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