Monday, April 15, 2013

Lessons Learned

April 15, 2013

Hey!

Since this is my last real week to email home I wanted to send some summarizing thoughts about my mission.

Being a missionary the past two years for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been an incredible experience! I have faced more difficulties and grown more than perhaps during any other stage of my life so far. I have learned truths of eternal significance. 

Testimony. It is said that in bearing your testimony you will find it. I have found that to be very true as I have frequently shared my conviction of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. In times of doubt and disbelief the Spirit of God has reaffirmed the faith I grew up with. By guiding others along their spiritual journey I myself have taken great strides down the path to return to our Heavenly Father. I have felt the love of God pierce through sadness and despair. I have learned for myself the truthfulness of this church. I planted a seed and watched it grow within me. The great swelling motions described in the 32nd chapter of Alma have been felt within my own breast. I testify that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the church that Jesus Christ established in antiquity. 

The Word of God. We are invited by Nephi to feast upon the words of Christ. Before my mission I rarely accepted that invitation. I have now drunk deeply from the living water contained in the scriptures. In particular The Book of Mormon has been a beacon of light to my soul. When I had been out on my mission for a year I made a commitment to myself that I would read The Book of Mormon once a month for the rest of my mission. That has been a life changing experience for me. As I pored over the sacred pages again and again I received further light and knowledge. My heart has been changed permanently by the powerful Word of God. I love The Book of Mormon with all my heart and I know it is true. If I were to choose one thing that I love above all else in this supernal record is its consistent messianic message of Jesus the Christ. I have come to know more fully who my Savior is through this inspired text. I have learned of His attributes and His love for us - the children of God. The eternal importance of Christ and His Atonement has been emblazoned upon my soul by The Book of Mormon. 

Service. I have learned of the great joy that is found in the service of your fellow men. I have always loved helping others but I understand service in a much fuller way. I have seen my efforts rejected and ignored by others and I think of our Savior who must feel that rejection much more deeply. I have tried to turn outward instead of inward and know the joy that losing ourselves in the work of the Master brings. 

Relationships. I understand better how to build relationships with others. I am less naive and gullible about what is out in the world and will protect myself better. I have learned that often when you give love to others they return it back. I am better at working with individuals and helping them learn and grow. Whether that is an investigator or companion. I see now how much a good example can influence an individual. I have been changed by the example set of other powerful missionaries and members. 

Prophets and Apostles. I have gained an appreciation for the living prophets and apostles. I bear witness that they are servants of the Almighty God. I love to read their words and their stories. Sermons given by the brethren have given me strength and comfort in times of need. I love Elder Holland. His talks gave me strength in the beginning of my mission that got me through the day. I read one of his talks multiple times per day. I said to myself figuratively speaking,"If Elder Holland knows it is true that is good enough for me." I love President Monson and know he is the Prophet of God on the earth today. 

Family. I have felt a hole in my heart where my family used to be. I learned how important my family was and is to me. The time to email home was like a sanctuary from the cares of life. I realized how much my father meant to me and the role model and example he was. I love his humility. My mother became my hero. Her conversion to the gospel and subsequent mission service have made me admire her immensely.  I can say like the stripling warriors that I did not doubt my mother knew it. My siblings have been my best friends and faithful writers and cheerleaders.  Even though I have missed my family I know it has been worth it to help other families grow in the gospel.

Atonement of Jesus Christ. I have seen the Atonement of Jesus Christ change lives forever. I have seen the Atonement of Jesus Christ change my life forever. I understand a little better the strengthening and redeeming power that emanates from Christ. I have felt his love and power deep within my soul. It has made my heart full and to borrow a Book of Mormon phrase has made me want to sing the song of redeeming love. I have felt encircled in the arms of His love. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. Regardless of specific doctrines or principles I know that the name of Jesus Christ carries inherent power. I love Him.

Converts. I have loved seeing others join the Church. I have made incredible friends who I will love always. But even if all my converts fall away or don't stay strong I know that I have converted one person. Myself!

I will always be grateful for the unique opportunity to serve a mission. Thank you all for support and encouragement. 

