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

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Another great day!

     Hello Everyone! As President Gelwix always says, "It's a great day to be a Mormon missionary!" It truly is! 
     Today we had our temple trip, which will be my last until my departure day! I can't believe how fast time goes, there have been so many things that I have learned here in this area in Firebaugh! There was a really strong spirit at the temple. I was able to feel my Heavenly Father's love, and His acceptance of me. What a blessing it is as well to do temple work and have that opportunity to bless those who have passed on! 

Bowling on P-day!

     A thought that kept coming to me this week was the importance of my purpose as a missionary. I thought about the Atonement and that those who are not baptized unto repentance and by the proper authority not not see all the blessings that the Atonement brings. Elder Sanhueza and I thought about this a lot and were thinking about who out of our teaching pool was really increasing their faith in Jesus Christ and keeping their commitments. As we prayed and thought about why our church attendance was down and what we needed to get people to church, we received three specific game plans about what we needed to do and as we applied those things the Lord blessed us. We were able to have 5 of our investigators at church this Sunday. We worked well with the ward on getting these girls to church. As we followed what the Lord told us to do, they had a wonderful experience and are all hoping to get baptized!  
     I love how as we use the Lord's guidance that he has given us, He blesses us with more. I have learned on my mission to put full trust in our Father in Heaven and rely on Him.  I am grateful for the time in which I have had serving Him. 
     As I sat in the temple I was able to think about the great change that I have seen in myself even at times when I couldn't notice the change. The Atonement of Jesus Christ and my faith in Him has changed me! I know that God lives, I know that this is His work, I have seen it many times, and the spirit has born witness to me of that! I love you all. Have a great week! 

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, May 5, 2014

Choose to be changed!

Working on a "day of service"!

     Hello Everyone! things have been going really well here in Firebaugh this past week! Things are starting to catch fire  almost literally. It's getting hot!  The hot summer temperatures of the San Joaquin Valley are just around the corner! 
     This week has been a great week of seeing the Lord push us through trials and helping us put our trust in Him. One quote I heard this week that I really like is from Ezra Taft Benson that says, "when you choose to follow Christ, you choose to be changed." That is so true! I have seen how the Lord has changed me and molded me as I have chosen to follow Christ! 
     It's not always the most glamorous life to follow, with rejection, being mocked, and there are even those who are spit upon from time to time. Living a life like that may have some wonder why we do it? We do it because we are forever indebted to Him!  We do it because we love Him! 
     This past week we have been working very hard and praying very hard to see progress in our investigators. This week a mother of five, who is without her husband and lives in a 2 bedroom trailer, was able to make the 45 minute drive to church on Sunday. Such a sacrifice, but yet she has noticed a difference as she has put into practice the principles of the gospel. She really enjoyed church on Sunday and apologized to us for missing her baptismal date.  She was wondering when the next day that she could be baptized on? We will be working with her to be baptized on the 18th of this month. 
     I have been reading in 2 Nephi this past week and I love the 2nd chapter as it talks about Christ coming and bringing us redemption. I love verse 8 which says, "wherefore how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth." This week we had our Mission Leadership Conference where President Gelwix had a quote from Elder Cook which said that right now is the most exciting time for missionary work in the history of the earth. Never before has there been this great a number of missionaries! How great it is to let our brothers and sisters know the truthfulness of this gospel, to let them know that Christ the Lord has offered himself in sacrifice for sin for us! It becomes more real when you think that he suffered for you individually! 
     I so love being a missionary! It brings such a good feeling into your life and it is so great to see the change that it brings into the lives of others!! I hope you all have a great week!! 

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, April 21, 2014

Because of Him!

