Monday, July 26, 2010

Water, Road, and Sweat

Hey Everyone!

I have only a short time to write. But thank you for all your letters and emails! Sounds like the girls had fun on their trip, and everyone is doing great! Congratulations to Erin! BOY!

Ryan's Baptism went amazing! The spirit was strong, and he had a lot of family members there who are not members. Elder Call had the opportunity to baptize him, which he loved (being his first baptism as a missionary). It is amazing to see the difference in somebodies life after they are baptized. Elder Call and I are so happy for him. Yesterday in Sacrament Meeting Bishop Fairbank Confirmed him. I think he will do great, and I hope he continues to progress.

This Saturday, we have Ruth planned for baptism, so it is an exciting time right now. She is so excited, proclaiming (and singing) as she is leaving the church parking lot: "I'm gonna be a Mormon! I'ma gonna be a Mormon!"

Elder Call and I are now trying to find more people to teach to replace those that are getting baptizeed. We are trying to focus on this week as one of our goals is to work more with the members. I am excited to try and work at this, and find new people to meet and teach.

So Wednesday: I totally biffed it on my bike and 'superman' it on the concrete. I am fine, but now a pair of my pants are ripped (beyond repair). So we will have to get another pair this week sometime.

Friday, I had return and report which signifies the one month in the field. I was able to see everyone from my MTC District and we had a great training from the AP's and President Bulloch. It was great to see everyone, but weird seeing them too. They seem to have all changed so much, and I wonder if that is what is happening to me too.

Serving a mission is such a blessing and I am so thankful to be out here. I love reading Alma 17-26 as a missionary! It is a perfect example! and you can learn so much on applying principles.

Sorry for such a short week. Hope everyone has a good one. I love you all, and hope to be able to write more to you, both on paper and email. One thing I noticed this week is how much God loves us and I testifies that he does.


Elder Shurtz

Monday, July 19, 2010

July 19, 2010

Dear Family and Friends,

This week has been a great one! Tuesday we had Zone Conference up in Liverpool. The theme was balance and being well rounded. Zone Conference is great just lift everyone spirits up. We also talked about self-mastery (based on Elder Russell M Nelson's talk entitled "Self Mastery") and how that's basically our goal here on earth.

Elder Call and I took much from Zone Conference and have continually been applying it into our teachings and lives. The picture in this email was taken at Zone Conference. It is my District! (the two sisters, Sister Stewart and Sister Livermore, District Leader: Elder Villagomez, and Elder Robinson, then Elder Call and I. I had my first exchange! Tuesday after zone conference my discrict leader and I switched and I went to Cortland with Elder Robinson. It was fun to work in a difference city for a bit, and with a new personality. Great people we met, but I am glad to be assigned to Syricuse.

On Wednesday, Elder Call and Elder Villagomez (Distric Leader) found a sweet new family to teach who I am excited to meet this week. Then that night, when I was back in Syracuse we found two more awesome people to teach. One of them (Yvonne) was driving by, flagged us down, and when we pulled up to her car on our bikes she proclaims 'Finnally! After two years I have found you guys!' Apparently, she moved from the Bronx about 2 years ago, and was meeting with the missionaries back there. We are going to see her tonight!

Thursday I finally met Jeff. Jeff is amazing, we had a hard time catching him at a good time since I got here. He is really smart, and verry logical. He loves to reason every point based upon the bible, which is good for Elder Call and I to work through and find those points. At some point though, it will have to come by faith, and I hope he find interest.

Saturday the sisters had a baptism! His name is Li Bo and he has a great personality, and always smiling. he is will be attending the singles branch. The sisters have found some great individuals from China to teach on campus. They seem so prepared and willing to learn. I guess since we can't go to China, God will send China to us!

Yesterday we found a great family who have been inactive and have a interest in comming back to church! Elder Call and I feel good about this family. They have even mentioned having us over for dinner and teaching to family (only the mother is a member)! Ryan is scheduled to get babtized this Saturday! We are so excited for Him! We will be talking with him tomorrow more about the service and who will do what.

