Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Training, Goal Setting, and Keep Feasting Upon Cereal!!

Update from Elder Langford: May 28, 2013
Hey everyone!

Whew! I really don’t have too much time today! Thank you everyone for those emails you sent! And the letters! Definitely appreciated!

Well, first off, I’m training again!! So now this means that I’ve been trained, training, follow-up training, training, follow-up training, and now I’m training again…. Oh the joys we get working with the youth. To feel young again. They keep my wrinkles hidden. Just kidding. I don’t have any wrinkles, because in this beautiful area of Fayetteville, I’ve actually lost a bunch of weight… my pants are starting to fall off!  My belt won’t go any tighter! But it’s ok because I think we’re going to start having more frequent member meals, so perhaps after a while they’ll fit me again.

I just want to re-emphasize the joy and real power of goal setting. I know, I know, Elder Langford’s talked about this more than probably anything else, but it’s so true! It’s literally the thing that keeps you sane and stable on a mission, so don’t be afraid to set some good goals, and account for them nightly! Elder Ballard’s even told us that if we don’t learn how to master the art of goal setting, we’ll never live up to our full potential, and reach a ripe old age where we’ll look back and lose that time to progress. I definitely have progressed at a crazy high paced speed as I’ve really cracked down on the goals… I can hardly keep up with myself and it may be a little bit of a refiner’s fire here and there, but there’s so much in store! Progressing towards goals is the thing that keeps us sane; think about it! The happiest thing that we can hope for is that the Gospel is true. When we do little steps towards like, like anything else, we receive this little glimpse of hope, of what could happen if we stay on this path.  It’s an overwhelming feeling of the
Holy Ghost. He gives us that hope, that helps us gain the ambition to show faith. Just like anything else, if you don’t have the hope, than you’ll never exercise the faith towards it! There’s no point in training for a marathon if you don’t think you’ll be able to make it! Our job as witnesses of Jesus Christ, is to give this hope to other people and ourselves!! We literally need to be a reminder to others, that Jesus Christ does really exist, and that following his commandments gives us blessings. If you see that someone’s hope has been exhausted and they feel that there’s nothing else or no other place to turn, inspire them with the hope of the gospel. The GREATEST gift you can give to someone is hope! You can’t force them to have faith, and you can’t force them to live in a way that you’d like them to, but you can inspire hope. So many people look at life like it’s an empty fire pit, waiting for someone to come and light it for them. Our job is to kindle that hope, show them how it works so they can gain confidence in themselves and in the mercy of Jesus Christ. As we demonstrate how we obtain hope, and how we maintain that hope by faith (praying, reading, keeping commandments, covenants, etc.) we can CHANGE LIVES. We can help people realize that there is a light at the end of the tunnel! It’s their choice to begin walking towards it, but it’s our responsibility to let them know that they CAN start walking towards it!

I don’t know why, but I’ve felt that there’s been an overall  feeling of a degrading hope lately from different people. I want to testify as clearly as I can that there is ALWAYS hope. You can never sink low enough, or fall into too thick of a darkness, where the light of Christ cannot penetrate. You can feel good and happy every single day for the rest of your life. Positivity is a correlation to HOPE. Keep your hope burning and alive by always maintaining it by your acts of faith! If you’re feeling down, go do something! Go serve someone else! Say a prayer, and get back to living life to the fullest of your potential and possibility! The gospel of Jesus Christ is the way that we can literally live with peace and guidance all of our lives through all trials and hard ships. Get on the straight and narrow :D just do it! No matter what’s preventing you, just put your fear, your doubt, and whatever you think is holding you back, and do it, and I promise you, that as soon as you make that first move, you can experience a rejuvenating feeling of the reality that Jesus Christ has overcome the world. He’s over come your trials, and he will always be there. He’s real, and so are his teachings. Let us not let anything take us off the path of living the Christlike life we all have the potential to live. Every single one of you is a son and daughter of God with people all around you that depend on you being your very best self. Some pray so hard for an answer, for some hope, for some peace. As President Monson always says, we can always be on the rescue to those who need us. Be that person. Be that example of what it means to be a witness of Christ, and experience the Joy in the hope of eternal Life!  We can always have a perfect brightness of hope in the gospel. It’s flawless. It’s like a giant bowl of cereal that no matter how many times you eat it, always tastes good! (because cereal always does).  Don’t deny yourselves the blessings that you are privileged to receive.  Go partake of the fruit, or for sake of the analogy, a bowl of cereal. I love you all sooo so much! And I want you to know how happy and positive I am for the future! There’s so much in store for every single one of us! Be happy and rejoice in this goodness :D :D I love you all so much, and pray earnestly that you’ll be able to take some hope out of this message, and then put it to good use!  Please write if there’s anything I can ever do for any of you, and I’ll do my best to keep you in my prayers and help you out!! I love y’all!!!
Love, Elder Langford