     Hello Everyone! This week my heart has been full of gratitude. I am humbled at the love which I have for my Savior Jesus Christ. 
     This week we had many times to teach our investigators about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we had the opportunity as well to show them the video "Because of Him." What a powerful video! This week, I also heard some very difficult stories from investigators and people on the street about drug abuse, sexual abuse, you name it I heard about it this week! I was overwhelmed at the sadness I felt for these people, that they don't know about the gospel of Jesus Christ that they don't know that the Atonement is free to everyone who accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior! 
     Elder Benites and I were on an exchange this week in Kerman. We had just had a baptismal interview in Madera and were racing back down to get to an appointment in Kerman. We were going to teach a man who I have had the opportunity to meet on a few occasions. As we talked about what our focus would be in the lesson, we decided to center it on Jesus Christ. The story is that 4 Sundays ago he had just walked into church with a Book of Mormon asking what time the services started. We could tell he was not a member. He told us that he had been seeing the missionaries riding bikes past his house for years, and something always impressed him about those crazy guys who ride bikes in white shirts and slacks during the summer in 110 degree heat! He has been taught for the past few weeks and has been praying about baptism, and the Book of Mormon. He has read over 150 pages and has really been progressing. But something has just been holding him back from baptism. As we began to teach that lesson, the spirit guided us as we asked inspired questions to know his needs. We began to ask him questions about the purpose of life, and he opened up to us and told us that he had suffered as a youth being sexually abused, to being exposed to drugs and alcohol at an early age, to eventually living on the streets and living in a homeless shelter in New york City!  This man had truly been through it all! We opened up the scriptures to Alma 13:24 saying that God is sending angels, and angels are preparing the hearts of the people for the coming of Christ! We told him that we as missionaries are the angels sent from the Father to declare repentance unto this people! The Lord has been preparing you for a very long time to accept his gospel! Through Jesus Christ and His Atonement you, yes you, can have a new beginning! We asked him if we could watch a video on his computer "Because of Him." We invited him to pay attention to his feelings as we watched it. As we watched the video there was a different feeling in the room. After we finished watching and testifying of the spirit, we looked at him as he sat and stared at the wall. After 45 seconds of silence, he looked at us, "I believe what you are telling me is true! I want to be baptized, I just don't know when."
     I know that through Jesus Christ we can become changed people. We can have new beginnings! With him there is no end! God has given us the best gift! Eternal life! It's hard to put intp words the feeling that I have as a missionaryl. I love it! It is so great to be able to bring this knowledge that we have to people every day! God bless you all and have a great week!!! 

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy Easter!

     Hello everyone! Such a great week to be a Mormon missionary. I went to a baptism last night down in my last area to confirm a woman I taught.  I was so happy that she had made the decision to be baptized!
     I am looking forward to one of the greatest holidays of the year! Easter, a day we dedicate to Our Savior Jesus Christ. I have come to know and love Him over these months as a missionary. He is what motivates me to get up in the morning on time, to do my studies, to talk with everyone, and most important to invite others to repent and be baptized. I think of His example which He left for us. Elder Eyring has talked about it in one of his talks. After Jesus Christ was crucified He went to "the spirit world for three days, his work in mortality was finished, when He deserved a rest He kept going". Elder Eyring said, "when I am tired and my body begs for rest, I give myself this rallying cry 'Remember Him'."
     This Easter there is no need to think of material things. It is a time to reflect on the most perfect life that this world has ever known. When Mary came to the tomb she was told, "He is not here for He has risen"! He has Risen! I know that Christ lives! I know that His mercy is free to anyone who accepts Him and follows his example. What part of the Atonement did not cover our sins, trials and sufferings? He covered everything! We must accept Him and His promises! I know that He has paid the price for our sins so that we can enjoy eternal life! I know that as we fully apply the Atonement into our lives, and internalize it this Easter week we will become changed, motivated, and filled with the Love of God! I have felt this myself, I have felt His love in my life, I have felt the whisperings from the spirit confirming to me the reality of His sacrifice! I hope you all have a great week - and Happy Easter! 

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, March 31, 2014

Record number of baptisms!

