Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"I Met a Possum"

So first of all, I need to tell a quick story from Spring Lake. One night I had the scariest nightmare ever where Elder Reheis and I got attacked by a ferocious pack of possums. They were poisonous, too. We fended them off with shovels but there were too many of them. I fear possums to this day because of this dream.

Well, last night when we were taking out the garbage for our apartment, Elder Graves picked up one of the cans and was like, "there's something moving in there..." It was a live possum just chillin' in our neighbor's garbage. I was terrified. We called our WML because we didn't know what to do but before we went about removing it, the thing went away. Possums. Hate them.

This was a much better week as far as proselyting goes. We taught a really powerful Restoration lesson to Bill, the guy we found out in the country last week. He's excited to read the Book of Mormon and continue learning with us. He's really busy though right now so we won't be able to see him again until next week. 

The other investigator we picked up is Mike. He's a way sweet guy, very involved in his Methodist church. We knocked into him a couple weeks ago and weren't expecting much when we returned. His wife let us right in and was super nice. (Side-note: her name's Wendy, from Canada, and was taught by elders in California years back) Anywho, Mike had a lot of sincere questions that pointed to the Plan of Salvation so we mostly taught that. Next time we go over we'll be teaching him, Wendy, and their son so we're hoping we'll be able to invite the Spirit in on that one.

This last Thursday, we had the most amazing training at Zone Conference. President Hess gave wonderful instruction on our purpose and also changed some of our key indicators and "standards of excellence" which was sweet. Sister Hess taught us about pride and sarcasm, which was something I needed. Elder Patterson introduced an amazing purification exercise to more fully merit the Atonement in our daily lives as missionaries. Very powerful. He also instructed on how to find through part-members and less-actives which was sweet. Elder Bertilson (from Sweden) gave us wonderful instruction on how to become master teachers. W00t for zone conference! It was also a lot of fun to see my trainer, Elder Reheis, who is now my zone leader.

What else? This was our week without a car so we stomped around all of Midland and had a good 'ole time. We've got return appointments with a former and a few potentials so I'm excited for the coming week. 

As a follow-up to zone conference I used some personal study time to read about pride, and I came to Alma 29. It reads,

 O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the atrump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!
 Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and acome unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.
 But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me.
 I think I've been so caught up in being a master finder/teacher RIGHT NOW that I've forgotten "the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me." I've been so blessed thus far and I have found great strength in being grateful for all of my many blessings, including my God-given improvements as a Gospel teacher.

I love you all! Have a great week in whatever you're doing. Mission friends- it's great to hear about how things are going with each of you! I am inspired by your stories and your commitment to serve the Lord and His children. Have a great week, everyone!


Picture of possum included. 

AND in case you want to know where his title reference comes from...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy V-tine's/President's Day!

Happy President's day, everyone. I hope you all had a great Valentine's day as well. February 14th was my 6-month mark which is pretty crazy to think about. The mission goes by too quickly. 

This was a weird week. Other than teaching Jeremy the new-member lessons, we didn't do much teaching. Basically all of our week was spent knocking on doors, trying to find people to teach. Only problem, I think all of Midland went on a vacation and forgot to tell us. We talked to so few people for how long we were outside. That was a bummer. We didn't start teaching anyone this week, but we did find some really cool, solid potentials that we will hopefully see this week.

Since Elder Peterson and I hit the city streets hard when we whitewashed the area, this week we spent some time knocking out in "the country". The country is basically all of the sketch, secluded homes that are scattered about outside of the major highways. Well, we knocked on this small street and on the first door we knocked on, we talked to this nice Lutheran-raised lady who had a new-born in her arms. After we talked for a while she was like, "Do you know TJ Stoney? That's my husband." TJ is a less-active I've been trying to find TJ ever since I got to Midland. Well, it was a cool miracle that we found his super nice non-member wife out in the wilderness. EVEN COOLER is that she said she'd like to learn more about the church. 

The next door we knocked on, this cool guy named Bill let us in right away. He also has a new-born and was really nice. He's from Flint which is pretty sweet. His girlfriend was having a tough day though (just got out of jail I think?) so it wasn't a good time right then. We're going to go teach them tonight though! Way excited about that. 

Other than that, a slow week. I think people are tired of the cold weather and they're crabby and don't want to talk about Jesus. Oh well. 

