Monday, October 31, 2011

We love questions!

It has been a fun week.

I am just getting used to the apartment with its crooked floors, and clicking in the walls during the night from the heater.  It is funny because your are leaning against the wall as you sit on the toilet, the floor is so uneven. :)

Last Monday we went to hit golf balls after emailing, but it was raining, then the power went out for about 30  minutes.  But, after it came back on we watched Legacy.

We had an exchange with the zone leaders on Tuesday.  It was great!  I was with Elder Farrens in Carthage. (Just found out today that he was called as the new AP, as one left today after extending his mission for 30 days).  Elder Farrens reminds me of Danny LeDosque.  I told him that, and he said I looked and acted like one of his friends as well. We taught Laurena, and read from the Book of Mormon.  We hope to be extending her a baptismal date this coming week.

Last week in church we had 205 people in sacrament meeting!  That is awesome!  We have about 518 on our roll.  Carthage ward is so big!  A lot of people are coming back to Fort Drum.  Yesterday, after church, a couple came and introduced themselves to use.  The wife is a convert of a few years, but the husband is a non-member.  He said he would want to learn about joining the church.  They asked who do they need to talk to to start that process?  After a second or two of amazement, we smiled and setup an appointment for that same evening. 

They live on Fort Drum.  Timothy (the husband) is a son of a baptist minister.  He recognized that he has question that were not answered, but remembers living in Arizona and seeing the strong family relationships in the LDS church and wants that for their family (they have 3 kids).  He listened to the missionaries one or twice being 'closed-minded' he describes, but was not interested enough to truly give it a shot.  Now he is wanting to check it out, despite the disapproval of his family.  We are so excited to teach him.  He has questions. And we love questions.

As we were tracting the other day, a older lady came to the door and started kind of yelling at us that her husband is a minister and that we don't believe in the same Jesus Christ.  She would not let us share with her anything.  It was sad.  I do not understand how that can truly be believed.  What else is the main purpose of the Book of Mormon?

I know that it is through the Book of Mormon and the inspiration of the spirit that we can gain a deeper enriched understanding and appreciation for the Son of God who laid His life on the cross, and that through him, and only him, can we be brought back into the presence of our God.

I love you all.  Thanks for your love, and letters, and support.  It is amazing the work the Lord allows us to assist in.

Elder Shurtz

Monday, October 24, 2011

Family History is Key!

Another fast week!  Weather is still cold.

Tuesday in district meeting we talked about Family History in our finding efforts.  Apparently 60% of patrons that use the church resources for family history are not members.  The spirit of Elijah is a strong influence, and everyone can relate to the family.  Saturday we were talking to a guy who claims to be a descendant of Joseph Smith.

Things are going along.  Cassandra is still excited.  Though the family did not come to church yesterday :(

Also taught McKenzie and her family.  But they did not come to church either :(

We were going to meet with Laurena yesterday, but we rescheduled for Tuesday.

Many of the members are awesome.  We are getting fed almost every night.  Many times it is like a thanksgiving feast!

I love you all, and hope you have a great week!

Elder Shurtz

Monday, October 17, 2011

It is not Reasonable, It is not Rational, It is Revelation, and It is Right!

What a great week!

Last Monday after the email we went to the church and hit some golf balls.  That felt SOOOOO good.  I haven't hit a golf ball all mission.  We had some clubs and balls in the apartment.

Wednesday, we had a lesson with Cassandra, one of the nine year-old girls we are teaching.  It was great because she asked 'when can I get baptized?'  She has a desire and wants to do it, which is a great blessing.  We hope to help the whole family come back to full activity, so we are not rushing things.

Friday, at Zone Conference was amazing!  Elder Piper went to the chalkboard and asked what questions we had.  He explained that the humble have questions where the prideful do not.  One of the twelve apostles said he thought he would know a lot, but soon realized he had more questions as time went by.  We then spent the next 3 hours receiving council.  He reiterated what President Bulloch said Elder Bednar did at the Priesthood Leadership meeting on Saturday: Teach basic doctrines and principles.

Most of our questions were of the 'how' sort.  Elder Piper explained that the 'how' is explained on the top of the pyramid (application), where we are called to teach the other two parts, the 'why' and the 'what' (doctrine and principles).  One of my questions was 'how do we help the less-active families who want their 9 year-old children baptized?' So we brain-stormed what doctrine and principles surrounded that question receiving insight and greater understanding what we must do.

After Conference we went on exchange.  Elder Rymer came with me to Carthage.  This is his first transfer out.  It reminded me how much I had to learn at the beginning of the mission.  Helped me to think more now on what I have learned and hope to continue to learn.  We met with the other 9 year-old girl, Cathrine, and it went well.  We hope that her parents will teach her between our visits.

