Monday, December 26, 2011

Stick Em!

We got a little snow on Wednesday, but the first time I used the shovel this year was this morning.  Only about an inch or so.  Crazy!  Last Christmas it was white; this one had a bit of green.  But, I'm not complaining!  It can stay as warm as it wants to.

It was a slower week.  But things have been turning out well.  We have found a few potential people this week we hope to start teaching this week or 'after the holidays.' 

Christmas Eve, we made some treats for some investigators, then tried some less-actives around town.  Then that night we went to the DeBucks for dinner with the Steimles.  It was awesome:  hot (spicy) enchiladas, green chilli, turkey, yummy goodness.

Then we went over the the Hakes home where they invited some less-actives, co-workers, Lorena and DaFrank, and us. The little kids did the nativity (reminds me of a faint memory of having the missionaries in our home for Christmas Eve and having them dress up as wise men).  We sang some songs, ate more dessert, and even learned how to 'stick' people with needles (a new Christmas tradition, I think).  Brother Hakes and his co-worker are both medics in the army and showed us/let us try it.  (pictures for proof)

Elder Simmonds and I ended our night with reading scriptures and drinking sparkling cider.

Christmas Morning we made waffles.  Good stuff! (Warning, don't run microwave and waffle iron on same circuit.  It will blow the fuse) [ride to the store: .2 miles. Replacement Fuse: $3.58.  Eating waffles in the dark on Christmas Morning: Priceless.  For everything else there's Master Card].

Then we had our personal study.  After that, we opened our stockings (Good Stuff!) and then went to church.

After church we had our companion study, opened gifts (Sweet!), went to the Steimle's for dinner with the Cramers (Timothy and Michele).  More good food!  More good dessert!
Watched Mr. Kruger's Christmas.  Visited a member and wished them a merry Christmas.  Came home.  Planned for the next day.  Called family.  Called district and zone leaders.  went to bed (after brushing my teeth).

This morning I did not want to run!  but we did anyway.  I'm excited to get back into it, and not have these 'weird' days.

I hope you are all doing well.  No food poisoning.  :)

Enjoy the week! and Happy New Year!

Elder Shurtz

Two Elders Track-ting!

Luetta's Baptism

Sweet Nativity!

Elder Simmonds takes the plunge!

Should I consider a career in medicine?

Stick em!


Cool Dudes!

Just what I needed!

That's what I'm talking about!

Timothy's Baptism

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Week

It has been a fun week!

Tuesday for district meeting Elder Simmonds and I talked about our callings as missionaries and our responsibility and right to be led by the spirit.  Hopefully it was good.

I then went to Lowville on exchange with Elder Lamborn (from my MTC district).  It is a small area in the woods, with only about 20 active people.  I find myself thankful for a ward!

Friday we had Return & Report.  We drove down to Utica (after having breakfast at this wonderful local diner), only a little bit of snow on the way.  Had a great experience with the training we received.  Elder Simmonds is a great missionary, with lots of faith.  Sister Cox, a sister missionary in my MTC district goes home this week.  She is done.  It is crazy to think that.  Elder Call (my trainer) goes home as well.  I feel like I don't know many of the missionaries now!

After Return & Report, we came back to Carthage for our Ward Christmas party.  It was huge!  People had assigned seating.  We had about 200 people there.  The YSA were supposed to serve the food (everyone placed an order on a sheet of paper), but many of them left!  So we spent about an hour and a half serving tables their food (what a mess!).  But the food was good (turkey, ham, potatoes, bread, salad) and had a fun nativity that the primary did.

Luetta's baptism went well.  Both Elder Simmonds and I were in the water to help her.  I performed the ordinance, and Elder Simmonds helped in support.  She has a hard time with stairs and they make the font stairs so steep.  We had her sit on a chair in the font then helped her lean back.  (Luckily we only had to do it once!)  She is such a strong lady.  She had her friend in the church give the talk on baptism, and had Austin, a 19-year-old kid who has been helping us teach her, gave the talk on the Holy Ghost.  We had about 40 people there, and it was a good experience.  The spirit was strong!

