Monday, July 7, 2014

A Baptism in Plano!

June 30, 2014

This past week was wonderful! K. got baptized!

We met K. as we were knocking doors in her apartment complex. We spoke with her at her door step for a while and invited her to church. When we had met her she had bounced around to a variety of world religions, Buddhist, Hindu, Catholic and others. She is a 16 year old girl whose mother is catholic and asked us to get her back into Christianity. Well K. came to church the following day to our great surprise and was a golden investigator since that time. She was surprised to see how many of the youth were in some of her same classes at Plano West Senior High. The youth reached out to her and played a key role in her conversion. We had help from a family in the ward for many of the lessons and taught in their home many times as well as much help from others in the ward. K. attended girls camp with the Plano Stake the week of her baptism where she had the opportunity to be a youth camp leader. Her first experience at girls camp and she was a YCL! She had a great time and returned home the day before her baptism.

At her baptismal service the room was packed! There were over 60 people who came to support her from girls camp, the ward and non-member friends she invited. The service went great! We started a little late because people were still coming in. Also because K. went outside to help a friend find the entrance. Everything was just beautiful! We started by singing the primary song "When I am baptized"! I love that song and it reminded me of my baptism too!  There was a talk given on baptism by one of the young women and then she was baptized by Bishop H.! Everything went smoothly and Elder Reid and I had the opportunity to be witnesses for her baptism! She bore a great testimony about her decision to be baptized and how girls camp helped her to feel completely ready for it. Specifically how the testimony meeting really confirmed it all for her and helped her know that yes she should be baptized and that she was ready! Girls camp really does work miracles! 
Her mother R. spoke with the Plano 2nd Branch Elders and gave them her phone number. She feels more comfortable with Spanish than English. We feel that she too will follow in her daughters footsteps. We feel that she is prepared as well, especially from an experience we had with her when we were teaching K. R. listened as we read a verse in the Book of Mormon and mentioned how beautiful it sounded. We then gave her a copy in English and Spanish. We look forward to hearing how things go for her when they start teaching her. K. will be a great strength to the church, her family and her friends. She has the best foundation we could really give her for her start in the gospel. She has the support of her mother, friends in young women's, the ward and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Elder Reid and I feel it a great privilege to be able to take part in her conversion and look forward to seeing and hearing of the many great things that she will bring to pass in the future.

We went on exchange with the Plano 1st Ward Elders. They also cover the Chinese group. We felt it would be good to go with them. During the exchange I worked with Elder Lee in the 9th ward. Our day went great! We taught a lesson to a family that has recently returned to activity and to one of our investigators. Elder Lee taught very well and followed promptings of the spirit. During our lesson to the H. family (returning to activity members) he extended a invitation to Bro. H. that was suited perfectly for his needs. It was that he would have a spiritual experience with fasting. It was very inspired.  

During our companionship study we studied about leadership. I told Elder Lee that he was a leader in the mission, even though he isn't a senior companion, district leader or zone leader. At first he disagreed but after I reminded him that he was one of our only Chinese speaking missionaries he began to see that he truly is. We spoke of how important it is to be an example when one is a leader and how we need to be an example in obedience as well. I invited him to be the best missionary that he could be. He is such a good Elder! I really enjoyed being able to work with him!

I love being a missionary! Miracles happen all the time! Last night we went to a member family home to share a brief message. It was on miracles and we talked about how we never know when the people around us are ready for the gospel. That got them thinking and they thought of a friend they have and decided that they should give him a call and see if he is home for us to go visit him. He was and so they took us on over. He was very friendly and had spoken with missionaries in the past. We got into a great gospel discussion and gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon. We are going to be going back July 13th! We were all really surprised at it all!

This is the Lord's work not ours. That's why it keeps on moving along. We have the Joy of taking part in it but it is all the Lord's doing! There is still opposition but there will always be opposition to truth, good and righteousness in this life. But the Lord's work moves forward! As we participate in it our testimonies are strengthened! Our knowledge is deepened and our faith increased.

I love y'all so much!

Love your missionary,
Elder Drew Bowen  

K.'s baptism with Bishop H., Elder Reid and Elder Bowen.

Special Baptism Day!

Getting Ready for Baptism!

June 23, 2014

This past week has been great!

We taught seven lessons with member friends present! I don't believe I have ever taught that much with members my entire mission! It was a miracle!

