Monday, October 26, 2015

Selwin and Acts:8 ... Again!

Me and my new companion, Elder Stokes
This week has flown by again without any warning and people are already talking about Christmas.  Just a reminder for you all, it's still October.

Let me start by telling you I have a new companion.  His name is Elder Stokes and he's from … wait for it … New Jersey. Two companions from the east coast. I'm on a roll people.  He's a pretty chill guy though and he's a football player, too, so all is well. The week has been good and one where we did a lot of walking and where we got to meet a few nice people.

So here's the story of the week.  Remember the guy who didn't know what Acts:8 was about? Turns out he's a pastor and one of our investigators was actually going to be visiting his church soon. Before she did, however, we had a really good conversation about the Godhead.  It was more so about the Holy Ghost so we read and discussed Acts:8 with her.  At the end of she said, "I've never read this or even heard about this before.” There is only so much we can do and the most we can do is to guide our Heavenly Father’s children to the truth but in the end the choice is theirs.  We’ll have to wait and see what happens next.

Creepy Halloween dolls
During my studies this week I was really humbled by Alma the younger's gratitude as he expressed his thanks to God for all He had done for him, for being commanded by him to do His work and for blessing him. Alma 29:9-13 reads:

9 I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.

10 And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me.

11 Yea, and I also remember the captivity of my fathers; for I surely do know that the Lord did deliver them out of bondage, and by this did establish his church; yea, the Lord God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, did deliver them out of bondage.

On someone's front door
12 Yea, I have always remembered the captivity of my fathers; and that same God who delivered them out of the hands of the Egyptians did deliver them out of bondage.

13 Yea, and that same God did establish his church among them; yea, and that same God hath called me by a holy calling, to preach the word unto this people, and hath given me much success, in the which my joy is full."

This made me think of what more I needed to do, so I can say, as well, 'my joy is full.’ The Lord builds us all differently but He knows why and I know He lets us have good days and bad days so our minds may be more focused on Him, always reminding us He will never leave our side and this that one day we all might say 'our joy is full.’ How grateful I am for the love He has for me and for all He teaches me each and every single day. What a blessing it is to know He's got my back no matter what.  What a blessing, indeed.

Simeon Meets Elder Zwick

Me with the Mayfield cow ... nice cow, too
I'll be honest ... this week flew bye way faster than I had planned and so here I am already! This week we had a wonderful visit by Elder Zwick of the Seventy and it was awesome! I learned quite a bit from him and Sister Zwick many gospel principles I plan to apply ASAP into my daily life. And though one may say, "but, hey, it more focuses on missionary life," I will humbly say, "nay, I know better now."  

This week with the Zwick's visit we had our work cut out for us as we had two meetings to attend and so we did not get as much done as I thought we would. Guess that's ok, because the Lord is pleased with our efforts in doing His work. Even if we do not always see immediate success, it is still well worth it. It is awesome to see all the miracles happening for my brother.  Keep it going bro, the Lord does see every effort we make to help someone else and it truly is wonderful. It is great to see how he bestows his blessings upon us as we do all he ask's us to do. 

On another note this week I was shown by the Elders in my District how to do things right. They did this by chasing me down (because I was not about to be caught) and I think I made my shin splits even worse.  They got me and all piled on me ... and when I say piled try thinking over 500 lbs total. I am not even joking and how my body held up ... hmmm, only one answer - The Lord took care of me. 

I take working hard very seriously and enjoy the success that comes from it.  After the work is completed my companions just wanted to show me I could still enjoy the serious part of it also, which I do but in my own way.  Now I am pretty sure they are out to get me - so I am on the look out. 

Good times with Mario
Now back to Elder Zwick.  As it turns out Elder Zwick knows Elder Cornish who Sel and I  knew back in Guyana. He told me, "I know him well."  We chatted for a bit before we got down to serious work, but it was great to have them come and visit ... it truly was. During my personal studies I have noticed I keep finding, especially in Nephi 1 and 2, a lot of verses that say " Awake" so this week I will focus on this one found in 2 Nephi 8:24-25.

