Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas from Fresno!

Merry Christmas!

     Hello everyone!  With just 2 days until Christmas I would like to share my testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ!  I know He lives!  Words can't describe my feelings for Him! I know that He died for each and everyone of us. I know that He knows each and everyone of us. I know that as we strive to become like Him, others will notice a difference in our countenance!    
     Follow His example.  He was the greatest man to walk this earth! I hope each and everyone of you can feel His love for you.  He is always there with arms wide open to accept you! I am very grateful for Him, His sacrifice and the life He lived for us! 
     God be with you all!  Have a Merry Christmas!!! 

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas miracles!

After a Zone football game with Pres. Gelwix - not rugby!
     Hello!  What a great week! The Lord has been so good to us in our area. With transfers here again, Elder Castaneda and I will be staying together again!! Woo hoo! We are so excited. 

Our Zone's Christmas party!
     An experience of a miracle that we had in our area this week was truly amazing. Elder Castaneda and I had 2 appointments fall through. We knew we needed to go and knock doors, but as we drove around their was no impression to stop the car. As we drove street after street we felt like it wasn't where we were supposed to be. We decided to pull out the ward list, but after reading through it for a matter of minutes we still felt like that was not the most important thing right now. As we drove around the corner we felt an impression to stop the car right next to this park. We looked over to the park benches and saw a man sitting there reading a book and we decided that's who we need to talk to. We said a prayer and walked over to him. As we approached him we noticed he was reading a book called, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" We told him who we were and after some inspired questions asked him if we could share a message with him of Jesus Christ. He said yes and we sat and asked him the "question question", If you could ask God one question what would you ask Him? He paused a moment and said, "I would like to know the truth! Why are there so many churches on the earth today? Elder Castaneda and I both smiled and we reviewed with him the Restoration. The Spirit was with us that entire lesson! We invited him to be baptized and he said "yes"! What a great miracle that the Lord had directed us to be placed in that situation. 
     I know God lives, I have seen His hand in this work too many times to deny that! As well this week, we had another truly inspiring miracle. A woman named Juanita, who we have been teaching for a matter of weeks, has been praying about the Book of Mormon. As we went over there for a few weeks, she began to get discouraged.  She asked, "why isn't God answering my prayers? I pray and pray but no answer ever comes." We had taught her many times how to recognize the Holy Ghost, but she still wasn't receiving her answer. We ourselves became a little discouraged but we trusted in the Lord's timetable. After praying for her for a few weeks, we went over to her house on Friday night. She had made us an awesome dinner and as we sat down to begin the lesson, she told us that she had received her answer. She said that she had a dream about the end of the world and that she needed to be saved. She said that something told her that she needed to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! We have set a baptismal date for her on December 29th! 
     I am so grateful each and everyday to be a part of this work! I know that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ on the earth today! The Book of Mormon is the word of God! Read it everyday, there is such a powerful spirit to it that cannot be denied! I have started again to read the New Testament reading the 4 gospels. My goal is to become more like Jesus Christ. Having read it before I felt like I learned important things, but now my focus is on Him and how I can become like Him. I love Jesus Christ! He is our Savior and Redeemer! I hope we can all remember Him this Christmas season and strive to become like Him! I love you all. 

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, December 9, 2013

Reach out to one this Christmas!

     Hello family!!  Such a great week. I am so blessed to be serving as a missionary and to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord. 
     This week, Elder Porter of the Seventy visited our mission.  We had a wonderful Zone conference with him.  As I sat in that meeting, my thoughts were upon the Savior.  I received wonderful revelation for me personally, my area and investigators.  Like many others during this time of the year, my heart is stirred towards Jesus Christ.  He was the main focus of our meeting and one thing that we talked about was the Doctrine of Christ.  He talked about the straight and narrow path and that without the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Atonement, we would never be able to return home and partake of the tree of life, which is the Love of God. I felt motivated to go out Focus, Find, Teach, and Baptize. There are so many of our brothers and sisters without this knowledge, and what great responsibility the Lord has placed in our hands to bring His children home. I know that Jesus Christ lives, I have felt His love and the power of his Atoning sacrifice. 

     We have been focusing in our zone to use Elder Ballard's Apostolic promise with the members that "if each of us reach out to one person from now until Christmas millions will feel the Savior's love". That's all the Lord is asking just "one" person! As we draw nearer to Jesus Christ I am assured that many people will notice the difference in our countenance, and will be drawn closer to us as we reach out to them. 
     This week we had 6 of our investigators at church and are preparing for the baptism of two of our investigators. Both are teenagers and have such a great desire to do what the Lord wants them to do. They loved church this week! The Lord is blessing us with many prepared people. 
     I went on exchange this week in Fresno to the YSA ward, and it was a looong day! It was freezing, no one was answering doors and we could find no one on the street. The day followed like that until the last hour of the night. Elder Toth and I stopped and prayed, asking the Lord where we needed to go. We were impressed to go over the ward list and we found a name and went to his home. We knocked and a young man let us in. It was a house that rents out to college students that sale solar panels. Before I walked in I saw some Utah license plates outside and thought most of these men must be Mormons which they were, but they had no interest in hearing us. They called one of their friends who was upstairs who came down to listen to us. He was surprised to see us and said he hadn't seen the missionaries over in a long time. He told us he was 24 years old, that he had been a member his whole life, had at one time prepared to serve a mission, but fell from that path and had made some wrong decisions. Those decsions lead him to have many questions about the church, and the prophet Joseph Smith. He was happy to have us over and said he would like us to share a message with him. We talked about the Book of Mormon. I shared my personal witness to the truthfulness of that book. As we testfied, the atmosphere changed! The look on his face changed and he felt different. We invited him to pray about the Book of Mormon and he said not once in his life growing up in the church had he done so. He agreed and was so grateful for that visit. He knew we had been sent their for a reason. I'm humbled to know how much the Lord knows each and everyone of us and what it will take to get us to return to that path that leads to eternal life! 
     I know He lives, this is His church and that Jesus Christ is our Savior! I look forward to this next week and seeing what the Lord has in store for us! Have a great week.

