Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sacrifice to Give to Others

Hey guys, I hope everyone had a great Christmas and really felt the true joy of the season. I thank those who sent me things in the mail for that day; it truly meant a lot. But the best gift I received that day was just talking to my family, I haven't talked to them in 7 months and oh how they have changed. Jessica gets more beautiful and older every timeI see her, Dylan has a deeper voice than me and can now probably beat me up and my Dad is still the happiest and most positive man on earth. Truly they bring me the most joy, I'm so thankful for their love and support.

It's cold here, it was 21 degrees this morning and snowed a little a few days ago. For me, it's cold but I'm a wimp. On exchanges, we walked like 6 miles in the cold windy air!! It was legit, I felt like a hard core missionary from the good ol' days. I'm blessed to have a car.

Things here in ABQ have been tough- not going to lie, it's been tough since I've been here but the past transfer or so the work has been struggling here. It's SUPER hard finding YSA here in this area to teach. A lot more live more by campus but on this side of town it is a lot more houses and families. My companion and I are still trying to work our hardest and trying to figure things out. I had prayed and fasted many times for the work here to grow and that I'd have another two baptisms before I leave and now it doesn't look like we will even have one. I don't mean for this to sound depressing but I want to show you the reality of missionary work sometimes. We have one investigator and have only had one for a transfer and a half now.. the other ones we have a lesson with them once then they just never answer or call us back. Now, I'm thankful for this. I'm thankful for the struggle it is working in this YSA branch and for the lessons I have been learning. We truly have changed less active members' lives here though, there's a few we see and are helping and that brings fulfillment!! So, the point is that sometimes sacrifice needs to take place. Sometimes I need to sacrifice my desires, wants and time, to others. Like I don't choose to go around all day driving or walking to addresses where YSA's in the stake live who are most likely moved or hate the church; BUT I do it knowing it's going to touch someone's life and that we will be blessed with someone in the long run to teach. Sometimes we need to sacrifice and do things that really isn't what we want to BUT we have to try to love it. Our mission president always quotes " Learn to love your work. Learn to enjoy everything, you'll be healthier and happier." I truly have learned that lesson here. I absolutely love it here and the people but I've really had to learn to love the work here and because of it I still am happy, I still have the desire to find, teach, and baptize. The Lord is teaching me valuable life lessons and I thank Him for it.

My mother was the supreme example of this. I remember one Christmas season a lady, who was a little bit older and had physical issues, could not decorate her house or christmas tree. My mom who is ALWAYS busy it seemed like could have not offered, I say offered because I swear that woman was never asked by anyone to do anything, she would just get up and do it before they would even think to ask for her help. So, she probably told this lady that she's going by to help decorate for Christmas. Well it was a Saturday which she usually always has a lot of projects that need to get done but instead she dragged me with her and maybe my brother, I can't remember, and we went to go help this lady. As a teenager and that punk kid I was, I of course complained and asked how long we would be here, she said not very long at all. Just have to decoarte the tree real fast, you can do that easy and I'll put some decorations around the house and we will be done. Well, right when we walked in I swear a tornado hit the place and dropped off so many dang christmas junk it could decorate 5 houses. haha My mom just looked back and I can't remember the words but its was probably around these lines of "Well... never mind, its gonna take a while. Suck it up and get to work." haha To me that was a wonderful example of sacrificing her time, her own projects needing to get done as well, being the end of the week and being tired, still going over for what seemed hours to help this kind widow. My mother forever has left imprints in my life, I continue day by day to be reminded of the wonderful lessons she taught me. I know that she always gave of herself for others and didn't complain about it, just did it, even if she didn't want to, so why should I just quit or give up? No, I need to push along. I want you all to know I live every day similarly to the story I shared. I swear I'm still following my mom today, that she's helping me out with this work and whenever hard days or tasks come- I remember her looking back saying, "well... get to work. Suck it up. Push forward. Don't give up, you can do it." And, honestly that has been a sustaining factor for me these past 23 months and will forever be.

