Hello again everyone,
This last week was the last week of my first transfer. Transfers are six-week periods in which you work in an area with your companion. At the end of each transfer, transfer calls come, and you find out if you will be staying or leaving to go to another area for the next transfer, and also if your companion will stay or leave. It's pretty common to get moved around frequently, most missionaries are moved to a different area every transfer or two, but occasionally they'll stay in the same area for three or even four transfers, which is a pretty long time. Getting transferred doesn't necessarily have to do with if you're doing a good job or not in your area, but just depends on the judgement of the Mission President and the will of the Lord in where you are needed most.
So, yesterday morning President Jones called and informed me that I was going to be transferred up north, way north. As of Tuesday I will officially be serving in the Sault Ste Marie Area (I think pronounced Sue St. Marie. Go figure, I think it's French or something), which covers the entire Upper Penninsula in the Michigan Lansing Mission, which is about the eastern half. The area is named after a city there which is up by border of Canada, I think, and that's where our apartment is and where I'll be living. My new companion will be Elder McMurty, I think. Hopefully I spelled that right, but I'll get it for sure next week. I sure hope there is a place that we can email up there. I don't know much about the area at all, or my new companion, but I will definately know more by next Saturday. It sounds like a pretty interesting place, and I'm looking forward to serving there. I'll be leaving on Monday, spending the night in Lansing, and then driving for a good portion of the day up to the Upper Penninsula. I won't actually be driving because I don't have driving privileges yet. Usually those come during the second transfer, so I'll probably get to do some driving later this month.
Elder Merrell is actually staying here in Holland. It'll be his last transfer before he goes home, it's kind of strange. I really like Elder Merrell, we've become friends these last six weeks. It's definitely been a blessing to serve with him and be trained by him, he set a good example for me. But he is actually getting a Spanish-speaking Elder, Elder Garcia, as his new companion. Things should be pretty good for them here in Holland this next six weeks. We've made a lot of progress this last six weeks here. There weren't too many investigators when we got here, but we've worked hard and we've been blessed to be able to find a few more that we've started teaching. Things are going well here, and I'm going to miss the people that we've gotten to know and been helping to learn about the gospel and build on the truths that they already know. I don't mean it to sound like we've done so well and found all these investigators ourselves, because we haven't. But we have worked hard, and tried our best to do the things that we know we should. Because of that, the Lord has blessed us to be able to find these people. Many of them we came across seemingly by accident or coincidence, or when we ended up somewhere that we hadn't intended to be and found them there. But I know that it was not coincidental, and that the Lord is guiding this work. Finding by the Spirit is as important as teaching by the Spirit, as it says in Preach My Gospel. And Doctrine and Covenants teaches that in missionary work "If you recieve not the Spirit, ye shall not teach". This truly is a faith based work, and I have seen many blessings come from it. I think that Elder Merrell and Elder Garcia will be able to do a lot of good this next six weeks, and I am excited to hear about their progress with these people we'be been teaching. I'm going to miss them a lot. There's something really special about missionary work, it's a time in your life when you get to dedicate yourself to serving the Lord, and for a time share in his purpose "To bring about the... eternal life of man." As missionaries, we do this by "Inviting others to come unto Christ by helping them recieve the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his Atonement, repentance, baptism, recieving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." I am privileged to be a part of it.
This week I actually participated in two trade-offs, one with Elder Hickman and the other with Elder Carr. I spent Tuesday in Grand Rapids with Elder Hickman. He and his companion are Zone Leaders, which is a pretty big responsibility. Each zone covers the same area as a stake out here, and the stakes here are pretty large. Part of being a Zone Leader is that you do trade-offs with the District Leaders in each district in your zone each transfer. Elder Merrell is the District Leader for the 6 missionaries in our district, so that included him. Elder Hickman was a really good guy. He is very encouraging and positive, and I learned a lot from working that one day with him, especially about the importance of following the Spirit in finding and teaching. The next day Elder Merrell conducted a trade-off with the North Muskegon area which is in our district (District Leaders are supposed to do trade-offs with each of the missionaries in the areas in the district)(Each "area" covers the same area as a ward or branch). Elder Carr and I worked here in Holland for Wednesday, and that was interesting too. It's good to see how other people work and to learn from them. I hope that all made sense and wasn't too confusing.
I'm really looking forward to General Conference in a few hours. It starts at noon here, which means that I'll be watching conference today from Noon-2:00, 4:00-6:00, and 8:00-10:00. We still wanted to be able to email today, so we came a bit earlier. But I am really excited to hear from the Prophet, Apostles, Seventies, and other General Authorities. We've encouraged some of our investigators to watch it for themselves, and I really hope that they get a chance to so that they can feel the power of their words. Every time conference comes around now, I get more and more excited for it to come. It really is an incredible blessing that we have today to hear from all of these men and women twice each year. I know that this is the Lord's Church, the true Church of Jesus Christ, and I look forward to hearing from his authorized servants.
I'm glad things are going ok at home too. Thats fun that you got a new cat! You'll have to tell me more about it and take pictures. I wish everyone the best, and hope that you recognize answers to your prayers as you watch conference these next two days.
Love, Elder Trevor Casper