Monday, August 30, 2010

The Importance of Missionary Work

Dear Everyone,
This week has seem to go by so fast, and it seems like a big blur right now.  I have been pondering this week on the family.  Syracuse almost have a stark difference in family life from Wenatchee.  Children out on streets all day; little kids dressed 'ganster', drugs, alcohol, depression, no where to live, debt, hate, anger.  Negative things that just fill the family with separation and complete sadness.  Satan is out to attack families - more than church meetings, and activities.  He knows that is the root of the tree or branch, and if he can destroy the family, he will effect generations to come.  But righteousness will win.
That is the purpose of the church: to uphold the body of Christ, and more specifically, the family.  The Priesthood is sooooo important.  Packer said that sometimes (more often than not) the Priesthood will be the only thing that protects the family from the darts of the adversary which wages war against the fundamental unit of eternal life.  In the temple we make and keep certain covenants, and given blessing from on high to help protect our families; where families are sealed for time and all eternity.  This is the goal of missionary work: to help those make such covenants to bless their families for time and all eternity.
President Monson said, “Missionary work is difficult. It taxes one’s energies, it strains one’s capacity, it demands one’s best effort—frequently a second effort. No other labor requires longer hours or greater devotion or such sacrifice and fervent prayer.” 
I am so thankful to be out here.  Sometimes I question, what am I doing out here?  I'm I really going to do this for two years?  But, I am constantly reminded and thankful for the realty; that there is no greater work; to serve the Lord and being a tool in his hand in aiding His work and His glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.  to help individuals and families come unto Christ be following the gospel he has given us: to have faith, repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end.
I love you all,

Elder Shurtz

The bike took the beating in last week's crash!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Another one bites the dust!

A bike takes a beating!  (Not Matt's real bike)
Dear Family and Friends,
I only got about 5 minutes to write.  Today we had a district activity; we went bowling.  It was fun!
Well it has been a crazy week.  Wednesday I crashed and burn going down this steep hill.  There are still buttons from my destroyed white shirt on the side of the road.  BUT I AM FINE!  I bent the handle bars on the bike and it looks like it took most of the fall.  I have a little scuff on my cheek and a medium sized burn mark on my elbow.  It seems like I am not the most gracefully missionary, but I must be one of the most heavenly protected.  Elder McCleve, who was right behind me, thought for sure He was going to be dragging me to the hospital.
The other day we where tracting a 'less missionary-traviled' area and I had this prompting to go to this house which was not on the street we were on.  We went, and this woman answered the door.  She was very open and said she would love to read and pray about the Book of Mormon.  We are probably going to go see her tomorrow evening.  I am interested to see what happens with her.  The Lord knows what is going on in our live, and knows what we need.  Seeing how many people are prepared to listen to what we have to say (even when they are not ready to be baptized) really shows me his hand in our lives.  We are not some experiment that was left to its own accord; but we have a loving heavenly father who loves us.
Have a amazing week!
Elder Shurtz

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Road Less Traveled

Walking a less traveled road
Dear Family, and Friends,
It has been an interesting week.  Elder McCleve and I have been trying to branch out into 'less missionary-traviled' parts of the city, yet with bikes we keep being pulled into the main parts with our investigators.  I love to see those investigators who are feeling the spirit willing to work towards what they know to be true.  Too many have read the Book of Mormon, and know that it speaks the true; yet are too scared to change their life for what they know to be right.  It is a concept everyone struggles with I believe (even members of the church): We seem to not like change and refinement, even when we know it if for the better.  It is something that I am wanting to focus on this week in my own life; to try and get rid of of some habits and replace them with better ones.
I am also wanting to recognize farther the hand of the Lord in my life as well as our investigators.  Saturday night we decided to visit someone we have previously visited before, yet was not too successful.  When we arrived, she was on her porch and beckoned us in.  We soon found out that on Friday (the 13th) both her best friend and sister died within a few minutes of each other.  She looked to us for comfort, and we shared with her our testimony of the Lord's plan for us, eternal families, and life after death.  What are the odds that we would catch her at that time, a few hours before she would leave town for the rest of the month, and be able to testify to her of these things???  When we listen to the promptings of the spirit, the Lord will place us where we need to be, when we need to be there.
We also had the opportunity to perform a blessing for the sick for three individuals this week.  I look back, and I recognize what a blessing the Lord has given to us to be able to bless the lives of others through Him.  What a sacred calling it is to hold the Priesthood; what a sacred responsibility.
I hope everyone is having a great week.  Please keep missionaries in your prayers and pray specifically for things you can do to share the gospel with those you are in contact with.
Elder Shurtz
Our apartment building
Working hard on a dinner break
We woke up to a thunder storm this morning, and my companion took this picture