Monday, May 20, 2013

 Clam Chowder Rocks! Crying Babies! & Awesome Sister Missionaries!!

Elder Langford's Update: May 20, 2013

 Oh man! I’ve got plenty to say and talk about!!  It’s been a great week down here in FayetteNammm!!!  As some call it. There’s been a lot of small miracles adding up, and I feel, now, greater than ever before, that I’ve been truly able to recognize the Lord’s hand in more of the small things, and the Big things. I’m understanding that to more fully see the potential we have to have the same if not more faith in Christ than those who saw him and felt the prints in his hand.

Elder Pettitt is doing great! It’s been a blessing to see how much he’s been able to change as the weeks have gone by. We’ve really been consecrating ourselves, and trying to understand how we can both personally work more efficiently. I’ve found that sometimes the best way you can help, is by being the example. We were talking to a member, and He said that one of the greatest gifts we have is agency, and the best thing that you can do for someone, is to show them how they can do it for themselves! We talk all the time as missionaries about the way that people can learn to find their own answers and help themselves as they go through their tribulations. Sometimes when the baby cries at night, you just let it cry, until it realizes that it has to go to sleep on it’s own. I feel sometimes Heavenly Father  views us as little children sitting two feet away from a bottle, crying because we don’t want to crawl two feet to get the thing we desire… but he knows that eventually we’ll stop crying, and realize that the only way that we’re going to get there, is if we start showing faith, and act.

At this point, I’m trying hard to understand how joy is found in the everyday seconds of our everyday lives. Even through the hardest of scenarios there’s always a way that we can find some form of Joy. Sometimes that form of joy takes the form as a knowledge that showing sufficient faith now will progress to joy. Faith , hope, and charity are so essential! We do all these things to gain a hope in our Savior, in hopes that it turns into action of faith. It is in our progression, that we’re able to find happiness in our lives, for we are that we might have joy, we’re here to perform our labors, and we’re here to learn how to progress.

We also ran into this guy that let us in, read us some scriptures from the Bible  about how we weren’t qualified to be bishops yet, and how “Satan, is one Shrewd Dude!” isn’t he? Man. Always looking for trouble. I was able to learn a lot from this man.

My mother will be so proud of me. I’ve noticed that on the mission, I’ve conquered a lot of my fears of different foods I have to eat. I had some clam chowder a couple days ago and loved it! It was soo good! Especially the clams! Ever since the Morehead City feast I’ve been craving some good seafood!

We’ve been out on the bikes a lot this week. I can honestly say that my legs are a wiii bit sore… Elder Pettitt used to bike 30-40 min. to work in the hot Arizona sun all the time, and would bike for fun before the mission… It's hard to keep up w/ him but I’m getting closer! The only thing that slowed him down was his bike braking!  But we’ve been able to talk and share the gospel to vast amounts of people on the street. We’ve been able to testify about the restoration to so many hungry souls, (and some not as hungry), and we’ve seen how the Lord’s been guiding us. We’re looking towards trying to use the members more efficiently, and gain closer relationships so that we can help and assist them.

