February 29, 2016

Happy Leap Day!

"El que sirve, sirve. El que no sirve, no sirve." --Guatemalan Proverb

Highlights for 29/2/16:

Highlight #1: Family. This week we found an awesome family. Can't say much as we've only met a couple times. But to explain how we found them: We were walking down the street and started to talk to a couple that works in the temple that we past in the street. Pretty soon we saw someone running towards us...when he got to us all he said was "Elders, I have some friends that would like to talk to you." Turns out he is a recent convert from the coast that is leaving for his mission in 10 days and was visiting some friends for the "last" time before his mission. We obviously said sure, then he asked if we could come by a couple hours later. So we rearranged our schedule to go. WHAT A FAMILY! There are about 14 members to the family...I know, that is A LOT of of people in one room. But it went well, they are reading the Book of Mormon and are going to come to church on Sunday. Lookin' up here! :) (but with changes in a week...who knows if I'll get to be involved...)

Highlight #2: FOOD. Moronga. DON'T LOOK IT UP, I can explain when I get home. 'Nuff said. It was from the best place to buy it in Guate. If I hadn't known what it was I would have thought that it was some new Guatemalan way of preparing meat because it tasted just like beef. But hey, now I've got a story. And best of all, I DIDN'T GET SICK :) So all's well that ends well :)

Highlight #3: Service. This is why I included the Guatemalan proverb above. This week we had the opportunity to do some service for a recently progressing investigator. Turns out when we showed up that the "service" he had planned was to repair the road to his house. HAHA. I can imagine your faces right now. But hey, wasn't too bad. All that it took was recementing a couple adoquines (small cement blocks that make ALL the streets here). So it wasn't too bad. But the part that really impressed me is the effect our service can have, and does have. All the neighbors came out and our investigator started telling all of them how awesome we are...I guess that's okay ;) HAHA. Now to just get back there and visit some of the neighbors! :)

The Prophet Joseph Smith declared: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.” --Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 49

Not much that I can add...Christ is the center of EVERYTHING. If we remember that and apply that knowledge to our lives we will experience more happiness now and achieve our eternal potential.

With love and prayers,
Elder Flake

PS I know you guys looked up moronga...now you know why I said not to. HAHAHA :) But like I said it wasn't that bad! :)

PPS HAPPY LEAP DAY!!!! Not just anybody gets to live an extra day in their mission ;)

February 22, 2016

The Week I Almost Didn't Finish

"As individuals we are strong. Together, with God, we are unstoppable." --Rosemary M. Wixom (Keeping Covenants, Protects Us, Prepares Us, and Empowers Us)

Highlights for 22/2/16:

Highlight #1: Sick. Well, sickness struck again in this companionship. But, this time I made it through unscathed. My comp for the 4th time suspected that he had parasites (mexican food, in the street, in his last area... :/). So we had to go in 3 days this week to the clinic and have tests done. (for anyone that knows the process for checking for parasites, you understand what I mean by we had to "go in" 3 times this week... :P) But, in the end they didn't find anything. So now it's just trying to figure out what he DOES have because he still has all the symptoms...so that is some fun stuff! Fun fact: an Elder came to this area last year from my comp's last area for the same reason...parasites. So, have fun when you go to "that" area ;) haha! :)

Highlight #2: Alma 32. I was studying this week in Alma 32, among other places, and man is this chapter FOR EVERYBODY!!! It's for my investigators, it's for the new convert, it's for the convert with a little more time, it's for those that are converts of a LONG time, and it's for those that were born in the church...it is literally for EVERYBODY! Starting in v. 28, have we taken this "seed" and planted it in our hearts? When was the last time we read, really read and pondered, the scriptures? v 29-30, self explanatory and continue giving the seed what it needs to grow. v 32-33, crucial, CRUCIAL to the experiment. This is why we as missionaries invite all to do what we invite you to do. We want YOU to "test" this seed, it may be the seed of keeping the Sabbath holy, or the seed of reading the Book of Mormon, or the seed of preparing to go to the temple, etc. You must plant the seed to know if it is good, and when you come to the knowledge that the seed is good this leads to a testimony of the things of God. Now for the homework: (because I don't want to take too much time and want you all to come to understand through the Holy Ghost this chapter specifically for yourselves) Find your copy of the Book of Mormon (or click here) and read, ponder, apply, and pray about what you read and feel. I would highly recommend Alma 32, but the promise is the same in whatever part you choose to read :) :)

