What a week. The reality of the short amount of time I have left is setting in. In our zone leader council meeting yesterday, 4 departing missionaries closed the meeting with their testimonies. I, of course, was one of them. I remember so clearly walking into the room in which we were having our meeting two years ago for my arrival orientation. It was bittersweet to reflect upon how much has happened and the wonderful changes that have taken place in my life and in my heart. A very meaningful scripture to me personally, and the scripture that is on my missionary plaque, is Moroni10:32 - "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind, and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ...". This is what I have experienced, I have felt His grace, and I know of his divinity and reality. Over the past several weeks, there have had quiet moments at the end of a day when all the hustling, work, and stress is put to rest. In these instances, I have been overwhelmed almost to the consuming of my strength with peace and fulfillment from the effort I have put into my mission. The Lord has confirmed to me that I have done my best. I would not trade this experience for anything. I love my Savior and King! I am forever grateful for his ever outstretched arm of love that is extended towards me.
Most of the past two weeks have been spent in the office in preparation for zone leader council and for the transfer next week. Our meeting with the zone leaders went very, very well. Our instruction was focused on the principle that true doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. We demonstrated how using the baptismal interview questions in our teaching can help our investigators prepare for baptism in a more sure manner. The sprit was present and all in attendance took insights back for their zones. The meeting was a great success! This week is go go go for zone conferences in the second week of December. Because of the transfer next week, our zone conference instruction and agenda must be finalized. We're working on this all week until next Friday when we pick up the new assistant that will replace me. We'll show him the ropes, hit the office for transfer prep, do the incoming/departing missionary program, and head straight for the Christmas zone conference tour the next week. After that, things come to an abrupt end as I'll be home less than 24 hours after conducting zone conferences. I am at peace and am just as focused as I have ever been. This is a gift from the Lord. I feel the spirit and am at peace with what is happening.
Our proselyting area is continuing to thrive! Through our responsibilities, we make an effort to have one or two scheduled appointments a day with investigators. We are teaching a girl who is a referral from a girl in our ward. The girl is the daughter of one of the bishops in Brampton and has a strong background and testimony. We are able to teach her in the ideal venue - in a strong member’s home surrounded by family. She is coming along, working on overcoming things like the word of wisdom, and is slowly gaining a spiritual testimony through reading the Book of Mormon and developing a habit of daily prayer. Her change is noticeable. She has a date for December 9th, but it will probably need to be moved back. She will be baptized in the coming weeks or months.
We are also teaching a great man. He moved from St. Lucia to Toronto about 6 months ago for work. He is 7th day Adventist with dormant habits of church attendance, prayer, and a clean living lifestyle. He came to church with a friend last week, and Elder Sommerfeldt and I were able to teach him the other day with President Scott. We had a powerful lesson on the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. At one point in our lesson we asked him "What are you willing to do to follow Jesus Christ, and in turn experience the blessings of the Atonement?" He responded that he was willing to quit partying and be baptized! It was a picture perfect, spiritually powerful lesson. He is preparing for baptism on December 9th as well.
The man who was baptized last week will be confirmed tomorrow. He is completely active and attends all church activities and in doing everything a recent convert should be doing. He will receive the Aaronic Priesthood on the 9th of December, and will hopefully attend the temple soon to participate in baptisms for the dead.
I am happy. Things are wonderful now. I love the Savior and His matchless life and love that He shows us. I desire through feeling His love, to continually invite others to come unto Christ for the remainder of my life. Whether it is through magnifying my calling as a home teacher or in the ranks of Priesthood leadership, my determination to serve Him to the end will not change.
This week overall was a low-key one, with a great finish this morning! Due to the large changes in the mission over the next few months, our transfer planning and the to-do items generated from our meeting last Monday have kept us busy in the office nearly all day every day! With zone conferences, zone leader council, and a transfer in the next few weeks, we are full time in preparation for those coming events. I am grateful to be finishing my mission in this way - being in the office working in the assignment that I have has taught me a lot about strengths and weaknesses I have that will help me with settling into my future. The Lord has opened by eyes the past month or so as to what direction my future could take. I am grateful for His help!
