Monday, June 16, 2014

"The end is Nigh, "Go Forth With Faith, & Charity Never Faileth!"

Oh man... today after leaving a cookout, like any other average preparation day, and heading to the post office, it happened.... I hit the steering wheel and I was like, "HOLY COW ELDER, I'M GOING HOME IN TWO DAYS? WHAT ON EARTH?" Haha! it was a crazy moment... I'm completely NOT trunky right now, but just a step above really excited for the next little bit on my mission... I honestly wish that I could've had more time, but I know that I've received a confirmation from The Lord,  that I've been able to do and accomplish what it is He had me to find and do out here.

 I've been so blessed to have been used as a tool in the Lord's hands to be able to see people change through the Holy Ghost. I know that all that I've done when we've seen success, is let the Holy Ghost speak, free of the filter that we tend to put on it when we want things to go our way, thinking it's close enough to his. I feel through most of my mission, I've seen some of the missionaries that I've worked closely with change. I've found Lifelong friends among those who have served here in the great NCRM mission, and I know that I'll be able to see a lot of them very soon! It's a blessing to have been able to grow with them so much... I still remember like it was yesterday sitting with President Bernhisel at a table in the MTC, (plus we talked about it a couple days ago in our zone merit which hosted Elder Cortbridge), when we told him that we were missionaries serving in the NCRM mission, and he chuckled and said that he'd be the new mission president!  Haha, fancy that... It kind of freaked us all out at first, but it's a good laugh now. IT was hardest to hear it from President's lips at our zone meeting, when he said, "Well Elder Langford, It's hard to say this, but I'll be seeing you Tuesday."  That just sunk down into the depths of my heart, hearing my priesthood leader, the one who had given me the authority to serve in this area, to say that the end was Nigh... You know I've been pondering it a lot, and the Mission is a great depiction of real life. Before we come, we kind of prepare, we never really can fully understand what we're about to hurl ourselves into, just like the Pre-existance. I don't remember too much from up there, but I am seeing the development of the traits that I had up there develop as I've been out here! Just like how we came as little children into this world, with a baby sized testimony, we all go through the experience coming into the mission, learning how the gospel really works, and how spiritual development is more of something felt and lived, then read and recited. As we prepare others, we learn that serving them is the Only way to prepare ourselves as well to "meet God and perform our labors" (Alma 34:32).
In the last sacrament meeting in my mission, we sang, "Go forth with faith", and these words stood out to me, and I felt them stronger than ever before... 

"Go forth to serve and do your best
With no thought of reward;
Then you shall know the boundless joy
Of serving Christ, the Lord."
I want to testify to all of you that I've felt the Pure love of Christ. I've been through almost every trial imaginable, but because of it, I have seen the blessings that come from consecrated service. I will never forget the people that I've touched, and I will never forget that He lives! that He has given us everything through his boundless sacrifice! His atonement is all encompassing, and there is nothing that we could ever do to seperate ourselves from his reach. There is never a point too far on the road or our digression that he has not descended to, for he has "descended bellow all things" and He "treadeth the winepress alone". His blood was poured out in anguish, as described, just as the fruit of the winepress, and he did it alone, without the World watching. He has conquered all for the sole reason of our redemption and benefit. " Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." (1john3:16). The greatest Joy, which I hope and pray for stays as my guide for the rest of my life, comes from the service of others. To "never weary of good works" and to find "rest to our souls" (Alma37:34). 

If I've learned anything, it is that I really know so little about the Kingdom of Heaven, but this I do know, that "charity never faileth" and that it will be "well with him" in the kingdom of heaven that is possessed with it in the last day. 
Just love people! Don't be afraid to do anything and everything you've ever thought you couldn't do. Not "any other creature" can seperate us from the Love of God but ourselves. I promise he is always waiting to comfort us. He is always knocking. I've been so blessed to see the faces of people, and the lives of them as well, completely change as they have taken upon themselves the desire to become as Christ and to change as he has. I will never be able to repay the Savior, I will always be an "unprofitable servant", just as I will be to my parents, but giving all I have, has changed me, and it's changed all those I've been able to serve around. I understand that this is his work, and it doesn't end when I get home!  100% home teaching! whoo!!! Haha!! 

