Monday, September 27, 2010

5 Days!

Hello Everyone,
Fall is coming!  Conference is coming!  The Lord is coming!  What a wonderful time to live! 
This week has been a little slow.  Many of our appointments have been falling through.  But I get a little comfort to hear that it has been the same for everyone in our zone recently.  The weather has been nice.  It has been slowly warming up to Friday when it hit 90 (the day we spent most of our time knocking on doors and walking [even had a guy said he was calling the cops on us for waking him up at 1 in the afternoon]), to dropping back down in the 60's for the weekend.  Right now it is pouring rain.
My companion and I were riding down town on Tuesday when we stopped to talk to a group on the street.  One guy (latter find out his name is Sammy) in the party asked us if we where the Latter-day Saints.  He told us he remembered this Elder, but not the name.  After describing it, we realized he was talking about Elder Warr who just went home about 7 weeks ago.  He told us that Elder Warr never knew, but he saved his life.  Apparently we was about to commit suicide (had the noose tied and everything up in the attic), when Elder Warr knocked on his door.  He described Elder Warr as being an angel.  They never saw each other again, but what a difference that little encounter made!  You never know when you make a difference (for better or worst) in someones life.
Friday, Elder McCleve and I were washing shelves at a local library as our weekly scheduled service.  We took books off and wiped everything down, then put the books back.  One book caught my eye.  It was a little picture book and it was entitled Our Mom has Cancer .  I deiced to look at it.  It was about these two little sisters who find out their mother has breast cancer.  They talk about how sad it was with mom loosing hair, going through chemo and radiation, and being sick a lot.  But it also talked about how they spent more time with their mother, and grew closer to her.  I was curious how the book was going to end; was the mother going to survive, or was she going to die.  It turns out that she lived, and the little girl realized how hard at the time it was but that they where blessed.  They grew a deeper relationship with their mother.
I thought about how this applied to our lives.  I thought about the Savior and how through him we live and are all given the gift of being resurrected.  "The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame" (Alma 40:23) and "the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow (Alma 40:12).
I love reading the scriptures!  We do not get enough time to study!  I feel selfish for wanting to spend a whole day reading and studying.  But o'well!  I guess we will never fully satisfy our desires to do such.  General Conference is going to be amazing!  It will be weird having it start at noon instead of earlier and having priesthood end at 10!  I have just finished reading the last conference issue and been soaking it up!  My companion told me how when he was not old enough to take notes at conference his parents would have him draw in a notebook what the speakers were talking about.  I thought that was really cool, so we have been suggesting that to some families who have been wondering how to involve their children more at general conference.
Just think about it!  We get to listen to a prophet's voice!  It is like listening to Adam, or Noah, or Abraham, or Isaiah, or Moses, or Joseph Smith; BUT IT IS FOR OUR DAY!  IT IS FOR US.  DIRECT DIRECTION FROM THE LORD TO HIS PEOPLE AS A WHOLE! 
I hope everyone enjoys their week, and especially conference!
Elder Shurtz

Monday, September 20, 2010

Barbershops in Syracuse are to Dental Offices in Wenatchee

I LOVE the rain!
What an interesting week this has been!
Its been cold all week!  some mornings as low as 45 and highs of 60's.  sort of right in between of knowing if I should wear a sweater or not.

We found an electric razor with guards in our apartment about 6 weeks ago, and I cut my own hair for the second time last Tuesday night.  It is not that bad of a job if i do say so myself (3 on the sides and 5 on top).  It is interesting though not caring as much as I use to about what my hair looks like.

Wednesday, we were starting out our morning on our bikes when about 1.5 miles out Elder McCleve got a flat tire (2nd time, getting his first exactly 3 weeks earlier).  So our morning was shot walking back to the apartment to patch up the tire (it has made me grateful for the times dad had shown me how to do it).  But something cool happened that afternoon(sortof).  We had a dinner appointment at 5 with Brother and Sister Rounds and was dropped off at the church around 6:20 which gave us 40 minutes before our mission coordination meeting with the ward.  So instead of waisting time at the church we headed back down to a main street on our bikes to talk to people.  One person we talked to, named Robbie, ended of leaving her with a pass-along card (which we do with about every other person who does not have time to talk or seem to not be interested) with a offer for a free Book of Mormon.  She said that she would diffidently call in and get one (which I have heard a couple of dozen times before too, but they never did).  But, the next morning, we got her has a referral from Church Headquarters!  We are meeting with her tomorrow and are interested to see what happens.

Thursday morning, we where following up on someone we met on the streets a few days earlier who said we could come by.  As soon as we are about 4 miles away from the apartment, rain starts down pouring!  We got inside the building and found this potential investigator just leaving with her daughter.  So we set up an appointment for the next day and start going down the stairs of this apartment complex and somebody started talking to us from the top of the stairs.  It "just happens" to be Mayhon, somebody we lost contact with about 3 weeks earlier on the other side of town and have been praying to find.  I know that it was by the hand of the Lord we found him there.