Love,
Elder Arnold

Watchmen on the Tower

April 8, 2013

Hey!

Life is just grand! We had a really great week here in Irvine. I always really look forward to General Conference and it never disappoints. Even better than Super Bowl Sunday!

Exciting story of the week. There is a lady that we have been trying to teach named Lisa. She had a great friend in Colorado that really prepared her to be taught. So when we knocked into her 6 months ago she readily received us. However we hadn't been able to get back in to teach her. This last week we were able to teach her. We got in and answered a bunch of questions that she had. Like what is the process of joining the church and other good things like that. Flash back to a couple of months ago when I was in an interview with President Bowen. We were talking about my investigators and he shared a scripture with me that I could share with Lisa. So at the end of our lesson I pulled out this scripture and had her read it and insert her name into it. Doctrine and Covenants 39:5-10

 5 And verily, verily, I say unto you, he that receiveth my gospel receiveth me; and he that receiveth not my gospel receiveth not me.

 6 And this is my gospel—repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom.

 7 And now, behold, I say unto you, my servant James, I have looked upon thy works and I know thee.

 8 And verily I say unto thee, thine heart is now right before me at this time; and, behold, I have bestowed great blessings upon thy head;

 9 Nevertheless, thou hast seen great sorrow, for thou hast rejected me many times because of pride and the cares of the world.

 10 But, behold, the days of thy deliverance are come, if thou wilt hearken to my voice, which saith unto thee: Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on my name, and you shall receive my Spirit, and a blessing so great as you never have known.

As she began to read the tears streamed down her face. Every word brought the Spirit so strong. I am grateful for an inspired mission president. 

General Conference was awesome. The prophets are truly inspired. I really loved Elder Holland's talk as I always do. Also I thought Elder Callister in the Priesthood session was really good. It is great to have prophets who act as watchmen on the tower to warn us of danger. 

Love you guys,
Elder Arnold

Monday, April 1, 2013

Irvine, yeah!

Hey everybody!

So anther wonderful week here in Irvine, the immaculate city! I was so excited that it was Easter yesterday. So awesome. I loved our Sunday service. It was so uplifting to really think about Christ and His Atonement. I was able to reflect on when I have felt touched by the power of the Atonement which has been frequent during the course of my mission. I have felt his strengthening and comforting hand reaching out to me as I have sought Him. 

One thing that the Bishop shared in the 3rd hour was from the Last Supper. When the Savior said that one of the twelve would betray him they all asked, "Is it I?" The humility that these men must have showed to recognize their own human weakness and ask if they were capable of that. I really liked the idea of that whole thought. 

We also talked about doubt in our lives. I had actually just come across a scriptural expression in the Book of Mormon that says look forward with an eye of faith. I really liked that. In life we can either rationalize and explain away the spiritual experience and feelings that we have or we can view them through an eye of faith and see the hand of God. I feel like I have chosen to look with an eye of faith but that isn't necessarily an easy decision to come to but it is so worth it!

So happy news. The Anaheim East Stake where I served for more than a year has been putting on a performance called Savior of the World. We were allowed to go if we could bring an investigator. I got Natalie to go and it was super awesome. I had dinner with Jeremy's family before hand and it was so awesome to catch up with them. Then I got to see tons of people that I knew super good at the performance. And the musical itself was super good. All in all a great experience. You forget how close you get to so many people that you serve around. I love it!

Gotta go! I am trying to read the whole Book of Mormon today and I am only in Alma. 

Love ya,
Elder Arnold

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Temple Trip, Yay!


March 26, 2013

Dear Everyone!

Good week here in Irvine! I turned 21 and successfully resisted the urge to drink some alcohol. Yes! 

I am writing on Tuesday because we got to go to the temple today! It will be my last trip there as a missionary. Sad day. But it was super awesome to go through the temple. I have really come to appreciate the sacred lessons taught in that edifice. I have learned a great deal over the course of my mission on how truly important the temple is and the peace it brings to our lives. One thing though that I realized when I was in the temple today was that I have read the Book of Mormon more times than I have visited the temple so I am eager to have the chance to spend more time there and learn more. 