This morning we had a surprise baptism! Despite not being able to proselyte in our area daily, we have been incredibly blessed with investigators and referrals to teach and work with. When Elder Sommerfeldt and I teamed up at the beginning of the transfer we didn't have anyone in our teaching pool. We made an extra effort to use our time effectively and do the best with the time that we had been allotted. About 2 weeks ago we were passed an investigator by some other missionaries in the city. He had been taught for about 6 months without much real progression. He was an active Christian in another church, but hadn't experienced much spiritual growth through his meeting with the missionaries. Elder Sommerfeldt and I in our first meeting with him sensed that he wasn't taking the restoration and the missionary visits seriously. We bluntly called him to repentance, invited him to be humble, and testified that eternity hung in the balance with his decisions and willingness to let go of his pride and search for truth in our message. A few days later we met with him again, and his whole countenance had changed. He listened to us, the spirit was present, he had kept commitments, and he spoke and asked questions with real intent. He buried himself in the Book of Mormon, accepted a baptismal date, and allowed the spirit to work in him. In a matter of days he gained a testimony of the restoration and desired to be baptized before his baptismal date. We put together a baptismal program and baptized him as soon as circumstances would allow. His baptism was this morning, and it was a great service. After his baptism he shared his testimony, and the spirit of the Lord was felt. I'm grateful to be a tool in the Master's hands to bring about salvation in the lives of others. I love this work!
Exactly two years ago today I entered the MTC and began my mission. Two full years are now come and past! I can't believe it sometimes. At this point I am feeling very comfortable with my role and responsibility in the mission. I am in the groove with administrative responsibilities, and I have found that one of my strengths is planning in the way that we are required to, and helping zone leaders improve their zones. I've had some special experiences on our exchanges across the mission in the past few months.
This week we had 2 leadership trainings - one for each half of the mission. All zone leaders, district leaders, new missionaries, trainers, and a few others were invited to attend. That made just about 50 missionaries in attendance from each side of the mission. The meetings were larger than zone conference sized. Through lots of prayer and preparation, Elder Sommerfeldt and I felt no nervousness and literally felt lifted and filled with the spirit during our instructions. I haven't felt as edified as we felt after instructing the mission than we did after those two days. We both feel that it was the best instruction we had been a part of, and our mission president had nothing but positive to say about the meeting and the missionary's responses to the instruction. Our purposes were accomplished! The Lord has helped me come so far and become so much more than I thought would be possible in two short years.
On top of those responsibilities, we had an AMAZING week with our investigators. We found 3 new investigators, had 4 at church, and set 5 baptismal dates. Absolutely incredible. Elder Sommerfeldt and I have unity that I have felt very few times on my mission. We teach seamlessly and spirit is SO strong when we testify of the Savior. My testimony of Him and His reality has increased, and thus the spirit that is felt as I bear witness of His Atonement is as well. I know that ALL the promises given us through the scriptures are real. He will unveil His face to use as we become clean from the sins of this generation, and deny the ungodliness of the world. This is my goal and should be the goal of all those who have entered into covenants with the Father. Remember what we are promised through baptism, receiving the Melchizedek priesthood, and partaking of ordinances in the temple. Those blessings may be ours according to our faithfulness. This I have a testimony of.
I love this time to serve. I've been redeemed and had my views, priorities, and ideas changed to match the Savior's. I am grateful for His perfect law which I love.
We have been as busy as ever over the past 7 days, and in the coming weeks there will be more and more going on. Luckily we are making time for proselyting and we are being blessed for it. We have been blessed with a new investigator this past week. He is from Colombia and has been in Canada for a few years now. He has been a spiritual guy most of his life. Our teaching experience with him has been very unique. In our second visit we taught him the law of the fast and committed him to fast this coming Sunday for a witness that he should be baptized this month. The next visit we taught the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity. I have come to more fully understand the power that comes from bearing your witness of the living Savior. In both of those lessons where the content was mostly modern commandments, the highlighted principle was that of the Atonement. Testifying of the divinity of Jesus Christ brings power and understanding sufficient for those who we teach to keep commitments, change their lives, and qualify for baptism. The requirements in D&C 20:37 are starting to come into place for him as he keeps commitments that he promised to keep because he understood the role of Christ. Building off of that, I have a testimony of what President Packer teaches in Preach My Gospel - "True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior." I testify that knowledge and understanding brings change. No wonder our covenants that we enter into at the baptismal font, the sacrament table, when the higher Priesthood is received, and at the temple all point towards constantly remembering Christ. Remembrance allows our priorities to be put into the order that Christ would have them. I leave my testimony of his divinity.
Other than our proselyting, we exchanged two zones this week. Sudbury, which is 4 hours north of Toronto, and Ossington, which is right downtown. The culture differences between the two are remarkable. Downtown Toronto cannot be explained. The cultural differences and diversity that is there is unbelievable. It is a wicked place, like many other cities in the world. The gospel is needed!