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, December 2, 2013

A great week of Thanksgiving and answered prayers!

Getting ready for our Thanksgiving feast!

     Hello Everyone! Another great week to be a Mormon missionary, I am grateful this morning for the many blessings the Lord has given me!  It was so nice to be fed so well on Thanksgiving.

A little too much turkey!

     This week started out a bit tough with not many people to teach.  But about midway through the week things started to pick back up again. Elder Castaneda and I have been working very hard, but also smart. I came home a few nights this week absolutely exhausted, many times I catch myself falling asleep during our companionship prayers, for that I have repented. The Lord has blessed me with energy to carry out through the day. Our zone as a whole is doing amazing things. We currently have 39 investigators with baptismal dates, and we had 34 at sacrament meeting. We have done very well at setting up for the month of December hoping to hit our mark of 20 baptisms. 
     This week being fast sunday, I felt very down. It has been a fews weeks since we had seen any investigators at church. Our area has only seen 1 baptism in the last 7 months. Being a 30 minute drive for our investigators to get to church seems at times nearly impossible. I began my fast thinking of all the many blessings I had received. I prayed with a sincere desire for our investigators to come to church. That morning as we went to church we set up for another sacrament meeting. The Spanish group that we serve in, had all of its leaders out of town, so we had to direct the sacrament meeting with the bishop from the English ward in there with us. It was hectic! As we walked outside to see if any of our investigators had showed up, there were none to be found. My heart sank. I felt sad once again that no one was coming to church. As we walked back into the building, sacrament meeting was about to start. We were beginning to close the doors and return to our seats, when all of the sudden, we see our investigators piling into the building! A woman named Dominica, her two daughters, and their two friends all who we had been teaching! I was once again filled with such happiness that the Lord had answered our prayers and fast! As I sat in testimony meeting, a woman stood and bore her testimony of missionary work and how the missionaries never gave up on her and how grateful she was. I learned a great lesson this week on faith and patience. 
     I am grateful that the Lord has given me trials and hard times on my mission, not because they are fun or easy, but because we learn from them! I know that God answers and hears prayers! It requires faith and desire but He will answer them. I love this work, I love my calling as a missionary, and I have come to enjoy every moment I have been given to serve Him who knows all! Have a great week everyone! 

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

     Hello Everyone! The work is going great here in Firebaugh and Mendota! We have many people right now that we are teaching and quite a few that have baptismal dates. Our only problem is getting them married. We have three couples that we are teaching that all have great desires but just aren't married, and due to the financial situations it is very hard to get them married!
     Our zone is doing great Elder Castaneda and I have been thinking about what we can do better to inspire our zone to have a miraculous December! As this week falls the day of thanksgiving I am so grateful to be a full time missionary. 
     This week, as I have walked the streets of Mendota, it has humbled me! I have such gratitude for my family, for this church, and to have the knowledge that we have. I've talked to many people with drug problems, families that are falling apart, and some don't even have enough money to put food on their table. I am so grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ! It breaks my heart to know and see how many people reject our message, even after having felt the Holy Ghost. But what a blessing it is to know that we are a part of the only true church on the earth and that we have a living prophet that is guided by revelation. Most of all to know about the atonement of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for His sacrifice that He made for us. 
     I am grateful for the commandments that are there, not to hold us back, but to set us free. Mosiah chapter 2 vs 41 tells us to remember the happy state of those that keep the commandments, that they will be blessed in ALL things both spiritual and temporal, for the Lord God has said so! I have learned so much this week but feel that my testimony has been strengthened on the importance of keeping the commandments! They bring us so much happiness. They keep us from the grip of the adversary, and give us spiritual protection! 
     This week I am also grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who is aware of everything in our lives. He know us each personally, better than we know ourselves. 
     This week as I read in the scriptures I was thinking about the things I was grateful for when I felt urged to read a letter that not only changed my life but saved me.  It was written by my brother Brock.  That letter guided me to serve a mission and I keep it in my scriptures as a constant reminder of God's love that He has for me! I know that he is aware of me! I am so grateful for my family, I love you all so much! Though a mission is a time to focus on the people I serve here, you are never far from my thoughts!! I love you all have a great week!
And Happy Thanksgiving!

Elder Tanner Aiken 

Monday, November 4, 2013

God hears our prayers!