K. has continued to prepare for baptism. She passed her interview this past week and we created her baptismal program. We are very excited for her. She will be baptized by the bishop and confirmed by her member friend's grandfather. She left for girls camp today. We are excited to hear how her experience is at camp. She is going to be a youth camp leader and be baptized upon her returning from camp. She has been a miracle for the Plano 9th ward! She has jumped right into the church and participated in so many ways. From early morning seminary and singing in the chior to being a youth camp leader. The Lord has prepared her to be able to make these covenants with Him. And Elder Reid and I feel blessed to be able to take part in her story of finding The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I'll be sure to send y'all a picture of us at her baptism!

This week we also got in touch with one of our investigators who we lost contact with for a month or so. We had taught her and her x-sister in law and she had seemed to be the least interested between the two of them. However, her x-sister in law has now moved and she said she would like to have us come back. We returned and brought a great member couple with us. She was more interested than we thought. When we invited her to be baptized we were shocked when she said yes! In our next lesson we used more inspired questions and the lesson was very powerful. She didn't come to church but we feel that she will be coming soon. We just need to help build her faith a little more.

We read in the Book of Mormon with the C. family. Brother C. is ready and waiting for Sister C. At church yesterday he said, "We have both been reading and we will get in touch with you to come by and read with us again this week. First you get her to read, then you get her in the water." He is waiting for her to be ready for baptism so that they can do it as a family. Sister C. is learning though. She is starting to know the story of the Book of Mormon as we have started to read with her and asks questions too. Once she has a testimony they will be ready to make covenants. The Bishop is planning on having someone go to the temple with them to walk around the grounds and talk about the blessings of the temple and have dinner afterwards. They have been investigating for so long they are practically members already and they will be soon. They will surprise the whole ward when they make the announcement that they are ready! We are hoping to be here when they do make it. But we will see.

B. and M. have been out of town this past week. They have been with their family and cousin as he recovers. We feel the Lord is preparing B. and M. to feel the spirit tremendously as we teach them about the plan of salvation when they get back from their other cousin's funeral. We are hoping to be able to teach them when they get back this weekend.

This past week we had our last meeting with President Durrant! He is such an incredible man! The Lord chooses the best misison presidents. We are going to miss him and his family as they move back to Utah this Saturday. I'm excited to meet Pres. Taylor though and to be able to continue serving in the Texas Dallas Mission. It is amazing to be able to take part in this great work.  

I have often thought of the early members of the church and their hardships as I have studied about their experiences. What a legacy we have. I think we will all one day face persecution of our own in one way or another, similar to how they did. That's just part of having the truth. You get a little bit of kick back every once in a while. It's always been that way. And yet with all the awful things that happened to the pioneers, the reformers and all the people who have ever found the shinning incorruptible truth, they lived some of the best lives with the greatest amount of success, fulfillment and joy in the end. I hope that we all may do the same.

I love y'all and hope all continues well for you!

Love your missionary,
Elder Drew Bowen  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Another Wonderful Week in Plano!

June 16, 2014

This past week has been great!

We met with K. and her mother came to the lesson as well. Her name is R.  She speaks Spanish but understands English and can speak simple English as well. We started teaching them the commandments and began with obedience. We read in 1 Nephi 2:20 which speaks of how when we keep the commandments we are blessed. We continued teaching about prayer, scripture study and keeping the Sabbath day holy. R. was very interested with the Book of Mormon and she was flipping through it as we were teaching K. She then looked up during the lesson and read 1 Nephi 2:20 to us again and said "This is beautifully written." We then taught her about the Book of Mormon and told her that she could keep that copy and also that we would like to give her a copy in Spanish after our lesson. She was very grateful. When we taught about keeping the Sabbath day holy we talked about how on Sunday we avoid doing work. R. then said "I usually do laundry on Sundays so Im not supposed to do that. Well I'm not going to do that any more." She is a very humble person, very much like her daughter. We spoke to R. about the Spanish missionaries and how we wanted her to be able to meet them. She left on a trip this past week but will be coming to another lesson with K. in the up coming week and we will hopefully be able to have them there with us to be able to start teaching her. I feel that she will embrace the gospel, especially when she goes to church with the Spanish Branch.