This week I invite you all to sacrifice for others, go the extra mile, get over yourself and your problems and look outward and I testify that as you do that, for some reason your OWN problems will go away, and you will find more joy in life.


Elder Justin Taylor

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Testimonies Lead To Conversion

What's up everyone?  I hope you all have had a fantastic week and are stoked for Christmas in two days... I know I am!  This transfer is already going by too fast.  I can't believe I'm already writing another entry. This week has been full of great things: zone conference, exchanges, branch christmas party, and so on.  Fun stuff.

I wanted to write about a training Elder Jenson and I gave for zone conference. It was 25 min long and in front of the whole north of the mission.  It was super cool doing it in front of more than half the mission. 

I know a lot of you have read and remembered when I wrote about "the roots of your testimony."  I want to take that analogy and add more to it. 

Each of us have different testimonies in different things from different experiences. Just as a tree's roots under the ground are all separate then come together to form a tree so is our testimonies separate then come together to form our conversion. 

I  remember an experience I had growing up that gave me a testimony of prayer. I had lost this new game that I had purchased with my own money and was really upset that I couldn’t find it.  Then after a while my mom stepped in for her teaching moment, as all great mothers do, to ask me if I had prayed about finding it. I had never thought about that before; I didn’t know you could pray for something like that. So I did...  I went in my room and prayed. Literally right after I felt impressed to feel down the crack at the end of my bed and guess what?  There was my game!  It had slipped down in the crack. At that point I had learned from my wonderful mother that Heavenly Father cares about things we care about and wants us happy and He will sometimes answer our prayers right away or in His timing. My root of prayer started to grow. 

Think about your own roots that have helped you. As we add the roots of prayer, the Book of Mormon, fasting, church, service and so on...  all of these roots develop into a stronger "tree" or in other words conversion.  Alma talks about this principle in Alma 32: 41 " If ye will nourish the word, yea nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and patience, looking forward to the fuit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.

So, in order for us to keep converted and to grow in our conversion and strengthen even deeper our roots we must continue to have faith and be patient and diligent.  In other words we need to endure to the end and we will see the fruits. Another twist is that the fruits can also mean sharing the gospel too. Once someone is converted they can't help but share the gospel with every one around them and let others partake of your fruit and goodness. So, if we, as recent converts, less active members, active members , and even investigators all strive to find the roots or develop the roots of our testimony on individual things we will develop a tree that will continue to grow as we nourish it and it will produce fruit for yourself and others to partake of as your SHARE it with those around you. 

Miracle: I wasn't able to share it this past week because my talk was too long so I wanted to share it this week. 

Two weeks ago my companion and I were walking around in the apartment complex  trying to contact some less active YSA's but none were home and we were trying to share the HE IS THE GIFT cards with everyone we see.  Not a lot of people were outside and usually they go the other direction right when they see us. Well, anyways, my companion and I were putting our stuff in the car when I saw  in the corner of my eye two guys standing in their porch smoking about 30 or so feet away. I for a split second thought, "No. These guys are far away, and they probably won't listen."  Then right after that I felt that EVERYONE needs the opportunity.   So I threw my bag in the car and started walking fast over there and started to say hi to these two guys. Not even realizing my companion was behind the car waiting to back me up because he thought I was going to pull out the car ... he shows up next to me as I'm talking to these two young single adults. We gave them the cards and asked them why we even celebrate Christmas. They responded, "Because of Christ."  One seemed more interested than the other. After talking more about "He is the Gift" we asked if they work or go to school and so on; come to find out that they are both Navajo.  So I started to say a few words in Navajo to them and they were shocked and loved it. Well, one said they were about to leave and walked inside then the other was still smoking and after we asked him he gave us his phone number. This woman (his mom) came out and gave us kind of a dirty look then went back inside then came out and we were like "uh oh."   Then she said, "Can you pray for us? My uncle just lost his son and needs a prayer!" We said yes, of course, and she told us to go around and knock on the front door. We did and entered into the home. I did greetings in Navajo to the elderly gentleman who was sitting on the couch and who is the uncle to that women. Come to find out that he's from utah and is a less-active member and that the woman is a member too. We said the prayer and afterwards I just  straight up asked the two guys we were talking to if they are baptized members and the mom answered and said,  "No, not in the Mormon church."  One of the guys said he wants to leave though and find truth and we said,  "Perfect!  That is what we are here for!!"  SUPER cool experience. Literally it was like 10 min before dinner and then the Lord at the most random time used us as an instrument to find YSA's for us to teach and hopefully baptize and to help save a less-active family in need of help at this time. Truly His hand is in all things we do if we just follow the spirit and not judge a situation or people we will see the hand of God touch others lives through our actions and words. 

