Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Using Resources

Everyone.. I want to first off thank you for all of your prayers;  they sustain me day by day. I know the times when my body and spirit are tired I feel extra strength because of all the love, support and prayers. 

This last week was great in finding more people to teach; we got 8 more people who are willing to listen. I've been trying hard to know where to go, what areas are called, to know the names of people but I basically got it all down already ... I feel the Lord has helped a lot. 

On Monday I played basketball with all of these Navajos and the past week told them to play with me and it was a blast. I'm now "homies" with all these tatted drug users who feel there is no purpose to life other than the world... so I pray that I will be able to touch their hearts. I bet one if I beat them that they have to listen to our message!  ha I'm playing in my white shirt and tie on Thursday night at the wellness center. There are like 40 people there playing and watching and I'm going to play and be one of the only two white people there but I figure it is a great way for people to ask why I'm playing in dress clothes!  haha  Just wait and see ... I'll have my companion video me balling everyone up and it will go on Youtube someday!  Also,  I just split a ton of wood yesterday for this blind guy so it was a great opportunity to serve and was really fun.  We also helped Crystal with all of these weeds;  I loved giving service!

We had zone conference last Friday (when a ton of us missionaries meet together) and it was great. Kid you not i woke up at 3:55am that morning and hopped in the shower then woke my companion up and we left at 4:30am to head to Albuquerque to get there at 7 o'clock in the morning. I drove the WHOLE way and was dead tired. My companion was asleep and it was sketchy a few times because my eyes go tired but I prayed a lot and we made it safely. The meeting answered a ton of my prayers and it was cool to see 5 pics of me on the slideshow of all the baptisms in the mission since the last conference.

Priesthood is real everyone; it is the authority and power given to those who are worthy to bear it. God has given us this blessing and I'm grateful to use it to help others. Miracles do happen.

This last week I used my resources to help face challenges.  Because of opposition the Adversary always attacks at the right times. For me, (I'll be real personal) I felt that I wasn't completely worthy as the Lord's missionary and had doubt about myself and about the work I truly can do, and I also was not having faith in the gifts given to me. So I used my resource, my wonderful mission president. I REVERE that man. I explained to him everything that I was facing and told him I needed guidance and council. He told me things I'll forever cherish; things that brought peace to my soul and confirmed every thought I had.  I'll only share what I feel is okay to and this may apply to you.  He said that we all go through points in our life when we personally unconsciously do an inventory  on our life and our past and go over it all. He continued saying that he feels that's what I did without thinking and now, because I went over everything, and see the man of God I am now, that I can now become truly consecrated with the Lord. I know every aspect of my life before my mission led me to this point and now I get to progress more than ever. Everyone: remember to always move forward... don't ever look back. Don't let the adversary put crap in your mind to confuse you and to make you feel lesser than you are. I used my resources this last week and have now felt burdens lifted, and strength given... are you using your resources? Are you using scriptures, prayer , and council from those you trust?

Trials come to those who are and are not obedient; either way they come.  But for those who are obedient they see trials as a opportunity to conquer, overcome and become better than they were before. Don't EVER think you are alone... because you are not. You must know you have a Father who loves you more than anything in this world. He wants to talk to you everyday and every night. He wants you to Be STEADFAST in all things, which means committed and diligent, so that you can reap the rewards that you deserve. I'm far from the missionary I want to be or can be and am not fully as converted as I can be in this Gospel, but one thing I do know is that the Lord doesn't expect immediate perfection; but He DOES expect immediate progression. Let us all progress towards our true identities as literal children of our Heavenly Father!!

Love and support to you all,

Elder Taylor

Some kids at FHE last week

Navajo cakes

Got some Papa Murphy's pizza when I was in Albuquerque!!  So stoked... I got the Chicago stuffed 

This is ZW.  He's a black smith and lives in Magdalena (closest town to us).  He's a convert to the church! 

This is at the Old western shooting day last Saturday... everyone was dressed up! 

Some fun I had 2 weeks ago on our Pday.  hahaha I still haven't changed! 

Jumping off some cool rocks and stuff.  My mom's looking down and thinking I'm so dumb!!! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Demands and Resources

First off, some exciting news is that we had a baptism!! Crystal and Damon Apachito. Crystal is Damon's mom.  Damon is 11 and asked for me to baptize and confirm him; it was a huge, humble blessing to be able to do that. Crystal after her baptism literally cried in her hands for like 2 hours because she felt the Spirit so strong. She said she felt her mom's presence there and felt how proud God is of her. After her conformation she began to be emotional saying she can't explain how she feels, and can't put it into words. 

