Friday, December 20, 2013

Tender Mercy

This past week was great! 

Our zone has set a goal to contact 24 people a day as a companionship till Christmas and it is more difficult than I thought it would be. But we have been diligent and done all it takes to invite 24 people everyday to learn more about the gospel. We have been knocking a lot of doors and we found 4 new investigators! We are hoping that they will continue to desire to learn more about the gospel and make covenants at a time in the future.

One family we taught we are unsure of how much real intent they have. They invited us back though and we scheduled an appointment for tonight so we are hoping to help them gain a testimony. 

We had a specialized meeting and we got to get together with Pres. Durrant and had some trainings and a gift exchange. It was great! We also did a little skit to a song that we made up as a district to the song "Deep in the Heart of Texas" or something like that. It was a country song and it was really fun.  Our district is the largest one out east. I didn't realize that until then. After the meeting President Durrant let us all choose one of 4 movies to watch. He did it in place of letting us watch a movie on Christmas. Elder Johnson and I watched Where the Red Fern Grows. It was good! First time I had seen it. It was nice to be able to watch a movie. 

It rained on our way back and when I say rain, I mean Poured!! It was like buckets of rain! And we hadn't talked to 24 people yet but we had to reach our goal so what did we do? We went to a parking lot and gave people pass along cards as they ran to their cars. We had bundled up for it but me being silly as I was I wasn't wearing my hood because I felt like I was like a dark hooded figure on a movie and people already avoid missionaries so I didn't use it. And I didn't want to have to fumble with an umbrella so I didn't take that either but left it in the car. I thought we would talk to more people sooner but it was taking a little longer than I thought so I looked drenched. Well we asked a nice lady if we could give her a card from our church and she said yes and said "No disrespect but you are crazy for being out here. And what are you thinking about being out here with out an umbrella! You're going to get pneumonia! I bet if your mother were here right now she would slap you! Can I walk you to your car under my umbrella. Really please so that you can get out of this." I said ok, I have an umbrella in the car. So we started talking to her and it turns out her brother is a convert to the church. We talked to her about some of our basic beliefs and she was super nice! ( obviously she walked us to our car under her umbrella!) We had a great conversation under our umbrellas and invited her to visit mormon.org and also asked if we could come by and share more with her. She was very nice and said that she appreciated it but that she was ok with her religion. (or something to that effect) In parting she said "Always take your umbrella with you when its raining. Texas weather can kill you! If I were your mother I would slap you! But I really respect and appreciate what you are doing even in the rain! Y'all have a good night and a Merry Christmas." Having a nice person talk to us and take interest in us was a tender mercy! It made me really feel that 1. I should be a little smarter at times but 2. that people do notice the sacrifices we are making and that God loves us so much! And He will show that love in so many ways! Don't worry.  Neither one of us got sick and I had a great cup of hot cocoa bundled up in my PJ's that evening.

We meet with D. (S. She goes by both and we all call her by both) this week! She wasn't able to meet with us for almost the whole week because she had to go to the ER because she had a tooth that was hurting her so much! She has an infection but is on antibiotics now and has an appointment to get it pulled out soon. When we met with her she was so happy to see us and apologized for having to cancel on us so many times and that her life was so crazy. She is over coming smoking and is still preparing for her baptism. She is so excited for it. We did have to move her date back a week though so that she can be taught all the lessons and get her tooth pulled before her baptism so that she will be able to go under water without extreme pain. I know that y'alls prayers have helped. 

It's such a blessing to be a missionary and to be surrounded with amazing people! I love y'all so much and hope that y'all have an awesome week! Love y'all tons!

Your missionary,
Elder Drew Bowen   

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Well this week was great! 

On Saturday we had a tiny bit of snow. E. Johnson said it was frost, but I liked to think of it as snow.  :) Its gotten pretty cold from this cold front! It's crazy one day it was really warm and you wore a short sleeve shirt.  Then you are bundling up in the big jacket! We have stayed as warm as possible with our beanies (people here call them tabagans?!) and scarves and gloves. It's not as fun to work in the cold because people are in such a rush to get inside or stay inside but that's ok because the Lord's work will go on! We got the package from home and it's been so nice to have that hot cocoa and hot cider when we come back in from the cold. It was funny, yesterday we were knocking doors and someone said "It looks like you boys are from the south bundled up like y'all are." We replied "We are from Utah but its dry there - here it's humid!" Weird thing is, it does not feel as cold when its 34 rather than when it was 41 because the humidity gets out of the air when it's a little lower. Or I'm just getting used to the cold again ....I'm doubtful there because I was never all that great with it in Utah. 

So we made personal invitations for the Christmas Devotional and gave it to people and no one came. It was kinda sad but we had some big technical difficulties so it was also kind of a good thing that no non-members came because we didn't get to see too much of it. Something with our building's satellite receiver got unplugged when we were setting up. We tried everything to fix it and had to call a number to figure how to get the plugs in the right place and on the right channel. We saw Elder Nelson's talk at the end and a few songs and some other things. I think this is the first time I have missed watching the president of the Church speak at it though. It was good to be able to hear the part we did though! 

