Friday, September 27, 2013

Angels to Bear You Up

Dear fami-lami-ding-dong!

First off, I need to apologize to Sarah for not remembering her halfy birthday. I'm really not good at remembering, I'm just good at being told when to sing. I hope that it was great!

Now with that cleared up, I can recount this past wonderful week! As I said in my last email, last Friday was Elder Findley's birthday. We had a really fun birthday celebration for him that night. I'll try to attach some pictures of that if I have time. Also, I got to see Uncle Scott in the temple again. It is always so great to see someone I love! I mean, I've come to love a lot of people as a missionary, but we're talking about FAMILY here. :D Another great experience last Friday was the opportunity to teach some people in the TRC. Both of the people that Elder Findley and I taught were returned missionaries who had served in Portugal and Brazil. Let me tell you, the Portuguese accent was a little weird, but I was so happy that I could understand it! At the end of our lesson with the Portuguese-Portuguese speaker, she said that we could speak Portuguese really well. I know she was probably just being nice, but it felt great! As we taught, it was so cool to see how the Spirit directed Elder Findley and me in what we said. The best part about the TRC is that we get immediate feedback from the volunteers written out on a piece of paper. According to the returned missionary who served in Brazil, he was "slapped in the face" by the Spirit". Probably not the exact phrase I would have chosen for describing a spiritual experience, but it definitely gives a visual and a physical(?). It felt so great to know that we had brought some spiritual understanding to this man's life. We challenged him to read the Book of Mormon cada día, which was a step up from what he was doing before. By the way, are all of you reading the Book of Mormon every day? It is so important that we do! The Book of Mormon has been revealed for our time. God will hold us responsible for our study of this sacred book. It holds the answers to the "questions of the soul" and can also answer our temporal concerns. It is so vital that we read the Book of Mormon so that Heavenly Father can bless us with light, knowledge, and joy in our lives.

So, Saturday was a big day. First day of Autumn! Anniversary of the Angel Moroni appearing to Joseph Smith! Yes, a big day indeed. Let me tell you, we are really starting to feel the Autumn weather here. I've worn my sweater several days to stay warm. I kind of wish that it would stay hot and dry because then I don't think about Fall in New Hampshire with brightly colored leaves and wicked tart apples. Speaking of which, is apple season over? I can never remember exactly, but I have the biggest craving for a Cortland or Macoun(?). Is there any possible chance that you could send some apples this way? I would ask for apple pie with some sharp cheddar cheese as well, but I feel like that might be a little too messy for delivery. Besides for the exciting dates to remember, Saturday was kind of a bum day. It was my last full day of being district leader. I thought that the last day might be the day that all of the blessings flowed in, but quite the opposite. Instead, almost everyone in the district was in a crabby mood, and I could feel their emotions bearing down on me. As I was writing in my journal that night, I started to ponder about this aspect of leadership. That's when my thoughts turned towards the Savior. He is our leader and our captain. He took upon Himself all of our griefs, sorrows, sins, anguish, heart aches, back aches, and every other stress in mortal life. How did he do it all? I was ready to scream from just a few grumpy missionaries. Yet, Christ is perfect. I testify with my whole soul to the reality of this statement. In the Savior of the world, we will find peace. We may find "peace" in other forms, but they will die with us. Jesus Christ is perfect, immortal, and all-powerful. Come unto the throne of his grace and receive strength.

Sunday, luckily, was not a day of screaming or stress. I was sick physically, but I felt so good on the inside. Elder Stoker was chosen as the new District Leader. He's been doing a great job, and I've been working as hard as possible to shut up and let him take over. It actually hasn't been that hard. It's amazing to see the different experience I get to enjoy in the MTC without the leadership position. One of the highlights from Sunday was the chance that my district had to sing in out sacrament meeting. There are some tone deaf people in our district, but when we sang on Sunday, it sounded SO GOOD! We sang "I Need Thee Every Hour". We sang a cappella for the third verse, and then a Sister and I sang a duet for the beginning of the fourth verse. I could tell that everyone in the room could feel the Spirit. And believe me, the Spirit helped us. I was hearing some vocal part I had never heard before coming from the "Bass" section, and it went well with what everyone else was signing! I still have no idea what they were singing, but it wasn't the Bass, Tenor, Alto, or Soprano part. The other highlight from Sunday was getting to hear Elder Merrill J Bateman talk to us at our devotional. He talked about the spiritual powers that missionaries are entitled to if the live righteously and serve diligently. It was so awesome! He told us some powerful stories about missionaries who humbly and faithfully listened to the promptings of the Spirit to seek out and teach individuals and families. The power of the Spirit is real, and God is seeking to gather in His children.

