Monday, February 29, 2016

Selwin Separating the Wheat from the Tares

Me and my companion, Elder Larsen
It was a week of ups and downs as we engaged ourselves in the battle of separating the wheat from the tares.

It started off really well for us as we tried a few individuals we had met before and we got the opportunity to share with them the important message of the 'Restoration' of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But then in came the weekend and it brought in a not so good storm as investigators started dropping us faster than a cheetah about to pounce on it's prey.  This included our most promising investigator who just couldn't give up certain things. And then we just kept striking out.  For a moment I was thinking in my head "what is going on?' while my companion Elder Larsen is saying, "It's all my fault. I brought the bad luck" to which I kept telling him that he didn't. I thought, "well, what do we do now?"  After much pondering I heard a voice say, "keep going". This brought to my remembrance what the Savior said to Simon Peter in John 21:15-17:

15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep."

It reminded me of how we are called to "feed the Savior's sheep" with the words He taught and with the words which will bring us eternal, life if followed and applied in one's life. And the Lord did bless us as we persevered as a recent convert family (the Osburn's) invited their close friends to listen to the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was super amazing. And as I thought to myself, I wondered, "what if we had thrown in the towel for that day and just given up?" I probably would have gotten some much needed rest, but the opportunity would have been missed, if I had. Hence it is in life, so "never give up". Every opportunity must be grabbed with both hands especially sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Savior lives and His gospel in it's fullness is here on the earth again to be enjoyed by those who embrace it and love it, so share it.

Simeon's Pretty Good Week

Me on Waterboy Street
This week was pretty good!  We got out doing the things I love to do best and that is to teach people! We went out despite rain storms and everything - ahhhh, yes, good times indeed.  This week I was able to attend the baptism of Muka's sister-in-law who actually was the first person we found and talked to in their family,  It's funny because she was the last one baptized but hey all in the Lord's timing, not ours. It was wonderful to see and brought me so much joy. We were also able to teach a lot of members this week as we continue to strive to build their faith and trust in us. We are finally getting somewhere so that's a plus. The lesson we shared was quite simply a poem. It was amazing to feel the Holy Spirit in their homes as we shared this poem.  In one instance we got to a family's home very late due to the time we took to travel from one point to another and the dad said, "we were getting ready for bed."  We kind of pleaded and apologized all at the same time and he finally said, "alright, come in."  We got in there and let's just say the Holy Spirit took charge because when we left they were all in a happier mood and feeling the Holy Spirit so strong we knew we were going to be invited back the next time. So said, so done! So if the missionaries are late you should give them a chance because you never know if what they have to share will bless you in that very moment you don't think you need it.  But all went well and we barely made it on miles with all the travels we did for the week, so phew. 

A cool painting in Fairborn, Georgia
During my studies this week I came across a lovely little quote my companion's dad sent to me. It makes a lot of sense to me so I hope it does to you also. "Where there is hatred, let me show Love; where there is injury. Pardon; where there is doubt, Faith;  where there is despair, Hope. Where there is darkness, Light; where there is sadness, Joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to Console; to be understood as to Understand; to be loved as to Love; for it is in Giving that We Receive; it is in Pardoning that we are Pardoned and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life"  (St. Francis Of Assisi)

And it is all talking about charity for just as the Savior said, "unless a man has charity he cannot be saved" and these little things we do help us receive that wonderful gift of Eternal Life.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Selwin and Tom

The hustle and bustle of transfer day
This is the week of transfers. I will be getting a new companion later on today so more on that next week.

This week we didn't get to do nearly as much as we wanted. It seems we spent more time driving to and from places more than anything else. We did, however, have one of our investigators taught in the home of a member this week and it was just amazing. What's even better is we hardly said a word as the father taught about the Gospel of Jesus Christ to his children. Our investigator whose name is Tom, by the way, thoroughly enjoyed it and was delighted at how the children knew the answers to their father’s questions. This week as we entered into his home there was an entirely different feeling in his home and also from him.  He even said the prayer himself. It’s really interesting because my companion and I, a few weeks back had taught him about prayer and how to say it properly, only to have him totally say it the wrong way at the end of the lesson. We came out of that lesson saying, 'well, looks like we need to re-teach that lesson' but now he's got it done, which was a key reminder to us the Lord works with His children at His own pace and not ours. 

