Thursday, May 25, 2017

Week 14 - Working hard in Jacksonville

Hello Family! 

I rejoice with you in the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I thank you for what you do, but mostly I thank you for the amazing Family that you are!

So to answer a few questions that have been sent to me,

My companion is Elder Ralph. He is a swell quy. He is 6'10" and has a real big heart. He is the district leader and I'm the designated driver. We have had a really good companionship so far. He snores at night so thank Heaven for ear plugs right? LOL.

One more thing that was really cool this week before I get into the highlights, was when we had a chance to go dedicate the sisters apartment. They said that something didn't feel right with their apartment, so we went over and dedicated it by the power of the Holy Priesthood. I'm so grateful for the chance that I have to be a holder of the Holy Priesthood. It is such an amazing opportunity and what a privilege.

I have really been hard core studying my patriarchal blessing for the last week and a half. The spirit has been telling me that there is more to some of the passages that what I had thought and so after really studying it for a few days I have come to the conclusion that what I thought I needed to do with my life actually isn't what I am supposed to do. For the longest time I thought I should become a programmer and earn big money, but now I think that the Lord wants me to teach Religion at BYU-I. I'm not sure how it will all work out but that is what the Spirit has confirmed to me that this is what I need to do with my life.

This last week has been mighty interesting... The highlights were we helped out at a Methodist church, extended 2 baptismal invites and I actually know what I want to do with my life.

We were informed by the sisters that the Methodist church was in need of help with one of their soup kitchens. So we stopped by there and helped them feed people. That was pretty cool. Right before we started helping we were able to go on a quick tour of the place. It had a lot of the same features of the LDS Church but the big difference was the spirit. Being in the building the spirit felt a bit uncomfortable and in some places he was completely absent. It was really eye opening and strange. The spirit doesn't dwell in unholy places and even though this church resembled godliness it denied the power thereof and therefore the spirit was absent. The Christus that they had also kinda rubbed me the wrong way. Christ's hands were up in a way that was like " praise me I'm so much better then you" kind of a feel. Whereas the Christus that the Church has in SLC, and other places, has his hands down, palms facing outward like "Come unto me all ye that are burdened and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." I definitely an grateful for the Holy Spirit that can lead us and guide us in the way that we should go. He can also help us discern what is good and what is evil.

We had a really good church tour with Dexter the other day and it was awesome. We took him on a tour of the church and talked about the paintings, rooms and the baptismal font. He had a ton of really good questions and we had a great discussion. We need him to come to church a few more times and then he can get baptized

We also extended 2 baptismal invites this week. I had the chance to extend those and bore powerful, humble testimony of the reality of the first vision when God the Father and His wonderful Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to the boy Joseph Smith and answered his humble prayer. It was amazing and I was filled with such love for these people and I felt the spirit so strongly. My heart was filled with Joy. I love being a missionary!!!

I love being able to serve my fellow men here in the good Ole South. I love the people here. I have a strong testimony that our Savior knows our names. He knows who we are, the life we've lived, the struggles that we are going through now, and the glorious future that awaits us. Remember this important truth that we have: Grace can be applied everyday,  Everyday,  EVERYDAY! Our Savior is looking for every reason under the sun to bless us, and strengthen us on our difficult, unique journey back home.

It never seems like I have enough time to pray. There are so many things that I want to talk with my Father about, but alas he knows my heart and the things that I desire to say, so I know that that is enough. 

My whole work and purpose is to help bring souls unto Christ. The only reward for this labor is as soon as I see my Savior again, after I am done kissing his feet and bathing them in my tears of gratitude, I just want to hug him. No words need be said, I just want to give my older Brother a hug, for that will say more words than my poor vocabulary can express. That is all I want.

I love you all so much Family! I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for all of you and your continued prayers for me and for the good people of the South.  

Have a fantastic week! 

Elder Skyler Glen Larsen

Elder Ralph and Elder Larsen

Jacksonville District May 2017

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Week 13 - Service and Mothers Day

Hello family! 

