Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lateasa's Baptism

Lateasa's Baptism
It has been a good week.  Spent thanksgiving at Sister Hardy's house with some other families.  She is such a nice lady, always wanting to feed us and take care of us.

Lateasa's baptism went well.  Well attended (60-70 people).  She asked me to give the talk on baptism.  She was super excited.  We had Luke, Luetta, Larina, and Timothy's wife, Michelle, were at the baptism.  (Timothy's kid was sick so he stayed home to watch him).

Tuesday I went on exchange with Elder Williams who is in Watertown.  We worked in Carthage.  We taught Timothy and Michelle about the temple, eternal families, and family history.  It is amazing to feel the spirit testify that what you say is true and you know that they feel it as well.

We have been working with everyone else on their baptisms.  A few will be pushed back a couple of weeks.  I will let you know after their interviews.

It was a little bit slower this week, but great things were done to help eveyone progress.  It is fun to see the discovery or the 'enlightening' of the spirit in their lives.

Well I need to get going.  Sorry for the short email this week.

Elder Shurtz

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Week

Hello, Hello, Hello!

It snowed a little, but disappeared this week.  Yesterday was warm and raining.  It has been a great week teaching!  But not so much finding.
We have taught Luetta and Timothy majority of the lessons.  Luke we have taught a bit, but we are not sure where the parents are in all of this, so we might be pushing his date back a week or two.  A week from this Wednesday we are going on exchange with Zone Leaders and we will be doing interviews then.  Our goal is to have Luetta, Timothy, and (hopefully) Luke ready for the interview then.

Luetta agreed to be baptized in December!

Lareasa Hildebrand is getting baptized this Saturday at 5!  She is such a sweet lady!  It is interesting because I did not really teach her.  Elder Stanton and Elder Danells-Brown found and taught her, then the Ghizes helped her through the past couple of months and now she is ready!

We showed up at Luke's house on Wednesday for an appointment.  Grandma was there with older son, so we came in and started teaching.  Parents came home, and got a little mad at us.  Apparently, we had a miscommunication on the day of the appointment.  (Yikes!)

Timothy is doing awesome!  Last week we talked about the gathering of Israel in Priesthood (first time in Priesthood) which was a little over his head.  Then this time we talked about the signs of the second coming.  Coming from a Southern Baptist background, he felt right at home with that topic!  He is excited about it all, and on Tuesday we are going to talk to him and his wife more about the temple and getting them going on the 'next step,'  I hope I will keep in contact with them, and maybe be able to go to the temple with them in a year.  An Elder can dream you know.

Yesterday we had 5 people at church (everyone we have a baptismal date with)!  It was a great day.

I am so thankful for the great love our father has for us.  Tomorrow I am training on companionship unity and working together to overcome our weaknesses.  I am so grateful that the Lord helps us through our imperfections.  I realized more and more the many scars I have. 

Have a great thanksgiving!  I will be with wonderful families enjoying the Holiday.

I love you all!

Elder Shurtz

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hi, I'm Matt! I love to dance. Food is great. And I'm a Mormon!

I was born and raised in Washington State. ~ I love to dance. ~ I'm a horrible speller. ~ I went skydiving once and loved it! ~ My family says I have been working with computers from the age of two. ~ Family is soooo important to me. I am the only boy with four sisters. My father is a great example of someone who works hard, is patient, and puts God and family first. When I was twelve, my mother died from breast cancer. She was a great woman who loved serving others. I was sad when it happened, but I knew that God had a plan for us individually and that I would see my mother again someday -Through the blessings of the Temple, our family relationships will continue beyond the grave as we continually strive to follow the example of Jesus Christ- This truth helped me continue to live my life the way she and God would want me to. The peace and knowledge I have gained through searching, pondering, praying, and living, has supported me through the difficult times as well as the wonderful times.

Why I am a Mormon

Well, first of all I was born a Mormon! I love it. The values of upheld by the church had been a great strength to my family. In my early teens, I began to question the beliefs/values of the church and my family. Was it really true??? Or was I just so accustomed to it, it seemed 'right?' Needless to say, I was a little rebellious as I questioned. Although not completely shunning away, I did things that seemed harmless at the time, yet I was told would lead to heartache... guess what? They were right. I finally had to do what missionaries ask every seeker of truth to do: read The Book of Mormon, ponder the message it contains, and then sincerely -with real intent- pray and ask God if it is true. I got my answer. Now I am that missionary extending that invitation to others, praying they will receive the same answer I and countless others have received.

How I live my faith

Currently, I am a full-time missionary in New York. I am in New York to bless the lives of all of Gods children of whom I come in contact with. A major portion of that is teaching individuals and families the basic principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and invite all to partake of the magnificent blessings by living a more Christlike life.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Power of the Spirit

My new companion, Elder Simmonds
Thanks for all your emails!  It is so fun to hear from you all.

It has been another awesome week.

Tuesday we went our day working hard, then came home to have the Ghiz's call us (Senior Couple with Military Relations on Fort Drum).  They have been working with a lady named Lateasa who Elder Stanton and Elder Daniels-Brown (just went back home to Moses Lake) found through tracting.  She was wanting to be baptized but had to work through some family issues.  They, and the bishop, set her with a date to be baptized (Nov 26th).  Things seem to be going well for it to go through, just a few small details, then she will be ready.

Wednesday I picked up my new companion.  His name is Elder Simmonds.  He is from Bountiful, UT.  Graduated high school 2011.  He is a good guy, wanting to be obedient, hard working, good spirited (kind-of quirky) guy.  It is strange to think that he graduated the same year with Katie.