     Hello family and friends!  Everything went great this week.  Our zone absolutely exploded with baptisms!   We finished with 19 baptisms, 1 below the all-time mission record of 20 by a zone in a month.  The Lord has blessed us so much, I know it's because of our love towards our  Savior Jesus Christ.  I have literally seen the hastening of the work right before my eyes.  
     Our mission finished with 104 baptisms.  We haven't passed 100 baptisms in the last 2 years!  The Lord is hastening His work, the Lord is brining forth his very elect.  How exciting to be a part of this generation, in the fullness of times, that will be talked about for generations to come!  I love this work!  I am 100% committed.
     This week the Lord has blessed me with a new found energy and strength, a deepe-found conviction of the truthfulness of this gospel.  I love so much being a missionary!  
     As I stood at the pulpit yesterday during testimony meeting in our Spanish group, it was as if my whole mission flashed before my eyes.  I saw all the people that I had taught, served and have come to love.  It was a truly spiritual experience.  As I bore testimony of the Savior, and the Restoration of the Gospel, I thought about how much I love being a missionary, there is no greater calling.
     This week we will be training our zone on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I will be focusing on faith in Jesus Christ.  One thing that Elder Porter told our mission when he came and visited us was "the first principle of the Gospel is not just faith, but faith in Jesus Christ."  Faith in Jesus Christ is the way we live our lives, it's how we act.  We notice faith in Jesus Christ in ourselves when we are living in accordance with the commandments of God and doing all we can to align our will with that of God's.  A scripture that I love and has hit me more powerfully as of late is in 2 Nephi 31:21:  "And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God.  And now, behold, this is the doctrine of  Christ, and the only true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one  God, without end, Amen."  There is no other way back to our Father in Heaven, only through Jesus Christ.  Our brothers and sisters in this world will not have that opportunity to return back to God's presence without the gospel of Jesus Christ.  
     We have been seeing great things happening in our area this past week.  The Lord is preparing the hearts of the people in our area!  I am looking forward to the month of April to find and teach and baptize!  
     I love you all so much!  This work is the best work to be a part of!  I know that God lives, we are His children.  I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior, He lives!  This is the only true church upon the face of the earth, and what a blessing it is to be a part of it!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Listen...always listen!

Elder Aiken at Yosemite National Park

     Hello everyone.  I had the chance to go to Yosemite National Park with several other Elders yesterday.  What a beautiful part of the world!  The weather here is beautiful.
     It was another great week being a Mormon Missionary with some great spiritual experiences. We started off with Zone conference where we had some great trainings on the importance of receiving personal revelation everyday. I had never really thought of the importance of receiving personal revelation everyday, but receiving personal revelation is what keeps us converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is something that we must seek for every day in our morning prayers, asking the Lord to guide us and to help us recognize his promptings. In my prayers every morning I have promised the Lord that I will follow all his promptings, no matter how hard or even awkward they may be, I will do them. I love the Scripture in 2 Nephi: 28 vs 30 where it says:  "For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receivith I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have"
     There is a promise in that scripture, that if we do harken unto the Lord's precepts, he will bless us with more. We show the Lord our trust in him as we follow his counsel. He is more willing to give us his counsel when we are willing to fully accept it.  
     On Wednesday, I had a very spirtual experience that I will never forget. As we took our daily 25 minute drive out to Mendota, I remember praying to Lord asking him to help me recognize his promptings.  As we approached Mendota, I heard the voice of the Spirit tell me to turn left. I followed and we turned left. I heard another distinct impression, turn right, park the car and talk to the first person you see. As we parked the car we offered a prayer asking the Lord to lead us to that one person we had been prompted to meet. As we got out of the car, I looked to my right, and saw a lady all alone sitting on her porch. I walked straight to her and as we approached her the woman seemed a little surprised. I asked her how her day was and what she was doing there. She told us she was waiting for her kids to arrive home from school. The words came to me as I told her that we had been sent to her house that very moment by God to say a prayer with her. She began to weep and asked, "how did you know"? I told her that we had been guided there to her home by the spririt of the Lord. As we began praying the Spirit came very strong and I knew that it would guide our words in what we needed to say next. As we finished, I paid close attention to my thoughts. As she was wiping her eyes, we asked her how she felt. She said she felt much better. I felt impressed to ask her about her children and her family. I told her that I could sense that she was very worried about her children and her status of her family. She began to cry again and said she had recently divorced her husband and doesn't get much time with her children. She was shocked that we had discerned her thoughts. I thought back to that scripture, "line upon line, precept upon precept. Those who hearken to my precepts...I will give more:. The Lord had blessed us in that very moment for following his promptings! He then trusted us with more, he blessed us with the gift of discernment! 
     I know that God lives! I know that he truly wants to be involved in every aspect of our lives and he wants to guide us. We in turn must be willing to sacrifice our will for his. This work is so true, I love being a missionary! God bless you all!! 

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, March 3, 2014

I love this work!