I want to take the remaining part of the time I have just to say how proud of I am of Kaitlyn, Katie, and Erin already going out and serving!!  That was so crazy last night just thinking how right now, they’re preparing to enter into the MTC… It still feels like yesterday!  I know though that with their hard work and effort, that they’ll be able to succeed on their missions in helping the people in their areas come closer to Christ. They’ve already shown their light to so many people in their lives, and now they have the great chance to refine, and understand that light they have more, so that they can use it as a tool to change the lives of the people that they teach. I have a firm belief that we are all called to our specific areas for specific reasons. They have a purpose where they’re going, and I can promise that as they learn to walk by faith, that they’ll be able to see and understand that reason. Sometimes I think why the Lord would trust us going out so young in the gospel, with such a smaller portion compared to the older and the wiser members of the church.  Then I remember how the church was restored. It was through a 14 year old boy, humble, meek, submissive, ready to learn, and young in the ways of the spirit, and the world. This is a time where the Lord is able to take us under his wing, and allows us to grow in his way. This is an allegory of our life on earth, and can be treated as such. We must strive daily to become all that we can become as missionaries, so that when the day comes that we have our interview with our mission president on that last day, we can say that we have given our full service, love, will, and devotion to the master. I pray that as you prepare to go out, that you’ll pray daily for his strength and aid in this great work you’re embarking on  I love you!

Love everyone else as well that’s reading this! Thanks for your continued support and prayers!!!

Monday, May 13, 2013

"Hunting" for Investigators &

 Happy Mother's Day!

Update from Elder Langford: May 13, 2013

Hi Everyone,

Well, this week's been ok! It's been a little crazy. We've striven to find people to teach, and to hang on to those that have allowed us to come in! Things are looking up though. Most of the things in this week revolved around setting more things up for next week. There was one day that towards the end was very guided by the spirit. We had had no success that whole day with any of our plans, and basically everyone fell through. We went on an exchange with a member, and just kept trying to stop by different back-ups we had. We were coming down from a door that we had knocked, and I just kind of said, Ahh!!
It's a test of our patience and faith! We need to find someone to teach! We were getting in the car, and as we were shutting the door, there was this lady that was walking her dog coming up the street. We were desperate! We jumped out of the car, and went to talk to her. We came to find out that she had actually worked with a Mormon friend, and was always curious as to how she believed, because of the good example she'd set. She said she'd been looking for something spiritual and really wanted to come to know her Savior better. she had to go, but we set up a time for next week, and hopefully she'll be ready to go and ready to teach! Woot! So that was a miracle! And then on the way home, we stopped by someone else's really quick, and he wasn't there, but someone else was on the front porch. We talked to her for a while, and ended up teaching the whole first lesson to her in a nut shell, and now are working to get the Book of Mormon for her on a cd because of the cataracts in her eyes. AND, as we walked out to the car, there was a man we'd talked to a while back, that just kinda seemed standoffish, and said that maybe he'd give it a try if we were to give him a copy of a Book of Mormon as he biked away. Anyway, as we're going back to the car, he yells at us and said Hey! you still got a copy of that book? So we gave him one, and as we were driving away, we noticed that he'd sat down, and was reading it pretty intense looking! So that was a triple miracle after a long hard day!
We had a great zone meeting where Elder Pettitt and I were asked to teach about how to use your planner more effectively in the work. It really is the same thing as the liahona. I'm pretty convinced of that. I was in the shower (prime revelation time) and it just clicked to compare the planner to the liahona, and now I look at my planner in a different light, and treat it with more diligence, head, and faith, as Nephi did. And as we all know, Nephi was able to find the wild beasts for his family. Just like it says in Jeremiah, we are hunters, and we'll be able to find the people that we're looking for, (not to trap and take back to the ward), but to help them receive the message of peace and happiness that they need so badly, without even knowing it. So that went really well! Then we went on an exchange with some other elders. Once again, it seemed that everything just didn't want to work out, but fall through...until we were with a member, for the last part of the day, and we decided to pray, before we went to the next possible appointment, and where to go out of the selection we had... So we did, and we had a very touching spiritual lesson with an older lady named Betty. It was a very tender lesson, and though she didn't agree to hear more of the lessons, she agreed to take and read from the Book of Mormon. Some of these people are really striving to do their best to live close to Christ. It's hard when you see such good people, who just, aren't ready to change their beliefs to accept and see the greater light, but we're sure that Betty will do just fine if she takes some time to read the Book of Mormon, because of the very real power that's in that book!