The growth, knowledge, and progression that I have experienced in myself and in others is incredible. I am happy to have been transformed, and have had my views, perspective, and intentions brought more in line with Him who loves me perfectly. The gospel plan and its laws are the definition of perfection. In the final months of my mission I have experienced something quite remarkable. My focus has stayed here on the work, the people, and the missionaries, but my desires to excel and reach my potential after my mission has dramatically increased. My desire to magnify my calling, forfeit my time, talents, and all that I have been blessed with or may be blessed with to the Lord's organization on earth has grown more than I ever thought it would. I feel the spirit tugging me and preparing me for what lies ahead. I have clear expectations of what Heavenly Father wants. I can't wait to apply in a different way all that I have learned and gained here.
What an incredible week! Without a doubt the business of my entire life. We witnessed one of our investigators be baptized last Sunday, Elder Green finished his mission, I received a new companion, Elder Sommerfeldt, we received 7 amazing new missionaries, and we completed the second largest transfer in the history of the mission. WOW! The mission is literally bigger than the state of Texas, at the same time having 229 missionaries. It is one of the largest missions in the world in every way. One of the biggest in geography, one of the biggest in number of missionaries, and the very biggest in cultural and lingual diversity. We have been in the office the whole week from sun up to sun down. We work to get everyone in their right places doing the right things, and do all we can to aid President Scott in lifting his burdens. We are the eyes and the ears of the mission. If we say something or notice something, instantly he is on the phone doing something and then driving to a faraway place in the mission to interview someone. It happens so rapidly. President is an incredible leader who constantly strives to magnify his calling. Amiss all this craziness and business we had a special and sacred experience with President Scott this past week which has impacted me.
My companion, Elder Sommerfeldt wrote his parents about the experience. I'll share what he sent out...
"Elder Green and Porter and myself felt that these certain missionaries were up to something they didn’t call in and they were supposed to because of the storm. So we go to their house at 10:30pm and they weren’t there. Their door was open however. We called President and he was there in 10 minutes. We waited in their house for 2 hours till they arrived at midnight. Upon arrival President asked Elder Green and Porter to take one missionary and for me to stay with him, and virtually interview them. WOW what an experience. I was trembling a little bit it was very intense. He pulled their phone and car immediately and said call your zone leaders every two hours on a pay phone. Sent them out to work the streets. The following day they put a full days of work in for the first time in their missions, had spiritual experiences and as a result there missions were changed. Their lives are changed forever."
President shared what I just did in our Zone Leader Council meeting earlier this week. I have never seen anybody get ripped and rebuked as hard as I saw President rebuke in this experience. The missionaries were in tears as their testimonies, manhood, and character were questioned. It is a humbling experience to realize that President was inspired the whole time. That is exactly what those two young missionaries needed to dig deep, and work to receive a testimony. I was nearly in tears from joy when he shared the result of his follow up interview a few days later. Both of those missionaries had special experiences in their days of work following our encounter in their apartment. They are both in new areas with new companions doing great with their new found commitment to live in accordance with the testimony that they have. It is one of the most remarkable experiences I have ever witnessed. Of course we've left out details, but it is a huge testimony builder to see how the keys work and to see that Christ is so much more connected and involved in this work that we almost always tend to think. Jesus Christ is a living, person. He thinks, feels, reacts, loves, forgives, and works for us to become like Him. His divinity is my testimony. His gospel is a perfect model for how to live life. Faith is a principle of action, repentance a principle of humility, and baptism an ordinance of submission. By following Him who loves us perfectly we will reach our potential and see Him as He is. He may become like Him.
Having shared this story, we arrived back at our hotel room at 3am, and got two hours of sleep before we arose at 5am, put on our happy faces, and welcomed some incredible new missionaries to the greatest mission in the world. I have never felt more physically sustained or uplifted as I have this week. My prayers have been answered and my testimony strengthened from these experiences.
Other than this experience, our week has been full of transfer planning, welcoming new missionaries, instructing them, departing missionary business, planning for and presenting a zone leader council and a few other things. We are busier than I ever have been before in my life! I am grateful I am trusted simply to represent Jesus Christ. It is an honor to be one of His servants.
It was sad to say goodbye to Elder Green. His parents picked him up on Thursday - they are touring the mission with him for a week. Serving in his place now is Elder Sommerfeldt. We were in the first district his first transfer, and have had a great connection all through our service. Elder Sommerfeldt is top of the line in every aspect of his ministry and of his leadership. He is one of the finest missionaries to walk the streets of this mission. His stalwart example of living a converted life motivates me to reach towards my potential like not many other companions have. Bottom line, he is the most capable missionary for this assignment in the field right now, and we are great friends. We teach, instruct, correct, study, plan, and work together seamlessly. It is an indescribable tender mercy from the Lord to finish my mission with a companion of this caliber. We are best of friends already.
