D&C 20:10-12

10 And thy brother Oliver shall continue in bearing my name before the world, and also to the church. And he shall not suppose that he can say enough in my cause; and lo, I am with him to the end.

11 In me he shall have glory, and not of himself, whether in weakness or in strength, whether in bonds or free;

12 And at all times, and in all places, he shall open his mouth and declare my gospel as with the voice of a trump, both day and night. And I will give unto him strength such as is not known among men.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Almost Dead, But with New Life July 14 Letter

So, as you know, my comp only has 2 months left in the mission. When missionaries go home, they die. And the trend, is that missionaries that are on their deathbeds change. They either become more disobedient to the rules that we have, because they feel like it is not important anymore, or they become more obedient, because they recognize that their days are numbered. Elder S has been in the first group of missionaries, but this last week he has changed. He has had a change of heart, from what I can see, and now the two of us have a more powerful desire to BE obedient.  Now, neither of us are perfect, but we are getting better. We both want to get better, and we are doing the things that will carry us to a higher level. 

He and I have both learned a lot from each other. We both get along super well. Did you know that his sister just went to the MTC last week? So, they won't see each other for quite some time. There are only 2 months separating them, but those two months turn into 3 years and 4 months without seeing each other. However, his Sister is going to serve in Sweden, so he said he'll stop by and drop off a care package to her apartment, haha.

This change in Elder S has taught me something very important. He has taught me that once you get near the end, and the going gets tough, you just have got to finish. You don't let off the gas. You don't throw down the test booklet right before you reach the last page. You've got to finish strong. It is imperative.

Let's look at a few examples,

Moses, was miraculously preserved to free the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage. After many years in the wilderness, he was sent by God to go deliver the Israelites. When he got to Egypt, Pharaoh increased the workload of the people, and refused many times to let them go. When he finally gave up, Moses and the Israelites escaped ASAP, and ended up coming to the shores of the Red Sea. There were the waters ahead of them, and then to make things really bad, Pharaoh had changed his mind about letting them free, and was on his way in his chariots to destroy the people. Now did Moses start crying when the situation looked hopeless? Nope, he put his faith in God, and the waters of the Red Sea were opened up to provide safe passage to the Israelites.

David, when he was a boy, went to the battle grounds to deliver supplies to his older brothers that were engaged in the war. He heard the voice of Goliath, and decided to go up against him. He prepared himself through prayer, much thought, and searched for stones fit to use in his sling, and then walked out to meet Goliath in battle.  When he got down there, he saw how big Goliath was, and I am sure he had some second thoughts. However, his people's liberty was in jeopardy, and he trusted in the Lord to deliver him. He didn't put the stones back in his pocket and run back to camp. He hurled that stone with all his strength.

And most importantly, Christ. Christ suffered for our sins in Gethsamane and on the cross. When the Romans savagely beat him and tortured him, did he ever say, ''Okay! I give up!  I'm done!'' and retaliate? No. Not at all.

So, when we come really close to our goals, what do we do? Satan, of course, will try to do everything in his power to discourage us, to make us lose hope, and to try to get us to throw in the towel. However, nothing of any worth was ever easy to achieve. We have to give our 100%.   When I was in my first semester of senior year, I was trying to balance a schedule of hard classes, seminary, church assignments, Swim team, and finishing my eagle scout.  Instead of curling up and giving up, I decided to give everything I had left.  How did I do? I did well. I wasn't perfect, but I got good grades, I had perfect attendance at seminary, I was working harder than ever in my church calling, I made it to the State Championship Final in the 100 yard Butterfly, and I finished my eagle Scout award and turned in the papers on time (1 hour before I turned 18:/   ) Was it easy? Heck no. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

I just invite everybody to stick it out to the end. There is no glory in giving up at the last moment. Only tragedy. 

The same is with this life. If we give up, all that waits for us is tragedy. If we hold on tight until the end, we will receive the reward which has been promised us.

"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." 2 Nephi 31:20

Os quiero mucho!
Elder Oliver

ps. The rest of the week went really well. Investigators are doing great, and we had a great time in Málaga for a tri-zone conference with President!
pps. Happy Birthday to my Uncle Kurt!    

         Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July 7 Letter

Hey Family and friends!
This week was a really good week. And I have tons of great stories to tell you. But I won't because I don't have all that much time. Suffice it to say, that we taught a congregation of 10 evangelical and Jehovah's Witnesses the Plan of Salvation that our Heavenly Father designed for us. It all went really well, and at the end, a deaf man entered, and we taught him the restoration, through another man that speaks signs. That went really well too, and then we got to the part where Peter, James, and John, now resurrected beings were sent by God to confer the Higher Priesthood to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. The man doing the signing for me stopped, looked at me and said. ''You are teaching false doctrine!'' 

I was a little taken aback, wondering why he said that, and then he told me that they would not be able to do what we claim they did, because they were long dead.  Then, the first thing that came to my mind was when Jesus went up into the mountain and was transfigured (Matt. 17, Mark 9, Luke 9), that Moses and Elijah came down from heaven as translated beings, to do God's work. So, I went home and studied that, and the next day we had a good discussion about that and how God works through his chosen servants.

Anyways, it was a great week, we were busy, and we worked really hard!

Os quiero mucho!
Elder Oliver

ps. Shoutout to Mark and Grandma! Thanks for the great emails this week! I loved them!

June 30 Letter

Well in some ways, this week wasn't nearly as interesting as last week, and in other ways, this week will be one of the most memorable weeks of my mission.

I will fill you in on the miracles first. This week I fasted, even though it wasn't Fast Sunday. Why did I fast? Was it because I wanted to deprive my body of nutrients under the hot desert sun, or show everybody how Spiritual I am? Nope. Neither one of those. 

I'll tell you, at least partially. I have way too many weakness. I am stubborn, prideful of the things I do well, lazy (sometimes), disorganized, blah blah blah, you get it. I am Hayden. I fasted this week to ask the Lord if he would help qualify me to be a better servant. Be stronger. Place the clay into the furnace. The ore into the melting pot. 

Then, after church we had a meeting as missionaries. At first I thought to myself, rather sarcastically, so this is the blessing I get for fasting? Another meeting before I get to eat? But, I was really touched. The things that were said there helped me to focus on what I need to do better to help every person I come in contact with to come unto Christ. 

So, results from the fast? Yesterday evening we went to visit an investigator family that came to church for the first time in many many weeks, and we watched Finding Faith in Christ. I think I was the one most captivated by the video out of the whole group, haha, and at the end I almost cried--- This whole mission thing has made me a really emotional person... I cry over all sorts of stuff now, but never because I am sad.--- Anyways, I gained a deeper understanding of what Christ's relationship is to me.  I truly felt his love. I felt a whole lot lighted, like a load had been lifted from my shoulders, which, physically didn't happen, because I weigh more now than in just about any other time of my life:/

But, wow. I felt the spirit!  Then, we vistited a member who has one of the most amazing conversions I have ever seen. He recounted his story of conversion and repentance, and brought me to tears... big surprise there... But we talked of Christ. And we rejoiced in Christ. Then, after reading a few scriptures we left, and headed outside, not exactly knowing where we were going to go. It was late, so we thought about going home a little early, because at 10:00 at night nobody really wants you to talk to them in the street or knock on their door, however, I realized that I had just finished fasting to become a better missionary, and had better not spoil it so quickly, so we went to another family nearby.  

As we arrived at their apartment, I saw the parents sitting on the sidewalk outside the building. I motioned to Elder S and we headed over to talk to them, and then to our great surprise, they were holding cigarettes in their hands. Elder S let out a blasting whistle, which startled them, to say the least, and they hurriedly stamped out the cigs and hid the butts. But, we knew what we saw. We sat down and talked to them, and we read 1 Nephi 3:7 and Mosiah 26:19-20 and talked about Christ's love, repentance and the atonement. They finally admitted that they smoked, and then told us the situation. The stress they were under, and how they got a hold of some smokes. 

And instead of thinking, 'oh great, another couple of moochers that just got baptized to recieve assistance' I thought, 'wow. This breaks my heart'.  And it did, but rather as a seed is broken to give way to the tender bud. In that moment, I really felt the love that Jesus Christ has for every one of us. I truly felt it. You could say, my heart grew three sizes that day.  I love that family. I know that they have such a bright future ahead of them, if they stay strong and fight harder against the temptations that Satan pushes into their lives. And that Satan guy? He's such a jerk. He's always making everybodies lives so much harder.

But, I testify that the power of Christ will always overcome the power of Satan, because Evil Never Wins.    
Asides from that not much happened.   Hey! Do any of you guys actually watch the World Cup? Who do you think will win? I'm hoping that the energy of Independence Day will carry us to a World victory!!!   WHOOO    


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Good News and Strange News!

