Monday, October 31, 2016

Week 65 - An exciting plan

Hey Guys!

So, I want to talk today about a vision that I've had and shared with Elder Cardenas, the other zone leader. President has talked to us about opening other areas in Puerto Barrios, and we had thought about a second Puerto Barrios area, and a second area in Morales, but as we were working this week, we thought about something very different.  My area (Puerto Barrios) is VERY big.  It includes all of what is Puerto Barrios, and also another city called Entre Rios close by.  In Entre Rios, there is no established church organization. There are about 35 members there, of the which, 14-20 are active. Of the three families that make up this active member population, 2 of them have been sealed together in the temple.

Local Church establishments work like this:

Ward: the largest of the church establishments, which normally consists of in between 100-200 active members (this is based off of Guatemala figures, I don't know how it is in the rest of the world). The members here are usually very strong and faithful in the Gospel, and have a local bishop and stake president who preside over them and hold the keys of the priesthood for those areas.

Branch: The second-largest of the establishments, in between 50-150 people. These can be found in stakes or in districts alike, but there aren't usually as many priesthood holders or leaders in these.

Group: An even smaller establishment of members, that consists of in between 30-60 people.

Unidad (I don’t know how to say this in English): the smallest congregation of members that can exist, in between 10-30 people.

The idea that I have had is to establish an unidad in Entre Rios and get new missionaries there. Why? Because: 
1) Reactivation work will move forward VERY quickly if there is a place where the Saints can meet together. In a period of about 3 months, Entre Rios has the potential (just among inactive members) to become a group.
2) Baptisms will happen VERY quickly. There are many people there who "are kept from the knowledge of the truth, simply because they do not know where to find it." If you go and walk around there, people will ask you: "Who are you guys" Jehovah's Witnesses?" and when you explain that you're a Mormon, they stare at you, kind of confused, and say, "What's that?" People here have NEVER heard the message before.

I want those people to have what i have. I want them to have the Gospel. There's nothing that will bring them more joy and more hope than this message. There's nothing that will bring them more joy than the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation, and how they can have eternal life.

Now, the idea may seem a little far-off, and difficult to achieve, but President has talked with the leaders of Puerto Barrios about it before. I feel that this is a good direction to take. If not, well, President receives revelation for the mission, and the time has not come for those people. I'll keep you guys updated!

Elder Jeffrey Reed

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Week 64 - S'mores

Hey Guys!

Abner wrote me! (Mom and Dad, Abner is one of my converts from my second area)
I lost his e-mail so I haven't been able to talk to him, but he's still faithful, still assisting, and he wrote me for the first time!

So we're doing pretty well down here in Puerto Barrios! 3 notable things that happen in our area:

1) It never ever ever stops raining. Many times we'll wake up in the morning to the sound of rain, look outside, and see a river where the dirt street used to be.  I'm considering buying a canoe. 

2) The branch here hardly ever has activities, so my companion and I decided to change that. At 6:30 this Saturday, we built a bonfire in the church parking lot, and we had about 30 people who showed up! We all had s´mores (half the people couldn't pronounce that), shared a spiritual thought of about 10 minutes about Christ's sacrifice, and how really every part of our worship should point to that, and then played games. It was super fun, and after that we had a really good attendance to church the following Sunday. This week, we're having soccer practices in preparation for a soccer match against the neighboring branch, Santo Tomas. (and we're gonna kill them, because Puerto Barrios is the best)

3) This week was particularly good because we had interviews with President. Recently, I've been working on improving the way I pray, I've had ideas and put them in practice, but I always felt like something was missing. and that is to "pray with all the energy of your heart". Have you ever felt like your daily prayers are becoming routine? That you've become so use to getting on your knees and praying that when you do so, what you say doesn't mean anything? That's the way I've felt. Praying- I mean really praying, every opportunity that you get, and having a spiritual experience, and being able to feel the Holy Spirit every time, is a LOT of work. so, when you go to pray, GET TO WORK. Pray with all the energy of your heart, and let every desire of your soul be to commune with your Father. That's when prayer starts to get effective.

That's my week for you guys! Thank you for all your support! Luvyubai

Elder Jeffrey Reed

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Week 63 - Running and Seeing the Family

Hey Guys!

This week was one of the busiest weeks of my life! I've never had to run so much in my life! We've been running, working, racing to beat time. This week went by SUPER fast. We had a baptism this week. I don't know if I mentioned him in earlier letters, but his name's Mainor Cac. He comes to church in Puerto Barrios from Livingston, and one day, when I was with elder Santos and elder Elkins, he just showed up to church! So we invited him to be baptized right then and there, and he said, "Well, I would like to. No one's ever given me the opportunity before." :D so he was baptized last week.

This week, we had a trainer's reunion in ZACAPA, my first area! I was super hyped to see it all again, and when we got there, it was nice. The streets I had seen were the exact same, the buses costed the same, the sun was just as strong and it was just as hot as it was before. We went to the chapel and got ready for the reunion, and while we're waiting, in walks Elder Flores from the Dominican Republic, the first elder I ever trained! All my mission family was there!

