Monday, April 29, 2013

 Welcome to Fayetteville & Cleanliness is Next to Godliness!

Update from Elder Langford, April 29, 2013

Hi everyone,
Before you read Jeff's blog, I wanted to put an excerpt from Jeff's weekly letter to me today.  He just got transferred this week, and he is describing his new apartment.  AWESOME!!
    "mom, you’ll be so proud of me. I walked into a little bit of a mess… the kitchen was pretty bad and the desk was completely unorganized… first thing I did when I came was cleaned… I told him (new companion), that we wouldn’t be able to feel the spirit until we cleaned that place up! I spent the next couple lunch’s cleaning the kitchen and what not, so now it looks pretty good! But yeah it’s a nice little apartment!"  

Hi everyone,
Man… I don’t even know where to start…. This has been one of the longer weeks in the field! I got shipped out from Newbern to Fayetteville a day earlier because the Elder’s companion in Newbern became an assistant, so we stayed in his area for the day. Turns out that’s where Pepsi started. Pretty neat!

So Fayetteville, it’s great! The Lord’s blessed us a lot down here. We’ve really tried to stay focused on the work, and trying to see everyone as they can become. We were able to get out there this week, and found 9 new investigators! Woot! A lot of people were ready to hear the message, and we’re looking forward to further teaching and working with these people that we’ve found! In the beginning of this week, I’ve never felt more successful as a missionary. It’s a time where I think I can honestly say that I was trying my very best. 2 of the main attributes I would credit that to are: trying my best to think of others, and setting goals.

Something crazy that happened, President Bernhisel gave us a call, and told us that he’s planning on coming to the district meeting and out with us a little bit afterwards!  Plus the zone leaders of the area are planning on exchanging with us, so they’re coming as well… Should be a great meeting!

My New companion's name is Elder Pettitt, and he’s a goofball! He DJ’d a lot, played a lot of video games, and knows a lot about speakers. I’ve been able to notice that his testimony always brings peace. It’s so interesting… whenever he bears it to a member or an investigator, it truly invites the Holy Ghost, and it’s very easy to feel. We’ve seen a lot of recent success together! Before the transfer he said that in the last 12 weeks he’d taught only one lesson to someone, and now in this last week we’ve taught 11… so the work is there and ready to be done now!

Again we’ve had, a very successful week, and I felt very satisfied with my efforts throughout the week… Then, idk…, something kind of switched off… the second half of the week was a little bit more rocky… so I’m trying to figure out what I’ve stopped doing -_- So a prayer or two would always be welcomed! The main thing is just focus. If we can learn to focus 100% on what we can do to be most effective in the moment we’re in, and not spend our time in fear or worry if we aren’t successful. If we can't learn to be more focused on the moment, and focused on others, we’ll miss so much of the inspiration we need to live our lives. The reason we set goals is to direct that focus, and give us the confidence and faith we need to get everything done that we need to. Setting goals allows us to maintain the work of our plans, so when we start to become lax in following through with our goals, and forget about them, we feel like nothing we’re doing is successful. If you don’t have a conscious goal in your head to accomplish something, you will never really see a difference in your progression… Setting Goals is huge! It was huge for me at the beginning, and I feel that perhaps, that could be the problem I’m in now… I need to recommit to the goals I’ve set, and become more focused on accomplishing them… It’s the way that we can focus more on being ourselves in the work. If you can’t act confidently as yourself, then something needs to change. And so, that’s the focus now. It’s eatin at me right now because I really like to use this time to focus more on the need of others in this blog and not my own, so obviously if I’m so focused on my own self right now, something’s gotta change… hopefully by next week I’ll get back on track and will be able to make a little more sense… 
I love you all so much and you’re in my prayers!!! Don’t ever lose focus on what’s important!  Love, Elder Langford

Monday, April 22, 2013

Fayetteville, NC has a new District Leader!!
Elder Langford's Update: April 22, 2013 
Hey everyone!
Alright! I brought my planner! Well, I might as well start with the biggest news... so on Wednesday the President and the senior missionary couples were having a little meeting at the Morehead ward building, and we had to get it all set-up for them. As we were leaving, President called me in (transfers were coming up) and he said “well elder, I might as well just talk to you now and save us the phone call” so he told me that I was being transferred to Fayetteville to be a district leader on Tuesday! Man... every single person that I've talked to is telling me all the stories of Fayetteville ;)  It's a big city, it's one of the hottest in the state, it's right next to the army base. Long story short, one of the missionaries in the area next to us is becoming the assistant, so we had to go be in his area with his companion so he wasn't alone, and since Stake Conference was in their area, I just left right after that. Not a lot of good-byes, but honestly if I were to go back to an area after the mission, it'd be that one. A member already told me 14 months later when I get off that he'd have a room, car, and food for me, and all that I had to do was get here with my family, wife or what not! Haha so I'm definitely going to go back and say hi after the mission.