Good news first! Do you remember the Ghanan, John?  (He first mentioned him here.)  The guy with a heart of pure gold in Algeciras. Well, he was progressing super well while I was there, and continued to progress really well with Elder Bird and Elder Allan. He went to church couple of times, loved it, and has been studying the book of Mormon as well as the Bible to find his answers. And he got his answers!  John got baptized!!!  That makes me so happy, and now he is working with his wife and kids towards baptism, and eventually towards becoming sealed in the temple for time and all eternity.

Now time for the strange news... John got baptized in 1998. Now, here is the story behind that. Well, actually, I don't know his story before that. I just know that since then, he has gone into several month long comas. And he has problems remembering everything that has happened to him. So, from some time after 1998 till 2014, he had forgotten the covenants that he made at baptism and went on a search to find the true church. He went to every evangelical, catholic, protestant, and methodist church, but there were things in every church that bugged him and stopped him from uniting himself to them. Then, in February of 2014, two Mormon missionaries knocked on his door, and began to teach him. Then the promise in John 14:26 was fulfilled. 
      It reads
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

The things that he heard from the missionaries struck a chord in his heart. He searched for answers and he found them for the second time.

Imagine the surprise when Elder Bird recounted this story to me this week. He told me that it went down like this...(already knowing that John's dad supposedly was baptized many years ago, as he told us last transfer)
----Elders with President Deere about to try to set a baptismal date with John----
John--  'Brothers, I need to tell you something. You will never be able to baptize me. I have said that many times. But it is not because of any doctrinal issues, or doubts that I have.  You see, I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the year 1998.'

----Stunned looks on their faces----

President Deere-- '(very pensively) Hmmmm... Then it is time for you to bring the blessings of the Gospel to the rest of your family.'

And the excitement doesn't end there!  This week we made friends with the pastors of the Evangelical Church in Los A, and this Saturday they had a big theater production, and invited us to be VIPs there. Just imagine two Mormon missionaries walking into the ghetto-est of the ghettos to go attend an evangelical meeting.  And I have to say, it was awesome. And a bit crazy. Super loud music, lots of smoking, lots of AMEN, HALLELUJAH, GLORIA A DIOS, BENDECIDO SEA TU NOMBRE SEÑOR!!!!!!    I feel like I lost a bit of hearing that night. But, now we have solid contacts in Los A, and everybody there loves us.  Si Dios quiere, we will baptize their pastor, haha:)

And one last thing, this week I have really been playing my violin a lot more. We saw a bit of a move about Los Mormon Boys, a group of missionary performers in Argentina in the 60's. So, with any luck, we will be able to do something like that here. There is such a rich background of music here in Southern Spain. I would love to just jam on my violin with a group of gypsies singing flamenco. And Hermana Andrew and I played I know that my Redeemer lives. In church. It sufficeth me to say that many many eyes were teared up. 

Anyways, I hope you all have a great week!! Not much time today for personalized emails to everybody, but I hope that you all have a great week, and be the men and women that God would have you be.

Os quiero mucho!!!
Elder Oliver

ps. This week I learned how to read Hebrew... It's a little tricky, but seriously cool:) 

June 16 Email

Wow! This week really has flown by. We have worked really, really hard, and we have really been having a great time!

I'm going to answer some of your questions. Yes! I got your letter, thanks Mom:)
So, on the mission blog, it says that F baptized L, YES!!  He was a less active member when we began working with them, but he fixed up everything, and was able to baptize L after they got married! It makes me so happy to see them both in white! One year from now, I hope to hear from them that they have been sealed in the temple for time and all eternity. Man, this work is the best! Sometimes I wish that it would never end, as in, I sometimes want to stay out here forever.

O is doing spectacularly! He has been listening to a dvd of classical music (can you guess who made that for him?) and he has really changed in the last few weeks. It's quite funny, because sometimes we walk into their house, and he is in the other room singing Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, or Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.  I love that kid. And recently, he finally began studying the Book of Mormon, however, as you know, he has problems reading and understanding, so we gave him a dvd with all the Living Scriptures cartoons. We went over to his house yesterday, and he was telling us all about stories in the Book of Mormon, and Elder S and I gave each other a big high five!  He also said he will start to listen to the Audiobook Book of Mormon that was on that disk as well, so we will see how he is doing tonight.