This is my family! Look:
Starting from the left to the right:

Elder Reyes: my fourth trainee(son)
Elder Reed: me
Elder Flores: my first trainee(son)
Elder Wells: second trainee of Elder Flores (grandson)
Elder Dunn: first trainee of Elder Flores (grandson)
Elder Villagomez: trainee of Elder Dunn (great-grandson)
I feel old...

But it was super cool to get the family together. Those guys are all super cool. They're all great missionaries and are working super hard.

Either way, I'm out here loving life. Don't have too much more to say for this week, other than that it's super cool to be able to work with someone and watch them prepare to be baptized, and then do it because they really want to.

Elder Jeffrey Reed

Monday, October 10, 2016

Week 62 - Not Sure What To Title This Week

Hey Guys!

I told you a little bit about the changes last week, right? Well, last Tuesday, while I was working with Elder Elkins, Elder Cardenas (the other new zone leader) called me and told me he was coming that day, not on Wednesday. So we rushed home, got Elder Elkins packed up and ran on over to Morales (70 minutes on bus) as fast as we could. When we got there, it was almost time to get to bed, but we got permission to stay there in Morales for the night. 
When we saw Elder Cardenas, the very first thing he did was come up to me, shout "HEEEEEEYYYCOMOESTAAAAAAAAAAAAA" and give me a hug. That guy is super super super super super super super super happy- honestly, I think he's insane, he's so happy. But almost immediately after planning the next day, we set new goals for the zone.

The next day, we had a district meeting with all of the zone (because we're also technically the district leaders for the Hermanas), and we explained the new goals and challenged them to live a much much higher mission standard. Missionaries in Zona Puerto Barrios contact at least 30 people a day, teach at least 5 times a day, etc. Immediately after we put this goal in practice and gave the elders a few helpful tips on how to do it, we saw results. Every area finished this week having in between 35-60 new investigators, and the number of people with baptismal dates doubled. That was pretty cool.

My new companion, Elder Reyes, is a good missionary. He's here to serve, and wants to learn how to do it better than any other missionary, which is good. As long as a missionary is here to work, and not to waste time, I get along fine with them. Maybe one of my favorite promises in the scriptures ins this:  "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

I love that promise. Those whose hearts are pure, meaning whose innermost desires and actions are to serve the Lord our God, will see him. Likewise, those who are purely dedicated to Him will see the miracles that He brings to us. There's also the promise in John 17:3
"And this is life eternal- that they know thee, the only true God, and thy son, Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (I don’t know if that exactly how it reads, I was translating from Spanish) 

The plan that God has for us is that we can do more than just SEE Him- we can laugh with Him, be with Him, live with Him in pure happiness forever. That is because he is our Father- the Father that we've always had on our side, who's always willing and able to help us.
Be pure. "Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord." Someday, you will see God. Someday, you will have eternal life.


Elder Jeffrey Reed

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Week 61 - New Changes

Hey Guys!

SOOO, we had changes this week, and Elder Santos got changed to Zacapa. Elder Elkins got sent to Morales, and I'm the only one of the 3 of us who's staying in Puerto Barrios, AND I'm gonna be training another kid named Elder Reyes, from Nicaragua.

Wish me luck... I feel a lot more pressure for my job than I did before. And honestly, I'm gonna miss my companions. They were very fun.

Changes hit the zone pretty hard. There aren't enough hermanas in the mission to support the number of areas, so we lost a hermana area in Puerto Barrios. There are now just 10 missionaries in all of the Izabal department. The church is very small here- maybe a sum total of about 150 active members over a space of 400 kilometers. There are miracles to be seen here. It will require all our energy and all our patience, because the people here are also rather hard-hearted.

I loved the Conference! I hoped you all loved it too! What really touched me this time were the talks by Dean M. Davies and David A. Bednar.

Elder Davies talked about the difference between being a churchgoer and worshipping. There is a big difference between praying and saying a prayer. And I know that from personal experience. I honestly haven't been praying with all the energy of my heart lately, and that won't help us to obtain the miracles we need. I've thought about the many things I have to orient my mind towards God, and I'm going to try a new way of preparing myself to pray. I'll tell you how it goes later.

Elder Bednar spoke about something that really called my attention. Believing in Christ and believing Christ, as similar as the phrases may seem, are VERY different.

Do you believe that the promises Christ has made apply to you personally? Do you TRUST in his everlasting grace and his care? Do you believe that "as he was lifted up, even so shall ye be lifted up to stand before the Father at the last day"? Do you believe in MIRACLES? If you do not, you do not know the Savior yet. But there is still time. He calls all of us to Him, and has "not commanded that any man should not partake of his salvation, and his everlasting redemption". Desire the joy that comes from our Savior and his love, and ye surely shall find it. This is true, and I have seen it happen to others, and I know that what little I have felt is the start of the process.


Elder Jeffrey Reed