Oh and the Yost family, they're fantastic. They'll definitely be missed A LOT. FLAMETHROWER BURGERS :B Haha there's the blog entry ;) Thanks again for all you did!/do!

Elder Packard and I are sad to part ways, but we've really learned a lot from each other. He's one of those go-getters, who's pretty much been successful in everything he's ever done, and he's done, pretty much everything... so I've been able to learn a lot of priceless fundamentals from him and from increased work/success in our area, as to how to generally be more successful and confident in everything that you do. It's been a real blessing to be companions with him, and I know that he'll keep this area alive and well! He converted to sub zero showers... every morning.  I now take a freezing cold shower, and it's great! Literally it's night and day difference. I would encourage all of you, to take the chance, turn the cold nozzle instead of the hot, and after your shower, you'll feel so good ;) Just a thought!

We also had an incredible stake conference. Elder Richard G. Scott's Brother is the Temple President of  Raleigh, and he gave an outstanding talk on the power of temples, and how we really need to take our covenants seriously, and get there as much as possible and asap. He's got a pretty great family. And they look a lot alike too! I try to take a little moment and ponder in these blogs, as to what needs to be heard. Obviously sometimes I just spurt out a lot of what's on the mind and the goings on, but I try to take a legit minute in thinking what needs to be heard and sent home from me. I've heard that one or two people read it, so I try and make it interesting!
If you haven't already been converted to setting goals, There's never a better time to start becoming so than now :) One of the biggest things I've learned is goal setting. Think about this perspective for a moment. We are measured by the effectiveness of our agency into the changing of our character towards becoming more Godlike.
With that being said, we are not measured by the quantity of things we do. Quantity is important no doubt, but it is only essential, as to when it becomes a greater means for quality things. You can prepare to run a race by taking 12 hours a day, walking around the neighborhood, or stretching your legs. But if the quality level of your time is small, or less of a focus, the power of quantity is diminished. We are literally measured by the amount of quality time we use, in following the promptings of the spirit. That's how we prepare for all the trials of any day in any scenario, is making ourselves worthy of that quality time and knowledge we gain, as we seek to be guided by the spirit. The way that we are tested on how well we've used this agency in our time on earth, is by the temperance of our character. How much pressure, temptation and fiery darts can your character take, before it shatters to it's natural ways of the world? How much temperance have you built up through quality time influenced by the spirit of the Lord? The amount of quality time we spend in the will of the Lord, will be a direct correlation to the temperance and resistance we can have against Satan and all of his tools. It is literally the way, we can build the faithful foundation upon Christ. Logically speaking, if we do the will of the one who's main purpose is to protect and prepare us for eternal life and choose to follow his counsel in times of hardship, we'll always be protected from anything! He offers the armor everyday. Do we choose to wear it in times of trial, or fight life with the vulnerability that pride and fear bring upon us? Put on the armor daily, and strive to prioritize your time to the Lord's schedule he has planned for you, and you shall never fall :) I love you all soooo very much, and pray for you success in your endeavors. As they say in Harker's Island, BLESS HEART! (with a real thick accent, so it's like, blaze hart! Try it ;))

Take care! Love yah!  Elder Langford

Monday, April 15, 2013

Good-bye Mr. Rat & Beware of Tunnel Vision
Update from Elder Langford: April 15, 2013
Hey everyone,
What a great week! And a long one too... Elder Packard and myself have been very blessed in this area, and have been humbled by the work of God that is being hastened in the mission field! We were able to have another baptism this week for an 11 year old whose parents were less actives that we got sent to see by the Bishop, and it was a really good program! We sang the hymns in Spanish, the first speaker gave his whole talk on baptism, and when Elder Packard baptized him, he came and said “that was AWESOME!” That's been a good laugh for a while.

We also... caught a rat!!! We've been hearing noises for a while, but finally, our electric mouse trap box thing worked!!! As we were sleeping, we heard, Zaaaaap Zaaaap. Haha! and we went over, and sure enough, a little tail was poking out of the box!! Crazy! That Rat's been running ramp-id for too long!

We had a really good miracle with one of our ward members. He really caught the fire on missionary work, and sent us over to his uncle's house. He used to be a baptist preacher, but he really loved the message of the restoration, and he committed to being baptized once he learned more about the Book of Mormon! He was able to come to church this Sunday and he really enjoyed it! It's great to see how God works and changes people, making them ready and willing to accept the message of the gospel.

