Him. He lets us know it by opening our hearts, minds and understanding to let us know He knows we are doing our best to follow His will. Remember, the world may change it's laws and it's ways but the Lord our God never will for as quoted in the scriptures, "He is the same yesterday, today and forever" and His Will, will be done. The Savior taught:

Hey, Mom ... this is for you!
19  Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

I certainly hope the treasure you have laid up is the gospel and all that it teaches us. Remember it and don't lose sight of it. For it certainly is a treasure worth having forever.

Simeon is Frightened ... A Little

Everyone, except the elder stooping down, stayed the same this transfer.
Well, I will be totally honest.  My first transfer as a Zone Leader is over and, boy, I was tired to the max but I knew there was no way I was doing it alone! This week has been an interesting one. 

We had a heat wave and everyone went crazy, exclaiming, “it's too hot” but then I remember where I am from and that I needed to show love to those who are not accustomed to the heat, like I am. To top that off we will be welcoming our new mission president.  President Foote is going to be here to give the boot to the adversary. I like him already and I have not even met him.  Yes, the Lord knows his servants well.

A beautiful Decatur sunset!
We had a rainy week as well here so it has been something else and then we got caught up one day in a very weird situation.  This is how it went down. We were out looking for this investigator the sister missionaries referred to us.  Unknown to us, the address was not correct and we spent half-an-hour trying to find the investigator.  Eventually I made up my mind to knock the closest apartment door to the address they gave us. Upon doing so, a gentleman approached us with a Bible in hand and asked who we were. When we told him, he got excited and said, “please come into my apartment.  We are having a prayer session.”  We then were ushered into the apartment which was only lit by one small light coming from the kitchen (yep, talk about scary) where there were about five persons in the room. The guy who let us in just stood by the door as if guarding it and then someone started to pray in a super strange language.  Then the other guys started to shout “amen” and “praise the Lord” in their own language.  It was at this point I saw one of my companions look at me with the look of confusion and amazement (poor lad).  Then they asked us to pray, so I did and then we got out of there in quick time.  By that time we had figured out they were all from Ethiopia and the language they were speaking was a tribal one, but they believed in Jesus Christ and so as you can guess, we are going back!

Hey, I always remember the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone and though one of my companions thought they were not so good they turned out to be. It helps you to see how the Lord is preparing His children to receive this gospel from all walks of life and that I will gladly share.  As always I encourage all who know that it is true to do the same. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Selwin Still in Picayune

Me and my new companion, Elder Bennett
Well, I'm staying here in Picayune, Mississippi which was no surprise to me, to be honest. My new companion's name is Elder Bennett and, yes, just in case you're wondering he might be related to you, so it's all good. He's only been a convert for a year and ten months and his conversion and life story is a lot like my own but in some instances a bit harsher.  He's super cool and he's from... wait for it.... Utah. Yep, the people in Utah must surely love me to keep sending me their sons to be my companions here in the mission field.

Oh, boy, we had a heat wave hit us this week. It was crazy, but so cool. Elder Bennett's head got so hot, while we were out tracting, we both were considering probably frying an egg on his head or baking some biscuits a member had given us.  Yep, that would have tasted so good. That reminded me as individuals and as families we are all trying to do exactly what the Lord has asked of us but a lot of times we fall short of a few things.  Then we feel it's not worthwhile pursuing anymore because what we are trying to achieve is way above our level.  In other words, it is something which can only be done perfectly. In the scriptures we are commanded to be perfect even as our Father who is in Heaven is perfect.

My new winter home!
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of The Twelve Apostles explained: “We need not be dismayed if our earnest efforts toward perfection now seem so arduous and endless. Perfection is pending. It can come in full only after the Resurrection and only through the Lord. It awaits all who love him and keep his commandments.” 

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step-by-step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave”

So take courage in all you do and don't ever stop pursuing those things the Lord has asked of you.  Your decision to do so will show the Lord you are willing to give it your all to listen to His instructions and you will be an example for many to follow. By so doing, you will also aid in helping those around you to do the same.

As the prophet Nephi of old said:
7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."

For with God all things are possible.

PS: To all you Fathers out there, Happy Father's Day.  Keep doing what you do best and that is leading by example, just like your Father in Heaven.

Three Musketeers Live On

Me and the bear
Well, there is no surprise. I will be staying here in the Twin Oaks Ward for another transfer. Me and my companions will remain together so the three musketeers live on ... "All for One and One for All.