Monday was another good day. In class we talked about the difference between living obediently and living righteously. To be obedient is good because we follow God's law and qualify for certain blessings. However, when we live righteously, we do not seek to satisfy the law alone, but we change our hearts so that we seek only after things that are good and lead us to Christ.

Tuesday was one awesome, awesome day. In the morning, the Elders in my district got to go do service at the Provo MTC West Campus (Wyview and Raintree?)  I can never remember if this is right because I think I always want to confuse it with Braintree, MA)). We were driven around in a van and went outside the main campus gates! I know it seems pretty trivial, but I was freaking out! It was also cool because that is when I realized that my duty to be a missionary is NOW. We got to serve alongside some BYU students. I know they were probably all LDS, but I made sure to give them the message to read the Book of Mormon. After all, we all need to be uplifted and strengthened by a representative of the Savior. Probably the best part of the day, however, was the devotional at night. It was given by Elder Don R Clark. It wasn't so much the message that he shared, but the message that the Spirit shared that made me so happy. In his talk, he talked about several experiences of missionaries heeding the promptings of the Spirit to find God's children to teach. In one of the experiences, he shared a story about an Elder serving in Central America who couldn't speak Spanish very well. He tried to talk to a woman on a bus, but wasn't able to say much. When he asked if they could come back to talk to her, she said that they could and that her house was the one with the little red sign. Days later, that Elder fasted and his companion and he went in search of the house with the little red sign. They passed many houses with red signs, but each time this Elder looked up to heaven and was prompted that it was not the right house. Finally they came to a house and the Elder was prompted that it was the right house. They knocked on the door to find the same woman from the bus. She was taught by the missionaries. Something else that really struck me from Elder Clark's talk was his reference to a scripture about how angels can encircle missionaries. He then said that there are angels encircled about us, willing and waiting to guide us and help us in doing God's work. As I thought about these two distinct ideas from his talk, I couldn't help but think about Grandma and Grandpa Ayer. I feel impressed that they are somehow guiding and preparing the way before Sarah and me as we serve as missionaries. They were faithful and diligent in this life, and I'm sure that they continue to be. I also look back and think about those Elders that first passed by Grandma and Grandpa's house so many years ago. They just stopped by to ask for directions, but instead returned to give directions from God. Were they prompted to return to the little red house? I know they were. Did they know the impact that they would have? I'm sure they didn't. I want to be able to go out and knock on the doors of little red houses and bring the joyful blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ into the lives of God's children. We may not see the impact we may have now, but the children's children of those we teach will rejoice when they think of their grandparents who listened to the humble servants of God. During the meeting, I also received several promptings of people that I should contact to help support and strengthen. I want to be able to help uplift as many people as possible, and I know that will be able to if I listen to the promptings of the Spirit.

On Wednesday I got to be a host for new missionaries coming in. It was so much fun! It was so enjoyable to be able to give a happy smile to reassure mothers leaving their boys and Elders leaving their mommies. I also had a great experience in teaching. Elder Findley and I had prepared to teach about the First Vision to our investigators Romario and Patricia, but were prompted during the lesson to talk about other things. It~s interesting, but we had also kind of prepared to teach about these things during companion study, but weren't expecting to talk about them. Inspiration is real!

Yesterday was good too, but I'm just about out of time. Let's just say that each day is great, but I'm living on a new level of greatness right now. It's kind of pathetic, but it's only an okay day if I feel the Spirit a few times a day. I probably need to change my attitude and perspective. Life is great! Everything is great! Turn to Christ and find joy! Eu sei que Cristo vive. Em Cristo é todo poder, paz, e força. Leia as escrituras e receba a força de Cristo. (I know that Christ lives. In Christ is all power, peace, and strength. Read the scriptures and earn the strength of Christ.)

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

P.S. Tender mercy from this week: getting a New Hampshire state quarter back for change. I have it in my shirt pocket next to my heart! :D

P.P.S. Yes, Mom. I do love getting surprise letters during the week! Did Christian get my surprise letter? If not, that surprise is ruined. :D

P.P.P.S. 3 Nephi 24:7 "Return unto me and I will return unto you."

P.P.P.P.S. I restarted the Book of Mormon my first week in the MTC, and I will probably finish it by Sunday! Read it! There are so many blessings! Love you!!!

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