So, once again, my time is way short, but I need to tell you about my son!! His name is Elder Clay Cornelison. He is 18 from Twin Falls Idaho and is about 6'4 250. He is HUGE!! He was a stud Pitcher in High School and unfortunately doesn't like BYU in favor of USC. We have a little rivalry going. I have been so blessed with great companions. The man works like a horse and I am loving every second. Its going to be a great couple transfers.As far as the week goes, all I did was walk and knock haha We have seen a good balance from the very friendly to the incredibly anti and everything in between. Gotta love serving in the Ant Capital of the world!! We found our first investigator named Mike yesterday who is a pretty cool story. He is 77 and when I met him, I didn't feel like he was all there. He invited us back, and I figured it was worth a shot. At the very least, it would be good practice for Elder Cornelison to teach. Well I was wrong. He not only understood what he taught, but was very emotional with the idea that he could be with his family forever. He asked "Who told you to come here?" We said God, and he was amazed by that. He kept saying, "You mean no one but the Lord sent you here?" I am pretty excited about him!! It is going to be a great week here in Grand Rapids!! Good to be back in my 2nd of 5 Michigan homes.
Sunday, September 27, 2015
Well... this week felt like a year.. I AM SO TIRED!!!! It doesn't help with everything going on with transfers this week.
I recieved my transfer call on Friday and it began with, "Elder Wheat, we have a lot of responsibilities we are going to give you. We are going to release you as a zone leader, and will be transferring you to Grand Valley 2 (The neighboring ward to Grand Rapids where I served last year.) You going to be the District Leader and will be white washing with a new missionary. " I will go where you want me to go President. I must say that I am very anxious to see what is going to happen. I am extremely nervous, but I am excited to train again. The Lord will provide!!
We sure went out of TC with a bang. Since my last email, we had 3 baptisms, and the branch is so excited!!! I need to keep my email short, but I want to finish the story of Jennifer. We found Jennifer my first Saturday in the area, and she was baptized on my last Saturday in the area. Such a crazy experience. She wanted to be baptized in Lake Michigan (Check that off the mission bucket list), but the issue was there was a 90% chance of rain on Saturday. We prayed very hard for good weather, and as you will see by the pictures, come baptism time, there was not a cloud in the sky. It was however, very windy and the water was very choppy and very cold. Jennifer's #1 fear is being drowned, so you can imagine how anxious she must have been. She almost didn't go on the dock, and was very close to not going in the water. Maddi was baptized first, and I stood in the water waiting for Jennifer. I have never seen anyone so scared. She asked me to baptize her, and every day for a week she told me, "I am just going to trust you and God that you won't drop me." We stood in the water for about a minute or so, getting tossed around by the waves, trying to find a footing on the rocky bottom, and she said over and over, "I can't do this." and with terror in her face, "Please don't make me do this." We kept telling her over and over that she could. We finally calmed her down enough to say the prayer, but again she looked at me and said "I don't want to do this," and I looked her in the eye and said, "Yes you can." Then... the funny part. I thought she said go, but she actually said no... So I went ahead and baptized her...
She came out with the most joyous look I have ever seen her have, and exclaimed, "You didn't drown me!!!!" She literally ran down the dock to the shore, where we gathered in a circle around Jennifer and Maddi and sang "All Creatures of our God and King. It was such a sacred experience to sing "Alleluia" to the Most High God after an experience like that.
One last thought I wanted to share. As Elder Coziar was walking down from the dock, Sister Alper, and old friend of Jennifer's and her fellowshipper, told him, "Only Elder Wheat could have done this." As I read that in the journal entry he wrote me to end our companionship, I couldn't help but cry. You are always told that you are sent to your missions to find someone only you can touch, but it is very overwhelming and emotional when you find out that it's true. It's crazy how fast you become family with those in your mission, especially those we teach. When we said good bye to Jennifer, she said a piece of her heart will be missing. I must say I am thankful that she loaned me a portion of hers with me, because I feel I left mine in Traverse City. I was only there for 3 months, but it has very quickly become home. I will miss that area.. the Galla's and Elder Coziar especially, but I feel the Lord has something planned for me in Grand Rapids. It hurts so bad to leave, but I am thankful with all my heart that the Lord let me go..
|Left to right: Logan (baptized Maddi), Elder Coziar, Me, Meghan, Jennifer, Maddi|
|In the water (May be the coolest picture of my mission)|
|Walking off the dock|
|Erika Woodcox's baptism|
So this email will likely be very short, considering its only been about 4 days since I wrote my last one, but I will give a preview of my next one!!
The work is going great. There have been a lot of distractions lately, but I am doing all that I can to stay focused. So to give you an insight into my life this upcoming week, here you go:
Sunday: Baptism of Erika Woodcox
Monday: Drive to Kalamazoo (Bottom of State) for a Mission Leadership Conference with Wilford Anderson of the quorom of the 70.
