Monday, April 23, 2018

The Final Countdown...bye bye YSA

Hey everyone!  Sorry this is going to be a really short email this week!  We had a lot going on this week.  Mainly teaching- We taught a lot of lessons that all went great.  Luckily for me, I haven't been a part of any "bad" lessons lately.  The Spirit has been with us as we teach, which is crucial.  The nearer I've gotten to the end of my mission, the more I recognize how little I, as a missionary actually do.  The Lord truly does prepare the elect to receive the Gospel and it's up to us as the missionaries to be disciplined in all that we do so the Lord trusts us with his precious children.

My good friend Ramin was able to be baptized this last week as well, which is always so cool to be a part of.  I love being able to witness others come unto Christ.  I especially love their testimony they share after.  Ramin mentioned "Mormons are the nicest people- it's because they follow Jesus Christ and His Gospel."  It was simple, but powerful.  We celebrated by going to In 'n' Out  afterward.  On Sunday he was confirmed and Qaseem also received the priesthood!

We got transfer calls as well, and for my last 6 weeks, I'm being shipped out of YSA and Woodland Hills.  I'm heading BACK up to Santa Clarita to be in the Canyon Country ward with Elder Ybarguen.  (Funny side note; Elder Howell, Elder Oswald, and Elder Ybarguen all knew each other before the mission being from Idaho Falls.  I got the 3 musketeers of Idahoans in the last 4 transfers.)

I know the Gospel is true.  I've lived it.  I've seen it change my life, and the lives of others.

I love every single one of you!
Elder Martin

"If you listen for the voice of the Father, He will lead you on a course that will allow you to experience the pure love of Christ."  Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

I Love Being Busy, and I Love the Gospel

Hello everyone!  Another great week.  We're putting in the work here in Canoga Park.  I absolutely love the areas I'm in, and so grateful I've been in this zone for a year of my mission!

On Monday, we had a lesson with Imelda.  She has been reading the Book of Mormon everyday!  Each time we meet, she has pages of notes to show us and questions to ask!  Now that's real intent!  We were also able to meet with Jimmy and Anne again.  I mention each week how much I love them, but I can't express it, haha!  We had a dinner and a good lesson with them.  We had Persian food and ate a ton!

On Tuesday, we had a lesson with Laura and then we were able to do our weekly planning.  A little bit later on, we did an exchange with some Elders in our zone.  I was able to go with one of them in their area and help them find people to teach!  It was a good little exchange.  It's fun to go on exchanges and learn from other missionaries!

Wednesday we had a couple lessons.  It turned out good because the member we brought to one of them, turned out to live right next to our friend.  They were able to connect really well, so it was awesome!  We decided to take Jimmy and Anne out for dinner too, and we had a really good time with them!

Thursday we had a couple meetings.  We had district meeting and a stake mission meeting, which is where we meet with the stake president and the mission president and discuss the missionary work.  Afterwards, the stake president pulled us in the stake high council meeting and had us briefly talk, so that was interesting.  We were able to find a couple new investigators, as well as we knocked!  At the end of the night we were at Jersey Mike's, and the worker just asked us one question- we ended up teaching him the whole Restoration as he made our sandwiches.  Before my mission, I had a hard time sharing the Gospel period, let alone in a restaurant, to a worker with other customers.  The Gospel can and will bless everyone, that's why it is so important that we share it with everyone!

On Friday, we had a lesson with a lady named Nina, who is from China.  She is a student and just happened to walk into the institute building on Thursday, the institute director called us saying that Nina had just walked in.  We had a really good lesson and we saw her whole demeanor change.  She told us too  that "you're so different than everyone else, there is something about you!"  Later in the day we went on exchanges with the assistants and I was with Elder Hadley in Stevenson Ranch and we got to work a little bit together, and act like we were companions while we could.  That was fun.

Saturday and Sunday were both good.  We were able to meet with Ramin again on Saturday and had his interview on Sunday!  He is ready for his baptism!  Nina came to church and really enjoyed it as well!  She was so happy!  It was a good Sabbath day!

