Full-time Missionary

Missionary in the Utah Salt Lake City South Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from August 2015 to August 2017

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

"Peter, Do You Love Me?"

February 20, 2017

Heppy Presidents' Day! Well, it probably won't be as Heppy as mine because I don't have to think about el Presidenté, but that's okay, not everyone gets to spend 24/7 serving the Lord like I do!

This week was better in some aspects than others, unfortunately we weren't able to move the work forward too much here in the Oquirrh Lake Stake, but we did a lot of work with the stake on getting Ward missions up and going more effectively. We also spent a lot of time working with the Zone, trying to be sure every companionship gets at least one baptism this transfer. Wednesday we had one of the best Zone conferences I've ever been in, it was all very inspired.  It was perfect for me, considering that I will hit my 18month mark this Sunday, and I am finally starting to realize that the mission won't last forever. It's nice that I still have a while left, but even nicer is that while I will eventually be released as a full time missionary, the call to serve the lord is forever.

Elder Jeffery R. Holland gave a talk in 2011 in the MTC that I've read a hundred times, but something really stood out at me when we watched a portion at Zone conference. I will include the excerpt:

“Peter,  do  you  love  me  more  than  you  love  these  fish  in  this  net  here,  and  these  boats,  and these  oars?” And  Peter  said,  “Yes,  I  do  love  you,  more  than  these.” And  a  second  time,  Jesus  says,  “Peter,  do  you  love  me  more  than  you  love  these  fish,  and your  nets,  and  your  battered  old  boat?” And  a  little  distressed  at  that,  Peter  said,  “Yes,  I  do.  I  said  I  did.  I  do.” And  the  Savior  probably  took  a  deep  breath  and  smiled  and  looked  Peter  right  in  the  eye.  And though  He  didn't  verbalize  it,  apparently  He  was  conveying  to  Peter,  “May  I  now  say  to  you  for the  third  time,  do  you  love  me?”  And  Peter  is  very  very  sensitive  about  threes  right  now.

And  Jesus  says,  really  in  effect,  “Okay,”  for  the  last  time,  “do  you  love  me  more  than  these? Than  what  you  do?  And  what  you've  just  been  doing?” And  Peter  says,  “I  do.  I  do  love  you.  More  than  anything.” And  that  is  the  moment  that  Peter  became  the  great  apostle.  Forget  the  denials,  whatever they  were.  Forget  the  cut  off  ears.  Forget  the  impetuousness.  Forget  the  confusion.  Forget not  knowing  more  than  to  come  back  to  fish.  Right  here,  face-to-face,  again  from  the  honesty of  his  heart  he  said,  “I  do  love  you,  more  than  anything.” And  to  that,  the  Savior  of  the  world  said,  “Then  feed  my  sheep!  I  have  asked  you  before  to leave  your  nets.  And  I'm  asking  you  again,  and  I  don't  want  to  ask  you  a  third  time.  When  I said,  'Leave  your  nets,'  it  was  forever.  When  I  asked  you  to  follow  me,  it  was  forever.  When  I asked  you  to  be  an  apostle,  it  was  forever.  When  I  asked  you  to  be  a  Missionary,  it  was forever.  When  I  asked  you  to  see  this  through  to  the  end,  it  was  because  it's  not  over  'til  it's over.  Now  forget  your  nets,  and  forget  the  fish,  and  jettison  your  boat,  and  throw  those  oars away  for  the  second  time,  and  feed  my  sheep.  We're  in  this  'til  the  end.” And  that's  the  day  Peter  strode  into  eternity,  and  became  the  man  within  hours,  within  days  at the  very  least.  When  people  plead  that  they  could  be  taken  into  the  street  and  left  on  their  cot in  hopes  the  shadow  of  Peter  would  pass  over  them.  That's  the  Peter  that  he  became  with that  little  confrontation  on  the  shore.  And  the  issue  is  for  all  time  and  eternity,  “Do.  You.  Love. Me?  Do you  love  me?”

