Monday, August 27, 2012

Elder Langford's Update August 27, 2012

 Alright time for the blog! Seriously I don’t know where the week went… like it literally just flew by this week! Like I don’t even know where it went… I’ll try and find what happened in my planner here to spark my memory because even though the days are super long, the weeks are extremely fast! I don’t have too much time, but basically this week has been a lot of searching out people to teach, biking a lot, and a couple meetings.   Not too eventful of a week really.   One thing though that I do want to mention is the incredible studies that I’ve been having lately on the Christlike attributes. The ones that are listed in Preach my Gospel are faith in Jesus Christ, hope, charity, virtue, knowledge, humility, obedience, diligence, and patience. It’s been incredible as I’ve been studying these, because they apply to everything really. Especially out in the mission field, you really need every single one of these traits developed to a certain level for success. As I’ve been studying them, I’ve made a connection between them.  If you lack in one attribute, then all the others suffer from it. On the flip side of that, if you lack in one of the attributes, you can use all the attributes to better perfect that specific attribute that you’re working on. It’s hard to explain, but it was really intriguing to me at how much developing those, and focusing on those have helped my mission. I’ve felt that as I’ve really put forth the effort to develop, study, and pray about these different attributes,  it’s made a huge difference, and has changed my perspective so much on how I look at every situation. It’s easier to strive to become more like him, and to have his same spirit, if you study the fundamentals of his attributes.  I’ve felt so much more confidence, peace, understanding, guidance, and so many more great gifts from my Heavenly Father as I’ve tried to focus on these throughout the day.  It just heightens the moral, and invites the spirit more often and more fully!  It’s such a great feeling when you know you’re being used as a tool in the master’s hand. I’m loving the area, and I can honestly say my directional skills are improving! The mission does mighty miracles indeed! There’s also a small chance that when the president comes down to do interviews, that he may spend sometime with our companionship!!! PLUS, on that same day, we’ve scheduled an exchange, leaving me in charge of the area, without my companion, but with someone else from a different area WITH the president!!! Ahhhhh…. Haha but it’ll be a good growing experience!  I just hope I don’t get lost while contacting people with the president of the mission. Pressure’s on!! I love the mission because it never stops forcing you to grow and to reach farther and farther. It pushes you to achieve and make goals, and to put all trust in the Lord. You better believe that’s where all my trust is going tomorrow when the President comes… haha.   I love you all sooo much and have to go!!!!   Crazy how fast time’s a flyin by!!!  Love, Elder Langford

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pictures of Elder Langford in His New Home in Jacksonville, North Carolina!



Monday, August 20, 2012

Elder Langford's Update August 20, 2012   2 Months into the mission!

Elder Langford and his companion Elder Fowkes!

