Sunday, November 30, 2014

Making Memories And Erasing The Bad Ones

Hello one, Hello all!
Thanksgiving is over (we didn't celebrate it here.. was going to... but then forgot!) and the CHRISTmas season is upon us! It is exciting! I don't know if you saw but the church apparently bought out the home screen of YouTube for the day to advertise their new video: "He is the Gift!" It is good. A lot like the #Because of Him Video. I think you would all benefit from it! I think everyone would.. ha. Well Elder Nathan has been in the mission 1 whole transfer! A new transfer starts today and we are staying together as one would anticipate! We are happy about it. Elder Lonitenisi is leaving though! Sad.. we will miss him in our district! One of my favorite missionaries, so fun to be with. ha. There is other good news though, The other Elders in Dural are staying! SO that will be good. I feel like we have a good sense of unity and want to keep the love here. It makes the work so much easier! So since CHRISTmas is coming up I decided to spend a bit of money and get some souvenirs! Ha All kinds of stuff... Mostly decorative. and a little noisy too.. ha I think Andy will be excited. ha. That is about all the "fun" or worldly news...
    My core experience with God this week came from Sacrament meeting. Invitation Sunday was great the chapel tour went alright, the members were happy, non-members came, but the biggest impact for me was receiving personal revelation in sacrament meeting. I was sitting, listening to great and very well constructed talks by ward members all focused on the Savior and his great power and Atonement. As we know, it usually is not what the speakers actually say but the spirit that they bring that inspires us. Brought back into my memory was something I had TOTALLY forgotten about. I remembered WAY back to my 9th grade gym class. I do not remember what caused this but I remembered the experience briefly. As a struggling youth learning my way through life often feeling lost and confused, I remember breaking down and sitting on the gymnasium floor crying. I remember pulling shirt over my face embarrassed. But that was about all I remembered. I did not remember the cause or what happened a moment after. I saw all the youth standing on the stage singing with smiles. I, for a moment, remembered what it was like to be in their shoes. I felt for them.. however that was not the core experience. I was trying to understand why I had remembered that. When the it hit me. The Atonement of Jesus Christ can take away ALL our pains, fears, and sorrows. A very traumatic moment from my past had been completely forgotten about. None of those circumstances mattered. The people the situation. I understand that is partially due to time as well. But I do not feel guilty or sad about it anymore. I truly believe because of my faith at THAT time and because of my service now... that memory and those feelings were erased. The Atonement had healed me. I always find it difficult to understand the Atonement and how it works... But I understand and feel more and more of my Saviors love Each day. I do not think we can ever fully comprehend this great gift that has been given to us freely. The Gift which we have the blessing of celebrating this month... He is the Gift! 
   I am striving to teach as Jesus taught by taking more time preparing and practicing. We practiced our chapel tours and went to clean and prepare the Chapel the night before the big "Invitation Sunday!" I find it obviously helps dramatically! ha. I companion and 12-week study, in District Training, in investigators appointments, as well as the much appreciated Dinner appointments with members! Putting together and then reviewing and going over just to ensure your Audience receives personal revelation makes it SO much easier. It really helped us have a good chapel tour and is something we are applying to more and more phases of our learning!
   I feel my companions love often. But I would say the most, usually the night before Transfers when one of us is leaving. Bags are packed just waiting. Remembering and reminiscing the good times we'd had, the success and miracles we'd seen, and all the love we had felt. From Members, investigators, missionaries, and each other. I  have always been told growing up, "It's all about the memories." As time moves on, we can prepare for the future and remember what we learned and the good times that were had.
   Thank you to all of you! I love you! I Hope you are all doing fantastically!
   Elder Ford