I realized at this point that each of us who have made covenants with God in the baptismal font —or beyond— have Covenanted to follow and serve Christ. Forever. That when I return home, it is not a release from missionary work, but a transfer to a new area. That the way Each of us can become the man or woman that Christ wants us to be is by serving him, Forever. The Lord revealed to Joseph Smith the following revelation to those who have this desire to serve him, commanding to "reap while the day lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God" (D&C 6:3). This Treasure we will gain from such service will make us rich as to the things of God, who says that "He who hath eternal life is rich" (6:7).

Enos, in the Book of Mormon, was a prime example of "never getting released" when he labored his entire life, declaring the gospel for the welfare of his brethren. If we can do the same, then just as Enos said we can say "I have declared it in all my days and have rejoiced in it above that of the world."

If we desire this, we "shall be the means of doing much good in this generation"  just as Peter, just as Enos, just as Joseph Smith, and many other great servants of our Lord (6:8). Oh how great shall be our joy! The scriptures are true, read 'em. 

  Elder Ray
RayBreak Utah 

Elder Ray in Daybreak

Elders Bottari and Ray

Monday, February 13, 2017

Brad Wilcox

February 13, 2017

Good morning! 
I hope everyone's week was as good back in Arizona as mine was here in RayBreak, I mean DayBreak. It was pretty cray though...

So Monday we taught the butlers some commandments. 10 commandments, Law of Chastity, and obey and honor the law, that's what we had left to teach before the interview. Then we start going over the interview questions. We got through the first couple then asked "do you believe that President Monson is the prophet?" E. said Yes, L. and Z. said No. uh oh... kinda hard to get baptized if you don't wanna follow the prophet... so we taught towards that for a bit but we weren't able to resolve the concern through logic. They all believe in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, but couldn't grasp Thomas S. Monson. So, we decide we will pray at the end and ask God, and so we move on. Then we get to asking them if they will live the Word of Wisdom, and poop kinda hits the fan. We realized we haven't taught them about it since like October. E. is all in, says he will live it, L. is a little broken up about it and Z. says no way. Poo. That's kinda a Deal Breaker too... so we try and teach towards that, saying that if the Book of Mormon is true, Joseph smith was a prophet, and the commandment was from God, and We get nowhere. Now we really need to pray. So we all kneel down and L. offers a prayer, asking God if Thomas S. Monson is a prophet and if they need to live the word of wisdom. He closes, and we wait. After a few minutes, E. speaks up and says he feels the spirit. We wait a bit longer and L. speaks up and explains a remarkable vision he had of Christ in Heaven, his arms extended towards him. "Yea, even babes did open their mouths and utter marvelous things" (3 Nephi 26:16). He explained how he knows now that President Monson is the Prophet and that he should live the word of wisdom. J. also then spoke up and said that she feels God telling her that she needs to follow President Monson, and to not focus on the word of wisdom right now. Z. did not feel anything, unfortunately. Elder Bottari and I fasted all the next day that she would so she could pass the interview.

Then next day on exchanges, the District Leader who was with me was able to teach Z. the Word of Wisdom in a way that clicked, she accepted it, and passed!
This week was really a crazy, crazy week. But the best weeks always are.

E., L., and Z. were all baptized on Saturday, Sunday Ervin received the Aaronic Priesthood, and him, J., and Z. received limited use temple recommends to be able to go do baptisms for the dead.

Last night, we had a fireside for all the missionaries in the mission, as well as those we teach, put on by Brad Wilcox. It was amazing! He taught us about Grace, a topic often misunderstood by many. I will include in this email a PDF copy of his talk "His Grace is Sufficient" for those of you who have not read it, it has a lot of similarities between his message last night.

The church is true, don't forget it. 

-Elder Ray

Elder Bottari and Elder Ray at the baptisms of Zarriah, Legend, and Ervin, with Justina

Oquirrh Mountain Temple

Seth and Elder Bottari

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Companion Number 12

February 6, 2017

Whatta Busy Week. Like I said last week, transfer calls came and Elder Jensen got kicked out. He left Tuesday morning. Tuesday was pretty busy with transfer stuff, elder Bottari came to the area from the Spanish assignment. He has been out for almost a year and is a new Zone Leader, and he is already doing great. We spent most of Tuesday moving bikes and stuff around before dinner, I even got to see Elder Rossette before he shipped off to Brazil. Tuesday night we taught E. and his fam, went great.