Sunday she was confirmed by Elder Simmonds.  She was shaking the whole day, and only had enough strength to get to the chair and back.

Timothy was ordained a Priest today by Brother Fetters (1st councilor in the bishopric and co-worker in the army).  YAY!

We had Lorena (apparently I have been spelling it wrong.  It is NOT Lorina) came to church with Brother DaFrank (fiance).  I'm glad they keep coming. 

Transfer calls were Saturday.  Carthage and Watertown are staying the same.  But Lowville is going to be closed.  We have 11 missionaries coming in this transfer, and 12 the next, so I'm guessing it will be opened next transfer.  Elder Christensen (MTC companion), who has been my Zone leader, is now the new AP.  His companion is his trainer, Elder Miller.  He will do great!  Elder Stanton (my last companion) was called to be a Zone Leader and replaced Elder Christensen in Rome.

This week will be interesting (21st, the darkest day of the year) and right before Christmas, and we don't have anyone else with a baptismal date.  Christmas should be good.  We have some awesome members who are feeding us, and hopefully we don't find ourselves tracting on Christmas. I remember last Christmas Eve, we were pulled over by a cop, just as we were leaving an area (in our 12 passenger van), because people thought we were casing the houses!  Good times, that I do not want to repeat.

Thank you everyone for your cards, and packages.  I am always overwhelmed by my many blessings in life.  For my family and friends.  For the gospel, the opportunity and ability to serve.  But, especially for the gift of the atonement of Jesus Christ. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts.  The only [true] gift is a portion of thyself.”  May we strive to follow Jesus Christ who did not just give 'a portion' of himself, but his whole-self.

Have a great Christmas!

Elder Shurtz

Monday, December 12, 2011

Revelation is the Rock of the Church!

It has been a good week.  Got a little bit of snow, and I have felt a little sick (sore throat, cough, chills), but believe I am doing better.  Taking a lot of Vitamin C.

Tuesday, for district meeting I had the Watertown Elders do a training President assigned on teaching the Law of Chasity, focusing on pamphlets and the needs of the investigators.  It is amazing, because this week that is exactly what we needed to teach a couple we are teaching, and we have been praying and trying to figure out the best way to do it.  So counseling together as a district brought even more revelation.  When we taught the lesson it was bold, and loving, and was filled with the spirit.  I am so grateful for the guidance of the spirit.

I also went on exchange in Lowville.  I worked in Carthage with Elder Bergman.  It went well. Many appointments fell through, but we worked hard, and kept going, which I think helped him.  We did have a chance to sit down for a sec with a less active, who would like to start coming back to church.  So good stuff! This week I will be going to Lowville and work with Elder Lamborn.  He was in my MTC district.

Wednesday morning the Relief Society president called us with a referral for a husband in a part-member family who would like to start taking the lessons.  We called him up that night, and had a lesson with him the next day.  He has been going to sacrament meeting for the past year or so with his wife in Watertown, though they live in Carthage boundaries.  He is a good guy, and hope to get him to come to Carthage with his family.

We continue to meet with Luetta.  What a great lady! We talked about Temples and Family History work.  She is still excited for her baptism on Saturday.  We had her try the stairs into the font after church yesterday because they are steep and she does not do so well with steps.  We are probably going to have a chair in the water she can sit on.

We had a very powerful lesson with Timothy and Michelle Friday night.  We talked about missionary work.  Scriptures came to mind in the moment.  Had Michelle describe her feelings as she not only she came back into activity, but as she watched her husband embrace the gospel.  Tender words spoken.  Spirit was strong.  Tears were shed.