All I ask for Christmas from you all is to talk to ONE person about the Gift of Christ coming to earth and why that is so important to you.  Tell them why He did the atonement. I promise that your testimony will pierce the heart of any man and women.  SHARE your fruit this Christmas season and have a wonderful holiday week. 

All my love,

Elder Justin Taylor

Picture at our Christmas party ! Me, Elder Jenson, and Collin Shumway
Best sweaters in the worlddd!! 

Elder Barrus my MTC comp is going home 3 weeks early for school so this was our last pic together.  Love that guy ! 

The beautiful ABQ TEMPLE on our way home from zone conference 

We helped set up for our Branch Christmas party.. looks legit right? 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christ's birth and His Gift

Howdy everyone, this past week was a great and productive one. Again, thanks for all the support, I'm already getting Christmas cards and presents in the mail and I really appreciate it! This past week has been a little crazy busy but that's good, I love being busy. Sunday was awesome but I had A LOT of things to do. I was asked at 8:50 p.m. Saturday night to speak the next morning in church which I will write about in a second, then we had our stake missionary correlation meeting and had all the stake high counselors there ... yea it was intense but super good. And also we had to give a training on 'just serve' for our 3rd hour of church that was a combined meeting and the stake president happened to show up for that, too. What was funny was President Sowards, who's in the stake presidency, was at church when I spoke and said in our stake missionary meeting that I've had a big day having to speak in church, 'just serve' meeting and now this meeting. I loved it all though, learnt SO much from each thing.
I want to share with you all my talk, I'm going to try to type it out the way I spoke it, if I remember what I really said, hope you all enjoy it. SUPER long though, I honestly wrote it in detail so I can always have a copy of it. So, if you all don't read it, no worries. haha 

12/14/14 Sunday's Sacrament Talk:

