Do you want to be happy? :)

Do you want to be happy? :)

Though you won't realize it, I have decided to start my email a little early this week. It is currently 12:35 on a rainy Thursday afternoon during our lunchtime. I know I have missed a few weeks here and there and it has been a big letdown to myself. I will be completely honest, I could have written one this last week, but I recently have not had much motivation or desire to write out the week's events or miracles that have happened. I get in my head too often when writing. I feel as though it has to be super uplifting and full of miracles and experiences to help build the reader, you, to help you feel good about me and the work I am doing. I am so worried about the, "What will people think of me?" question that so many of us think about on a day-to-day basis, that I have thought of my emails needing to be perfect.

That perspective is starting to change a little which is nice. Though I do want to seem good in the eyes of others, I have realized that this email is more for me than anyone else. It is here to help me look back on the week that I have had to express my thoughts, concerns, and remarks.

The truth is that the work isn't perfect. Believe it or not, missionaries do get discouraged and get down every now and then. A missionary would be lying if they said that they have never felt down at some point in their mission experience. This could be manifested in many different ways, but if we let the discouragement stay, then it will hinder the work. The work that we are doing, sharing the gospel with others and helping them implement it into their own lives, is very much applicable to us! We can use the atonement just as much as anyone else can. We invite people, as members of Jesus Christ's church, to partake in the joy that is of the Savior's atonement. How quick are we to partake in it for ourselves and understand that His sacrifice is for you? That Jesus Christ felt YOUR pains, YOUR sorrows, YOUR temptations, YOUR hardships, YOUR loss, YOUR sadness.

"And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people."And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities "Now the spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless, the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me." (Alma 7:11-13)

That was a super long soapbox just to say that we can turn to Jesus in all that we do. He knows what we have gone through and the discouragement can go away as quickly as you would like if you turn to and yoke yourself to Christ.

I don't know if that made any sense but I hope my point was able to come across the right way. I have been discouraged but Jesus has strengthened me through those troubling times, and I know he can and will do it again if I am willing.

To continue off of this thought and to get into some of the week's events, let me share an experience that my companion, Elder Williams, and I had this past week.

Dark and early on Tuesday morning, we had to make about a 40 minute trip to a doctor's office. A ton of unfortunate events were about to occur that we did not plan for.

We left right on time and were going to make it just a few minutes early to the appointment. We are about 10 minutes into our travel when we receive a call from the Elders that we live with. We had accidentally locked them out of the apartment. We swing around and unlock the door. At this point Elder Williams and I were feeling a bit mad at ourselves and at the situation.

Listening to 'Think Celestial' by President Nelson, we started to make the trip back to the doctor's office. We get about 2 minutes away from the office when they call us and tell us that we need to reschedule the appointment because they don't let you in after 15 minutes. I bet you could guess how defeated we must have felt. But we heeded President Nelson's advice and looked at the bigger picture. We decided to focus our thoughts and actions in an eternal way rather than stay in a worldly state of mind. We then proceeded to have a wonderful day! We looked at the positive rather than all the negative.

That has been a big focus of mine recently. While I was home my dad was listening to this audiobook called something like, Gap vs. Gain. It was all about how if we look at what we are missing, the gap, then how can we improve and be happy. If we focus on the gain and what is going well then we will be more happy and continually improve.

I think about the classic 1 Nephi story of Nephi and his brothers Laman and Lemuel. Laman and Lemuel were being negative and didn't see the bigger picture of why they had to leave Jerusalem. While Nephi might not have known at first why they needed to leave, but he inquired of the Lord,

"I did cry unto the Lord, and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers." (1 Nephi 16).

Think Positive!

Can we take a quick moment here and talk about that Texas vs BYU game? Now I wasn't able to watch it but I heard some things. WHAT THE HECK!? 35 - 6! Like, come on now. Really, letting me down. E. Williams and I were sitting in a Chipotle after the game doing some Facebook work. There was a man wearing a Texas shirt, so we asked him how the game went. Very sad for us.

On Saturday we had a very wonderful day! The Lord seriously blessed Elder Williams and I 100 fold. I was doing some thinking while I was getting ready for the day pondering these questions: Why am I so excited for the day today? What is different about today than any other? How can I make every day like this? Even now I am still trying to figure out how and why. The answer may not come while I am on my mission or ever but I just hope and pray that I can feel this way about the work every single day.

