Sunday, March 30, 2014

Improvement and Progression Have One Eternal Round

Hello, O my Beloved!
   All is well in Tuggerah! It is a fun area and we get to do a lot. It was weird being in a big ward again... ha. I was used to being in a branch with 45-50 people there every Sunday and knowing the branch list better than some of the presidency. ha. Probably why I got transferred... ha. All is well though. We have a decent apartment, one of the members is the Land Lord. He is way cool. We have this huge couch and have to enter through the back door because it was converted into a duplex. It is so fun. ha. I guess the Aussiees have a problem with flushing toilets... this was on the back door of the stall in our chapel. ah (see picture).

No, I am kidding obviously. I love the ward so far. They are very nice and good to us. We have a meal calendar again! i haven't had one of those ina while. ha. All is well here. We DID end up getting to go to the temple this week it was great. I say end up because the other Elders lost their phone on the train the day before.. ha. So things were kind of a mess for a few days... seeing as he is the district leader! ha.
    It would seem odd to say my core experience with god was anything outside of entering the House of the Lord this week. I feel it might be almost inappropriate to say it was anything else but the Temple, as I had the blessing of being able to attend this week. As I was inside the Temple in Sydney I had thought of all these things in the last week or so that I had experienced. I had listened to talk (which spoke of our first parents for a moment), Elder Imesons departing testimony, the John Tanner story we showed a family the other night. Then I was looking at Adam and Eve in my head, realizing they gave up everything because they knew that they had to in order to fulfill the words of the Father and keep all his commandments. They chose to leave comfort levels, like I recently learned about, in order to grow and progress eternally. They had to "Put down their childish things," as Sister Nelson put it, and CHANGE. I realized that in order for us to improve and progress in this "one eternal round" that we need to CHANGE. Literally "Forsake the Things of this World" and seek for the things of a better. As I was pondering that I was lead to think "what is it we have to change or give up?" I noticed that in every case, all my experiences the past week, all the scriptures, all the prophets, and my missionary call letter, point at the same answer. Everything. The 40 day fast has stuck out to me for nearly 2 transfers. I knew I needed to do it. I half and timidly attempted it up in Port. I received half and timid answers and miracles. I have now been "fasting from anything that pokes at my spirit" for a week almost. I can see problems in myself I had never seen before. I have realized how judgmental I am. Which has been how I am trying to teach my like Jesus taught this week. Christ never judged anyone he was teaching for doing wrong... even though he is the only one who rightfully could. That is my revelation I have received this week. Missionaries, and every Saint in these latter days must CHANGE their ways and live consecrated. Quite a tough endevour. As my new companion, Elder Orr, loves to quote: "I never said it would be easy. I said it would be worth it." As with any law given to us by the Lord. I hope to become the lord needs me to be and pleads with me to be, by aligning my will with that of the father and CHANGING.
  Once again, I LOVE you all! I am grateful for your love and support. I do feel your prayers. I hope my e-mails can be of the benefit you say they are. 

   Elder Ford

Monday, March 24, 2014

Miracles of the Spirit

Elder Meson
Elder Leneham

  I have been Transferred to Tuggerah! My new Companion is Elder Orr from Idaho! It is on the central coast and only an hour away from Sydney. It was weird driving here. The exit we took to get here was one of the rest stops on our way up to port! ha The nearest missionaries are now in our flat with us instead of an hour south in Taree. ha. We are going on a temple trip this weekend, and actually have to dress up and physically go to a district meeting! Wierd...
  At transfer meeting a missionary I really look up to and learned a lot from (that served in Taree) "Died" yesterday. Or for those of you that have not served missions, went home! ha. Back to Wyoming. I got to see Elder Leneham also, another missionary I have learned great things from. He goes back to Brisbane in 12 weeks! I took a picture of the Newcastle sunrise before transfers s well for you. We had to travel there the night before so we could leave at a  reasonable time Monday morning to get to the meeting in Sydney. Again with the driving...
   My core experience with god this week, I think, has to do with the spirit. At times it feels like I am spiritually apathetic. As I have been in this country however, I am starting to feel it and understand it a bit more! Hence the promptings I have been receiving lately. I am truly learning to follow promptings, we had a miracle in port last week that came from following the spirit! We tracked out a street by a less active sister home 6 weeks ago. I wanted to go get rid off all the pamphlets and 2 copies of the Book of Mormon I was carrying. I didn't know why, but I left random things on random doors. Last week as we were leaving this same less active sisters porch we saw an older man sitting on his porch at one of the houses we knocked on and didn't get an answer. We left and as we turned off the street I felt... we need to go back. My mind said no, he's just an old drug addict and won't listen. We got 5 K's away and over a bridge even, when low and behold, again, another prompting. Go back! I had to or It would have haunted my dreams. We went back and guess what... He read the Plan of Salvation pamphlet we left on his porch twice and got a hold of the Book of Mormon we left on his neighbors porch and has read the whole introduction and is well into 1st Nephi. I was stunned. I had never received a prompting like this before. It was no coincidence that we had an incredible personal and companionship study that morning. We talked to him and found that he deeply needs to understand the atonement and that god loves him. We set a return appointment and found our 1st investigator of the transfer (in week 6 of 6). What a Miracle! I feel that the lord is starting to guide me more. As I, hopefully, am starting to listen more.

