Monday, August 11, 2014

Coming Home!!!

     Hello everyone! Wow can you believe that I will be home tomorrow?? It still has not hit me yet. It feels like I will be a missionary forever, but I know that all good things must come to an end.
     I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for me. I am excited to put into practice all the things that I have learned as a missionary. I am excited to come home and share the gospel with others. I am beyond grateful for the privilege I have had to serve here in this mission, the Lord has changed me from the inside. My heart, my thoughts, my actions, they are different! I know that God lives, I know that He knows each and everyone of us individually, we are His children! President Clark talks about us becoming complete missionaries, which means we are prepared in all things, and at any moment the Lord can use us and our talents to make us tools in His hands and to bless the Lives of others. I look forward to coming home and becoming a complete member being able to stay near to the spirit so that I can be a tool in the Lord's hands and bless others lives. 
     As I started my mission I knew it was the right thing to do. My Dad had served a mission, my brother as well, I just knew it's what I needed to do. As I have lived the gospel and applied the Atonement on my mission and have been able to see the change in others, my motives for staying on my mission have changed. I LOVE JESUS CHRIST!! I am willing to do these things because I represent Him. I have felt His love and it has changed me. I have felt in my hardest moments, in my weakest hours, He has lifted me up and walked by my side! Because of Jesus Christ I have come to love others and His example has changed the way that I look at people. 
     This has been the best experience in my life! It has been a spiritual marathon, and it feels so good knowing that the Lord accepts me and is pleased with me. If anyone has second thoughts about serving a mission please come and talk with me! You will never regret it. I have made many mistakes on my mission, but I feel comfortable to say that I have served my mission with no regrets, knocking many doors, getting yelled at on multiple occasions and feeling rejection. It has been all worth it! Why? Because the worth of souls is great in sight of God. This is His work and His glory.  We should be grateful that this is His most important work and He trusts us with this responsibility. 

     I would like to leave you with my testimony that I know that this Church is true. God and Jesus Christ appeared to  Joseph Smith and restored this Church back on the earth. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. There is a power and spirit felt like no other as you study and ponder those words it contains! I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior, not because someone told me, but because I have felt it. God Lives! This is the Most important work we can be a part of. I look forward to seeing you all! I love you and thank you for your support for these past 2 years! 

Elder Tanner Aiken

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

On the road again...

     Hello everyone! This was a great week, travel-training has been one of my favorite callings on my mission. Living out of your suitcase, sleeping on a roll up mat on the floor, eating other missionaries food, what else could you ask for right?? Well that is obviously not what it's about at all, it has been a calling of service and teaching. It has been a great experience to have the spirit teach me things that I never really understood before. I have felt as I have been teaching that the Lord has endowed me with strength and spiritual power.
     This week I was able to travel up north to Turlock and Riverbank just about 1 1/2 hours from Fresno. Then I was able to finish the week in my old area of Reedley where I found out that one of our recent converts had passed away from cancer. I was so sad but then I thought to myself that I know the Plan of Salvation, she was baptized and she will be just fine!! As I came back to Reedley I was able to feel the love of the members once again and of former people that I had taught. 

     I was paired with two great Elders. We started off our day on Wednesday teaching a few lessons. It came to about 3:00 when I was asked by one Elder what people we could go and see! Instantly in my mind I was brought back to a family that we had taught that had two daughters that were very interested, but were always scared of commitment. As I told Elder Nye where to go, we arrived and went and knocked on their door. I was not even sure if they lived there anymore, but to my surprise one of the daughters answered the door! She shouted to her dad and to her sister "Elder Aiken is back!! You'll never believe it! They asked where had we been and why we had stopped visiting them. We sat down and began to talk about how they still felt about meeting with the missionaries? They ran to their bedrooms and brought out their Book of Mormon. We taught them a powerful lesson on prayer and how God communicates to us through the Holy Ghost! We invited them to be baptized in August and the 2 daughters accepted a date, they also committed to come to church for the first time! Yesterday both of them showed up and loved it! I was struck by the spirit as I was grateful to have been in Reedley at that time.
     I know that President Clark is an inspired Mission President! I know that God knows where we need to be just at the right moment! This work is true! If it were possible I would extend my mission for 6 more months!! This has been the greatest experience of my life!! 
     Have a great week.

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, July 21, 2014

Final Testimony!

