Monday, December 30, 2013

Elder Fords Australian Christmas

City in New South Wales, Australia
 Hello family and friends!
All is well here in the land down under! I am enjoying the warm days but not enjoying the loud kookaburahs (that is a bird, and I am not sure If I am spelling it right) at 4 in the morning! ha It was wonderful to talk to family and friends briefly on the phone. I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and enjoy watching the college football games on new years day like I used to! ha. 

 We had zone training meeting up in Coffs Harbor this last week. The zone leaders gave some inspiring trainings on HOW to do missionary work more effectively. We then had zone P-day, where we played laser tag and went to a really beautiful out look. there was a cool "sky-pier"where you could see EVERYTHING! Transfers were this week, I am staying in Port Macquarie with Elder Tsai. It will be fun! We are starting to teach with a lot more unity and power.
   My core experience with god this week again several smaller things piled up to make a principle known to me. The first was when me & elder Tsai were listening to a talk given by Carol B. Stephens this last general conference entitled "Do We Know What We Have?" A marvelous talk about the restoration of the priesthood and the endowment. I was then reading a bit out of "Our Search For Happiness"by M. Russell Ballard where it was again talking about the mighty power of priesthood and it's restoration to the earth. We also taught the restoration lesson twice this week, both times the spirit was stronger than I have ever before taught with. The power of the priesthood was on my mind a bit to say the least... We had the opportunity to give a blessing to a father of a home this weekend. After the blessing he said he felt much better and didn't cough once the rest of the time we were there. Yesterday, we were speaking with single sister in our branch, she said when her child was young he developed whooping cough and almost died, but was saved due to "vaccines and a WHOLE LOT of priesthood!"The statement was one of faith and struck me quite hard. I have always heard stories about the priesthood and blessing and miracles. It is usually an "Oh, wow. what a nice story" kind of thought. However, with all my studying and the experiences we (me and Elder Tsai) had had this week I realized what power we have here on the earth. The Power to Act in GODS Name. The words from Sister Stephens talk are in my head the last couple of days, "Do We Know What We Have?" that was my core experience with god this week.
   I have realized the importance of the spirit in teaching. It is near impossible to teach as Jesus taught without the spirit. I have been trying to slow down and have the spirit a lot more in out lessons this week. The outcome? HUGE! This week we taught the restoration (a lesson I have taught countless times in the last 6 months) more powerfully than I have ever before taught. Simply, because of slowing down, helping the people to understand what we are saying slowly and more boldly  The spirit is much stronger, it is undeniable in these lessons. The investigators are much more receptive and understanding. The spirit is EVERYTHING. 
   We went to visit a man on Christmas eve. He has no family, is somewhat old, and has some word of wisdom issues... he was a bit down in the dumps... We brought a Christmas message and the spirit into his home. Before we left he was singing and playing Christmas songs on his guitar! We were walking out the door and he said something along the lines of "I was feeling blue earlier, but you guys have changed my whole day. Merry Christmas!" It was so pleasing and enlightening to see such a mood swing on such a great night
   The Christmas season truly was great! I hope you all have an amazing new years! I love you all. 

      Elder Ford

Sunday, December 22, 2013

White HOT Christmas

I is definitely not white as in snow here... but the sun does reflect quite bright off of a lot of white objects... ha But yes it is very warm here! It is nice! I love it. But no, it really does not feel like Christmas at all... haha except we put up the lights in the apartment and hung up the stalking I got in my package. And we found a mini tree in our closet! So yea... ha and the bag of nuts did make it seem a little bit more like Christmas! ha Christmas Conference was awesome! a lot of good stuff. we watched a movie called Ephraim’s rescue. apparently it is new. It is a story of a man and how he helped the pioneers cross the plains. it was awesome! I liked it. very spirit filled honestly. There was a quote in that really stuck out to me "You have to Lose your life in order to Find it!" That hit deep. I even wrote it down in my notes! haha. Christmas is interesting down under... ha it is a lot more like the 4th of July almost... everyone keeps inviting us over for lunch. I can call around 7 that should work. all the people sound fine. an hour is about the longest I can take probably. Things are progressing here work wise. We had 2 investigators at our ward party. and 1 at church last week and a different one this week. we should be picking up here soon! all is well! oh and this is crazy to think that that the Knudsen’s are moving! they are like the 1 family I never expected to move... but it makes sense once you think about it...
My core experience with God this week is I guess a lot of little things. A lot of little things started to become more clear. In my studying and because of the Temple trip we were blessed to take. The love of God & Christ was truly shown to me this week through personal revelation. There was no great or marvelous moment, but several little moments that cleared things up and made me understand more fully the gospel. Which in turn brings great joy to a missionary. It was quite the appropriate experience given the season!
  I have been doing better in my teaching I feel like. Me and Elder Tsai had a good companion study earlier in the week that helped me listen better. As I am becoming a better listener I am more able to teach according to their needs, rather than hitting all the points of the lesson. Before, I thought "What they NEED is to listen to the WHOLE lesson and stop interrupting!" Obviously I was in the wrong here. ha. I am starting to be able to better help the people we teach and apply the gospel to them as I tailor the lesson, even in mid-lesson. Continuing to try and better my teaching skills, onward and upward!""
   We visited a less active man with an active member in our branch. For a while I was trying to think of something to help this individual. When after he said some of his further concerns, my mouth opened and I asked a rather deep question inquiring about his feelings of the church in general. As I sat and watched him ponder I noticed his expression change a bit. It definitely was a testament to me on how listening and having the holy ghost with you can change EVERYTHING for the better in a lesson.
Love you all Merry CHRISTmas!
   Elder Ford
 "Come What May & Love It!"  - Joseph B. Wirthlin