    I am starting to improve my teaching be not being so over-bearing at first. Not just straight business from the get-go, but by easing my way into it. I have seen how it works. You are much more able to find out what part of the gospel they need to hear. It makes it more interesting to them as well! they don't feel that I am pressing them to force my beliefs on them, as people seem to think of us. I have found the inspired questions flow MUCH easier as well. It is incredible what happens when you align your will with that of God.
    If someone was losing interest in preparing for a mission... I would tell them I respect their agency, but they should fully consider what it is they are going to do and not do. I would bare testimony about how much I LOVE my mission. The ups and the downs. I have learned and grown more in just a few months out here than I had in my whole 19 years growing up i the church. I find more purpose in EVERYTHING. I understand life now, I am happier with the small things. I in a sense am finding myself. Which reminds me of a quote in the movie we watched a Christmas, Ephraims Rescue one of the things the mother said to her son when they HAD to leave home and "leave behind all other personal affairs" as well was something to the effect of this: "You have to lose your life to find it." She was not meaning you have to die to find your purpose but that you have to leave behind old things and "lose" what you do in your life, to find out who you TRULY are and what your purpose is. A mission is the greatest thing you could ever do with these years of your life. I am totally convinced of that!
   I love you all so much and am grateful for your love and support! You are living in the great Dispensation of the Fullness of times! You are fighting the adversary in great strides. I pray we can all fight evermore effectively to prevail and retain our liberty!
Love ,
   Elder Ford

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Just another week in Port!

Hello my Beloved bretheren and sisteren!
  This week was fun. we were on exchanges so that is always a good experience. Since we are so far apart here we just have 4 missionaries work in 1 area for 2 days. So that means LOTS of planning! I got 4 or 5 meals lined up for us and the Tamworth Elders. It went well. It was a good opportunity to show them the natural beauty of Port as well. They are stuck out in the desert most of the time! I tried to make a sandwich the other day... the only problem was that it was too big for the sandwich maker to cook... what a shame! Last P-day, our branch mission leader taught us how to golf in an open area at his retirement village. His name is brother  Ormsby. he is the NICEST old man you've ever met. ever. Love him. We and him went to the chapel a bit early yesterday for church because we had to go to Priesthood Executive Committee. There was a family of kangaroos just chillin' there on the grounds eating. It was fun to see. The natural beauty of the world is incredible. Jesus knew what he was doing! (ha) We only have a half p-day today because we have zone meeting and zone p-day up in Coffs Harbour this weekend! So yay, more time in the car! ha. It indeed has been, another week in Port!
 My Core experience with god this week has come through what I have taught others. We began talking and teaching about the sacrament when we visited less active members. I read on old conference talk by Elder Oaks on sacrament. I have always and respect for the sacrament and have always tried to make sure that it is done EXACTLY how it needs to be. When I was a Deacons Quorum president we were drilled on how to pass the sacrament. I am grateful for that because it instilled in me to always have a sense of reverence and respect for this sacred act every week. It gained more meaning this week though. I have always known that it is renewing our baptismal covenant but it's cleansing power really struck me as we taught about it! It just kind of clicked in my brain how Important this act really is. I have noticed it makes these less active members think deeper about their excuses for not coming to church. It brings the spirit. The sacrament truly is sacred.
   Our teaching here is getting better. We are starting to be more evenly split with talking. I have been telling you the same thing my whole mission it seems like when I talk about my teaching. It is starting to finally come around I think. We are teaching better and involving more. We are also leaving more and more commitments. That is the biggest difference. It leads people to change and act on our lesson. I am now writing the commitments I leave in the extra space in the back of my planner. That REALLY helps me keep track and know WHAT to follow up on.
  My core experience with the Book of Mormon this week... I have been reading it everyday in personal study and it truly gives you more revelation than anything else you study. I would say being on exchanges this week with a bold convert to the church, Elder Ripley, was what made the Book of Mormon really stand out this week. We were with a family that is always criticizing the missionaries and telling us how we can do better (sometimes they do bring up good points that really help us). He asked them if they are reading the Book of Mormon. they said it has been a while. He bore testimony for 10 straight minutes about the sacred text translated by Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, Joseph Smith. The spirit was undeniable. The family committed to reembark on reading the cornerstone of their beliefs together that night. It is a truly inspirational collection of scripture!
  I am grateful everyday for all the love and support I get from each of you! Thank you for all that you do!

