Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

What a wonderful time of the year!  I love serving the Lord.  It is
hard trying to be exactly obedient in both law and spirit, but I truly
believe that is what a companion is for; to help uplift one another.
This is why the Lord has given us our weaknesses, our strengths, and
our spiritual gifts, so that we can come and rely on each other.  In
similar fashion, we all need to rely on the Savior.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to recognize our blessings and give

thanks to God for what we have.

President Bulloch included this in his email:

On October 3, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln, recognizing God as the
source of all blessings, and the need for all people to do the same,
sent a “Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day.” President Lincoln
said in part, “The year that is drawing towards its close, has been
filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.  To
these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to
forget the source from which they come…[as] the ever watchful
providence of Almighty God… [Therefore], It has seemed to me fit and
proper that [these blessing] should be solemnly, reverently and
gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole
American people.  I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every
part of the United States… to set apart and observe the last Thursday
of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our
beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.“  Thus, Thanksgiving
Day was born.  It was not a day about pilgrims, Indians and turkeys,
but a day about recognizing God’s hand in our life, and giving thanks
to Him.

President Monson commented on this beautiful principle of an attitude

of gratitude.  As we show thanks to the Lord for our blessings,
letting him know that we truly care for his sacrifice and love for us,
he is willing to bless us even more with greater joy.  Ingratitude in
not in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is not a part of the plan.  It
is a device Satan use to trap us within selfish, prideful thoughts.
If we are constantly thinking of what we do not have or what I lack,
or the misfortunes of life, we will miss the beauty and blessings
around us.

I am so thankful for my ability to serve the Lord.  For my family and

friends that support me and have helped me come to this point in my
life.  For our church leaders.  For President Bulloch, his wife, and
other missionary leaders.  But most of all, I am thankful to my
Heavenly Father who loves me.  Who sent his Only Begotten so that I
may be forgiven of my sins as I strive to follow His example.

Hope is going great!  She has been going through a ruff time right now

with family and her kids, yet she is still comes to at least
Sacrament, when many would not do such under the same conditions.
Elder Potter and I have realized on how she is understanding things
better, feels the spirit more since she has stopped drinking coffee
and has been living the Word of Wisdom.  What a great witness of
blessings that the Lord has promised us as we obey this commandment!
We taught her about tithing this week, and she is readily willing to
obey this commandment as well, despite the financial difficulties she
has.  What a great woman of faith!  She is still scheduled for baptism
on December 11th, the Saturday right after transfers.  Elder Potter
and I are hopping that both of us will be here for it!

We were not able to meet with Amy this last week.  But last Sunday

(14th), her daughter was blessed at church.  It was a beautiful
experience.  The electricity went out right before church so we all
crammed into the Relief Society room, and has one of the most
spiritual sacrament meetings I have been to in awhile.

We have not been able to meet with many of our other investigators

this week, for some reason or another, but we where able to see many
more less-actives.  Yesterday at church we had Hope come.  Also we had
2 less-actives who we saw this week come.  They had not come in
awhile, so it was great to see them, and the branch was so excited

I went on exchange with Elder Call on Friday.  It was strange working

with him again.  He has changed so much since I worked with him last
time.  He asked me a question: If a lot of people got baptized in
Oneida right now, would the unit be able to handle it?  He talked
about the Jacob 5:73, where the root of the tree and the top grew
equal, and how this is how it works in our branches and wards.
Straighten the roots, and new growth will happen.

Love you all,

Elder Shurtz

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tract (n): a continuous expanse of land [Webster]