 I not only look forward to doing the work, but it's my desire. I've prayed throughout my whole mission, for an everlasting desire to simply do good, and do his will.  I can hope that he in his infinite mercy, has shown me how :) All I want to do is help others! All I want to give is my best to everyone! "

"And I am filled with charity, which is everlasting love; wherefore, all children are alike unto me; wherefore, I love little children with a perfect love; and they are all alike and partakers of salvation." (Moroni 8:17). 
I promise that he will always Give us a love that is deep, give us a "remission of our sins", as we serve him, keep the commandments, and share the gospel with others. His love is real and everlasting. What more could we want? :)  What more could we desire in this life? :) I LOVE my Savior! He is my best friend, my guide, my rock, and my purpose in this life, not just the mission.   

I love you all so much, and hope to give you all the love, gratitude, and thanks you all deserve :) I love you!  I'd write more but  it's 6:00 pm!!!  *ahem* 

Well, cya soon I guesssss? 
Elder Langford

Monday, June 9, 2014

Miracle Switch is On, Broke "100", Military Service, Missing Scriptures, YSA Called to Serve, 4 Baptisms Upcoming."

Oh what a week it's been! I don't even know where to begin... The Lord definitely has been saving some of his choicest blessings for the last couple days... It's like the miracle switch broke, and they can't switch it back off! 

Monday:  So to start off the week nice and strong, (P-day), we went bowling with some recent converts,  totally broke 100! I didn't beat Brother B., but I did beat Sister B! However, in her defense, she was pregnant... probably should've let her win... Then we went to the relief society President's house to go and play some football with her boys, and for Elder Holt to eat some birthday cake!!  It was a pretty good time!
Humidity's a pretty real thing in a shirt and tie! Helps work off that water weight real quick! Then to finish off this preparation day, we went and played some ping-pong with our bishop! That was so good! He's incredible... but we did take home one win, so can't complain too much! To top off the Monday, we got to go and teach Sister G, who took us out to dinner at some hole in the wall Mexican restaurant. As we ate many a bowl of endless chips and salsa, we had a great talk about the priesthood, and the importance of coming back to church. Her daughter has a type of disease in her arm, that the fluid inside won't drain properly, so she's had and continues to have many surgeries to help her with it. We were able to give her a blessing, and the spirit promised that angels and old familiar faces would be there to help her through and guide her in the process. It was a good lesson, and a good blessing. She's got such a good, contagious, positive, attitude!  :)

Tuesday:  We planned a lot for our big meeting and met with a convert! (We'll get to that miracle!)

Wednesday, we had our big meeting! We were hosting it as the zone leaders, and had assigned the district leaders to talk about different aspects of missionary work. We asked a veteran senior missionary, to talk about his sacrifice in military service, and how he was able to give all that he had for another. He had lost both of his legs in combat, and gave a powerful talk about the importance of giving all you've got to those you serve. We backed it up with talking about real charity, and how we must teach by the Holy Ghost and God's will, sacrificing our selfish desires to not give it all for others! It was a powerful meeting that touched a lot of hearts, that we hope in turn will touch even more hearts.