Tuesday: Half Mission Training with Elder Anderson in Mt Pleasant (Middle of the State). (I will be singing a solo at that one... way nervous)
Friday: Transfer Calls. My fate is up in the air.
Saturday: Jennifer's baptism
Yea... I am really looking forward to this week...
Speaking of Jennifer, this week has been another tumultuous one for her. She found out that she has a life threatening health condition, and everything is up in the air. She texted us on Wednesday saying she didn't feel worthy to be baptized, because of all that is happening and all that she doesn't know. We had a very intense meeting with her last night, but it was probably one of the most powerful. We talked about her concerns and doubts for awhile, and she asked. "What do you suggest I do?" We both bore our testimonies to her of how ready she is. That even if she doesn't know this with her head yet, she knows it with her heart. Everything went quiet for about a minute, and she whispered with all the faith she could, "Ok." I can't describe how I feel about this investigator.. I cannot write her story in an email, but I hope to be able to tell it to you in person someday, so you can truly feel the spirit of her conversion process. Love you all. Please keep her in your prayers for a full recovery.
We had a miracle this week.
Jennifer is sooooooooo close. We had a lesson with her on Tuesday, and baptism came up. She mentioned she wanted to, and so we asked "why?" She responded, "I feel like I need too." She has had a difficult time recognizing the spirit because she analyzes everything, and so we told her, "That is how we know you have gotten an answer. After everything you have been through these last few months, you still want this. That is how you know." She said, "Ok. What do I have to do?" Things continue to struggle for her. She just found out she has a major medical scare, and yesterday, she had a huge hurdle to again jump over. She had to leave church early yesterday, (even though she REALLY didn't want to) and they had a presentation about mormonism. It was actually very good presentation, and she was texting us through the whole thing, but then the end came. They had a Q&A afterwards, and questions were asked like, "How do they know Joseph Smith wasn't insane when he had those visions?" and "Why do they think polygamy is ok?" Jennifer was brave enough to say she went to church with us, and everyone turned on her saying "I thought you were smart!" and "I just lost a lot of respect for you." As if that wasn't bad enough, her old Catholic priest came in and ambushed her asking why she was joining a cult... Amazingly she is still hanging on.
Even with all this she is holding true. She said to us earlier in the week "I am incredibly thankful that God brought both of you into our lives!! This has been one of the best summers that we have ever had as a family. Thank you for being so instrumental in making it happen." She understandably becomes very overwhelmed at times, and asked "If this is so true, why is all of this happening, just as I am finding the missing piece?" We responded, "We don't know why all of these things are happening specifically, but we do know that everything of value is difficult to obtain. There is no easy way to find truth just like there is no easy way to find treasure. It breaks our hearts to see you go through all this, but yesterday you told us this was the best summer you have ever had, and its no coincidence that its been the hardest." The miracle of all of it is she responded "You're right! I will focus on the good and give myself credit for what I do know." One more thing I will add is she saw a picture of the temple, and it immediately made her take a deep breath and relax. SO COOL! Please please please keep her in your prayers. The one hold up now is a deathly fear of water, and she is being so incredibly valiant to get this far. Her family is amazing...
The work also continues to go well. We are seeing a lot more opposition than we are used to. We had one lady slam, (and I mean SLAM) the door on us 4 times in one approach.. It was actually kind of funny. All I know is, It felt great to be at church and get to bear my testimony in a safe place. All of this opposition however just means we are finding more awesome people. We hopefully have 3 baptisms this month, and we found an AWESOME girl named Brandi who we put on date for October 24. She lives literally next door to the church and loves it already from the outside looking in. Good things are happening. If there is anyone reading this that doesn't already know, I believe and know that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God. He is my Savior and Redeemer. He is my Healer and My Leader. He is my Advocate and My Friend. There is no other way to eternal salvation and therefore happiness but through him. How do I know these things? I read the Book of Mormon and I prayed about it. I owe him my life. He has lifted me from every sin I have and continue to fall into. He carries me in my lonliness. He spots me when the weight becomes to heavy. I love him with all my heart. It kills me that I continue to fall short, but I rejoice in his forever extended amazing grace.