 This week we went on exchange with the Plano 2nd branch Elders. I had the opportunity to work with Elder Patton in the 9th ward. It was a great day. During the day we found a new investigator. We taught him the restoration after being welcomed into his apartment and given ice water. We have another lesson scheduled with him this Wednesday with him and his girlfriend. We also found a potential investigator, who became a new investigator Friday when we met with him at our scheduled time. Elder Patton is an excellent teacher of the gospel in both English and Spanish (from what Spanish I can comprehend I could tell that he is a powerful teacher).

We read in the Book of Mormon with the C.'s. It has gone well each time we have read with them. The spirit comes in and they even read the chapters they commited to read from our last visit. Bro C. is waiting for Sis. C. to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon and we feel that she slowly is gaining a testimony. We have both felt that we need to take things slow and so our invitations have all been to helping her gain this testimony. Bro C. has also tried to help her by directing comments to her in a kind way.

B. and M. went out of town unexpectedly due to B.'s cousins being in an accident. We just got word that one of them passed away today. The plan of salvation will be a great blessing to them. Especially in this trying time for them.

I love y'all tons! Hope y'all have a great week!

Love yall!

Love your missionary,
Elder Drew Bowen

Another Incredible Week in Plano!

June 9, 2014

This week has been incredible!

Yesterday was one of the happiest Sundays of my mission! We had five investigators at church! It was a Miracle! B. and M. came! They walked in just after the sacrament. We thought that they wouldn't be there because we hadn't heard anything from them that morning. No response to our reminder text or our last attempt phone call. But there they were! They had been asked if they could go in to work and they said they couldn't because of church and then they got lost on their way over. They stayed for all three hours though!

Also K. came to church and she even participated in the sacrament program! It was seminary graduation so she sung the EFY medley with them! She is progressing in the gospel so fast! It's amazing to see the Lord teach her and answer her prayers. She told us in our last lesson that she had prayed so much in the past week with finals for the High school year. She passed all of her tests and said that she knows that her prayers made a big difference. It's such a blessing to be able to take part in the Lord's work! He is the one working with all His children and is blessing us with the opportunity to see Him work in their lives.

Also this past week we taught the C. family. Elder Reid and I both feel that because they have been investigating the church these past two years and coming regularly we don't need to push them toward making the covenant of baptism because they know. Our focus has been to help Sister C. receive a testimony of the Book of Mormon. Brother C. is ready to be baptized and he has told us that and members of the ward but is waiting for Sister C. to feel the same. We read in the Book of Mormon with them this past week. It was a great experience for everyone. We read in 1 Nephi 11-12. We had to give her the background of the vision of the tree of life and who Nephi was because she hasn't read much in the Book of Mormon. (She did recently finish another volume of the Work and the Glory though but it doesn't have the same promise the Book of Mormon does.) After we finished reading Chapter 11 she wanted to read another chapter. I hope that she will keep her commitment to read Chapter 13 on her own before our next visit with them.

This just goes to show how important the Book of Mormon is to one's conversion. We cannot fully know and understand the restoration without it. We cannot gain the some conviction without it. We may be able to go to church every week and not have a testimony of it but we deny ourselves the blessings that come from this book! That's why we are taking this focus with the C.'s and it is our prayer that they will receive a testimony of The Book of Mormon as they read, ponder and pray to know its truthfulness.

We also met with H. He invited us over for dinner and we had a great visit with him. He is Jewish and has just gone through an unexpected divorce. He is seeking for peace and has begun to investigate Christianity. We invited him to church and as we talked about church and what it was like the spirit was there. He wasn't able to make it but we are hoping to meet with him again this week.

It's so fun being a Missionary! You are more exhausted than any other point in your life and yet it's fun, joyous and incredible. Even with being exhausted you are still able to teach even though sometimes when you go into a lesson you feel that as soon as you sit down on the couch you just might fall asleep but then the spirit comes and you wake up enough to teach and the lesson goes much better than you thought it would and you are amazed that the investigators in your area progress so much! I love the feeling that comes from missionary work. It's hard in the moment but whenever you look back a day or a week it brings joy to your heart and makes you love every second of it!
So don't forget to look for and pray for opportunities to share the gospel with people around you! It will seem really hard sometimes in the moment but as you look back on it, it'll fill your heart with joy!

I love y'all so much and hope y'all have an incredible week! And Happy Father's Day next Sunday! 
Love your missionary,
Elder Drew Bowen