Hey everyone!
 This has been the fastest week so far in the mission! It flew by, and I feel like I was just here typing this like, yesterday. The days are long, and the weeks are short. Doesn't make sense, but it does at the same time. Somehow. but it's been a great week! We biked through a storm, and were litterally soaked to the bone, so that was fun!! I didn't know how much it could really rain out here! It just pours down sometimes. A lot of our planning and calling time this week has been for preparations for a baptism that was scheduled for saturday (18th). We had planned out everything, plenty of people were coming, lots of good friendship, someone had refreshments ready and there early on, and we had a nice chat with him  a couple days before.  He said he wanted Elder Fowkes to baptize him, and me to comfirm him! I was pretty excited the whole week knowing that I actually got to confirm someone a member of the church. I was really excited, and a bit nervous to do it in front of the whole sacrament meeting.
 Throughout the week, we had a lot of lessons fall through, and a lot of investigators who have just been dodgy and not really willing to commit to the things that we ask them to do. We were actually teaching this couple for the first time on their porch outside, and the whole lesson was great! we taught with the spirit, and the lesson was so simple and made clear sense what our message was, and what we were trying to do. As I asked her to read a part of the Book of Mormon, she stood up, and said that she wanted to be respectful, but had to leave because she'd been really offended by our message, and couldn't really listen anymore... haha that was a surprise... It was a good experience to me to see that some people just aren't ready for the message, and it wasn't something that you did wrong to them, or a specific thing that you said. People have their agency, and can use it accordingly. I've learned that there are three main things that you really need to stay far away from on the mission. Those things are Discouragement, Doubt, and Pride. These things, especially out in the field, are such powerful tools that the adversary uses against us, and as a missionary, it's so dangerous to let any of them get to you, because without that faith that the spirit directs you where to go, what to do, and what to say, we really cannot become effective missionaries. It's hardest, but most important to realize them when we have situations such as that one, where it wasn't something we did wrong, but just her choice not to accept it. We also had an investigator who mid lesson just started going off an nitty gritty things, and literally tried to find a way out, so that he didn't have to hear the message. It's sad to see, especially when there's a lot of work from members and us to see someone stop with the lessons. But, if a mission was meant to be easy, there would be no growth! Plus you never know what kind of a seed of faith you have planted when you leave. Someone, somewhere, in the future, will give them a chance when they're ready. I sincerely believe that, and know that God loves us all of us, and gives us all many chances. so sometimes, you simply have to be grateful for being one of the chances, but not always the one that invites the spirit that changes their heart.
Anyway, the baptism was all planned out and ready to go, and we had met with him earlier in the day, and actually took him to another baptism as well that same morning as we met with him. He was ready to go and we were really excited for him! The baptism was at seven, so we were there at 6 filling up the font and getting everything set up, with a couple people already showing up. Around ten, fifteen minutes later, he texted us and said that it wasn't going to work out. His wife, who had been apathetic about it the whole time, had decided, due to some other unrelavant marriage issues, and put her foot down and told him that he either went to the baptism or stayed w/ her that night.  He had to do what was best for him and his family. We're definitely not here to split up families, so we told him it was understandable, and have been trying to contact him since then with not much luck. It's been a challenge, but really I've found so much comfort in just knowing, that we've done all we can do, and when he's ready, we'll be here. Everything happens for a reason, and maybe when the time comes around his wife will be ready to receive the gospel as well. It's just ironic because the greatest thing for their marriage would be the church, and committing to that eternal family, and finding eternal joys and goals for each other. We talked to one of the bishopbric members about how much he loves his wife, but knows how much harder it would be not knowing that marriage was eternal, and how much that strengthens them everyday.
My spirits are high though!!! We've had  an investigator who speaks little English, mostly Spanish, who has been growing and growing everyday, and reading from the Book of Mormon all the time, and was actually there at the almost baptism. We had a lesson with him earlier that day and were planning on taking him to it, and he said he wanted to get baptized that day! haha We told him that was amazing and were so excited to prepare him for it when he's able to be ready for it! He's been a blessing to me. Seeing his path that he's taking to the gospel. We had a lesson with him last night, and he just started crying saying he wanted to change, and that he knew he had to change. He wanted to be a better person, and follow Christ and be baptized and have all these blessings. He's giving up and sacrificing so much, and is trying his very best. I've seen both sides of the spectrum this week of closed off minds, to real, pure hearted intent. I was almost overwhelmed myself at the lesson, and can really feel God's love for him, and how badly he wants him to be able to come unto him and be a partaker of the full blessings of the gospel, and become a true representative of Jesus Christ. It's always amazing to see how positive every day can be, when that's what you focus on. It's been a week of a lot of progress, and I'm loving it! Through the hard times, a smile with a hymn in your head, keeping it up high and staying humble, make any situation a great one. AAhh out of time.. I love you all so much! Always stay positive through everything, and search for the light in any situation, never the darkness! Never let doubt, discouragement, or pride get in the way of the child of God that you are, and how blessed you can be through that! Love you! Till next week!   Elder Langford (Jeffrey)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Elder Langford's Update:  August 13, 2012

Hey everyone,  This is Jeff's update for the week.  He included pictures but I haven't downloaded them yet so his update is shorter!  He sounds so great and is loving the work!