Love ya,
Elder Arnold




Monday, March 18, 2013

Service, service, service


Hey everyone,

We had a pretty busy week. It was the first week of the transfer so we were busy driving everyone around and getting them situated. Crazy all the errands we have to run. It makes it worse that 3 sets of Elders are on bikes so we have to give lots of rides. But I'm not complaining or anything :)

We helped two different people move this week. One of the investigators in the other ward moved with his family. It was one of those nightmare moves where almost nothing is packed up and you kinda just stand around waiting for direction to help pack up some of the chaos. But we got most of that done. So that is good. And I am sure it will make a big difference in how they perceive the church.

That reminds me of a story. There was a younger guy named Marc who got baptized in the Northwood ward. I was the one to interview him for baptism. Really nice guy who married a member. Anyway, his parents came to his baptism and really enjoyed it. A couple of days later I was on splits with one of the Northwood Elders and a car died in front of us. So we pulled over to the side of the road and started running back to help them. We helped push their car safely out of the way. A few days after that the other Elder I was with ran into Marc's parents and they asked if he had been the Elder to run out and help that car. It turns out they were driving by just as we were helping. Perfect timing.

We also helped another lady move this week. My back is still a little sore from how many boxes we packed. Fun stuff though.

Love ya,
Elder Arnold

Monday, March 11, 2013

Transfer day…


Hey!


Well we got transfer calls on Saturday night and I am staying here in Irvine for my last transfer with Elder Walker. I am pretty happy that I get to stay and be in this ward that I have gotten to know really well. The one sad thing is that the Korean and Vietnamese districts in the zone are getting changed to the new garden grove zone to get ready for the mission split. So I am losing some way good mission friends from the zone :(

We went to a wedding reception on Saturday. Kinda awkward as missionaries but haha oh well. It was the Bishop’s daughter.

Nothing much to report. Hopefully more next week!

Love ya,
Elder Arnold

 

Still going...


March 4, 2013

Hey!

Everything is going awesome! We had interviews with President Bowen this week and it was good. It is always great to be able to talk with him and get some advice. The first thing he said was well it was really good to have you in the mission the last two years. I was like, "I'm still here." We laughed about that for a second. It was kind of like the pre-departing interview. Kind of nostalgic and everything, but super good. He said work hard to the end and I said yes sir!

I can't think of anything super exciting to say. 

One cool thing I have been doing is I bought a journal last week and have been writing down all the stories that I remember from my mission and the things that have impacted me. It is cool to see the hard times and the good times from a bigger picture perspective. So awesome. 

Love you all,
Elder Arnold

Monday, February 25, 2013

Embarrassing stories…

Hey!

Well another great week preaching the gospel! 

Kinda funny story of the week. Well somehow I was able to pry out Elder Walker's most embarrassing stories of his life. Believe me the word pry is appropriate because it took a lot of persuading but it was worth it because they were pretty hilarious. He said that he never had an embarrassing moment until he got a girlfriend; now he has lots of good ones. Kinda funny that we were having this discussion because of what happened last night. Kinda embarrassing and kinda gross. Be warned for the lighthearted and light stomached. We had a pretty late lunch after church and our meetings. We had a big thing of salmon left in the fridge that I promptly chowed down on. Then shortly after that we went to our dinner appointment. They were a really cool couple that fed us some delicious pasta. I started off by drinking some sparkling cider bubbly. Tasted good but probably wasn't the best first layer in the stomach. Ate a bunch of dinner that made me really full. Went and shared a message in living room and then had dessert served. A super huge piece of really really rich chocolate cheesecake with a full glass of milk. The first bite was really good and then it was just torture. Somehow I managed to squeeze it all down until I came to the last bite. The dad hadn't finished his last bit either so I thought I was going to be ok to not eat it. But that last little bite was staring me down. It was challenging me to finish it and I couldn't turn down that dare. After I ate it I was done for! I knew I had to get out of there as soon as possible. They asked me to say the closing prayer which was perfect because I could use the short prayers I always so masterfully offered as a kid when I was really hungry. We were about out of there when they offered some water bottles to go. My comp accepted and I was dying inside. Noooo! We got to go. Finally we had the bottles and I shot out of the apartment and down the stairs. Finally able to relieve my stomach in the nearest dumpster. Phew. Most embarrassing situation of all time barely averted but still kind of embarrassing.

