Monday, March 31, 2014

Marshall Rain!

This week was awesome! 
I think I had one of the funnest moments in my entire life and it should have been one of the worst ever! So this week I went on an exchange with Elder Koenen! It was awesome! So on the exchange we had zero appointments scheduled which can make for a really long day. Well it went by way faster than it should have. That morning we went out and started tracting and it felt like we were in a rain forest because it was crazy Humid! It reminded me of how hot it was last summer and how I need to brace myself for the heat because it's around the corner! We knocked on someone's door and they said they were sick and we asked if there was a better time for us to come back and then they asked well who are you? are y'all Jehovah's witnesses? and we said no. Then she asked if we were with Longview Baptist temple and we said no. She then said ok I will talk to y'all then because I'm actually looking for a church home. She came out and we told her where the church was and she said that she would like to come some time. We are going to stop by again some time soon and see if we can start teaching them. But that was neat. Then for the rest of the day Elder Koenen and I knocked doors all day long and didn't get to teach a single lesson. It was hard to keep on knocking when you are tired but it's always easier when you have a great missionary who helps you keep going. Well at the end of the day we had about an hour left and it started to rain! It poured! It was incredible! There was lightning in the sky and rolling thunder but that just made it one of the best experiences ever! We went to an apartment complex. We parked and then decided which building we were running to and took off! We ran to the nearest door and when we got there we were laughing because of how wet we had gotten just from being in the rain for 5 seconds! We started knocking and running door to door and just having the time of our lives! People thought we were crazy but we thought they were crazy for not wanting to hear the gospel. Elder Koenen and I at the end of the night said "This could have been the worst day ever but it was the best!" It's all about your perspective, attitude and love for the Lord! That's what makes things amazing or horrid. 

Also B. came to church again on Sunday! It was Amazing! And he stayed for the youth baptism afterwards! It was great! He is progressing so much more in the gospel now that he has started to come to church. It's crazy but people can only get so far with only meeting with the missionaries. Then its like they meet a wall that they need to get over with their faith and they do that by coming to church. Then they are on the fast track! I'm hoping to be able to see B. make the covenant of baptism before I leave Marshall! He is on course for it! 

We got in touch with our investigator C. and she is still home bound from going to the hospital as she recovers. She still has the desire to learn and be baptized and as long as her health improves for her to be able to be immersed then she will be baptized. She is one of the most incredible people ever! She is 19 and has the best attitude toward life ever! It is incredible to see how prepared she really is for having the gospel in her life!

Last night I learned something really awesome. It's a visual aid lesson where you make a paper cross by tearing a piece of paper once and it tells an awesome story about a missionary who goes to an island far away and teaches the gospel to the people there. We taught it to a part member family and the spirit came in really strong and everyone listened to it too. It was amazing! Talk about a Miracle!  

I love being able to be a missionary! It is such a privilege and a blessing! Thanks to having an amazing family who love and support me, I'm able to be here in Marshall fulfilling a calling from the Lord to preach His gospel! This work truly is one of the greatest works ever! It's changing lives, saving souls and making families eternal! Sweet is the peace the gospel brings to all who love the Savior and live His teachings! And everyone can have it! It's just up to them if they want all the blessings that God has in store for them.

I love y'all so much!
Love your missionary,
Elder Drew Bowen
Elder Bowen/Koenen exchange.  Best day ever!

Marshall Texas Sunset

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sundays are the Best with Friends

March 24, 2014

We had another wonderful week here in Marshall! Yesterday concluded the week in one of the best ways ever! Sundays are always long with meetings and and it's the end of the week so you are really tired but I love them all the same! Yesterday B. came to church! It was awesome having him there! He got a ride to church with a member in the ward and he looked so good at church in his suit, tie and cane. His favorite part of church was gospel principles 2nd hour. 3rd hour we had to teach the mission prep. class. I would have liked to stay with him the entire time but a brother in the ward sat next to him and others introduced themselves. We didn't get to talk to him after church about how he felt about it but we had dinner with the family who gave him a ride and they said that he really enjoyed it and that he was really nice. That made me really happy. 

We meet with B. this morning and he said that he enjoyed church and that he wanted to come back next week! He said that he learned a lot that he didn't know before! It's so easy to take things for granted! I'm reminded of that all the time. We have been blessed with so much! Having the gospel in the home and being active in the church makes life so much easier! I don't know how people make it through the challenges of this life with out the light that comes from the gospel! It brings peace and joy unlike anything else. Solves problems, brings understanding and gives us direction. 

