Pray On

Pray On

It's been a while. I have been having a hard time trying to get my thoughts out recently. My ask for each of you is a short prayer that will help me stay motivated to express my thoughts each week.

We will keep this email a little short this week so that I can start getting into the groove of writing, again. It has been a few weeks since my last update. Every time preparation day rolls around I feel my motivation to write just diminishes. I have so much throughout the week that happens, where I would love to just share it all, but then all the build-up is gone and I never get around to doing it. I am going to start trying to write when I first get up.

We shall see what happens this next week...

The Vista Ridge area is a unique one. Now, I'm sure any missionary could say that about the individual area that they serve in. I thought I would just elaborate more on why this area in Cedar Park, TX is unique.

When you think of Texas you probably think of Cowboys and tumbleweeds. While this is true for some parts of Texas, it isn't so true for Cedar Park. The diversity is pretty wide here. That in turn brings in a wide amount of different religious beliefs.

When we try to share something about what we do as missionaries and the unique message that we share with the Book of Mormon, and someone isn't too interested because they have their own belief, we turn in on them and try to get to know more about what they believe in. Once we can get a good background of who these people are it is easier to take the doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and relate to these people on a common level.

It has been nice to learn more about people and the history of what they believe. It is a new type of love for the people that is deeper than just a base level. Once we can recognize where people are coming from and why they understand topics a certain way, it is easier to be able to talk and people open up that way.

Being able to communicate and talk about struggles or differences of opinion can go a long way. This goes with companions, friends, family, strangers, anyone.

These past few weeks have been a big realization of this principle for me. The power of just getting to know people and understand them is amazing. I have been able to see myself be less judgemental of everyone and lead with love in every interaction as the Savior would.

We never know what people are going through, so having an open, and loving heart is what the Savior would do and it lets people trust you because they recognize deep down that this is what Jesus Christ would do.

The people and culture may be vastly different but we are all sons and daughters of a loving and caring God.

I have been able to see how much the members care for these people as well. Each time we bring someone new to church, they are always willing to say hi and introduce themselves.

One member in particular stands out to me. She has such a deep love for everyone, no matter what walk in life you are taking.

We had one of our new friends come to church one of these past weeks. She came in a little late and we had just thought that she might not come. My companion leans over to me and says,
"I think [Our friend] is here".

He had never met this friend, due to us being with other missionaries at the time. I congratulated him and told him,
"Good job for looking out", he immediately tells me that it wasn't by his own doing but that the spirit had told him to look over and he knew it was her.

We ended up sitting by her for the rest of the first hour of our church service. Once the meeting ended our member came up to us and our friend, immediately took her in and "stole" our friend!

I know I felt a lot of gratitude in that moment for our members. Especially those who are ready and looking for opportunities to welcome someone in with the love that Christ would give to them.

We have another one of our friends who just recently moved here from Africa. He was telling us about how much he loves Jesus Christ and wants to follow him the best that he can.

During our meeting with him, he asked, what seemed out of the blue, the requirements for becoming a member. We talked to him about baptism and how it would be following the example of Jesus Christ. We decided to extend the invitation to him to be baptized and he said it would be something that he would like to do but that he wants to learn more first before he fully commits. He told us that he needs his English to be more established and that he loves how our church is represented online and thinks that it would be a great fit for him.

He then says the words, "I am ready". Once he said this in a little bit of broken English, the spirit filled the room of the church building that we were in.

I feel as though I have been struggling to feel the spirit recently so having our friend say that he is ready and wants to follow Jesus Christ the best he can with the confirming witness of the Holy Spirit being there with us was a powerful experience that built my realization of the Spirit.

I have noticed that as I was in the beginning of my time here in Texas, I had all of these strong distinct spiritual experiences, such as the one that I had just mentioned. These experiences grew my testimony and have helped me follow the spirit ever since. I have grown more accustomed to the guiding and enabling power that God grants unto us with the Holy Ghost. I felt that I must have been doing something wrong to not be having these "powerful" experiences all the time. The reality is, I'm living in those experiences daily.

The more we have the Holy Ghost with us and have sacred experiences the more accustomed, I feel, that we get with the Holy Spirit being present in our lives. Once we choose to act on a propmting, a feeling, or an experience with the spirit and promise to continue to follow that throughout our lives God will then in turn start to trust us more and more as we follow his guidance that he is granting unto us through the Holy Spirit.

I hope that came across in the way I attended it. I feel like Nephi when he says,

"..neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men."
2 Nephi 33:1

And even then I don't think I speak very well 😅

My current companion, Elder Rowe, got his VISA and will be heading to Peru this Thursday the 7th. It is weird how fast this one transfer has gone by with him. He has been able to learn and grow very quickly which is awesome to see as a companion.

I am jealous that the people of Peru get to be with him and hear his amazing testimony of Jesus Christ and can't wait to continue to see him learn and grow while he is there!

While I was just reading back through my email, I was reminded of the important role that prayer can and will play in every aspect of our lives.

One of my favorite scriptures recently comes from 3 Nephi 19,

 "And Jesus said unto them: Pray on; nevertheless they did not cease to pray." 

Or in other words, Keep calm and pray on.

The people at this time in 3 Nephi 19 were living righteously.

(I mean they just saw Jesus multiple times and they all got to be able to witness of his divinity by feeling the prints of the nails in his hands and feet)

15 And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.
16 And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying:
17 Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus and did worship him.

3 Nephi 11
^^For context

Even during one of the best, probably the best moment of their life they didn't stop praying. I love the thought of "Pray on". We may be going through hard times or good times but we should never stop praying. I don't know if it's a new view that I have on prayer now, but I feel as though I have recognized myself being more meaningful and humble in my communication with Heavenly Father. It has been so cool to have.

I don't really have much else to say. I have been practicing my ukulele again. I never knew how much relaxation or a destresser playing my ukulele was until I started playing it again. It's the small things :)

I should be getting back on track writing again.

I am going to start filming some more videos for FB and possibly just some fun random skits.

Our friends are doing good! We have quite a few that are coming to church regularly which is great!

We have a pet squirrel that comes and visits us on our balcony

It's been feeling nice out here recently. The temperature is starting to turn up, we love the heat... :)

That's about it. See ya.

  • Elder Payne
I am the master at hide in seek