They have revised the MTC training program.  So instead of focusing so much on the actual doctrines and lessons, they have the eight fundamentals of teaching (Role of HG, BOM, Prayer in conversion - How to begin teaching, etc).  They have a whole 12-week program we follow for companion study and we have an extra hour of companion study 5 times a week.  It is awesome!

It is fun to see where Elder Simmonds is at, making me realized how much I have learned and experienced 17 months out.

Luke is doing good.  We hope he will be ready for baptism in December.  The parents want to make sure he is ready as well (maybe a little too ready?? :).

Timothy is doing awesome.  Loves what he is learning and is on track to be baptized on December 10th.

We went to a baptism Saturday night in Watertown with Timothy and Michelle (jumping in the back of their minivan with their two kids).  It was a good experience.  Timothy liked it, but the little kids hit the wall and we darted out of there after it was over.  He later made a joke about how there are no secret hand shakes or nothing :)  by the way: their kids are so well behaved.  I have no idea how they did it, but they are both under the age of 2 and when they are told it is time for bed, they go to bed all by themselves.  They run up the stairs and jump in bed.  I don't see that too often in New York.
Larina has been out of town and we have not seen her since last Sunday, but we should be seeing her this week!
Luetta came to church on Sunday.  She stayed for all three hours and a linger-longer.  What a champ for being in her 80's!
Weather is crazy.  Had a little snow flurry, but nothing stayed.  Today is so warm, we went running in shorts, and walking with no coats today.  But, I have a feeling when you have a warm day, it means the cold is on its way.

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to serve a mission.  Something that I have been noticing more and more, is the spirit and the converting and changing effects it has in those we come in contact with.  I am also become more aware on how it is changing me.  I believe it was Elder Bednar that spoke about personal revelation and gave it three comparisons to the turning on a light vs the rising of the sun vs the rising of the sun on a cloudy day.  The spirit is there, and we must strive to be in tune.

I love you all.  Have a great week!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Busy Week!

No snow yet!

Monday we went to a park and hit some golf balls.  It felt so good to be able to do that.  Then we grabbed some Subway sandwiches and went in for the night because President wanted us to stay in for Halloween.  It was a good day.

Tuesday, after district meeting I was on exchange with Elder Spencer.  We had an amazing day.  We picked up two investigators.  One we have been meeting with a few times with a less active member.  Her name is Luetta.  Had a good meeting with her and she understood a good deal, especially about Joseph Smith.  Then when we went to dinner, we had a member call us and told us his neighbor's son wanted to be baptized (he has come to church for about 2 months). So after dinner we went to the member's home and taught Luke ( who turns 11 on Thursday).  He is so excited!  We did not set up a date, because we wanted to talk to the parents as well (though the parents already gave permission).  As we are leaving we get a text from Larina, who just got back from vacation saying she had a cool experience and had something to tell us.  We setup an appointment for that Thursday.

Wednesday, we saw Timothy again.  He is so exciting to teach.  He asks lots of questions, and is really open to answers, and then goes and finds more to support what we are saying.  We talked about the plan of salvation.  I was able to use scriptures and answer questions that no one else has asked before with an open heart.  It is such a great experience!  The first meeting we talked about the Godhead  and how they are separate beings.  When we came back he said it is amazing how the bible actually teaches that!  It is so cool to see him grow.

We taught Luke the restoration Wednesday night, and setup a time for the bishop and his parents could meet with us.

Thursday, we went to Watertown so elder Stanton could do a baptismal interview.  Then we went to Larina's.  She told us she went to Palmyra in her travels.  She spent 3 hours there and had an amazing spiritual experience.  She said she believed that this is the right choice for her.  We extended a date in December.  We are so excited for her!

Friday, we saw Luetta again.  She mentioned she asked her son (she is an older lady) what he would think if she changed churches.  She loves what we are talking about, and loves the Book of Mormon.  She is a sweet lady.  We also met with Luke that night with the bishop and parents.  Parents are good with it, and he has good support to help him.  So we are shooting for the beginning of December for baptism.

Friday night President called and asked me to train and be the district leader this upcoming transfer.  It is going to be fun training again!

Saturday, we stayed around Carthage.  We had a funny experience where we went to a members home, and one of the kids opened the door rushing us in because one of her sisters started swinging on the chandelier.  The other kids were on the table trying to old it up with the wires, because mom is on bed rest and dad was not home yet.  The little girl's arms were shaking as she thanked us for getting there and helping to put it back up.

That night Elder Stanton found out he is going to Gloversville to work with my other 'son', Elder Hall.  He is getting a little scared/excited because he has been in Carthage for 8 months.

Sunday, we had three people at church: Timothy, Lorina, and Luke.  We had another amazing lesson with Timothy and set him with a date for December as well.  We asked what he thought about Joseph Smith, and he said it 'just make sense!'  We are excited for both him and his wife.

We also taught Luke, and had a good lesson with him as well. He is a bright kid, and very self-reflective.

We also had a lesson and dinner with Larina at a member's home.  Great and rare experience!  (OFFER THE MISSIONARIES LESSONS AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES IN YOUR HOME!)

Today we went to Luke with Jared (a recent convert) and his wife to lunch and had a good time with them.  They got married in March and are expecting in May.  Fun couple!

So all in all, a great week!  (10 member-present lessons!, 3 with a baptismal date, etc...)  Haven't had it like this since Syracuse!

Well love you all, and have a great week!

Elder Shurtz