24 Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.

25 Shake thyself from the dust; arise, sit down, O Jerusalem; loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.

Indeed if we follow this counsel, we will be blessed to come forth clean as promised by the Lord and arise from the dust. It is my prayer that we humbly do just that.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Selwin's Amazing Week

My last district
So it seems like the cold is coming in faster than I expected this year, which means sweaters and gloves will be coming out of the closet.

This week was pretty amazing. We saw doors opened and hearts softened. It was awesome. We had quite a few lessons this week and we got prayed over by a few persons we met while tracting as well. We also had a good talk with two guys who, upon our approach, asked my companion to read a few scriptures for them. I sensed contention a mile away but didn't let it get there even though one guy was coming with all of his questions. He was really surprised when I answered all of them but he couldn't answer all of my questions. Then somehow we got to the topic of the Holy Ghost and I asked them, "so, in Acts 8, how does it say one receives the holy ghost?" The one turns to the other and says, "you should know that" to which he replied "no, I don't.  What does it say?" I replied, "that's your home work, boys.” Met one lady who was super nice and even gave us water but I couldn't get over how she held up the "OK" sign at us. I wanted to say, "that's nice, but we are here to make things great." but she closed the door too fast. Yep, good times.

Me with Elders Petersen, Ahanonu and Rasmussen
at Red Bluff in Columbia, Mississippi
It's so fascinating sometimes being a missionary and I've been pondering a lot about what the Savior's journey as a missionary was like.  Definitely and without doubt it was harder than my own but I more look at how He over came all the obstacles before Him on that journey. It just makes me feel super good to know I can follow His examples in order to overcome the obstacles in my way and to keep pushing forward. How blessed we are to have this gospel and how blessed  we are to have the opportunity to share, for the gospel of Jesus Christ is exceptional and there is nothing else that can get us closer to Him. 

Oh, and on a side note we had transfers this week and I have a new companion but I will give you more information next week so until then, later.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Simeon is Cold

Me and my boys installing smoke detectors for the ARC
This week has been a very cold week for me. Opening the door of our apartment in the morning is not always the greatest thing I look forward to, I will be honest, nor is exercising outside. My Savior knows and understands, so in a strange but true sense, He keeps me warm.

This week was a little tiring for me. I was on exchanges and then when I came back I had to catch up on all that happened while I was away, then help out the best I could in any situation needing my attention. But with the Lord's help I made it through and in the end it was all worth it.

This Sunday the teens we beat in soccer did not come to church and neither did the girls we beat in volleyball, so we are going to have to do some serious follow-up there because one has to keep promises. It is especially important if we, the missionaries, work very hard for those victories, which sounds easy in writing, but it sure was not. The turning point of the week though came when Muka, the recent convert from a while back, took us to see his friend who he said needed the gospel very badly.  They are Buddhist and they needed to know Jesus Christ loved and died for them so they can be together with their families after this life and even in this life.  As we were doing a lot of the talking Muka simply translated for us and then at the end of us closing out the lesson he simply said " Elder, I need to tell them something." Muka went on to tell his friend and all the members of his friend’s family about how he met the missionaries and how his life has changed for the better and though I could not understand literally one word he said, I felt the Holy Spirit so strong. When he testified of the Book of Mormon it was even stronger and with tears in his eyes, he left the lesson. I gently put my arms around him and said, “it is okay.  Is it not wonderful to share something you love with your friends because you love them, too?”  In simple words he responded, “yep, that's True!” I am so grateful the Lord sent us to him for he has helped me to see the Lord's work is always true and we change for the better when we do all He asks of us. 