We've been really busy covering the two wards, but it sure is fun.  I love being busy, and I love the Gospel!  I'm sorry there's nothing inspirational today, but pray and you can receive inspiration!

I love you all!
Elder Martin

"Where is our faith?  Is it in a team?  Is it in a brand?  Is it in a celebrity?  Even the best teams can fail.  Celebrities can fade.  There is only One in whom you faith is always safe, and that is in the Lord Jesus Christ.  And you need to let your faith show!"  
Russell M. Nelson

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Act on the First Prompting- "orange line"

Summer is in full swing here in Southern California.  We're hitting the 90's today, and boy does it feel like it!  We had a great week!

On Monday the temperature started getting hot, so we did a BBQ as a zone, so that was fun, but later on we had a lesson with Jimmy and Anne as per usual Monday night's.  They're continuing to progress and grow in the Gospel, which is cool to see first hand.

Tuesday we had a couple of lessons and weekly planning.  It was also our friend Qaseem's birthday, so we did what we could for him to have a good day.  We got him a little care package, and surprised him with it at institute- I don't think I've ever seen anyone so happy!  (Wait untul you see his smile in my photos, he's got a big smile.)

On Wednesday we had MLC.  We learned how to better use Facebook for online proselyting purposes and the app that has all the info for our areas.  It was a good meeting and got to see some good company, as well.  It's always good to see some past companions.

Later on, we had some lessons as well, with some of our friends who are progressing in the Gospel.

Thursday was an awesome day.  It was crazy.  We had district meeting and we had trainings in both districts, and sure enough, President showed up, haha.  It was all good though.  Afterwards, we had a good lesson and some obstacles came up- which is good.  It helps us know what to teach and how to help them overcome said obstacles.  We had some good knocking and then spent some time trying to get a hold of our friend who was supposed to be baptized on Saturday.  The adversary has been working on him; first he had his phone stolen on the bus, so we couldn't contact him, his family isn't too fond of us, so we can't stop by.  The only way we could contact was an app he had on an ipod, but it only works with wi-fi, so it was hard.  We needed to make sure everything for the baptism was still good, and we hadn't heard from or seen him since Tuesday, and we were getting a little worried.  We tried calling his work, having ward members call his home (so the call ID didn't show us as LDS), but neither worked.  Elder Oswald suggested we say a prayer, so we did.  Afterwards, I had a very distinct prompting.  It was simple..."orange line".  That's the line he always mentions for riding the bus.  So, like President Monson counseled, to act on the first prompting (though it was a weird one)  I drove to where I knew there were 4 bus stops on one corner.  We waited 10 minutes, and sure enough, here comes our friend running across the street.  He didn't get off the bus, but he came right where we were.  I'm so grateful for that experience that I had, to know that God truly does hear us and will ALWAYS answer our prayers.  We were able to have a good conversation with him and things worked out to where he was still able to be baptized this week!

The corner with 4 bus stops.

Friday we were able to meet with him one more time before his baptism and also hit up that Waffle Love!  We met with Andrea and Ramin as well!

Saturday was the big day!  My boy Qaseem got baptized.  He was so excited and he let everyone know it!  It was a super good service with a lot of people there.  I'm so grateful to play such a small role in the lives of these people, to help them do the things necessary to live with God again- it warms my heart so much!  I love the Gospel.

Sunday, Jimmy and Anne were able to come to church again, which is always super good.  We had to leave Woodland Hills a little early to get to YSA on time for Qaseem's confirmation.  We all felt the Spirit so much!  It was a great Sunday!  Later on, we went to another baptism and brought Ramin along, so he is familiar with what the service is like when it's his turn.  It was a great week!

We have a good week ahead of us, too.  I love this Gospel and all of you as well!

Elder Martin

"First promptings are pure inspiration from Heaven.  When they confirm or testify to us, we need to recognize them for what they are and never let them slip past."  
Elder Ronald A. Rasband

Monday, April 2, 2018

Happy Easter and Conference!

