Saturday, May 21, 2011

05.21.2011 First Week in... Allegan (posted By Trevor's Mom)

Hey There Everyone,

Well, my time is short this week, so I'll have to be quick. I'm in Allegan now, which is my 4th area in 3 transfers, which is pretty crazy. It's an area right down by Holland. It's about 20 or 30 miles southeast, I think, and is right between Holland and a bigger city called Kalamazoo. Things are going pretty well here so far. My new companion's name is Elder Ralphs. He's an older missionary, and is getting ready to go home. He only has 3 months left (two transfers), so this is probably his last area. That also means that there is a decent chance that I'll serve with him for the next transfer here too. But we'll see. The city itself is very green now that it's spring, and it's actually quite pretty. It's a smaller city, maybe about the size of Blackfoot or somewhere around that. I like it a lot here.

We got to talk for a little while the first night that we were here and get to know each other better. Elder Ralphs seems like a pretty nice guy, and I think that we'll get along really well. We also talked a lot about this area too. We really feel like this area and the branch has been prepared for a lot of missionary work to happen, and also that the Lord has prepared us both to come here to accomplish it. While we were talking, we felt the Spirit prompting us and promising us that if we worked hard and did everything that we could, the Lord would work through us miracles in this area and things that we did not know were even possible. The Lord definitely has a lot in store for this area here, and we're going to do everything we can to work hard and be the servants and tools that the Lord needs us to be right now.

I hope things are going well for everyone back at home now as the school year wraps up. Enjoy the summer! I'll talk to you later.

Love, Elder Trevor Casper

Sunday, May 15, 2011

05.14.2011 Last Week of the Transfer ... Again

Hey There Again Everyone,

So its been a pretty crazy week for me. It's been really stressful, and there's been a lot going on. We've had to walk around quite a bit, and we've been pretty tired and not sleeping as well, so it's good to finally get to relax a little on P-day. But the exciting news for the week... The Allreds were baptized today! The dad (Dale), daughter (Destiny), and son (Bo) were all baptized today at noon. That something we've been stressing about all week, and we had to go over to the church two hours early today to set up for it. But it all went off without a hitch, and it was a really cool experience to get to baptize Destiny. Elder Poulsen baptized Dale and Bo. The Mom (Sabrina) just didn't feel quite ready yet, so she's going to wait a little bit longer. Elder Poulsen and I are very confident that she'll be baptized soon though. We think that there is another concern she has that she hasn't told us about yet that might be holding her back a little bit. But it was such a cool experience for Dale, Bo, and Destiny, and the Branch welcomed this in. I'm not worried about them at all. They're such a cool family :) . I'll be sending pictures out as soon as I can so everyone can see what they look like.

Oh, and the other big news of the week: I'm getting transferred again. Elder Poulsen and I were a little bummed to find out that we wouldn't be serving together again this transfer, but I know that things will work out ok and that the Lord needs me somewhere else. Elder Poulsen and I have actually gotten pretty close over these last 5 weeks, and I'm definately looking forward to hanging out with him when I get home. He's 6 months ahead of me, but we're planning on him coming to my homecoming, so that'll be fun. 

Things have been going pretty well here in Harrison lately, and we've been teaching some really great people here. This area wasn't doing very well at all two transfers ago, and when President Jones called to tell us about the transfer he told us that he was thrilled by the improvement that this area had made in the last few months. I'm really happy that I was able to be a part of it and helping to teach the people in this area. The members here are great, and I'm going to miss them and the investigators we've been working with quite a bit. I'll be keeping in touch with the Allreds whether they like it or not (I think they want to, haha), and I'll be checking in with Elder Poulsen from time to time to hear how everyone else is doing.

As of next Tuesday morning, I'm being transferred to the Allegan area. I think it's a little southeast of Holland actually, which was my first area. I'll be whitewashing there with Elder Ralphs. Whitewashing is when both of the previous missionaries are transferred out and are replaced by new ones (at normal transfer time). I don't know much about Elder Ralphs, but I think he is an older missionary and is getting close to coming home in a few months. I've heard that he's a good guy though, and I'm looking forward to serving with him as well. I'll definately have to let everyone know how Allegan is next week though when I get a chance to email.

I hope the school year is wrapping up well for everyone and that the weather isn't too bad there. It's just started getting really nice here, and the leaves are all coming out on the trees. It's really pretty. It's a shame that I'm leaving though. The weather is really humid here though, so I'm hoping it won't be so bad in Allegan. I am not used to the humidity at all, and it's been a pretty hot week. Anyway, I need to go because I'm out of time, so I'll talk to everyone later!