Elder Campbell ...
our trusted driver
This week as I was reading in the Book of Mormon, the prophet Lehi's  experience with the Lord truly stuck out to me when he said in1 Nephi 1:14-15:

 14 And it came to pass that when my father had read and seen many great and marvelous things, he did exclaim many things unto the Lord; such as: Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty! Thy throne is high in the heavens, and thy power, and goodness, and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth; and, because thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish!

 15 And after this manner was the language of my father in the praising of his God; for his soul did rejoice, and his whole heart was filled, because of the things which he had seen, yea, which the Lord had shown unto him."

Two dogs behind the wheel
The prophet Lehi was so thankful to God for showing him all these things his soul rejoiced. Then what about us who have the Gospel of Jesus Christ restored in all it's fullness?, Should not our souls rejoice and our hearts be filled because of it?  What a blessing it is to have the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to know we can apply it to our own lives and know we can live it each and every single day. I have seen it change the lives of others and most importantly I have seen it change my own life. So, like Lehi of old, I rejoice and my heart is filled because the Lord has shown unto me the path He would have me walk. I know it is His will to do it for us all, so why not let Him. And if we do so it is my promise your soul will rejoice and your heart will be filled because of what you will experience. I know it.

Simeon Teaches "You Are Special"

My friend Paul ... doesn't he look like Jimmie Neutron?
This week we did not get to do a whole lot as we had planned but, we got stuff done which made it all the better! We had exchanges this week with our district leader from St. Lucia. It turns out he knew a few missionaries I knew who served in his country a while back which was sweet. Unfortunately, he was sick so he was ordered by the mission nurse to go home and rest. So with time on my hands I decided to read the Book of Mormon. It was surprising to me to see that was the direction I was prompted to go because before my mission I would read for 20 minutes then go shoot some hoops or something. I ended up reading until 8 pm that night from about 4 pm in the afternoon.  What a really wonderful change for me to see! 

This week as we went about teaching members I walked around with a little story book entitled "You Are Special."  It is a nice story of a wooden boy who thought because of what everyone else said he was not special and that made him sad. It reminds me of the world today because if you don't do what everyone else is doing then you don't fit it or you don't make it. In this story the wooden boy comes to realize his maker cares about him because he made him.  If he thought about that instead of what people may say or think then it will not matter or offend him because he knows someone loves him.  That is the same today in the world we live in because people and the adversary will fill our minds with bad thoughts or words and the thing that will bug us the most is believing we don't fit in! But who says we have to! God, just like the woodcarver, knows us and made us and sent his son to us for us to know we are special.  He wants us to know we are needed because we truly are and when we think everyone else makes fun of us because of who we are, there is One who looks up to you and admires you for doing just that! So we must be who God made us to be and don't worry about fitting in. Worry more about helping him and you will come to see how truly Special we are to him indeed. 

In my studies this week I came across a familiar passage in the Book of Mormon which made me remember we can do all things with the Lord.  In 2 Nephi 4:28-35:

28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.
29 Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.
30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.
31 O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?
32 May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!
33 O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.
34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
35 Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God.

And so my family and friends, I ask shall we not? Oh yes, we shall!!! 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Selwin's Full Week

President and Sister Olson
Hurray!!! We finally got to spend a full week in our area again. It was really good.

This week we were also blessed with the teachings of President Olson at our  Zone Conference and it was really good. It's amazing how much more you learn when the man who holds the keys to the mission teaches and the spirit which comes with him is definitely incredible. We got to be part of the conference and got to do some acting for them and let's just say it was something they will never forget as we taught them about planning more effectively for those individuals that the Lord has blessed us with and not just considering them another statistic. We also got to do exchanges with the elders from Texarkana, Texas and that was awesome.  We got to double work our area so that was even more awesome. We taught quite a bit this week and we are seeing some progression in one of our eternal investigators. It’s really promising.

My companion Elder Mughal catches
a few winks!
This week I was reminded of where we have to stand as individuals and as families as the world becomes more accepting to the standards of men rather than God.  The Apostle Peter said in Acts 5:29, “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, we ought to obey God rather than men."

President Gordon B. Hinckley then said: "The world is constantly crowding in on us. From all sides we feel the pressure to soften our stance, to give in here a little and there a little.

“We must never lose sight of our objective. We must ever keep before us the goal which the Lord has set for us. …

“We must stand firm. We must hold back the world. If we do so, the Almighty will be our strength and our protector, our guide and our revelator. We shall have the comfort of knowing that we are doing what He would have us do."