This past week we weren't able to meet with C. She was in the hospital more than usual this week. She really wants to get baptized and will be as soon as her health permits her to be able too. 

We were unable to meet with T. or A. However, A. was invited to a Relief Society dinner on Friday evening and she loved it! She was invited to go from a member in the ward who we introduced her to. Friends for investigators are so important! They really need a true friend to help them feel comfortable at church and answer their questions.

So on Tuesday I witnessed a few miracles!! I was on an exchange with our zone leaders and was working with Elder Vasquez here in Marshall. We went to one of our appointment's and it fell through. So we had a completely open day. For some reason I thought of some Spanish speaking people I had spoken to over my course of time here in Marshall and felt like we may as well stop by and see in the zone leaders can start teaching them. We went by one and no one was home then I thought of another who I had spoken to before Christmas with Elder Johnson. I remembered speaking to one lady who we met knocking doors. When she answered the door months ago she was crying. She didn't know any English and all I know in Spanish is "Hi we are missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We share a message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are the English missionaries but can I give you a card." So I said what I knew in Spanish and wished her a Merry Christmas. I remember leaving her with a Faith in Christ pass along card. When we went by she wasn't home so we moved on to the next person I remembered talking too and they were home and Elder Vasquez scheduled a time for them to come and teach them. Then he mentioned that they had a referral in our area who requested a Finding Faith in Christ DVD. We looked up the address and found out that she is the same person I spoke to who was crying. We went by again at the end of the night and she was home and wanted to meet with the Spanish missionaries. It's amazing to see how the Lord uses the small and simple things. One card that was left with someone months ago with a website on it. I can't imagine what would have happened if my companion and I weren't being diligent. She may have never been able to meet with missionaries. 

I'm so grateful for the Holy Ghost! Having the gift of the Holy Ghost is so important! We need that continual guidance and direction! It is absolutely necessary in the Lord's Work! We should never take it for granted and always strive to follow the promptings we receive from it. That's when we see miracles take place in our lives! 

I love y'all so much! 
Love your missionary,
Elder Drew Bowen


March 17, 2014
Well this past week has been great! We have seen a lot of good things happen this week. We met with B. a couple of times this week. He had a family member pass and his funeral was this past week. It's been hard on him. We visited him the evening after the funeral just to help him out and let him know that we love him. On Saturday we went over the baptismal interview questions with him to see where we need to focus our teaching to help him continue to increase his faith. As we were going over the questions his brother interrupted us and started talking to us. He was really hard to understand. He kinda mumbled and was kinda rambling on about religion and didn't really make any sense. I looked over at B. as he was talking and B. gave me this look like "He doesn't know what he is talking about and is crazy." After a while B. interrupted his brother and said "They grew up with this stuff. They already know about all the things you are talking about. Ok so just let us get back to our study."  After his brother left B. told us that his brother has some difficulty mentally and that he was just in town for the funeral but usually stays in the mental hospital. B. is really trying to learn and grow. This morning we watched the Joseph Smith Prophet of the Restoration DVD and he really enjoyed it. After the movie ended he said, "This really showed how Christlike he was in helping people and even healing people too." I think it really helped him to understand much more about what a Prophet is and does. It's such a blessing to have a DVD that is completely accurate in telling his story.

On Saturday we met with A. again. We went over with T. and shared the restoration lesson with her. It was amazing! We were a little late to our appointment but she was waiting outside for us. When we pulled up she had a big beer can next to her which was a surprise to me because I didn't think she would be a person who would like beer. She invited us in though and trashed the beer can and started asking questions like crazy! She asked about why churches meet on Sunday and how she read that it was because of the Roman Catholic church and then she asked about why there were other books left out of the Bible like the Book of Enoch. We asked if we could share what we came to share with her and told her that the lesson would answer many of her questions. She agreed to let us teach but kept asking. It was funny because we would say things like I'll answer that in one minute. And then we would move on to the next point in the lesson and we would answer her question and then move on. The most amazing thing though was when we talked about Joseph Smith. I told her about his back ground and she said he sounds just like me. I'm faced with the same thing. It's amazing that so many people feel just as Joseph Smith did when he was seeking for truth. I told her that I wanted to share his experience in his own words. As I was quoting the first vision to her she started to cry. It really touched her. She is the first person I have taught who cried when they heard his words. After I was finished quoting his experience to her there was just quite as we all took it in. She apologized for crying and said, "It's just so beautiful. The way he described it with his words. Just imagine it." We bore testimony to her of how the church was restored through God and Jesus Christ answering the prayer of Joseph Smith and giving him instructions and then later on, the priesthood. She said she would read the Book of Mormon and pray to know it's true. It was amazing to see how the spirit touched her. 