After the meeting, I went out with a different missionary, and Brother P, our stalwart investigator, brought his friend to listen as well!! He was just as prepared and is being baptized on the 21rst of June as well! We talked a lot about the guidance of the Holy Ghost and the light of Christ that we all posses, and how Prophets of old have always spoken to us through revelation from God, and how the Book of Mormon is a way to find out if these impressions and promptings come from God, and if this is all true!  He was so prepared, as is Paul.  He basically helped us teach half the lesson that time! So good. Then we went to a less active member's house named Brother S.  We went over and he was grumpy and swearing here and there, as he made us alfredo pizza, and a big sausage. A lot of food... we both prayed half way that we'd be able to receive the grace sufficient to eat the whole thing... He told us he was going to a baptist church.   We invited him to come teach with us, that it'd cheer him right up!  So after he said some things a couple times, we walked out of his house, knocked on his neighbor's door, asked if we could share a message about Christ with her, and then invited Brother S to join us! She was a sweet women named Ms E who was living alone, and talked about some of her older habits, and how through Christ she was able to overcome them, and was still trying to. For some reason a lot of the scriptures that we were prompted to share came from Isaiah and the Isaiah chapters in second Nephi about the second coming and Satan being bound. Great lesson! Bro S enjoyed it, and it made him smile.  Success!!  ;) Then on the way out, he started wrestling my poor companion for the day, and put me in a headlock. We smiled and said, "It's time for us to go bro. Speed..." Pretty normal stop by!  :)

So some other miracles that happened in between, and also in the next couple days....

MY SCRIPTURES!! - My quad, which has been put through hours of study and hundreds of markings, went missing on Wednesday. ... I prayed for help, and had searched everywhere that I could think of. It was pretty sad to even ponder the thought of losing those this far out... after much praying and searching, I felt a confirmation come to me saying that I would be able to find them. I heard it pretty clear! So we trusted the voice, and went on to teach some more people that day, and when we got back, there was a voicemail from an unknown number saying that a Jeffrey Langford had a bible he needed to pick up at the visitor's center of Fort Brag... Fancy that.  I know that God's in the details of our lives and "speaketh to men according to their language, and unto their understanding" (2Nephi31:3)

THE BLESSING! - On Sunday we were asked to give a YSA a blessing. She said that she had been debating back and forth for many months about serving a mission, and had even had papers before and didn't feel right about it... We talked a bit about how as we give our desires and will to the Lord, our decisions and answers he brings become more clear to us. As I was giving her the blessing, about part way through, I knew what the Lord wanted her to do. I could feel the great missionary she would be and the many lives she would personally touch. My companion later said that he even saw her in a green dress somewhere preaching to people! After the blessing, I asked her if she'd feel comfortable sharing what she felt. In joyous tears, she broke down and said that she knew she had to go, and was so excited to serve The Lord!  :) Ah, it was such a good experience to be a part of that, and to see her happiness and willingness to do whatever the Lord would tell her. She had incredible faith, and it was neat to feel as I gave her that blessing!! :) Soo good :)

THE BISHOP! - As we were leaving church, the Bishop asked if he could talk to us for a couple minutes in his office... We thought we had done something wrong... kind of freaked us out at first.  He asked, Elders! What do you do to really help an investigator prepare for baptism? We talked about giving solid commitments, and helping them recognize the spirit in their life, and the importance of self conviction. He asked again saying what else? We talked specifically about how our investigators need to feel that they are being guided by God and the feelings that they receive to find their answers, and know how to continue the communication with him throughout their lives. He then said, "Elders, will you prepare yourself each week when you take the sacrament, the same way you prepare your investigators for baptism?" it was sooo powerful! He told us that he just felt prompted to sit us down and tell us, that the Lord said it was something we needed to hear... That's such a key thing though... I've learned on my mission more than ever how key the sacrament is, and how it really allows me to feel renewed by my Savior's sacrifice... That's going to be remembered, every time I take the sacrament...