I don't think anything needs to be added to that and to my bro, don't worry. You'll always be a servant of the Lord. The Savior Lives!!!

Simeon Has His Travel Itinerary

Look who's coming home?
Elder Keller walked away in disgust, but he still loves me
This week I got sick, went to the temple, got over coming home and got my flight itinerary!!! Yeah, St. George, here I come and, hey, it's about time.  Of course you will still have to wait about three weeks and leave the big party for Sel.  He loves that. I am just simple Sim.

This week I got a super bad headache.  The mission nurse said, “Elder Lovell, I love you too much to hear you are not feeling well.  I look up to you so do what I say and get better!”  She was very serious when she said the last part but I knew she meant business, so I said “yes” quite a few times.  She ended by saying, “I love you” about three or four times.  Strange, I never really knew what kind of impact I have or had on people. I’ve just tried my hardest to love everyone the way the Lord loves me. Anyway, I do feel better now, Sister Sappington, so that will make you very happy, as well.

This week I was able to do the temple work for my Uncle who passed away since Sel and I have been out on our mission. It was wonderful and my joy was full to know, after almost 2 years of him passing I was able to do so. I pray he accepts it and with that went everything else about coming home so I was pretty excited.

My travel itinerary
Then on Thursday I opened my mail box and boom there it was and I knew what it was, too. I ran around our apartment with Elder Keller looking at me like I was crazy. After a composed moment, I said, “so, Elder … shall we plan?”  Yep, good times.

This week we tried our best to help many of those we are teaching move along, but it's tough sometimes. There is not much you can do but your best, as gran would normally say, "Do your BEST and God will do the REST.” I wish everyone would just realize I will do my best. 

As I was studying this week I came across a true fact as I thought upon my mission and this is what I came up with. "I do not strive to be the greatest missionary. Yes, I work hard and do my best, but my goal is not statistics but the joy of bringing some souls unto Christ to receive Salvation and me receiving Salvation with them." It made me think back to, not just my purpose as a missionary, but my purpose as a disciple of Jesus Christ, as I so say I am throughout life. it has helped me to see we must never stop helping others “come unto Him” and be perfected in Him but we should strive to do so, for if we say we have the pearl of great price then why not share with your friend where you found it and how he or she can have it, too!  So I will willingly do and I pray you will do so with me!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Selwin Drives the Distance

Me with Sister Ali Savory from Vreed-en-Hoop
This week, we traveled for what felt like days. I think I'm car sick if that even is a thing.

This week was one filled with exchanges and meetings and one where we really had no time in our own area to work except for Sunday. That was a stretch in itself but we made it. We drove all the way to New Boston, Texas for exchanges with the elders there on Tuesday, then drove all the way to Clinton, Mississippi on Thursday for a training meeting after getting home on Wednesday afternoon.  Then on our way home we had a flat discovered in El Dorado, Arkansas after dropping off a car for the elders in that area. We had to drive home on the donut tire at 50 mph. Glad I wasn't driving. On Saturday, we had exchanges with the Brownlee elders.  It went well, not to mention hours of planning.  It was crazy but awesome. 

Me with my bro's Mughal, Hatch and Hill
Sunday was super awesome as we got the opportunity to hear members bare their testimonies. They were good and the spirit was so strong. But it was during my studies this week I came across a quote which has been on my mind all this while.  It was from a talk by President Harold B.Lee about Peter lifting the man at the gate by the hand (Acts 3: 6-8).

He said: "You cannot lift another soul until you are standing on higher ground than he is. You must be sure, if you would rescue the man, you yourself are setting the example of what you would have him be. You cannot light a fire in another soul unless it is burning in your own soul.”

I had never thought about that before but it just rang through to me.  It really makes me think of why we are asked to be examples of the believers. Simply put, if we are in the same boat as those we are trying to help we can't help them because we haven't jumped out of the boat, as yet.  We, ourselves, still need to get out. But when we make it out we will know of a surety how we can help them.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is a beautiful gift.  Let us use it everyday and everywhere. The time does not matter for it will strengthen us and bless our lives and the lives of those we are trying to strengthen, of that I am sure.

Simeon's Thoughts of Home

Me with Elder Sheperd and Sister Simmons (from St. George)
This was a very tough week for me, to be honest, probably because I worried so much about coming home. I have no idea why but I did, so my focus was just not where it needed to be. It took a lot to get back on track! It seems the adversary wanted to put a nice little scare in me, and at first he did, but then I turned all my problems over to the One who has promised me, if I do all he asks of me, He will be by my side always. So that is what I did and He helped me in ways far better than I could have imagined.  It was wonderful.