Highlight #3: Short Circuit. We received the shock of our lives yesterday morning (NOT LITERALLY, just want to be clear. At no point in this highlight were we harmed). I had just finished my shower and had changed and my comp was beginning his shower, when there was a BUNCH of noise outside in the street. It sounded like you had taken a fedex truck and was shaking it violently. Then there was a BOOOMB and the electricity went out in our apt....then smoke slowly started coming out of the wall. So, I quickly let my comp know to finish and get out of the shower (because I didn't know if there was electricity in the water system). So it turns out that the electrical current had gone overboard out in the street and the problem ended up burning the wires from the street post to our house, the wiring to the electrical counter, and the counter itself (ie LOTS of smoking wires). But there wasn't anything we could do on a Sunday, so we just let the owner know what had happened and this morning the process of fixing and figuring out what caused the problem began. But all is well, just a fun story now to share :) :)

"With all my heart I want to be a true follower of Jesus Christ. I love Him. I adore Him. I witness of His living reality. I witness that He is the Anointed One, the Messiah. I am a witness of His incomparable mercy, compassion, and love. I add my testimony to that of the Apostles who, in the year 2000, stated “that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. … He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world.”

I testify that on a day in 1820 in a grove in upstate New York, the risen Lord appeared, along with God, our Heavenly Father, to the Prophet Joseph Smith, just as Joseph Smith said They did. Priesthood keys are on earth today to enable saving and exalting ordinances. I know it. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
--Elder Dale G. Renlund (Through God's Eyes)

I add my testimony, small as it may be, to those shared. I know that Christ lives. I know that this is His work. I know that through Christ's sacrifice, atonement, I, and you, and all of us, may one day receive our goal of perfection. This is a process, it's not easy and will never be easy, but it's possible. It is possible through Christ, it is possible through the teachings He has given us. It IS possible, are we willing to work for it. I am so grateful for each one of you, I pray for you, I think about you (in a non-baggie way), and I want the best for all of you.

With Love and Prayers,
Elder Flake
I love the temple!

February 15, 2016

La Obra Sigue Adelante (the work goes on)

When asked how this call had changed his plans for the future, Elder Stevenson spoke of this new role as simply an “extension of that commitment that was already in place. It’s what faithful members of the Church do. It changes plans, but we’re [each] part of the Lord’s plan.” Sister Stevenson, in describing her companion of more than 36 years, quoted the following scripture: “Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees” (D&C 81:5).  “That is the scripture he constantly quotes, and that’s how he has lived his life.”

Highlights for 15/2/16:

Highlight #1: Dog House. This week we had the wonderful opportunity to give service to a member. And man was that service a lot of fun! We built a dog/cat house from scratch! I have included some great pics so that you guys can understand just how talented a set of 4 mormon missionaries with power tools are ;) Enjoy! Afterwards I felt awesome. I didn't know that I found fulfillment through hands on creating...then I remembered the talk by Pres Uchtdorf about the power to create we have each been given, then it wasn't so weird a realization :) Then I started thinking about all the hands-on projects I've done in my life especially with dad and grandpa. Love those guys!! :)


Highlight #2: Temple. This week we had some amazing lessons with members and temple workers at the temple. WHAT A BLESSING TO HAVE THE TEMPLE IN MY AREA! It is amazing to see the effect that feeling the special spirit of the temple has on individuals when they enter the temple grounds for the first time. It was awesome! A member called us last week and asked if we would accompany her to the temple and said that she would invite some of our investigators to go with her! Of course we said YES!!! :) It was amazing to see the spirit work on the friends this member brought to the temple and we even had a surprise visit from a couple of temple workers who jumped right into their role to teach about the temple! Couldn't have been better :) :)

Highlight #3: My awesome friend. So last week you guys asked me to continue with highlights about the people we are teaching. Well, for this week I'm going to explain about one of my best friends now. So on Saturday we went to visit him de repente (basically a surprise visit) and what a lesson we had (with the same temple worker couple from Highlight #2). The spirit was super strong. He explained about some of his inner feelings, personal revelation that has come, and why he is changing his life. In the course of the conversation he basically straight up told us that he would like to follow Christ's example and be baptized. So all that was left was for us to invite him to accept a specific date. My companion spoke first (and man am I glad he did) and invited him to be baptized the 19th of March, to which he accepted. Then we continued with the lesson. After a couple minutes he expressed the reason he was so silent and had reacted a little bit to the date my companion mentioned was because "what better than to be born again, spiritually, the day after I was born physically. You guys don't know, but my birthday is the 18th." WOW! Love following the spirit and then finding out why the spirit indicated that action!!! :) It's da best! ;) :)