Also this week we were knocking on doors in a neighborhood that we found and no one was answering or home. Then we knocked on an apartment home's screen door. The door behind it was open so we could see into the home and we watched a man walk really fast to the door and hit it open very forcefully as he said "What the Heck do you want!" With a little more color that that. Elder Kidd tried as hard as he could to not laugh which made me want to laugh because this is a grown man who is acting like a child. Elder Kidd then started to speak and the man then turned around and slamed the door behind him. A year ago that would have really startled me and made me feel really uncomfortable. We then went to the next door and a teenage girl answered and Elder Kidd said that we were out sharing a message about Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon and she invited us in. We talked to her for a little while and got her phone number and gave her a Book of Mormon. They had just moved into that apartment just that morning because her patents got a divorce and they had just found it the day before. Her name was T. and we are going to be going back this week hopefully. It's amazing to see Gods timing. He will get those who are ready for the gospel to the places where they will find it. We just have to do our part as tools in His hands.

We had a specialized training and it was awesome. I learned a lot from it. There was a portion of the meeting where we could get up and share a lesson we learned from another missionary. There were so many who had learned something from another missionary. Elder Hoopes got up and shared that he learned kindness in Lufkin when he was my companion. He shared how every night we would finish our prayers and then I'd give him a hug, tell him I love him and say good night. I love Elder Hoopes! I learned something from him when he shared that. When you're a missionary you can go your entire mission and not see any success and yet you are still successful. You could go without a baptism but could have touched a missionary. You could have done something small that helped them to be a better missionary. Their success then kind of becomes yours. All the good that they then go and do is effected by what you did to them. I'm so grateful to all the people who have taken part in helping me become a better missionary! Every companion I have had has had a significant impact on me and helped me be a better missionary! It's great being on the Lord's team! And its amazing to see how He molds our lives!

Love y'all tons! Be soft clay and look for Tender Mercies. They are there every day!

Love your missionary,
Elder Bowen    
Elder Bowen & Elder Kidd

Marshall with Elder Kidd

March 10, 2014
This past week has been great! Elder Kidd and I get a long really well! We talk all the time about anything and everything. We even quote movies to each other when we are at the apartment. Wow I have forgotten a ton of quotes. I used to be really good at that game but that's alright.
So our first night together we taught C. the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it went really well. It's a good sign when you can teach with someone when you haven't ever done it with them before. C. went out of town for spring break with her family so she wasn't able to be at church this week. But she is still golden. Teaching her is so easy. Sometimes I don't know what to invite her to do because she is already doing most of it! Its great!
This week we went over to the T.'s and Elder Kidd got to meet them. They went out of town for spring break as well but before they left Sister T. helped us with a Miracle. We got word from missionaries in Gilmore that there was a member of the church who lived in our ward who hadn't been  in a really long time and would like to have contact with the church. She happens to live just down the street from the T.'s. So we told Sister T. about it and she came by with us and got cookies to bring over with us. Sister Tr. (The member who wanted to meet us) was in the shower when we went by but we met her son who was kinda standoffish (he is 20 and going into the navy so he had a very serious face). Sister T. helped break the ice by introducing herself as a neighbor who lived down the street and gave him cookies. We left a phone number for her to get in touch with us and she called Sister T! She thanked her for the cookies and Sister T. said she was going out of town but that we would love to get together with her this week. Well Sister T. scheduled an appointment for us and we went by. Sister Tr. is way nice! She is an awesome lady. She wants to come back to church but doesn't remember too much about it because she joined when she was 15 and then lost touch with the church when she was 16 and never really made it back. It feels like she is a golden investigator even though she is a member all ready. She apparently found a friend on Facebook who brought her into the church and her friend asked if she could send the missionaries her way and that they would change her life. It's amazing how God remembers His children and guides them back to Him. We are going to be re-teaching her the lessons and we are hoping to invite the rest of her family to sit in on them as well so that they can join the church as she comes back to it.

We meet with B. a couple of times this week. When we went over the first time with Elder Kidd he told him about how much he loved me and how I was like a brother to him. He then said " He's my second white son. I already adopted one and he's like my own son and he is too." I love B. he is the best! He had a close cousin to him pass on Friday unexpectedly. It was really hard on him and he called us up that night to talk about it. He needed some one to talk to. We went by Saturday evening and brought some orange rolls with us. It really brightened his day. He was eating some fried cat fish and he offered me some. I couldn't say no. I'm not a big fish fan and I was already full from eating but I made room. It was actually pretty good. As soon as I started eating B. said to Elder Kidd "I knew he trusted me and my cooking. He's like family to me." He didn't make it to church though :( but we saw him this morning and he got together with his family. We taught him the plan of salvation again and it meant a lot to him.