Monday, August 9, 2010

And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

Hey Everyone!
This week has been one of the trying ones for me.  My new companion, Elder McCleve, is awesome.  He is willing to work hard.  He is a little more mellow than Elder Call, but he is bold when talking with people.
Sister Stevens went home on Thursday, and Sister Livermore is now training Sister Woodmansee on the other half of Syracuse.
I feel a little flustered trying to take over the area after only one transfer; trying to remember everyone, figuring out the best people to see as well as the most effective travel plans on bikes so we don't waist time nor energy.  But, with the help on my companion, we are slowly getting better at it. 
It is intersting/frusterating to see Satan's influnece, expecially with those we are helping prepare for baptism.  We have been reciently been helping someone quit smoking.  But, he has been so discuraged that he is wanting to quit meeting with us and prepairing for his baptismal date.  Also another investigator with a baptismal date, moved, and we have not been able to contact him for the past two weeks.
We hope to continue working with these people.  A little at a time, I try to focus on who they truely are: Childen of our Heavenly Father.  We have all the potental to become like Him.  We have the power to overcome Satan through our courage, determination, faith, humilty, and acceptance of Jesus Christ and the Atonement. 
But, like the Lord always does, when you pray and ask with sincerity for peace, he will send it.  I love the scripture in 2 Kings 6:16 (subject title) which we went over in Sunday school yesterday.  It is true.  If you are on the Lord's side, there is no reason to fear.  President Bulloch also sent some encouraging words, about how this is for our reifenment. 
Friday, we went to go visit someone that I thought was an inactive member.  It turns out Donna was not a member, but someone the missionaries met on the streets about 10 years ago!  She is awesome.  She has really felt the spirit in her life guiding her, and from what she has been sharing, God's hand directing her towards us.  I hope she continues to learn and to progress.
I hope everything is going great for everyone!  I love reading your letters/emails.  Expecially about the kids, and how much they are growing.  No wonder the Lord said to be like little children.  They are the ones who learn the most, trusting (most of the time) in their parents.  I love you all!
Elder Shurtz

Elder Call and I goofing off last P-Day
Elder Call and I in Utica on Transfer Day  

Elder McCleve and I this morning
Part of Our Apartment

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Hey Everyone! It is transfer week, so apparently P-days are on Tuesday. Elder Call and I are both surprised with transfer calls: Elder Call is going to Rome and becoming a Zone Leader! He is going to do great. He has only been out for 7-8 months, but he his personality and his drive is what i think will make him a great zone leader. I am staying in Syracuse and Elder McCleave** (i don't know how to spell his name yet) is coming. We will be switching tomorrow.

Last week was an amazing week! We are finding we have little time for finding because we are struggling to fit in enough time to teach everyone! It is a testimony to me that the Lord hand's are in all things. Elder Call and I have been working hard to talk to people and find people to teach. Last week we found 3 new investigators, and just yesterday we found 3 more! A sweet Porto Rico lady by the name of Jannet with our first visit with her accepted a baptismal date! She is amazing! Her favorite book in the bible is Isaiah, and when we told her about Joseph Smith, she said she knows it to be true because the spirit has testified that to her. She puts God first in her life, and she is excited!

Also yesterday, when we were seeing an investigator found her at her neighbors, and the neighbors basically said without asking she wants to become a Mormon! Apparently her mother and daughter are both members in a different state, and she has seen how they have both changed, and how wonderful the church is. Her husband is also interested in learning more. I am so excited to go back and teach them about how through Jesus Christ, life can change, and bring happiness.

Ruth's baptism went amazing! I had the opportunity to perform the baptism (my first time!). It was a sweet experience. The program went wonderful, and the spirit was strong. Elder Call performed the Confirmation the next day at church.

Sister Vest (Mom) had a "greeny" meal for me yesterday. EVERYTHING WAS GREEN. She is so great, and serves everyone!

This work is amazing! I love being out here. Not because of the location (though that is nice too) but mainly because of what we are doing here. We meet a lot of people, and people in Syracuse are (more a good part) friendly. It is such a blessing to watch the changing affects in someones eyes and pose as they accept the gospel into their lives, both investigators, non-investigators, and members. Everyone is an investigator (including members) - some are just farther along than others.

Have a great week!


Elder Shurtz

Renae, had a good idea! I spend about half of my time reading all the emails I get, so maybe try sending more snail mail every once in awhile, instead of email. But whatever works for everyone! Thanks!