Ok I admit it... We went out on an exchange to go see an investigator (who also said he's going to be baptized :D) and on the way back his car broke down... and in his car, I left my planner....I don't know
how it happened.... so all the things that I had to be written down today are sitting in there!! We even called him and went by his house this morning to grab it, he wasn't there His son was, but he wouldn't wake up to answer the door -_-... so I believe that there's something else that needs to be said instead... something that someone needs to hear, that wasn't in there to write down...

Oh yeah! Last Thursday was the big missionary gathering of 2 zones (about 40 missionaries) and we had our annual activity day with capture the flag ultimate Frisbee, and soccer. We wanted our district to match, so we all bought these shirts at Wal-mart with a really big pug face on them... Hahaha it was so funny showing up together. Funny pictures there. I used up every ounce of my energy that day...  I was literally towards the point of dying the rest of the week, and could barely get through all the biking and the walking that we ironically had to do for the rest of that week. We worked our very hardest this week, and the Lord saw fit to bless us with a lot of success!

Something interesting that I've seen lately, that's really dangerous and good to stay away from, is Satan's tool of giving us an even more limited version of 'tunnel vision' than we already have... If we were able to have a perfect perspective of the way that this life is laid out, and the reasons why we're here and the things that we're supposed to be doing, think how much differently we'd act and how changed our natures would be! The amount of perspective that we have, is the amount of light we posses. The amount of Hope we have. If we have very little hope in anything, and always feel down trodden and discouraged, we constantly feel that all we can see, is an inch ahead of us, and that we're never going to be able to make it anywhere in our lives. We've been promised, that as We follow our Savior's commandments, we shall receive blessings and increased happiness. It is by obeying and striving to live by these commandments, that we gain more and more light and change the perspective we are under. The atonement has made it possible, in this darkened state we're in, to access the light of Christ, and to open up our eyes to the potential that we posses. As are so many things in life. It's our choice to do so. It's through our agency, that we choose to strive for more light, or to be comfortable in the darkness we are in. Satan tries so hard to keep us complacent in the state of vision we are in, because of his knowledge of the Potential of hope we posses to inherit our eternal reward. It is so easy on the mission to feel like you are not doing your best, that you are not progressing at the right rate, or that you've stopped and have been satisfied in your darkness. Pushing through those feelings requires a daily effort of meaningful prayer and scripture study. The increase of faith. Faith is the force that we have to show, in order to charge up that light that we're offered. Faith is the battery to our light in the darkness. If we want to really see more, better understand ourselves, and take on a more perfect brightness of hope, we must show that we want it! Believe in Jesus Christ, for he is the light of the world, and there is no darkness thick enough that his perfect love cannot penetrate. He can change us. He can not only show us the way, but more importantly sometimes, he can give us the desire and ambition we need, to WANT to be shown the way, to have that actually be our main focus. It's funny how sometimes when you're struggling with something yourself, and then you write it out, and you begin to answer your own questions... I'm glad that I forgot my planner and was able to write this out! If no one else needed it, at least I did ;) Haha it's always a good reminder!! Please, please, please, remember how much your Heavenly Father and your Savior Jesus Christ love you. If you do not have the desire now to become the best person you can be, and to progress in your conversion to the gospel, that's always a good thing to start praying for :) One of the biggest changes that repentance gives, is the ability to change our perspectives. The world my not change, your life may not change, things may even get worse, but in your perspective, in your light, in your heart, you will have peace from the comforter, for his peace, is not peace of the world, but the for taste, and reminder to you, what the everlasting perspective is like. He is the light of the world, and in the darkened state we live in, we need his help everyday, to lighten our perspective to the hope we have of eternal progression :) I love you all so much!!! and I'm gluing my planner to my forehead next week!!!! LOVE YOU!!!!  Elder Langford

Monday, April 8, 2013

 General Conference, Riding Bikes, & Testimonies!
Elder Langford's Update: April 8, 2013
Hey everyone,
Hooooooooooo boy!!! Conference was fantastic right??!! When you're on a mission, I think naturally you just get so much more out of it, because you learn how to focus more, and you really know and understand more of what you're learning and trying to get out of it. This has been an extremely eventful week, and I don't know if I can account all of it (especially because my planner's at home :/) but I'll do my best!