The Lord really does show is love and miricles in everyone's lives. People know he is there. They have seen his hand in their lives. He loves all his children.

Thank you for all your support and love.


Elder Shurtz

PS - I guess I never really explained where I was living and some other details by the sounds of dad's email. I am living in an apartment (one of the nicer ones it sounds like). We are borrowing bikes from some members here, so luckily we did not have to by them. The members here are wonderful. They feed us probably 3-5 times a week, which is a lot considering the size of the ward, and considering we also have a set of sister missionaries.

Brent asked if you can send pictures by email: I believe you can so feel free to.

In the last email, I sent a picture of a group of us, but I never explained what it was about. It is a 4-generation family picture (me, my trainer, his trainer, and his trainer's thrainer) which is awsome because normally you cann't get that many togeather at the same place.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Open Your Mouth

Hey Everyone! It has been a tiring week! The weather for the most part has been in the high 90's, and of course humid enough to drink the air. Thursday Elder Call and I traveled about 27 miles on bike in that heat, then Friday was about the same, except around 4 in the afternoon it got cool, and started pouring rain around 7. Luckily, we had an appointment with the Stephens Family, a new-member family, and right when we arrived at their porch, the rain started pounding. They graciously gave us garbage bags that we used as ponchos. I wish we had a picture, because we found no shame in our dorky attire with long white sleeves and a head poking out of a garbage bag as we are racing down a street towards the next family we wanted to visit. By the time we got back to our apartment, we were soaked.

Andre wants to be baptised! His date is the 21st of August. He is such a great guy, and I truly know that Christ's gospel can change is life, because He has already seen it happening while meeting with us. I just hope he continues to grow and seek that light. It is exciting because we have 5 people planned for baptism within the next 2 months and they are excited to work towards it. It is amazing to recognize the light of Christ in people's eyes, and their recognition of the truth through the Holly Ghost. Elder Call and I are really trying this week to talk to people and find new people to teach. We really want to work with the members more, but it takes time to gain that trust, and many are extremely busy as it is. So we are out on the streets more just talking to people that are out and about. In the evenings we sometimes go tracting too. I'm slowly getting more comfortable talking to people. Some are nice, others are simply uninterested, and some just plain angry. It is always interesting when going to a door, you know people are home, because you ether saw them through the front window, heard them, or they have the TV blaring - yet they wont even come to the door.

We have a unique message; a message that changes lives, a message that is so eternally important. I wish all the people we meet could understand this. The message that Jesus Christ has restored His church and His truths again so that we may know how to be happy, not only in this life, but in all eternities. So many people we ask if they believe God would speak not only to people in the middle east, but to the whole world answer yes. And when they hear about the Book of Mormon and its teachings about Jesus Christ they believe something like it could exist, yet they won't even look at it to find out for themselves if it is true. Many believe that God would call a prophet to lead his people today, yet many don't have the desire to look for him... It is those that act upon a desire to follow God, and to search for truth, those are the people we want to find. Our purpose as a missionary is to INVITE other to come unto Christ by helping them RECEIVE the restored gospel through faith in Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holly Ghost, and Enduring to the End. We can only invite, and it is those we meet that must receive it themselves.

I know that God prepares his people on his own time-table, and that this is one of the greatest works we can do.

I hope everyone is having a good week. Thankyou for your letters, and your love.

Love,Elder Shurtz

PS - dad's verizon email account is blocking my emails. Dad, please go to the address below to unblock it. :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

O' How Lovely Was The Morning!

Hey everyone! Yesterday the library was closed for independence day, so I am writing this morning instead. I am so happy to read about everyone, especially Erin and how her pregnancy is going! I hope the Sears family is having fun in Utah! The temples are amazing, and I am going to miss them. Though, at the end of our mission we get to go to Palmyra with the mission president to both the temple and the grove.