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Lessons Learned

My dearest  loved ones... How I love you so!
   Been a good week. One of the Sister Missionaries in our ward hurt her leg this week so they have the car a lot more now. As a consequence we have gotten much more familear with public transport! We thought it would be funny to take a picture while the train was stopped real quick, since we are the Normanhurst Elders. the sign in the back is small.. but it says Normanhurst! ha. We were walking on the street the other night when the branches kind of moved a funny way. We stopped and looked up the tree, what do ya know! A POSSUM! How awesome? (ha..ha... lame rhyming...). (I pictured Davis Busteed saying the last parentheses) ha. I love ane miss my friends serving. as well as my friends in Missouri and back home. I think of all of you often.. but too often to be creepy...  We had some open space on our whiteboard so we decided to add some personality to it! ha. Elder Nathan and I just laughed.. Ball so Hard... or for the older genereation "Do really good missionary work and work hard." That us about all the fun and worldly updates...,
      My core experience this week has been a conversation piece for my companion and I. The Priesthood. We have been able to exercise the Priesthood in various ways the past week or two. Giving blessings and administering the sacrament mostly. We had the blessing of being able to go with a member of the ward to a Hospital with a specialty in the area of cancer, where we met Sister Edwige. She is a sweet elderly french speaking woman from New Caledonia. Luckily the member with us had served a mission in France and Mauritius. Her joy was so full as she was able to receive a blessing and partake of the sacrament blessed in her native tongue. We noticed a very similar gratitude after blessing a very faithful and very humble missionary. I kept hearing a talk from President Eyring in my mind. "The Priesthood Man." There may have been some pride infused into me, but I do recognize that the power and authority has NOTHING to do with me. The point I will get to is that I was fulfilling my purpose and calling so others were blessed by God and received the benefits. Men and women are both blessed by the priesthood, one may have the power conferred upon him, but BOTH receive the blessings and benefits. The idea I am attempting to paint however, is the importance of embracing Magnifying our callings. Our currant and short term callings, as well our eternal callings. For me it is as a Full Time Missionary and as a Melchizedek Priesthood holder. As a companion and as a son. As District Leader and as Brother. Callings are not just ways to serve in the church, but relationships we have with our families and with GOD. Doing our part and being who we have been called and set apart to be is embracing and magnifying our calling. Doing our VERY best and giving all we have to these callings is keeping our covenants and magnifying our callings. 
   We have been teaching as Jesus taught by teaching correct principles. We get concerns or questions then have studied it out using other missionaries or our missionary reference library to answer the question or concern. We can have so much knowledge if we just "Put our shoulder to the wheel" and study it out, if we ask questions and answer then. Not by instantly doubting and assuming this stranger who knows not the church or the God who guides it has found a secret hole in the plan. Fear not, only believe. We have been studying and teaching correctly. As I am positive Jesus did.
   A lesson of great importance I have learned on my mission is one of priorities. Before my mission I probably had good priorities. Serving a mission removes a spiritual blind fold of what you find important though. I now realize the importance of  eternal families, ordinances particularly the Sealing ordinance (which I had No plans of obtaining before I was set apart), and really  the Church and Jesus Christ! If the Savior of mankind and his Church does not effect all we do and deem important, we are greatly mislead by the adversary. When you forget about the world and all it's other good add-ons or ornaments, you see the truly important roots and branches in the Christmas tree that is you and your life and thereby your priorities. I have learned a great lesson of TRUE priorities on my mission.
  Again, I love you all! Thank you for all that you have done and will do. I am grateful!
          Elder Ford