We got sushi on Monday :)

Love you all,
Elder Arnold

After hearing that mowing the lawn release chemicals in the grass that makes people feel happy and relaxed, Matthew said: We go to a lady house who lives in the ward on Fridays usually and mow her lawn. It is pretty small so it is just enough to make one nostalgic but not enough to be super hard work. I am always super excited to cut the lawn.

Pretty crazy that there is going to be an Irvine mission. Guess we did such a good job here they had to make it a mission. :) I am pretty sure it won't happen until after I am done so no worries.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Love God

February 19, 2013

Hey!

Well another great week flies by! We were able to set up some great things for this coming week and are excited about the work we have going. 

I spoke in zone conference this last week on Valentine's day! I think you might find some of my comments interesting. I talked somewhat about motivation in missionary work. We are motivated by different things. Some of these things are fear, wanting a reward or blessing, duty and love. We get up in the morning for fear that the APs will come knock on our door. We go out to find people so that our numbers will look good. We keep knocking doors because we feel duty bound to God and will feel guilty if we stop. The most powerful motivation is the love of God and our fellowmen.  Perhaps that is why it is the first and great commandment. I have worked the hardest in my mission when I have felt the love of our Father in Heaven and I want to do His work. I shared a scriptural example of this in Alma 4:3-5, 9-10 the people are awakened to a remembrance of their duty and begin to establish the church more fully. A year later the church begins to fail in its progress and falls into wickedness. They are only motivated by duty so it doesn't last. In 4 Nephi 1:15 the people have the love of God in their hearts so the church stays strong for 200 years. A striking contrast. Fitting that my remarks centered on love on Valentines Day :)

Hopefully I didn't bore you. I remember not really liking to read gospel comments in missionary’s letters home. I was just like: get to the action. haha. 

I don't know if I have ever really written very much about one of our investigators named Natalie. She is 16 and has been investigating the church for like 8 months now. She ran up to missionaries at a park and told them she wanted to get baptized. She was coming to church and wants to get baptized but her mom is vehemently opposed to it. Sad day. But we still meet with and teach her. She is super awesome and so filled with faith. She finished the Book of Mormon on Christmas Eve and started crying because it meant so much to her. Anyway, getting to the action story of the week: we texted her to set up an appointment and we got a kinda scary text back. She said that she had heard some stuff on the news and read some articles that she didn't think she could ever be Mormon. Uh oh not the thing you want to hear as a missionary. I sent her another text reminding her of what she had felt and the Book of Mormon. She said that she would always love the people and the Book of Mormon and that she had tried to forget what she had heard but she couldn't get over it. It is funny because we were texting back and forth while I was reading from the Book of Mormon and I came across this verse that very night Helaman 16:22. Fitting. Well I bore my testimony via a 6 part text. I told her that early on in my mission I had heard some stuff that really shook me; that I even prayed to know if I should stay on my mission. There were some things that really helped me. Getting answers from back home to clarify what I had heard, but also more importantly, the peace that the Spirit whispered to me as I prayed about it. I bore my testimony: I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and The Book of Mormon is the word of God. I feel it in my heart. We got a short text back: I believe you. I still felt the spirit when I read that. I will keep praying. It was so awesome to get that text! It is cool that even via text people can feel the power of the Holy Ghost. I love this Church and this work! There is such peace and light that comes into your life from it. I would do anything for my Father in Heaven. 

Hopefully that was a better action story! Haha. Love ya!
Elder Arnold

Blast from the Past


February 11, 2013

Hey!

