Monday, November 30, 2015

11/30/15 - 16th LETTER FROM LANGLEY


This week was incredible and miracle filled. Elder Gawrys and I are having lots of fun here in the YSA branch, and are so grateful to be a part of the work of salvation. It's always nice to take a step back and realize the magnitude and majesty of missionary work and what it really means. What our purpose really is. And this week, we got to see that entire purpose unfold in beautiful fashion.

The Savior, just before His ascension into heaven, left His Apostles with a commission, a mission for them to serve. He commanded them to "go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them..." (Matt. 28:19). That commission that He gave to the original Twelve is just as valid today, and we as missionaries are companions with those Apostles. Our charge is their charge. It's wonderful.

Today, we are in the middle of the Lord's Hastening of His Work. And He has asked us that we first "purify our hearts" before doing His Work (D&C 112:28). We need to obey and be cleansed from sin and guilt. To show with our thoughts and our actions that we are devoted to the master. With every fiber of our being.

One of our investigators, Josh, has been searching for the truth in his life. As we were able to teach him over this short month, he has progressed so well. He knows that the restored gospel is true. That it is the truth that can help him in his life to feel that peace and joy we all yearn for. We had the sacred opportunity and blessing to be able to participate in his baptism this last Saturday. What a terrific experience it was.

At the baptism, the Spirit was so strong and we had one of our investigators, C, there as well (the one who prayed to know if the Book of Mormon is true in a Tim Hortons and silenced the coffee shop with the Spirit). I love just how much the gospel changes people and sanctifies them.

Josh bore his testimony right after his baptism saying, "I stand before you now a changed man. I bear testimony that the Holy Ghost gave me revelation while I was investigating..." He testified of the Restoration and of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And the Spirit was SO strong at this point. Everyone could feel it. It was a sacred experience. He's so happy to be a new member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has a testimony, he knows where he's going, he knows who is helping him. It's a great feeling to have been a part of that whole process.

That's why we are here, it's to invite others to come unto Christ. To HELP them receive His restored gospel through applying His doctrine in their lives. It isn't to just wander the streets of Canada or wherever you are and try to sell the church. It isn't to be mediocre, it's to follow the example and commission of the Savior and help God's children to covenant with Him and return to live with Him.

I have such a testimony of that. I was asked in church yesterday by our gospel principles teacher. "Why did you commit to serve?" This is why:

A personal witness from the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true can lead us to do amazing things. At one point in Jesus Christ's earthly ministry. He asked His disciples, "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" They answered by saying, "Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets." Logically, that probably made sense at the time especially for people who didn't believe that a being like Jesus Christ could exist.

The Savior asked Peter, then, a harrowing question. "But whom say ye that I am?"
Peter answered, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
And what Jesus said was simple, yet profound. "Blessed art thou, Simon bar-Jona [Peter] for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 16:13-17)

No matter what we can discover with our own logic, our own intellect, our own "flesh and blood", nothing can be as sure or correct as the witness and revelation we are entitled to receive from our Father in Heaven.

And I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true. That this Church is Christ's Church. That His priesthood has been restored to the earth. And that is why I committed to serve. Because I know these things are true. How can I not share them? I learn every day more and more about this gospel, and every day I have experience with the Spirit that I cannot deny. At this point, I am no longer on neutral ground. I am on God's side. And I know that everyone can receive that same witness from His Spirit. I have seen it here in British Columbia. It works. And it works wonderfully. I learn every day more about my Savior, Our Master. He is anxiously engaged in His work. And as His representative, I know that He lives. I am grateful for this gospel. For this week. It was rewarding.

I hope that you all have an amazing week!

Elder Stock
Intricately detailed Book of Mormon timeline hanging in our study now. We feel like scriptorians ...
 Josh's baptism!!!
 Josh's baptism....continued

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

11/23/15 - 15th LETTER FROM LANGLEY


Right after the last update y'all received, I decided to invest in a little bottle of cologne called Preferred Stock. It was literally an insta-buy with a name like that! I use it in meetings to leave a scent of authority. Not sure if it's working, but I prefer it. ;) I got to revisit my old area of Burnaby this week as we went to a meeting to discuss the needs of the Chinese missionaries in our zone. It was odd. But fun because I got to see my legendary old companion, Elder Robinson. I snapped a shot of the Burnaby skyline as I fled the scene of the meeting. Good ol' Metrotown!

