Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Week 51 - 1 year old! (officially)

Hey guys!

Well, in 2 days I'm 1 year old in mission time! I've been thinking about this for a while now. But now I actually have been out here a year.

IT's a weird point in my mission, because there are so many missionaries I know who have gone home, who have finished their missions, and then there's a TON of new kids, too. I don't know how to feel. I just gotta keep going.

Everyone has told me that the longest part of the mission is the 9-12 month time space, and while I didn't believe it at first, I believe it now. It's because in all of that time, you just keep thinking about what's gonna happen when you've been on the mission for a year. (things like where are you gonna be, what are you gonna do, who's gonna be your companion, what happened to your home while you've been out, etc.) That's why it feels so long... Now that I think about it, how does a missionary feel when he's in his last 6 weeks of the mission?  It's gotta be wayyy worse, but I'll tell you guys about it in a year.

In this past year I’ve experienced:  2 areas, 8 companions, 9 changes, and 8 baptisms.  One of the most interesting things that has happened to me this week is the number of people that have asked me for blessings. (FYI for all those of you who are not familiar with the Mormon church we believe [and I know from experience] that this church possesses the Holy Priesthood, or the power and authority to act in the name of Jesus Christ on the earth, just as Moses, Elijah, and the apostles had it. This priesthood is given to all those who are worthy to use it to bless the lives of others, and do not try to unrighteously dominate others). I have had the opportunity to give blessings on various occasions, and it is one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had, to be able to give a blessing. I do not consider my faith to be particularly strong, but when I have been called upon to give a blessing by the authority of the Priesthood, the Spirit takes over. Literally, the words that I pronounce are not words or ideas that I invent. When I give a blessing, I can feel of the Lord's love for the person. It is a very sacred experience for me, and I'm very glad I've been given the God-given priesthood to bless the lives of others. The priesthood is real, and only works if you are as much a servant to your fellow beings as Jesus Christ was.

Elder Jeffrey Reed

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Week 50 - Time doesn't exist, and other trippy things about being on a mission

Hey Guys!!

Well, on the 27th of July I have officially finished the first year of the mission. :0 

Time flies. 

I feel old. I've seen a lot of missionaries go and lot of missionaries come. And I've still got "A Spotless Rose" stuck in my head.

Most of the people I knew when I left home for Guatemala a year ago have lived completely different lives. I have, too. I never would have imagined, January of 2015, that I would be in Guatemala, speaking Spanish, living with all kinds of people from all over the world, living off of $200 a month. 

In my life right now my roommate is from Peru. My closest friends are from the USA, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic. I get to speak English maybe one time a week with someone who understands me.

Did they make a Finding Dory without me knowing it? 

For me, time froze a year ago. I left my family behind- Josh at 16 years old, Jacob at 13 years old, and Brock and Bella at 9 years old. They'll all be different when I get home. When a missionary leaves home, he doesn't realize how much things will change while he's gone.
When a missionary leaves home, he doesn't realize how much things will change him while he's gone.

Well, about the work this week, we found 22 new investigators, and 2 new investigators came to church! That made me pretty happy. Remember the Great Commandments that Jesus Christ gave us. Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, might, and mind. And the Second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets: everything that we do as members of this Church and as missionaries.

Elder Jeffrey Reed

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Week 49 - Getting to the 1 year mark - New assignment

Hey Guys!

We had changes yesterday. President Crapo gave me a new assignment, so now I'm district leader. Two new elders are coming to my district tomorrow, so I don't have to take dats [information regarding the number of people met and taught during the day] for anyone else tonight, but tomorrow, I have to do it. I'm not exactly sure about what I am doing, but I know that the Lord will help me figure it out.

My district has only 4 people. They are:

-Me (Elder Reed)
-Elder Villar from Lima, Peru, 18 years old has been out for 6 weeks
-Elder Yama from Monterrey, Mexico (I don't know how old he is) has been out for 18 months
-the new kid that gets here tomorrow

We'll see what happens.

This week has also been a little stressful for me. The work is advancing very slowly here in my area, but we'll be able to see some changes soon. 