Sunday, November 16, 2014

TRUE Discipleship

   Hello my dearest Loved ones!
 Good week. Good week. We had the new arrivals follow-up training! So we went back to the mission home for a day of training and follow-up. Mostly to check if us trainers had been doing our job right, haha. Taught Elder Nathan perfectly we got away with everything!!! haha jk. Nothing we need to "get away with!" was good though! We got to see Elder Crump and Elder Paratta again, so it was a fun reunion! We also ran into Elder Saga who I lived with Tuggerah! So we had to take some selphies! haha. Love that Elder! So humble... so humble.Last p-day we went to the other ward in the districts WML's house. he is famous around the mission for his cars. SO famous that i actually heard about him before I left SLC. When grandpa took me to Mr. mac we were taken care of by man named Brad, from tasmania! Who told me about his friend Bro. Bailey! He gave me his card and wrote the name down. It stayed in my wallet for 17 or 18 months until last Monday! Pretty fun. I gave it to him and told him the story and smiled! Was good. But back to his cars, several ferraris and mustangs! Classic mustangs! Elder Ford was excited to see all of it.. haha. took a few pictures! Thought I would share it! We are still trying to visit everyone on the Normanhurst ward list to invite them to and notify them about "Invitation Sunday!" Which is on the 30th of November. It should be Sweet! It is all the talk in the zone and district it is mentioned in every meeting and visit we and ward members have/make! Exciting!
   My core experience with God this week came from the New Arrivals follow-up training me and Elder Nathan attended. It returned memories to my mind of my own New Arrivals training, 1 year ago today. I was reminded of the immense guilt I had from bending and breaking White Hand Book rules in my visa-waiting mission, and the change that followed. With the added knowledge and experiences I now have plus the new few additions to the training... caused me once again feel that I need to be better & change. As we listened the an extended and missionary focused  version of one of my favorite conference talks, "The First Great Commandment" given by Jeffery R. Holland, I was once again given a vision. It seems scary and intimidating at first, but the reality is true. I cannot go back. I cannot go back to the life I used to live, I cannot return to my "nets,' I cannot go back to my old ways, my old thoughts, any of it. Yes, I will return to my home is Sandy, Utah. But If I return unchanged or slip back into old habits and become a victim of spiritual digression... all of my efforts and mission ultimately is in vein. Thoughts popped into my heads as we read the words of The Apostle Paul, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." This scripture always seems to hit with such force... In a sense we must and have promised to leave behind all of this, all our childish things, and live a life devoted to and centered on  being a TRUE disciple (follower) of Jesus Chris. Going where, doing what, saying what, and being what he himself would Go, do, say and be. I felt the spirit so strongly as all of these thoughts occurred. I always want to improve and progress spiritually and do was I am told to return to the presence of the Father as we all do and want. In that moment it was easy to make the decision. It took a whole meeting and full-length MTC talk to give me such zeal. We all have experienced that. It wasn't 'till a few days later that I realized, largely and and more real-ly, recognized just how hard it will be to maintain such zeal and dedication upon returning home and all through life. it was late in the evening we were getting dinner from a small take-away shop. There was a television playing the top 100 pop songs. I had forgotten how catchy and fun modern music can be to listen to. As we walked out side there were some kids long board skateboarding on the road lit only by a few street lights in the warm spring evening air. My mind was flooded of memories and thoughts and flash backs. I wanted to skate down falcon drive in sandy at 1 AM in a cut-off shirt listening to modern music so bad. As we past them... I could think only of Jeffery R. Hollands version of Christs interview with Peter the Senior Apostle. "Do you LOVE me? DO you love me more than all of this? .. what I need... are disciples! To preach my Gospel"  and to keep my faith! I hope and pray.. that I can chose to LOVE my savior and forsake sin (not that skating or music is a sin) so that I can be a TRUE disciple and follower of Jesus Christ, or Lord and Savior. 
   Teaching as Jesus taught. We are trying to be more humble. We are slowly coming to realize, as I recently said, that we are focusing to much on Joesph Smith, and not enough on the Savior! We are trying let go of the "our church is right" approach and serve our Savior. Focus on Christ. Doing what leaders ask even if we don't understand or disagree, listening to others views and not forcing our own. Boldness but Humble is what we are trying to find the balance between. We will find it if we focus on our Savior!
   I LOVE you, all of you! Thank you for being a part of m life and doing so much for me!
     Elder Ford

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Focus on Christ

 Hello Dear Friends and Family!
   I love and miss you all! Wherever you are! Utah, Missouri, Sydney, Canada, anywhere...
I feel bad.. I don't have any tremendously exiting or funny to tell you about! ha. I wish I had some funny pictures to send! I will try to make a mental note to do that! Here is a picture of me at my Desk that Elder Nathan took. I might have already sent that! IDK. ha. Here is the stuffed kangaroo we role-play to for our 12-week study! ha. Also Elder Nathan hard At work studying! Good on him! here is our Bedroom.... I don't know why I took that! But there ya go! haha. can ya Guess which bed is mine?
   There is actually something exciting going on down here. I am unsure if I have mentioned it before and "can't be bothered" looking back into my previous e-mails! The Whole Pacific area fasted on fast Sunday for missionary work and for what is being called "Invitation Sunday!" The name  gives away what it is. Every member is    supposed to invite someone to a special sacrament meeting! Now I am blessed to be in the Baulkham Hills stake because the Stake president is taking it to the next level! he is having every ward prepare a specific sacrament with 3 musical numbers, 1 being the primary, and 3 talks, 1 being a full time missionary, and a after the special and spiritual sacrament meeting, the kids and youth go to regular class but all the adult members are lead by missionaries on chapel tours. Highlighting various things throughout the chapel, sacrament table, pictures, primary, family history room and the temple ( a good way to invite to all the Christmas lights at the temple in DEC.), and it all ends int eh cultural hall with short video on the restoration and refreshments + mingling afterwards! We are going on splits 3 nights a week until the 30th of November to invite EVERYONE on the ward list to come if they are less-active and invite all the active members to invite a friend or family member! It is supposed to be a HUGE day! The Stake president has a HUGE vision and I am excited! It is a great time to be a missionary! Guess I did have some exciting news after all.. haha
   This week I was striving to find strength and guidance from on high. We were at a home with a less-active who has a great love for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. We watched a few Christmas songs they had preformed in the past with him, when it hit me. I have been so focused on learning about Joseph Smith, the Restoration, and Church History that I had forgotten why it was so important and who it testified of. Jesus Christ. Not to say I had felt distanced from my savior, but that I had preoccupied myself with learning and studying of Good, even better, things but not the BEST things. One could argue that those were the best things at the time and it has now changed. However, the meaning is the same. I had lost focus of what all the exciting information I was learning meant! This was re-hashed into my brain the next day during President Interviews. I need to rely on the Savior and his enabling power EACH day. I hope to now keep that in my heart and mind always, never forgetting or losing sight of my purpose and what I am doing. Everything testifies of Christ. I am excited to continue in my reading of the Book of Mormon with this new and refreshed view and spirit. It is all about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
   Elder Nathan and I are trying to teach as Jesus taught by "keeping our eye single to the Glory of God." yes, this does mean controlling our thoughts and eyes, but bigger than that it means adjusting our view to see his (Gods) view. Often times we only see things from our limited perception, when we consider our view as well as the view of God we see what he sees and desire what he desires. Thus we have a single image in our head, what God wants, keeping our Eye single to the Glory of God.
   Elder Nathan is GREAT! he is always wanting to improve and find better ways to do things. He has an innovative mind is really striving to see success as a missionary. He loves God and wants to serve with all his heart, might, mind and strength. I am so happy and blessed to be with him! His desire is huge. He likes to eat healthy but be full. So we eat well, and don't go hungry, the perfect combo! He is really settling nicely and adjusting to the work quickly. it is good to see. he is a fast learner and will be great tool in the hands of the Lord. I am excited to "see how we  go!"
I love each of you! I am grateful for the roll you have played in my life! I know this is a broad e-mail and goes to a lot of people, but I do think of you all individually while I am writing it and the things you taught me!
    Elder Ford