     Hello everyone!  It's transfer week and Elder Castaneda and I will be together at least 6 more weeks.  That's great news! 
     I am so grateful to be writing you this morning. I had an experience this week that has changed my life and my mission. 
     Elder Castaneda and I had been seeing little to no success, people not keeping commitments and no one at church. I was pretty down and prayed to the Lord for a miracle this week, something to help us see His hand in this work. We went about our daily routine on Friday. We went out to go see a family who we had invited to be baptized on the 1st of December.  That was a 35 minute drive for us, but for some reason that wasn't where we were supposed to be. We were lead by the spirit to contact a referral we had received. As we knocked on the door, no one answered, but the spirit again told us this is not where we need to be. A prompting came and told us to go see a lady in the ward who lives alone in very humble circumstances. As we walked towards her trailer and knocked, a man came around the corner and said, "God is so good! The woman living here is very suicidal right now. Who sent you or called you"?  We had not received a text or a call from anyone. This woman was preparing to take her life. She had been pleading with God to send her an answer all day, but no one from the church came to visit her. We arrived at just the right moment!  She came to the door pale as a ghost and was weeping. She looked at us and said, "no one can tell me that this church isn't true!  No one can tell me that God doesn't live, or that He doesn't hear prayers".  She told us that she was praying at the moment we knocked on her door, asking Heavenly Father to give her the strength to not take her life. This woman had been scarred years earlier from an explosion and both of her parents died at a young age. She felt left alone. I knew that God had been sending us around town that day and knocking doors with no one behind them because He knew that this woman was in desperate need of two Representatives of Jesus Christ!  I felt an absolute love for this woman. I saw her as a daughter of God. 
     I know that God hears our prayers and I know that we are never alone. I am so grateful to have this knowledge. It is so important to follow every prompting we are given whether we think it's silly, or just a random thought in our head. Promptings aren't usually accommodating to our time and schedule, but they are given to us in moments where others may need our service or a helping hand. 
     God lives and Jesus is the Christ! This is His work!! Have a great week! 

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, October 28, 2013

Christ is our Anchor!

One of our recent converts

     Hello every one! It's been another great week to be a Mormon missionary!
     Elder Castaneda and I have been seeing miracles in our area, and are recognizing those people who are prepared to hear the gospel message.  President Gelwix left us a priesthood blessing last week that "we would recognize the prepared people that will be put in our path."  I have seen this happening in our area.
     This week as we were doing some harvest blessings, we knocked on a door of a young man named Mario. He seemed a little down as he opened the door.  We told him who we were and that we had been sent to his home for a reason. He willingly let us into his home and told us that he had been going through some really hard times.  He had just lost his license due to a recent DUI and could see that he was getting farther and farther away from God.  We said the prayer with him, and the spirit poured out upon that room.  Mario was in tears as we asked him how he felt. The spirit then lead us in what we said and our questions were inspired. We were able to teach Mario how he could overcome temptation by anchoring himself to our Savior Jesus Christ.  We read from Helaman chapter 5. I have personally thought about this in my own life, "How can we overcome temptation"?  
     The scriptures teach us that we must pray always that we be not lead into temptation, that we should read the word of God for they will teach us ALL things that we must do. We must already have the decision set in our head that we will resist the temptation before it arrives. When we begin to think twice about our temptations, we have already let satan get his foot in the door and by that time it may be too late! 
     In a world growing in filth and wickedness we must apply these principles.  The most important thing of all is that we are anchored to our Savior Jesus Christ. Heleman chapter 5 vs 12 says, "And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that we must build our foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build t hey cannot fall."  Brothers and sisters I promise that as we do this we will beat temptation every time! 
     I love this work more and more each day.  I have nightmares and thoughts of the day when this will all come to an end.  I want to be sure that I find everyone that I have been sent here to find!  God lives!  We are his children, he loves us! Jesus is the Christ. This is His church. As I read about the Tree of Life this morning in the Book of Mormon, I really felt the Savior's love.  He is there waiting for us.  If we hold strong to His word and promises we will arrive to our final destination.  There will be trials and temptations of all sorts, but we must be anchored to Christ our Savior! I love you all have a great week! 

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, October 14, 2013

Great time to be a missionary!

Manuel's baptism
     Hello Everyone! What another great week to be a Mormon missionary! 
     This week was truly inspiring. We were able to have a baptism yesterday for Manuel. It was such a great service except for the part when we dropped the cell phone in the font while we were filling it up! It was great. 
     This week we had a wonderful miracle. We were stopping by to visit one of our investigators. She wasn't home so we decided to stop by and visit a lady we had contacted the day before who lives next door. As we knocked her door, one of her friends came out and told us that she was busy cutting someone's hair but we could come back in an hour. It was really weird because we had an impression that we had to be there. Nevertheless, we went on with our day to another area and stayed there for about 45 minutes visiting some members. We had another prompting that we needed to return to that house that we visited earlier. As we went back and visited her, once again her friend came to the door and said that her friend just barely had another appointment begin. We were thinking what is the point of being here?  It was so obvious the reason we were there was to talk with the lady who opened the door. We asked this woman if we could say a prayer with her. She didn't look too interested but she finally agreed. She told us that she had recently been laid off and her husband had left her and her two kids. As we said the prayer, this woman began to weep as we said the prayer. At the end of that prayer the woman said she felt so good inside. She asked, "how did you know I needed that"? We told her that we didn't know but God knew. She was touched by that blessing we left on her home. We taught the importance of families with her and she really became interested. We invited her to say the prayer before we left. As she offered the prayer my heart was filled with love for this woman. She gave one of the most heart felt prayers I have heard on my mission! We then we knew we needed to invite her to be baptized! She said yes! It was such a great experience. She actually does not live in our area but I know God puts us in people's paths for a reason. 
     I know great things will come from that simple prayer we left with her. I know that this Church is true! I know that God lives! Have a great week everyone love you all!! 