Funny fact: 4 days ago I was talking about leadership with Elder Borjas, my old district leader. We were talking about how hard it would be to be leader, because you don't have to worry only about the salvation of the people who you work with, but the people of the other areas, and the missionaries who depend on you to lead them. But leadership as Jesus Christ defined it, is service. (So I've got to learn a little bit more about how to serve other people. I'll tell you guys how it goes.) But as Christ did not come to be served, or to exercise dominion over anyone, he came to serve. He came to lead us in the way to life eternal. He came to show us how to be better people. This is something I must do, as a leader now. President told me, "Elder Reed, this assignment was not given to you for your comfort." And it's completely true. Right now, I feel a little overwhelmed. But the Lord does not call people because of what they have done. Many times, He calls people in spite of what they have done. The Lord has a work to do through us, and this will happen if, and only if, we do it His way.

Elder Jeffrey Reed

Additionally, Jeff was recently asked what advice he would give to kids who are considering a mission after high school.  Here is his reply:

Hola Hermana Stapley,
I have a couple answers to your questions.

Q) What do you wish you would have known about being a missionary before you left?

A) I wish I had known how HARD it is. The mission is the hardest, most mentally and spiritually exhausting thing that you can do, but also the most mentally and spiritually rewarding.

Q) What is your best advice for how to prepare for a mission (things you may have done or wish you would have done)?

A) Best advice for future missionaries:

a) MAKE SURE THE GOSPEL REALLY IS IMPORTANT TO YOU. If it's not, or if you're going because your parents want you to, or if you do not serious intentions in your heart to preach the gospel, DO NOT GO. Wait 6 months, and during these 6 months, gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and Jesus Christ.

b) Get out there and practice. There are plenty of missionaries in our wards at home who need help. Invite one of your friends to talk to the missionaries, and then go out to work with the missionaries.

Q) What is the funniest thing that has happened to you on your mission so far?

A) The funniest thing...
There's too much that happens on the mission to say that one funniest thing has happened. I don't know how to answer this question...

Q) What has surprised you the most about your mission?

A) What has surprised me the most is that a missionary is not always a spiritual giant. Missionaries are 18-21 year old kids that don't know too much about what they're doing. The mission is not a place to develop a testimony, it is the place to help others develop a testimony.

Q) What advice can you give on how to prepare for living with a companion?

A) Be humble. A companion can be an absolute pain in the neck or your best friend. I've had both of these, and the easiest way to get along with your companion is serve him, and focus on the good things that he does instead of getting annoyed with every little stupid wrong thing that he does.

Q) What is something that you've learned from serving as a missionary?

A) I have learned in my time out here that the Lord shows us our weaknesses to make us strong. Also, the Lord with never give us anything that is too hard to handle or too heavy to bear.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Week 48 - Not very easy

Hey Guys!!!

It's been an interesting week. Due to disobedience, the mission recently sent home 7 elders, so President called for an emergency conference this Wednesday. There, we reviewed the mission rules together. Personally, I've never seen President so stressed out in my life. But at least there's no question in Elder Villar's mind as to what the rules are.

Thursday- at 7am in the morning, they called us and told us we had ANOTHER reunion at 9, so we rushed to get ready and got to Molino at about 8:30. There, we had our second training reunion for Elder Villar. After that...

Elder Villar got sick.

We had divisions, and I got sick, too.

And now I'm here, in the family history center of the stake building, writing you guys.

One of the funny things about 4th of July or Thanksgiving or any other holiday that we're familiar with in the States is that the majority of those are strictly stateside holidays. SO we don't really celebrate. None of the Latinos really care, but for the 3 gringos in the zone, we're all a little trunky.

Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!! (He turned 46 on July 1st)

But either way, this week's been a little difficult for us.

This week, I was thinking about Spiritual Strength. What is spiritual strength? Oddly enough, what I've learned about it in the past 5 weeks has changed my perspective completely on what it is.

Spiritual Strength is the Humility required to submit yourself to the will of God in all things. How can we be humble and how can we be strong at the same time? Really, we can't. God doesn't expect us to be strong. Any person who tried to face the challenges and difficulties of life on his or her own is REALLY going to suffer.

But we don't have to be alone.

Be humble. I ask you all. Let the Spirit into your heart, and ask the Lord what he wants us to do. As we do what the Lord wants us to do, instead of doing what WE want, our problems lessen. We have joy. A new sense of purpose comes into our lives. We are healed. The strength that we take upon ourselves is not our own. The Lord, the all-powerful, Omnipotent Father of all that is on Heaven and Earth, makes us stronger. He gives us his own strength, and with His divine power, even the hardest or most difficult obstacles simply crumble away from before us.
Elder Jeffrey Reed