Sunday, March 22, 2015

Preparation from on High

 Hello My dearest Loved ones!!!! Near and Far! How I love you all...
   It has been a good week! We started off with a District Leader exchange. I was with the District Leader! It was way fun. He is a great Elder, and funny! I tried to find a purple tree to take a picture by for a flash back! like last week, haha. anyway. Was great! Miracles just seem to abound on trade-offs! Found some sweet people, taught good lessons, had a mediocre missionary made lunch. ha, ALWAYS a good experience! Was great. I am excited for him in the future! Elder Lonitenisi! From Tonga,  learned heaps about Tonga that day, it was fun. We call him the "Siona Maka!" Tongan for "Man of stone" at least that's what they tell me. It's probably swearing.. haha no I am kidding! We had a zone service day up in the Blue Mountains! It was sweet! Always good to do some physical work and break up our day to day missionary stuff. The missionaries over time have made a huge impact on these people that work there. It is called Greystanes. It is a mental disability center. We just work out side on all the property and landscape but it is fun. The staff took us to see a big view point in Leura (Blue Mtns) called the 3 sisters a big rock formation and valley. Apparently it is older than the Grand Canyon, not as big though.. still cool to see! I am including a picture of the ZOne in front of it as well as a picture of ELder Moore and I in front of the 3 sisters! Heaps cool
     My core experience with God this week is how the Lord always warns and prepares us! For some reason this week I noticed how in each of my areas there was something pointing me to know where it was. Usually I couldn't figure it out until after! Then I'd get the thought "Oh! That's why I kept hearing about Penrith!" or "I heard so much about old Toukley ward now I am serving in it's sister ward, Tuggerah!" I think it is amazing how the Lord prepares us for things with out us even realizing it! These are small examples and menial really... but it illustrates a great point! By giving the Lord our all, in our calling, time, efforts, whatever it is for the individual, he shapes us to be what He wants us to be (and what we should want to be), and prepares us for what is to come. He expects us to (and our purpose is to) progress eternally! To get better, to do more, to be evermore effective in what we do. He does ask a lot of us, he does ask us to change dramatically, sin-celestial. But He ALWAYS aids us in every worthy cause! Like, Eternal Progression, thus he will prepare us for what we are to be, he will prime us and place us where we will flourish and succeed! That is why I don't get down, by loving what the Lord gives us, what ever comes our way, we will have no stoney griefs, just Bethel to raise always! He loves us, he does prepare us. It reminds me of the quote I heard many times int eh MTC..."Who He calls, He qualifies!"
   Teaching as Jesus taught! I am really trying to teach people not lessons right now to adjust our teaching to meet the needs of the person. We often run into language barriers and cultural gaps. Making teaching difficult. Constantly reevaluating and simplifying our teaching has helped, and I imagine will continue to help. The savior always did what he could to help the people understand his message. Indeed, you could say his bowels were filled with compassion towards them. He loved them and taught to them and to their needs! That is what we should do!
   If I could change 1 thing in the world... If everyone had more love, patience, and honesty it would help everything! Every situation would have a better result and outcome! Not that anyone is a liar but I feel sad when that question arises in me. It could very well be myself but it could also be a voice of warning from the spirit. Christ like attributes are... everything. I spoke of eternal progression a few moments ago... that is what we are trying to progress to, perfect Christ-like attributes! That is what I would change a focus to be more Christ-like and Christ -minded!
   I love you all! Thank you for the role you have played in my life... you don't even know how grateful I am!
         Elder Ford

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Tender Mercies... The Lord Provides