We went on an exchange with the elders in Henderson in our district and it was a great experience! How an exchange works is we swap companions and we both go back to our areas and work there for 24 hrs and then swap back. So we exchanged companions after our zone meeting and then went to work. We went by an investigator of theirs and he was not himself. It was sad because he was out of it. He has something that gives him episodes at times. I don't know what it's called but we kind of think he was having one because he was just totally out of it. But we then went to visit a less active member and we started knocking his RV park afterwards. That was a first. I had never done that before on my mission but it was a rewarding experience. I didn't know that some people actually lived in RVs like a trailer home but smaller but people do. We were about to go and then Elder Adams said, "Let's knock this one too." and I said "Ok let's do it." We met a really nice guy named L. and taught him the first lesson. It was amazing.  He is really prepared. We got a return appointment and then went and looked for the next ready person.  After we exchanged back about a day later the Henderson Elders taught him again and set a baptismal date with him and he came to church this week! If he continues to progress in the gospel then there is a posibility that I could be doing his baptismal interview. That would be really amazing. 

We taught D. this week and she came to our ward's Christmas dinner! It was really good BBQ and they sent us home with some too. It's amazing to see the change taking place in D.'s life! When we first taught her in her home it was kind of messy and dark but over time it has gotten cleaner and cleaner and also brighter. The gospel changes our lives in every aspect and improves the quality of our living. She kind of lives in the ghetto of Marshall but she doesn't want to live there any more.  She wants to get to a better place and until she can she is making her home as clean as she can under her circumstances. Her baptismal date is for the 28th of December and as long as she continues to keep commitments and quits smoking then she will be ready for that day! 

It's great being in Marshall  and being able to serve the Lord even when it gets cold or hot! It's not as bad as Russia or Alaska. ;) I miss y'all so much - especially with it being Christmas time! But I love y'all and I know that this is where the Lord wants me to be and that this Christmas is going  to be one of the best ones ever for our family as we all think of the Savior's birth and remember what He has done for us. 

I love y'all so much!
 
Love your missionary,
Elder Drew Bowen 
There are these amazing lights we saw in Marshall and there's this huge Believe light decoration and I loved it and had to get a picture of it!

My little Christmas tree I have on my Desk that y'all sent me! It's pretty much beautiful and I light it up every time I'm at my desk!

Elder Johnson and I bundling up for the cold.


The snow we got.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving in the Field

This past week was great!
We had an awesome thanksgiving! Lots of food!And even more left overs! It's crazy how full our fridge is right now! We had some really good duck at the T house! They didn't make beer can chicken which I was ok with. It was funny Bro. T brought in the chicken and said well it's alcohol free and it has no beer in it - all the beer is in me. Then Sis T said you're a walking beer can. It's weird because Bro. T always has a beer in his hand but he never appears to be drunk. Doesn't make any sense. They are such a nice family though. Sis. T gave us some Christmas presents early too. It was some fleece gloves and a beanie and scarf. It was so nice of her. They were very useful when we were tracting that evening.

It was funny. Tracting in the evening was 1 of 3 responses. 1- people really annoyed. Normal. 2 - people not answering the door. Also normal and 3- people really impressed! Not as common.  It was great to be able to invite others to come unto Christ on Thanksgiving. It was a really good experience. Also Christmas lights are coming up!! It's so exciting! And it's so pretty! I love Christmas and am really excited to be able to help everyone feel of the Christmas spirit by sharing the gospel with our brothers and sisters!

So a funny story from tracting on Sunday night! We knocked on a door and a man answered. We asked how his night was. He said oh pretty good I'm just watching the football game. We asked who was playing and he said the Giants and Patriots or something like that and we then asked which one he was cheering for and he said not really either, I'm just watching the game. So how can I help y'all. We then said we are missionaries and we are sharing a message about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through a prophet of God and we would like to share this message with you and your family. Can we do that? He said no I'm just visiting my mom and we have company over and what not. He wasn't really interested so I asked Well can we leave you with a card for a really good website sir? In a kind of energetic tone of voice and he replied, "Yes you can leave me with a card for a really good website." Kind of in a monotone voice. I then said alright the website is called mormon.org where you can go online and view profiles and find answers to frequently asked questions and it's a great website - I'd take a look at it. He then said ya I will I'll look up the question why are these guys knocking doors on a perfectly good football night. I then said, "It's on there you have a great night!" It was hilarious to me and totally made me laugh after we walked away!

So the members of the Marshall ward have a missionary Christmas tree for us and we already started setting it up. Its fake and I have never set one of them up so Elder Johnson has taken the spear head on it but we are going to be putting lights on it and everything. It's still in the works but it will be amazing!! Tender Mercy!

We went on an exchange on Friday with the Zone leaders. We swapped companions and worked in each others area for training purposes. And they are Spanish missionaries and I got to go to their area. It was awesome. Spanish missionaries do work a little different than English missionaries do. They don't knock on every door, they just knock on the Spanish looking ones and then they are always asking people if they know where the Spanish speakers live. It was great though and I learned a lot from it too.

Our investigator S came to church with her boyfriend. It was great! They really enjoyed it and he bore his testimony in sacrament meeting. I'll tell you what. We were kind of nervous for him being at church because we had heard some stories and then him getting up to bear his testimony, when we had never meet him till then other than just in passing, was really nerve racking because we had no idea what he was going to say and it could be less than accurate doctrine. He kept it all pretty much centered on Jesus Christ though which was really good! After the meeting one of bishop's councilors came up to me and said, "When I saw him coming up I thought - this is going to be interesting. But it wasn't too bad this time. Better than others in the past."

So all in all this past week has been great! I'm so blessed! It's an amazing time to be a missionary! I love y'all and pray for y'all often! 

Love your missionary,
Elder Drew Bowen

PS.  There have been some comments about me looking taller. Well with the help of Bro. T we found out that I am 5'8 1/2" so I might have grown a half inch. But I'm good with that. Love y'all! 
Here's a picture of some zebras we found on our way to help some members move. Who knew that they had zebras in Texas and not in a zoo! Just on a ranch!
Elder Johnson and me with the Thankful Turkey we made on Thanksgiving that y'all sent us!