It was a very busy week for us. The zone conference with guest star Elder Teh of the First Quorum of the Seventy blasted through the mission, and ended in a climactic finale at the Templeview chapel here on our homefront of Langley. Because we were the closest elders to the venue, we had to make sure that everything was "bristol ready" for the meeting, etc. On top of the entire Lower Mainland's missionaries being assembled for this mammoth of a meeting, the Terrace zone decided to join us as well. Yeah...they're clear up they flew down, and we were assigned to go and pick up the elders from Smithers all the way at the Vancouver airport...way late at night right before the zone conference. It was intense. But I got to be with Elder Vo and Elder Tolman, so that's always nice. Elder Vo is also from Arizona. We represent!

The zone conference was incredible. At one point, I found myself sitting in between two spiritual giants: President Burt and Elder Teh, on the stand. To help you visualize what that looked like in my mind, imagine a guppy in between two great white sharks. Yeah. Pretty intense. Conducting the meeting was hilarious, but hopefully I didn't fumble on my words too much.

We talked a lot about true missionary work vs. missionary things that we can sometimes find ourselves doing, the importance of the Spirit and of teaching people, not lessons. It was an amazing conference and I got a lot out of it. Go Elder Teh! He's a master teacher.

As we went through the week, we saw so many miracles. One of the elders in our zone, Elder Swallow finished his mission after extending for a full month past his original departure date. He was such an asset to the zone, and so it was hard to have to see him leave. He served a really honorable mission, and was such a Christ-like leader. In fact, back in "Nam-naimo", he was Elder Gawrys and I's zone leader. The legacy he left behind was incredible. He's going to do great in the post-mission existence. Moving on to whatever lies beyond that mysterious veil...

I feel like the highlight of the week, however, was a lesson we had with one of our incredibly solid investigators, C. This guy is literally a Preach My Gospel miracle. We found him a little while ago by a skytrain station, and he missed his first appointment. We didn't think he was too interested, but we called him again after a little while and he was excited to meet up. We met with him, taught the Restoration, and he ate it up. We left him with the pamphlet we had taught the lesson with to study, and committed him to read 3 Nephi 11 from the Book of Mormon and to pray about it, among other commitments.

We met with him again a couple of days ago in a small, incredibly noisy Tim Hortons (Candian donut/hot chocolate shop). His Restoration pamphlet was filled with notes, indicating his intent in studying. We talked more about the Book of Mormon, and where it came from, and why it is so important. He expressed to us how he didn't quite feel the same feeling from reading the Book of Mormon as he did when he read the Bible, but he wanted to believe it was true. We showed him Moroni 10:3-5. And taught him how in order for us to know that the Book of Mormon is true, we need to ask God in prayer and listen for His Spirit to answer us.

We committed him to pray right then and there, at the end of the lesson, and to ask God specifically if the Book is true.

He accepted the commitment and began to pray in such a heartfelt way. He thanked Heavenly Father for the opportunity that he has had so far to learn more about the restored gospel, and for the Book of Mormon. Then, he paused and added, "God, please help me know if the Book is real..." and then he paused for his answer. Nothing. Just the rushing sound of Tim Hortons customers. He kept waiting. And then, he spoke again, "God: is the Book of Mormon true?" with so much sincerity, faith and such real intent. He paused again, Elder Gawrys and I prayed that he would receive his answer. And suddenly, the entire Tim Hortons grew silent. For a moment in time, everything seemed to stop. The Spirit was palpable, and I felt the peace and warmth it brings to my heart. C closed his prayer, thanking God for the answer, and then looked at us. "I felt a heaviness in my heart..." "That is the Holy Ghost," we said, amazed. "That is how we know it is true."
"I know. I know it is."

That's what it's all about. We are here to guide others to God. This is not a program, it is a cause. The cause of Christ. I know without a doubt in the fiber of my being that the Book of Mormon is true. And I know that we can all know this. But we've got to be like Cody, and ask specifically, sincerely, faithfully, and with real intent. I am so grateful for the restored gospel, and for a Heavenly Father who loves us all so much. He's not giving up on us. We are His children, His joy. I hope and pray that we can never forget that and that we all can remember the answers we receive as we kneel before our Maker in mighty prayer. Because He'll answer back.