Things have been crazy here. It's been raining A TON here and there's been like flooding on the roads but I love it because basically all the roads here are on dirt so I get to drive the truck in the mud! ha 

Last Friday we had district meeting and I taught a few things but something I talked about was called Demand and Resources. We wrote down stress, time and so forth.  Then we wrote the Resources we have like prayer, leaders, scriptures, companions, etc. The thing is this ... every time there are more resources than demands. I told them that our Heavenly Father will demand something of us but then attached to that there are two or more blessings ... that is how He works.  We get more help IF we trust in Him and use the resources given. I would challenge you all the make a Demand column and then a Resource one and come up with ways to use those resources. The problem we all have is this... are we really using our resources? 'Cause if we are then those demands won't even feel like demands.  I'm guilty because I need to use them better and to humble myself. The Lord has given us SO many tools; we need to use them to help us overcome the demands in our life, and we need to let the Savior lighten the load on our shoulders.

The culture with the Navajo Indians is a lot different than what I'm used to. It is honestly hard to see at times; there isn't a lot of structure in homes or good morals. There is this less active guy who's used meth since age 13, until like last year, and he's in his 30's now and his brain is fried. We'll see babies with Coke in a sippy cup, 5 year olds watching Chain Saw Massacre movies, and girls pregnant at age 14. It's honestly hard to see this. We even help bring people water in jugs because they wont survive any other way and then they don't even say "thank you" or seem grateful for it. Sorry if this sounds depressing but I'm trying to just keep it real.  I'm not beating around the bush about it .. that's just how I am for those who know me. Not only am I teaching these people the Gospel of Jesus Christ , but I'm also having to teach them manners, respect, nutrition and how to be smart with money. Living in a broken down trailer or hut with a flat screen TV and no running water isn't the best option in my opinion!  At times it's overwhelming and hard to know even where to start but then I feel such a love for these people and their well being that it's all worth it.

A lady named Savanah Ganadanegro told me that every single night she sleeps with the Book of Mormon under her pillow. She said it helps her sleep and protects her from bad dreams. There are great things to come here on the Alamo Reservation... I can feel it, but then comes great oposition. There has been more deaths here and crazy things, but luckily, with God, we overcome it all and we win everytime.

I've now had Navajo noodles, and Navajo tea (that isn't against the Word of Wisdom... it's basically this grass thing that grows here), and Navajo cake (which is cooked under the ground for like a full day and is kind of wrapped like a tamale). My companion and I make food for ourselves like every meal because no one feeds us here.  I've never been fed the whole time I've been here but Sunday we should be... so it's been mac and cheese and Top Raman every meal!   ;) ha
We are teaching a lady named Cathy who used to be super addicted to drugs and has now stopped.  She weaves things, sews and beads to help her avoid the temptation of using again. She's very creative and makes beautiful designs.  She loves us coming over because we are her only friends. She's gone through a lot and today I felt that we should talk about the Atonement, and wow, was it special!  She understood the purpose of it and said that when I gave the closing prayer all she could hear is the word atonement and how important it is that we remember what  Christ did for us.  My testimony was strengthened hearing that, and to know how someone who's faced so much has finally known all that Christ has done and to use it to help her life.

Miracle stories... there are TWO and they happened yesterday. 

We taught 8 lessons in one day which is AWESOME!  There;s a guy named Shannon who we've set a ton of appointments with and finally it worked out.  I shared about the vision Joseph Smith had and the falling away of Christ's church before that.  Afterwards I asked what he though the story of the vision and Shannon was like, "Well, the world isn't going to good so I'm guessing God did that so he could call a prophet (just like the other ones you talked about) to help lead up and then bring Christ's church back."  HOLY cow... I told him that's the best answer I've ever heard.  He came up with that by putting everything together.  It was so awesome. 

Next miracle story was with Alice Apachito who is a super nice older lady who's been seing the missionaries for a while... since missionaries first came to the Res. But she hasn't been keeping commitments or progressing in the Gospel. We didn't know if we should still see her or not.  We were reading out of the book of mormon with her and then in a few verses she started coughing a lot (like, i mean bad), and we kept reading but I could see the cough had been bothering her all day and especially right then.  SO I just stop and tell her out of no where about the priesthood and how we have authority to give blessings, and she accepted it. I felt so strongly to ask her and I was wrestling about it for a little bit but then I gave into the Spirit and followed my heart. Well, it was a true prompting.  I blessed her that right away her body would be healed and her throat be healed and gave some other council.  From the moment I placed my hands on her head and when we said goodbye about 15 minutes later I never heard one cough from her. She was in tears and felt so much peace and felt the Spirit.   Then she said "thank you." I said, "No, thank God," and she knew then that it wasn't my words at all and that I couldn't have known what to say. I PLEADED with the Lord for the blessing to help her feel the Spirit and the truthfulness of this Gospel and we know she felt it tonight so we will see what happens. 