The hot dog toaster a member gave to us early for Christmas. It's really sweet! And it's made by good old Coke!
Me and Elder Johnson with the hot dog toaster.
Elder Johnson working on the tree.
 



An Amazing Week in Marshall

November 25, 2013

Well it's gotten cold here! I'm really glad I have a nice big coat! I'm also very thankful that I'm not in Alaska right now because I don't know if I could survive. So we worked really hard and we were blessed so much! So we had a really good district meeting on contacting/reaching out to others to invite them to learn more about the gospel. It was really all based off of Elder Ballard's talk from conference. The District is great! It's got six companionships in it and they are all awesome! We set a district goal to reach out to 2000 people by the end of this transfer. It's going to take a lot of work but we are going to see miracles come from it because we already have! Elder Johnson and I have talked to 111 people this week which exceeded our goal of 100! It was great! its been a while since I had talked to 100 people in a week! 

We also set a baptismal date with one of our investigators! Its set for December 28th! I really hope things will all work out for it to happen. S (our investigator with a date) was sick yesterday so she couldn't come to church but she really wanted to. She loved coming last week! We had a lesson with her this week completely on the restoration of the priesthood and it all came about because she had questions about it! It was amazing! 

We also found three new investigators this week! We knocked on a lot of doors and got 8 or so return appointments and only 2 of them worked out but that's how it works. And the good people who were honest and let us share a message with them are now in the process of repenting and coming unto the Savior. We met a lady named L who scheduled a time for us to come back and she was there and let us in! She has 3 kids and her husband is currently out of work. He stayed in the back room working out but we were able to teach his wife and kids. It was amazing. As we were teaching there was a time when Elder Johnson was speaking and I really felt that God was reaching out to His children through us. We are His servants and He will and has given us the words we are to speak. 

Missionaries are promised so much from the Lord! It's amazing! "Whom the Lord calls, He qualifies" is so true! We have all been called to be missionaries and the Lord will give us the experiences to be able to fulfill that calling! In the past few months I was invited by my district leader to go through Preach My Gospel and mark every single promise in it! I was amazed at the promises contained! It built my faith. We have all been promised so much. Preach My Gospel applies to every member of the church and is written by prophets and apostles to assist us in fulfilling our responsibility to share the gospel! 

Thanksgiving is coming up and I'm excited for it. We are having dinner with a less active part member family that is really nice and red neck. We are apparently having duck and beer can chicken. I guess that's why they are a part member family:) That's also why they are red neck. So we will stick to the duck. But it'll be good because the sick need a physician and hopefully we will be the tools in the hands of the Master Physician. 

I'm really excited for Christmas already though! To totally skip Thanksgiving. I've just really caught the Christmas spirit early this year .... as always! It is such a blessing to be able to share what I cherish most during this holiday season. I am excited to see miracles continue to come and bless the lives of people here in Texas. I hope that y'all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and share something that you have been blessed with, with a friend! I love y'all so much and I feel so blessed to be a missionary!  Love y'all tons!
 
Your missionary,
Elder Drew Bowen

Friday, November 22, 2013

Moved to Marshall

So I got transferred to Marshall and arrived here Friday morning around 10:30 am! I love it here. It's still in east Texas and it is on the border of Louisiana. Its about an hour north of Lufkin and a little east. The transfer was unexpected. We found out about it Wednesday night at 7:30 from the assistants to the president. They said I was coming to Marshall and what not and that it was happening on Friday morning. I love it here and I got to say good bye to a lot of people in Lufkin on Thursday! My New companion is Elder Johnson who is from West Jordan Utah. He is great! We have one progressing investigator here so far! Her name is S. but she goes by D. (or how ever you spell it). She is in her 50s and came to church with her 3 grandchildren this past Sunday! It was awesome! The ward here is smaller than it was in Lufkin. It's great though! We have about 80-90 people come to church on average ...I think that's what I have been told. It's a great ward! I love the Bishop and everyone I have met so far! We have already gone out and talked to a good amount of people too. We have some potential investigators from our own finding efforts and hopefully they will allow us to come and teach them the gospel more. I'm really excited to be able to help the ward grow here! They haven't had a baptism in a year or year and a half so it's been awhile and now it's going to have one. 

D. really enjoyed church which is such a relief! It is really hard for some black people because often they are the only ones in the congregation. But she and the 3 grandchildren she brought with her really enjoyed it and so we are really excited to keep working with them. I'm thinking that her daughter (the mother of two of the grandchildren) needs an invitation to learn more and come to church because she missed out! I'm hoping to be able to do that this week! So one thing I have really learned from being a missionary is that when some one comes to church that people don't know it is the member's responsibility to make them feel welcome. Thankfully I have never had to worry too much about people not feeling welcomed but I have seen how easy it is to get caught in a click and miss the opportunity. But the Marshall ward passed the test with flying colors! There were multiple people who introduced themselves to Demitrise and it made me want to have even more people at church! I'm going to do everything I can to help people here and the ward is going to grow because I know there are people here who God has prepared to receive the gospel at this time. Now we just need to find them! 

SO I'm in a new district but I'm still the District leader. Talk about a lot of trust from the Lord through Pres. Durrant. The Longview District is twice the size of Lufkin's. It has 6 wards in it each with a set of missionaries. I know some of them and they are awesome! When they sent in numbers this week they also sent a little message saying how much they loved me! That was amazing and made me so happy. I really feel like this is where I need to be now and that I can help people here in Marshall! I'm hoping to help the district as well. 