    Hello everyone! This week was such a spiritual week. I was taught by the Holy Ghost on many occasions how true this church is. 
     This week we had Leadership council. We are always told to prepare spiritually for these meetings and we call it the 25-25-50 learning matrix. Twenty five percent is the preparation we bring to the meeting, the next 25% is what we are taught by the Holy Ghost during the meeting, and the 50% is what we use after the meeting is over when we return to our areas, and apply the things we learned. This meeting was special. We had the opportunity to begin the meeting at the temple doing baptisms for the dead with President and Sister Gelwix there with us. There were 22 other missionaries and the spirit was so strong in the temple as we did those baptisms. President Gelwix said that in the mortal life, when we have baptismal services, we invite all our families to come and share that magic moment with us. He said it is the same for baptisms done in the temple saying those who have passed on are actually there to be able to see their baptism. The spirit confirmed to me my feelings of how much I love this work and how much I enjoy seeing the change that the gospel brings into peoples lives. I love being able to be a servant of our Heavenly Father, it is such a blessing. 
     The next day Elder Sanhueza and I went out to the streets motivated to find people to bring unto Christ.  We prayed sincerely that the Lord would lead us to someone who has been prepared or has need of two representatives of Jesus Christ. We began to knock some doors in Mendota in this really humbling part of town. As we approached this very small apartment complex, we felt that was where we needed to knock. The first few doors we knocked there was no one home. As we came to the last door we knocked, and a little girl came to the door. She looked behind her and said, "mom, Los hermanos estan aqui", or "mom the brothers are here". The mother came to the door and she seemed to be familiar with the missionaries, as if the missionaries had visited her in the past. We ignored that part of it, and began to ask her if we could pray for her? She told us that would be fine so we prayed for her, and then asked if we could share a message with her? She said we could come back later because we needed to wait for her husband to be home anyway so that we could enter her home. We came back around 6:00 and we went in and began to teach the Restoration with her and her husband. They are both from Honduras and had been living there for a few years. There was a great spirit in their home and as the meeting came to and end, I looked at the both of them and invited them to be baptized. She looked at the both of us and said, "Oh I am already baptized in your church, my uncle is actually is branch President up in Oakland. I want to come back to church, there is something missing in my life and I know that it is the true church". She thanked us for finding her and was so happy to see that the Elders were placed back in her life. I was completely taken back in that lesson. As we walked back to the car I was smiling and I just looked at my companion and said that was too funny!!!  
     Marta, the lady which I talked about last week, is progressing very well! She seems to become more and more converted every time we visit her and her family.  We are hoping she will be baptized at the end of this month with her son and daughter. 
     Yesterday was great. We had Stake Conference and it was powerful. President Gelwix gave his last talk in the Fresno West Stake. It was sad but the spirit was so strong. During the middle of his talk he had all of the missionaries in the Stake stand up and he looked at each of us and told us that he loves us like a father would love his own son or daughter. After he finished we sang The Spirit of God, and the spirit was so thick I couldn't hold back my emotions, neither could President and Sister Gelwix. After the meeting President came up to me and literally held me for about 20 seconds and told me how much he appreciated me for my service and for the man I have become. He kissed me on the cheek and told me he loved me. I will never forget that. He truly has the attributes of the Savior!
     I love this work so much! It brings me to tears thinking of how much I love being a missionary. It just makes me feel good! I love seeing the change that it brings to people's lives, I want to be in the service of God the rest of my life! I don't think I can say that enough. I will miss this so much when it is all done. This gospel is true! Have a great week. 

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, February 24, 2014

Happy Birthday!

The Nunez family gave me a surprise Birthday Party!
What a great birthday meal - thanks to the Nunez family!
     Hello everyone, what another great week here in Firebaugh! And a great time to celebrate my 21st birthday!  Thanks to all those who sent birthday wishes. 
     This week, has got to be one of the most powerful weeks that I have had on my mission. The Lord showed us His power this week as we have been praying and praying for an investigator named Marta! We have been teaching Marta for over three weeks now. Her hardest thing has been to let her other religion go and give up all her beliefs that she had in that church. The first time we met, we had said a prayer for her and she really felt the spirit when we prayed on her door. As the days past by and we continued visiting her she began reading the Book of Mormon. Chapter after chapter she has been seeking her answer. She had always believed that the Book of Mormon was true, but still wasn't quite sure about our church. 