Elder Stock
You know, when you want cologne....
you need to get something that you really prefer...
  The Burnaby "Metro Town" skyline. 
What a beauty!
Gettin' ready for a picture with Elder Vo
The Elder Vo
Stock and Gawrys goof shot!

Elder Haase and I taking pictures at the temple!

Pre-picture dance!
Elder Swallow the Legend!
Stunned Face! 
The Willoughby squad!

Monday, November 16, 2015

11/16/15 - 14th LETTER FROM LANGLEY

(Insert Epistle Name Here)

Hey! How are y'all doing?! That's good to hear. Unless you said you're not doing well....then....I'm sorry. But anyway, life is good up here in Langley! It's getting pretty chilly and rainy outside. So that's always fun. A constant downpour of mist that just rusts everything in its path. Our Nissan Rogue, The Lord's Chariot, is battling its way through these rain-battered streets of the lower mainland. Amidst the hustle and bustle of western Canadian city life. On the prowl for children of God whom He has prepared to receive the message of the Restoration. It's goin' down.

Pondering on the Book of Mormon, my thoughts came to Alma the Younger. What a hero. His purpose was so pure in his missionary efforts. As soon as he experienced the Atonement, he "laboured without ceasing, that [he] might bring souls unto repentance; that [he] might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which [he] did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost" (Alma 36:24). I've noticed that for myself, whenever the missionary work I do is because I truly desire my brothers and sisters here in British Columbia, and when I seek to follow the Spirit in how to best help them, then I not only feel better myself, but the people I'm teaching are able to actually progress in the gospel.

And I feel like for all of us, no matter where we are at in our missionary work, we can feel the same way. Are our interactions with our brothers and sisters motivated out of charity, the pure love of Christ? Or are we just getting by? Are we seeking to lift others and follow the example of Jesus Christ? Or are we content with mediocrity? Then wake up and do something more!

It's a blast to be out here, doing the Lord's work. Honestly, it is. When people tell you the mission isn't easy, they are right. It's not. You never really know what's going to happen next. But don't let that discourage you. The mission isn't easy, but it is definitely rewarding. As a representative of Jesus Christ, you are in the front seat of an epic rollercoaster called consecrated service. And you see miracles. Every day. So if anyone's reading this, and they're on the fence about serving a mission: do it. That's a command.

My week has been crazy busy. We are teaching our boys J and H who are getting geared up for their baptisms soon. They are doing so well. We are teaching up a storm over here and loving it.

Also, in an unprecedented turn of events, we ended up going on exchange out in White Rock with the Chinese elders! Elder Shoop is awesome. I went with him to White Rock and turns out....he knows Nelson Brown! Small World! I had fun trying to catch up with my terrible conversational Chinese during lessons and drank a lot of herbal tea in one lesson because I couldn't teach, so they shut me up by making me keep drinking. I ain't complaining, though. In one person's home, they had a rug that used to be a real life polar bear. Oh, the animal rights activists would go nuts! I thought it was awesome.

We had an incredible zone meeting this week, as well. It was very uplifting, and the announcing point of President Burt's new push to be a mission on fire. Grab the gasoline! It takes attitude, work ethic, obedience and knowledge to be what the Lord expects us to become. We took another zone picture, as well. Right in front of the temple. It was a good time.

This next Thursday, we are having a member of the Seventy, Elder Teh, come and visit our mission. A zone conference will be held on this day, and guess who'll be conducting the entire meeting of over 100 missionaries?! Yeah, I'm gonna be up there... Pray that I won't stumble on my words. Or start preaching false doctrine.... Those would be bad.

I'll give you all an update next week on how THAT goes.

Life is good.

Have a great week!
Elder Stock

The Langley Zone
Like a Royal Army, we're comin' for you....
So get in your baptismal whites.
Because it's about to rain....miracles....

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

11/9/15 - 13th LETTER FROM LANGLEY

Hello Again!