Tract (n): a continuous expanse of land [Webster] - Tracting (verb): two guys in white shirts and ties going door to door which seems like a continuous expanse of land [Elder Shurtz]
This week has been amazing!  We had Zone Conference of Thursday.  It was my second one so far (we only have it every other transfer now, and we had a all-mission conference last transfer).  The Lord truly does work by revelation. 
Brent mentioned in his letter to me that the high council has been talking about the Handbooks, and how they are suppose to be more condensed and gives more opportunity (or agency) for revelation on the local level.  It seems like this is what the whole church is gearing towards!
President Bulloch keeps sharing when he got set apart as a Mission President, Elder Scott told him to 'trust his missionaries.'  It seems like every time we receive guidance from him, this is was he mentions.  He has also been pondering on how we as a mission can keep the work progressing, and of course he came back to the advice to trust his missionaries.  He and Sister Bulloch just got back from a yearly Mission President seminar.  The general authorities mentioned to 'rip up' any rules in the mission that are added upon the white handbook (except for those made to adapt to the culture).  It seems like every mission has the written and the unwritten rules (like only MOTAB or Hymns).  The President and the general authorities are guiding the church to a new level it seems like.
As we have greater 'agency' of choice, we can gain greater faith through the righteous acts of that agency.  Through greater faith, greater things happen, for Faith is Power. 
Thus the added rules are officially 'ripped up.'  The church has also authorized mission presidents to allow all missionaries the ability to TXT on cellphone now for missionary purposes.  This will help so much!  So many people we have trouble contacting, are so much easier to keep in contact through TXTing.
We are excited to use are new found 'agency' in faith to see a marvelous work and a wonder take place in the New York Utica Mission.
We had a huge discussion on Faith.  Often Elder Potter and I ask each other 'why do we doubt?'  President led us into the gym where he had a string tide to the basketball hoop with a weight at the bottom (creating a pendulum type thing).  We talked about the 'laws of physics' and how they are true principles, that both gravity and friction will not allow the weight to reach the same height as the release point of it is just dropped, with no other acting forces.  We all agreed it was true.  Then he had some of us (I was one) stand with the weight to our chin, and let the weight drop without moving our chin.  Do we still have that 'faith' in laws are true when that weight is coming back at you?  It was so sweet!  (I did not move :)
Faith is Power
Love is the motive
Obedience is the price
The Spirit is the key
The Restoration is the message
The Members are the means
Christ is the reason
Baptism is the way
Joy is the reward
Elder Shurtz
PS - Elder Potter's cousin said a fun little thing in his email:
The Church is True; The Book is Blue; and Jesus is a Mormon

Monday, November 8, 2010

Busy week, sweet investigators!

Hey Family!
Elder Potter and I have been so blessed the last couple of weeks with people to teach.  We have about 7 people we are teaching, and they are all sweet.  We met with most of them this past week!
Hope, we have been teaching since I got here, and she is so sweet.  She has come to church 4 or 5 times, and she loves it.  We are helping her overcome drinking coffee, but we are excited for her.
Amy is so sweet!  She is nice to everyone.  She has 2 kids, both under the age of 2.  We give her a scripture to read, and we don't even have to explain anything.  She is like, 'o, ok! This is how this scripture applies in my life.'  Her husband is a member, but is not active.  Their life is busy, but they realize that this will bring greater happiness and joy to them and their family.
Sorry, for the short email this week.  Love you all.
Elder Shurtz

Monday, November 1, 2010

No Sweat!

Things are going wonderful here!  The Lord has really blessed us.  We have found one new investigator, and today we should be meeting with the family I talked about last week.  It has been weird working in a twosome again.  We went tracting after we dropped Elder Jensen off, and we both felt like we were alone.  But, now we are back to normal (as normal as missionaries are) and have been working hard. 

Thursday we had a lesson with Amy and her less-active husband.  They are the sweetest and most awsomest people ever.  They know the gospel is true, and everything.  But they run a crazy life: getting up at 3:30 in the morning to go to work with 2 kids and getting to bed around 9:30.  We had planned to go over the Word of Wisdom, but she wanted to go over prayer, so we had this AMAZING lesson on prayer.  She can pull out of scriptures things that are so deep, and on so many layers.  Then at the end of the lesson, she gave the most beautiful and sincere prayer I have heard in a long time.  Both her and I were crying by the end of it!

Friday night we had a branch dinner, where we had a open fire outside of the church and we cooked tin-foil dinners.  It was sweet stuff!  but what was even sweeter, was the fact that we had an investigator there!  Kazim, a 17-year-old kid.  He is real sweet, and he is very outgoing in talking with people.  We had a meeting with him an hour before the event, we told him about it then and there, and he said he wanted to come.  (he did not have a phone number, so we would not invite him earlier).  We called someone up, and got a ride for him, and he had a great time.  He has been reading this history about Mormons from an LDS author, and he is so intrigued.

Sunday we had two investigators at church; Hope and Amy (and her husband and two kids)!  You have no idea how stressful Sunday mornings are for missionaries; Seeing who will come out of those you invited.  We both also gave 15-20 minute talks on missionary work, which we talked about how members can be missionaries.  It is funny how I don't sweat as much about talks anymore.

Well I hope everyone had a great week!

Elder Shurtz