EVERYONE we teach prays in Navajo here... it's awesome! ha  No one has any idea what they say but it's so cool... even in church they do it. 

Thank you so much for all the support and love. I hope these long letters aren't too much.

Much Love,
Elder T 

So this was at Family Home Evening with the branch on the 9th!

Flora is the older lady. She said that she had bad health but once she was baptized her heath has gotten better EVERYDAY, and before her hair was sticky always and now her hair is super smooth again! She is like my hero ... has so much faith! 

Thanks for the support and all the letters... it's helped me a ton. I've got like 30 people to reply to so sorry if it takes a while to hear back!  haha 

Having to go on the fun dirt roads for appointments... always fun ;) 

Driving into Alamo... was so pumped!  Now I'm on the Navajo Indian reservation 

District meeting last Friday... the other two were taking the pic! 

BAPTISM!! Crystal and Damon Apachito. 
First Navajo baptism... I totally forgot my white tie though. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

From Mexicans to Indians

Hey everyone, it's been a while!  I've got a TON to say in this email so please bear with me.

I can't remember if I've already said this in the blog, but I baptized someone my last saturday (3 days before I left).  Her name is Bethany.  She's awesome and so prepared by the Lord.  Her dad is Sergio ... a miracle story that I had a few weeks back.

I'm going to be doing 3 different sections of this email.  I'm going to go in order of events.

1st:  El Paso  __________________________________________

 It's been a week since I've left El Paso and I miss it so much. I received the call on Saturday evening and was told I was getting transferred.  I had mixed emotions with everything;  I wanted to start somewhere new and to have change, but I love these people so much and feel so a part of El Paso. On Sunday I bore my last testimony in the ward.  I felt the Spirit so strong and as I looked down on the congregation I felt this immense love for each and every person. Later that afternoon and evening I went around giving people blessings.  I felt inspired that it was what I needed to do to give back to all the love and support I've received from everyone. I gave a total of 20 priesthood blessings!  I was so tired, both physically and emotionally, but I bear testimony that every time I placed my hands on each person's head I wasn't tired at all and I received revelation on what to say.

The next day I went early in the morning to the Sumac church building and played football with some people in our ward. After that we went and played basketball in the church.  I promised the young men in the ward that before I go I'd play with them.  It was awesome!  I was super tired but we still killed it! There were like 40 people in the gym waiting to play. Afterwards we went to the bowling alley to meet all of the missionaries in our zone. Everyone was talking about how crazy it is that everyone is getting transferred out from down south, and that all of the leadership is going up north. It was really fun bowling with everyone. Afterwards the sisters in my ward gave me presents and a card... they got me a skinny tie and superman socks and mac and cheese! haha  They know me so well.

Then I had to get ready and go to the Butterfields for my going-away party. It was SO cool!  They made aloha tie cookies for me and a ton of people showed up. There were more who said they would come and didn't make it but it totally worked out perfect.  I got to say my goodbyes to everyone and I gave kind of like a "speech" at the end.  I'll never forget that evening and that Sunday... I was so humbled by everything that was said to me. Afterwards I gave 11 more blessings, including my companion, and went to bed at around 12:30am.  So, in two days I gave a total of 31 blessings!!!

 I woke up the next morning and had to start packing all the way until our ride came to get us. Ray actually came over to say goodbye again... which was amazing and made me happy to see how much he's changed in just a short time.  El Paso is FOREVER in my heart ! 

2nd : Alamo Navajo Reservation  _________________________________

On the way up I was with my missionary buddies:  Elder Krebs ( who's still my zone leader up here), Elder Magalei, and Elder Jensen. We are called the "Four El Paso legends." haha  When I was in Los Cruses at the first transfer site the zone leader there came up to me. I've only met him once and he said to me, "I feel you are going to Alamo.  I think you are needed and are perfect to serve there."   From that moment on I COULDN'T get it out of my mind... I felt so strongly that I was. I was the last in Albuquerque to be called to their area... and, yup, I got called to the "res."  I was freaking out.   The AP's and everyone were saying how jealous they are of me and how lucky I am.  My companion's name is Elder Gibson.  He just finished being trained by Elder Barrus... who was my MTC comp!!  I replaced my MTC companion's spot here!  haha ... and now he is with MY trainer. We basically switched.