Highlight #4: Trio. On Friday we had the amazing experience of being in a tri-panionship...it was actually pretty cool. We were put with an elder while his companion was in the temple. We had a great personal and companionship study with him and even got to a lesson :) This is his second change in the field...so lots of helping him with his Spanish (I fondly remember those days...haha :)). But it was pretty cool...another blessing of living close to the temple! :)

"How did the Savior prepare the way for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be spread throughout the world? From Preston, England, and the banks of the River Ribble, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles testifies that missionary work is inspired and guided by the Lord. He traces the history of revelations from the Savior that prepared the way for missionary work that started with the Restoration and is now spreading to every nation. “We are all spirit children of a loving Father in Heaven,” Elder Cook bears witness. “He has provided a way through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, for us to return to Him.”

As we celebrate the Easter season, the testimonies of prophets and apostles called as special witnesses of the Savior, always relevant, become particularly poignant. In this series, those testimonies are presented, beginning with the First Presidency and continuing through the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Powerful individually, when presented as a group these testimonies provide an undeniable witness that the Savior lives."

With Love and Prayers,
Elder Flake

February 08, 2016

The Best Just Got Better

"So often we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to enjoy the journey." --Pres Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Highlights for 8/2/16:

Highlight #1: Volcanic Explosion. Yesterday we were chillin' with our investigators in Sacrament Meeting. When at the beginning of the opening prayer there was a loud, BOOOM! I thought that it was one of the doors to the Sacrament room slamming shut because of the wind. But then the ash started falling. Nothing crazy, think more like you are meters away from a firepit with fire in it and there are the little paper pieces that are falling. No mask needed, didn't obstruct vision, etc. But then after the meeting all the members were talking about the explosion from a close volcano named Santiaguito that has been spewing ash daily for a couple months now. So that was a fun and NEW experience :) Just hope it stays at that ;) haha, now I've got you guys worrying...I mean, oh no, now I have you guys worrying. Don't worry, we are on the Lord's errand, He'll protect us :)

Highlight #2: Temple. This week we were able to attend a session in the temple. Yes, I know the temple is in my area, be we still need permission to go. So this week we went as a zone and man was it fantastic! Doctrine and Covenants 109:22 has become a reality. We truly left from the Lord's House empowered to work more diligently in His work, in His service. Which brings the following highlight :)

My Zone at the temple
Highlight #3: New Friend. We are working with one of the coolest guys I've met in my mission. He is from El Salvador but lives here in Xela with his family. We met him about 3 weeks ago and after our first lesson with him he came the following Sunday to church. Then this week his son wanted to go and walk the temple grounds. So on Saturday we went with him and his son to talk about the temple and walk the gardens :) It was awesome. Afterwards we had an elders quorum activity, so we invited him to go with us and he accepted. At the activity many members came up to me to express their surprise about how comfortable and friendly and at ease he was at the activity, "are you sure he isn't a member? Because he sure seems like one." So that was fun for us. But then on Sun he came to church with his son and they both loved it! :) So we've got our work cut out for us now to get the rest of his family there with him :) :) Love being on the Lord's errand :)

Highlight #4: Lord's Blessings. We were invited to eat dinner with a member and his friend from out of town. His friend was a little less-active, so of course we went to see how we could help :) After dinner and discussing with them, we found out they were here in Xela for some doctors visits. But there wasn't any more info, why, what he has, etc. After dinner we were asked to give the friend a priesthood blessing which we happily accepted. After I ended the blessing we all opened our eyes and the man's wife was in tears. He asked her why. To which she replied, "I know that we have the sacred priesthood of God because there is NO WAY Elder Flake could have known to include the things he included in the blessing, the exact things we have been praying for, unless he was guided by the spirit." WOW! I was just saying what was in my mind, and yes, there were a couple things that I thought "really, include THAT? okay." This experience strengthened MY testimony that as I live worthy and am where I'm supposed to be, doing what I'm supposed to be doing, and "speak the thoughts that (the Lord) shall put into (my heart)" that "it shall be given (me) in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what (I) shall say." (D&C 100:5-6). Loved this experience!