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, October 7, 2013

God's love NEVER changes!

     Hello Everyone! What another great week here in the "City of Dreams"! Just kidding! But in all seriousness, this week was great. 
     This week, Elder Castaneda and I have had a sincere desire to find families in our area. Something that this area has been struggling with has been finding solid families that will help build the church. So we went to the Lord for His counsel. We have prayed and fasted to see and recognize families that are prepared to hear the gospel! As we prayed and fasted we knew the Lord would provide. As we have gone out proselyting this week, literally behind every door and street contact we have found a family! We have recognized them as prepared people and they have recognized us as representatives of Jesus Christ. 
     Last night we entered a family's home after contacting them on the street. They are from El Salvador. Much to our suprise they invited us right into their home. We offered a blessing over the home and the spirit was just so strong. We talked to this husband and wife about eternal families and the steps we need to take here on earth to reach our divine potential. We talked about baptism as the spirit was bearing testimony to them that what we were saying was true. We invited them to be baptized. They said "yes", and immediatley asked where our church was located. We bore testimony and this family we will be visiting later this week. My thoughts then turn to the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how we can internalize it into our lives. 
     Also this week, Elder Castaneda and I were stopping by some apartments. We saw a lady taking her laundry basket from her car and walking towards her apartment. She saw us and began to pick up her pace and entered her home and closed the door. We both looked at each other and said let's knock on her door! As we knocked, she answered and this woman looked like she had been through many difficult trials in her life.  We could sense that she had fallen into satan's traps and lies. She looked depressed and could barely look us in the eyes. She asked if we were of a certain faith.  We said, "no, we are representatives of Jesus Chirst sent to your home to bring you a message of our Savior Jesus Christ." We offered a prayer with her and as we ended the prayer she broke down in tears and said, "how did you know to speak with me"? I ran from you because I thought you were of another faith and you still knocked my door." She said that she had been through many challenges in her life. She had been raped by her father and his friends, she had been abused by her husband, she is addicted to drugs, and has been through prostitution. We looked at this woman not as the natural man would but through the eyes of our Heavenly Father. We bore testimony of our loving Heavenly Father and that no matter our circumstances or what we have done He will always love us! We testified of our Savior Jesus Christ who said in Matthew 11:28, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." This woman who had been cast into the darkness, and not seeing a way out, saw a glimpse of her Heavenly Father's love and that His arms are always wide open. 
     We ourselves must internalize the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We must understand our Heavenly Father's love for us. We must understand His plan. We must accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, and we must repent! 
     This woman who we have begun to teach is slowly making changes in her live. We are praying for her each and every day! I know that God lives and His love is never changing and is always there for us! Jesus Christ lives and his Atonement is for everyone! I love you all have a great week! 

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, September 30, 2013

Every member a missionary!

Fellow missionaries in my new area

     Hello Everyone! I am doing great here in my new area in Firebaugh which is literally in the middle of nowhere! I have loved my new assignment to be able to serve others in my zone. My new companion is Elder Castaneda who is from Idaho. He is a great missionary who truly has a great desire to serve the Lord and has many characteristics of our Savior Jesus Christ! 
     This week, one thing that has come up a lot in our meetings and in our Zone, is family mission planning and how to better work with families so that they can share the gospel! Many people right now think that the hastening of the work is the missionary age change and the rapid growth of missionaries serving world wide. But that is not what it is about. It's about us as members sharing the gospel with our friends and family! It does not to be something big such as an invitation to be baptized. That's what the missionaries are for. Members can share small things that can help plant the seed in others. In 3rd Nephi chapter 12 verse 16 it says, "Therefore, let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
     We are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  These are the latter days and now is the time to prepare to meet God.  
     Something really hit me this week in our leadership council.  Those who are not baptized in prior days, or in the latter days, into the Church of Jesus Christ, will not have the opportunity to live in the celestial kingdom with God and Jesus Christ.  Or be with their family forever!  That is a very strong statement.  This is what motivates me.  I want my brothers and sisters to be able to feel the joy that the gospel brings to our lives.
     This week, Elder Castaneda and I took upon ourselves the challenge to invite everyone we could talk to in a 48-hour period to be baptized.  That was a tough challenge. We were challenged by the assistants to do this.  So we did!  We had a great experience while doing it.  It was a little after 3:00 and we had just had an appointment fall through.  As we turned to walk back to the sidewalk, there were 2 teenagers walking towards us.  We stopped them and told them who we were and talked to them about baptism and the need for the authority.  They sounded interested.  We asked them if they knew that the authority had been restored to the church and would they be baptized?  They said yes!  We have a return appointment with them next week.  
     The part that made it much better was when we asked them if they knew anyone who could use a prayer or blessing?  One of them gave us a very iffy address to a house.  We immediately went to contact this referral, knowing that this person probably wouldn't be there.  As we approached the house, there was a spiritual prompting that this was where we needed to be.  We knocked on the door and a woman answered.  She looked as though she had the weight of the world on her shoulders.  We told her who we were and why we were there.  We asked if we could leave a prayer upon her home.  She said yes.  We said the prayer with her and the spirit poured into her home.  As we finished the prayer and looked into her eyes, you could see she had felt something.  She said, "I feel so warm"!  She had tears in her eyes.  We testified of the spirit.  Prior to us saying the prayer, she told us that she was Christian and was already saved.  But as soon as she felt the spirit, we knew we needed to invite her to be baptized.  We did, and she said yes as well.  We will be teaching her on Wednesday!
     I know that God lives!  I know that this is His work.  I hope and pray that each and everyone of us will have a deeper desire to share the gospel with others.  Even if it is as small as giving someone a compliment that you don't know!  It doesn't take much to be someone's miracle.
     Have a great week everyone - I love you all!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, September 23, 2013

I'm leaving Reedley...