The vision of what I want for this talk is for each of you to understand the importance of Christ's birth in mortality and the gift of His Atonement to all of us.  
How are signs significant? They obviously are given for important things such as stop signs, communication purposes, etc. Also to symbolize things. We learn in the Book Of Mormon about the Savior's birth and coming in Helaman 14:5,7-8. which says " And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you." verse 7 " And it shall come to pass that ye shall be amazed, and wonder, insomuch that ye shall fall to the earth." 
So, when Christ is born in Bethlehem, far away the people in the Americas will know that He is born, because of signs. Also something cool I put together as well is that these scriptures foreshadow the Savior's coming to the people in 3 Nephi 11. That when he comes down from the sky HE is like that star, a sign and also brighter and greater than anything they have ever before seen and because of that they will fall to their knees and that's what happened in both accounts. Kinda cool small connection there. Verse 8 says "And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall believe on the Son of God, the same shall have eternal life". Why is that possible, how is that possible? I love how right after speaking of the signs of Christ's birth it immediately jumps to Him being the only way for us to have eternal life.  
In Mosiah 3:5-8, we learn about what Christ will do, he will do mighty miracles, heal the sick, cast out evil spirits and experience "pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer". Basically the Savior was to come and experience what you experience, feel what you feel, He wants to be able to say I know what you're going through and that was only in and through His infinite Atonement. In Alma 7:10-12 we know that " He shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers" and that He, meaning  Christ, "shall go forth suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind... that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities". This means that He will know how to HELP you when going through the hardest and worst of times. Now in order for each of us to really catch the magnitude of this atonement that these Scriptures in Mosiah and Alma talk about I want to do an analogy. Think of the WORST physical pain you have ever had... now imagine that back right now. Then imagine every other physical pain since the day you were born till now all come back at this very moment. Now think of the worst emotional pain like losing trust from someone you love, losing a loved one, a bad break up, emotional abuse. Now imagine that feeling come back with every other one your whole life all back at this moment. Then, let's add more, think of the worst guilt you have had, hardest temptations you have given into, all the times you felt sorrow for your sins and add those in there, too. There's much more I could put into this analogy but honestly could any of you handle those? And that's just you, just your own physical, emotional and guilty sinful experiences, imagine adding someone else's onto you or many others- it wouldn't be possible. Just you alone have a lot, but Christ took yours, and the person next to you, and everyone in this room and every living thing that's ever existed on the face of this earth upon Him all at once. It was so hard that literally angels had to come strengthen and help him. Why? Because He knew you couldn't do it on your own, we couldn't, He had to do it, He knew it was the only way for us to repent and change so we can return to our Father in Heaven.  
Christ boldly stated "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness... I came not to judge the world but to save the world." John 12:46-47.  
Christ knew what He was to do, that it was the only way to save us from all our hardest trials. He truly is our Light, your illuminating Light, that forces darkness out, as well as the power to strengthen and help us so that our burdens are light. Now we know why and how Christ did what He did and why He was born on this earth, but how do we embrace and share this gift?  
Simply, in John we learn that the Christ child said to the Samaritan women, "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" John 4: 13-14. Meaning that if you want to keep doing what you're doing then good luck, by yourself, you will have to overcome weakness, trials, fatigue, guilt, all on your own and you will keep struggling and struggling OR you can partake of my "water" or atonement. I have a never ending supply of it that if you drink of it or meaning use it daily, right? Because we have to use water daily to survive so we must use His atonement daily to survive- then you will not thirst again, you won't be searching for something else to help you.  
Now think of another analogy... say you have an unlimited amount of water, you live in the desert and everyone around you is fighting, searching and needing water but its scarce where they are at. Families are getting torn apart because of contention in their homes or with neighbors because one family or person has more water then the other, suffering before your eyes. What would you do? Duh, you would tell everyone to come and partake of this ENDLESS SUPPLY of water where you live, that there needs no more to be pains, contention, suffering, that everyone can partake of all the water. You would SHARE that water, SHARE that Atonement, SHARE that Gift. My invitation to you all is think of a gift that you can give our Savior that would show thankfulness to the greatest gift of His atonement that He gave us.  
I testify that Christ had to come to the earth, if not, we would all be hopeless. Something that came to mind was I'm sure the greatest light, and stars were when Christ was born, everyone on earth and heaven rejoiced, to me I feel that's a SIGN of God's emotions, that it was symbolizing His feelings of joy when His son was born and His Crucifixion was a sign of His sorrow and grief of His son's torture and death on the cross that the earth shook and was in darkness. I know it was not easy for our Father in Heaven to watch His beloved Son go through what He did but that He understood that it was the only way for all of His sons and daughters to come back to Him, it was essential. To me, I feel God's gift to us was sending His son to the earth to give us an example, BUT Christ's gift to us was His Atonement. He had agency to choose if he wanted to suffer it or not and He did and because of it we must remember those amazing gifts. I testify that He Is The Gift. Initiative is a SIGN from on high that this Christmas season is different from others, that we must share the gift with all who we see that they can come partake of the endless supply of the Lord's atonement before His Second Coming. In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

Love to you all, 
Elder Taylor 

Transfers; saying bye to an awesome sister missionary that I served with a lot of my mission! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

STAYING IN ABQ WEST!!! Last 6 weeks ... Finish strong

Hey guys!  Hope everyone is enjoying the Christmas spirit and are getting ready for the holidays.