Hello and Good day family and friends! I love you all dearly..
   This week has been good! We have a top level to our apartment, on the roof. IT is all finished and has tables and BBQs and stuff. Pretty cool. But we went up there the other night it was cool! You could see so far! (relatively). So I took a night time picture of Mount Druitt For you! we got all of our Preach My Gospel studies with the sisters in the zone done! did all 4 this week. Pretty busy.. now we have 2 District Leader Exchanges this week! ha. so that should be fun! Always busy now-a-days! Always something to do! One of them is Elder Lonitenisi! A Tongan Elder that used to be in my District when I was a District Leader. I sent you a picture a while back so I thought I would give you a flash back and send the same picture cause I will be working with him again! haha. Sweet Elder! Sweet-as. Great missionary!  We have a zone p-day planned today! Elder Moores brain child, it is pretty cool. Zone Fear Factor! ha. so we will be making some gross foods for the missionaries to eat! haha. also some egg challenges! should be funny! Hopefully I will have some good photos for you in the future! ha Well... on to the real purpose of the letter!
     My Core experience with God this week has been a reoccurring thought. I have heard MANY time the phrase: "Obedience Brings Blessings." True. I have a testimony of it, absolutely! What Are the blessing of obedience though? It is simple once you figure it out. The blessing for living in harmony with the gospel are the Tender Mercies of the Lord. Another cute phrase we have heard about often. So this is what I have pondered about. Tender Mercies. We always learn of the miracles that occur while we are in the service of our god, how things always seem to work out just perfectly! How we are always comforted by something small. These are the Tender Mercies of the Lord. Tender Mercies are the moment that are all too good and well to be a coincidence. It could be working our hardest all day... only to get a call from members saying that they have a bag of groceries for you. Which just so happen to contain the delecacies the companionship was talking about and yearning for only a few moments before hand. It is having the right hymn play at at random when you enter the car. In the real world it could be running into a friend at the temple that has the exact advice needed. It is having the exact amount of funds left to obtain what is needed at he end of a fortnight. It is your companion saying or giving something of the utmost and personal importance. It is going on exchanges in with just the right missionary to to find just the right person to teach just the right lesson. It is the MIRACLES happening! Living the Gospel and obeying Gods commands is receiving the Tender Mercies of the Lord. Obedience brings the spirit of God into our lives to comfort and lift us higher! The Tender Mercies of the Lord are exquisite....
     Teaching as Jesus taught. Adjusting to the situation. We started Gospel principles class late and as w2e were starting this sister walked in and the conversation shifted to her weekend experience. She ended up telling a big story. It was spiritual we could learn from it, but it meant we would NOT have time to cover a lesson of the deepest meaning... The Atonement. This topic could never be given sufficient time in a church class regularly let alone the last 5-10 minutes of class. I was amazed as I saw my companion do the impossible. H taught the class and gave the lesson. The spirit was there, we all learned and taught about the Atonement. Another Tender Mercy I would say. We can adjust to any situation and still get done what needs to be done. The Lord provides as I like to say... The Lord Provides!
   My goals for the next 3 months...
            I would love to baptize each month! That would be fantastic, not for the numbers but because I know it is possible and I want to help these people. That is another goal I would say Do the most good I can before my time has come. That is not really  measurable though... But I want to fulfill all my duties and assignments, help each missionary learn something, and Baptize each month. I think that is the best thing I could do in the next 3 months! Help Penrith Zone to Improve! Get to the Top of their spirituality, so they can baptize each month as the Lord and our leaders have indicated is possible.
 Love you all heaps! So much LOVE!!!! Heaps of Ofa Atu!
               Elder Ford

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Called to Serve

 Hello My dear friends and family!!! I love you all! Been a good week. Not too chaotic but a bit.
On P-day we got a bunch of veggies and made moms old salsa recipe! Was SO good! Elder Moore and I enjoyed it! We took it to district meeting and they all liked it as well! As usually happens... ha. We had Stake missionary coordination meeting this last Tuesday night. I thought back to the old days in Maryland heights when I used to fall asleep during them with my trainers. haha. Now I actually have the responsibility and am involved in the conversation! Pretty cool. Quite a power group, you can feel a bit intimidated. President Howes, the Stake President, and the Stake High Councilman for missionary work! Was a good meeting though! on Thursday night we had a zone leader conference call, so US the Assistants and all the other Zone leaders, we were out getting a chocolate and raspberry calzone 10 minutes before and the moon was bright and big, so I took a picture of it amid the hurried state we were in! This morning we stopped at 7-11 to wash the car ang get gas. They had a sweet deal where you could buy 1 chocolate milk and get 2 more for free! So we got some "Mint Choc Milk!" Was pretty good! Like mint hot chocolate.. just not hot! ha. Tasted nice... That is about all the funny stuff for the week... I will get on to the good stuff now!
    My core experience with God this week has come from several different places. I kept thinking of Elder Laurensen while we were on exchanges. We were at a Samoan family's house for dinner, he helped my bridge a culture gap I have struggled to build most of my life. He gave me a few pointers and afterwards he told me, "Elder, the reason I told you to do all those things was so they would like you and (this is the line) See that you really are here just to serve!" I was grateful to have a kind leader that just wanted to serve me! I have thought about that most appointments since then. This week I remembered a quote from a motivational speaker and NFL legend, Ray Lewis, that I quoted in my farewell talk. "I am just here to serve, I am only a servant." He was applying it differently but in a gospel or missionary mind set it was striking. Also, this morning we were able to teach seminary. I have read and even taught about Ammon in the Book of Mormon time and time again. I know service is a good way to help people and soften their hearts. However With these 2 experiences in my head I realized, I am only here to Serve To help out, to lend a hand. I know I have been serving a mission, I know people say I am serving God, I know we perform community service. But I thought of the way Ammon acted. He really as just there to benefit those he was around. Not to "kill 'em with kindness" and start teaching them, (although he likely hoped for that) but because he just wanted to Love and give to them. It is a whole attitude change. Very humble too. It doesn't matter about me, just about others, Namely Gods Children. We are here to serve God, yes. But whether it it is him or his children it is the same., and that is how we Serve Him, by serving, giving, loving, and helping all his children. Not so I can teach them... but so they are happy.
   My experience this week in teaching as Jesus taught: I have learned much from the great example of Elder Moore. I have learned the art of supporting your companions testimony with your own. By the mouth of 2 witnesses it shall be established... not by one testimony then another totally different testimony. Supporting and sharing our teaching is what we have been starting to do. The spirit is able to flow across us to each other and the spirit is teaching one lesson through us. Undoubtedly part of it has to do with our focus on sincere prayer and asking for the spirit to work THROUGH US to help those we teach to make correct choices.
   I found great Joy and satisfaction in speaking in Church yesterday! It was faith building to feel the spirit aid and guide us as we prepared talks on short notice. However, as soon as I was speaking and sharing my inspiration it was great. I could feel the spirit. It was definitely not the most elequently and properly delivered talk... but I felt the spirit calming me. I was happy to be speaking. I enjoyed it. I do not know if many people were uplifted, I am sure a few were and many would say they liked listening out of kindness. But it uplifted me. I was happy to speak and attempt to serve.
  I love you all. I am grateful for all you have done for me. It has taken this massive village to raise me to be who I am today. You all have played a bigger and greater part than you will ever know. Thank you!
               Elder Ford

