Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Miracles

Hello everyone!

Easter is such an incredible season to participate in and share! This week has been fantastic in spreading the news of the Saviors resurrection. If you have not had the chance, I suggest you go online somewhere and look at the "Because of Him" video that the church made for Easter. Our mission made a HUGE push to get it spread as far as we possibly could, and it was a ton of fun! They even painted the windows of our car and gave us about 350 fliers to hand out in two days.  It was pretty sweet!
Happy Elder Beckstead!

Companion Elder Byrd's "favorite" bike helmet
This week was also amazing because there was a very sweet sister that the Sister missionaries in our ward have been teaching that got baptized on Sunday. It was a crazy event with planning changes and all sorts of fun stuff that happened. At first it got cancelled because of the holiday, then it was re-established for directly following church and our mission President came and participated and in the end it all worked out. Also totally crazy was they asked me to play the piano for the baptism about 10 minutes before (those poor singers!) and I was also asked to confirm her a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It was such a nice Spirit and a wonderful way to celebrate Easter with her and all 40 of the ward members that stayed for the event.
Easter Bunny? No, but rabbit seen on Easter!
I hope that all of you have been able to strengthen your testimonies this season and allow the Savior to stay a major part of your lives. I love you all. 

Elder Beckstead

Monday, April 14, 2014

Different Perspective

Hello Everyone!

It has been so good to hear from you and be able to respond week by week with all the miracles and blessings we get to see! Thank you, thank you for all the emails and letters I have received.  They really do lift me up and always make me smile!
This week I had a very neat exchange experience. I had the chance to spend basically two full days with this young Elder named Elder Pututau who is only in his second month as a missionary. It was a ton of fun because he, first of all, is extremely fit, so he really pushed me physically (we were able to find out that despite the wind and hills, we still can make it across town three times for our appointments, and still have time to contact others along the way!) and on top of that, he is super excited about the work and smiles absolutely non-stop. It was so great! Thanks to the renewal I received from his faith and love toward everyone, we were able to see some pretty incredible miracles this week. I was truly able to raise my expectations for this area and for myself based off of what we were able to accomplish.  it made me think a little bit about our lives, how sometimes we get into a little bit of a rut, still working hard, but putting limitations on ourselves based off of what we have seen happen in the past. Another missionary explains it better than me, so I will paraphrase what she (Sister Porter) said.

We are instruments in the Lord's hands, not just tools. Sometimes we see ourselves as tools, like a hammer, that the Lord just uses to pound and pound, but we have much more potential than that. Like a musical instrument, we can produce many different sounds. As a violin, the Lord may use another person as an instrument to make beautiful music with us, or He may just pluck our strings to play a different sound. He can use us to make different tones, rhythms, volumes and melodies. Our potential is much beyond that of a tool, if we just allow Him to take us and believe in ourselves. The way I see it, it is often just our doubts that keep us from allowing ourselves to be an instrument rather than a tool. 

So, on Saturday, Elder Bird and I got a call from a sweet member of our ward who needed some help digging holes to put her swing set in (so it doesn't tip over or something). We hurried over and had the chance to dig five or so holes (which was actually pretty amazing because there were almost no rocks, just a bunch of roots) and the miracle came after our labor. It turns out, she also invited Becky and Isaac a young, very recently married couple, to come too. Becky is the niece of the members who provided her home for us to stay in while I was in Wichita, and Isaac is not a member. Apparently, The member I stayed with told them I was a fantastic missionary, and to watch out for me, so that I could teach Isaac the lessons. Previous to this time, he was fine to come to church, but not to hear anything, until Becky said I was the supposed fantastic missionary. Anyway, he listen to a lesson, accepted a Book of Mormon, came to church, said he wants to be married for eternity, and said he will get baptized. WOW! I think the Lord definitely knows what He is doing. 

Also, we have an investigator going to school as ESU, originally from Finland, who said he is going to get baptized too. He is going to wait until he gets back to Finland so that he can have his family come and feel the Spirit, and hopefully have their interest sparked. We are so excited for him!

Love you all!

Elder Beckstead

General Conference is Awesome!

Hellooooo Everyone! 

I hope you all had as wonderful an experience as I did at conference this last week! There were some amazing talks that I needed to hear, some fantastic ones for those we are teachings, and as always, the Spirit taught each person with direct guidance even when the speakers were on a different topic. Boy I sure loved it. The only regret I have is that more people didn't get the chance to see it!  We will be doing our best to remedy that.