Happy Easter and General Conference weekend!  Such a great weekend, and I hope it was for all of you as well.  What a great opportunity to remember Christ and all that He has done for us.  I loved what Elder Uchtdorf asked each of us:  What is the most important day in history?  It should be the day Christ suffered for each of us.  Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, it has opened so many doors for each and every one of us!  Most importantly, the ability to repent, and the guarantee that each of us will be resurrected, because of Him.  What a blessing this is in our lives!  I hope and pray that we can all take advantage of the Saviors Atonement.

We had a great week, nonetheless, but that was the icing on the cake!  We had a hot week this week, but it was all good.  We had a lesson with Jimmy and Anne, as usual on Monday night.  We were able to talk about what conference is and how we can follow the prophet today-the Spirit was so strong as we testified that President Nelson truly is a prophet of God.

Tuesday was brief.  We had weekly planning which generally takes a little bit of time, but also had a good lesson with Qaseem, who is getting baptized this week.  We got a call from President Henrie as well, asking if we could switch interviews to Wednesday, rather than when they were scheduled, so we took some time to get situated so it could happen.  So we had the interviews on Wednesday, and they went well as usual.  We went to Cheesecake Factory for lunch, so that was pretty bomb.

Thursday and Friday we spent some good time knocking on doors.  We talked to a lot of really cool people.  It was Passover, and where I am is a Jewish heavy community, so some people weren't thrilled with us.  There was a couple from Israel that invited us in though, to show us how "real" Passover was celebrated.  It was neat.  Great people.  We had a good lesson with our friend Ramin as well and had a good friend from the ward helping out.

THEN, Saturday!  Started the morning right with some McDonald's and then conference.  It was so good!  I loved having the opportunity to stand in solemn assembly and sustain President Russell M. Nelson as the Prophet and President of the church!  How great is it to have a living Prophet to lead and guide us?  He gave some good direction and council.  He even 'exhorted' us on Sunday afternoon, to reread and restudy, even multiple times, this conference.  The talks were great between the two days.  I loved how big of a focus there was on ministering.  I love the scripture in 3 Nephi 27:21.  "Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do."

Christ was the perfect example of ministering to the one.  I hope we can all do the same.  Follow His example, in ALL things.

I love you all, have a great week!
Elder Martin

"May we labor side by side with the Lord of the vineyard, giving the God and Father of us all a helping hand with his staggering task of answering prayers, providing comfort, drying tears and strengthening feeble knees.  If we'll do that, we will be more like the true disciples of Christ we are meant to be...may we love one another as He has loved us."  Jeffrey R. Holland

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Christ Atoned for YOU!

Hello everyone!  The only madness about this March, is how quick it has gone.  Time is flying by.  I love my mission so much!  I love being able to study the Gospel and to think back at the blessings Heavenly Father has given me.  I love sharing it, and I love the people I get to share it with.  They are blessings in my life.

So, speaking of, on Monday we got to introduce Elder Oswald to Jimmy and Anne and were able to teach them.  Such great people!  They are great examples of consistent scripture study, and they're being blessed for it!

On Tuesday we had a day full of teaching.  We were able to meet with a couple of our investigators and also had members at each of them to help.  We had dinner at an elderly members home and we were able to talk with their caretaker about the Gospel and were able to come back and teach her again on Wednesday.  There are always people who are prepared for the Gospel.  They are all around us!  We were also able to have a good knockout on Wednesday and talked with some good people.  Later on, we had dinner at the Van Slooten's home,  They're a good family.  Brother Van Slooten has got a lot of instruments and had us playing some and we made a little song.  Sure was fun, but man, do I lack rhythm?  Thanks parents!

The band...

We had a lesson with Jimmy and Anne as well, and it's just so neat to see them progress in the Gospel and come closer to God and Jesus Christ each time we meet with them.  I've been able to get really close with them too, which is a blessing, Jimmy is a lot like me and my brothers, it's great! Haha

Thursday we had mission conference and everyone else in the mission got their smartphones and we received some good instruction on how to use them and how we can stay on our missionary purpose with them and be better advocates for truth with them.