Things here are going to be great! I'm excited, and feel so blessed to be able to be a missionary! It's amazing to just go forward with enthusiasm and love for the Lord and His children! I know that I am doing the Lord's work and that this is His church restored in these latter days. I know that there is a prophet of God on the earth who is the Lord's mouth piece just as prophets of old were! I know its all true!

Love y'all tons!
Love your missionary,
Elder Drew Bowen 
Elder Bowen with Bro. B.
Elder Bowen with his new companion Elder Johnson.
Elder Bowen with D.



Elders in the Lufkin District.

Lufkin ward Bishop and his sons.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Good Week

Well this past week has been good.
 
We had a lesson with L at Bro B.'s home. It was a good and much needed lesson. We talked about how important it is to come to all of church, read from the Book of Mormon and pray. L read one chapter in the Book of Mormon and he did it the day of our lesson. I'm glad he did. He hasn't been progressing because he hasn't been keeping his commitments. We answered the questions he had about what he read and questions he had about the church. I love having lessons with Bro. B. I always learn something. He asked a really inspired question. L was talking about how in his church they have a Bible study that is straight from the Bible and how he knows the Bible is true but he doesn't know about the Book of Mormon. Bro. B then asked how do you know the Bible is true L. He thought about it for a while and he couldn't really come up with an answer. We then said that we knew that the Book of Mormon is true and that we wanted him to be able to know it is true as well but that he had to read, ponder, pray, and really invest himself in finding the answer. He said he would read a little every day and that he would pray too. He said that he was going to go to his church on Sunday though. We texted him later that day though and he said that he wasn't feeling well in the morning so he didn't go to church at all.  
 
The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. Take away the Book of Mormon and the Restoration goes with it. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that it truly is another Testament of Jesus Christ. Everyone can read it and ask God to know of its truthfulness and our Heavenly Father will answer us through the power of the Holy Ghost. He has answered all those who have asked with sincerity. I'm studying the Book of Mormon. It teaches us so much about the gospel, the purpose of life, God's commandments and our Savior Jesus Christ who made an infinite atoning sacrifice for us. It has blessed my life so much. I'm happier when I read it and act on the things I learn from it. Everyone can have a testimony! If they will only sincerely ask God for one. 
 
We saw W this week. We asked him if he still had a Book of Mormon. He said that it might have been ruined in a flood he had from his window swamp cooler so we gave him a new one because he didn't know where it was. We are going to be teaching him this week and I'm excited to see him embrace the gospel and see his life change from it. 
 
We didn't get to teach S this week. And she didn't make it to church because she was out of town for the weekend. 
 
We had a multi-zone Conference on Tuesday in Tyler. It was great! We talked about building our foundation on Christ. We did a really fun object lesson for it too. So we each got 50 pieces of paper and a roll of tape and then we built a tower with it in whatever way we wanted to and we tried to have it high but also with a firm foundation. Then we had some representatives from each of the teams come with spray bottles and a blow dryer and tested their strength. It was fun but also really showed how we need to be built on Christ. Also President Durrant gave an awesome sermon on the Doctrine of Christ! I loved It! He put it so plainly and used scriptures too. It was beautiful to be able to feel of the Spirit there as he bore his testimony about the Gospel.
 
On Sunday as we were driving to church we were stopped in our parking lot by a man in a truck and he asked if we were going to church and if we did home visits/bible studies. We said yes and asked when a good time would be for us to come by. He said that night at seven would be good and that his girlfriend would be there too. We went by though and he didn't answer his door. It didn't really make sense but we are going to try again later this week which should be pretty easy because he lives in our same complex. 
 
It was a good week and this week is going to be even better! I'm really excited for it. Well I hope everything is going great for y'all and I love y'all tons! 
 
Love your missionary,
Elder Drew Bowen 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Another Week in Lufkin!

Well we had a good week here in Lufkin!
Monday evening we meet the new Elder in our District, Elder Keller from Logan, Utah. Tuesday we had District meeting. District meeting is where the District gets together and there are calender items discussed about meetings coming up and what needs to be done to prepare for them and other miscellaneous announcements. Then there is a training on a topic of choice either by the district leader or another missionary who has been asked to give a training. This Tuesday we did introductions because of transfers and then we had announcements and then we had a training on Commitments. It went pretty good. It was focused more on our personal commitment to our missions and serving the Lord and how we need to do so diligently and then we discussed how we can help our investigators make those same commitments.There was a lot of really good input from the other missionaries in our district so it turned out good.  

This week we had to do a lot of work on our car. It was weird. One thing led to another. We had a screw in our tire so we took it to one of the Spanish Branch member's tire shop and had it patched then we found out that our front tires were balding in the front and need an alignment so on Wednesday we called our vehicle coordinator and got permission to take it in to be looked at to see if it really did and then they found out that it did and that it also needed an oil change and so we got the oil change on Wednesday and the alignment on Thursday. But I'm just grateful that it's all in good condition and that we have a car to drive!

On Wednesday our ward had their Halloween trunk or treat party. We had been inviting as many people to the activity as we could, especially less actives. And many of them came to it. It was a great turn out. Many of the people we invited came and also many of the ward's friends came as well. We visited with as many people as we could and we received a referral from a family in the ward who invited their friends. We met them at the activity and then got their contact information. They speak better Spanish than English so we are passing the referral on to the Spanish missionaries but it was great to see the ward inviting their friends to come and participate in activities at the church. Being a member missionary is so much easier than we make it to be. Its making friends and inviting them to activities and then things naturally progress and they eventually meet with missionaries. 

