Monday, September 26, 2011

09.26.2011 "First Week in St. Johns!!" (posted by rebecca)

Hello Everyone,

These last couple of weeks have been interesting. I'm sorry that my emails have been so much shorter this last month or so. My internet time was extremely limited for a while, but hopefully here in St. Johns I should have more time each week to be able to email.

My last week in Allegan was a hectic week really. We were working hard, and it turned out to be fair week in Allegan County. Unfortunately, this made it difficult to be able to meet with our investigators or to talk to people by knocking on doors. Still, we were blessed as we worked hard and the Lord helped us to still be able to find good ways to use our time. We found several promising new areas to find new people and we were also able to teach several people that we weren't expecting to that week. When transfers came, it meant that the entire weekend was spent either at church, having lunch or dinner at a member's house before I left, or packing. Luckily, I managed to get it all done by the time we left Monday afternoon.

We got here in St. Johns on Monday night and got settled in. My new companion is Elder Sheppard. This is his third transfer here in Michigan, so he's been out here a little over 3 months, most of which was here in St. Johns. He's a nice guy and it should be a  good transfer here. There are a lot of good things happening with the work here as well. There are many investigators that Elder Sheppard and his last companion have been teaching, and some of them are being baptized soon, which is really exciting!

I'm still getting to know a lot of the people here. Unfortunately, Elder Sheppard got what we think is the flu on Thursday, and because of that we've been stuck in our apartment for most of the last 4 days. It's hard not being able to go out and work. As long as I still spend time studying each day, it helps a lot, but I'm looking forward to being able to go out again and teach and talk to people. 

Still, we have seen blessings come from this. In our spare time we've been able to clean the apartment (which was pretty cluttered when I got there), make some repairs, and organize some things. I was also able to unpack completely and get settled in, which is always nice. I've been able to watch some of the church videos that we use on our apartment's portable DVD player (They just recently started to distribute them to all the companionships in the mission so we can watch training videos in our companion study). I always can feel the Holy Ghost when watching movies such as The Restoration, Finding Faith in Christ, and the Testaments. They are powerful movies, and I would recommend them to everyone. I love watching them best when it's quiet and there aren't many distractions around. 

I've also been able to get more organized and create a study journal that I can use to record notes, impressions, and revelation as I study. This is a great blessing to me, and I know that it'll help me to better apply the things that I learn in meetings, and also the things that the Spirit teaches me as I study. 

One thing that I've seen clearly over the last few days is how important daily study of the scriptures is. There is such a big difference between studying most days and studying each and every day. Even if my companion is sick and sleeps most of the day, it is still critical for me to study each day as we've been directed to do. With that study I feel so much closer to my Heavenly Father, and I find greater strength to do what I need to do and to resist temptation. With it I can be more in tune with the Spirit. My prayer becomes more personal and more powerful, and I can better understand what it is my Heavenly Father wants me to know and do. 

Along with this, I've also been able to listen to General Conference talks often. My last companion had the great idea of buying a micro SD memory card, loading conference talks for the last 4 or so years onto it, and then putting it into the phone and playing them on there. It was so amazing to have last transfer that I bought one myself before I left Allegan! 

It's been such a blessing to be able to listen to those talks by prophets and apostles in our day. For over a thousand years, there was no chosen representative of the Lord on the earth to receive revelation from Him and to direct His church, and the people lived in relative darkness. Yet we live in a time today where the truth has been restored by a loving God, and we have prophets and apostles to direct us in the true and living Church of Jesus Christ. We are blessed to live in this time, and to know what we know. I can't wait to listen to General Conference this next Saturday and Sunday. I know that those men have been called by God, and that Thomas S. Monson is the Prophet that the Lord has called in our day. I also know that the Book of Mormon is true, that it is the word of God. I have prayed about it and studied it and I know it to be true, and one of the greatest blessings that we have today. I also know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, who did see God the Father and Jesus Christ in the Sacred Grove. There is such peace and power in knowing these things, and it amazes me how God loves us so much that He will help us to come to know these things for ourselves. 

I have to go, but I hope everyone has a great week and enjoys conference this weekend! Pray to find answers to questions, and consider fasting as well. You will be able to find answers as you listen and ponder on their words.