 Afterwards, we did an exchange with Elder Blanchard and Elder Noble, our roommates.  They're such good elders.  It was a rainy day that made up for a good knockout.

Elder Blanchard and Elder Martin on rainy exchanges.

On Friday, Elder Blanchard and I spent a lot of time knocking again, in the morning and throughout the day.  We exchanged back and were able to have a lesson with our boy Qaseem- he's progressing so well, and recognizes the blessings that he's receiving as well.  We had dinner with our Stake President and his family too.  They're good examples of member missionaries!  We also met with Ramin that night.  He comes from a different background but sees the importance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and still really wants to be baptized!

A lot of the day Saturday we spent knocking doors again as well.  We had a blank day, so what better way to spend it, right?  We had a lot of really good conversations, but no return appointments or anything set up.  We are going to stop back by some of those people that we know felt something as we were there.  We met with Andrea too, and she's still a little firecracker for the Gospel!

I have come to love Sundays.  Singing the hymns (though I'm terrible) and listening to the speakers and of course taking the sacrament!  It's a blessing to be able to pass the Sacrament when they need us to, and to serve in that way.  One of the speakers spoke on Elder Holland's talk given at a BYU devotional "Remember Lot's wife" which has brown into one of my favorite talks.  With Easter coming up next week and it being General Conference, there was a little musical number by the primary that brought the Spirit instantly.  They sang the song "Gethsemane".

I invite all of you to study the Atonement of Jesus Christ and see how it can influence your life.  The Spirit is so strong at this time as we near Easter.  Do what you can to recognize what Jesus Christ has done for you.  Christ Atoned for YOU!  It is something that can be personal for each of us.  I love this verse of hymn #192 He died!  The Great Redeemer Died

Come, Saints and drop a tear or two
For Him who groaned beneath your load;
He shed a thousand drops for you,
A thousand drops of precious blood.

Christ has already done so much for you and can do so much more if you allow.

I love you all!
Elder Martin

Elder Martin with the missionaries he's trained and those they have trained.

Elder Oswald and Elder Martin

So much water.

"Because of Him every one of us has hope of a glorious future.  Because of Him, we can have clean slates, second chances, new beginnings.  Because of Him everything is possible.  Because of Him we will never die."  Sheri Dew

Monday, March 19, 2018

"He's Back"

Hello everyone!  It's been great getting some rain here in Cali, but we're warming up again!  I hope the weather is great wherever you are!  Had a pretty good week this week, full of teaching!

Monday we got to meet with Jimmy and Anne one last time before Elder Johnson left, and Tuesday before transfers, Jimmy took us to get food.  The rest of the day was busy!  We had lots to do, and it sure was exhausting, but we got it done.  My new companion is Elder Oswald, from Idaho Falls.  He and Elder Howell went to the same high school.

On Wednesday we went to visit one of our investigators in Calabasas and we spent a couple hours there knocking afterwards.  Those are some nice houses...we had good conversations, though no one was interested.  We had dinner with a member at Cheesecake Factory, which does some healing- haha.

Fancy house in Calabasas

Thursday we had district meeting and afterwards went on exchanges with some district leaders.  I went with Elder Bourda, who is from Mexico.  He's a good Elder, and we were able to have a good knockout and found a really cool lady (who didn't end up keeping her return appointment 😕)  We had a recent convert lesson with Andrea afterwards, and she is as solid as ever.  Such a good example!

Exchanges with Elder Bourda.

Elder Bourda and I did about 30 minutes of service for a lady who wanted to talk with us, but after we helped, she told us she wasn't interested.  Eventually, we exchanged back, and got to teach Qaseem the Plan of Salvation.  He understands it so well.  Elder Oswald and I had a really good knockout together.  We found a lady who was willing to listen to the whole Restoration and she saw how it could be relevant for her and her family, and a little bit after, we talked with another really cool guy.  Sometimes, when we knock on people's doors, they immediately ask where we're from to derail us and talk about that and then shut the door.  This guy did that, but we kind of turned it around on him, and he eventually opened up to us and we were able to testify how the Gospel will help him.  It was a good experience.  Later in the evening we met with our friend Ramin and had a good lesson with him.  We rest his baptismal date as well.  We read from the Book of Mormon with him which is one of the most powerful things.  I love reading it with investigators.