President Gelwix - a great opportunity to teach with him!

     Last week Marta came to church for the first time. She really enjoyed it but still had many questions. She asked us how could she give up her religion? We told her simply to pray and her answer would come that this is the true church upon the earth. This week we had the opportunity to have President Gelwix come out with us on a team up. We had a set appointment that night to visit Marta. Before we went into her home, we sat in President Gelwix's car and prayed about what she needed to hear. As we finished the prayer, President said, "I have an impression that you need to teach her about what the Holy Ghost feels like." We knew it would be perfect because we were going to be teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and would be focusing on the role of the Holy Ghost. The only downside was that President doesn't speak Spanish. As we entered that lesson and began to teach about the importance of faith, President Gelwix leaned over to me and told me that there was a really good feeling in the room and that we needed to point out the spirit to Marta. As we began to talk about the spirit and testify, we could feel the spirit in that room. President Gelwix began to speak and my companion was translating for him. President asked her how she was feeling? She responded and said that she felt good inside. President Gelwix then began to tel her, "I sense that you are troubled, you are not worried about joining another religion, you are worried about your children, that they will be safe and protected and that they are raised to be good people"? Marta's face began to change and she looked at us and asked us, "who is this man that you have brought with you, I would like to know who he is"? President Gelwix responded, "I am a servant of God, and I have been sent here tonight as your answer to your prayers." Marta began to be emotional and the spirit was so strong! I felt a burning in my chest. I looked over at the daughter who is 14 years old and asked her how she felt? She said I feel a burning in my heart, and I don't know what this is? We testified that it was the spirit and that God was answering their prayers in that moment! At the end of that lesson, Marta said, "I am so confused. I have felt good in my church but never like this"? President told her there is good in all churches, but in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is the only church where you can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost! 
     That was one of the most powerful moments in my life. A third member of the Godhead was present with us in that lesson, and bore testimony of the truthfulness of the church and the truthfulness of our calling as representatives of Jesus Christ. I know that God lives, and without doubt I know that He answers our prayers. I know that the gift of discernment is real! I have witnessed it! Jesus Christ lives and this church is so true!   
     Have a great week!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, February 10, 2014

Patience is a virtue!

My favorite lunch group!

     Hello friends and family!  We've had a lot of much-needed rain here and this next week it's really supposed to warm up. The trees are beginning to blossom and it's really nice. 
     This week the Lord has taught me many lessons, but mainly a lesson on patience. Things were a bit slower this week.  Elder Sanhueza and I had been working really hard to find more people to teach, as we worked with the members, talked with everyone, and knocked many doors but nothing. We had been so blessed the week before with a baptism and 4 investigators at church, and now nothing? We were a bit shocked. We had been working so hard, to the point of exhaustion. In my personal study on Wednesday morning I studied the story of the sons of Mosiah before they went and preached the gospel to the Lamanites. The Lord promised them if the had patience and long suffering in ALL things, the Lord would watch over them and make them a tool in his hands. I thought and pondered over that scripture for a while. I thought to myself, I wonder how patient God has to be with us, being imperfect as we make mistakes everyday. At times the Lord gives us promptings that we choose not to listen to. He gives us commandments and guidelines and at times we choose not to follow them. Though we make and will make many mistakes throughout our life, the Lord will always love us no matter what. I am sure He suffers when we make mistakes, yet He is still always there right by our side. I took this lesson to the fullest, that I need to be patient in all sufferings and the Lord will make me a tool in His hands. I promised the Lord that day I would follow all His promptings and where he needed us to be we would go.  As it says in 1 Nephi 3:15:  "But behold I said unto them that: As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us."  
     We took to the streets again, knocking doors and talking with everyone and visiting some of our potential investigators.  As it began to be late in the afternoon, we were about to knock this last door in an apartment complex. As we approached the door I heard someone walking behind me.  I turned around and about 30 feet behind me was a young lady carrying bags towards her home. I felt the spirit prompt me to go talk to her.  I told her who we were and asked if she could use a prayer from 2 representatives of Jesus Christ and she said, "yes"!  As we offered the words of the prayer and finished, we looked up to see tears streaming down her face.  She said, "thank you so much!  That's what I needed today"!  She told us her mother has cancer and just received news that there was no more that could be done for her.  She said because of that she had kind of fallen away from God, from praying and going to church.  We testified to her that we were sent there by God to give her a prayer.  We began to open the Book of Mormon and talked with her about how this book could bring her peace and happiness in her life.  We invited her to be baptized on the 9th of March and she said "yes"!  We'll be meeting with her again this week.  
     I know this truly is God's work!  I have learned the importance of patience and that the Lord will always follow through on His promises.  The Lord gives us weaknesses so that we are humble and as we are humble He will make weak things become strong.  This gospel is true!  Jesus is the Christ!  His Atonement is real!  It transforms us into the people that Our Heavenly Father wants us to become.  I hope you all have a great week!  