I rejoice with you the gospel of Jesus Christ! I thank you for what you do the more importantly I thank you for who you are!

This is probably been the best week on my mission yet! I just want to thank everyone who was in on the Skype call that I was able to do. It was so good to see all of your faces and to hear your voices. Thank you so much for what you do!  45 minutes is not nearly enough time to tell you everything that I wanted to.  I know a lot of you had questions and I want to do my very best to answer them. If you have questions please email me and I will do my very best to try to get back with you.  

This week has been really busy. We have a accomplished a lot and I feel really good about our results of the week. Here are the highlights of the week. 

While we were walking through the wagon wheel, we were able to talk with William, Marsha, and Monica. They are some really humble people who I feel have been prepared for the gospel. We talk to them about how the plan of salvation can really benefit their lives. They seem super receptive to the message and we invited them to church. Unfortunately the member who was going to give them a ride to church fell asleep and was not able to drive them. We are going to try to follow up with them. 

This week we were able to talk with Dexter. We went over the last half of the plan of salvation where it talks about the spirit world, resurrection, judgement, immortality, and the kingdoms of glory. He is really loving the gospel and I've been able to see him grow so much.  I was also privileged to be able to provide him with the priesthood blessing that he stood in need of.

The hash tag for yesterday is #ServiceSaturday. We were up early doing service for a member who is moving to Ogden.  Then we had our interviews with President Wakolo . Our interviews were amazing I really love our mission president. After interviews with President we were able to go do service at the Jacksonville Community Center. We moved 8600 pounds of food that day. They have gathered all this food through the community food drive that they had and it was in part sponsored by the United States Postal Service. Then, the United States Postal Service picked up the food and brought it to the care center. It was so fun. We were running back and forth putting boxes on the shelf and putting the cans in the boxes. Overall it was such a fantastic time. After service at the care center we went to the Olson's for dinner and helped tear out some of the rotted floor that they had. It was a great day. 

Yesterday was probably the most bittersweet experience of my life. I loved being able to see my family and to hear their voices, but it was so hard not to be there and tell you all about what has been going on for me back here, and to hear about all the fun things going on back there at home. There is so much more that I wanted to talk about. 

I thank God everyday for the amazing family and extend family back home. If it wasn't for all that you do I would not be here. I feel the strength of all your prayers for me and they do make a difference. I have a testimony that God loves us. If he was willing to answer a young, 14 farm boy with no education, then he will answer you. He has answered me in my times of need and I know he will answer you too. 

WIth much love, 

Elder Skyler Glen Larsen

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Week 12 - Zone Conference and Transfers

Hello family that I love dearly! I rejoice with you in the gospel of Jesus Christ! I thank you for what you do but mostly I thank you for who you are! 

First off I want to thank all those who have sent me letters and emails they have really helped me this week. I also want to have a big shout out to those who have been praying for me and my investigators the work here is hard, but it is amazing, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

I'm doing pretty good. I'm staying in Jacksonville for another transfer, and Elder Murdoch got transferred to Memphis 2nd west as a zone leader. I am really excited for him, and it is a huge responsibility, but I think that he will do just great. It really sucked saying goodbye to him, but I think Elder Ralph and I will get along pretty well. Elder Ralph came out with Elder Murdoch so I was able to learn a little about him. Something that is pretty cool in this new transfer is I'm going to be the designated driver. So this will be pretty interesting -  pray for me that I'll be safe while I drive. 

I'm really happy that I'm starting to get some medical attention on the headaches -  they were really starting to bug me. Elder Hess is going to have me go down to  Little Rock to a doctor that is also stake president. So I know I will be taken care of down there. I'm not sure when I will go down there but we will see how it all goes.

So to give you all a run through of what my week has been like, Monday we had P day and we went to a flea market. That was a pretty interesting experience, we went and it was like a trip back in time.  I saw so many things that were from the early 1900 it was remarkable.