I'm grateful for what I have and am not looking to the right or left. The Savior is real and this is His work!
October is almost through as we enter the last few days of the transfer. It has been almost 25 months since I opened up my mission call. I just can't believe that! It’s gone so, so fast-and it only speeds up every week.
Elder Green's time is almost up. He leaves in about a week, just after all the dust from the transfer is settled. My new companion, and Elder Green's replacement is coming into Brampton today to work with us and shadow us in preparing for and executing the transfer happening over the next few days. This process is a miracle. A mission president and a few missionaries kneel and pray, make lots of inspired changes to where Elders and Sisters should serve, and then we pound out travel plans, bus routes, car swaps, opening and closing apartments, incoming and departing missionaries, trainer meetings, new missionary meetings, a temple trip, and prepare for our upcoming zone leader council meeting early next week. The way that everything fits together without any missionaries and details missing is an absolute miracle. The Lord truly quickens our minds and sharpens our intellect to make this process happen every 6 weeks.
An insight that I've been thinking a lot about lately came from the incoming missionaries from last transfer. There were 21 that came in-a huge group. The evening of them arriving we had a testimony meeting at the mission home. All the new missionaries were able to bear their first testimony in the mission field. There was a measurable difference in the spirit that came from different missionaries as they shared their testimony of the gospel. The spirit was always recognized as testimonies, experiences, and convictions were shared that were centered on the power of the Atonement. Missionaries who know the power of it by their own experience are far better prepared and powerful than those who do not. This applies to many more people than just new missionaries. Any church member who has a testimony of the reality of the Atonement will be more motivated to magnify their calling, love and serve others, pay tithing, sacrifice for others, work through challenges, and stay true to the faith than those who do not. Having a personal experience with the Savior should be something that we strive and push for every single week. By keeping covenants and prayerfully setting goals at the sacrament table, we can have a PERSONAL spiritual experience similar to those talked about in 3 Nephi11:15. I testify that He lives-I have felt His redeeming power and His infinite love and forgiving attitude. All can feel of these things for themselves and know by personal experience.
Elder Green and I will be having another baptism on our final Sunday together. He is an amazing fellow from India. He has been here for 2 years, and was attracted to Christianity by his good friend who was baptized 3 months ago. He saw changes in his friend as he accepted the Atonement, and wanted them for himself. By living the gospel, he has experienced a change of heart and has desires to serve Christ and live according to His law.
Despite the excitement of transfers, and meetings and conferences with other missionaries, the most rewarding and joyful experience I have ever had is watching someone you love be baptized. I never want to stop having these experiences, even long after my missionary tag comes off. I am dedicated to preach the gospel the remainder of my life. The happiness, peace, and power of God that enters your life are real as you share your testimony of Him who loves and knows us perfectly. I'm happy to have had my mission experience up to this point!
Another incredible week come and gone. Impressions that came during general conference are still echoing in my mind. I absolutely loved the central message that stuck out-that being to be your best self and live the moment to its fullest. This translates in my mind to take every second and live it the way the Savior himself would. I’ve prayed for the decisions He would make to become clear in my mind as I go throughout my day. I can feel His attributes becoming a part of who I am. I am grateful for the enabling power of the Atonement and the changes that it has allowed me to make. I love Him and his law and have a desire to serve Him to the end.
The transfer is coming to a close rapidly. Elder Green and I felt that exchanging all the zone leaders this transfer was important, and we have been able to work with 9 of 10, with our 10th scheduled for early next week. I am loving being able to share what I have learned over the past 2 years with some of my closest missionary friends who are serving as zone leaders. Each time I work with another companionship I learn new things that are practical and helpful in become a better equipped missionary. Not only that, but my conversion is deepening as I see their examples of faith, obedience, and hard work. I am grateful for this remarkable chance to assist the key holder in the great Canada Toronto Mission.
In our proselyting area, we were able to have a baptism this past Sunday! She was introduced to the church a number of years ago by a member she was dating at the time. In the past month she has become completely converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, when before she only had a desire to get out of the ruts of lower and less excellent ways of living. The Atonement has completely transformed her view of others, the world, and herself. She has been changed as she has understood and come to know the doctrines of the true church. Her testimony after her baptism was so powerful. I am grateful to have been able to share special moments teaching those who are wanting and willing to follow the Savior.
I love my mission so deeply. I love the gospel and the light it brings into life. I am excited to apply what I am learning here at home in the coming months. I am focused and will work hard to the end.