This week was really good.  We had Stake Conference and were able to hear from Elder Arnold of the Seventy so that was really wonderful. I learned an important lesson on how we sometimes do not recognize all the blessings the Lord gives to us in our lives - especially the small ones.  It was really interesting to hear as we live the way the Lord needs us to live He blesses us always because he is a God who keeps His promises. Let's be honest here, sometimes we do forget to count our blessings, which indeed are always many!  I have come to the conclusion our Heavenly Father is always waiting to bless us as soon as we obey and keep His commandments.  Even if some of those blessings take a while to come we will always receive them in His time.

A cool deco art piece on the side of a building in Decatur.
On Saturday, we were walking home from a member's house and we passed a homeless woman on the street. I looked at her and she was eating something. I thought, "well, that's good!  She has something to eat" then I saw what she was eating and it was mustard.  Yes, just mustard!

We sometimes complain about how things are not going our way.  There has been a few times on my mission where I have shed tears and this was one of them. It draws me back to a poem I once wrote called "A Beggars Prayer" which relates to people who do not have sufficient but who have enough and who cares for the welfare and being of others who are not where they are.

So my simple cry to everyone is to remember to count your blessings one-by-one and truly see what the Lord has done.  During a previous study I came across this quote by Elder Russell M. Nelson: 

"Our highest sense of sacrifice is achieved as we make ourselves more sacred and holy. This we do by our obedience to the commandments of God."

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Selwin Has A Week of Learning

Our last Zone Conference with President and Sister McDonough
The sun is out and it's getting hotter!  Now that's what I'm talking about. Sure, it's not all that good especially because of how you're dressed but it also means more people will be home to answer their doors because their children are home, so hooray!!!.

This week was a week of learning. We had zone conference and it was just awesome. Our mission president who is heading home in a few weeks hit home the point of how important the work we do is. I'm sure going to miss him and his wife but the work must go on. It really is a great sacrifice coming on a mission but if we truly are disciples of the Lord then we will certainly heed His words. The Savior sacrificed a great many things including His life to ensure you and I would have the opportunity of living with Him and the Father again, as well as not having to suffer all He suffered for us. And in this life we truly do suffer a great many things and sometimes our afflictions tend to bring us down and sometimes we tend to ask ourselves where is God in all of this?.

Faith, trust ... and a little bit of Pixie Dust!
The Prophet Nephi said:  Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.

He said this after being tied up for days on a boat all because he wanted his brothers and their wives to remember how they got where they were. Yes, it is really tough when we are faced with afflictions but we must remember it is our afflictions that make us stronger and as we continually thank the Lord for all He has done for us He will continue to strengthen us. The blessings of the Lord to us are limitless.  We just have to continue to do all we can regardless of the obstacles we face.  The prophet Nephi certainly knew that. The calling to spread the gospel and turn others to Christ is a great call and certainly not an easy one but as we continue to do the things He would have us do we will see the blessings of the Lord even more in our lives and see His hand in all of our doings.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Simeon in the Attic

Me in the Church attic
Oh, how wonderful it is to serve the Lord and to be his servants. This week I was brought back to remember how much this Gospel truly touches and changes our lives.  We went door knocking this week in an apartment complex, which by far, since I have been on my mission is the most shocking thing I have ever seen. Even more shocking was seeing people living there. It took me back home to Guyana and the things we see and go through. This apartment complex had burned down buildings, busted windows everywhere and conditions I will not describe. There were also drugs and addicts. It was tough to see these, our brothers and sisters, living like this and doing these things. I am sure the adversary thinks he has got this fight in the bag; but I am here to say this will not be the case! I want us to remember what it means to have the Savior in our lives and truly think of all the blessings you have and continue to receive because you have the Restored Gospel in your life. You do what is required of you so you receive those blessings.  Now that we have remembered let us ask ourselves what are we doing to tell others about it? Every time we send a missionary off to share the gospel we always pray for him or her and for their success but the words of President Hinckley rings still in my ears that we, as members, need to not only pray for those we send off on missions but also for the missionaries in our own wards.  We need to help them in doing the Lord's work and we can do it! 

I worked Elder Nelson so hard, he is down for the count!
I met two young boys in that apartment complex who were probably not older than 8-years-old but to see their smiling faces, brightened my day. I know what they are going through and despite where they come from and how they live they are determined to do what is right and to live a better life. This wonderful Gospel helps everyone do so.  As the Savior said in the scriptures, "It is your Heavenly Father's good pleasure to give you his kingdom which is Heaven, and so should it not be our good pleasure to open the gates and share His Kingdom with others."