     Hello Everyone!  This week has been very exciting, but also sad.  This week I am leaving Reedley after 7 months!  I will miss these people dearly.  I will never forget any of them! Reedley has that home-like feeling to me and will definitely be missed! I have been called to serve as Zone Leader, serving in the Fresno West Zone.  Elder Pazmino and I were pretty much brothers so it will be sad to see us be split up! The Lord blessed us tremendously! I am looking forward to the new experiences and change. 
     This week also had some sad news.  One of my favorite investigators, who I have come to love dearly, is from the Philippines.  Her name is Thelma and this week her father died.  She was planning on getting baptized on October 6th, but because of the news, she was planning to go to the funeral in the Philippines.  The day after her father died, she had an appointment with the doctor.  She had a CAT scan and doctors found spots of cancer on her lungs and brain!  When I heard the news my heart ached!  I thought how could this be, this woman was doing all she could to make these changes in her life!  Why now?  Why this?  I was crushed. Her plans of being baptized have taken a back seat for now! I  remember hearing that talk by Elder Holland when he said, "Salvation is not easy, how can we think it would be when it was never easy for Christ".  We cannot come to the knowledge of the truth until we walk through some trials, heartaches and struggles! 

This is President Freeman.  He was my father's companion in upstate New York!
     This week I have come to feel a strong strong love for Jesus Christ!  He lives, I know it!!! He suffered for each and everyone of us because he saw our worth!  He knew our Father's plan for us!  Never surrender!  No regrets!  Love you all.  Have a great week!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, September 16, 2013

Authority is given...power is earned.

Cow intestine tacos.  Really?!
     Hello everyone - how are all of you? This week was another great week here in Reedley! It should be interesting to see if it's my last since we we have transfers coming up and we find out where we go on Friday.  Elder Pazmino and I have been praying that we'll stay together. We are pretty much brothers! But we will go where ever the Lord wants us to go.
     This week I was on exchanges so I didn't have too much time in our area. This was the first week we didn't have any investigators at church in awhile, so that was pretty hard on us.  But we have committed ourselves to the Lord and have been following the spirit in all that we do, striving to be where the Lord wants us to be! 
     This week we had Zone conferences down in Porterville, which is about 1 hour from Reedley. We had some great training lessons.  One of my favorites was from sister Gelwix who trained on, "We teach as Christ taught".  It was so powerful to go through the New Testament and really see the way our Savior taught.  It has helped Elder Pazmino and me tremendously in our teaching.  
     We are hoping to have a baptism this Sunday with two girls that we have been teaching for the past month.  Their mother has no interest but these two girls have grown in faith each and everyday.  We are so excited for them.  The Lord has blessed us so much! 
     When I get down and pray at night, I thank the Lord just for the privilege of serving and ask Him to help remind me that this work is not about me! 
     One thing I have really learned this week is that we as missionaries are given authority as soon as we have been set apart by our Stake Presidents, but power takes time to develop. As we see in Alma chapter 17, the sons of Mosiah, prayed and fasted oft, to teach by power and authority!  We also learn in the Doctorine and Covenants that we need to let virtue garnish our thoughts unceasingly in order to have the power of the spirit!  "Authority is given, but power is earned." This is a principle that we can use in any calling in the church or through our daily lives.  If we want to have the spirit to be with us we must pray always.  We must be worthy in thought and action and the Lord promises that He will bless us with his spirit. 
     I know that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ! The priesthood keys of God have been restored to the earth! This is the true church!  Have a great week.  Love you all!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Listen to the 'still small voice'...

     Hello family and friends!  Elder Pazmino and I have been seeing many blessings from the Lord! This week we had the baptism of Silvia and Elvia and that was a great service. The spirit was so powerful! I love my Savior Jesus Christ! I am so grateful to have the gospel in my life! 
     I have learned one of the most important things that we must learn is how to recognize and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  As it says in John 14:26, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
I have really come to know through the Holy Ghost of God's love for me and for his children! He has told me time and time again through the 'still small voice' as I have felt his peace and comfort. I know that God lives, he knows our circumstances and he is always there for us! 
     On Sunday, when we knew our P-day would change to Tuesday, we felt we would be able to find prepared people on Labor Day. As Elder Pazmino and I went out to do Harvest Blessings, we had the distinct impression to stop and get out of the car and go to a certain home. As we got out of the car and went to knock on the door, a child peered through the window and came outside to welcome us in, but told us that his parents weren't home.  We were confused for a moment then the boy walked back inside and told us to go around the house to the garage door. He then told us that his mom was actually home and that she would like to speak with us. We told her that we were representatives of Jesus Christ and she was very happy to see us. We offered her the blessing and she said yes.  After the blessing on her family and home, she said that she really felt good. She said that she has been wondering why there are so many churches on the earth.  We shared a brief message with her and asked if we could come back another day.  She said that would be just fine and she went on to tell us that we were lucky to find her because Labor day was her only day off! I was so happy to know that we were lead to her by the Holy Ghost, and really following every impression has brought Elder Pazmino and me such great happiness! 
     Elder Pazmino and I are constantly seeing miracles and are loving being in the service of our Savior Jesus Christ!  I know that Jesus Christ is our Redemeer!  May we always remember Him and his sacrifice for us! Love you all have a great week!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, August 26, 2013

Beautiful baptisms!