First off, we had the baptism for the Yost's daughter on Wednesday, and we were able to bring our 11 year old investigator to it. He loved it, and is very excited to be baptized! It was a great baptism, and they had delicious food afterwards! I really was able to feel the spirit as I had the chance to look at Olivia as she got back from the baptism, and she had this peaceful, calm look upon her. IT was a surreal moment, and obvious to see she was ready to keep the promises she had made to her father in heaven.

I also had the opportunity of getting sick again for luckily just 2 days of the week! In those 2 days alone, I lost 8 pounds... but luckily after I was able to eat again, it came back real quick after some Smithfield's tasty barbecue ;) Mmmmm!! Dang I had so many things to say, but I don't have that planner... if you could see me right now, I paused typing and just face palmed myself... ahh!

We had an interesting exchange to Harker's Island. I was able to go, and as we were going to sleep, I asked the other Elder what his biggest fear was in the mission. He said that when he would go up to teach, or the moment to act and do missionary things such as contacting, or blessings, or any action, he'd always get this terrible anxiety thinking am I really ready? Am I worthy? Am I qualified to do this? We had a great talk about how we are qualified, and how fear is one of Satan's strongest weapons, and that faith, literally, is the opposite of fear, and if it is always applied, always takes it away. We had a revelatory experience on some of the details of understanding the practicality of faith in our lives and how to apply it, enough that we felt the prompting to get up and write it all down to further study later. It's been studies like this on topics that have really changed me in the mission field.  I've come to see that there is knowing things, knowing truth, and then understanding the spirit of the truth, or conversion to it. If you ask someone, who read 4 to 6 novels on how to ride a bike, man I bet they'd be able to go into such detail on how the brakes work, how the shocks adjust to your bumps, and the spokes connect to all these different hinges, and the importance of your bike choice, and all those different specifics. You could also ask someone who's been riding a bike for a couple years, and think of the difference in the lesson and explanation in his demonstration on how to ride a bike. The first example is having a testimony, a firm knowledge that the gospel is true (that you can ride a bike). This is so key! If you don't believe you can ride a bike, you'll never be able to! The second example is conversion. You know that your testimony of the gospel is true, because you live it and apply it's principles daily in your life (you ride the bike ). Now, the more you ride the bike, the better you get! Just like on the mission when I first came out, I knew how to 'ride a bike'. Now, I know, and have been converted to ride a bike.   I can ride without hands, and do all sorts of new things I never would've known if I hadn't tried them for myself. The Gospel works the same way. It is in the application of the knowledge that we have on the gospel, that we gain further understanding on it's principles. The difference between someone that knows how to ride a bike, and someone that rides it for a living, is a landslide. It's in the doing that we learn and understand! And as we understand, we find joy in our understanding, and as we find joy in our understanding, we want to find more knowledge and understand to find more joy in it, thus, Our eternal cycle of progression can be narrowed down to our desire for the application of our knowledge, to ever increase our joy. Pretty neat. I gotta say.

Anyway sorry tangent... We had a baptism right before General Conference, and it was one that I'll never forget. Before he had told us here and there that he had a slight fear of water... How great did we underestimate that statement... He had asked me to baptize him, so we walked into the font, we got in position, I said the prayer, (he's about 6 foot btw) and laid him down in the water... He lifted up his head, and look absolutely terrified... We adjusted him, comforted him, and tried more times, but whenever he would go down, we would not put his head under the water... It got to a point where he started to say that he didn't want to do it anymore... The Bishop and Elder Packard leaned in from the witness area, and we said a little quick prayer for him. We asked him to get on his knees in the water, and to just put his head and shoulders under after the prayer. After 3 more times, he was fully baptized. He faced baptism with courage that we all didn't even fathom someone had to have. He had a testimony of baptism, but just like the bike analogy, had never really had anything to do with actually swimming in any sense his whole life. Not even a bath. His step of faith and courage he took that day, in implementing his faith to be baptized was one of the bravest things he could have done. He felt so good afterwards about the whole thing, and after the talks were given, the bishop got up to welcome him into the ward. He honored him for his undying courage, and testified boldly of his bravery in this act. The spirit was extremely strong, and a witness of the love that the ward and the Bishop had for this man was easy to recognize. I felt a very peaceful feeling that as the missionaries come and go in the lives of these members and investigators, the members would always look out and hold a place for him in their hearts. Great way to start conference weekend eh?  Literally a half hour later we sat down and watched conference, and I wish I had time to talk about it!!! I learned things that have changed my perspective on so many things, and the take away I've received from it has been life changing! But ahh my time is up, and I again want to tell you all how much I love you all. Thank you for you constant support and prayers. We need them out here :) The district's looking good for at least four more baptisms this month.  The Lord's blessing us immensely as we strive to humble ourselves, and strive for exact obedience to his commandments. Thank you all again so much and I love you!!!!  Love, Elder Langford
 Happy April 1st & Wisdom From the Lion King
Elder Langford's Update: April 1, 2013
Things are going SOOOO GREAT right now!!  We've got a baptism next week, and then one the week right after that! We've seen the most baptisms in this zone, than ever before in this mission's history!! Miracles have definitely come from the hastening of the missionary work, and the members have been giving us good referrals left and right to teach!!  We've been truly blessed of the Lord and We're trying our best to stay humble!  We always go out and really try to find new investigators, even though we have been given many at this point! We're stayin busy and we're stayin fit! The sisters had the car this week, and we biked allll weeeeek long!!!  I'm feeling the burn!!  Biking against the wind truly builds those legs up! The jeans I brought to do service in are getting smaller and smaller, but in a good way ;)
We were really blessed to find 4 new investigators this week!   Not only that, but we got to eat a real seafood meal!  I had the privilege of eating a raw oyster.... He literally popped it open with  a knife and gave it to me... I asked him if it was still alive and he said “well, yeah...” UGH.... I ate it, but it literally tasted like a salty Lugi going down my throat... They were a lot better cooked on the grill... a little bit more chewy ;)  Also we had clams, which are DELICIOUS, and really big shrimp, which are also pretty good! So I can say now, that I don't really mind seafood! I think it's pretty good! I'm not afraid to go to Red Lobster when I get back! I might actually give it a try someday!

