Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Growing Experiences

Here in Socorro it has been quite strange in the weather... there has been 50 mph winds but not lately.

Well, I'm just going to start telling about my past few days and I hope I can put it in words.

Last week someone I knew on Alamo passed away.  I used to call him "Grandpa."  I didn't talk to him too much but he would wheel his wheelchair in to listen to us at times. He lived at one of my families house on Alamo so it was hard to hear he had passed. Well, the Alamo Elders called and told me that the Apachito family had asked that I:  1) say the opening prayer at the funeral  2) Be the Master of Ceremonies (conduct the funeral), 3) Give the scripture, 3) Dedicate the grave, and 5)  say the closing prayer.  There was only one thing on the program that I was not asked to do. Of course I was honored that they asked the elders to ask me but that was a ton to do for just one person. Well, after district meeting I had exchanges with my last comp Elder AhLoy and it was great to be with him as companions again and he was happy to be with his "trainer" again. Well, that day was just busy and we had to print off the programs for them because no one had a copy machine on Alamo and that ended up taking until almost 10. Then we had to get back, plan, change and then I still had to figure out what I was going to talk on at the funeral the next morning. I got to bed at midnight, woke up early and then talked to my mission president.  He explained how to preside over a funeral (especially at a funeral home and not a church), and then how to dedicate a grave.

When I got there I glanced over and saw my "Shi Ma" Anita who I hadn't seen since I left Alamo;  she had just lost a loved one and she began to cry and opened her arms to hug me and cried in my chest as I comforted her. A moment I won't ever forget was when I then saw my "Shada" Angelita (her daughter) and she came up and cried and hugged me. It was a special reunion for all of us ... they truly are family.  Then we went in and there was the viewing.  I stood at the door to welcome people in. After hearing a few people crying I got used to it. But, at the end it was harder; in the native culture they scream and wail and cry when they see the person one last time before they close the casket.  Then there are always two people who basically drag them out while they are crying and screaming, and saying something in Navajo that I couldn't understand... that really shocked me to see people I knew doing that and it made me even more nervous for this event. I said a prayer then we followed a line of cars a hour away up to Alamo to the grave site.

Now, for one side note, I felt sick that morning and felt bloated and stomach pains that were super annoying and on the way up to Alamo they got even worse. Also, something that came to my mind that morning was that the last funeral I have been to was my mother's,  and I spoke at her funeral as well.  This thought brought back a lot of memories and nerves as well.

We got there and I conducted the rest of the services, which were really short and sweet, and I got to bear my witness to everyone of our Father's love and of Christ ... and how we will ALL see and be with our loved ones who have passed. Also, mind you, it is all dirt where we are and there was a TON of wind at the current time which made it even more of an adversity, but as I walked up to the head of the casket and began to dedicate the grave all of the sudden the wind calmed down.  It became more quiet and the Spirit was present. Then, when I closed it got crazy and windy again. That whole morning I was pleading to the Father to make me feel better, to not be sick, and to not mess up a funeral (which I thought was insane that I'm just a 20 year old kid asked to do something like this but then again " NOT MY WILL ".)   As they began to lower him and put the dirt in I had to go to the car two times because I felt too sick. Finally I asked the Crofts (senior missionaries on Alamo) if I could go to their place to get some medicine. Well, as I got there I went into the bathroom and lets just say I threw up a ton in the tiolet and yea... no more details than that!  haha  I was like green and pale. Then I kept doing that a few times in and out then decided I should head back home.  As I sat in the jeep to go back home I had to open the door and began throwing up again. BUT the Lord did answer my prayer that the rest of the drive home I wouldn't have to go to the bathroom or throw up, and I didn't.  But that was the longest 1 hour drive of my life! When i got back my prayer ended its protection and it happened one more time.  Then I went to a doctor's house in the ward and he gave me medicine and a blessing and I got better from that point on... just super weak. 

Now, there are many lessons to be learned here. As I stated earlier "NOT MY WILL". I kept saying in my prayers all that morning and afternoon, "Father remove this from me.  Let me just feel good.  All I want to do is your work; help me not be sick. I don't want to mess up this funeral, BUT not my will but thy will".