     Hello everyone - what a truly awesome week! I have loved being a part of this work but the time is going by way to fast! I want it to slow down. This point of my mission I am so happy to be where I am. The Lord has blessed me and my companion so much.
     For for the past couple of weeks we have been seeing a bigger number than we have had at sacrament meeting in a long time.  We had 5 new investigators at church, including three that have baptismal dates for the month of September!  

    We had our baptism this week for Ari and ..... It was such a great experience and the spirit was so strong. As we walked into the waters of baptism, I couldn't help but have such love for these people who will now have the opportunity to walk back into the presence of God by receiving this first covenant in their lives. We have planned for Ari and ..... to go to the temple and do baptisms for the dead this week! 
     This week we also had another great experience.  We  received a referral for a woman who needed help to move into her apartment and help her mother move in as well. We headed over to her house and helped them unload the truck. We had the opportunity to talk to them about some previous missionaries who had taught them. They began to tell us that they had received their answer that the Church was true and began to bear their testimonies of our Savior Jesus Christ. I was blown away! We set up for a return appointment later in the week. We went back to their house and shared a message with them. The spirit filled the room as we testified of how the gospel had changed our lives, when all of the sudden the lady we were teaching says, "I want to be baptized on September 1st." My companion and I looked at each other and smiled.  We immediately told her that would be perfect! Her daughter then began to tell us how she also wanted to be baptized on that date! I was so shocked by the end of that lesson. Both of them had been going to church up in Atwater and will both be baptized next week! 
     I love this Church and I know with all my heart that this Church is true. I know that God lives and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I know that God answers our prayers individually and listens to us. In the first vision, God the Father appeared to Joseph Smith and said, "This is my Beloved Son, hear Him." God appeared to Joseph Smith and answered his prayer! What a blessing to know that we can communicate with our Father in Heaven who loves us so much! 
     I hope you all have a great week! Love you!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, August 12, 2013

God can soften any heart!

      Hello everyone! This week was such a blessing. It was transfer week and I'm staying. By the end of this new transfer I will have been here in Reedley for 7 months. I think they might name a street after me! 
    This week, Elder Pazmino had been working so hard to find new people to teach and to get to church. We were knocking some doors when we decided to go contact a referral. As we went over to the home and knocked, a lady answered the door.  We said that we were there to share a message with a man named jose. He didn't live there. This lady went on to tell us that she had heard from missionaries about 6 years ago in another part of California and was shocked that we found her house. I was not shocked by this as I knew that God had placed us at her door to re-strike missionary lessons with her. She was more than happy to listen to what we had to say. We felt inspired to talk about prayer. Because there wasn't a man home we shared it right there on her porch. When we began to talk about how God answers prayers, she said she found it interesting how she had been praying this past week to help her get rid of the confusion about religion. And there we were standing at her door as that answer to her prayer! The spirit immediately swept in as we testified the reason why we were there and how we had been sent there. I know that it was not by accident that we were sent to her home. We invited her to church the next day and she said yes. The next morning she was there at church! She said that she felt at home as she came into the building! 
     This week we also have been teaching Ari and -----, both have been progressing and have come to church the last 3 weeks. It's funny that ----- initially wanted nothing to do with religion.  When we started teaching his girlfriend Ari he wanted nothing to do with it.  But slowly each week he starting participating in the lessons and then he was saying prayers. The first week when he came to church he was in a dress up shirt with the top buttons unbuttoned, the next week he was wearing a red shirt with a tie, and this past week he was in a suit, white shirt and tie! God softens hearts! Ari and ----- will be getting married this next week, and will be getting baptized on the 25th of August! 
     I know that God lives and He can soften even the hardest of hearts! I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior! One year in the mission has gone by so fast! I have learned so much and am so grateful for the opportunity to serve our Master, and King Jesus Christ! 
     I love you all - have a great week!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Power of the Priesthood!

     This week has been great.  We were able to have Jorge's confirmation which was so memorable.  
   This week we also received a call from the Relief Society President who said a woman in Reedley needed a blessing.  We went to her home and she told us she had been having a hard week where she was having flashbacks of her past when she was abused.  We gave her a blessing and she was so happy to have received it.  Within 30 seconds of giving her the blessing, she received a miracle phone call she had been waiting and praying for!  She told us we were "miracle makers"!
     I know that God has helped me again see the power of the Priesthood.  I love serving as a missionary!  These times will never be forgotten.  I have seen some truly amazing miracles and have been able to feel the guidance of the Holy Ghose each and every day.
     I love you all so much!  I thank my Heavenly Father each day for the wonderful family I have been given.  I know that families can be together forever.  I know that God lives and that Jesus Christ is our  Savior.  The Atonement is real.  This is Christ's Church here on the earth today.  How blessed we are!  Have a great week - and be strive to be someone's miracle each and every day!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, July 29, 2013

The pure influence of the Spirit!

Elder Pazmino, Jorge and me at Jorge's baptism!