It also sounds like Dad, Renae, and Katie are having a blast half-way around the world, and Melinda and Brian are enjoying the extra leg room around the house (thanks for the letter). :)

I LOVE IT HERE! I LOVE THE PEOPLE! A MISSION IS THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD! This week we have committed 4 people to baptism, which is absolutely amazing. They are so wonderful:

Ryan (July 24th)- Is so excited, and can't stop talking about it. He is really smart, and will progress tremendously as long as he keeps with it.

Cris (Aug 28th) - He is 17 and can be a little immature at times, but it is so amazing to see what the Lord has done in his life and how the things that he has gone through has lead him to this moment in his life. I love watching his countenance change as he silently learns for himself what we are sharing with him is true. He has changed so much since we started meeting with him. He is now living with one of our Syracuse Mothers (Sister Vest), and she is so great for him.

Ruth (July 24th) - Ruth is the type of woman who did all the research before even getting in contact with the church. She basically called the bishop up and said she wants to be baptized. She loves to talk, which sometimes make it hard to teach her what she has to know before baptism, but following God is her life. I am always strengthened by meeting with her; she always says stuff that she learned for herself, which is unique to the church and truth. It just goes to show that the spirit does testify of truth if we will just listen.

Mike (Sep 4th) - Really wonderful. He wants to change his life around and realises this is possible through Jesus Christ and his Gospel. He has been meeting with the missionaries for a little over a year now, and a little at a time, his is learning about his true identity and a Child of Heavenly Father, a prince of the Most High God. I am excited to continue working with him and to see the continual growth that can only come through Jesus Christ, His atonement, and His Gospel.

My eye is fine. something must of got in it, and it swelled. It is basically back to normal now.

Elder Call has been teaching me how to make bread! Yesterday, we made 5 loaves (cooked two, and left the three in the freezer to bake latter) It is fun, and really good! One of the pictures will be a loaf of bread I made (it did not rise as well, but it is nice and dense) We also played basketball with Aaron (Sister Vest's oldest son - 23ish), Cris, and a progressing investigator, Andre. It was exactly what I needed. The weather is ridicules. yesterday, today, and basically the next week will be in the humid 90's. You learn to have no shame as a missionary to be completely drenched in sweat talking to people. I am beginning to feel more comfortable about it as a keep deepening my love for God's children.

Last Monday (P-day) we took the bus back to our place. We shouldn't of made the bus, because we where about 5 minutes late for it, but the Lord needed us on that bus, and so the bus was late in leaving. We found two great people: one was a girl named Tiffany who met with missionaries in the past, stopped, but still had some interest and wanted us to stop by again to learn more.

The other lady, had a friend who is Mormon and had interest in learning more so we will speak with her again also. Last Tuesday we starting out in the morning on our bikes (like always), and then older gentleman, stopped us, because he wanted a picture of us. So he had us crouch down on our nees with our bikes, and then had me hold a plate which then he released a top which spun ed on the plate as he took our picture on this ancient camera that pops out the picture right away. As he took our picture instead of saying 'say cheese, ' he yelled ' yAHHAAHAHHHAHAAAAAHAA!' It made my day! You meet the coolest people out here.

Saturday night as we were tracking, a police officer stopped us to answer a suspicious persons complaint. He thought we were solicitors (which we are legally not), and did not have a soliciting permit. We showed him our Monastical Certificates, but he did not quite understand we were not selling anything and that we are basically ministers or missionaries from our church. But, God works in mysterious ways. We left at his request (after writing down our information) and visited Kendra, someone we met the day before who said was interested in learning more. We where able to come in teach both her and her cousin, Wayne, about how God and Jesus Christ has restored his Church on the earth again. I hope they continue to learn more, they are such wonderful people.

Well, I hope everyone has another wonderful week! Remember the Lord in all things. I love the verses in Isiah: "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me." (Isaiah 49:15-16) Everything we know points towards Christ and the Atonement.

Something that I am tryring to do and will extend the commitment to you, is to see this in your own life and to also read the parables in the scriptures and relate it to Christ and his atonement. Have a great week! I love you all!


Elder Shurtz

PS - please send me my bed comforter. It will be better I realize. Thank you so much!