Obviously, you can tell by the title, I will be staying in the West Mesa YSA branch here in ABQ West and I'm stoked about it!! So cool. I've been stressing these past 2 weeks, wondering where I would be my last 6 weeks. Honestly I would have been heartbroken to have left; things are starting to pick up in our branch, on a stake-level with the missionaries, and just everything else is going well so I'm glad to watch it continue to grow.

We have been having amazing miracles this last week, seriously. For those who read my blog this past week know it was really tough but like I always say ... when there is a down there is always an up and this week forsure was our up. 

One of the miracles I'd like to share happened this past Saturday. We went to visit someone who is trying to come back to church and has been out for years. When we got there they were setting up this huge christmas tree in their living room. We asked if we could help them out and they agreed. Well, when we  got there you could feel the contention. The father had surgery on his leg and was walking with crutches so the mom and the YSA had to do all of it.  He was upset because for 30 some years he has always put up the tree and now he couldn't help so he was pretty salty. We got it looking all nice and we stepped back to look at.  After a few minutes it suddenly started falling down forward and smacked the floor. (By the way this is a 12 foot REAL tree. Yea this thing is a beast).  So the mom screamed and we grabbed it and put it back up, cleaned up all the shattered ornaments that we just put up and tried fixing the stand on where the tree is. They said that stand is pure iron and has lasted them 20 years... they don't know why that happend. But we fixed it and everyone had a happier attitude after. Then the mom said we can do our lesson with the YSA we were trying to visit. So we sat down and started teaching him about the plan of salvation and the Spirit was super strong in that room; you could see in his eyes he was learning things he hadn't thought about in years. Well, as we were towards the end suddenly the father (who is not a member) starts to crutch in to the room asking if they could join us... we say, "Of course!" The father proceeds to say this: "You will never know how thankful I am for your help today. I have always been the one to set up the tree and get on the ladder but this year has been different and its been tough. My whole life I've worked with my hands and now for the first time I'm forced to rest. If you guys weren't here who knows what could have happened; my wife could have been on the ladder when that tree fell down."  He continued saying that for some reason the past few years every single time their family was at a low point, having trials at the most random times people from your church show up and are here to help us. "Now, I'm not super religious.  I was baptized catholic as a baby and I think I'm still good with that baptism, but I never have seen people from the catholic church here to help us...only the mormons. And I've never done anything in that church to be one, and I still think God knows my heart, but maybe I will do something one day.  But if someone asked me before I die what I am ? I will tell them I'm a MORMON. You truly helped our family and your church always is there for us and I thank you for being here today." 

We were taken back!  I'm almost in tears seeing this tough/manly guy express his gratitude, humbling himself to 2 young men and expressing what I would say is his testimony. The Spirit was so strong in that room. The wife / mother is a less-active member and she's just beaming with joy because her non-member husband said that and her son who joined the church when he was younger and has fallen away is now trying to find faith again. She says because her husband isn't working she has a low amount of money for christmas gifts this year.  She is just getting something for her grandson and said she would love for us to both come by and she will have something for us. My heart was deeply touched.  We said, "Yes! We will come by!"  Then they said we both better not leave anytime soon!  ha   Instant -love and connection with this family just in that short time that day. On our way out the mother gave us a bag full of food! I had small tears in my eyes as I walked out of that house; for the wonderful family giving what they can to us and showing their thankfulness. I was a firsthand witness of God saving a family. I saw the adversary try to make something turn bad... like the tree falling RIGHT before we were going to have a lesson to cause more contention and for us to have to come back another time; but instead we all helped clean up and put it back up and fix it ourselves. And because of that we had a great lesson, then his parents come in and put together all the pieces of that day and truly we were able to see the hand of the Lord in that family's life that day! I testify that God sends us where we need to be sent; that He uses bad things for His greater purposes of good. He is reaching out and is putting people and experiences in our paths to bring all of God's children back to our Father in Heaven. Remember to share HE IS THE GIFT  this christmas season; remember and help others remember the true meaning of christmas. 