Elder Trevor Casper

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

05.07.2011 "Time Flies" (posted by Trevor's Mom)

Hello Everyone!

Phew... It's been kind of a crazy week. There have been a lot of ups and downs. A few of the days have been a little rough, but overall this week has been great. This transfer has been going by really fast. Next Friday are transfer calls again... which means that either Elder Poulsen or I could be going to another area. I hope not though. I hope that I get to stay here in Harrison. I like this area a lot, and I'm starting to get to know the people pretty well now. I also really like serving with Elder Poulsen, and we're making plans to hang out when I get home. It's great working with him, and I've learned a lot from him.

The days keep going by faster and faster though. We're trying to work hard, and we're being blessed for it and we're being given some success. Well, true success as a missionary really doesn't have much to do at all with how many people you find or teach or baptize. Preach My Gospel teaches that the primary measure of success is your commitment to find and teach people and help them to come unto Christ. That handbook is such an amazing book. I really think that most chapters in there would be very valuable for any member of the Church to study, especially the first 5 chapters. In the branch out here in Harrison, the members actually have been counseled to have one and to study from it occasionally. I think that's great counsel, and it could help a lot.

The Allreds are still always on our minds, and we talk to them on the phone or visit them almost every day or at least every other day. They're doing very well. I know that the promises we were prompted to make them didn't come from us, and that if they do their part the Lord will do his. We made them a promise last week that if they would read and pray daily as a family and individually, they would be ready to be baptized by the 14. We acutally got the chance to meet with them yesterday and talk a bit  more. The Dad and son feel like they're ready to be baptized. The Dad wants it a lot acutally, and he's really helping to set a good example and be a good leader for his family. The daughter was a little unsure at first, but she has been working hard to learn more and to find out for herself, and she feels like she's ready now. The Mom is still struggling a little bit though. She's been thinking about it a lot and praying, and I know that she's trying to study and pray and keep up her end, but she still feels like she isn't quite ready yet. She had a lot of misconceptions about our Church for a long time that she's been learning aren't right over the last two months, and she just doesn't feel like she is quite ready to be baptized yet. I'm not too worried though, because there is still another week before the baptism next Saturday. I'm so happy and excited for them! But the Mom really wants to know, and she's working hard to study and pray. I know that the Lord will keep up his end of the promise too.

The lesson we taught last night was actually one of the very best lessons I've been part of so far on my mission. The Spirit was so strong, and Elder Poulsen and I both listened to the Spirit and let him guide the lesson and help us to know what to say. We talked a bit about baptism and priesthood authority, and then we listened to Elder Scott's talk about Marriage in the last General Conference where he talked about his wife. It was a very touching talk, and I think that listening to it really touched the Mom. After that we talked about Baptisms for the Dead, and I bore my testimony about that and talked about one of my experiences with it. I know that she is where the Lord wants her to be and she is continuing to progress. We felt prompted to further promise her last night that if she would keep reading and praying every day with her family, that she would not only feel ready to be baptized by Saturday but she would really want to. I'm so excited for them! They're such a great family, and I'm definitely going to keep writing them even after I leave Harrison. Still, I always pray hard for the Allreds, and for the Mom as she continues working toward being ready to be baptized. Please remember them in your prayers too :) .

My time is short, but I'm going to be able to call home tomorrow, which is great! So I'll talk to some of you all later, and I hope that you have a happy Mother's Day!

Elder Trevor Casper

Monday, May 2, 2011

04.30.2011 "Life, Like God, is Good" (posted by Trevor's Mom)

Hello Again, Everyone!

This last week has been so great.   :)  The title of this email is a quote from David Langdon.  He is an investigator we're teaching, by the way. We've been working really hard, and things have just been falling into place for us this week. We've definitely seen a lot of blessings come. We're trying to work more diligently and also be more obedient, and I know that's making a difference. The branch here is also participating in something called "40 Days of Fasting" where different families or couples in the branch are taking a turn to fast once or twice in the next 40 days. So there is always someone fasting each day. Missionary work has really taken off these last few days! We've had a lot of success with finding and teaching people. When Elder Poulsen started here at the beginning of last transfer, about 2 and a half months ago, there was almost nothing going on in this area. But this week, we taught 19 lessons, which was one short of the "Michigan Lansing Mission Standards of Excellence" (20 lessons per week), which, if we reach it, it means that we're doing really well :) . Numbers aren't at all measures of success, but they do help to indicate it. Generally, if we're working hard and doing everything we're supposed to do here, the Lord will bless us and help us to be able to get the work he needs done. So this week was totally successful :) . But I'm really hoping to reach that goal of 20 next week.