During my studies this week I came across a scripture in 2 Nephi 8:24-25 which talks about awaking and doing what the Lord has asked us to do. It is my prayer we all will do just that.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Selwin is Blessed for Paying Fast Offerings

Me and the boys on the golf course
So this week was a trying one. First off, I got food poisoning. Yes, I poisoned myself which is strange but it happened so now I'm just trying to get well.

We didn't get the opportunity to visit any of our investigators this week so that was sad, but we did get to visit a few active and less-active members. We are trying to get them more involved in the work here, so we had a round table discussion on Sunday while in one of the classes and it was good. From what I've been hearing some people don't really believe missionaries are human beings and actually like having fun and getting to know other people, as well. So lets just say right now they have the best guy to do just that.

Yesterday as I was getting ready to pay my fast offerings I couldn't help but say to myself "Bro, you are paying a lot of fast offerings. You could use that money to survive for the rest of the month.” I had a lot to pay only because I keep forgetting to pay it but I reassured myself the Lord would provide and He certainly did. The blessing received was incredible and it was a “shocker,” mainly because I don't expect blessings, I just know they will come in the Lord's own time. So pay your fast offerings, people.

Anyhow, I don't have a lot to report this week but I will leave you with something I found during my personal study. In Luke 8:16-17 it reads:

16  No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light.

17 For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad."

This statement by the Savior Himself testifies to all, we are to be examples to everyone around us. It also lets us know the Lord will never keep us in the dark on things which could help us gain our eternal exaltation.  He also tells us all things will be made known unto us as long as we have a sincere desire to know of those things He has in store for us. In the words of King Benjamin to his people, he said, "believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend" which is a reminder to me, as long as we ask, the Lord will open our minds and our understanding regardless of the situation. I know this to be true.

Simeon Scores Big Soccer Win

Me at Porsche World.  It was awesome! 
Okay, so this week was awesome! I enjoyed General Conference to the max last week and it truly touched my heart to see all of my questions answered and to be reminded the Lord truly does remember us and knows us all. 

This week we saw a part member family we are teaching all come to church as well as a referral from a member who we were able to teach.

I found it!  The same i-cee we have in Guyana!!!
But I will start with the story of the week which was me and my companions totally defeating some teenagers who said they were club soccer players and we could never beat them.  So with all their pride on the line, we challenged them to a game and if they lost they would have to come to church with us.  They said, “sure, but we will not lose.”  So we headed to the field and with us deciding four goals marks the winner, off we went! We scored 3 goals in quick succession because I still remember how to play and my companions were quicker.  They were in shock when they saw they were going to lose.  In fact, one young man said, "wow, those two white guys are too fast and this black one knows how to play." I finished the game off in style by slotting home the winning goal and thanking them for a wonderful game.  We also reminded them we would be seeing them all at church very soon. We will be playing a rematch after they come to church and so we look forward to that!

This Sunday we saw a mother and her children from the Congo come to church.  The mom understands very little English, so while in Gospel Principles class I noticed she was crying and I knew why.  Everyone else spoke English except her. It was tough so I found a Swahili Book of Mormon (which is the language she speaks) and gave it to her so she could read along.  Boy, that made her day. It was incredible to see her face light up and hear her say, “Thank you, Thank you so much” in her broken English.  It made my eyes water a bit and later when we taught her family she said simply, “this I know … that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God.”  I thought to myself, “yes! yes he indeed was” and that made my joy reach up to infinity. I was super happy and, in fact, I still am so I know the Lord prepares his children for us whether they be our friends, family or someone we have never met before.  It truly is amazing to see His hands in all things we do.

This week I was reading in 1 Nephi 20:10 where it says:  “For Behold I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." 

The Lord knows why He calls us to serve him despite what we are going through for then we can be refined into who He needs us to be to help someone else.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Selwin Loved Conference

So, conference was "awesome!"  Talk about the Holy Ghost being there!  I loved all of the talks and despite a few technical difficulties we were able to watch the whole conference.

