Monday, March 28, 2011

I Have Kept the Faith‏

I don't think I'll have the opportunity to email next week so this will more than likely be my last entry(and if I do email next week I won't send a big mass one just so that I wouldn't have been wrong about this week, I may have some how grown up in these past 2 years but I'm still prideful!) To be honest, I'm a little sick to my stomach right now, my heart is in my chest thinking that "wow this is it." I really can't believe I'm down to my last week. I have the plans to work super hard and to make the most of the time that I have left. It's hard because everyone knows and reminds me all the time but I think of the words of Paul when he says "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith", tears fill my eyes when and I have an awesome lesson or when someone begins to progress towards the Savior because the thought crosses my mind "I only get to do this for a little while longer", after this it's back to reality, back to school, life, the world. Sure it has it's perks and I hope that you understand, I am excited to come home and see everyone and to do whatever it is I will do when I am at home. But there is no greater feeling than waking up each morning and thinking "The only thing I have to worry about today is inviting others to come unto their Savior Jesus Christ." I guess I'll continue on a little later with the psalm of Elder Caywood but before I do that I'd like to talk about this week and the week coming up. I don't know how we pulled it off this week considering that we got dropped by one investigator and baptized another but we still managed to pull off 11 investigator lessons(which once again may seem small but it is a miracle in Taylor) and 16 lessons overall, still trying to hit that coveted 20! Tuesday of last week I went on an exchange with Elder McBride and we talked about what it means to be converted and how we can help others to truly convert, that was our theme for the day and it has been really effective as we found that no matter what we say until a person acts for themselves, they will never be converted. I remember Wednesday was a long day mostly because I was tired because of the exchange but we managed to teach quite a few people that day despite all of that. Thursday was one of the hardest days I have had as a missionary in a long time. You know a day when you are just beaten. That was Thursday, no one was home, all of our lessons cancelled, and the only bright spot was we got to baptismal interviews done. It was hard but we pushed through it. Friday we had a good day, we played basketball early in the morning with all the Elders and the Assistants to the President who were up here for the day. Elder Tingey(Our AP) was so freaking good! I couldn't believe it, I hadn't seen anything like that. Taught quite a few lessons including one to Charles and Ethan Tippets. Ethan should be baptized in about a month and Charles... Well we're still waiting on that 3 year probation. The next day was actually a pretty good day though it was a little strange. We were a little behind on paper work. Because we cover 6 wards, that means we have to make 6 progress records, recording what we did all week in each of the wards. If you take time and make a good record that the ward actually learns from, then the process can take a while. We got a late start and were scrambling Saturday to get that done. What made that hard was we had a baptism at 10 and had to begin filling the font at 7:45(takes forever!) It was an awesome experience see the ward and the family rally around Ethan and his family. Then there was yesterday which was really busy. It was my last day at church and that was a little surreal but I'm glad that my last weekend is conference because I think I'd be a wreck if I knew the next day I would be leaving. It was busy though because we had lessons all night(yay! even double booked during one of the hours). At 4 we taught Jennifer, we're so excited for her, she is amazing and has progressed so much, truly feeling the Spirit. It was cool on Saturday at their wedding reception she announced to her family "This is Elder Claywood(hasn't gotten my name right but still love her!) and Elder Hill they have been teaching me and they will be baptizing me on Tuesday, they will always be welcome in our home!" It was so cool it reminded of when Paul said "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ", later that night we had dinner with Big John and his family. We have the same birthday so we decided to celebrate together. The best part was when the cake came out and it was a John Wayne cake. I about died laughing because it was so awesome! Oh yeah John Wayne! So this week Jennifer will be baptized on Tuesday and hopefully Mario will be on Friday not sure on that one though. This weekend we will watch conference. I'll head down to the valley Monday morning and go to Mesa to pick up my bike and mail it to Rexburg(thanks Elder Stewart). I think that'll be all I have time to do. I'm going to leave a lot of my clothes here because they look like crap after two years of sweat and pain. Then I'll have my final interview with President at 3:30 on Monday. After that I will cry and hug Elder Hill and say to him "Remember who you are" just like Mufasa said to Simba almost 20 years ago(P.S. I pretty much want to watch Lion King really bad). We will then weigh in our luggage and then have dinner and a special meeting with the mission president. Tuesday morning they will wake us up early and drop us off at the airport around 5 or 6. I will wait there til 10:30 and probably contact people, hand out pass along cards, hand out book of mormons, set a baptism date with some person waiting for a flight, get thrown out for disturbing the peace, and then come back in under the alias Armando Rodriguez. More than likely though I'll sit there bored making small talk with those who will talk to me. I'll land in Salt Lake around 1 their time and wait there for an hour and then go to Colorado Springs. Sound like a plan? Now to finish my email. I feel that I do truly owe my life to my mission. Every emotion imaginable(except for romance) has been pushed to the limit. I have grown up a lot or at least that is how I feel. I don't know what the first impressions people will have me when I get home except for "you of put on some weight". I don't know how I could adequately express how thankful I am for this experience. I've made friends that I feel will last forever. I've had the opportunity to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord in bringing salvation to others. I will miss the Spirit being so strong. I will miss being able to lay it all on the line and give it up to the Lord. I will miss seeing the excitement in people's faces as they come unto Christ. But this much I do know, I know this is God's work and that He is our Eternal Father Heaven. He is aware of our circumstances and answers our prayers as we look to him in faith, Christ told us "Seek and ye shall find, knock it and it shall be opened unto you." I know that in an act of the greatest love every displayed God gave His only begotten Son. Christ spent His life in the service of others, never doing anything for His own gain. He gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins, He conquered death and invited us to do as well uttering the words to all "come follow me", after leaving the apostles in charge of the church they were persecuted and killed, because of their death the authority to administer in the name of the Lord was taken from the Earth. After centuries of Spiritual darkness man began to look to God again which led to the creation of many churches. One of those people looking for truth was Joseph Smith, as he asked God what church he should join, God appeared to him with His Son and directed him to join none of the churches but called him to be a prophet in this day. I have found out this is true for myself by reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it. He has told me through his Holy Spirit that this is real. I didn't imagine 3 or 4 years ago I'd be here doing this. For the majority of my life I questioned God's existence. I know He is there, and I have given everything I have to follow Him. It took me some time what it meant to give it all up but I know now. Looking forward to seeing you all soon, take care God be with you til we meet again. Love, Elder Caywood

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