Boy, people sure can be funny sometimes. It can be so frustrating to see someone's potential and watch them miss out on a great blessing. This week was great for meeting and teaching people, but every single one of them missed out because they didn't come to conference, didn't read their scriptures, and or didn't pray. Sometimes I just want to grab people by their shirt pockets and bring them within an inch of my face to tell them that I just want them to be happy, and learn how to live happier, and help their family friends neighbors and everyone else they meet be happy! They just don't seem to get it otherwise. It is such an amazing feeling to be able to go into a home, bless it with the Spirit, see a visible relaxing and calming presence come over people and know they are feeling joy in their lives for the first time in who knows how long. At the same time, it is so hard to come back three days later and find the same people not progressing because they don't understand how important being a vessel for the Spirit is. How I wish people could just see the changes I see and feel it so that they no longer slump back into bad habits and old laziness. This Gospel can truly change people, but only if they let it.
This is a outdoor picture of a deer - for my dad
It reminds me of a story I love from Preach My Gospel somewhere. It says that missionaries can only bring information to peoples' minds, but the Spirit can bring it to peoples' hearts. What they learn from us can, and likely will, be forgotten. However, if they allow the Spirit into their hearts, exercising their agency to actually open the doors to their hearts and invite in the Spirit waiting just outside, they can never forget. I have not yet met a member, no matter how less active, who joined the church for the right reasons, not for a girl or other reason, but truly because they learned it was true, who had forgotten the feelings in their hearts. Do each of us have such a feeling? I know I certainly do. I am a convert to the church, though I was born into family active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I have begun my conversion through the Spirit and the witness it has born, of the feelings it has allowed me to experience as I have invited it into my heart, and I hope to continue to build my conversion throughout my life. If any of you have experienced the same, I invite you to recall those feelings and allow them to fill you with warmth and joy. If you have not as of yet experienced the beginnings of conversion, I invite you to act. The Lord loves each of us and wants us to feel joy. If you do not know this, read the scriptures, listen to conference, and most of all pray. You will feel it.  I promise.

I love you all very much!

Elder Beckstead

Loving Little Emporia!

Hello everyone!

This week has sure been a great one!  We were on bikes all week, but Emporia is small enough, that we can travel from one end of town to the other in about half an hour, if we want to.  It has been a lot of fun for me to get back on a bike, and thankfully, the weather has been cooperating enough to let us travel safely.  

So this week, we found this amazing new investigator named Kenny. Actually, the Sisters ran into him first, and in the lesson they had with him, he told them he has been wanting to get baptized like Jesus Christ for a while, but he doesn't know where or how to do it. Thankfully, missionaries know these things! He ended up coming to church and really loving it, as well as building a ton of friendships with other people in the ward. He is super excited to continue learning too. It really is a testimony to me that the Lord is preparing people, and as we keep our eyes open, we might be able to help them.

This week, one of our member's homes almost burned down; some neighbor kids lit a fire in her yard and it got a little bit out of control, and on top of that the fire department was out taking car of some brush fires out of town. Thankfully her other neighbor got a hose and they were barely able to put it out before it reached the home. Nonetheless, she still couldn't sleep because he back yard had a ton of dried up leaves and branches and so forth, bad enough that it would have been far out of control had the neighbor boys started it in the back yard rather than the front. So, she requested our help to clean it up. It was an incredible experience to see and feel her stress melt as we took out almost 25 bags of leaves, and a giant pile of branches. That is one of the best parts about serving a mission: seeing people become happier as you serve teach and otherwise help them.  

On that note, we were teaching this part member family and offered to help the nonmember husband with the siding on his house. He asked us what the catch was. If we helped him, what did we want in return? We told him all we wanted was a smile, and that would be reward enough for us, and he was a little bit incredulous. He actually asked us, "No, really, will you make me come to church, or read, or pray?" We told him we would love for him to do those too, because they would help him, but they weren't necessary for our service. He agreed to let us help. Love it!

I know that as you forget yourself and help others in any way, even just smiling at people during the day, your worries will become less, and your stress will decrease, and you will be happier. I know that the Savior set the example for is in living a life full of service. I know we can feel of His love as we accept what He has done for us and not only let it change us, but help other to access it as well.

I love you all very, very much!
Elder Beckstead

Transfer to Emporia

Hello Everyone!  

So, my new area here in Emporia is amazing. It has such a neat history and feel here and I absolutely love it. Emporia is a little town of about 11,000 people. It has a university, Emporia State and a little tech college as well, and it is so cool. Some interesting facts about it include the fact that it is the city that founded Veterans Day, it houses the teacher's hall of fame, and it has been voted the best tasting water in the country (though I can't really tell that big a difference). It is still a small enough town that almost everyone will talk to us and smile back to us and wave as they drive by, yet it is big enough to keep us busy for a while. I love it!

My new companion Elder Bird is quite a neat little fellow. He is super excited to work really hard with me and be exactly obedient. He is from Arizona and is way fun. We have already had the chance to see that we work very well together; we teach well, contact well, and just have a good old time together. This transfer is really going to be a blast. 

We are working with a few great people in this area, although our major goal is now to find. The ward is very excited to have both Elders and Sisters here and we are completely ready to work with them to invite a ton of new people to learn how happy this gospel can help them be.

I love you all so much! I want you to know our Savior has His hands in all things. There is nothing that happens that he doesn't know about and there is nothing that happens that He can't use to help you learn and grow. If we are able to learn and then accept His will completely in our lives, we will be so much better off. I am working on that and it will take me a lifetime, but with His help, it is possible. I so testify in His sacred name, even Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Beckstead