On Thursday we couldn't go out and proselyte after five because of Halloween and so President Durrant told us all to meet with our Zones and celebrate the mission wide goal we reached. Well our zone is a bit more spread out so we got permission from our zone leaders to do it with our district and the Nacodouscheous (I'm pretty sure this is a Spanish word that Drew didn't know how to spell and I'm not going to attempt to correct it.) District. And so we asked a really awesome friendly and generous family in our ward if we could do it at their house. And they said yes and were super excited to have us over. They are in charge of institute too and so they invited institute to the party and it was a blast. We wore normal clothes and played soccer and frisbee and visited and ate food and played pool and ping pong. It was a really fun Halloween and I was glad because usually holidays are.... not as much of a party just a lot of people who are partying and you can't. So it was amazing!

Also this past week our ward held a choir performance at the church on Saturday and Sunday night called Woman at the Well. It was a musical performance about stories of women's interaction with the Savior in the Bible. There was a really big push for the ward to invite friends and family and we had a great turn out. We invited many people as well and some of them came as well. It was a beautiful musical program and the spirit was so strong. It reminded me of singing in the Cumorah's Hill Book of Mormon contada thing we did for choir tour once. It was a great opportunity for us to visit with the people who came and we were ushers for it so we welcomed everyone and gave them a program and a picture of Christ in the red robe. It was awesome.

Lin came to Sacrament meeting yesterday and he stayed for gospel principles as well. He left after that though. He said "I think I've had enough after 2 hrs." that was sad. We invited him to stay for the last hour but he wouldn't. So that was unfortunate. He has struggled with coming to church and staying for all of it. The entire time of sacrament meeting I was just praying that he would feel the spirit and have a good experience. Then in gospel principles the lesson was on the word of wisdom so that didn't help him too much but the spirit was there.

Too many people in the world think of church as entertainment or as a place where we worship but then the way they worship is really just entertainment. It's crazy. There are so many churches here who just entertain and then have a bible study class and say you're saved for coming and agreeing. That's not how Christ's church works. His church fills us spiritually. It takes time for people to notice they are starving or aren't getting there fill but the food is here and only in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will people find the fullness of the gospel and be able to be filled. 

We didn't have a lesson with Lin this week because he went out of town unexpectedly on Saturday and had to reschedule. We asked him if he was reading though and he said that he was and that he has some questions about what he has read. So that is good. We are working on getting him more friendshipping this week to help him have a better experience at church. So that he will want to stay for all of church and enjoy it.
Savannah came to the wards Halloween party with the bishops son Trice. It was great! She had a fun time and we visited with her about her reading in the Book of Mormon and she was already in Second Nephi! And she understands what she is reading too. She was sick on Sunday so she wasn't able to come to church or the choirs performance. We also had to reschedule our lesson on Sunday with her so we are looking forward to that.

Love y'all!
Love your missionary Elder Drew Bowen

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I'm Staying in Lufkin!

Well, transfer calls were last Saturday evening and we did not receive a call about us leaving they just said, "Hey you're staying and Elder Bowen you're district leader. Have a good night." So we are staying for another transfer and Elder Stufflebeam and I get to continue preaching the gospel here in Lufkin! I'm really glad too because I would like to see another baptism in Lufkin and this week we found two new investigators! We have been so blessed the last few days! We have gone out and worked hard and the Lord has blessed us for it.
 
On Wednesday evening we were planing what we were going to do for Thursday. So we were looking at some former investigators in our area book and we looked at the teaching record for Will. We had stopped by his home many times at different times but we never meet him there. We looked for his phone number but it wasn't on the record. Then we found his number saved in our phone and we decided that we would give him a call and see if it worked. And it did! We scheduled an appointment with him for noon the next day and we knocked on his door and he was home! He works at the chicken factory in town and from what it sounds like he has had a crazy life. He is 24 and has already seen broken families, broken hearts, drugs, and pretty much a life without the gospel. But he was very nice and friendly. He asked us some questions about Brigham Young and it was pretty easy to answer those. He also asked how he can get in touch with the missionaries who used to be teaching him. We talked to him for a while and we are going to start teaching him again. 
 
On Friday we did service at the Christian Food Bank in town and afterwards one of the volunteers, Bill, took us out to eat at a really nice restaurant. Its called Ralph and Kacoos and it's high priced. He is so generous! He wanted to take us out to eat before any of us got moved with transfers. He still remembers the missionaries by name who first came to do service for them. He is so kind and friendly. He got a plate of fried alligator for us all to try so we could say we had alligator. It was really good to! We talked to him and even answered questions he had about the church over lunch. He said that he was going to do it for Thanksgiving but he wanted to do it with us before we left so he said that this is your Thanksgiving meal from me. I love Bill! I'm so happy that I will continue to be able to serve with him every week at the food bank.
 