After ending the day, during my 9-10:30 time, I was trying to think of why it was such a good day compared to other days and I came up with this simple math equation.

Faith, in Jesus Christ + Work / Effort = Miracles / Blessings

Pretty neat, right? I came up with it myself. I could dive into the three main points of the equation but it is pretty self-explanatory, I think. This particular day we were willing to do all that was required of us, because of our faith in Jesus Christ, which propelled us forward to do the work. Thus, we saw many blessings. We didn't really think about it until the end of the day but all the amazing miracles we saw were from us just doing what we thought was "normal". Talking to everyone, visiting old records, getting gas in our car, pretty normal things that we do, and because of it, we gained a reward. Those miracles. "...I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God."Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."(Alma 25:11-12)

It has been raining pretty heavy this week. On, then off, then on again. The temp is starting to drop which I was excited about until the temperature actually started to drop down. It is currently 43 degrees here in Pflugerville, Texas. Which I would say is pretty cold. I don't know how I ever worked at a ski resort or did winter sports, because I am freezing. I have been wearing my long-sleeve white shirts and my jacket, but it doesn't seem to be doing the trick. I will have to, Improvise, Adapt, Overcome, my way through this winter season.

The one thing that the cooler temps have been reminding me of is Christmas. I know it isn't even Halloween or Thanksgiving yet, but can you just imagine it? The Christmas season! Right around the corner! We almost had the opportunity the other day to go through a haunted house! We were visiting one of our members and they were building a "Yard Haunt", that's what he called it, but his friend across the way had a carnival-style haunted house that our member almost took us in. We waited for a tad while the friend was fixing some things but we had to get going! It was pretty unfortunate! I would have loved to go through his haunted house but we had other things to do!

Elder Williams and I were made responders for a Facebook page in the Austin area that runs "ads". The mission is trying to wipe the page out, but ads keep getting put on it so they needed people to respond to the comments and likes. So we message everyone who reacted to a post on the page and reach out to them about whatever the post is about. We have been seeing so many cool miracles on Facebook recently! It is crazy how God will help these posts reach certain people when they need it the most!

We met this guy named Adrian from it. He is super cool! We just responded to his simple comment of "Amen" one day and within an hour he had already messaged us back and we had a phone call lesson with him, and put him on date to be baptized. It was pretty cool how it worked out because Elder Williams had reached out to him on his personal profile and we had called Adrian from Elder Williams's account. So Adrian didn't even really know I was there. As Elder Williams was talking to him I got a really strong prompting to just tell Elder Williams to extend a baptismal date. He is now meeting with missionaries closer to him in Austin and told his wife about the Book of Mormon and it was a pretty amazing experience! The Lord is preparing people all over! We just need to have the faith to find them. Facebook works :)

Transfers are tomorrow. I have been back in the field for 6 weeks now. It feels like I never left at some points, which I am very grateful for! These past 6 weeks have taught me a whole lot. Patience, Love, Humility, and a greater love for my Savior, Jesus Christ. I love all the people that I have been able to meet while serving in Pflugerville. My time here is coming to a close though. I got some pretty crazy transfer news that honestly shocked Elder Williams and me.

I will be going to Vista Ridge, and finishing an Elder's training. Not just any Elder though. Elder Giuffra got a train gain his last transfer before he goes home, and now that he is, his companion will only be one transfer being trained. So I will be going to finish his training! How exciting is that?! Elder 'Iloa is his name. I don't know much about him at the moment but I am very excited to get to know him and work alongside him.

There’s surely somewhere a lowly place. In earth’s harvest fields so wide. Where I may labor through life’s short day. For Jesus, the Crucified. So trusting my all to thy tender care, And knowing thou lovest me, I’ll do thy will with a heart sincere: I’ll be what you want me to be.
I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord, Over mountain or plain or sea; I’ll say what you want me to say, dear Lord; I’ll be what you want me to be. (Hymn 270: I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go)

I have many more experiences and events that I would love to share but this email is getting mighty in writing already. So, I will spare you and let you go about your day.

Please know that you are loved. Jesus Christ is always there beside you, carrying you through the hard days in your life!

Jesus loves you!

That's about it. See ya.

-Elder Kohl Payne