Church was good. There was an 8 year old's baptism and we got to go to it. They ended up needing a witness for it last minute and we were the only other people there with the priesthood so they asked us to help with it. It was a neat opportunity. It reminded me of my baptism when I was 8. That sure was a special day! I'm so grateful that I had the blessing of being baptized at the age of 8. Some think other wise but they just haven't thought it through enough. Being baptized at 8 gave me the companionship of the Holy Ghost that has helped me throughout my life! It helped to keep me from dangerous places and from so much pain. Not everyone has such an incredible gift when they are 8. I then thought of when Jared was baptized. That was a special day. I'm so grateful for having an amazing loving family! Y'all are the best family ever! I love how close our family is to each other!
Well I love y'all and think and pray for y'all often. I love y'all!
Your missionary,
Elder Drew Bowen

Ice in Dallas!

March 5, 2014

Well I'm emailing on Wednesday because of a really bad cold storm that came through Sunday evening and made freezing rain and closed down our mission for the day. It was Freezing cold! On Monday it didn't get higher than 26 all day! It messed up our transfers by a day too. Elder Johnson got transferred to the Richardson 2nd ward. The ward I started off in! And he is a District leader! I would say I taught him everything he knows but that would be a lie because he has been the Jr companion to a district leader since the beginning of his mission! He is going to be great! And he is really happy.  He called me this morning and it sounded like he was a very happy missionary just by the tone in his voice. That made me really happy! I love Elder Johnson! I'm going to miss him. Yes there were times where I would be frustrated with him and even think to myself "Patient just be patient." But at the end of everyday I loved my companion. I served with him longer than any of my other companions and he is like a brother to me. Funny thing is that we were asked a lot if we were brothers and our ward mission leaders wife said Sunday night when he was fixen to leave that we were just like brothers. He then mentioned that we are polar opposites; me optimistic, him pessimistic, the way we think and math and all this other stuff. It was funny because we really were opposites but we were good ones. I'm going to miss seeing him and being around him. But he lives in Utah so we will get together some time in about a year or so and I'll see him at some meetings I'm sure. 

My new companion is Elder Kidd. He is from Idaho close to BYU-Idaho. He is great. And so many good things are going to happen in our area! So we have seen some really awesome miracles this week! We meet with C. at the C.'s home yesterday and taught her the gospel of Jesus Christ. It went great! She is going on a trip to Gulf shores or something like that over in Georgia so we will be meeting with her again in a few weeks. She is so Golden! She is going to get baptized! We had to move her baptismal date back by a month because she just got a heart monitor. She has a really horrible health condition and isn't really expected to live past 30. She is 19 now but has an amazing attitude about life and a good sense of humor too. In our last lesson she mentioned to us that knowing the gospel now gives her a new out look on life. She told us that the other day she woke up and was really happy just to be alive and she knew that it was going to be a good day. She also told us of how last week she was driving down the road and looked up and saw the sun breaking over the clouds and it made her super happy for some reason. It totally reminded me of when I have had moments like that as well! It made me happy to hear that she is happy with the gospel. That's why I came on a mission to help share the joy that comes from the gospel. 

Another miracle that we had this week was on Saturday. Out of no where we got a text from D.! She said that she missed us and wants to come back to church. We then went by Sunday and visited with her. She said that the past months have been dark and she doesn't feel the peace that she did when she was meeting with us. She told us that last week she was thinking and felt like she needed to get back on the path that she was on before toward her baptism because she wants to get baptized for her mom in the temple after wards. We told her that she could do it and that God will help her. It'll be hard for her with the environment she lives in being the "ghetto" of Marshall but she can make the change and God will provide the means necessary to make that possible.  

Also we meet with B. this morning and I love B.! He and I are pretty much like Best Friends even though he is 32 yrs older than me. Today he told my companion that he knew that I cared about him just by the look on my face and called me his brother. B. is great! He is always telling me not to cry when ever I say something sincere. Apparently my eyes water up and it looks like I'm about to even though I'm not going to. I just really care about B. he has a great heart and is trying to do right so hard! I'm looking forward to seeing him at church! 

Well I love y'all and think of y'all often and pray for y'all even more so! Have a great week and remember that no matter what happens we are in Gods hands. He takes care of His children perfectly!
Love y'all!
Love your missionary,
Elder Drew Bowen