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