"Hello,  So we had some great lessons this week! We taught someone who spoke mostly French, but gave him a really good lesson! Oh first off, two awesome quotes that I've heard this week. Kinda made me laugh. Well one did, the other one kind of silenced the Sunday School class... haha someone we talked to on the street was a salvation army worker, and he went off about how people go to church and then don't do anything about it afterwards... he said "they go in their buildin's, and they get fat!!! They get fat on the word, cause they take sooo much in, and then fail to exercise their faith on it! They gettin' fat on the word!!!' hahaha I thought that was funny. I probably didn't do it near enough justice though! The  other one was in Sunday School on tithing, and he was saying sometimes we intend to pay our tithing, and then forget.... he said, "the path to HELL is paved by good intentions!!!" Pretty hard core... I think a lot more tithing came in that week. 
Again  I spent most of my email time sending a bunch of pictures home, but ah just such a good week!  One thing that really touched me, is that I was on an exchange in Hampstead, and we had taught some great lessons, and really felt the spirit in them! The elder I was with just commented on the positivity that I guess I had brought to the area, and because of that, and seeing and saying hi to him at a zone conference earliar, he stayed on the mission. Well I'm sure it was a small reason why he chose to stay, but he said he just wasn't feeling it, but now he had all intentions in staying, and that he kinda climbed a mountain there! I challenged him to read moroni 7:48 on praying for the Charity of Christ, and I told him that when he went to bed to read over that, and sincerely pray for that charity not for others, but for himself to give him a positive mindset on him mission. He did it, and I followed up with him a couple days later, and he had  great experience with it, and is just such an awesome missionary. Few times have I felt the spirit so strong then when I was  talking to him, and gave him that advice. It just hit me, and I'm not trying to say I'm what changed his mission at all, I'm just glad that I got to act as a tool in the Lord's hand not only for investigators, but for each other out here on the mission! That helps change my focus to really focus on the wellbeing of my companions as well as my investigators.  Because it's hard for all of us in our own ways, and only through the charity of Christ can we receive that fullness of help and comfort that only he provides. I just want to challenge eveyone to do the same, to take time to read that verse, and give a prayer of your own to the Lord to ask for the charity of Christ not just for others, but for yourself. I can promise by my own experience and that of others, that you really will feel the love of Christ wrap around and burn inside you. I know that he loves eaLovch one of us more than we can imagine, and that he's waiting for us to ask, so that we can receive. I love you all sooo much, and wish I could write more about the week!!!! I'll write more about it next week and try to squeeze both in!!!! Hope the pictures got through!! Until next Monday I love you! 
 Love, Elder Langford