Even though it was a little bit of a disappointing week, the Lord always provides tender mercies that keep me going. Earlier in the week we got chased off the doorstep of a potential which was pretty discouraging. As Elder Graves and I drove off, we got a text from Jeremy. It simply said, "Hey guys, I just want to thank you for helping me and for being beacons of light in the darkness." The Spirit was definitely working through Jeremy at that time, because God knew I was a little shaken up and needed a reminder that the Lord has blessed us with great love and success. 

K, lemme just say for a second- Jeremy is the best. He loved the new member lesson and now he's reading the New Testament and Jesus the Christ and he's just loving it. He's also fellowshipping the Midland 2 sister's investigator and will be going teaching with them and everything! Prepared people are prepared. It's crazy to think that about 2 months ago he didn't even believe in God and now he's turned his life around and he's a servant of Christ. 

Other tender mercy- I think I told you like 12 weeks ago that Elder Peterson and I knocked into these super nice Catholic former investigators that let us in and fed us pumpkin bread and herbal tea and listened to our message. Well, we walked by their house and Tim was outside so he talked to us and asked how our work was going. We told him that many were kind, and many weren't. He told us he was glad we were facing opposition so that we could cherish the good (what the heck, 2 Ne 2?!). He also told us, "I pray that the Spirit of God will be upon you so that the people you meet will feel the love of God through you and they will recognize you as His servants." I almost started crying. I wish he would just read the Book of Mormon, you know? It's interesting when people get caught up in minor details or misconceptions and therefore won't accept that the Book is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. ANYWHO. Tender mercy anyway. 

Love you all! Be blessed in everything that your doing. 

-Elder Schmutz

Monday, February 10, 2014

Feb 10, 2014 - Jeremy got baptized

Well, hey everyone! 

Surprise! Jeremy got baptized. He's really great. He's been way prepared from the beginning. Have I told you much about him? Here's his story:

Most of his life he's been an atheist. He used to work at DOW with Bro. Jones, our WML. Well, Bro. Jones, being the boss missionary that he is, gave Jeremy a Book of Mormon and had a good discussion with him like two years ago. When Jeremy went through some tough experiences, he came to know that God lives and wanted to learn more about the Book of Mormon. Well, we first met with him 5 weeks ago and now he's baptized. Super prepared. It was really hard last week because he backed out the day of his interview and we weren't sure if we'd ever see him again. Well, he came back determined to be baptized. Yay!

We had a great district meeting. Our zone leaders (Baird/Oler) came which is always fun. After D-meeting, Elder Graves and I did trade-offs with them which was super fun. Elder Baird and I worked in Midland 2 - we knocked on lots of doors. This was his last transfer and he'll be home in two days. I gave me a lot of wise advice as an experienced missionary. 

So other than that, nothing new. Transfer calls were this week and Elder Graves and I are staying together as expected. We DID get word that Elder Reheis is coming to CMU with Elder Oler so he'll be my zone leader! I'm way stoked to see my trainer again. I love that guy. 

Love you all!

Jeremy's baptism. Bro. Jones baptized him which was awesome

The district. 

As expected, all us elders are staying here since we're training. 

The M2 sisters (the trio) are staying together as well, but Sister Whipple is leaving. She was trained in Midland and she's been out for 7.5 months. She's excited to go somewhere new. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Happy Day After Groundhogs Day!

No time, but a decent week. The weather was pretty miserable. We weren't allowed to door contact on Tuesday due to extreme cold and Saturday we got like a foot of snow.

Jeremy was doing super well all week and was really prepared and excited for his baptism, but on Thursday (the day of his interview) he texted us and told us he couldn't do it. That was rough, but for the best. We didn't have contact with him until Sunday night. He is back, excited, and stronger than ever. We're going to work with him a little slower now and help him feel 100% prepared and committed for baptism. He has kept ALL of our commitments except to be baptized and confirmed so we have a lot of hope for him.

We didn't get to meet with Nick this weekend but he ended up going on a camp out and he had a ton of fun so that is perfect for him.

All of our other investigators are progressing slowly but surely. Our investigator Valerie has told us that she knows the Book of Mormon is true and now just needs to work on making the transition from a church she loves to THE Church. Everyone in the ward knows her already and loves her so YEAH.

We're working hard and having a great time doing it. Elder Graves is doing great and he has a lot of love, humility and desire to do good. He kind of reminds me of Tobias Funke of Arrested Development.

Love you all! Have a great week.

-Elder Schmutz

Saturday, February 1, 2014

So many things

Yeah I can't even remember all of the things that happened this week. 