Love, Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, February 3, 2014

Rain, rain, rain!

     Hello everyone! The Lord is a Lord of miracles.  We fasted for much needed rain here in Fresno, and we got some!  The members were thrilled when they left church and saw that it had rained.
     I would just like to share my testimony with you that I know the God lives. I know He knows each and everyone of us personally. We owe our lives to Him!
     As I read in Mosiah chapter 2 this morning it says if we were to labor all our lives in the service of God, we would still be unprofitable servants! All He requires us to do is keep his commandments and do the things He has asked us to do! We do that and we will be blessed.

     We had a great baptism last week.  Rosa was baptized 2 weeks after her daughter.  It was a great service.
     I know that God answers prayers.  According to our faithfulness and sincerity of heart He will answer! Jesus Christ lives! The only way we can return to live in the presence of our Heavenly Father is through his Atonement! I know that this is God's work. I have enjoyed every moment in the service of Him and others. I love the people I have taught and continue to teach. These will be times not to be forgotten!   
     This church is true, the gospel has been restored to the earth! I love you all have a great week! 

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, January 27, 2014

Another great baptism!

     Hello everyone! This week has been an inspiring week here in Firebaugh. I will be staying here in the Fresno West stake. My new companion will be Elder Sanhuesa who is from Chile and I am looking forward to serving with him. Elder Castaneda and I had an awesome time together, some of the best times on my mission. 
     This week, I was on exchange with a hmong Elder. For those who don't know what hmong is, it's a Chinese like language I would say. We went out to one of our areas in San Joaquin and began to knock some doors, With having some doors opened to us they lead to little or no potential at all. After knocking for about an hour, we were about to leave and head to another appointment. We decided to knock this last door. The door opened to a lady who was a little surprised to see us. We told her who we were, and asked if we could pray with her. She reluctantly said yes! I asked her what were some things that she needed from God in her life. All she could say was that she just needed a lot of things. I began to offer the prayer. There were certain words in that prayer that came out like they would in a priesthood blessing. As I ended the prayer and opened my eyes, the woman was standing there in tears. She said that she had so many missionaries from different churches come over, but had never before felt that spirit before. She also had never heard of our church before. We began to testify that we were sent there by God, that He knew her situation. She began to tell us that her husband had just barely left her with four kids, and she didn't know what her next step would be. I simply told her that "you need to listen to our message." We talked about the Book of Mormon, and asked her to read what we left her. She said she would. We set up a return appointment for 2 days later, and we returned. As we came back and followed up with her on her reading she had read the Introduction all the way to Chapter 3 in just 2 days. She told us that she didn't know what we taught or who we really were but the spririt that she felt during that prayer was something that changed her. We talked about the power of the Book of Mormon and shared our personal testimonies of it. We invited her to be baptized on the 23rd of February. She accepted! That was such a great experience to see how the spirit can literally change people. 

     This week I also had the opportunity to go back to my old area in Reedley and see the baptism of Jossy one of the girls Elder Pazmino and I had taught! It was such a great experience. The best was seeing the members and converts I served with. I felt so much love for them! It was a feeling that I will never forget, almost felt as if I was home! You really come to love the people you serve with, and memories will be with me forever of those people I served! I love these people here the Valley! I love this work so much, I am motivated by our Savior Jesus Christ to become better each and everyday! I hope you all have a great week! Love you!

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, January 20, 2014

Miracle baptism!