Friday morning, Elder McCleve got another flat tire (we need to buy more patches now).  Luckily we were at the library where do service at and Brother Haase (great member who lend us him bikes to use) came over and fixed the tire for us.  That evening we visited a potential, Tatiana, and taught her and her friends (they are Juniors in High School).  They seem interested and we have a return appointment with them tomorrow. 

Saturday, was a beautiful day!  Chris ran away from the homeless shelter on Monday, and we had not seen him since till we saw him walking on the street.  We stopped (we had the car at the time) and started talking to him.  He got a part time job, and should be meeting with a GED program today, but things seems to be going down hill for him.  He did not show up to church on Sunday and we do not know where he is, so we are currently not teaching him. ;(  He has so much potential, if only he would commit himself.  A lot of it is based upon how he was raised, but we hope he comes back.

Saturday night we brought over our ward mission leader, Brother Bush, to meet with our neighbor Jeannette (80 year old lady missionaries have been helping for over a year now).  About 2 weeks ago she had eye surgery, and so we have been helping her every morning and night put in her eye drops (because she has Parkinson and has a hard time doing it herself).  She is a little fearful about trusting people but she seems to have this unlimited trust in us missionaries.  Through service, it has open her heart to listen to what we have to share; where otherwise she would not have listened.  She loves the Book of Mormon, and believes that Joseph Smith really did have the vision.  We need to help her over some fears, but we are excited to be teaching her "officially" now.

I have seemed to pick up a cold within the last 36 hours.  I have been coughing up a storm, sore throat, and aches and pains all over.  The last two night I did not sleep well, and even took a shower at 4 this morning to try and warm up.  But I seem to be doing better now, and hopefully when we head out tonight I will be feeling great (or at least good enough to ride the bike).

It is amazing what the gospel can do in a persons life.  I love reading from the scriptures and preach my gospel every morning.  The spirit teaches you something new everyday.

I hope everyone has a great week!

Elder Shurtz

Friday, September 17, 2010

Transfer Week!

This week is Transfer Week!
Sorry I was not able to email last week.  With Labor day, we normally email the next day, but I went on exchange with Elder Villagomez (my district leader) in Cortland and did not have the opportunity to write.  So transfer calls came Saturday afternoon, and Elder McCleve and I are staying in Syracuse.  The Syracuse Sisters (Sister Livermore and Woodmansee) are also staying.  This is great because we are really starting to get going with the Ward Mission Council and getting more member involvement.
It is crazy to try and look back the last two weeks and try to summarize it.  We truly have been 'weeding the garden' and trying to focus on those who would be progressing.  Just last week we went from 17 people in our teaching pool, to 7.  We know that by not waisting time with those who are not willing to progress we will be blessed with more time to find those who are ready.  We just found a really cool feature about our side of Syracuse: we have about 9 zip-codes in our area, which will help us organize and find where the members and less-actives live, especially in the areas we are working to branch out towards.
Ryan is moving along.  He and his family went on vacation for 2 weeks, which seems to have really helped.  We are trying to help him and his wife attend church more frequently so he can prepare to receive the Aaronic Priesthood.  Ruth... we have not been able to get in contact with her for the last month!  Her phone has disconnected and she is ether never home when we come by or she does not answer the door and does not call us back after leaving her a couple of notes.  We really do not know what is happening with her.  But we keep trying and praying.
We just started teaching someone named Yvonne who started investigating the Church in Porto Rico many years ago.  She seems awesome and are excited to see what happens as she reads, prays, and comes to church.  We are also teaching a young couple, Daniel and Natasha, who also seem excited to learn more and read.  We tried to get them and their kids to church on Sunday, but we have not yet figured out why they did not come.
Chris, we have not been able to teach in awhile because he moved into a homeless teen place and we need to get permission to visit him, but we are hopping we will be able to this week meet with him. 
All in all, I am excited to see what happens, especially with trying to branch out into different areas.
Last P-day, I made some Banana Bread (thanks to Melinda's recipe folder she gave me) and we also went outside and played some football with some of the kids around our apartment.  I included some pictures of my prized bread (it was so good) and the football team.
I am currently reading in Jacob right now, and tomorrow I will start with the tame and wild olive trees.  I am so excited.  But today in my reading I read the last verse in the first chapter (i think) which Jacob says if he does not declare repentance, the blood of the people would be upon his garments.  As members of this church (especially missionaries) we are that responsibility to declare this gospel to all those we meet.  I am thankful that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I can be forgiven for my shortcoming and grow everyday, trying to be more like my Savior.
I encourage you to read Elder Bednar's conference talk on Prayer of Faith (I think that's the title) but it gives great advice on how to act upon our prayers and faith, especially in our personal missionary efforts.
Have a great week everyone!
Elder Shurtz

Banana bread batter - my first!

Finished product - Yummm!

Football players come in all sizes!