THE PEOPLE! - So we've been teaching a couple that live together and love their coffee and sweet tea. We went in this week, ready to be lovingly bold with them, and helping them to recognize the blessings that come from these commandments. We brought it up, and they said, "We'll do it!". It was such a testimony to me, (along with Mr P and his friend) that the Lord has people all over the place that are ready to be baptized, and we just need to qualify ourselves, for his trust to bring them to us. When we first met with them, one of them was an atheist, who had been in the catholic church for a couple of his younger years, just disillusioned by the whole thing. Now, he's praying, reading, coming to church, giving up coffee, and moving out until they get married! I know that it's the spirit that comes from seeking with real intent, and a sincere heart, and faith in Christ. Those three things have been so instrumental in our teaching the last couple weeks, and people really want it! They feel the taste of Eternal Love through the influence of the spirit the message brings, and have been so prompt on acting on those promptings and finding the spirit for themselves. It's incredible. It's a miracle! It's the mission life!! We're having 4 baptisms right after I leave for these ready souls. 

The work is flying in our area! The Lord's been good and has trusted us with some of his beloved children to teach his message to!  :) I'm so grateful for the service I've been blessed to render. I find time and time again that it's our choice whether or not to participate, in this that will never stop moving forward! Next week we've got a general authority coming to talk to the mission! We'll look forward to that!
Have a great week! I love y'all!
Elder Langford

Monday, June 2, 2014

"Don't let it end, The Lord prepares people & Miracles Happen & Baptisms are Upcoming."


What a great week! I love missionary work! It's like it's never going to end! (We'll see).

To start things off, we met a soldier. It was a miracle to simply meet him, because he's a soldier on base, and he actually came up to us, and asked us a question while he was smoking. (We can't proselyte on base).  Turns out he's from Utah, and had some member friends. He allowed us to set up a time to meet with him, so we did!  We answered a lot of questions about all aspects of the gospel! We asked him what the happiest thing was that he felt could ever happen to him? He said skiing down 4 ft. deep snow in Utah. We told him that we were going to raise that vision a little higher.  :)  We talked about the Holy Ghost, and the guide that it is from Heaven, how sometimes in our lives we experience times where we feel guided or impressed to do things, but aren't sure why.  We talked about how if you act upon these feelings, the voice, or the impression becomes clearer, and when put to greater light, is always for you benefit. If you hear a song on a subway you like, but never act on it by asking someone where it came from, or using 'shazam', you may never hear it again, and never find the band that could've changed your musical taste...
We told him that the more he acted upon this voice, that the more his desires would change to become like Christs. As we talked, he said, "Do I have to stop smoking?"  We had brought along a member who went on telling him some personal experiences, and we felt prompted to say that if we told him to quit smoking now, that he'd probably say no... he agreed. We told him that the power and purpose of our message was to change his desires to want to follow Christ, to follow the promptings we receive. We told him that if he wanted to learn more and acted upon it, that eventually he'd quit smoking because he wanted to for Christ, not because we said so, or even because it was a healthier choice to make. We invited him to be baptized, in which he agreed as he came to know these things were true for himself. We met with him two days later, and he said that he'd quit smoking, read all 3 chapters we gave him and the pamphlet, and that he'd talked to some friends back at home learning more, and that he was just excited to soak more in. He said, "Believe me, you'd think I was the last person to do this.. I actually feel kind of bad now, because I'd always tease my friends for going to church, and I'd actually get some of them to come skiing with me instead... I've felt really good as I've read this, and I know that it's true, and I just want to learn as much as I can about it."  It reminded me of Alma the younger, who said that he "spiritually killed his brethren" before he was converted. We set a baptismal date for the 28th! THEN, we met with him two days later, and he said that he'd read all of the chapters we'd given him, talked more with his friends about all of his questions, and that he was super excited for the 28th! He gave us some questions about the Atonement, and asked us what it meant, and how it affected him. It was a powerful lesson about mercy and Justice! He had been sharing the gospel with his roommate as well, and was telling him everything he knew. He told us,  "This has totally changed my life, and I'm so grateful."  We told him that if he stopped drinking coffee today, that he could be baptized on the 21st instead of the 28th.. He said that he couldn't because he was going to the field the next day, and had 3-4 hour nights and just couldn't do it. We told him it was fine and totally up to him. He texted us the next day and said, "Hey, I prayed about it, I stopped drinking coffee. Lets go for the 21st" Sooo good! He also had read the 9 chapters or so that we gave him to read, and we told him to just start reading from the beginning. He said he liked the challenge!  Haha, he's a walking miracle. I know that we were placed in his path for a reason. The Lord was ready to give him exactly what he was looking for, without even knowing it! Good stuff. 