  Elder Ford

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Weekend of Conferences

 Hello beloved friends and Family!
 This weekend we went to District Conference. Drove up Saturday morning, had a priesthood session at 3, dinner directly after, and General Saturday night session following. We crammed 12 missionaries into 1 apartment and stayed the night! The next morning we had The General session. where The district presidency, the temple president from Sydney and his wife, and the 1st councilor in the mission presidency and his wife , and of course President and sister Howes all spoke! We had a big lunch after wards in the chapel, and then after the lunch the missionaries had a zone conference from 1:30-8:30 that night! With a dinner included from Sister Howes. We then again had a 12 Elder sleep over in the Coffs Harbour missionaries "flat." We drove back this morning and got back about an hour ago! So it has been quite the weekend! ha. We put a bowl of sugar on the patio or "veranda"as they are called here, and the birds came to eat it. They went crazy it was funny! One of the assistants told us they flip out... and he was right! ha. We saw a lot of beautiful scenery this week! it was pretty nice! It was great to be in a big congregation this week. I felt more at home. I truly love and miss my home ward! I think of all the people that were my neighbors or leaders and am so sorry I was such a punk all the time. but glad they love me anyways! ha
 My core experience with god this week was a bit odd... On Friday we left our apartment to travel to Kempsey for the day. As soon as we started driving something wasn't right. I kept feeling like I forgot something. Five minutes away from the apartment we got a text saying our dinner in Kempsey had been cancelled that night. I continued a little further. Something just still wasn't right. I pulled over and started to pray. I said Amen and waited. Nothing specific came to me. I thought Well, I am going to go back and check out the apartment. We drove the 10 minutes back home., climbed up to the 4th story living quarter, and entered. All was well, Just as we left it. I said "okay..." and we were off again. WE went on that day to Travel up to the farther lesser reached parts of our areas. We did have a successful day. But to this time now, I still cannot figure out what was wrong and why we went back. I was thinking as we left to get back in the car, that maybe that was the blessing itself. Nothing happening may have been the blessing. Maybe it put us in the right time at the right place... But either way. That day turned out well, as we received a miracle referral,  "Ironically" the phone call came right as we were coming into town and passed the place where I turned around to drive back that same morning. The lord has mysterious ways!
   My best practice in teaching as Jesus this week came from a role play in the Zone meeting last night. After the role play, It was clear that I need to calm down and think before I talk. As Sister Tautaoli (i apologize if the spelling is incorrect) noted that had that been a real lesson the investigator likely would have been really offended at what I said. I need to calm down... I have always seemed to have a problem with thinking before I talk. It was a common joke with my friends back home, Not in a mean way. I hope to keep improving my teaching.
   If I were to give advice to a missionary it would have to be... just follow the rules. You hear these stories about how missionaries don't follow rules and do whatever they want, "but still have success." Fables I tell you! I have been on both ends of the spectrum. Following the rules WILL and DOES effect EVERYTHING you do. It doesn't seem like it when you are disobedient, but when you DO choose the right, you notice it big time! I can definitely stand and testify of that!
I love you all! I hope all is well on your front!

    Elder Ford

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Coffs harbour trips

Hello! Another week has come and gone in the great city of Port Macquarie!
 We went up to Coffs Harbour last week for zone training meeting and zone P-day. It was fun! we went out on the island again and played some "touch-footy," that means 1 hand touch rugby here. ha. It was fun and good to see the other missionaries. We are traveling up there for district conference this weekend. For those of you in Utah, that is the equivalent to a stake, but instead of wards they are branches. Which is what a ward is when they don't have enough people to be labeled a ward. SO that should be fun!
  WE went out to tacking point lighthouse the other evening and got some great pictures! I kept thinking of the Hymn "Brightly beams our Fathers Mercy."  President Packer gave a great talk about it a few years ago in conference relating it to the atonement. Highly recommend it!
  The work is going well we are so close with some people. So close!
 My core experience with god this week... I would have to say that it came from zone p-day. Other missionaries were trying to help my learn how to do a back flip (no harm was caused I am safe and sound!). It was very evident that doing such a task was possible, as I could see it being performed in front of me. It became quite clear that I needed to over come a mental barrier. I have done similar things before. I am reminded of my High school Grid-Iron days, when weight lifting was a big part of my daily life. When learning how to squat I had to "Break a mental barrier" in order to do the work our effectively. I thought to my self... "wow, this applies to missionary work all too well!" I am I scared to be better? There is more that I can do! We let the fear of social interaction dissuade us from missionary work all too much. I need to break more "Mental barriers" if I seek to be successful! Like it has been said before... Fear is the opposite of faith!
   I am trying to improve my teaching be being more unified with my companion. I tend to dominate and take over lessons.. that is not good we know. The most spiritual lessons are when the companionship both have an equal share in teaching and testifying. I am working with Elder Punu in this cause. We are so close with some investigators. So close. I can truly see them starting to change as we try and try to be more sanctified. 
  I would say the two things that most impacted me from the Elder Nelson Conference are these: Put down your Childish things, and that the lord calls the unlikely to do the impossible. Sister Nelson was the one that taught us about sanctifying our missionary efforts and "putting down our Childish things." There are so many small things that are unimportant to missionary work that we do. So.. Childish in the eyes of god, at least I imagine so as I do not see through gods eyes. Elder nelson taught us that the lord calls the unexpected. We may not think that a certain member is a good fellow shipper, but if the spirit says to invite them you better do it! I saw that miracle this last week. It offers strength in those times I was talking about, breaking mental barriers, as well! 
   I love you all so much! I am grateful for your support and love. 

   Elder Ford