 Elder Langford's update August 6, 2012

Ok,  here's the news for the week! love you all :)
Great week! Started off going on an exchange to Hampstead where we did a lot of service and stuff at a thrift store. They gave us free ties, and they were awesome ties! plus the elder I went with had so many that he gave two of his to me as well! Let the tie collecting begin!!! I got probably as close to the coast as I will.  We had a less active member who was ALMOST in site of the coast, so I almost saw it ;) It was the only place that you didn't feel totally engulfed by trees!! Sooo many trees.... everywhere... you really can't see or tell which direction you're in! When you are amazing like me at directions.... that becomes a problem. On that same day, a great miracle occurred! We went to a little home, where a less active lived, knocked, and someone else had moved in. We talked for a second, and they let us into their home! We taught them the whole first lesson and they were so interested and excited to hear more! It was for me, the best lesson I've taught yet! it's amazing how after you've taught the first lesson (restoration) so many times, that you can really make it more personalized for them, and say it better in your own words. For me, that was a big step, and I felt like everything I was saying was simple, made sense, and the spirit was really strong there! A great miracle, and I was sad that I had to leave back to my area and wasn't able to further teach them with Elder Randall!
On the day I got back, oh it was actually the day before ha my bad, day before, we were doing a lot of biking from place to place, and we saw this lady walking on the street. We talked to her and found out that her son had just died of SIDS when he was six months old in late December. It was amazing to see how she'd dealt with it in such a positive way, and had really turned to the Lord for guidance through it. She was really excited about our message, and wanted to hear more and we set up a time to see her! The greatest part about it, was that on the day that we saw her walking, was the first time that she had set foot out of her house since December. To me that was such a miracle, and it only increased my belief that in life there are never coincidences, and if you're really trying your best to plan accordingly, and always have somewhere that you're going and trying you're best, that the Lord will trust you in putting elect souls in your path. It's been incredible to see when people are prepared like that to come unto Christ. We're really excited to teach her!!
Also recently, a couple of our investigators have been 'anti'ed! hard too! with all the other denominations down here, Satan does have a strong presence, and is definitely something that makes the work harder. A couple days ago, we were talking to this guy we just saw, and just got talking with him, and then he just went off about all these things that made the Book of Mormon a false book and the bringer of a confused religion. My companion kinda started to go, and I just had the strongest feeling to not go yet, but to thank him for his honesty and opinions, but also to let him know, that I had a firm testimony of the truth of the Book of Mormon, and that for myself I had found it to be true. It was great to see his demeanor change, and at least respectively say good bye to us. The strongest way to strengthen a testimony, is to bear it. I knew that before the mission, but now actually having the chance to bear it so much on a day to day basis, I know how true that really is, and how it really brings in the spirit to testify of the truth of what you're saying. Teaching people is so useless without the spirit. I've come to find that very quickly out here!
Another interesting story, one of the people we've been teaching, we've actually found out that she was baptized like twelve years ago, and so far the church has no record of it. Interesting situation... ha she's very promising and actually called us to come and meet with her! She'd brought a friend who was really interested at first, but overall decided it wasn't for her, because she preferred witchcraft... I'll be honest that's the first person I came to know that actually does witchcraft! it was a really big deal in her life, and said that she really couldn't give it up right now... that's always a hard thing to give up I guess. We're hoping the best for her though!!
Ah I wish I had more time to type!  One more thing, this week was fast Sunday, and as a missionary, fast Sunday's a little more intense. We had to bike to church, on like a ninety degree day, 500% humidity, four miles to the church, wind going against us, uphill for parts, in suits, and while fasting.... holy cow... few times in my life have I accounted losing that much water through sweat in my life.  It's truly a miracle that we look as good as we do when we wipe our faces off and fix the helmet hair! That's probably one of the bigger miracles.. ha just kidding. anyway, I had the opportunity to bear my testimony in the ward, and the best thing is, I've learned when you don't know what to say, but know that you really should bear your testimony, that's when a little more faith is required. and when we exercise that faith in us, to do hard things, even when we don't know how they'll turn out, God will not leave you to fend for yourself. Just like Nephi going for the plates on his own, and how he ended up killing Laban, getting the plates, and bringing a long Zoram. If we just trust God in all things and have faith, he'll show you where to go, and won't lead you astray!!! I love serving here, and striving to do my best! I'm starting to lead more, and my companion's been great to give me many opportunities to become more self reliant, and gain more experience! Ahh out of time... I love you all soo much, and want you to know that I pray for you every night without fail, and that I'm doint great!! God bless you all, and stay close to him, so he can bless you ever more!!!!