|Pictures from last week! Spent the week in the UP with The Soo Elders!!|
Thursday, September 3, 2015
Crazy week, mostly because we weren't actually in Traverse City until Friday. We spent the week as far North as we can go in the mission. HEY MOM!! I SAW CANADA!!!!! (I forgot my camera so pictures will have to come next week.) Good work was done even without being here. Jennifer is being very blessed, but still needs extra prayers as she tries to continue in her progression. Erikaś baptism had to be pushed back a week, but its still on :)
¨A mission, like life, is a marathon, and not a sprint. Some miles feel better than others. This counsel from my dad is how I felt reading my old journals tonight. So many times, I have made promises, pledges, and covenants with myself and with the Lord to never sin again, or to wear out my life in his service. I can remember the fire I had when I wrote those words, but very quickly does the intensity dim. While I still have the desire to do those things, the intensity is not the same. I feel the Lord is trying to teach me to pace myself. I still find myself trying to force spiritual things, what that has never been a fruit of the spirit. Too often I look to the past, longing for who I was and what I felt yesterday, not realizing the future events still in store if I endure it well. The day Peter became the great apostle is when he stopped being so impetuous and impulsive, and frankly, I think the Lord is trying to beat that out of me.¨
What followed were months of entries documenting intense highs and lows, as the Lord molded me into something I never thought I could become. I remember the feelings of hopelessness. Feeling like I would never regain my testimony, and that I would be for the rest of my life, at best, unsure. As I look back and realize all that has been done, I am in awe at the workmanship of his hands. The truths I always believed were persecuted, questioned, doubted, and tested, until they have become truths that I now know. Its funny how, in recolection, the time I am most thankful to, has been my most difficult. So much has changed in these last short months, but I am eternally indebted to a divine and compassionate physician who loved me enough to keep on cutting, no matter the pain it brought me.
The greatest struggle of my mission it seems is to not be able to adequately say or write the innermost feelings of my heart. I am just truly in awe at all the Lord has done for me throughout my life, and all he continues to do as he continues to mold me in his image.
Every week, when I sit down to write this email.... I feel like my mind goes blank... The days of the previous week run together like a blur, and I can seem to remember a single thing that happened. Well... lets see what I can update all of you on...
Its going to be a miracle if the Traverse City area hangs on (and it will. The Lord wouldn't let it turn out otherwise) because we are never here. I have been away from Elder Coziar everyday but Saturday, and this week we will be out of Traverse City until Friday, because we are blitzing the Cheboygan and Sault Ste. Marie areas. It should be a lot of fun. Most of my time is spent with new missionaries, which makes me really hope I train again.
I spent Tuesday in Gaylord, and Wednesday and Thursday in Manistee, which are about a half a state apart haha. Manistee is heaven. Sometimes I feel like I am on vacation rather than doing missionary work, because of the views I get when I am personal contacting. We are having great fun in all we do, which is how missionary work ought to be.
The lesson I learned this week came from my Trade offs with the Assistants. I made a very big mistake. On Tuesday, while I was on trade offs, they had a very bad lesson with Jennifer. They tried teaching as best they could, but things got a little pushy about baptism and she felt ambushed. She was very upset with us over the next few days, and on Friday I saw her on Trade offs and tried to do some damage control, and I totally through Elder Coziar and the missionary who was here under the bus, and made them sound like they were young and inexperience, and didn't know what they were doing, which is very untrue.
The lesson ended up going very well, and even though trials continue to pour out over Jennifer, she is doing very well. Turns out, that lesson was for the best. Over the last few days, she keeps hearing songs about water, and she wrote to us, ¨Tuesday had to happen because I never would even be entertaining baptism when I hear these songs, but I am. Thank you for pushing me out of my comfortable little box and showing me that it is safe to have disagreements. As difficult as Tuesday was for the both of us, it was actually perfect! I apologize if I treated you poorly or said anything mean to you. Sometimes when we are breaking down a wall we get caught in the falling pieces but in the end, the view is well worth the turmoil.¨ Such a miracle.
That being said, I was very sorely, but lovingly chastised afterwards by the AP for what I did. I must say that the guilty taketh the truth to be hard. His words cut me to the center. My first inclination was to make an excuse or apologize so profusely that I would make my myself look like a victim, but instead a voice kept saying, ¨Be still and listen. This is for your good.¨ After the event, I started to feel angry with myself that I could let my self make such a mistake. ¨You have been out 19 months. You know better. You are immature and unfit. How could you do something like this.¨ Even these thoughts however were short and were pushed aside. Even though that experience hurt me, what hurt more was that I failed the other missionaries involved. I immediately made restitution with both missionaries and with Jennifer, and all worked out for the best. The purpose of the chastisement is to build us up, not break us down. Had he not brought this up, I would have a major flaw in my character left unchecked. The pruning we undergo is worth the pain when we realize the fruit that comes as a result. By the end of the night, all I could think of was, ¨Thank you Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down." Chastening is essential to exaltation, and I am thankful God that God has chastened me enough to learn this.
The work rolls on. We should have a baptism in 2 weeks and we are way excited!! Loving my mission. I hope I can give more with each day.
|Where I get to PC|