Elder S and I are doing great! We get along well, we work hard, and we have a lot of fun. This last week we have been especially efective in how we work, and on Thursday, we had 8 lessons in one day. That is the most we have ever done, and the most I have ever had in one day. Not only that, but we got a new investigator, received a bunch of references, futures, and still had a little bit of time during mediodia to relax. It was the best day ever. However, this week really ended on a bad note. On Sunday the Relief Society passes around the dinner appointment list for the missionaries. To our great frustration, We only have 1 eating appointment this week, whereas all the other companionships have appointments every day. That is a little frustrating, especially because WE are the elders that always make desserts for the RS.

It's great to see and hear about how my friends are doing all around the world. When I read about all the good in the world that my friends are doing I realize just how great my friends are. My friends are the best. I need to keep in better contact with them.

We had interviews with president last week, and they went really well. Elder S says that President will keep him here in A for another transfer. That is pretty cool. We will have a baptism together! I hope! There is a young gypsy couple that will be getting married very soon, and A, 18, is planning on getting baptized. We just need to help him wear a white shirt to church. The story about this kid, is he was working with the missionaries. And they put a baptismal date on him, and he was super excited to get baptized, then the DAY BEFORE his baptism, he and his girlfriend decided to live together. When he told the missionaries that, they told him that he couldn't get baptized until they got married. With that, he went into a seizure... I guess this kid really wanted to get baptized!  And he still does, and now he and his girlfriend, the girl from the ward that gave the missionaries A's info, are about to get married. So that is good!! 

I just want you all to know, that I love you so much, and I love the work of the Lord more than anything else! Even if it is difficult sometimes!

Os quiero mucho!
Elder Oliver

Monday, June 9, 2014

Shortest email ever

Okay, don't rip me a new one for the ridiculously short email today. It's just that we are completely out of time, and I have to run to an appointment right now!

I just want you all to know that I love this work. There is nowhere in the world I would rather be than right here in the Lord's work! Many people are feeling the love of the Lord in their lives, and coming unto him.

I was told this week that L got baptized! {She was from Hayden's first area} After months of waiting for marriage papers, F and L finally got married, and she was ready to be baptized. She followed the example of Jesus, and entered into a covenant with our Father to always remember him, and to keep his commandments. 

Obedience brings blessings!!

Os quiero mucho!
Elder Oliver

Monday, June 2, 2014

Week of Good News!

This week has been a continuous flow of good news.

First, our investigator, O, even though he won't be getting baptized this week, has changed. You can see it in his eyes, you can hear it in the way he talks, especially to his family, and he behaves as if he cared about them. Which is a huge miracle. Everything stems from what happened on Wednesday... We celebrated O's 18th birthday (but first birthday party) at the chapel on Wednesday. However, he didn't arrive on time, so we went to his house to find him, and it is a miracle that we arrived when we did. O and his younger brother had gotten to yelling at each other, and then, out of nowhere, the two dogs, a boxer and a great dane got in a fight. The great dane chomped down on the face of the boxer, and--luckily-- only got skin, and bit right through. They were having a tug of war, with his face... Everybody was trying to pry the dogs apart, when after about a minute of watching the awful scene, it finally let go.

O has problems with handling stress. When he gets stressed, it turns into anger. And that was a very stressful moment for him. He went into a fit, I wouldn't call it a fit of rage, but it was an uncontrollable fit of anger, sadness, disgust, and pain. It was so overwhelming, mentally, that for a few minutes he didn't even resemble a human. However, we were able to help him get some breath, and then he spent the next 20 minutes huffing and puffing, growling out, ''I control myself. I control myself.'' and the intermittent ''wow, it is hard to control my anger''

Later, we went to the party, had a great time, helped him relax a bit, get to know the YSA, and he even said a prayer at the end. Afterwards, we had a great lesson about Alma 7:11-13, and Ether 12:27.

Since that day, he has changed. He has become a man that can control himself.

Then, I received news that E, an investigator of mine in Algeciras got baptized! Even though I wasn't there to see it, it made me so happy to hear about it, and to have been a part of the work of Salvation. Next step, TEMPLE!

Then, well, there really isn't all that much. I just got so overwhelmed and so happy about E's baptism, that this whole week transformed into an awesome week, even though we had some pretty difficult days.

That is alright. Anyways, as usual, with lots of pictures, comes fewer words. I have to go, but I hope you enjoy a few of the pictures that I have included and sent to dropbox.

Os quiero muchísimo!
Elder Oliver

He didn't tell me anything about any of the pictures, so use your imagination.  Hopefully he'll fill us in next week.  Maybe when he gets back from his mission we can teach him how to smile for the camera???