     Hello everyone! This week has been a true blessing from the Lord.  First, we had Jorge's baptism.  He's the man who ran after us on the street a few weeks ago asking if we were from the same church he found in Mexico.  We were so grateful we found each other, and his baptism was one I'll never forget. 
     Also this week, Elder Pazmino and I saw some true miracles. We had four of our investigators at church.  We had been working so hard to invite all that we could to church!! We prayed and prayed that the Lord would help us to have people there and the Lord blessed us.
     This week we have been teaching the woman that cuts our hair, her name is Ari. She has a 7 year old daughter and lives with her boyfriend Sal. This week we taught the importance of families and how they can live together forever.  Sal, who never even seemed interested in one word we were saying, asked how and when he could marry Ari! I was absolutely shocked, but the spirit had softened his heart in that moment, and I knew that God had a perfect plan for this family. We invited them to be baptized on August 11th and they said yes. They are currently working on getting their wedding license! 
     I feel this week, more than ever, I've felt the pure influence of the spirit in all that we do.  It was such a good feeling to know that the Lord is using us as tools in His hands to lead us to His people that are prepared to hear the gospel. I have a testimony of this gospel!  I know that God lives and loves everyone of us! This is the true Church of Jesus Christ here upon the earth! I challenge each of you to pray continually everyday for missionary experiences and I know the Lord will bless you and help you to share the gospel with those who are prepared to receive it. Have a good week!  Love you all!!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, July 8, 2013

New companion!

Elders from my District!
     This week has been a good one! This week was transfers, and although I was sad to see my last companion go, I was excited about the news from President Gelwix that I have the opportunity to train again! Being District leader and Trainer have been so much fun. I have loved getting to know the Elders in my District. We are all best friends!! 
     This week when we went to go pick up my companion, they put all the trainers in one room and all the trainees in another, and we wait for about three to four hours while president Gelwix prays for our companionships! While sitting in that room I felt comforted that the Lord would put me in a good companionship, one that I would feel right at home with. When we walked into the trainee room I just felt so glad to be there, it is so much fun to see a whole group of new missionaries who look so faithful and excited to get going. As President began announcing names for companionships, I was still unsure who my companion would be. As President called my name and he said Elder Pazmino, I knew for sure that I had the right companion. As I ran over to hug him we sat down and he began to tell me that he new I was his companion as soon as I walked in the room. He told me that he had a dream 2 weeks before his mission and saw that I would be his companion. I was so grateful that the Lord had prepared my companion to be with me! Funny thing is my trainer in Mexico was from Ecuador! I am currently helping him learn English and loving every moment I get to better my Spanish! I don't know what it is but the Lord must be telling me something! It's probably just because I love the Spanish people so much! 
     This week I was so grateful to see our Branch be as full as it has ever been this week. Elder Pazmino and I did all that we could to go around and invite all that we could to church. We know it paid off because the branch numbers were almost near a ward level! 
     I truly love this gospel! I am so grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ and to have these small two years to serve Him! With this new age of missionaries coming in you can truly sense that the hastening of the work has begun! I love it! Have a great week!!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, July 1, 2013

Miracles never cease!

With President Gelwix at Sequoia National Park during recent P-day!

     Hello!  Well no transfer for me! I have been called to train again on top of my district leader duties.  President Gelwix says he has a great trust in me and wants to have me train again which I am really excited for!  I think it's always fun to get a new companion who has that deer in the headlights look the first day they get here! 
     Yesterday hit 114 degrees!  It was a furnace!  When you knock peoples doors and you have sweat dripping of the tip of your noes I think it makes them a bit hesitant to let you in!     
     This week, Elder Arredondo and I had an absolute miracle!  We were still having some struggles with finding some real strong investigators.  This past Thursday Elder Arredondo decided to read one of our favorite talks, "The Challenging and Testifying Missionary".  We really felt the spirit come over us and knew that we would see a miracle!  We set out on our day with a firm prayer that we could find someone who is ready to be baptized right now! All day we went through the heat knocking doors and knocking doors and having appointments fall through.  We were pretty depressed thinking why are we having such bad luck right now? We have worked so hard.  As Elder Arredodno and I were walking to the library to print out his driving record, we saw a woman sitting under a tree who looked a little upset.  We approached her and said we were representatives of Jesus Christ and asked if we could say a prayer.  She looked up at us a little shocked and said she would love a prayer. We offered that prayer and as soon as we finished she was sobbing, saying how hard this week has been for her after losing one of her close friends.  We sat down with her and shared the Plan of Salvation.  The spirit was so strong as we talked about the Celestial Kingdom and having that chance to return to live with our families again. We invited her to church this Sunday and she said yes!  
     Our day was starting to turn around but we still knew someone was out there.  After dinner Elder Arredondo and I went by to see a former investigator.  As we knocked no one answered and we headed back to the street, when all the sudden we see a man walking towards us.  He asked if we were the missionaries from the church that uses the Book of Mormon and we said yes we are.  He went on to tell us that he had just moved from Mexico a week ago, and had been taught by the missionaries over there.  He said I love that book I don't know what it is but I feel good when I read it.  He said he had also gone to church with the missionaries over in Mexico.  My companion and I looked at each other and smiled. We walked with him back to his house and we shared a message with him about baptism. He said he had not been baptized and we testified of the need to be baptized by the priesthood authority of God, the spirit swept in and we invited him to be baptized. He said, "yes, I don't not want to miss this opportunity again! right now we are helping him change his work schedule so he can be baptized soon".  It was such a miracle!  I know God is a god of miracles when we pray and ask in faith we will see them!  But it isn't until after that trial of our faith!  I have seen such great things happen in this area of Reedley and I know obedience to the mission rules and commandments has helped us through everything!
     Happy 4th of July everyone!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Power of Prayer!