On Saturday we had a pretty empty day, so we planned in a lot of time to knock doors.  We did have Waffle Love for lunch too, and the workers said to me "He's back!"  I must be a regular...We talked to a lot of really good people.  We happened to cross paths with a couple of people from Iran, who are some of the most kind people I've ever met.  One in particular, wanted to give us a picture of Christ so badly.  I felt bad because she had painted it herself in 2000, back in Iran, but really wanted to gift it to us.  So kind.  There was a baptism in the zone , so we needed to make sure that everything was in line for that and that it happened correctly.  We had a lesson with Qaseem and were able to reset his baptismal date as well to help him be ready to make the commitment and covenant that baptism brings.

Sunday was really good.  We were the key note speakers in Woodland Hills sacrament meeting.  Just kidding, we spoke with a missionary who just got home.  It was kind of fun.  I didn't write anything down- I had an idea of what to talk on, but just spoke from the heart and mind.  It actually turned out really well-surprisingly, haha.  YSA ward went well as usual, also.  We were able to have 4 people at church, which is pretty good.  Things are going well here in the Canoga Park Zone.  I love it here!

I'm loving life.  Being a missionary is the best!  The Gospel is simple.  Faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End.  Live the Gospel as it has been outlined and you will be blessed.  I know it!

I love all of you!

Elder Martin

Private lake behind some houses we knocked.

"Every day of our lives...we are given opportunities to show love and kindness 
to those around us." President Thomas S. Monson

Monday, March 12, 2018

Look for the Spirit and recognize how God speaks to you. Then act.

Hey everybody!  I hope all is well and that you all had a great week!  This week we spent some time doing the Book of Mormon Experiment at CSUN and we were able to have some really good experiences, like usual.  One particular guy I talked to, had just walked out of his mid term test and looked like death, not gonna lie.  After doing the experiment and discussing the page he read, he looked ALIVE!  I mentioned that to him and he said, "Of course!  Any day you get to read the word of God it turns your day around!"  It's true!  Let the Book speak for itself.

Wednesday we had MLC, but it was a bit different.  We (zone leaders and STL) got our smart phones and that was what most of MLC was about.  We get to 'test drive' them, if you will, before they get rolled out to the rest of the mission. 

smart phone training

We had a lesson that night as well with one of our investigators.  This specific investigator will always re-teach everything back to us, to ensure he understands it.  He uses parables, essentially.  "For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding."  2 Nephi 31:3.

We had district meeting on Thursday, but not much more happened.  Except we got Waffle Love.

Friday was a really good day, though.  We were able to make a trip down to the Temple with Andrea to do temple baptisms.  It was a great experience.  The font in the LA Temple is beautiful!  The Spirit was there, in great abundance. 

Afterwards, you already know it, we hit Waffle Love.

Look closely- you can see temples.

Saturday was a day full of teaching.  We met with a couple different investigators and have been able to use our smart phones to pull videos up and such.  Such a great missionary tool!  We also got to have lunch with the Haws!

Sunday Jimmy and Anne were able to come to church in the Woodland Hills ward, which was awesome.  It was their first time there.  They got a lot of warm welcomes.  We had two friends come in the YSA ward, as well.  It was a good turn out for church.

We got transfer calls!  I'm staying put in the YSA and Woodland Hills.  I'm going to be with Elder Oswald, who is a stud from what I hear, so it'll be great!  Unfortunately, Elder Johnson and I are getting split, but he's going to my old area, Wiley Canyon.  To prepare for transfers, we had to move a lot of beds around the zone this morning.

Moving beds.

Afterwards got some more Waffle Love.  Makes for a good day.

The church is true.  Let it work in your life.  Then look for the feelings of the Spirit and recognize how God speaks with you.  Then act on it.  I love you all!

Elder Martin

"Get on your knees and pray, then get on your feet and work."  
President Gordon B. Hinckley