Monday, March 30, 2015

Elder Ramirez

My new companion is Elder Spencer Ramirez, from Iquitos, Peru! He's been in the mission for about one year. He has great Spanish! His English is pretty good too.
Elders Ramirez and Rogers--Good Times!
He just got done serving in the Spanish branch in Grand Junction, where I served on exchanges a couple of times. Also, he started his mission in San Juan!

Anyway, it's been a really good week! On Tuesday I spent all day in one of the wards in Denver with a German Elder and a Polynesian Elder who were also waiting for their companions to come over the mountain. It was pretty cool! Wednesday was my first day with Elder Ramirez, and we had tons of success in Leadville! We were able to find two new investigators and put them on date for baptism, among some other good lessons that we taught throughout the day.

We were also able to teach Destiny again on Thursday. She didn't read the Book of Mormon in six hours. She only read the first four chapters. But that's awesome! Seriously, no one reads the Book of Mormon, and that's why they don't get baptized. So I still have lots of hope for Destiny, and we set a baptismal date with her as well. Throughout the week we taught a couple of other people, but didn't have another stellar day until we went back to Leadville on Saturday.

Actually, our day in Leadville had bookend lessons in Silverthorne! One was to a Mexican lady named Guadalupe, and the other to a man named Troy. Both lessons were pretty good, and we'll see if these people want to progress or not in the future. We've had lots of opportunities this week to share the message of the Restoration in its fullness with people, and many have felt the Spirit and absorbed what we taught. One of the biggest problems we're facing right now is people coming to church. We have five people with a baptismal date right now, but not a single one of them will be able to be baptized if they don't come to church. Especially the people in Leadville. One man, Saul, was really interested in the Restoration and agreed to be baptized. But he currently attends a church in Leadville, and our ward building is all the way in Frisco, a thirty-minute drive. There used to be a church building and a branch in Leadville. In fact, it used to be the center of the branch up here in the mountains. But just a few years ago they shut down the branch (absorbed it into the Frisco ward) and demolished the little chapel. Thinking about it now, it would be awesome to have a chapel in Leadville. I honestly think we could build a good branch there; that there's a lot of people who would join the church if we could have a separate sacrament meeting in Spanish in Leadville on Sunday evenings. They used to do a Spanish sacrament meeting in Frisco Sunday evenings, until lots of the Hispanic families moved out of the ward. But alas, it must not be the will of the Lord at this time.

I think one principle this really strongly demonstrates is sacrifice. I'll relate a story I heard by word of mouth, so don't take it for fact, just take it for principle: There was once a man who was a leader in the Church, a general authority. He was approached by a man who asked this member if he really believed the Book of Mormon was true. He said, "Yes, I know it's true." The man proceeded to pull out a copy of the Book of Mormon and turn to a specific verse, pointing out a grammatical error. This critic explained the error, then asked the member if he agreed that it was, in fact, a true error. The member responded that it was, in fact, a grammatical error. "So," the man said, "you still believe this Book is inspired of God?" The member responded that he did. "Don't you think God is capable of using correct grammar?" Then the member responded, "He is. I think he put that there on purpose." The man asked why on earth God would purposely make a grammatical mistake. "I think He did it to keep you out of His Church." The man was shocked. "What? Wouldn't God want me to be in His Church?" 

"No; not if can you take a work as sacred as the Book of Mormon, which contains the teachings of Jesus Christ and the fullness of His gospel, and justify discrediting it for a single grammatical error. A person like that doesn't have the kind of faith the Lord requires, and I don't think He would want someone like that in His Church."

Now of course the Lord wants all people to repent, accept the ordinances of the gospel, and enjoy the blessings of membership in His Church. But I relate it to the current situation that I see here in the Frisco ward. If the people in Leadville aren't willing to come to church; if they're able to discredit the Book of Mormon, the Restoration, and the reality of a living prophet because of a thirty-minute drive, perhaps they need to develop their faith a little before they're ready to make sacred covenants. And that's where we come in! That's what we tell people: "We're here to help you. We know you can be ready if you will keep the commitments we extend to you. If you're not ready to be baptized on your date, don't worry. We will continue to help you until you are confident." The things that we as missionaries ask people to do is to build their faith! And that until they believe sufficiently that they are prepared to make the covenant of baptism, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and continually press forward, building their faith in Christ throughout their lives.