Ok I don't have too much time left, but something to share, particularly to all those almost missionaries, is the power that you have as a missionary, and the knowledge that the adversary has of that power.  I remember having a day on the mission, where I felt like nothing.. I felt like I wasn't even doing anything, that my companion was doing everything and could by himself, that  I wasn't doing a good enough Job as a district leader, that I wasn't' fullfilling my purpose, and most importantly, I didn't feel the spirit at all... I felt doubt, fear, discouragement, and apathy for everything.... It was a really bad feeling! I felt like I really wasn't doing much! I finally just knelt down and prayed just pouring out a prayer to my father saying what am I doing wrong? Why Is this happening? I felt the impression that it was time to show faith. To show action and effort, beyond what I felt I could do... as I stepped out, and look outward, serving others as much as I could, and putting forth my full effort and concentration on the work, It all left. All of the doubt, discouragement, and fear were  instantly gone. I later was reading a talk on how one of Satan's biggest tools, is to make us feel as if we were not children on God, as if we were not the offspring of an all powerful being, and didn't posess inside of us the potential to grow and become as he is. Shake it off!! If you're ever feeling down, or worthless, or that you can't do it, That is the adversary directly clouding your vision, and trying to make you forget who you really are. Remember this at all times. That you are literally a child of God, and that with that truth, You have the potential to inherit all that he has, and to become all that he becomes. The way that you begin to become more like your Father in Heaven, is by the everyday steps of faith, the everyday steps of effort on your part. God will never do something for us that we cannot do for ourselves. He requires our agency. It is a gift that we've been given to choose for ourselves if we want to become our potential. When those feelings come, in no matter what scenario you are in, remember who you are! IN the Lion king, (can't beat the Lion King), When Simba's feeling that he has no future, no potential, and that he's just meant to be down trodden and stuck in this point of limbo for the rest of his life, He gets a quick awakening looking into his own reflection, and seeing that he is more, than he has become. His potential is bigger than he imagined... He lives in you!!! Never deny the Godliness inside of you! Act everyday faithfully to combat the fiery arrows of the adversary, and Please, never forget who you really are. This life is a THREAD in our existance, yet It's impact and importance is severe to our eternal life. The Perspective of eternal life, that we're able to receive, comes from the Holy Ghost. It is literally a foretaste of Eternal Life, and can change our views on ourselves, the World, and God. I love you all so, so much, and want you to know of your divine potential Heavenly Father has in all of you. It's real. HE'S real. This is alllll real, and the sooner that we're able to keep that perspective in our heads more frequently the better. Jesus Christ did, and that is why He found the faith to suffer for every single one of us. He believed in YOU. He believed in your POTENTIAL. It is never too late to accept your eternal glory, and to live the gospel of Jesus Christ today. The blood of the savior was spilt, for our chance of the fulness of joy, and to become as He is. (3nephi28:10). So use His atonement wisely in your life, and apply it every single day!! 
HAPPY EASTER :D it's a pretty big deal :)
 LOVE you all!!!  
Elder Langford