Yesterday was amazing! We had a surprise miracle fall right into our laps! At church in ward council the bishop said that his son Trice had invited a friend to church and that she had been asking more questions about the church too. Well she came! We met her before sacrament meeting and talked very briefly and I realized that I had met her before when I was Elder Koenen's companion, my first transfer in Lufkin about 3 months ago when she came to church the first time with Trice. The crazy thing is that when she came the first time Trice told us that she didn't like going to church and He just wanted to help her but didn't know how. Elder Koenen and I told him to just be a true friend and keep inviting her to do things that will help her be happy like reading scriptures, going to church and praying. Well apparently Trice has kept up on it and she came back to church with him. After our gospel principles class we were in the hall getting ready to go to priesthood when Trice and his friend come up and say, "Savannah wants to know more about the church - can we have a lesson now?" We said, "Of course! Let's grab a room." We then went into an empty room and taught the first lesson, the Restoration. It went really good. She is quiet and shy but having her friends there helped so much. Having Trice there to bear his testimony to her really brought in the Spirit. At the beginning we asked her about what her basic beliefs about God were and from there started to teach. She is 15 yrs old so we told her after the lesson that in order for us to teach more we need her parents permission. We invited her to read the Book of Mormon and to pray and to come back to church next week. I'm so excited to be able to be a part of the Lord's work in Savannah's life and hopefully in her family's as well. What a blessing it is to be a missionary!
 
On Saturday we had a lesson at Lin's house. It was good but his dog was a huge distraction! She was jumping on the couch and practically into our laps. She was running back and forth and back and forth. Brother Bryce was trying to contain the dog as we taught the entire time which helped a little but it didn't take it away. During the closing prayer she jumped over Brother Bryce right next to me and licked my ear. Then the spirit was gone, at least it was for me. We taught the Plan of Salvation but we will probably be reviewing it next time. Lin hadn't read though and he didn't come to church yesterday. He said that he would read this time though and pray. Till those happen he isn't going to get very far though because those are the things that help us gain a testimony and show our desire to have one. 
 
Well I hope y'all have had a wonderful week! Keep doing the little things. They make the biggest difference in the long run! We start with the small and simple and then move forward and things fall into place. God uses the small things to change the world. That's why the first principle in the gospel is faith. That's where the small things start. Reading, praying and going to church those are all acts of faith. As we continue to act in faith that's when the miracles come. I love y'all so much! Have a great week!
 
Love your missionary,
Elder Drew Bowen 

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Pretty Cool Week

Well the past week has been pretty cool. No really, a cold front came in. It was really nice. It feels like fall in the Utah mountains. Elder Stufflebeam and I have just shut off the AC and opened the windows. It hasn't been on since Thursday. So nice!

So the members in Lufkin are amazing! We told our Elders Quorum President that we were starting to teach an acquaintance of his, Lin and he immediately asked if he could come to the lessons with us and he said "I'll invite him over to my house for them. I'll talk to him at work today and let you know what time." So he scheduled our appointment for us and pretty much told us when we needed to be there to teach. That made life easy. The lesson went really good too. We went over the restoration. It was so good to teach! He had some questions and they were all centered around whether or not Joseph Smith was a prophet. So we pretty much told him "Read the Book of Mormon and then you will know if he was a true prophet." It's so true though! When people have concerns about the church it's often because they don't have a testimony of the Book of Mormon and because they don't have a testimony of the Book of Mormon they also don't have one of Joseph Smith being a prophet! That's just how it goes!  Lin came to sacrament but not the other meetings, but we are going to be teaching him again.

On Sunday Rory Hileman, our recent convert, brought his 16 year old brother Ross Hileman to church. He said it was kind of an unexpected thing but that he was doing his missionary work. His brother seemed to be just tagging along. He was a nice young man and he stayed for all of church. Elder Stufflebeam suggested to some of the youth that they should invite him to the Wednesday activity and to our ward's Halloween Trunk or Treat party and Spencer Shepard, one of the young men, thought that it was a great idea and talked to Rory and his brother about the upcoming activities.  

Well I got to go. Love y'all!

Elder Drew Bowen

PS.  I voted a few days ago! I got my absentee ballot so I cast my vote and felt like a good citizen. It's in the Articles of Faith after all. So I hope you make it! (Mommy note - that's for Carlton - he's running for American Fork City Council.)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Wonderful Week!

We had a wonderful week in Lufkin!
 
We found a new investigator! His name is Lin. We got a referral text from mormon.org and so we went over and stopped by and talked to him briefly and got a phone number a few weeks ago. We had caught him at a bad time then but he said he would like to have us  come back some time. So we had tried to schedule something with him through texting but we kept getting weird blank messages as replies and so we decided that we would just stop in. He was home and let us in and talked to us. He told us that he was attending a Baptist church in town and where he worked and that he had met missionaries in Florida around 9 months ago. We asked what he remembered from the visits and he said, "Like 3 kingdoms of heaven? I don't remember that much. It was a while ago." We asked, "Well did they give you a Book of Mormon?" He replied, "Yes I have it by my bed. I read it every now and then but I'm trying to finish the Bible right now." He didn't have too much time to visit because his mom was in town so we scheduled a return appointment for Thursday. I'm really excited to teach Lin more about the gospel! Also he has a Siberian Husky. It's 8 months old so its still a little hyper but I love it. It's one of my favorite kinds of dogs. They are so pretty. 
 
This week we also stopped by Antonio's but he wasn't home. We found out that the Book of Mormon isn't published in his native tongue which is sad and makes things difficult. We are going to get a child's picture Book of Mormon to give him to hopefully help. It's difficult when he can't speak or understand much English but I'm hoping we can still teach him in some way and help him out.
 
This week we got a new piece of furniture in our apartment. But first a story about it. So this past week Elder Stufflebeam and I have been talking about how much he loves rocking chairs. Whenever we go somewhere and he has the opportunity to sit in their rocking chair he will take it if given. And then he rocks out! I love it. He rocks not like small gentle rocks but big rocks. So we were at a member's house for dinner and were sitting down in their living room to visit and they had a rocking chair so my companion started to rock. It then came up how much he loved rocking chairs and they said, "Well we have one you can have." So we got a new rocking chair. Elder Stufflebeam loves it. Now he has a chair to rock in at the end of the day. It's hilarious.  
 