I am confident that that is also the objective when we are asked to do something by any of the Lord's servants. With General Conference this weekend, I hope you'll take to heart the counsel and direction of the Lord's living Prophets and Apostles. I know that Thomas S. Monson is the Lord's prophet and representative on the earth today! Make this Conference a life-changing one!

Elder Rogers

A thought from Mom:
“Our Savior lives again. The most glorious, comforting, and reassuring of all events of human history has taken place—the victory over death.
“The empty tomb that first Easter morning was the answer to Job’s question, ‘If a man die, shall he live again?’ To all within the sound of my voice, I declare, if a man die, he shall live again.
“My beloved brothers and sisters…we can receive profound peace from the words of the angel that first Easter morning: ‘He is not here: for He is risen.’”
~President Thomas S. Monson

Monday, March 23, 2015

Transfer News!

No news, I'm staying here. But I guess it's news that Elder Garcia is getting transferred. So I'll get a new companion tomorrow!
Another transfer has come and gone! They keep doing that...
This week was good. Nothing spectacularly out of the ordinary, but a couple of good days. We still have our truck (we haven't taken it back into the shop yet), but our mileage allotment is pretty low for our area, so we spent three days riding the bus to get around. On one of those days we met a nice young woman at the bus stop named Destiny. She told us she had recently moved from Tennessee (there's a lot of those...) and that she was looking for a church. We told her we couldn't help her.
Just kidding. We took her number down and set up an appointment to teach her the next day. We taught her the first lesson about the Restoration of the Gospel and then invited her to read the Book of Mormon to find out for herself. I asked her how long she thought it would take her to read a 531 page book. She said a little over six hours... Alright! She promised to read it. After that lesson a man pulled up in a minivan in the parking lot and stopped us. He said he had a question. I don't think he really had a question. He talked to us for a long time about his Baptist belief that we can know we've been saved unconditionally, and no matter how many ways we said it, or how many times we corrected him, he still left with the erroneous belief that Mormons think they can earn their way to heaven. It was pretty much a "We don't believe that." "Yes you do!" Conversation. He claimed to be trying to understand "Mormon theology," but I think more than anything he was studying up on it with the intent to disprove it. But'cha can't! 'Cuz it's true.
On Wednesday afternoon I went on exchanges with Elder Adling in Vail. It was pretty cool. They have a lot of Spanish-speaking members in their ward, even though it's a Spainglish ward like ours. I went to their ward coordination meeting and told them that my Spanish was "muy, muy mal." They told me not to worry about it. Then they had me offer the closing prayer, and they complimented me on my Spanish! They said I sounded like I was from Chihuahua. I guess that makes sense, since most of the people we taught in Montrose were from there. Probably about half of the Mexicans in Colorado are.
Friday was the first day of Spring! Winter is officially gone, and the weather here reflects it. It's been in the 50s and 60s all week (except one random snow storm), and most of the snow is melting away. Of course there are still 6-foot piles of snow all over the place in the shadows of buildings and the sides of the street where the snow plows came through, but you can actually see the ground and the plants and things, which were buried in snow before.
Elder Garcia and I were asked to speak in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday! The topics were a little strange, though. We were asked to speak on the 8 p.m. lessons we often have with members, and our 5 p.m. dinner appointments... I got stuck with the dinner talk. But it's okay! As I was writing down an outline for the talk, I had a list of a few scriptures I thought might apply. Things really started flowing and I couldn't write fast enough for fear I couldn't keep up with the revelation! It ended up being a talk about the joy of sharing the gospel and our responsibility towards our brothers and sisters who don't know the great news of the Restoration. Then I somehow tied it back into dinner. I want to share just a little from memory of one part of my talk:

In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord said, "Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor" (D&C 88:81).

