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