Interviews with President Hess this week. That was amazing as always, President Hess is wonderful. He also took time to speak with Jeremy Hammers, our wonderful investigator who was previously on date but felt that January 25th was too soon. After Jeremy's talk with President Hess, he felt like he was ready for baptism and the next time we saw him he set his own date for February 1st. So yeah, that's this Saturday

Nick Gagarian is still progressing for February 15th. He brought a new friend from Hemlock this week to listen to us. This friend wasn't super into the message so Nick was trying to play it cool but he's still excited to be baptized. We taught him the Word of Wisdom and it went pretty well. 

Our other most progressing investigator is Valorie Padgette. She is wonderful. She knows the Book of Mormon is true, and we committed her to pray about a date. She feels she has a lot of things to work through with her current church but she seems to be doing really well. Excited for that. 

We had some great finding experiences as well. We started teaching a cool young couple named Roman and Danielle who really enjoyed the Restoration and want to read the Book of Mormon. Because of the crazy cold, it was an interested doorknocking week. Most people either shooed us away from their window, unwilling to open the door OR they let us in right away. Most of the people that let us in were happy to let us warm up while they bashed us (haha, but seriously). 

That's about it. Outta time basically. Love you all!

-Elder Schmutz

January 20, 2014

Hey there everyone!

This was a sweet week. I did a trade-off Tuesday with Elder Derricott's trainee, Elder Krebs. He's a lot of fun and he's from Heber and we had a great time (picture included?). We had a great zone teaching on Wednesday on Revelation from the Book of Mormon and Planning. I kinda get stressed out when I'm reminded how horrible I am at planning but you know, whatever.

Since Wednesday we haven't had a car so I and Elder Graves have been stompin' all of Midland 2. We walked a heck-ton, knocking on doors and tracking down potentials. It was pretty cool. Oh, and we taught more lessons than I have in all of my 9 weeks in Midland so that was exciting.

 I'm going to cut/paste from my report to President Hess.

"This was a really good week for the work, all things considered. We started teaching a woman named Valorie Padgette- she babysits for many members and is good friends with many of them. We actually thought she was a member already; she has been at many family home evenings and dinners that we've attended at the Millward's. We taught the Restoration to Valorie in the Millward's home on Monday, and it was a very spiritual lesson. After the closing prayer, I felt very strongly that I should share how I came to know how the Book of Mormon was true. We shared Alma 32:27-28 and bore testimony of the Book of Mormon. We met with her three other times this week after that, and Saturday night she told us that she knew the Book of Mormon was true. We've invited her to baptism twice, and she is hesitant to set a date but she knows she wants to be baptized. 

Other awesome thing this week - I told you last Monday that we weren't sure if we'd even be teaching Nick Gagarian (Heather's son) anymore because he had a negative experience at church. Well, Saturday we set up a time to talk with him and when we got there, he had brought a friend, Matthew. Matthew is 15 and had expressed a desire to come to church and wanted to learn more. We changed our plans and taught the Restoration. It wasn't our best lesson, we were pretty overexcited and jumbled, but Matthew soaked everything in. We invited him to baptism, and he wisely told us that he would be baptized if he knew the Book of Mormon was true and if Joseph Smith was a prophet, but he wanted to learn more as well. Also, Nick asked us after the discussion, "When am I going to be baptized?" We reset his date for February 15th because we wouldn't be able to teach him everything before next weekend. Nick told us that he's been pretty weighed down by his crazy-anti aunt but he has thought a lot about the church and everything and wants to be baptized. Yesterday, Matt and Nick came to church and the boys their age fellowshipped them immediately. It was a huge miracle. 

Jeremy Hammers is doing well. We dropped his date because he expressed that he didn't want to make a huge commitment (like baptism) while he is so emotionally and mentally unstable. Our ward mission leader Bro. Jones invited us to take part in a fast and a blessing for Jeremy so that he can find stability and strength in his new mental health issues. Jeremy also wants to be baptized once he is doing better - as of now he is getting himself more and more involved in church services and activities. He truly wants to change and be a servant of God. It's been a humbling blessing to know Jeremy, and I am excited for the things coming up."

Those are the highlights of this week. Elder Graves is a great missionary and he has adjusted to mission life much, much better than I did. He keeps me motivated and happy on a daily basis because sometimes I'm an emotional train-wreck. 

That's about it. I think the weather started getting to me a little bit this week and I got the S.A.D. but other than that, it's been a spiritual powerhouse week.

I love you all, a heck-ton! I love getting your emails and letters. I hope you're all doing well. I seriously do think of you all the time and I pray for 
-Elder Schmutz