Wednesday we had zone meeting and it was the last zone meeting in this mission. Leadership from the church has asked that we no longer have zone meetings but that we just stick with zone conferences. It was pretty cool and I'm excited for this new change.  In zone meeting we learned a lot about how to help former investigators become new investigators again. Former investigators are great, because they have already felt the spirit and most of them would meet with missionaries again so that was pretty cool to learn about that.  We also learned how we need to keep our area book notes up to date because when we leave an area we are handing off all of the souls to the next missionaries and if we don't leave good notes we clearly don't love the people enough.

We also had interviews with President after zone meeting, that was really nice to get to meet with President Wakolo again, and to be able to talk about what I can do to become a better missionary. He is the best and I love him.

That is pretty much the highlights for the week, we've also done a lot of service helping the members whose houses have been flooded this week.

In my studies this week I felt inspired to study from Jesus the Christ. This is what I felt inspired a study for like the last three weeks. I have grown my testimony so much of our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ. He truly is the Sun of God and He loves All of us and that is why he goes to such great lengths to help us and perfect us into the people that we are meant to be. I am so grateful to be a missionary and I have learned so much in the 104 days that I have been a missionary. This truly has been experience of a lifetime and I look forward to every day with an eye of faith knowing that my Savior will help me make it through the day and that he will help me help others.  I would encourage you all to keep praying for a closer connection with and God the Father. He wants to hear from you and to hear your voice, and he wants to help you. Also keep reading The Book of Mormon it is the fantastic Word of God and I know it is true. when times are tough just remember that you have an amazing loving Savior who is ready and willing to give you grace to help you and to lift you up and to strengthen you. Keep in mind that grace is not us having to do everything and then Christ comes in, but rather it is Christ walking with us to the finish line encouraging us and helping us every step of the way.

Please keep praying for me and for my investigators they're amazing people who I've  come to love deeply and dearly. I keep praying for all of you to be safe and happy and that God will be with you wherever you go. 

I love you all! ❤😊

Elder Skyler Glen Larsen

Elder Murdoch and Elder Larsen and Elder and Sister Rasmussen.  

Jacksonville Zone Conference

Monday, May 1, 2017

Jacksonville, Arkansas Week 11 - Floods and Tornado Warnings

Hello Family that I love! I rejoice with you in the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

This week has been intense. We were walking this week so that was kind of tough. Some of the highlights of this week include Crazy storms, flooding, and miracles.

The Miracles that happened this week was with Dexter, Shaunta and Patrice. This week we invited Dexter to live the Word of Wisdom. He has had some habits that he has been needing to quit and he has been struggling with that. He asked if he could move his baptismal Date down a couple weeks to give him more time to fully convert, and commit to being clean before he was baptismed. Dexter seriously is golden and has a super sincere desire to be baptised. So now we have more time to help him be prepared to make this amazing first step into the Gospel path. 

We met Shaunta when we were in the wagon wheel. It's a part of town that literally looks like a wagon wheel. Shaunta was at one of our other investigators houses when we taught the Book of Mormon and she wanted us to stop by her house and teach some more. When we went back there was a ton of people and we gave out 3 Book of Mormons and it was great. Something that I have been doing with all the Book of Mormons that I give out is marking my favorite Scriptures and the ones that I feel would help them. I pray about the Scriptures and then I write a note on the very first page that is like a letter to whoever reads it. That way they have more of a personal tough to it.  

We also met Patrice when we were walking through the wagon wheel. When we stopped by again we talked with her about how we had a message that would help her feel more peace in her life. After we said that the spirit came and gave her a big hug and she started crying. The Spirit was so strong and she just opened up. She is super prepared by God. It was so cool. She said that she knew that God was there and that He loved her and that she wanted a better connection with him. After hearing that we shared how the Book of Mormon would help her have that better connection with God that she wanted and how we were sent by God to help her. She committed to read it and we are going to go back there real soon. 

That's pretty much the highlights with my investigators this week.