     Hello everyone! Wow, what an awesome week it has been, but also very exhausting. The Lord has blessed me with an incredible amount of energy. I am currently traveling the mission on assignment from President Clark. I am up in Riverbank, which is right next to Modesto, close to an area that I served about a year and half ago. It has been tough, I'm not going to lie, but I have felt the Lord guiding me in the counsel I need to give to missionaries. 
     One of the blessings as well has been able to see promises from by Patriarchal blessing come forth. I have been able to see people that I know my testimony has motivated them to change. Even though I do not have a specific area assigned I know that the Lord has people prepared for me to teach.
     President has given us a Samuel-the-Lamanite like calling, to go wherever the spirit guides us, and to say the things that He puts into our hearts. I love being an instrument in the Lord's hands, knowing the trust that He has placed in us as missionaries. 
     This week was my week to give my farewell testimony at the Stake Center next to the temple. What a weird feeling to think how fast 2 years have gone by. I was able to share my thoughts on what I have learned. I bore testimony of Jesus Christ, the absolute blessing it has been to serve Him at this time. I talked about the ups and downs of missionary work, and how the Lord has molded me into what I need to be when I come home. I know that Christ lives, the spirit has testified this to me! He has become my best friend, brother, and advocate. He literally, if we are worthy, will walk beside us as missionaries, telling us what we need to say, where we need to go, and what we need to do. This work is unlike any other, I want to be a missionary for the rest of my life, declaring this great gospel to those who do not have it. This is God's work, He knows us inside and out and will bless us as much as we allow Him to!! 
     Have a great week!! I love you all and will be seeing you in three short weeks! May the Lord be with you! 

Elder Tanner Aiken

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Mighty Change of Heart!

     Hello everyone - and Happy 4th of July!  How grateful I am to be an American!
     There have been some great things going on here in Firebaugh/Mendota.  One of our investigators is getting baptized on July 6th and we are so excited!  Elder Castaneda and I taught him back in October but he had to stop taking the lessons due to work.  Taking some time off really helped him to grow as the seed that was planted last October has now sprouted.  He is truly humble and willing to learn.  As a matter of fact, he will not only be getting baptized, but he told us he will be bringing his tithing with him as well.  I feel so blessed to be part of this church, to have this calling, and to represent Jesus Christ!  
     It has been a little discouraging this past week as we have faced many people taunting us, yellng at us, and doing many things to try and prove our message to be false.  I kept my head held high and my testimony has remained unshaken!  
     If you remember the story of Jeremiah the prophet, he was told that he was foreordained to become a prophet, and was sanctified (Jeremiah 1:5).  He was scared in the next verse saying he couldn't speak because he was a child.  The Lord promised him that he would deliver him and make him powerful.  As the story goes, he was mocked and imprisoned and was so discouraged in chapter 20 verse 7 he says, "Lord thou hast deceived me" and "everyone mocketh me."  He then says in 20:9 that he will no longer make mention of the Lord's name.  As he tried to do so he could not, the word of the Lord was too strong within him, it was as if fire were in his bones!  I felt the same way this week!  God lives!  I cannot deny this.  The Book of Mormon is the word of God and brings others closer to Him than any other book!  Jesus is the Christ, He is my Savior, Brother and best Friend!  I rely on Him and trust in Him completely.  I love this work and want all to know there has been a mighty change within my heart!  We MUST be 100%'s.  There is no more time to be a 50%.
     I love you all - have a great week.

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, June 23, 2014

This work will never be stopped!

     This week we were tracting an area in Firebaugh. We were looking for a former investigator's home, but we couldn't find it. As time passed by we both thought that the day would never end. No doors were opening and no one was home. It's hard to find anyone because a lot of people work in the fields! As we knocked this last house, this woman came to the door and she looked happy to see us. As we we began to share with her who we were, she told us she had met with missionaries over in Kerman. We asked her about some things she remembered. She told us she remembers the good feelings that she felt as they talked with her. As we asked if we could share a message with her she was very willing and nearly ran outside to sit down with us. We began to talk about what we do as missionaries and a little about our purpose here in this life. While I was speaking, she interrupted me mid-sentence and said, "My mom goes to the Catholic church, my brother to a Christian church, how can I be a part of the true church"? She began to tell us that she was praying for guidance from God to know where this true church was. She said that as she prayed she heard a voice tell her that she would receive guidance soon. As weeks passed by she hadn't received an answer. We told her that we were sent there by God to deliver this message to her. As we began to tell the story of Joseph Smith, she told us she felt chills throughout her whole body. We testified of the spirit that was there. It was a powerful lesson and we invited her to be baptized on the 20th of July and she accepted! 
     The Lord has blessed us during this time of the year with many people working in the fields, making it hard to find people to teach. This ward here in Kerman has had tremendous growth over the past year!  We have stepped up our efforts, but the adversary has worked strong to counteract our efforts! This work will never be stopped, it is such a blessing to see the hand of the Lord in this work everyday!! 
     Have a great week!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, June 2, 2014

Staying put!