I got to go to a baptism in the Anaheim 6th ward on Saturday and it was so awesome. It was for Jen Atchelay. She is married to a member named Ray. I taught her every week for 6 months while I was in that ward. She was catholic and planned on staying that way. She had never come to church before and would always say she would come but then never come. Elders in the past had really pushed baptism and wanted her to pray about it a bunch. She told them she had a couple signs that she should stay catholic like after she prayed she looked up and saw a picture of Mary and stuff like that. So while I was there we showed them movies and had basic gospel discussions. The one step of progress she made while I served there was she came to church my second to last week in the ward. We twisted her arm and it was Mother's Day so it was perfect and she came and loved it and never stopped going. The Elders have been working with her for the past year to break a lot of habits and get her ready for this last weekend. It was so cool to see lots of hard work by a lot of people pay off and see how amazing it was for their family. They seemed so happy. It was a perfect baptism. Except she had to get baptized twice ;)

Going to that baptism was incredible. It made me realize how the small things do bring about great things; that no effort is wasted. I love this work. I love the Lord and would do anything for Him and His children here. 

Love you all!
Elder Arnold

Bye Elder Wadsworth


February 4, 2013

Hey!

Well we had transfers here again in the California Anaheim mission. Elder Wadsworth is heading back to the Vietnamese program. He was a great companion and I am going to miss him a ton. I am not even sure I told you very much about him. He was from Orem. He actually played tennis for Orem High his senior year. His dad was President of Tahitian Noni and was a mission president in Vegas. He taught me so much. One of my favorite things that he taught me was to enjoy whatever you are doing. He used the parable of the haunted corn maze. Either you can go through the maze acting too cool to be scared and not even have that much fun or you can just get into it and allow yourself to be scared and you will have a blast. I love that attitude! 

My new companion is Elder Walker from Rexburg, Idaho! Yay! He seems really awesome. I don't know him too well yet but that will change soon.

Love you all!
Elder Arnold

Questions Help


January 28, 2013

Hey!

So all is going well here in Irvine! It rained a little bit this last week which was a nice change of pace. Now it is back to being nice and sunny. 

Stuff that happened this week: We went to visit one of our investigators that is going through a 12 step program. For the second step she made a list of questions about God that she wants answers to and is asking different people that she knows. We got to be the first ones to answer. When we have a lesson with her it is hard because she likes to talk a lot. Filling out these questions with her was great because she had to take notes on what we were saying. So a few questions were how do you pray and what do you believe happens after we die? These were awesome questions to answer. Each one was like a mini question and it was stuff she actually wanted to learn for herself and not just stuff we were telling her. Awesome.

I have also been reading through the Book of Mormon with different questions and I highlight the answers I find. So last month I read it looking for the characteristics of Christ. Then I wrote up a couple of paragraphs about what I learned. It is way cool because you can focus on something that you want to learn. It is making reading the Book of Mormon way exciting. 

Love you guys!
Elder Arnold

Do a Good Turn Daily


January 22, 2013

Hey!

Here are the highlights of the week!

We got to go to the temple today as a zone which was awesome. It is so spiritually refreshing. It was way cool because I bumped into a kid I went to Provo High with. His name is Jeremy and he was in my biology class my senior year. He is a way chill kid. He is leaving on his mission to Arizona next week. He sat on my same table in Biology and we had tons of fun together. We made a rule that our table was a no swearing table and signed a little constitution. haha. I was so confused when I first saw him. It was way hard to place the familiar face after 3 years. Way cool though!

We helped a kinda crazy guy move yesterday. We had talked to him before because he is way into some eastern religious movements and wanted to "enlighten" us. haha. But we went back yesterday and he was moving so we helped him load up the truck and get him ready to go. He hosts a radio show a couple of nights a week on his religious thoughts and stuff. We are probably going to get to call into the show and talk about what it is like to be Mormon. That would be cool. 

We taught an atheist polish guy yesterday which was way cool. I had sat down with him once before like 10 minutes and felt like I made little progress answering his unrelated questions and concerns. This time we really tied everything back to the restoration as we went through the first lesson. He liked the idea of doing an experiment and seeking out truth. He is willing to read the Book of Mormon. He has such a nice young family that the gospel and church would help so much. 