And guess what... it really was His will. He had a sense of humor or something and pushed me to my ends, but He did take care of me and answered me but did it in His timing. The experience of taking on a great responsibility, which to me was big, of conducting and doing basically the whole funeral taught me so much and I felt that I matured more and grew. Also, I've experienced physical obstacles battling against me, and I've learned to sometimes just trust in God and keep going;  saying "not my will... and I'll just wait until you take this from me, but I'll keep doing what i have to." Then I had emotional and spiritual adversity as my stress and physical trials grew the adversary worked on my mental side; bringing up my mom and her funeral, and other flashbacks (which most were tough for me).  They weren't the best memories I have and it began pounding on my shield of faith. But, as I was about to drop my shield and weapon someone else came to help fight back... the Savior. I was using the Atonement that whole day.  I used it to ask forgiveness of my slothfulness, to make my weak mind strong , to pick me up and give me hope that I could do a funeral with no experience.  I used the Atonement to help me overcome the temptations of bad memories, to continue in my physical sickness and pains and to help fill the gap of any of my inadequacies that I had  that day.

The SAVIOR cares.  The Savior did much more than die for our sins... He created a way to help us in EVERY SINGLE aspect of our life; that if we turn to Him we might finish the task. He overcame ALL so that with Him we might stand TALL. Even if you have no strength to stand He will lift in all aspects and will continue to fight for you.

Sunday I was worried I might not be able to go out and do the work I love most in this life.  There were only 2 navajo members at church ...  the rest were non-members who don't believe in what we do.  I testified as a humble and feeble servant that there is a plan...that Christ was ressurected and so will Davis Lee Guerro.  We all will be resurrected and I know the words came not from me but the Savior.

That day and this last weekend has taught me so much that I can't even type it all out... or include  all of the other things that have recently happend, but my heart is full of love and appreciation to God and my fellow men in whom I serve.

I testify that if you look more deeply into your life, if you find out the "WHY ME" in all things, that you will receive more direction and insight as to why. Although there might be obstacles that may be present you can think, "OK, NOT MY WILL, BUT THINE BE DONE" and then you will recieve your growing experiences.

Will All My Love,

Elder Justin Taylor 

This is the closest thing I have to a beach here...when it rains a lot and fills up with water. Too bad I don't have a surfboard with me to go down on! ha

There is this less-active in our ward that I call "Old McDonald" because he's a awesome old farmer guy and he's got a ton of animals. This llama didn't like me too much when I was trying to feed it... I felt like Napoleon Dynamite right here.

Radom pic of reading the Book of Mormon on this train track...
 props to my companion for the picture.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Money Machine

Hey everyone!  For those who read this I hope and pray you all know how much I appreciate the support. It truly shocks me that people even like reading this. 

It has been a great last week, as always; every week is great as a missionary... it is just your attitude that determines it. 

So, last Friday the mission president showed up to my district meeting and that was great... but a surprise too.  I gave one of my favorite trainings. It was definitely revelation through the Spirit on this one and I wish I could share it with you all but it would be too hard to type out to really get the full affect so I'll just type the points and verses associated with it. 
It is in Joseph Smith History.  I spoke on how we can help our investigators follow similar steps as Joseph Smith did to receive his answer or to watch the investigators and see if they have had any similar act in our eyes. 

#1 Recognized a Problem (verse 6)

#2 Reflected (v8)

#3 Questioned (v10)

#4 Searched the Scriptures (v11)

#5 Guidance From the HG/ Revelation (v12)

#6 Real Intent (v14)

#7 Acted (v14-15)

#8 Courage/ Faith (v15-16)

#9 Confirmed Verity, ANSWER (v18)
Hope this makes sense.  You'll have to read it and see for yourselves but if not then I guess wait until I'm home and I can teach it to ya'.  It was really cool though. 

Anyways, after the meeting president had interviews and I was last and we talked a lot about things. We basically talked about progression and truly growing into a better and more Christ-like man everyday.  We talked about how much we need to see knowledge and experiences in this life to help us grow.  Well, I told him something that came to my mind two days prior: a mission (or in most of everyone elses case) life, is like a money machine. For me personally it is two years that I have in this " Money Machine of life."  When you get in to one of those money machine things they are blowing a lot of cash all around you and its flying like crazy and your object is to grab as much as you can before the time runs out...  what you grab is what you keep. So, for me, I'm trying to "grab" as many experiences as I can on my mission. The knowledge, experiences and habits I have right now I will take home with me and it will be extra "cash" I have to help make me more spiritually "financial" for when hard times come. I will have these 2 years to truly start my life off on the right foot.
I feel rushed and I hope and pray that I am grabbing as much "money" as I can while I'm on my mission so that when the time is out I will look back at the machine (or mission) and say I came out with so much more than I had when I first entered and I tried my hardest... no regrets. 

"I have learned by experience." Gen. 30:27 

May we all grab as much as we can each and everyday so that when time runs out we will be spiritually rich and full of blessings and mercy from the Lord.

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter remembering Him, but not just on Easter but everday of our lives.

He lives.