"Is the authority of God on the earth today? Do ordinances performed on earth apply in heaven? From the banks of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles bears testimony of the restoration of priesthood authority and keys, affirming that the priesthood is the power of God and that through this power we are able to receive the blessings of Christ’s gospel. Elder Bednar testifies that God lives and that “Jesus is the Christ, our living Redeemer and Savior.” (check out a video here of this witness)

With Love and Prayers,
Elder Flake
Congrats to my comp! He's completed one year of his mission.
We celebrated over the breakfast I made for him. :)

February 01, 2016

The Work Rockets Forward

Cleaning the statue of Moroni on top of the temple
President Monson suggested a formula that would ensure the success of future missionaries:

“First, prepare with purpose. Remember the qualifying statement of the Master: ‘Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind.’ Missionary work is difficult. It taxes one’s energies, it strains one’s capacity, it demands one’s best effort—frequently a second effort. No other labor requires longer hours or greater devotion or such sacrifice and fervent prayer.”

“Second, teach with testimony. Peter and John, those converted fishermen who became Apostles, were warned not to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Their answer was firm: ‘Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.’”

“Third, labor with love. There is no substitute for love. Often this love is kindled in youth by a mother, expanded by a father, and kept vibrant through service to God. Remember the Lord’s counsel: ‘And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.’  Well might each of us ask himself: Today, have I increased in faith, in hope, in charity, in love? When our lives comply with God’s standard and we labor with love to bring souls unto Him, those within our sphere of influence will never speak the lament, ‘The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.’”

President Monson offers this challenge to Aaronic Priesthood holders: “Young men, you are preparing for your missions when you learn your duties as deacons, teachers, and priests and then perform those duties with determination and love, knowing you are on the Lord’s errand.” And, he adds, “Most of you young men will one day receive a call to serve a mission. How I pray that your response will be as was Samuel’s: ‘Here am I. … Speak; for thy servant heareth.’ Then will heavenly help be yours.”

Highlights for 1/2/16:

Highlight #1: Worldwide Missionary Broadcast. We had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a Worldwide Missionary Training Broadcast on the 20th of Jan. We received instruction from Elder Anderson, Elder Bednar, Elder Oaks Sister Oscarson, Elder Waddell, Elder Whitney, y Elder Neilson. It was amazing! I learned SOOO much. And have been able to already see the fruits of implementing their instruction. I know that we have living Prophets and Apostles today. And they are giving us the Lord's instructions, specifically for us :) It was awesome! :)

Highlight #2: Pilus Family. This week we had a cita with a family we found last week...but they weren't home. BUT, as we were starting to wrap up talking to the grandson that was home, his dad got home. We started talking to the son (who I have never talked to before) and asked if we could share something short with him. And he accepted. BUT, not only did HE come and listen but he called his wife and kids to come as well. Then we had a BOMB lesson about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (if you don't know what that includes please ask the next pair of missionaries you see, they will love to explain :)). This family isn't attending any church right now, and don't do ANYTHING Sundays in the morning (even better ;) haha). So that was a GREAT miracle and blessing this week! :)

Highlight #3: Members. We have some BOSS members in this ward! I found out this week that they just needed a little nudge to get moving ;) :) So after inviting some members to join us in some lessons we had a great percentage accept and follow through. And MAN are lessons soo much better (usually) when members come with us! Please teach with the missionaries in your area. They need your help, your testimony, your experiences (and your car ;) haha jk). It is amazing to have a local witness of the things we are teaching! Honestly, it makes all the difference. Now when you teach with the missionaries, a couple tips: 1) The missionaries should talk more than you, and the investigators more than the missionaries (in general, the missionaries may invite you to talk more), 2) only talk about simple principles (ex. Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Gift of the Holy Ghost, Temple Marriage, etc) and leave the more deeper things to the missionaries, unless they ask you to respond :) and 3) when the missionaries turn the time over to you to explain something or testify, take the opportunity, but respond in simple, concise, and quick terms to allow the lesson to continue moving forward :) But, really just ask the missionaries what part in the lesson they want you to play :) They will always know best! :) Now, call up the missionaries and place a cita to go out with them (maybe SUNDAY afternoon? :)).

Elder Rasband shared a simple message during the press conference after being called and sustained as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ: “I want you all to know I love the Lord. I love this Church. I am a sixth-generation Latter-day Saint. My pioneer ancestors who came from England and Denmark paid a heavy price that someone in their posterity would receive this call."

I thought that was interesting...that he is grateful for his ancestors who "paid a heavy price" for him to be called to the capacity in which he is now serving. What "heavy price(s)" did MY ancestors pay for my future callings? Or that I would be a missionary taking the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world? What callings do I have down the line?

It really just got me thinking :) So I wanted to share :)

With love and prayers,
Elder Flake
Celebrating how long we have been full-time missionaries

Awesome apple pie! Now this is a hungry missionary-sized piece :)

Do you like our "tripod"?? :)