The other main event was actually a pretty short lesson, but it was to the point, and powerful. We're teaching this neighbor who we'd contacted from his porch, and he's made so much progress! He told us that he's cut down to 2 cigarettes a day, and is using those water vapor ones to slowly get there to the point where he can just lay down the habit. He's also promised to start off the coffee. He's getting there ;) We had a simple lesson on how Lamoni's father was also learning about the truth, and we emphasized the way that he was able to know for himself that it was true, and was real. We challenged our investigator to pray about the truthfulness of the things he'd read. It was like most lessons, but it was just comforting to see how real his intent was, and how much he'd worked to find the truth. We've got high hopes for him and hope that he'll take the time to pray about it, so that the truth can not only be in his mind, but in his heart as well :) Those were the highlights of the week. It's been a little slow, but we've re-amped almost everything we do, so that it can be more focused and qualitative. We're not giving up!

Well, I guess there was one more pretty big highlight... I got to talk to the family over Skype! That doesn't happen everyday! It's crazy how much everyone's continually growing up... time stops for no one! Yet seeing them and talking with them feels like it was yesterday since I left... weird -_- I'd like to take the remaining time I have though and just dedicate it to My mother! It was just Mother's Day, and she definitely deserves some recognition! It's been crazy to see how as the mission progresses, everything that my mom's said in the past, things for me to do, ways to live my life, all the things that as a kid kind of slip in one ear and out the other, are all making complete sense, and, of course, I get to see how because she's a mom and she was right about almost everything about life... haha. I love her so much, and I know that I would not be even close to the person I am now if it wasn't for the love and devotion she's given so lovingly to me for so many years. As I go through some of the harder trials I've had to face in life, the appreciation for all that she's done for me continues to grow and constantly increases my view on how big the sacrifice really is. She is an amazing women! she's shown true characteristics of love and hard work in which I'm continually learning from. I love you mom! I'm forever grateful for all that you've done for me! I'll probably come back and have a nice competitive game of mini golf when I get home! Thanks again :) I love you all and have a great week!!! Until next time!! 

Love, Elder Langford

"Service to Others"

Update from Elder Langford: May 6, 2013

Hey everyone,
Whew! I have so much to write!

My mom would  be so proud of me! I’m pretty OCD about staying organized and actually keeping the house clean. It’s great! I feel that there’s so much that needs to be kept so that the focus can remain on the work. If something is all messed up and jumbled, then that’s going to slow us down, so we’ve gotta clean the inner vessel if we’re ever going to clean the outer! Haha yeah I hate messes now… I’m pretty crazy organized. 
My new area was struggling… I found out, that there was a lot of down time, and a lot of procrastination… and just not a lot of organization!!!  A lot had to be changed…It really helped me realize what I have to do if I’m to be successful in my life, and how I need to always step it up, stay organized, and on-top of everything, doing it as soon as I get it, so I can actually be ready for all the things I’ll have to take on in the future. It’s been a lot of stretching for me, but the difference is incredible. I’ve never felt so strong on the mission, or in my life before. I know how to fully apply myself and do my very best at something. That’s been the biggest change since I’ve been out here, is just knowing how to be able to PUSH myself in to doing what needs to be done, in the best way possible!!! I’m reminding myself of my mom and it’s kind of freaking me out ;) haha actually I really like it, and feel that I’m finally unlocking what she's been trying to teach me all these years ;)  Thanks mom!