Love always,
Elder Taylor 

Hey! Here are some pics.  Sorry I haven't sent any for a long time... been busy!
 But we took some fun ones at the train track after our appointment ! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Busy Week

Hey! I don't actually have a ton of time this week for a full blog email! 

There's a lot of work to be done here in Socorro and my companion and I are trying to figure out how to turn this area around and show the ward (who haven't had a baptism in almost a year and a half) that there are people here prepared! 

As I have been studying the great missionaries in the Book of Mormon I haven't just been reading them as stories; I believe the Book of Mormon wasn't made to be a book full of history or cool stories but as a guide and instructions to help us prepare to meet our Maker.
Read the scriptures in a way that you may receive revelation, instruction and personal peace. Take their experiences... not their stories! 

Thank you all for the support!

Elder Taylor

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

God always has His structure

Hey everyone!  Hope you all have had a great week.

CONFERENCE WAS AWESOME. I received great revelation and pray you all did as well.   May we all take from it, plant it, and watch it grow within ourselves. 

Well, I don't have too much to say this week... it was kinda a slow one but I will tell you one profound thing that came to my mind that I'm sure all of you have already studied or knew.

Elder Rasband, of the 70, spoke at General Conference and in the beginning of his talk (if I remember correctly) he said for all of us who raised our right arm to the square and sustained the prophet of God that it meant that we are telling him that we will help take some of his responsibilities from him and do our part in the kingdom of God and basically not leave it all up to the prophet.   

Well, I was reading randomly somehow in Exodus 18: 13-27.  I challenge you all to read it...  I think its really cool. 

Well, in verse 22 it says this: "So it shall be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee."

After this Moses called other leadership and DELEGATED to other worthy men ("priesthood holders") to help him with all of his responsibilities.  Then a few chapters later he calls 70 men... which is the same in Christ's church today. 

I know that God has to always have His structure of things. He has had order and organization for thousands of years and TODAY He has the same structure in His church and the same organization. 

I testify that there are living prophets and apostles on this earth. After General Conference I pondered on why I feel like I know each and everyone of them on a personal and friendship level...? 

Lets look at the Savior... why were people drawn unto Him? and also drawn to His apostles like Peter and John?  It is because those who truly have a open and humble heart and who are looking for guidance will feel the power and authority, will feel the spirit of God and will be influenced for the better.  Then will we know that they speak truth and truly are men of God; which in turn will DRAW you into them and their teachings to you. On top of that they show us through their very strongly-developed Christ-like attributes how the Savior is.  They are examples and all those who seek good things are drawn to Christ or His spokesmen... it is the same. 

Love to you all! 

Elder Taylor 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Picking Things Up

The work here in Socorro has grown even more. We have found 9 more people to teach... the past 2 weeks we have found more investigators than Socorro has had total in a few months! 

I don't have too much time this week to email.... it is transfers and that is why I'm emailing today. Good thing is all of us missionaries are staying so I'm excited about it. We are going to baptize hopefully a lot of people and help others come unto Christ and feel the blessings of the Gospel! 

Yesterday we met up with a couple from Alamo who knew a ton of the people I do and who we ran into on Saturday because the hand of the Lord was in it.  Then we went by yesterday to teach them. He is addicted to all sorts of drugs, had tattoos on his body and his face  with a long pony tail ... but if you looked on the inside of his heart and soul he is my brother; he is a son of our Living God who is the Father of us all. We cannot afford to be "scared" of what people look like or to judge how they might be; God does not... He only cares about who we are today and what will we do to change to be better tomorrow. 

They both have been searching and looking for peace and happiness and answers to life's questions that we were able to help solve. They both accepted the invitation to be baptized into Jesus Christ's true church on the earth and to receive the blessings that come with it. 
At the end of the lesson I asked the husband if he would offer the kneeling prayer and he said he was too scared because it had been too long but said for his wife to do it.  She accepted and gave the most humble prayer I have ever heard. She took a minute to think of what to say, then said, "Tell me if the book of mormon is true."  Then another 2 minutes kneeling and then, "Help us."  Then she wanted me to finish the prayer but I KNOW he heard that prayer and will answer that humble women who has faced the firery darts of the adversary her whole life and will bring light into her soul. 

This work is true and I have been losing sleep, gaining more stress, having more sleepless nights and been on my knees to commune with my father more and more because surely that is what He does for us. 

Love Always ,
Elder Taylor 

P.S. Thanks for all the packages and letters in behalf of my mother! 

Here are some pictures I took my last day in Alamo...Love 'em all!
They are all my family... miss them 

My Shi ma'sana ( "grandma" in Navajo)