Such was the personal prompting I received as I thought about it. I know we can do it and together we will! We will give the adversary no victories over our brothers and sisters for we will fight the battles and the wars and we will be victorious for the Lord is always on our side. "The Standard of Truth has indeed been erected, no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing.  Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble and calumny may defame. But the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly and independent … till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country and sounded in every ear. Till the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the Great Jehovah shall say THE WORK IS DONE" We are here to do exactly that!!!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Selwin's Really Cooking!

We're cooking with 94-year-old Sister Waunita Tally
It's another beautiful day here in Picayune, Mississippi. It's not raining so we get to go outside. 

My companion and I were talking earlier this week about how fast this transfer has gone by because we are already at the end of it. (Alright, whose big idea was it to visit the time keeper?).  

Anyway, this week has been a bit crazy and good at the same time.  We found a few persons who were interested so that's a big plus for us. It was a lot of work but it paid off.  We just kept going! Despite the beads of perspiration rolling down our faces, our wet shirts and trousers, we just kept going. Tired legs because of having to ride miles … no problem, we just kept going.  We couldn't afford any let ups with traffic on our heels and our teaching pool dwindling. Oh, boy, were we determined!

On exchanges with Elder Nelson
During my personal study this week my mind was opened to the realization of how desirous the prophet Nephi was in his quest to serve the Lord. How he was willing to go to the full extent to do all the Lord had asked of him. And this was the case even more so with his elder brothers, despite knowing their downfall was imminent, he still did all he could to get them to follow the commandments of the Lord. Why? Because his will was aligned with the will of our Father in Heaven!  Many times in our lifetime we tend to just let others do as they please because we feel there is no hope for them.  We consider them a lost cause, so we give up on them.  When we feel that way about another person, we should ask ourselves, what if the Savior had told the Father we were a lost cause and that there was no point in sacrificing Himself for us?  Well, then we certainly would have been a lost cause, but because He knew what He was doing was necessary and because His will was aligned with His Father in Heaven’s desire for us, none of us are a lost cause. If we could align our will with that of the Father's we will come to know and see everyone around us just as He does and He sees us all as His children. Regardless of who they are and what they've done - like Nephi of old - we have been given a responsibility to be there for them, to encourage them and to lift them when they need lifting.  Then will we know our will is aligned with our Father in Heaven’s will for his chidren.  We have been given a great privilege and responsibility.  Let us live up to it, for what we have been given is priceless and because it is priceless, it should be shared with everyone, for such is the case with Heavenly Gifts - from the gift of the Savior’s birth all the way down to the restoration of His gospel.

In 3 Nephi 27:27, Christ taught, "And know ye that ye shall be judges of this people, according to the judgment which I shall give unto you, which shall be just. Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am."

Simeon Still on Task

The Musketeers:  Elder Nelson, Elder Snedaker and me
So it's always a little strange to be in a three-o as missionaries but it is also fun, especially when it comes to doing the Lord's work. Such was the case this week as we went out to do exactly that! We had a tough week of getting people to keep their appointments and many did not come to church. That’s not unusual but still when one exercises faith things happen but in the Lord's time. We got the surprise of our young missionary lives though when a part-member family we are teaching went up to bear their testimonies and then told the entire congregation they were getting married this Saturday! Yes, talk about exercising your fai  Hey, even I did not see that one coming so I was like, “whoa, way to go, way to go.”

This fast Sunday I took a different approach to how I would normally fast. Instead of fasting for myself I decided to fast for others and I will testify I felt better than I ever did before when I ended my fast. I felt physically as well as spiritually strengthened.  Yes, the joy, which comes from serving others, is wonderful and we were actually able to teach the part-member family a lesson after church. They felt the Holy Spirit big time.

After a long day of work, Elder Snedaker needed a nap.
Guess I just work them too hard!
It has been awhile since I have shared that story of me stopping my Book of Mormon reading when I had only one page to go. To be honest it taught me a very valuable lesson. I will echo the words of my brother and invite all to continue to read it and truly ask yourselves, “am I getting closer to God and My Savior each time I do?” I promise your answer will always be YES!