Elder Trevor Casper

Monday, September 19, 2011

09.17.2011 "[My] Last Week in Allegan" (posted by rebecca)

Dear Everyone,

I am very sorry about last week, how I wasn't able to sent out an email. I really hope in my next area that I will be able to have longer on the computers. Speaking of which... Transfer calls were yesterday!! It looks like I'm heading off to St. Johns, just about 20 minutes north of Lansing, this next Monday. My new companion will be Elder Sheppard, who is on his third transfer, I believe. I'll have to tell more about him later. This will be my sixth transfer here in Michigan, and in those six transfers I will now have served in one area in each zone/stake of the mission- 1) Grand Rapids, 2) Traverse City, 3) Midland, 4) Kalamazoo, and now 5) Lansing.

Also, P-days are now being switched to Mondays! So I will now be sending emails on Mondays from now on, just so everyone knows.

I'm really sorry, but I'm short on time again. Here is something that happened to me this week though that I included in my email to President Hess.

During one time this week as I was pondering over some things while praying before I went to bed, I recieved some guidance which helped illuminate my understanding of what I had been thinking about somewhat more. I realized that I had been seeking guidance on what to do, when the Lord had already revealed to me things that I can study and work on. I understood that I needed to focus more on developing those things instead of continuing to seek guidance on what to do. I remembered the story of Nephi building the boat, and how the Lord had shown him "from time to time" how to build the ship. This pattern of revelation needed to be the same for me. If I felt like I wasn't recieving answers or requested direction, it was because I had not yet acted on that which he had aready given me. As I act on those things, the Lord will also show me "from time to time" how to continue to progress forward. In this way He allows me to grow, and to "Do many things of [my] own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness" (D&C 58:27), and He will also guide and instruct me as necessary, so that I may "Have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in [the Lord]" (Moroni 7:33). I am truly grateful for this understanding.

I'll try to fill everyone in more on things this upcoming week. I love you all and I'll tell you more soon. Thanks for all your support and everything that you do for me!

Love, Elder Trevor Casper

09.03.2011 "7 Months ... What??" (posted by rebecca)

Dear Everyone,

Hello everyone, how has your week been? Things have been going well here. They are continuing to progress as normal. We got the car again this week, which is always nice to have. It's been pretty hot the last few days, so I'm glad to have it! I went on a trade-off this last Tuesday to South Haven. That was fun getting to spend another day in South Haven. I was with a missionary named Elder Dixon, and he's a really good guy. We were able to teach several people there and two of them are getting baptized today, which is great! I'm happy that the work is going so well there.

Though we struggle a little at times, we can see the blessings of the Lord in this work. He is definitely guiding us and helping us to find people and teach them. Here is a story that I included in my email to President Hess this week:

"I had an experience earlier this week that I wanted to tell you about. Earlier on in the week I was having a rough time for a couple days. I know that the adversary has been trying to discourage me. I had been praying for help to know what to do, yet I was still struggling and I didn't understand why. As I was thinking about these things one day, the Spirit brought a story from the scriptures to my mind. It was the story of Nephi and Laman and Lemuel in 1 Nephi chapter two. I remembered that it was right after they had all left Jerusalem, and they were all struggling to some degree. But what particularly came to my mind was the way that they reacted to their problems. Laman and Lemuel murmured and complained against their father and what he had been commanded to do, because they "knew not the dealings of that God who had created them". Nephi, on the other hand, desired to know the mysteries of God, and so he prayed that the Lord would soften his heart. Because of this, he was comforted and given strength. I remembered also that later on in 1 Nephi 15, Laman and Lemuel told Nephi that they did not understand the words of their father, to which Nephi replied, "Have ye inquired of the Lord?" They answered that they had not. As I thought about these two stories, I realized that I needed to be more like Nephi in the way that I was reacting to the situations I was in. After that I did what Nephi did and prayed that the Lord would soften my heart, and as I did He did visit me. This was a powerful experience for me and has helped me to better understand how I need to respond to all my struggles and afflictions. I know that the Lord loves us and looks out for us individually. I have seen many answers to prayers and I've seen a lot of growth in myself. I've started to see more clearly how much I do rely on the Lord and how I can't do this on my own. I know He will always be there for me to lift me up, and I that his angels are around about me as He has promised."

Doctrine and Covenants 84:88
"And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."

I hope that you all have a great week. Thanks for everything that you do for me. Keep the people we teach in your prayers. If Stephen and Heather and Megan are starting school again this next week like the kids here, good luck!!

Elder Trevor Casper