Wednesday we had Mission Leadership Council, such a great meeting. After that we trained a companionship on whitewashing since they both came into the area together. That night we taught an inactive man, B., who is totally prepared to come back.

Thursday we had our Zone Expectation Meeting with all the missionaries in the zone, then met with the district leaders and sister training leader. All of which are new to the zone. 2/3 of our district leaders are district leaders for the first transfer, but they are doing great. And every leader in the zone got transferred. Except me. #OG after that we met with I. and had a great lesson with him, his faith definitely grew as we connected the Bible with the Book of Mormon.

Friday we had weekly planning then had to help give a blessing to some sisters in our Zone. We had another great lesson with E.'s fam, Legend, who is 9, gave the closing prayer and the spirit was so flipping strong.

Saturday not a ton happened, we met with one of our new Ward mission leaders who is awesome. Brother Alvarado was a mission president, then an Area authority 70 for like 10 years. So he knows how to do it.

Sunday E.'s fam came to church! It was a great fast and testimony meeting, L. even came up and bore his testimony with elder Bottari and me! So rad. We are excited for their baptisms this Saturday! It's gonna be a good week ahead.

Email me some love,

  -Elder Ray

Seth with his new companion, Elder Bottari

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Transfer Week and Training a New ZL

January 30, 2017

Monday night we had a Family Home Evening with E., J., Z., and L. at the Young family home, we talked a lot about faith. It was great.

Tuesday we had a great district meeting, then after that had to take care of a few ZL related things... fun...then at 4:30 we left for Temple Square with E. and his family! It was so great, the whole tour was focused on eternal families, it helped solidify them a ton.

Wednesday was huge. We got together as a mission in the mission office and viewed a Worldwide Broadcast from the Missionary Department, changing a lot of aspects of missionary work. The first big change was our schedule. Our preparation day is now from 8am-6pm instead of 10am-6pm, our lunches are now 30min instead of 60min, our companionship study is now 30min instead of 60min, and instead of doing it before 10am we can do it whenever we want between 10am and 9pm. Neat stuff. The other change had to do with our Key indicators that we track and report. We used to have 9 key indicators, now we only have 4. Investigators baptized, investigators with a baptismal date, investigators at church, and new investigators. We no longer report how many lessons we had in any scenario. Pretty neat.

Thursday was pretty crazy. Using the new schedule is awesome, I love it. Thursday we did comp study at 3:30 in the afternoon. We had lunch with someone we have been working with... remember the Christian preacher we ate lunch with a couple weeks ago? He wanted us to teach his understudy—B.—so we taught him and picked him up as a new investigator, I taught a born again Christian and picked him up as a new investigator...

Friday we had weekly planning as usual but we no longer do call ins which is great, because now we actually get to work hard on Friday. We were able to contact the parents of a 9yr old girl who wants to be taught and get permission to teach her, then we did comp study at 8:30 which was cool since usually after 8:30 no one answers the door.

Saturday we picked up a couple Christian investigators... we also taught E.'s family again. It was great!

Sunday, E.'S FAM CAME TO CHURCH AGAIN! Two weeks in a row baby! Later that night we taught B. again.

Today we find out about Transfers. We got all the info a couple hours ago and just finished making all the calls to the zone. The news: I will be staying in Oquirrh Lake! By the end of this transfer I will have been here for 7.5 months... wow. Elder Jensen is getting transferred to Sandy, he will no longer be a zone leader, he will be with a missionary who needs his leadership! I will be training a new zone Leader! I am pretty excited, it should be a blast! This week will be pretty busy, there were a ton of changes in the zone which means we get to move a lot of bikes around! 
Have a great week. ðŸ’£

-Elder Ray

Seth with E.'s family and Elder Jensen at Temple Square