Monday, November 3, 2014

Temple P-days

 View DSCN8262.JPG in slide show  View DSCN8261.JPG in slide show

Hello my loved family and friends! How much I DO love you!
  This week was alright. You will likely notice I am e-mailing a bit late. That Is because we had a Temple P-day. SO we had to shift P-day to a Tuesday as the Temple is closed on Mondays! So Tues, here we are! It is odd to hear about football and Halloween back home! No one likes or even talks about American football here, usually idf they do it is NFL. Odd.. anyways! Hope all of you had a safe Halloween! It sounds like it is becoming an uneventful holiday! It was similar as a missionary. ha. We were up in Brooklyn towards the end of the evening though. SO I got a good picture of the sunset over the little lagoon. I am my grandmothers grandson for sure... I enjoy sunsets! I have tried to experiment more cooking lately. I have usually relied on my companions but I tried to copy Elder Tsai and Elder Orr this last week and make a stir-fry! tell me how you think it looks! ha. Not too much other exciting news... On with the Core experience!
   My core experience with god this week has been training. I have thought often to myself of things said by leaders throughout my mission. One stands out from a good friend at the beginning of my mission in a zone meeting. Elder Banks explained that EVERY action we have has a huge effect on your trainee. Whatever you do is how they will do things for the next 2 years. I have thought about that and other advice much this week. I have tried to ask my self what is the BEST thing to do here? There are a lot of things that are good, but what is the absolute BEST thing to do right now? I am trying to give my "son" the best raining experience I can, the experience I had having 2 zone leader "fathers," or trainers. As we have done our best we have been blessed! We starting to get things rolling we are able to evaluate and adjust quickly and try new things. Elder Nathan is a well prepared missionary. I am learning a lot from HIM! As one would imagine and almost expect. the Lord truly blesses us when we do all we can do.
   Teaching as Jesus taught is the always-present task as a missionary! Always reevaluating and reanalyzing, to see how we can be more Christ like. I would say this week we have strived much harder to recognize and follow the promptings of the spirit! It has been good. Because my companion is new and getting used to missionary life he sees the promptings and miracles and more than I do. I have been humbled to see how blessed we truly are. I hate to admit it but sometimes we take small miracles and promptings for granted! having the spirit with us, and truly striving to recognize his promptings is what has made us teach more like the master this week!
   A scripture that had a big impact on me this week was Ether 3:19. "And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil ; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting." The Brother of Jared was Beyond faith! It was to a hope for things which are not seen which are true as Alma states. For he SAW and had a perfect knowledge! He KNEW! How incredible is that!? After going to the Temple this morning with the zone... I feel similar... I have seen and experienced much. using the scientific theory, we would know, after receiving so much knowledge and so many answers to prayers, that God IS there. It is double testified by the scriptures saying you will know in your heart and your feelings. We have received spiritual manifestation time and time again! Do we KNOW the Lord our God lives, as we claim every fast Sunday and any other time we bare testimony. I would say "yes. We Do!" Faith leads to miracles. Knowledge (or testimony) leads to more and higher revelation!
  A little short this week... but hopefully it was short and Powerful! I love you!
 As Always,
       Elder Ford