       Love,  Elder Langford

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"Elder Langford's Awesome Week #3 in Jacksonville, NC"

Hello everyone!
Ok!  Having an awesome experience here in Jacksonville.  I'll tell you about some investigators.  I can't say names, but I'll tell you what's going on with all of them! We have 3 people with a baptismal date, one is a HUGE marine, who just gave up drinking, smoking, read the whole Book of Mormon, and is ready to go! He's really chill and is really changing his life! Great to see that happening in someone's life! Then we met this lady, who we just found out may have already been baptized in the seventies... ha really weird story, and after we taught her one day, she called us back and said she wanted to be a missionary and go preach the gospel!  She's on the right path! During teaching her, her sixteen year old neighbor friend came over, and was kind of forced into listening to us, and said that she wanted to be baptized as well, and that she really wants to change her life!  Miracles have been happening! As we've been biking in the VERY hot sun, we've found some other investigators that we've been talking to as well. The people here love to talk, and it's interesting to see their take on religion. A lot of them are just so confused, and don't see how any of the churches are right, and really take our message to heart! The hard part is getting a return appointment to teach them more.  Most people are curious, and say that they'll stop by our church service, and that's the end.

Funny thing too is, that even if they totally hate your message and are way against it, almost everyone offers us water! Probably because we look like ice cream cones melting in the hot sun. I didn't know it was possible to sweat this much! I don't mind it, except when we have to bike to church in our suits... that's probably the worst. It's all worth it though!  Sunday's a great day, and this Sunday we actually got this family that we met on the street helping them move to come to church after teaching them a little earlier on in the week! They seemed to like it, and we have high hopes for them as well!

It's always hot, everyone's military, but the members are so great to always feed us, and they're so generous!  A lady gave us dinner, set us up with someone to talk to, and bought like a weeks worth of food and drinks and snacks for us, just cause she likes to serve! That to me was what true charity looks like. I've met few people as giving and loving as she was. We also gave a great lesson on charity this Sunday! We had to teach last minute and it went great!  The ward has awesome comments!

Haha, oh yeah. I was sitting on a rocking chair, and it said, 'this chair ROCKS', and it was awesome. Just  throwing that in there (private family joke).  
I started the Book of Mormon when I got out in the field like three weeks ago, and I just finished on Sunday! Now I'm working on the New Testament again, and really just trying to study and get the lessons down!

Teaching lessons is really crazy, because you go in there, and you have to really tailor the lesson for the needs of each individual investigator, while sharing the same message.  It's been so cool to meet so many different people and see their views. You can definitely tell when someone's heart is open and ready to hear more about the message and when it's not. The way they listen and ask questions makes a big difference as to how we teach.  When the spirit is in the room, I feel like our testimonies really bear truth, and that they can feel it. I know I definitely do. When I bear my testimony to somone, which I get to do about 30 times a day now to people, it really does bare the truthfullness of the message. When you talk about the first vision to people,  they really accept it, and give it a chance! I've learned also how key the Book of Mormon is. I knew it was a big part of the gospel before, but now I can see how it really is the keystone of our religion, and what makes us different! You can draw so many lines coming from so many angles from the Bible, but there can only be one line that goes through the Book of Mormon and the Bible.  As I read through it here on the mission, I can testify to you that more than ever before of it's truth. It's directly translated through the power of Jesus Christ and is for us. Every verse has a purpose for some time in somone's life, and can be applied to any question. As Joseph Smith said, there's really no other book that brings you closer to God, then by reading the Book of Mormon. Read it everyday, asking a question and praying with real intent and an open heart, and I can promise that you'll get an answer.

Well, running out of time, but the work's going great, and I'm really striving to improve everyday on everything that I do! I've got a lot more to learn, and I really try to not hide behind the title of 'new missionary'. I'm putting myself out there full force, and inviting as many people as I can to come unto Christ! Even when I'm covered in sweat and have awesome helmet hair, the people that have been prepared are waiting to hear our message, and they don't even notice! 

I love you all sooo much, and want you to know that I'm truly loving the work out here, and diving into it! The days are flying by, faster then I thought they would, and know that I'm not only changing the lives of others everyday on a positive note, bringing them closer to Christ, but I'm also changing mine, and I love seeing the person that I've become just over these couple of weeks! Love you again!
 Serving a Mission ROCKS!!!

Love, Elder Langford