Tursday was a great day, we had a district meeting with the 8 missionaries in our district. Those we have every week, and they're always really good. Especially since all of us really like each other; we have a really good disctrict this transfer with good, hardworking, fun missionaries. Elder Poulsen is a stud, he's great. He's 6 months ahead of me, and he's going to come to my homecoming when I get home (he better) . He's a really fun guy, and he's helped me with a lot of things. He's one of the best teachers that I've ever heard, he explains things really well and he knows the doctrines and lessons. I really hope that I get to serve another transfer here with him. I know that he cares about me and is glad that I'm his companion, and we work and teach really well together.

But anyway, Thursday after our district meeting, President Jones actually came up to the West Branch building were the meeting was held, and we all got to have an interview with him. That was definitly one of the coolest experiences I've had so far on my mission. Mission Presidents are really in tune with the Spirit, and just talking to him, you know that President Jones is an authorized servant of the Lord. I felt like I was having an interview with a general authority. Actually, that isn't too far off the truth. But this was going to be his first real interview with me and also his last, as he will be leaving in June and the personal interviews are only held once every three months. But he gave me some really good advice, and then I asked him about something that had been bothering me that I really wanted to improve on. It was actually about recognizing the Spirit, and we talked about that for a bit and he helped me a lot with that as well. Thats something I've really wondered about for a long time. But I'm working on it, and I have faith that my Heavenly Father will help me to be able to improve on that. But we talked for a little while longer, and then President Jones gave the closing prayer. It was really amazing what he said, I wish I could remember more of it. But what he said was actually a good portion of my patriarchial blessing, it was amazing how closely related they were. I felt so blessed to be able to have that interview with him and have him pray for me like that. I truly am blessed to be out here. But that was a very special experience. I really hope that I am able to see or talk to President Jones again after my mission. After he goes home, maybe I'll still email him occasionally? 

Today was actually a pretty crazy day too. Normally Saturday is P-day, but today was a special occasion. We're actually teaching the Allred family, and they're great. There is the Mom and Dad, and then a 14 year-old girl and a 10 year-old boy. They are so awesome! I love that family! We went over yesterday and taught them a really good lesson. We've been thinking about them a lot lately because they've been so close to baptism, which is the whole point of missionary work because of 2 Nephi 31:17. So we've been wondering how we can help to get them there, because they are doing all the things they need to be doing like going to church and reading and praying and they're so close! Elder Poulsen actually talked about them to President Jones in his interview, and he got a lot of good advice for how to help them. So yesterday the lesson went really well, but instead of trying to set a date for baptism then (which is what they need to progress), Elder Poulsen remembered that there was a baptism in a nearby area today, and he felt prompted to invite the Allred family to come to watch that. So we rearranged our whole day so that we could go with them. We came over early in the morning and helped them repair something on their garage, and then we hung out with them for a while. We slipped away for a little bit to teach a quick lesson to a nearby recent convert, and then we headed up to meet the Allreds at the church building in the other area to watch the baptism. The baptism was a little different than a normal one, but it went really well in the end. After it was over, we pulled the Allreds aside to a different room and taught them a lesson for a little bit. That was the most spiritual lesson that I've been part of so far on my mission! We were both nervous, but we did everything we could to invite the Spirit and we followed everything that we were prompted to do. The Spirit was so strong in there! We talked about baptism for a bit and then invited them to be baptized on the 14th of May. At first the wife was a little reluctant, she didn't feel like she was quite ready yet. But then we talked a bit more and promised them that the Lord would bless them for them showing the faith to set a baptisimal date. We pushed a little bit more, as the Spirit directed us to and what he told us to say, and they agreed! Elder Poulsen and I were so happy afterwards, we were hugging and celebrating with a Blizzard at Dairy Queen! We're so excited for them! That is such a cool step for them, and we know that that's what the Lord wanted for them too.  Missionary work is so rewarding. We're blessed so much for it. The windows of Heaven really are opened up to us, and also to the Allreds.

I have to go, but I hope that you enjoyed hearing a bit about some of these experiences I've had. It's been such a great week, and I look forward to making next week even better. I love you all, talk to you later!

Elder Trevor Casper