Well, I would love to amateurishly expound on some magnificent scriptures about missionary work/the example of Jesus Christ, but I am super busy today. In fact, I am down in White Rock, BC for this e-mail. Beautiful place and a beautiful drive....'course, you'll be tired and cranky when you get there! We are having some fun with the elders here and decided to come and e-mail with them on preparation day. So, we're going to be bailing pretty soon.... They've got a nice beach here. Like, a seriously nice beach. They don't call this place Beautiful British Columbia for nothing! Can I just take a moment and publicly praise my companion? Elder Gawrys is awesome! Seriously, it's so fun being in the Fraser Valley YSA. We are having a romp and getting work done! It's been great. I am constantly learning. Every day. And it's all from on high. God truly does teach us through the Holy Ghost. I know that to be true. And it often comes as we are doing His work in His way.

There were lots of cool experiences this week. We taught one of our investigator's friends, D and he is solid! Really great lesson on the Restoration. Truly, the Spirit testifies of Joseph Smith's First Vision EVERY SINGLE TIME! Go ahead: test it out. We headed out to Surrey on Tuesday and had a blast finding people to teach. And we taught them! Lots of lessons, this week, people. When you're a teaching missionary, you're happy. And then when you're a baptizing missionary, you're even happier.

We got to have another super professional meeting out in Abbotsford with a stake presidency member. We're talking board room, fancy suits, people bringing in water for us to was pretty cool. I felt like I was in an action thriller where the main guy finds himself roped up in a crazy business deal that ends in an unraveling conspiracy. But in reality, it was just a really, really good meeting on how missionary work can improve in the stake between members and missionaries.

We had another big meeting out in Richmond on Friday, President Burt talked a lot about having "a mission on fire" and what it will take to get there. The base of our mission fire is going to be attitude, work ethic, knowledge, and obedience. I can assure you all that this mission has caught fire. It's going to get pretty sweet in these next few months as a spiritual wildfire spreads through the province, igniting all in its path and, as the fire of the Holy Ghost does, sanctifying everything it touches. I'm pumped.

It was an amaing meeting, and I was glad that I was able to reconnect with a lot of my batch (the elders I came out on my mission with). The Richmond ward cooked us a huge turkey dinner, as well! Us missionaries cannot say no to food.... Well, at least I can't...

On Saturday, we saw some cool miracles! We were riding the bus from Langley to the tip of Surrey, and were sitting next to a lady named K. We started talking to her, and ended up teaching her the Restoration! We will be seeing her this week again. Always be teaching. Wherever you go. Because the Lord will put people in your path who are ready to receive the restored gospel!

We also were teaching one of our recently returning less-active members. T, and there was a person sitting next to us at the Tim Horton's we were in. We decided to invite them to learn more about the Restoration, and they accepted! The YSA sisters will be teaching her this week and helping her prepare for her baptism later this month. Seriously, God is so good. If we can just forget ourselves and our own comfort zones. He will shower us with miracles and blessings from on high. But, just like the Hastening of the work in general, He works according to our diligence and our faith. He's not going to force us to do well in this work.

We talked to T about his brother, H, and worked with him to start teaching him. The lesson we had with them was incredible, and T wants to work toward receiving the priesthood now to baptize his brother! That's God's plan, right there!

We went to visit a member from the YSA and their family, and just decided to drop by instead of call ahead. We came over and they let us in gladly. We shared our message about the plan of salvation, and expressed how we had felt prompted to be there that evening. The Spirit was so strong, and we were able to identify some people in their lives that we are going to start working to share the gospel with. And then, as if our visit wasn't enough, the Willoughy Chinese Sisters dropped by as we were leaving! The family was like, "Ok! Fine! We know that you were inspired to see us!" It was hilarious.

The week was fantastic. Honestly. And this week is looking really good, too. I love just getting lost in this Work. It's where it is at. Just serve God will all of your heart, might, mind and strength. Give Him your all, and you will find that He is already giving you His all. I know that our Heavenly Father lives and loves us personally. He sees the potential that we have and desires nothing more but to help us reach that potential. His Son, Jesus Christ, is the Savior and Redeemer of the world, and that He is actively involved in His work of salvation. He has called apostles to help Him, and they have called us, His missionaries. I and my companions throughout the world are called of God. And we will serve. Because this Work will not end. Despite any opposition that can come our way, we will not stop. Because He is on our side. I hope you all have an amazing week!

Elder Stock

Me and the new Nissan Rogue.....
The Batmobile of Langely YSA
Get ready, world!!!
(Colton has also referred to the Nissan Rogue as the Lord's Chariot!)