     Hello everyone! What another great week here in Firebaugh. We got our transfer calls this week and I will be staying in Firebaugh for another transfer with Elder Sanhueza, making this my 7th transfer here in this area. I am very excited and grateful that the Lord has given me this time to serve here. In this area I have drawn nearer to my Heavenly Father than I have at any point in my life and have learned to trust and rely on Him. 

     This week we had the baptism of B---- who is from my previous mission in Guanajuato, Mexico. She has made some miraculous changes and the gospel has brought a new found hope into her life. The part that is the best about being a missionary is inviting people to make changes in their lives and then to see them put those changes into action and see them slowly make those changes. This gospel truly does shape people into what God sees them becoming. 
     I have a strong testimony of this gospel I know with out a shadow of a doubt that this church is true. I have been changed myself from the principles of the gospel. I have also found that true happiness comes from obedience to those principles, there is no other way to be truly happy. 
     This week I had the opportunity to really focus my studies on prayer and making them more sincere and more of a prayer of faith. I have really fought hard on my mission to know how the Lord answers my prayers and those of our investigators and I have been taught by the Holy Ghost. I have come to learn from Richard G. Scott that the Lord answers come really in three ways: 1. yes, 2. no, and 3. not answering us at all. I have seen that many times on my mission that God does not answer our prayers, not becuase he doesn't love us or wants us to suffer, but He leaves it to us to figure it out. One of our purposes in this life is to learn, grow, experience happiness and sorrow. How we learn is by acting on the gift of agency. God asks us in the moments that he doesn't answer our prayer to act on principles of righteousness. We must do our part and the Lord will do the rest. I really like this saying, "Pray like everything depends on the Lord, and then act like everything depends on you." I am grateful for the times that He has withheld an answer in order to help me grow. The gospel is all about growth and I am grateful for the growth and experience I have gained on my mission. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve Him everyday, it has been a great blessing to see the lives of those we have taught change. God lives, this is His church! I hope you all have a great week!! Love you all!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, May 26, 2014

Planting seeds!

     Hello Everyone! I am so grateful for this week in which I've had! Over the past couple of months our area has struggled, even though we have been working very hard, the baptisms had just stopped! We had been teaching great people but it just wasn't their time to accept the gospel yet. Seeds have been planted and I'm sure the harvest here in our area may come months or years down the road. I have been so blessed to see the hand of the Lord in His work. I have been blessed to see how much He truly wants to be a part of our lives. He gives us exactly what we need at the right moment so that we may grow and learn. 
     I think the greatest lesson I have been learning over the past couple of weeks has been patience. I have prayed hard and sincerely at night for the answer to come of a prepared person to show up right in our path that would accept the invitation of baptism! Someone that would be so excited they would want to go fill the font that very instant and be baptized by proper authority and immersion! The answer didn't come that way.  The Lord has helped us to see that we must rely on Him at all times, and that His purposes are higher than ours. The Lord pushed us through it and has helped us to grow spiritually.  
     This week, after having seen another baptism fall through, we prayed that the Lord would help us know who it was that we could help more fully accept our Savior Jesus Christ into their lives. We have been teaching a group of five girls ranging from the ages of 9-18. As we have taught them they have made some great changes in their lives. They have really enjoyed church but their parents have been holding them back from being baptized. As we went over this past week we had a distinct impression that Brenda the 18 year old was ready to be baptized! We told her how we felt and she was a bit surprised! She said she wasn't sure. We promised her that evening if she came to church on Sunday and watched a baptism that she could catch the spirit of it and that she would know for herself that her Heavenly Father wanted her to be baptized. Sunday came and Brenda came to one of the 'child of record' baptisms in the ward. As she watched, the spirit entered the room and you could literally see something change in her face! There was a light that  wasn't there before. As we left the baptism, she was very happy with what she had felt. We had to leave right after church to head to a meeting in Fresno, so we told her to text us about how she felt. As we got into our meeting, we received a text from her telling us that she had made up her mind and wants to be baptized this upcoming Sunday! 
     I am so grateful to represent Our Savior Jesus Christ. 
I am grateful that the Lord has answered our prayers and has helped us to find one of his daughters prepared to receive the gospel! I love this work! I hope that each of you trust in the promises that the Lord has given you! He will follow through! Love you all, have a great week!! 

Elder Tanner Aiken