This week we did not get to do a whole lot of teaching but we did hit the pavement and went out to find some of our lost brothers and sisters, so that put a little pace in my step. We had a ton of appointments fall through but I have learned to deal with that now. I just call and reschedule. It’s as simple as that! We did have a really nice lesson with an investigator we had lost track of for a while. Both he and his wife sat in and it was pretty good. He truly is looking to change. The funny thing is, as we taught him he kept getting calls. On one of his calls he answered, "What's up? I'm here with my two minister brothers and my baby."  Yeah he is a very funny guy but none-the-less a really good lesson.  We had a great fast and testimony meeting which was awesome and just what I needed to pick me up even more. I look forward to this new week with a new found energy from the Lord, of course, and onward I go a Christian soldier for my Savior Jesus Christ.

Me with an autographed
bat given to me by one
of the members
I found an interesting quote this week that made me think of my continued service as a servant of the Lord.

President Ezra Taft Benson, thirteenth president of the Church, taught: “Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life” (“Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” Ensign, Dec. 1988, 4).

Monday, February 1, 2016

Selwin and the Original Mission Home

Original mission home in Shreveport
This has been a week where we finally got some work done in our own area. We also got to meet with our mission president and his wife for interviews so that was super fun and we got to take them to the old mission home in Shreveport, LA.

We had a good teaching week, too, as we focused on helping those we are teaching to progress and to help them to know of our purpose in meeting with them. It was tough but it had to be done and it went well. We met quite a few individuals this week and got a few return appointments.  We met with one young lady yesterday while tracting who shed a few tears as we shared with her how much God really loves her.  We knew the Holy Spirit had borne witness to her that what we were saying was true. 

So we set up a return appointment with her for next Sunday only to get a text from her about 30 minutes later saying that she couldn't meet with us anymore, which we knew was probably brought on by someone else. I know in a future time when she is presented with the opportunity to hear the gospel again, and when she will be able to make her own decision, she will accept it. We were definitely meant to find her yesterday.  It's always amazing how many people are turned away from the gospel by others but it's even more amazing when those individuals accept the gospel when presented with the opportunity again because they remember the experiences they had. 

The Lord's work will go forward no matter what and He will continue to bring His children to a knowledge of His gospel and of all the truths it contains and we will be His instruments in doing so. He has blessed us with leaders who will guide us in helping Him fulfill His will for all mankind so we must continually give heed to their teachings.

Elder M. Russell Ballard said:  "Today I make you a promise. It’s a simple one, but it is true. If you will listen to the living prophet and the apostles and heed our counsel, you will not go astray".

The Lord has called a prophet and apostles in our day and has qualified them to help us follow His counsel. Let us strive with all our might to follow the counsels given for what joy it brings only one who follows it can explain.

Simeon and the Preacher

This week we had an interesting little lesson with a preacher.  His daughter was in Utah and brought back a Book of Mormon, which he started to read.  Eventually he requested his own copy, so off we went to give it to him, only to have him tell us, “it is so simple to understand I taught a sermon with the words from this book.  There were more amen's and hallelujahs when I preached that sermon from the Book of Mormon than when I or any of the bishops of the church preached from the Bible."  He went on to say how he had to ask God for forgiveness for teaching false doctrine and promised God he would only teach the truth! He said the brethren in his church ordained him to be an Apostle but he asked them, "How can you ordain me an Apostle when I have been teaching the wrong things to these people?" It just goes to show, once again, the Book of Mormon is true and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's true church upon the earth! 

It is wonderful to see how God opens the eyes of those he is preparing for us and helps them know His truth.  Who knows what will come of this simple act and, in fact, the preacher went on to say everyone in his congregation asked him where he got his information, so he gave them all the Church website!  It looks like he is a missionary in the making.

And during this week of studies I came across a lovely quote from President Thomas S Monson who said,
“We have all experienced times when our focus is on what we lack rather than on our blessings. Said the Greek philosopher Epictetus, ‘He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.’

Regardless of our circumstances, each of us has much for which to be grateful if we will but pause and contemplate our blessings.”

And that made me think ... am I grateful for all the blessings I receive and am I wise to rejoice in what I have rather than envy what others have? I know the Lord blesses all of his children and I echo Elder Holland who said simply enough, the "Race Should Be Against Sin, Not Each Other"