Love you all,
Elder Arnold

Monday, January 14, 2013



Yeah!


January 14, 2013

Hey!

So we had a good week here. Sometimes I feel like nothing that exciting happened this week but then I always remember a bunch of small miracles that have happened. It is awesome.

We taught an investigator named Denise on Monday night. She is a single mom of three boys with a Christian background. We brought a really cool member who is a convert to the church. He told her about how he gained his testimony by reading and praying. He received a strong spiritual answer. We came back a couple of nights later and talked to her about if she has gotten an answer. It was interesting because she said that she hadn't felt anything as she prayed. But she said as Bro. Luther was describing the answer that he got when he prayed that was exactly how she was feeling during the lesson. She was like I am not quite sure what it was. I was like I know exactly what that was, it was the Spirit telling you it is true! It was a good lesson. We are teaching her again tonight. 

We were going to visit some potentials one night this last week when the thought came that we needed to go and check up on one of our investigators. So we drove all the way over there and she wasn't home. I was like well that was lame. As we were getting in the car to drive away a guy that we knew walked by. He is moving on Tuesday and he wants us to come teach him on Tuesday morning. It was cool that even though our investigator wasn't home we were led to be at a place at the perfect time to catch this guy one last time. The Lord is trying his best to help us out. 

I love this work!

Elder Arnold

January 7, 2013

Hey!

Life is going great here in Cali! 

One cool experience. We were visiting with this guy who was a convert to the church but has been inactive for a very long time. Super nice but is pretty much a catholic now. He invited us to come have breakfast with him on New Year’s Day. So we decided to go because we can't turn down free food. We show up and meet a bunch of his family. He introduces us as the elders who come over to harass him. haha he is a jokester. We are sitting next to his sister and eating our breakfast. We get all of the normal questions about how long we have been here and where do we stay and all of that stuff. Then his sister asks us what are our favorite scriptures. What is the scripture that we always turn to?  So Elder Wadsworth pulls out his Book of Mormon and shares 3 Nephi 18:19-20. It says that if you pray to the Father in the name of Christ he will give it to you if it is right. You can tell that the scripture hits her pretty hard. She takes the Book of Mormon to look and see if it is really there. She puts it down and starts to tear up. She relates how often her mother used to pray. So that scripture rung a perfect cord with her. She started to ask about the Book of Mormon so we read a little bit out of the Introduction with her and offered her a copy. She said that she would really love a copy. So after that it is time to leave. She says she wants to walk us out. When we get outside she pulls out $40 and says I really want to donate to you guys. We try to turn it down but we end up accepting to not be rude. We told her we would give it to the church to help the poor and needy. So we turned it in as fast offerings. Then we got a call later that day from Jack who is the inactive guy. He thanked us for coming over and related that his sister wants to take us to dinner and meet with us when she gets back from her trip in a few weeks. And he gave us her number. It was pretty cool to see how powerful the scriptures can be. 

I love you all!
Elder Arnold

Happy New Year!


December 31, 2012

Hey!

So it was way good to be able to call home on Christmas. It felt like just yesterday I was at home with everybody. It made me realize how much of a nerdy missionary I have turned into. haha. Oh well I am going to enjoy it until the end. Then I can go home and watch the District on BYUtv and dream about my mission some more. :) 

So, for Christmas Eve we spent it with our Bishop. We had a way good dinner and also got to make gingerbread houses at my request. It was awesome. The father of Bishop Yost was the head admiral for the U.S. Coast Guard and he was there at dinner as well. He had some way good sea stories. People getting blown up and catching fire and stuff. It really helped us feel the Christmas spirit. 

For Christmas morning we gathered with the other Elders in our district and opened presents and had a big breakfast. So much fun. Elder Wadsworth got sent some IBC rootbeer which we all had some of. We learned that if you go bottoms up real fast that it just all fizzes and shoots out your mouth. Pretty hilarious. 

We also went caroling with other Elders. That was pretty cool to do. Nobody was really good at singing so we probably hurt their eardrums but oh well. 

Love you guys!
Happy New Year!
Elder Arnold