Thank you so much for the package! It was amazing! I got it Friday. It was so good to eat home made bread again with home made jam. Yumm it was delicious and I love the new scriptures! They are beautiful! It is such a blessing to have them. I have been wanting to get the 2013 edition scriptures and I am so grateful to be able to study from them. They are amazing! I've already started to mark scriptures in them. 
 
I feel so blessed to be able to serve in Lufkin with Elder Stufflebeam and to be able to preach the gospel. It brings such joy into my life when we share the gospel with others. I also love that we get to study in preparation for teaching. The scriptures are such a blessing to us. They teach us how to be happy. It's as simple as that. Unfortunately people don't live the things they learn from them. It's amazing to see the change they can make in our lives.
 
I love y'all so much! Have a wonderful week!
 
Love your missionary,
Elder Drew Bowen

Monday, October 14, 2013

Conference

Monday, October 7, 2013
 
Well the Super Bowl for missionaries has passed. General Conference is amazing! I always love listening to the prophet and apostles! The Saturday sessions were some of my favorites! I felt like there were some very bold talks which I loved. It's a very exciting time to be a missionary when the apostles say the Lord is now fulfilling his promise of hastening his work! It is exciting to be able to be a part of it! General Conference leaves me feeling recommitted/recharged. I learned so much and am excited to be able to apply the things I learned and felt during conference. 

Yesterday we visited people in Huntington with a member of our ward. We met a kind older lady who warmed up to us and we visited with her for a while. Hopefully she will start to come back to the church she knows to be true. We also stopped by a less active member who I had visited with once before with Elder Koenen but we had gotten a incorrect phone number so we went by and introduced him to Brother Davis and talked about coming back at a better time. I'm hoping to be able to start teaching his family.  Brother Davis told us that he really wants to have a branch in Huntington because then he won't have to drive in to Lufkin every Sunday. I would love to help him with getting a branch in Huntington. It will get there one day hopefully sooner rather than later.
 
We watched conference with Rory at the Davis' in Huntington and it was awesome! Rory is awesome! I'm so glad that I have been able to be his friend and I hope to be able to keep in touch with him forever. He offered to take me for a ride on his bullet bike. I wanted to say yes so bad but I can just see too many bad things happening if I broke that rule... ie. Dieing. It was tempting though. 
 
We have visited Dameon a few times this week. He sure is interesting but I love him. He will say the weirdest things some times. We invited him to conference and we are following up on that invitation tonight. 
 
Well I love y'all and hope y'all have an awesome week and learned lots from conference!
 
Love your missionary,
Elder Drew Bowen

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Power of the Priesthood

This past week has been amazing!
 
On Tuesday a member of the Spanish branch was cutting a tree down in preparation for putting up his fence. We were helping him out but because of how dangerous clearing trees is. We were at a very safe distance as he was cutting it down and were going to help move it after it was on the ground. The tree fell and when it hit the ground it then came back and struck his thigh. We ran over to help him and he asked for a blessing. We then laid our hands on his head and gave him a priesthood blessing. He went to the hospital and they did x-rays and not a bone in his leg was broken. It was bruised very badly of course but it is a miracle that his femur isn't broken. We are so blessed that the power and authority of the priesthood have been restored to the earth. The same power that Christ healed with is available for us through the priesthood. I've been so blessed to have that power always available to me. Thanks Daddy for always having and being worthy of the priesthood. I've taken that for granted my whole life. 

This week we have met with D and have gotten to know his brother J better. We really hope to start teaching him and his girlfriend S soon. They are great! The gospel would help them so much and it would help D and his mother if all the people living in their house were all trying to live the same standards. I'm excited to see the Spirit come into their lives more. 
 
We had a miracle happen a week from last Sunday. A man named Antonio came to the Spanish branch with a Spanish investigator. He doesn't speak any Spanish though and the English he does know is very broken. He speaks Burmese, which is a very interesting language. It's letters look like swoops and swirls. When we was at the Spanish branch the Spanish missionaries found us and asked us to teach him for one of the classes. We talked in very basic English and shared the message of the Restoration as best we could. We then ordered a Burmese Book of Mormon for him and we are hopefully getting it this Wednesday! We went by his house last Saturday and invited him to the English ward and got him a ride and he came to church! I'm excited to continue sharing the gospel with him! And so our teaching will be very simple but I'm excited to help him learn!
 
We had an amazing 5th Sunday lesson! Our bishop shared an amazing lesson on member missionary work! He started off by saying what was always his first thought when he thinks of missionary work. He walked up to a brother of the ward and shook his hand and said, "Hey Matt would you like to come to church and get baptized and start paying tithing and go to the temple and make more covenants." That's his first thought when thinking of missionary work. He then explained that many people look at missionary work this way and that we really need to change how we think of missionary work. He then talked about how we may not have been good member missionaries before but that that can change. He taught with the story of Ammon, and reminded us that Ammon had not always been the best missionary. At one point of his life he had gone around with the sons of Mosiah and were destroying the church but then over time he became an incredible missionary. It's the same principle for us. He then talked about how the first thing Ammon did was serve. He started with serving and being a friend. He was there to preach the gospel but he didn't start off by asking them to be baptized. The bishop then said, "We need to serve others and develop a relationship with them." He then invited every single person in the room to go and make a friend. One friend and develop a relationship with them and that is where missionary work starts! 
 