I've only got 2 years of missionary work and an eternity to look back on it!  I'm going to make sure these last 6 weeks count! 

Love ,

Elder Taylor

This picture is of everyone who came out with me. Two of them are going home earlier then the rest so we took this at our Mission Leadership Council. 

Played golf last p-day... finally learned how to do it!! haha I'm hooked now... its super fun. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


What's up everyone??  Hope you all had an awesome Thanksgiving and ate a ton of food!! I know I did.   Also, I had a GREAT BDAY week.  I've been getting spoiled all week long and I thank everyone who helped me have the best birthday. 

Well, because this last week was a week of thankfulness I want to share what I was thankful for this last week: being tested. Truly, I feel it each day;  both my companion Elder Jenson and I feel it. Our teaching pool is small and just as we feel it begins to get bigger, someone drops us or won't answer then it starts getting smaller again. All we want to do is TEACH; there is no better feeling than that so we are searching for all YSA's here in this stake and are praying hard. Honestly though we had 3 days this last week in which we taught 0 lessons... we drove around everywhere going through a stake list of every YSA in the stake and after doing that for 3 hours it gets a little hard... especially when people are mean. For example, we knocked on this door where 2 YSA sisters supposedly live so we were excited and hoping to get both back to church and teach them. But, on the list we have no idea anything about them though ... so its kinda' like we knock and find out. Well a car pulled in as we were at the door, a husband and wife walk up and he gives his wife the keys and says go inside and she says be nice. He then asks if he could talk to us, so we follow him to the bottom of the drive way and he with a very upset asks us why we were there. We just say  we saw their names on a list of Young Single Adults here on the west-side and want to invite them out to activities. Well, after that he, in a loud voice, started shouting and asking what he has to do to get their name off the list, that his wife years ago was molested by a superior leader in our church and wants nothing to do with anyone from this church; he is screaming at us, dropping the F word every other second, and  spit is flying from his mouth.  He's yelling and is so upset.  Thank goodness his wife runs out and tries calming him down or trying to save our lives (ha), but we were just shocked and taken back.  We say we are sorry and that we didn't know because we are new here and were just coming by to find out information.  We said we were sorry to bother them, and that we will tell someone that you want everyone's name off. He keeps yelling saying he's told many people this and all this junk. Well, we both start walking away and I just say, "Sir i hope you have a wonderful Christmas!"  He responds in a harsh voice, "I'll do my best!"

Yep, Elder Jenson and I both agree that it was the worst we have ever seen on our missions of people just being straight up angry and filled with hate. No lie... i had my right fist ready in a position if this guy tried attacking me or my companion; it was that sketchy. I'm cool with getting in trouble protecting my companion or myself, but that wasn't what we were expecting. Basically, that was our past week /// besides the good food and bday love from people that was our week in a nutshell. Filled with testing days and trials, but its wonderful! because that means we are doing something right if satan is trying to get at us so much and that miracles are just right around the corner! 

Transfers are coming up next week, so we will find out this Saturday if I'm staying here for my last 6 weeks or if they are shipping me off! 

Love to you all!  Don't let other people get you down; turn the other cheek and you will be so blessed! 

Elder T

Had a great time visiting people and felt so loved. 

 The Hollands, on their trip, got In N Out stuff for a bday party for me and made burgers!  
It was so LEGIT! Felt like California that night!