Grapefruit the size of my head!

      This week (June 2nd through 9th) has been a week full of tender mercies! I have had some great experiences and the Lord has directed my companion and I in all that we do! 
     This past Saturday, we had a appointment with one of our investigators. George is a struggling alcoholic and had a baptismal date for the 16th of june but that has kind of fallen through. We walked into his house and as his brother invited us in, George walked in from the back of the house, stumbling and as drunk as I have seen him. He looked at us and started to weep. He said, "Satan has a hold of me and I cannot stop drinking"! He sat down and began weeping harder and asking how he can change his life. He has tried to stop drinking but he can't do it! The withdrawls are so bad for him. We sat there a moment in silence as the spirit filled our hearts and minds. We bore testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, how  he is a good man in spite of his struggle with addiction to alcohol. My companion bore testimony of the power of blessings we had given him a week earlier. I felt such sadness for this man! He was grateful for our presence and knew that we are representatives of Jesus Christ! That was a powerful moment on my mission, one that I will never forget.   
We are currently teaching his family as well. We know that his family can help him overcome this trial so that one day he may walk into a baptismal font. 
     This Sunday (the 2nd) we also had a very neat experience. One of the sisters in the ward who is a single mom and also a recent convert of about 4 years, had us over for dinner. Right when we got there I noticed that something was wrong, she seemed very sad, but she was also so grateful to have us in her home. As the dinner ended I pulled out the scripture Alma 37:37 to, "counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct the for good"! As I ended the scripture and bore testimony of prayer, she said, "how is it that you knew I was struggling with prayer"? She said, "I was thinking that I have not had consistent prayer in months and have been struggling with some things". I was so happy to have been there in that moment to bring her the comfort that she needed at that time. As we got up to leave I felt an impression to just ask her if we could give her a blessing. When I asked that she said, "yes please! I was to afraid to ask you because I have been struggling with depression for the past few months and I know the power of blessings"! I was so happy that the Lord used us as instruments this week to bring some comfort to His children! 
     I know the power of blessings and prayers of faith are real! I have seen it, and I have lived it! I know that God truly does answer our prayers and He does work through others to answer those prayers! I also have a firm testimony of the Holy Ghost and know that we must always be in tune to receive  those blessings so that we can be directed for good!         Everything has been going great here in Reedley! Very hot... Very fun...and I am loving my mission! Everyone have a great week!

Elder Tanner Aiken

(Though he didn't add this to his weekly blog, we thought we'd share a wonderful email he received from his first companion in California: 

Elder Aiken!!!!
I love you so much!!  I have great news for you!  So remember at the last leadership meeting we had last transfer and I updated you on G------- and her family?  She's the one that was telling us about her bad experience with this other Mormon lady and how she didn't want to hear anything from us and was ready to kick us off her door step?  When you with your Christ like heart full of charity and pure desires told her that we simply wanted to bless her and her home?  And how that touched her heart especially after you gave the Harvesting Blessing?  Well we had been teaching her and she got baptized last Saturday, June 1st!  I wanted to let you know how much of an impact you made in Modesto, even only being there for a few weeks. I also wanted to thank you for your example, that is one of those things from my mission that I'll never forget.  I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to serve with you and to have that experience together, you taught me a lot.  Keep up the great work!  And if there's anything I can do to bless your life please let me know!!
Elder Blake)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Answers through the Book of Mormon...

     Hello Everyone! This week has been such a great week filled with answers to our fasting and prayers! 
    This week our mission has the most people on date and the most new investigators that we have had in many years! Elder Arredondo and I have three people with a baptismal date this month! 
     We have seen our prayers answered through the Book of Mormon! I testify to the truthfulness of that book! It is true and it can soften hearts. This week we traveled to one of the small towns we cover called Orosi, or also known as "little Mexico." We went out to go see Brenda, one of our investigators. We had kind of let Brenda slip through cracks because she wasn't progressing and hadn't picked up the Book of Mormon. She said that she was going to stay Catholic and baptize her baby there. We thought this is just someone who is not going to change unless she acts on her faith and read the Book of Mormon. So when we went out to see her this week, she told us she had read the Book of First Nephi! She loved how it made her feel and said, "this book has to be from God, and has strengthened my faith in Jesus Christ. I was filled with the spirit!" As I heard that I knew she had seen the blessings that come from the Book of Mormon! She has been praying for a change in her husband's heart who has no desire for religion in his life. We have been praying also so that she can come to church and be baptized.

We are given fresh fruit every day! 
     We are also teaching this lady named Maria! We found her through "harvest blessings", when we ask if we can leave a blessing on their home.  The thing that caught her attention as well was the Book of Mormon! We asked if we could come back and share a message with her the next day and she said sure! We came back the following day with a member, and both Elder Arredondo and I had an impression not to teach anything, but watch the Restoration DVD. We watched that movie and let the spirit fill the room. As we finished the mvie she said that she felt the spirit while watching it. She said that she also had the chance to read in The Book of Mormon and said that she felt something in her heart that was really warm when she was reading it. We testified to the truthfulness of that book, That Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. In that moment we invited her to be baptized on the 23rd of June and she said yes!
     I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. Every day I read it and my testimony is strengthened. We have evidence that we can hold in our hands the restoration of the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ! How great is it to have that knowledge! I love you all - have a great week!  

Love, Elder Tanner Aiken