Well, I had a two and a half hour drive back down south to Alamo. Socorro is the first "main" town off of the freeway of Los Lunas. I met the sisters in my district and saw the little building there and baptismal font. Then we headed west to the reservation. I was SHOKED at where it is. I go from the city to like the middle of nowhere in the mountains.

I did 5 hours of service last Saturday by chopping wood and throwing the piles in the trailer and other crazy things. On the 15th of this month is when it's legal again to hunt and eat Prarie dog!!  I guess everyone loves it here?  I'm freaking scared for when I have to eat weird food!  The nastiest thing I've had here was a tamale but it was a blue corn one ... homemade from the corn they grow but it had no flavor and was all slimey and gooey so it didn't taste too good.

This is a foreign mission.  We feel like we are in a different country. ha  But I LOVE THE PEOPLE!  I know exactly why the Lord has me here.  It was evident this last Sunday to me when I spoke to the branch in sacrament telling them who I am and stuff.  Being around the people, and this different lifestyle is changing me.  I'm going to learn from a blacksmith how to make a belt buckle and from a Navajo how to sew and bead native things. There's tons and tons of things I'm learning new everyday.

Teaching the Gospel here is different ... it's more of a challenge. The schools aren't very good, so not many people are very sophisticated when it comes to big words and elegant-speaking...  so everything needs to be simplified, which I already did before but now even more. Navajos here are tough to work with because of their attitudes; they spend money on big TV's and stuff but have no water and little electricity. I'm really going to try to help them see the true purpose in life.  But we as missionaries have to be careful;  if we start giving to them then everyone will be at our door asking for something... they always ask for rides or money. There was a drought a few months back, so we help fill up jugs of water for people in our bath tub and drop it off. I can talk for hours about things here, but I'll tell more next week about the culture and things. We have family home evening and scripture study on Mondays and Thursdays and it's a blast.  I was playing on the piano and now I guess I'm going to be giving piano lessons to a ton of Navajos now?  All of these people want to learn so I guess I'll be teaching piano too.  Also,  there was an accident like 3 days before I got here.  A truck full of 9 people crashed off the side of the windy road and 6 or 7 of the people died (including a woman who was pregnant)... so please keep the Apachito family in your prayers. EVERYONE here is somehow related to the family and are effected by it.

Just know there is a lot of work to be done here but it's SO worth it and the people are special to the Lord and need the Gospel.

3rd: one year mark  ___________________________________

As I'm sure you all know Monday was the one-year mark of my mom's passing. I wanted to write a few words. I stayed busy on Monday.  I had to help the sisters in my district so we drove 60 miles to the town to help them move, and I finally got to shop. My service in my mom's honor was helping move and unloading/organizing some things in their house.  I knew she'd be proud of that!  ha

To be honest I tried not to think about it;  I know the adversary is working harder on me now than before because he sees the great things that are to come here on the res and with me personally.  So, I took it safe and tried not to dwell. This is how it is when you lose a loved one:  IF I have the Spirit then I'm okay because I know it's part of God's plan and I'm happy;  once I am not as spiritual and I let the natural man take over then Satan uses my anger towards the situation and I get upset about it and hurt.  So, it's KEY that we always have the Spirit with us throughout our trials so that we see the light at the end of the tunnel. :)

 I love my mom Claudine Taylor with all my heart.  I feel that I love her more and more each and everyday.  I've never missed something more than I do her which has taught me what true love really is. Yes, most days are great but somedays are hard. Knowing that I will be with my mom and family for eternity, if I don't give up or mess up, is MY motivation... it's what keeps me going everyday. I'll forever be a momma's boy.  Growing up she would always call me her best friend and she is ... she's my #1 girl and forever will be... she threatened me if she wasn't!  haha  But, for real, I'm grateful for all she's taught me, and the example she is to everyone.

There's a scripture I found that pierced my heart.  It is in the Book Of Mormon in Alma 27:28:

 "They never did look upon death with any degree of terror, for their hope and views of Christ and the resurrection; therefore, death was swallowed up to them by victory of Christ over it".

Don't fear death or those who have passed on because Christ has broke the bonds of death so that we all shall live again ...  fear nothing for the Lord is on our side.

Thank you to everyone for their huge support to my family this last year and especially to me being out here on my mission. I know this is exactly where I need to be and where God has planned me to be.

I'm going to write a miracle story for next week!

 True Love and Happiness, Elder J. Taylor

The Butterfields wanted me to sign them! haha 

My first day in Alamo ....

Our service project on saturday!  Way more fun than pulling weeds :)