We had the most wicked storm blow through here. We had so much rain fall. I think they said 7 or more inches fell. The lightning kept going from about 7 pm to about 3 in the morning. It was crazy! We couldn't really sleep very well because of the thunder and how loud it was. That, and the emergency radio that went off about every twenty minutes warning us of severe thunderstorms and tornados. When it would announce a severe thunderstorm warning I would wake up for a second and fall back asleep. When it would announce a tornado it had a different noise so I would wake up a little bit and blink my eyes a lot to stay awake long enough to hear the counties that the warning had been announced for. I didn't hear my county so I fell back asleep every time.  I've never seen or heard anything that crazy in my whole life. The whole state is a mess now because of the storm. They have had to open the flood gates on quite a few dams because of the sheer amount of water. The rain plus the opening of the flood gates has lead to massive floods throughout the area. Church was actually canceled because the road to the church was under water. We got a ride to the church before we found out it was canceled and the car almost turned into a boat. It was something to behold to say the least. I will send some videos that I took. 

In my studies this week I have learned sooo much. Before I conduct my studies I pray and ask what would be the most beneficial for me to study. This has taken me to read from Jesus the Christ. I am currently in chapter 32 and have only been reading for about 2 weeks. This is such a fast paced read for me. I have learned so much about the Character of Christ. It blows my mind. Reading the new Testament gives kind of an outline as to who the Savior was if you just casually read it, but when you read, study, and dive deep into it like how Jesus the Christ is then you can get so much out of it. Elder James E. Talmage has done a great job in helping me see the real character of the Savior and it has been such a feast for my Spirit. Wonderfull Stuff. I have also learned a lot about the character traits that I need to have and work on. I love how the Savior teaches in parables and puts so much meaning into just a few short words. At night before I head to bed I have been reading about the Grace that our Savior has to offer us. Grandma sent me a book called "Changed through His Grace" and it is so amazing. Right now I'm on page 35 I think. One of the biggest things that I have taken away from it is the difference between the way the vast majority of Christendom, and the majority of the church think about Grace. The majority of Christendom think Grace will save them in their sins with little need of repentence. There are some in the Church that feel like they need to do everything on their own efforts and focus so much on repentance and not the forgiveness aspect of the Atonement . Grace is the power that flows from the atonement and helps us be At-one-ment with Christ. Grace is the process that Divine power comes into our lives to help us grow and learn from our mistakes and enables us to put off the natural man and become a Saint through Christ. Isn't it amazing to know that we can receive help in every single aspect of our lives through Christ's Grace?

One question that I have recently asked myself is how have I relied on the atonement today? How have I relied on the Savior's Grace today? Doing this has opened my eyes a little to the amazing amount of individual involvement that each member of the God head has in my day to day, minute by minute life. I love how much God is involved in my life. I have seen his hand so much, and the more I learn about him, the more I see his hand. It is really, really humbling. I know that by myself I am nothing, as to my strength I am so weak, but with the Spirit as my Guide, my Savior at the helm, and my God as my Navigator I know that I will make it safely home. 

If you could all keep praying for me and my investigators that would be fantastic! Dexter is being baptised on May 20th.   Pamela also. Please also pray for Rick, Paige, Alvin, Carmon, Crystal, Jerrio Patrice, Zach and Rebecca, James and Linda, Shaunta, Willie, and Carly. These people are amazing and are close to my heart. Please pray that they might feel the spirit and want to know more. 

I love you all and I pray for each of you to be safe, happy and for the spirit to be more abundantly bestowed upon you. Please keep praying, God wants to hear from his children. He literally is your Father and you literally are his children. Pray to him and just talk with him. Find a quiet moment when you can just talk with him, and I promise you that he will speak back to you. It may not come right when you are praying but his answers will always come to you. 

I love you all! Have a fantastic week!

Elder Skyler Glen Larsen

 The rains came down and the floods came up :)
A pic from the car on the way to church. 

Candy the same color as the tie :)