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sophomore Missionary

I realized after I sent this e-mail last week that I was at 6 months out! 1/4 served! So I am now calling myself a sophomore missionary... hahaha I am doing well though! I was touched to hear about the ward Christmas party and all the thoughts and old pictures. ha. Mon... i totally remember the Sheppard outfits too! haha There was a festival here last week called "The Festival Of The Sun!" Pretty much an excuse for a bunch of young people to get together and drink at a big out door concert! It was crazy to see! ha but it did bring some teaching opportunities! The work is progressing here and the whole zone broke the record for new investigators half way through the month! I am excited to see how the rest of the month progresses! It will be interesting! the sunsets here can be just as beautiful as Missouri sunsets, I included a picture of one... our Christmas conference is on Thursday and since we are traveling so far we get to go to the temple in Sydney the night before as well! so that will be interesting! President Howes is VERY temple focused! it is good. I will try to take pictures after If I have time! i would like to call around 6 or 7 Christmas eve, which is 1 or noon here. seems convenient for both parties.. but we will see. Elder Tsais family is on the east coast so they are 2 hours behind. I will let you know for sure next week!
My core experience with god this week was due to the fortunate opportunity I had to go on several exchanges with other missionaries! Every Elder I served with and every person we met were so different. All kinds of back grounds, behaviors, and habits. Some were loud and some are more quiet. However, when we were teaching we all were common. All faithful sons of our father in heaven. We may act different and have our individual personalities, but we are all converted to the same gospel. it was really neat to fill the spirit in different ways as I taught with different missionaries! Also, miracles happen on exchanges. We got into houses and met Less active members that hadn't been visited in years! We talked to more people and got more potential investigators and even investigators than we could have with out that individual missionary or on our own. 
   I m trying to be more patient when I teach. I notice I often think "okay, I know what to say there!" and want to say  it, and am so eager to say it! But that isn't good because that means I am not doing as good of a job at listening once I have this thought. I am just waiting for them to finish. It stems off from the listening problem I am getting better at. I need to be more patient with my listening I think. It is so easy to jump into a topic and start bashing when you know something is wrong! But the spirit immediately leaves as we know... I have noticed lessons go better when I am more patient and stay away from the bashing line. 
   As i try to teach as Christ taught I am becoming a better teacher and ultimately a better me! I learning "people skills" I will use for the rest of my life. I am becoming evermore eager to share the gospel and what is important to me. In my studies I am becoming so much more grateful for the life and knowledge I have, particularly pertaining to the gospel, because of the sacrifice of others (ancestors, parents, friends, etc.).
   We invited an investigator to be baptized this week and I think it really made it click with her that we are here to help and change. It really established our purpose with this daughter of god. helped her to understand the restoration much better too!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Jealous of the Surf...

I am doing well friends and family! I love you all. Australia is fun! I saw a kangaroo for the first time yesterday! That was fun! I have now seen both of the big animals people want to see here  in Australia! We visited a man named Derek, and he showed us some beautiful places near his home. That is the 2nd picture!  Port is Beautiful and the best part is... There is no snow! ha I hear you are now suffering that... I am so sorry... ha. It is nice here. very warm, I am really enjoying that! I am happy to hear form all of you.
OH and my mission address is: P.O. Box 2723 Carlingford NSW 2118 (letters only)
The Coast here is Beautiful! I love being able to see it. It is odd though cause I am so used to seeing it on the west side and the sun setting so it is a little disorienting at times... because it is obviously on the east side! The waves are HUGE it taunts me and makes me really want to learn how to surf! ha 
  My core experience with god this week was for the first time seeing a huge blessing from dedicated fasting. I started my fast Sunday and ended my fast with prayer and dedicated my fast to our finding efforts. I had never seen a big blessing from fasting before... It just kind of seemed to be "what we do"or "just cause"that is what we are told. I have never had more new investigators are opportunities to talk to new people as I have had this week! it was quite amazing honestly! in fact our zone has nearly reached its goal for finding on the month. I have never been close to reaching a goal like this before. I hope to again see a miracle! I hope that we can continue to see and act on these opportunities. For, I did notice that the harder I tried to set up a return appointment and help them learn, and all the things we do to get a new investigator that they opened up more and I was able to help them learn and like us more. Due to the spirit I would say. Gaining a testimony of Fasting and effort is what I would say my core experience with god was this week! 
   I am doing better with listening. I was on exchanges with Elder Leneham this past week. We visited a former investigator that was a 7th day Adventist. It could have very easily turned into a bible bashing session. But Because me and Elder Leneham had the idea of asking inspired questions and listening fresh in our minds from 12-week study that morning we were able to help him understand the book of Mormon and Joseph Smith more. We saw his countenance change. It was interesting. I am trying to do better at listening, and seeing success. But like any bad habit it is taking a little longer than I would like to break.
I love you all and hope all is going well! I pray for many of you back home every night.
      Elder Christian Ford