Woa - boa!!!
     Hello everyone! Things are going great out here in Firebaugh...the "city of dreams"! This week we were able to see some great miracles. The Lord has been blessing our area tremendously and we have seen His hand in this work.  
Elder Castaneda and feel that we are on a roll right now, and are in a pretty good rhythm. 
     This week we had the baptism of one of our investigators. We had one of the most powerful lessons with her as we taught her and her mom about the nature of God. After a few minutes of talking about the pre-mortal life, I looked at Priscilla and asked her if she had known that she was a daughter of God who loved her? The room went quiet. I could see in Priscilla's eyes a change. The Spirit began to testify to her heart that what we were teaching was true and she began to cry. As we sat there a few moments, we talked about baptism and asked her if she feels ready to be baptized this Sunday, she nodded her head and said yes. As we talked after the lesson was over, she said that "after having studied with 4 other churches, this is the firs time I have come to the knowledge that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and that He knows me personally.  It was the first time I have ever felt a feeling like the one I just felt." My testimony has grown time and time again on my mission of the power of the Spirit who is the true converter. We as missionaries can only try to build an environment where the Holy Ghost can be present, and then we let the Spirit take over. 
     As we where preparing for her baptism this week we got a call from one of our members saying that she might not be able to get baptized this week because her mom was going to be working. Her mom only gets one Sunday off a month. My heart sank! I was thinking to myself we have worked hard, we have done all that we can, what else do we need to do? Elder Castaneda and I began to pray that the Lord would allow her mom to get work off so that Priscilla could come to the baptism and her mom would be present. We prayed for the next couple days and on Saturday morning we received a text during our personal study from that same member saying that Priscilla's mom had gotten work off. Elder Castaneda and I jumped out of chairs and fell to our knees and thanked the Lord for this miracle. I knew that He would deliver. I know that God answers prayers. 

     After the baptism was performed on Sunday, we went over to their home to have dinner. We began to ask Priscilla's mom how she had felt at the baptism and she said she had felt the Spirit and that she knows that this is the true church. When she said that we immediately invited her to be baptized on the 2nd of February which will be her next Sunday off. She said, "yes, I will be ready." 
     The Lord gave us a wonderful week, he has used us as instruments in His hands to do his work. Such a great week, one that I will never forget! God lives, this church is true! Have a great week! Love you all.   

Elder Tanner Aiken

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New Year!

Elder Aiken on 'Utah Ave'!
      Hello Everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful New Years! This week has really left me to ponder on all the great moments I had on my mission this year, and they have all been great! I can think of the doors being slammed in my face, the hot summer months, and other times of discouragement. But what triumphs all of those hard times has been seeing the change and happiness that the gospel brings into peoples lives. Having invited them to come to church weekly, to stop drinking/smoking, live the law of chastity, and then to finally see them walk down into the waters of baptism has never brought me so much joy and happiness! There have been some wonderful people I have met over the past year, many people I know that I was sent here to meet. 
     I can say the most important thing I have learned this year and over the time on my mission is that Jesus Christ lives! I know that nothing else on this earth can bring someone true happiness than accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior and following His example. I know that God Loves each and everyone of us, and is proud of us when we keep His commandments and do the things that He has asked us to do. Though their might be times when we feel that we have done all we can, He in turn will then ask us to do more. 
     We have been teaching a wonderful mom and daughter for the past two weeks. This mom that we are teaching is a super mom, she works everyday of the week besides one, from 8:30 at night until 4:30 in the morning milking cows, which many people say is a man's job. After returning home and sleeping for a few hours, she is able to get ready and come listen to our lessons with her daughter. She has told us the sacrifice is worth it! She said, "though I am so tired, I feel something everytime I come over here to hear your message. It's noticable that as soon as you leave that feeling isn't the same." We invited her to be baptized this week and she has accepted a baptismal date. Her daughter will be baptized on the 19th of this month, but she is praying for God's help so that she can change her work schedule to not work on Sundays! Her daughter was able to come to church this week, and has absolutely loved it! 
     God is a god of miracles! I have no doubt when we tell God that we will do whatever it takes to follow Him, He will move even the biggest obstacles out of our paths so that we can accomplish what He has asked us to do! 
     I love this work, I love every moment which I have to serve. I hope these next 7 months are my best on my mission!  I hope you all have a great week!!  I love you! 

Elder Tanner Aiken