This was a crazy week… I can’t believe all the things that have happened in it… just blows me away… This started off as the hardest week and most discouraging week I’ve had in my whole mission. I was quickly able to identify that I had a decreased sense of hope, faith, and charity… and it felt empty… like there was some kind of poison through the veins, spreading all over and sucking the desire to serve out of me… Honestly, It’s the lowest I think I’ve ever felt… it lasted like 3 days! We still did the work and were having some success, but it just, didn’t click inside. Then there was this change, and it was a complete 180. I’ve gained a lifelong conversion, of what I need to do every single day, to continue to have faith, hope, and charity in all that I do for my Savior. Through this refiner’s fire, I’ve been able to recognize my goal for this life and all eternity. It came to me so clear and I’ll never forget it. Everything we do, will never be our best effort, or our greatest potential, UNLESS, it’s main underlining goal, is to benefit someone else. Be it immediately, Like a random act of service, or more importantly, LONG TERM, as in doing your best to learn how to become successful, because you want the best for your future family. Anything we do, can only reach it’s fullest potential, if it is out of love for someone else. Love IS perfect faith. Faith is the double sided process of believing in something and acting on that belief. Love propels you to compile and think of every good thing you can possibly do for others, and if it’s true charity, you’ll then DO all those things. This is how we progress. If we are constantly doing every good thing that we can think of to it’s fullest, then it inspires us to new things, and opens/expands the minds, to show you a higher step, the next step. Coversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ is literally to LOVE God with all your heart, might, mind, and strength, because if you develop charity, you will do your very best in every aspect of your life to please and gain the trust of your Savior. This has helped me conquer every single fear I’ve ever had up to this point. I KNOW that if I strive to do my very best, that I can feel the comforting peace of the spirit everyday, confirming to me that my Father in Heaven has accepted my daily offering and sacrifice, and that’s all that matters in the long run. Serving others! I never fully understood how deep it goes! It’s been in my mind for years, especially prevalent  on the mission, but never as deep in my heart as it is now. My purpose and goal as a missionary, and for the rest of my life, is to live my life in the ambitious purpose of serving others.  This is our purpose on earth!

We’ve been able to see miracles this week from the transformation that have helped to solidify this change. We met an investigator that said she’d be willing to hear the message we shared. She was extremely humble and ready to hear the message. She’d been going to a lot of different churches, and was striving to find the right one that she could raise her family in. We were able to teach her, and testify of the power of the Book of Mormon. IT was such a sweet moment as there was a pause, and we asked her how she was feeling, and she said that she felt that peace and comfort that she so desired, and wanted to feel for the rest of her life. We were able to bear very direct testimony of the power of the Holy Ghost, and the difference it will make for her life. She accepted baptism, came to church, and said that she would like to become a member. The spirit has been guiding us,and we’ve been extrememly humbled to see how the Lord’s hand has worked in this area. I’m so grateful for his aid, for without it missionary work would be impossible.

We also are teaching a 25ish year old who is a medic in the army. He’s fantastic! He admitted at first he let us come back and teach him because he felt like everyone always would say no to our message and he’d just be nice -_- but now on his own, he’s been reading the book of Mormon, went tolds.org to order a triple combination, drew a picture of the tree of life when he was reading it (that was a surprise), and is trying to live the word of wisdom… he’s so elect and ready to hear the message! And the craziest part was, is he and his girlfriend were simply sitting on their porch, right by our house, a level up, and I had seen them out of the corner of my eye thinking, nah… ha we’ll just get out and carry on and bike to some potentials… it was an awkward angle, we were already going, but I rebuked myself, and did it anyway! Haha and we’re so glad that we did! He’s great and we can’t wait to see what he’s read and marked in his scriptures next!

Ohhh and the power of prayer. I want to touch on that really quick, I don’t have too much time, but there have been two specific instances where my testimony on the power of prayer has grown immensely. I don’t know if I talked about this last time, but I set a goal, everyday, to pray for some type of service opportunity, and then to increase my faith and to account with myself, I would write it down every night. Be it a blessing in the hospital, carrying out a stressed out mom’s garbage, helping a Pre-missionary learn how to study the scriptures, or helping an old lady carry an ironing board on the bus, the Lord has ALWAYS put an opportunity there, if I just search for it. Now it’s become more of a natural thing to always constantly search for what I can do, and it’s really helped me come to the conclusion that being in the service of others is the way that we can lose ourselves to find ourselves! Also, we’ve been praying a lot for increased member involvement in the missionary work this last week, and we’ve been able to see it happen! Ahh miracles!!!! Anway out of time, but I love you all so much, and promise that I’ll try my best to serve everyone of you to the best of my ability! God bless you all!  Love, Elder Langford