Sunday we went to Rome with a less-active brother, Brother DeSivla.  It was amazing.   Before the meeting Elder Bednar was just exiting the bathroom as we were heading in.  I was 5 feet away!  Elder Stanton and I both later commented 'he was shorter than I thought he would be!'  He was an awesome speaker.  The new stake president looks young.  Here are some highlights of what he talked about.  He said he wanted us to have a 'glance behind the curtain':

  • They don't come and choose the new stake president.  They come and find the new president.
  • When finding a stake president, it is always the same, but always different.  He went on to talk about how he has done it hundreds of times, but it is be revelation.  How companies spends millions of dollars to that a smooth succession and continual grow, yet many times they fail!
  • Shared his first experience with Elder Scott finding a new stake president and how he had to rely on the spirit.
  • He called it a miracle. The first councilor was the Stake president's scout master.  That is not how the world works.  Yet it is how the Lord works.  He said: 'It is not reasonable.  It is not rational.  But, It is Revelation. And it is Right'
  • To those who aspire for callings: 'Forgive me, but you are a nut job!'
  • He also talked about how conference talks come from above.  Shared a story of him changing a talk at the last moment, to find it wove heavenly with the other speakers.
  • He talked about the calling of missionaries and stories of him receiving the revelation.
    • How they are CALLED to be full-time missionaries, then they are ASSIGNED TO LABOR in their respective fields.  You are not called to an area.  Thus, a new assignment should not cause doubt.
    • How they are always fasting when calling and assigning missionaries
    • How the prophet reviews the suggested calling and assignment
  • Then he posed the question to those who doubt modern-day revelation - that it ended in the biblical days.  He asks: 'where does it say that in the bible?  It doesn't!'
The spirit was so strong.  You know he is a prophet of God.  An Apostle of the Lord.

I love you all, I hope all its well.  What a great time to be alive!

Elder Shurtz
'It is not Reasonable.
It is not Rational.
It is Revelation.
It is Right.'

Monday, October 10, 2011

Spirityual Feast is Coming!

Cold in the morning, warm in the evenings, cold at night.

My head is still trying to remember every one's name.  We have about 120 people at church yesterday.  Majority of them are primary kids!  I haven't seen so many kids in forever!  The majority of the families are young and in the army.  It was fun to see all the different license plates in the parking lot (like Utah and Texas).

This week we started teaching two 9 year-old children in the ward who are not yet baptized.  We also had Lorianna come to church!  Carthage is definitely small, and we find ourselves out in the country a lot.  Saturday though, we tracted into a guy who's family just moved in (army) and said 'great! we are looking for a church!'  We hope to stop by again and teach his family.

Wednesday we were making rice-crispy treats and the marshmallows exploded all over the microwave.  It was a pain to clean up.  But the treats were so good. 
Also, that night when we were walking home, we saw a dead cat in the grass that was there that morning.  It looked liked it froze to death.  But after looking at it a little closer, we found that we have been fooled in the dark, and that it was a toy cat. 
We also started teaching this awesome lady named Cristal.  She is so fun and good spirited.  She also has a little girl who is 2 or 3 and loves to talk.  We have an appointment to see her again this week. 
This coming week is Zone Conference!  It is going to be a bigger one because Elder Paul B Pieper from the 70 is coming.  It will be great!  Also, this Sunday the Utica Stake (the one I am in right now) is getting the Stake Presidency reorganized and we have Elder Bednar and President Eyring's son coming.  We will hopefully be going to Rome where they will be holding it at the Rome High School which can fit about 1000 people.  So lots of spiritual uplift this week!

I hope you all have a great week!

Monday, October 3, 2011


Well hello!

It is so cold here (30's-50's)!  We are going to get a lot of snow this winter. Weeks go by so fast. Especially when your head keeps turning, trying to get your compass straight in 'another land.'  Carthage is SO small.  We focus mainly on the army base, Fort Drumb, but we can't even tract or anything on it!  We have to first call and setup an appointment, then every time we enter they have to scan our driver licenses.  Got to walk on our tip-toes!  We have about 160 active members in our ward, but it is very transient.  We are still only in a phase II building because we don't meet some of the other requirements to expand.

My new companion, Elder Stanton, is a great missionary.  It will be an exciting transfer.  He has been here for about 8 months, so this most likely be his last transfer here (which means I need to learn a lot of names and stuff real fast!).  He has about 6 months left.  He can have a great conversation with anyone, and I find myself needing to cut in to even get a few words in!

They just had 3 baptisms this last transfer, and now we have only a few people we are teaching.  We hope to get a stronger connection with ward council and work with them more.  I also got to learn all this army lingo!  We has a great lesson with an investigator, Natalie.  We is an awesome lady, with a little past understanding about religion.  We just started teaching her.

Conference was amazing!  Natalie did not come though ;-(  I loved listening to the prophetic council, but especially the spiritual promptings that came.  The Lord answered questions that I never knew I had or knew how to form in words. It seems like some common themes in conference (that I picked up at least): power in scripture study and relevance in our lives, prayer, avoiding immorality, 'opening our mouth' and missionary work, managing our time better, and most especially, the seeking after the guidance of the spirit.

Last night we had dinner with a lady named Lorianna.  She is dating a member of the church in the army.  Awesome lady.  Had a good brief meeting about the plan of salvation.  We get fed almost every night here, so I have to get use to that again (also, I have to get use to a car again)

I now have been out for 2/3rds of my mission.  I look back and I hope I have changed!  I feel like I am still myself, but I have grown in my conviction of my Savior and His church on the Earth.  I love the scriptures and the relevance they have in our daily lives.  I am more earnestly seeking the Lord through my prayers.  My desire to follow the Savior continues to increase, and my desire to not follow him weakens.

I love you all!  Hope you have a great week.

Elder Shurtz