So that brings me back to why we fast and pay fast offering in the first place. President Eyring has taught, "When we pay our fast offering we help to succor our Heavenly Father's children and when we do, though we may be far away from those who need help, we are close to the Lord.” I testify this is true for when we help others we are helping the Lord so keep reading, keep praying and keep doing the things necessary to get you nearer to God, then you will be able to help someone else do the same. He is ready and waiting to help you and those you bring or carry with you of that I know to be true.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Simeon is a Zone Leader

Selwin's First Talk

On our way to another day of service
This week has been one filled with service, literally. We have been helping people move most of this week.  It seems summer is the time when everyone moves out and as missionaries we are always looking for those opportunities. You know we have to find someway to get our exercise in, got to get these muscles big somehow.

This week I gave my first talk as a missionary!  Yeah, I know what you're thinking "really? your first one?"  After being in two other wards and not having to give one I was pretty sure it would be the same here but they got me. I didn't mind because the ward here is awesome. So after getting my topic more than two (2) weeks ago I was prompted to speak on something else and that something else was about the importance of the Book of Mormon to us as individuals and as families. I shared the story about my brother and how he had stopped reading the Book of Mormon for a while only to realize later he was only one page away from actually finishing the book in it's entirety.

Another porch find!
One of the first things I did as a missionary was have an interview with my mission president.  During that interview he inquired of me about my reading the Book of Mormon and when I got to my very first area I should start it over from the beginning. All I remember thinking was, “is this guy crazy? Do you know how long it took me to get to the book of Alma?" Anyway I didn't do it but I did take his advice about writing down the things that stuck out to me as I read from the Book of Mormon. 

During my first transfer out here I decided to listen to a few talks by President Ezra Taft Benson and if you have ever heard this servant of the Lord speak you will know the Book Of Mormon will always be mentioned. But this is what he said that made me see the Book of Mormon from a whole new perspective:

“… The Book of Mormon has not been, nor is it yet, the center of our personal study, family teaching, preaching, and missionary work. Of this we must repent.”

And so I did just that and my studies got a lot more serious.  What stuck out to me the most is every single page of the Book of Mormon teaches us a principle of the gospel. Principles which can be and should be applied in our everyday life. We have been given a gift in our day and it should be treasured because it testifies to us all of the love God has for us and that He lives. Regardless of your circumstance I urge you to read, ponder the words of the Book of Mormon and pray about what you have read. I promise you the Lord will open your minds and hearts to the understanding of His words and if you already are doing this, keep doing it. I know the Lord lives and He has blessed us with His words in our day so our lives and the lives of those around us can be blessed.

Simeon Checks In

Elder Nelson and I on our way to the car
Well, this week was truly a week of surprises.  To be totally honest, some of them I did not see coming! We started the week off working through Memorial Day and we had fun.  On that day the rains came and we got drenched twice, so yes, success.  But we just kept going all the way and we had a good time teaching and doing the Lord's work. I was, however, saddened by the death of the sister missionary in the mission next door. It hit me really hard and then I found out about Elder Perry and, boy, oh boy, I was even more saddened.  As I sat in Sacrament meeting just trying to imagine what these families must be feeling, I was comforted strongly by the Holy Spirit that all would be well. The spirit told me I needed to keep doing the Lord's work - what he has asked me and needs me to do – so, hey, I will not question that answer, for the Lord's ways and plans are higher than mine.

I also welcomed a new companion when Elder Snedaker from Rexburg, ID joined us, so we are now a threesome. Good times and hard work to come (will send picture next week).  We are now walking around like the three musketeers and doing what we know how to do best and that is teach the gospel.  Elder Snedaker has been out only one transfer so he is still getting used to it all. He falls asleep sometimes but that’s okay.
What can I say? Super funny, huh?
On Sunday, I had the opportunity to give someone we are teaching a blessing.  When I had finished giving him the blessing he just sat there and said “I feel at peace and calm.”  This investigator lost his wife about 7 weeks ago and is a single father of ten kids.  When we gave him the blessing, I testify to you, he truly felt the Holy Spirit and I added my testimony to that by telling him how he can always feel that way.  It was  amazing to see how calm he was after.  It seemed as though the heaviest burden had been lifted off of his shoulder and it reminded me of the words the Savior said in Matthew 11:28:

28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Truly that is what the restored gospel of Jesus Christ does.  As we help the Lord do exactly that, we ourselves will have our burdens lightened and lifted I testify and know that to be true.