The week has been really good, as well.  It was one where we saw a lot of miracles happen. We went out tracting this week needing to just have things go "our way" for once but the Lord showed us His way is the best way and will always be the best way. We were able to meet and talk with individuals who had never seen missionaries like us before and to share the wonderful news about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  One day we even ran out of copies of the Book of Mormon while tracting (which rarely ever happens) so that was awesome.  We even tracted into a less-active member who was super happy to see us and talked with us for a while about how her life has been and how she knows it can be better.

Reminds me of home!
Unfortunately we had one sad part of our week when one lady, who was so enthusiastic about the gospel when we first met her, told us after talking it over with her husband they decided this wasn't the thing for them, which was sad to hear because we went back to invite them to conference. As we were walking down the driveway my companion said, "I wonder how much of a conversation it was" but I reminded him everybody has their agency.  Still, she now knows the truth and she felt the spirit when we taught her the gospel.

Our week ended up really well.  We paid a visit to a couple we are teaching and watched the Restoration movie with them, then answered all of their questions.  At the end of it we asked the fiancé if he could say the prayer, to which his fiancé said, "in my nine years with him I've never heard him pray."  But guess what?  He prayed and it was truly humbling, not just for us, but for his fiancé. Upon our leaving they said, “bye and see you next week” … something they've never said before.  Regardless of the outcome I know the spirit of the Lord touched their hearts and spoke peace to them. How great it is to see how the gospel can change lives, and as I remember all the talks given at general conference I couldn't help but notice how every talk was a plea to us all to live the way the Lord would have us live, especially President Thomas S. Monson talk and how by following the principles of the gospel we can return to live with our Father in heaven.

I close with the words of President Uchtdorf when he said: "Exaltation is our goal, discipleship is our journey.”  Oh, how true those words are!  May we ever hold steadfast to our goal is my prayer.

Simeon Forgot His Camera

So, this week it has been raining a lot and I don't have the slightest clue why, but I liked it.  The cold seems to be ushering in right now and I am getting ready, for I intend for no repeats of last winter!

We were blessed to see a wonderful miracle this Sunday for General Conference and it has quite the story to go with it.  We have been teaching a young Burmese mom the gospel.  She is actually related to Muka who got baptized a while ago, in fact, she is his sister-in-law and we actually met her before Muka. We have been teaching her, and though it is a slow process, it is still OK.  So after what seemed like forever she finally said, “yes” to coming to church but got lost the first Sunday she tried to come.  She was so disappointed she did not make it, so when we went by to see her this past week she said told us she was coming – and did – but not without a little resistance from the adversary because her husband never goes to church.  He drove the family to church but wanted to stay outside. I kindly said, “she needs you in there with her and you don't have to worry about how you dress because the Lord loves you all the same.” He agreed but didn’t have shoes so “I will go and get some and come back.”  To this his young wife said, “if you don't come back I will cut you tonight!”

I was preaching about love to her before we touched the chapel doors and you know what?  He came back so I guess no one got cut that night. They are a wonderful family though and faithful.  I hope we get to see them go all the way to the Temple to be sealed!

This week I was able, with the permission of my mission president to do the ordinances for my uncle who passed away last year.  What joy I felt as I came out of the temple on Wednesday.  I just loved it and will soon go back to do his endowments. I look forward to that and thank my brother for reminding me I had the opportunity to go to the Lord's house frequently so I should get our families work done.  Thanks to you, bro!

I forgot my sd card reader at home so Sister Sappington, it looks like you will be adding more than two photos to the blog next week. In my studies this week I loved 1 Nephi 17:45 which helped me see how easy it is for us to sin but so hard for us to do good.

 45 Ye are swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord your God. Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words; wherefore, he has spoken unto you like unto the voice of thunder, which did cause the earth to shake as if it were to divide asunder.