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Miracle Book Entry

 Hello Dear Loved ones!!! How are you? I hope fantastic! You are all an inspiration to me!
  This week has been good! We had MLC. The next day we prepared for Zone Trainign Meeting. My first time training the Penrith Zone! Went alright. Some missionaries said they liked it! So that is good. If it helped 1 of them, then we're all good. We found the Krispy kreme factory out in Penrith! That was fun. haha. We are looking for some fun stuff to do for zone p-day! If any returned missionaries have good activities let me know.. ha. or good training ideas! There was a beautiful sunset earlier this week. Bright orange across the sky! Found a wee little hill to take a picture.. Gotta love that Elder Moore! He's so nice to stop for me to take a picture! Love him.. ha. He is great! An incredible leader and a great missionary! I learn heaps from him! Here is a picture of him in companionship study! So President & Sister Howes make a "Miracle book" each year and get entries from all the missionaries... Here is my entry!
      "My Miracle is simple: Answers to Prayers. Receiving an answer to a prayer is a miracle! Think about it. Anyone in the secular world would say it is an incredible phenomenon! There is a God, or Heavenly Father, who loves us! He sends messages to us through the power of the Holy Ghost. That may come by the Holy spirit working upon you or even flowing through the words and actions of another. I want to share some answers to my prayers with you. 
   1. The 40 Day Fast. There is no way quicker to improve and progress spiritually. Evaluating and forsaking behaviors everyday leads to truly changing. The change is made possible by DAILY prayer. When we plead to the Father for the strength to change and show him where we are struggling (showing him we know where we went wrong), it leads to the purification of motives. We receive the moral and spiritual strength to resist temptation everyday. I was able to let go of many of the things that held me back as a missionary, I was then able to discern prompting more clearly, act on them, and see miracles! We pray everyday for the chance to see miracles and to help others. We pray everyday that we can be the missionaries HE needs us to be. Through the 40 Day Fast and DAILY prayer, he answers that prayer. He helps us to fulfill our righteous desires!
   2. Every time I have struggled with something and prayed for the ability to change and grow, I have received a companion that helped me to build the exact Christ-like attribute prayed for. Coming from their strengths! Companions are inspired, even if you are not the best of friends and struggle at times... they can help you HEAPS! Learn all  you can from each companion, your prayers will be answered! Why do you think he put with them? Maybe for us to help them, but SURELY they are to teach and leave their mark on us. My companions have answered my prayers man times!
   3. I have learned if we pray for something, it will happen! We were teaching a man that was to give up smoking. He prayed every time we were there to give up smoking by February 1st. he expressed he really did want to! But his behavior and appetite seemed to be growing closer to the cigarettes as he got closer to the date. # days before the 1st of Feb no one could find him. No one! ha. Our Elders Quorum president got the police department to break into his house, no one was home. Long story short we found him in the hospital a few days later. Smoke free as of the 1st of February, a Sunday, and with no desire to smoke again (as a result of the 2 emergency visit to the hospital in a week)! God WILL answer our prayers! It is a whole lot easier when we humble our selves and giving to his will, rather than rebelliously fight back!
   4. My first time I went through the temple and received my Endowment I prayed to know the church was true. I didn't receive a huge answer or vision. I was disappointed at my answer. I read in The Book of Mormon a verse that said be meek and submissive like a child. Even though I had received a powerful answer I still had shaky faith... It was not until I had done my part, served the Lord, prayed and studied everyday, that I received my answer. Family, my brothers and sister here on this earth... Let me tell you, I received a spiritual witness that the Book of Mormon was true! That the Church which espouses it is also true! It came when I was humble enough to understand how my God worked, when I had studied it out. Almost 2 years after that Endowment session in the Draper Temple, I stand as a Witness that Jesus is the Christ, and I know this because the Spirit told me so in answering my Prayer.
    The Lord and our God, Heavenly Father, LOVE us! We can and WILL receive answers to our prayers! Please, NEVER doubt this great work you are engaged in or him who you represent! Every answer to a prayer is a MIRACULOUS thing, just as miraculous as the 1st vision or as the Day of Pentecost. Remember, You can know and receive ALL you ever need, from your Father In Heaven who LOVES you! I so testify in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
                         -Elder Ford