The baptism was wonderful.  Not as many people showed up, but we still had about 40 people (majority probably kids).  I had the opportunity to perform the baptism.  I asked him how he felt soon after.  He answered: 'Amazing. That felt different than all the other times I was dunked.  It did not feel empty. I haven't felt this good in a long time.' After changing, Michelle shared her testimony.  She recognized that coming back to church and having her husband baptized not only saved their marriage, but brought it to a deeper level.  Her mother, not of the LDS faith, said to Michelle over the phone that she knew Michelle and her husband were closer now, than even their wedding day.

Is it not amazing!  The fullness of the gospel is here!  It has been restored!  There is power behind the ordinances!  There is power behind the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Like Joseph Smith who compared himself to Paul standing in front of King Agrippa, how can we deny something we know to be true through the power of the Holy Ghost?  How could deny the promptings we have felt?

Something Elder Simmonds and I have been noticing and talking about this week is the frequency of revelation we have been receiving.  Who we should teach? What we should teach? What should we say? What scriptures should we use?

As district leader: what to suggest?  What to train on?  How to encourage and support? 
Revelation:  This is the 'rock' of the church, Jesus Christ declared in Matthew 16.  Revelation to direct his ordained servants in His church.

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

Elder Shurtz

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Book of Mormon is the Word of God!


We have gotten a little snow, but it has all melted, and it is currently raining!  It is crazy how warm it is right now.  Yesterday was in the 50's.

As I was heating some water the power went out in part of the house.  Went to the box, not to find a switch but these fuses that looked like bulbs! (just to tell you how old our place is).  After examining the different fuses, we found the culprit.  Luckily there is a store next door that sells them, and we bought one for about 3 bucks.  Learn something new everyday!
I also found pomegranates!  Since last winter I have been wanting to have chocolate covered pomegranates, so guess what I did!  It is so good!

On Wednesday we had Zone Conference.  The subject was the Book of Mormon.  When I started my mission I knew the New Testament better than I did the Book of Mormon.  But, making the Book of Mormon my central focus of study, I have gained such a powerful witness that it is true.  It is the word of God.  The mission president challenged us again to read the Book of Mormon highlighting things pertaining to Christ.  I decided to highlight His names (and pronouns) in one color, attributes in another color, times that people say 'in the strength of the Lord' or similar instances where the Lord strengthens, His words (or when the prophets say 'thus saith the Lord'), and prophesies about Him.  It is amazing what stands out.  Nephi says early on that he will show the 'tender mercies of the Lord'.  I never quite realized how many times after that the attribute of mercy is applied to the Savior.

After Zone Conference, we went on exchange with the Zone Leaders.  Elder Christensen (my MTC companion) was with me in Carthage.  We had a great time.  He is a hard worker and a great missionary.  We reflected a lot on the changes of the last 18 months.  It is crazy that we have been out 3/4th of our mission already.  MTC seemed like the other day.

At Zone Conference the church installed 'black boxes' in our cars (I need to get a picture of it).  But, it is mounted behind the rear-view mirror, and is connected to the car, monitoring speeds, acceleration, bumps, turns, and who knows what else.  (An Elder asked if it records our conversations and the President asks: should it matter?)  They have done it for two years in 6 missions and found that it saves the church a lot of money, and keeps everyone safer.  So they now have extended it to 25 missions and we are one of the lucky ones.  It glows in the night with it's blue and green lights.  'You better watch out, you better not speed, you better not screech, I'm telling you why, President Bulloch is watching your moves.'

Wednesday night Timothy and Luetta had their interviews!  Timothy is set to be baptized on Saturday (5:00) and Luetta the following Saturday (also at 5).  It is super exciting!  Michelle (Timothy's wife) shared her testimony in sacrament meeting yesterday.  It was very powerful.  What a great family!

As for Larina and Luke, we are pushing their baptisms back a little bit.

We also found a new investigator this week.  Her name is Carry.  Tracted into her, but she does have some cousins who are in our ward.  She has had a tough life, but she felt some hope as we bore testimony and we will be teaching her the Plan of Salvation this week.

I hope you all have a great week!  It is an amazing time to be alive!

Elder Shurtz