I pray instead of being quick to do evil we will be quick to do what is right and to do what the Lord has asked of us and be ready to serve one another.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Selwin's Perilous Day

Talk about a fun-filled week, blessed with a lot of tracting. It was awesome beyond measure and that's all I'll say about it.

This week, we did it all, from exchanges with the zone leaders to being almost killed, but it was so much fun. We were out one day doing what we do best (aka tracting) and this guy pulls up next to us and tells us we are trespassing.  We were a bit lost so we told him we didn't know it was a private road to which he responded it was a public road and that I shouldn't be smart with him because he would put a bullet through my head.  He then ended with the phrase, "you in the country". We tried going back the way we came but he stopped us and said we had to walk all the way around because if we passed by his house he would shoot us! Ten+ miles /16 kilometers later we were back where we started. But on our way back the Lord blessed us to find someone to talk to and share a copy of the Book of Mormon.  Talk about seeing miracles after the trails / trials of your faith!!!

The bunny and me.
Yesterday we visited an investigator after being prompted to go see her Saturday night while planning. Upon our arrival at her home we found her on the couch unable to move around freely except with the help of crutches.  Then I knew why I was prompted we should pay her a visit.  Our Heavenly Father knew she needed us to give her a blessing. With her permission we did. The spirit was so strong in her home and I know she was at peace when we left her.

Through all these events, especially the one where we had to walk, I couldn't help but think about the Savior Jesus Christ and all He bore. How He was able to show love and to forgive, and how He continued to extend both of these attributes while hanging from the cross. This memory of the Savior reminded me that being Christ-Like means taking on all His attributes, not just a few.  How grateful I am for His examples and for the way He lived His life, teaching us how we should live ours through everything He did.  Oh, how I love my Savior! 

Simeon in the Rain

My old district (before transfers) from left Sisters Lund and Olsen,
me, Elders Hope, Haun, Miller and Baker
This week the rains seem to be on our side which is a good thing, I guess, for my companions and for me because I love the rain.  If you never get soaked more than once while serving a mission you are missing out big time, trust me! This week we went through our list of individuals we are teaching and truly put the question of how should we use our time wisely? It  was tough because I just can't bare seeing a child of our Heavenly Father not being given a little more time before they are ready to receive his Restored Gospel, but we need to do what we need to do.  We got the ball rolling this week by welcoming all the new missionaries into the Zone.  It was fun to talk with them and have each of them share miracles they have seen or been a part of while sharing and using the Book of Mormon. The response was awesome for I felt the Holy Spirit so much as they shared their stories. I added my testimony to theirs and was comforted even more to know the Book of Mormon is true. Strange, when you think about it.  Heavenly Father still let's us know the Book of Mormon is true even when we do already! I guess it is His simple way of telling us, “I am always here.”

Me and my comps at Coke World
So, funny story! The reason for the topic of this letter, we went to see a young man we are teaching who is from Burma (yes it is a real country).  We had been leaving reading assignments with him and every time we ask, “did you read?” he would always say yes. After not being able to see him for a week we went over with a member and I asked, “so, Tew (I changed his name for privacy reasons) did you get to read the chapter we left you?”  He looked off in the distance and said, “yeah, I did” and since I know looking off actually means “no” (since I used to do exactly that) I then proceeded to say, “so did you like the part where Nephi beats up the giant?” to which he said he did. I know it was a bad trick to play but I have been out a while so one has to find ways to decide if they are telling the truth. I looked at my companions and the member and I could see my companions wanted to start laughing, so I quickly set up another time we could come by and see him. No sooner than he had closed his door, I asked the member and my companions if they liked that part also?  We all busted out laughing. I just could not help myself, and neither could they.  

Oh, how I wish everyone we meet could be honest with us and just let us know because all we truly care about is helping them come and partake of the fruit of the tree of life, as it says in 1 Nephi 8:30.
 30 But, to be short in writing, behold, he saw other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.

All we are here to do is get there and help others to do the same also. I know it is why we are called to serve - name tag or no name tag.