Centuries earlier, speaking about this dispensation, the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob taught: "And the day that he shall set his hand again the second time to recover his people, is the day, yea, even the last time, that the servants of the Lord shall go forth in his power, to nourish and prune his vineyard; and after that the end soon cometh.  And how blessed are they who have labored diligently in his vineyard" (Jacob 6:2-3; emphasis added).
The Lord's declaration that "it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor" definitively eliminates any justification for the belief that the laborers in the vineyard are the full-time missionaries alone.
Sweet! A door labeled "Elect!"
Every member has a responsibility in this, the work of salvation among the living. And who else can do it? No one. If we think we can be children of the covenant with a knowledge of the fullness of the gospel, and stand idly by while the work or our Master hastens on around us, we're mistaken.
"We all have work; let no one shirk.
Put your shoulder to the wheel."
(Hymns, 252; emphasis added)
So I might have embellished a little bit, but that was the gist of my talk. The work is true! It's a joy! Remember that the Savior lives, and that He leads His Church on the earth today. Thomas S. Monson is His prophet. I'm so excited for General Conference!
Elder Rogers

Monday, March 16, 2015

Because He Lives

I did a lot of driving this week. Over 800 miles!

I forgot my planner in the apartment, so unfortunately this email won't be as coherent or detailed as I would have liked...

But it's been a good week! We started off after we emailed last week by trying to climb Mount Royal. It didn't work out, because we'd never done it before, so we didn't really know where the trail was (it's covered in snow).
Meditating on Mt. Royal
After a couple of hours of wading through snow up to our waists, we decided to consult someone who knew more about the mountain and give it a try next week (today)!
King of the Mountain!

On Tuesday I got to go on exchanges with Elder Smith, my companion from San Juan! He's my Zone Leader now, so he decided to come to my area for the day. It was great. We taught some good lessons, and found a couple of new investigators. It was great to talk about old times and people from the area where we served together. We taught one lesson to Genesis on the exchange. Elder Smith was really impressed with him! It was a good, short lesson about the post-mortal spirit world, and, as per usual, Genesis understood everything like a champ. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to meet with him since because they have him working so much at the Marriott, and he doesn't get home until late... Elder Garcia suggested: "We kill his boss, and place him on the judgement seat." I vetoed that plan.

After the exchange (which is where most of my 800 miles for the week came from), Elder Garcia and I had a good lesson with one of our investigators in Leadville. Her name is Toni. I mentioned her earlier, I think. She really understood the message of the Restoration that we shared! We talked about the importance of the Book of Mormon in coming to know that the Restoration is true. We asked her what she thought the most important thing to do at this point would be, and she said, "Well, I guess I'd better read that book." Yup! She seems really willing to progress, but unfortunately she's moving back to Tennessee for the summer season to work. Darn. We'll do what we can while we've got her here!
This is the closest I can get to skiing as a missionary!
We spent a lot of the day on Thursday driving around and looking for a new apartment. We realized there's only so much the mission office can do to find one while they're in Denver. So we went around and got some information from a few different places. The trouble is that it's still ski season, and most of the rental space in the county won't be available for another month or two. Even then, the rentals that open up are pretty pricey. The next day we got a call from the Housing Coordinators letting us know that they finally got a hold of the man who bought the property we live on, and he agreed to sign another lease with the mission. So we're staying! That made things a lot easier. Also, we won't have to move!
Garcia and Rogers

Saturday we got to drive back down to Denver for a zone meeting. It was really good. One of the main purposes for the meeting was to introduce the Church's Easter initiative: "Because He Lives." It'll be similar to the Christmas initiative in December, but the time we have to work with it will be shorter (March 27th-April 5th). I'm excited for it! The Church has a couple of great videos depicting the importance and impact of the Savior's resurrection.

He lives! Don't ever forget that. Joseph Smith said, “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” I know the Savior lives, and my life revolves around that knowledge and the glorious gospel truths that are appendages to it! Joseph also mentioned the testimonies of the Prophets and Apostles. And guess what!! We get to hear from them ON Easter this year! Look forward to that! That you for your love. I send my love to you all, with the hope that you all will be excellent to each other!

Elder Rogers