Also, to shift gears into the Fort Bragg ward. (Quick reminder, we cover both the double stake branch for the YSA, and then the family ward of Fort Brag. Soldier = ysa, next story = Fort Brag).

Sister G, as we've been teaching her for a while, has been on fire. I think I've mentioned before that she is the next door neighbor to one of the best relief society presidents I've  ever met, and just one of the most faithful people I've met. She has energy like my mother, and I don't know how she just keeps going... haha it's crazy. But we've been teaching her for a couple weeks now, and her husband has recently returned from a deployment, and we've been teaching him now as well. We had such a penetrating lesson with him this week... we started off by watching the restoration dvd, and then asked him if He'd prayed to find out if it was true for himself.  He told us that he hadn't, and wasn't sure if he was ready.  He brought up a lot of concerns with being in the military, and how it's not exactly something that he feels that God would want him to do, and that if he really found out and felt that this was true, that he would have to make major lifestyle changes. We talked about Abraham and Issac, how you can imagine how Abraham felt, after being promised this multitude of a posterity, and then to be told to sacrifice his only son.  The doubts in promises he must've felt, and the pain that came from the possibility of what had to be done, but in the end, it was a test of faith, to try him in what he was willing to do. Sister Horn and brother Horn, (incredible family) talked about how Brother horn's whole family were Buddhists, and that it was hard for him, but once he knew that it was true, he totally changed it all around. Sister Horn talked about how she had fallen away from the church, and had done all of these things to try and quench that spiritual thirst, but nothing else fit, and eventually she was led back in, and found it all worth it in the end. At the end of this powerful lesson, we invited him to pray, to ask and find out for himself. He sure did! As he came up from the prayer, we asked him how he felt, and he said, "Funny you asked that question... really good actually... this is going to be a lot to take in. He looked like someone that had received a whole new perspective... it was incredible!!! We're calling him today, to see if he as well would like to be baptized on the 21st with his wife.  So good. God has blessed us with people who are ready, but when it comes down to it, we've been blessed to be able to be his tools. I'm grateful for the Lord's trust in me, to send me to this area, to teach these people, and to share this great message of love. I've been able to see how it's changed these people's lives. Throughout my mission, I've seen and have been blessed to recognize my patriarchal blessing manifest itself time and time again. I love this work! I love my Savior, and how easy it truly is as we follow him! I follow Nephi's shout as he felt inspired to write: "I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell." (2 Nephi 33:6)

I gave my last testimony at our Combined missionary Leadership Council meeting on Friday, and as I was about to go up, (I had a lot to say) ..I'd tried not to think too much about what to say, and said a prayer to just let the Holy Ghost say what he needed to through me, for what these missionaries needed to hear. There have been a handful of times giving blessings, and bearing testimony when the spirit has come as clear as it did to me. I got up and talked about how we will never know how these people feel without the gift of the Holy Ghost, without guidance of Christ. We will never know how they feel when their hope is lost, or they have a bad day, but Christ does. and he did, so that we could speak for him through the Holy Ghost to help these people feel his love. We cannot do anything without the Holy  Ghost. We cannot teach, unless we are doing so in the way he has given us. I couldn't help but feel grateful and blessed, as I sat down, knowing that I have been one of the Lord's messengers. I know that if we put our understanding aside and trust Him, we'll always see the arm of the Lord revealed. It's the simple process of faith in Him who descended below all things for us.  ;) 

I love you all soo much, and I pray that your love for Christ will always be the spearhead of your daily actions!  :)  Have a great week!!!!
Elder Langford