Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanks for cutting me down!

    Hi everyone!  What a wonderful week it was, probably the best here on the mission.
     I have been having severe headaches the past few weeks and was getting stressed about it.  I also think it was hard being away from home during this time of the year with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, that's never easy.  
     This week I was praying for guidance and for strength to lift me up and help me with this trial.  After I prayed, a talk came to mind, one by Todd D. Christopherson. One gardener had a giant bush on his recently purchased farm. It was bringing forth fruit so the gardner decided to cut it back drastically until there were only a few stumps left.  When the gardener finished, he saw a drop of water like a tear as if the bush was crying. He thought as if he could feel the bush saying, "how could you do this to me, cut me down, my growth was tremendous and now you have cut me down." The gardener exclaimed to the bush, "little bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be, I don't want you to be a giant fruit tree or shade tree, I want you to be what I have planned you to be, and one day when you have grown from this and bear fruit, you will say thank you gardener for loving me enough to cut me down." Later this gardener was a lieutenant and was perfectly qualified and ready to be promoted to be general. He was denied the opportunity to become general because he was a Mormon.  He was furious, he threw his fists in the air and said, "God how could you do this to me, how could you do this to me, after all my growth."  Then he heard a voice, his own voice saying, "I am the gardener here, I know what I want you to be." The bitterness left and he fell to his knees, saying "thank you God for cutting me down, and loving me enough to hurt me." We all need to see that at times of trials, sometimes they are God inspired.  He is showing us His love because He knows what he wants us to be. Maybe we all aren't going to be millionaires, star athletes, or the high school prom king or queen, God has a plan for us. Put trust in Him, and He will show us the way. He is the Gardener here and I have truly witnessed this. 
     Yesterday in the chapel, a miracle happened. I was still a little stressed with all these past weeks of headaches when a sister tapped me on the shoulder in Sacrament meeting and asked Elder Velez and I to go out to the hall with her and three others. One was without a spouse, the other a married couple. They asked if we could talk to them about God's plan. The married couple explained to us they had troubled marriages in the past but that they had finally found the person to be with and they felt through God's love that their marriage could last longer than just here on earth. We shared God's plan on how we can be eternal families after this life, through sacred covenants in the temple.  The spirit filled the room and I couldn't hold back the tears, I hadn't felt the spirit that strong in such a long time, it was simply incredible! We showed them the baptismal font where they could make their first covenant with Heavenly Father. The other woman's husband had left her for another person, so she was so happy to see she could be with someone she loved for eternity. 
     I will never forget the feeling I felt in that room with God's love. He is preparing his people in this moment, hearts are being changed I know why I am here and I won't give up. I will trust in the Gardener and follow His plan!

     Have a great week!

Elder Tanner Aiken 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Scripture Power!

     This week was great here in San Luis Potosi! To start off the week, in our our district meeting, we realized we had a bad month of baptisms! Only 46  people were baptized in the whole mission.  We are usually up in the two hundreds.  We have been asked by our President to focus our month on the introduction of the Book of Mormon and start using this more and more for our conversions. I have never really focused too much on it besides reading the three paragraphs for our investigators, but it is so powerful and the message it contains is truly amazing!  We have an absolute promise from our Father in Heaven that if we read, and ask in His name if the book is true, we can know for a surety.  We just have to open our hearts and listen to the whisperings of the Spirit! 
     So in our weekly planning, Elder Velez and I turned our focus to this message and when we were planning we vowed to step up our efforts this month. We wanted to make our goal for baptisms this month and we were not certain what it should be. So Elder Velez and I separated and went to different corners of the room and knelt down in prayer. We both prayed on the focus of our investigators. When I had fineshed praying I felt the number 5 come across my mind, so I wrote my goal on the piece of paper.  Elder Velez also had his answer written on his piece of paper. We opened them together and they both read 5!! God had answred our prayers in both the same way, it was so amazing to see! We now had our goal and it was time to go forward and find them! 
     Two days later, we went to one of our members homes - his name is Jorge. When we arrived he was having a get- together with some of his co-workers. We didn't think much of it, but we saw a perfect opportunity to share a message with all of them! We gave the restoration lesson to them and they were all on the edge of their seats and the Spirit was so strong! We gave them four Books of Mormon and shared our testmonies on the promise of this great book! They were all very interested. Two of them are in our area but the others are not so we are praying very hard for our Father in Heaven to give them an answer. 
     The following day, we decided to look to the back of our area book to see what investigators had been kind of left behind. We picked out three families and went to the streets! The first one we picked was a woman named Norma and she has three kids.  They hadn't heard from the missionaries in almost a year because their lives were too busy at the time and they didn't want to hear more. We knocked on her door but no one was there. We started to turn and walk then out of nowhere a car began to honk at us and wave us down! It was Norma and her kids! She was so excited to see us. We asked if may talk with her and maybe share a message, she said yes I have all the time in the world! We talked with her and at this moment her life has been very hard for her. She has had a hard time with money but is striving to become a fire fighter here in San Luis. She was so hampered down by the ways of the world, I could see pain all across her face. We shared a message with her and she was so thrilled to hear God's plan for all of us.  She knows our message is true but she has trouble with her husband because she is not sure what he'll say about us sharing with her. But he was a very nice man when we met him, and we are hoping that God will let this message into all their hearts that they can enter into a covenant with our Father in Heaven! 
     This work becomes more and more amazing to me each week! I am seeing miracles before my eyes! God truly prepares people to hear the message from his called servants! We pray! We listen and we act! 
     Have a great week! I challenge you all to read the introduction of the Book of Mormon and see what you can do to reach out and share it with someone! You never know who is ready to accept it!!

Elder Tanner Aiken