Elder Stufflebeam in answer to members questions about missionary work has been, "We don't convert people. That is the spirit's job. We are only supposed to help them feel the spirit and then invite  them to do something. And that something could be really small like come over to my house and have dinner or for a FHE." It's so true. 
 
It is such a blessing to serve as a missionary in the Texas Dallas Mission! I love it so much. There are challenges but it is so worth it. The amazing experiences and blessings just keep flowing! Today I got an unexpected one. It truly was a Tender Mercy for me. I received an email from a member of the church in the Philippines today! She said that she has been preparing to serve a mission and that she was looking online for missionary blogs and reading them to see what missions are like and more importantly to be uplifted and inspired as she read them. She bumped into mine apparently and thanked me for serving a mission and gave me some words of encouragement. It was an amazing experience for me! The Lord has amazing children all around the world who are preparing to serve him and who are living examples of how much the gospel blesses us. Thank you Mommy for all the hard work you do! Updating that blog is helping others too. I forgot all about it but it was a blessing to know that the experiences I have can also help others too.
 
Well I love y'all and I hope everyone has a fantastic week! Keep up the great things that are going on at home. I love y'all!
 
Your Missionary,
Elder Drew Bowen
 
Here are some pictures of Elder Bowen and Elder Stufflebeam.



 
 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Lufkin in the Rain

This week was great. We had a specialized meeting up in Tyler and and it rained for 3 days  and we got a cold front and I have been soo happy because of it. The weather is actually normal. It feels like driving up AF canyon in the fall. It's amazing. 
 
This week we had some appointments fall through and so we didn't get to teach as much this week. We did meet with a less active family and got to know them better and I got my first solid would you be willing contact. I don't think y'all know what that is. I can't believe I haven't told you yet.  It's perfect for when people go out to eat or feel like sharing the gospel in a non-threatening way. President Durrant wanted to come up with a phrase that would help the missionary work here in Dallas and that members could use to find people and get us more referrals. It's a simple phrase that people can use with nice, friendly people they meet. They simply say would you be willing to listen to a brief presentation of my ______?(fill in the blank with faith or religion or something to that effect) in their conversation. And so I did that at Subway and the lady was really nice and said yes! So I asked for her contact info and we have a set appointment with her for tomorrow. It's going to be great! 
 
Oh ya and President Durrant wanted to say thank you for being awesome parents/ family! 

As far as teaching Santivia we haven't been able to meet with her to teach her but we have stayed in touch and I'm hoping that we will be able to teach her more. With Martin and Candy they have been cancelling and I don't know what's going on with them really but I know that God will help them to be able to have the gospel in their lives. I love them and want the best for them, so I hope everything works out. 
 
Well I love y'all! Keep on being the best family ever! I love y'all so much!
 
Love your missionary,
Elder Drew Bowen

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Miracle in Lufkin!

We had a miracle this past week in Lufkin. When we were giving service at a christian food bank in town called CISC, we helped a younger lady carry her food to her car and she asked Elder Hoopes if he worked there every week and he replied that we are missionaries for the Church. She then asked where the church was and what time our services are held. She said that she would come to church on Sunday and then she actually came and brought a friend! Her name is Santavia and they stayed for the first 2 meetings. And they had a little girl with them, maybe one of their kids who went to nursery and loved it. We got their contact information before they left and they said that they enjoyed church but had to leave for work. We are so excited to be blessed with this opportunity to love and serve another one of Gods children.

This past week we have been meeting with Dameon who was baptized last transfer because he hasn't been coming to church and also to have the new member lessons. We have had some really good lessons but he just hasn't been coming to church and when we ask he just gives us excuses. We are doing all we can to help him and are striving to continue to fulfill our purpose by helping him increase his faith and continue to make and keep covenants. I'm learning patience for Dameon because I love him so much and just want him to do the things that will make him happy.
We also stopped by multiple times to see Martin and Candy. They couldn't meet with us this week due to their schedule but we have followed up on the commitments we left them with and they are keeping them. Also Martin is getting off probation this week, which makes me feel even more so that he is prepared to receive the gospel at this time and I am so grateful that Elder Hoopes felt impressed to go out of our way to speak to them. It's amazing how the spirit works!  

Elder Hoopes is an amazing missionary! I have loved serving with him in Lufkin. We have developed a friendship that I hope will last forever as we have served the Lord's children. He is being transfered to Frisco and Prosper. I'm going to miss him. I'm excited to start serving with Elder Stufflebeam, my new companion who is from Cedar Hills! I actually met him once back home when he was recovering from his injuries here in Dallas. Small world! Lufkin is an amazing area and I feel so blessed to be able to continue to serve here!

Our meeting with Elder Anderson of the 12 was amazing! I loved it! We left our mission for it and went over to Fort Worth! We had the privilege to shake his hand and receive personal instruction from him. He spoke on the atonement and then he started walking around and continued speaking but asking questions and using a power point to help teach us and he was standing right next to me! His talk was amazing. It was very uplifting and encouraging to hear from him. Elder Hoopes got too see his best friend from Star Valley who is serving in Fort Worth which made him so happy! It made me happy to see him so happy! I saw Elder Chappell who was one of the AP's when I first got here to Dallas and was with Elder Weatherford  and so I saw practically one of my former companions and I love him so much. It's crazy that he goes home next transfer! I also saw Elder Degn and Elder Koenen! And other missionaries who I absolutely love!
 
This past week was Awesome! I hope it continues to be so this week and I'm pretty sure it will!
 
I love y'all a ton and love hearing from y'all! 
 
Love, Elder Drew Bowen!