Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 23, 2010 TRANSFER

hola familia!
I'm glad to hear that everything is going well! We just got our transfer emails and I'm going to be changing area. I'm going to be serving with another Elder that was in my district at the MTC. His name is Slade Walker from St. George Utah. I'm going to be moving south of the river, so I'm going to be in the branch now. My area is the downtown area, or spanish central. I'll be covering all of the downtown area, which should be fun. I don't know how much I'll actually work in downtown, but it should be pretty neat. I'm excited to serve with Elder Walker, but kind of bummed to leave the area right now. We've had some great experiences recently working with new investigators that should be getting baptized very soon.
Sunday, there were 3 baptisms in the ward. The ward came out to support it like always. My favorite part of the baptisms is hearing the testimonies of the recently baptized and what they feel and the changes that have taken place in their lives. A young couple that just had a baby from Mexico was baptized. The husband has really totally turned his life around from where he was before. Our bishop always talks about the temple in his welcome to the ward. He invites those that are baptized to prepare for that experience. He had all the recent converts stand and there were about 10-11 at the baptism that have been baptized in the last couple months. He again encouraged them all to continue preparing. I'm pretty sad to leave the area and the ward, but I know that I will enjoy the branch as well.
I've been learning a lot about teaching and helping others learn by the spirit. It's hard to not just teach doctrine, especially with the language barrier. We've been trying harder to listern, observe, and discern through the spirit the questions that we need to ask. That really is the only way that a lasting conversion and conviction can be developed.
I love you all!
Con amor,
Elder Dunlap

Thursday, March 18, 2010

March 17, 2010

It's great to hear that everything is going well at home! We have had a great week.
We woke up at 3:00 on saturday morning because we had to leave on a bus at 430 from southern calgary to get to the conference with Elder Bednar. It was a wonderful experience. He was traveling with Elder Jay E. Jenson from the presidency of the seventy and so we got to hear a little from both of them. The meeting lasted from about 8 until 11 and then we loaded back on the buses and headed back to Calgary. It really ended up being a 3 hour question and answer session, with the questions and comments focused on the reading of the two talks that we had been assigned. He basically led a discussion that allowed us all to learn by faith and through the Holy Ghost. I know that I had several questions that I recieved personal answers to. The teaching setting was an example of what we needed to be doing with our investigators adn throughout our Gospel teaching in our lives. He talked some as well about how the teaching pattern that is established in Preach my Gospel should also be an example for our future homes and family home evenings. Overall, I left with a stronger determination to make my personal prayers more meaningful by praying for specific strength, help, and answers; and then going to work to do all I can. We were all able to shake Elder bednar and elder jenson's hands afterwards. As we began to get up and prelude music started, our mission president's wife couldn't stop crying. I know that president and sister archibald have had a little bit of a rough time with some of the missionaries over their first year. But, a special spirit could be felt in the meeting. The elders in the mission have really went through a change and I could tell that she really couldn't be any prouder of us after the meeting. Great things really are happening in the mission as we become more obedient and unified. Last I heard, we're on track to get 100 baptisms this month. Last month, there was 17 in the mission and I'm sure the growth will continue to happen. My companion was really the only one that got a hug from Elder Bednar. I don't know if i've mentioned, but elder galloway's dad is going throuhg chemotherapy and cancer treatment and was diagnosed not too long before he left to come on the mission. It's hard for him to find out in weekly emails how his dad is doing, but he's such a great example of a positive attitude and a dedicated servant. When we walked up, elder bednar said: elder, how is your dad doing. It was an emotional moment. We don't know how elder bednar found out, but just that simple question was something that i think he really needed and was a gift from a loving Heavenly Father that knows what he's going through.
i would tell you more about some of the stuff elder bednar said, but we're not supposed to. he said that sometimes things get mixed up through the grapevine and he'll get quoted online in a wrong context. it was a wonderfully spiritual experience to be in the presence of an ordained apostle.
he also used the words stupid and trunky, so i guess those words aren't bad.
the work continues to progress. transfers are next week and i think i'll probably get transfered because i've been here for 7.5 months. but, i love the area and we're working with some great new investigators that i'd love to stay and work with. it'll be hard to switch areas.
one of our miracles for this week is we decided to walk one afternoon that was a nice day so that we could get out and talk to more people. as we were walking, we met a couple getting out of their cars. the lady was a member that is inactive and was baptized a couple years ago. she told us that she had moved around a lot recently but was trying to get in contact with the missionaries again so that she could baptize her 9 year old son. she also wanted to start going back to church. they speak english, but i know that the Lord had placed us on that street at that moment. we were able to set up an appointment for the english elders to stop by the next day at noon.
we have a talent night coming up soon that should really be a great activity to meet new people. the stake president came and spoke last sunday and challenged each auxillary presidency to have a new non member at an activity every week whether it be church, a missionary lesson in their home, or a dinner. the stake presidency is going to be calling them to follow up with them. elder galloway and i couldn't help but give each other a little high five during church. the stuff that is going on really is great.
over the next two weekends, there's 8 baptisms rigth now in the ward scheduled. so, it should be an exciting time.
i love and miss you all!
con amor,
elder dunlap

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March 10, 2010

This week was another great week. It was a wonderful experience to be able to go to the temple on Saturday. We road down to the temple with a member family that we love. There isn't much scenery on the way other than wheat fields. It was about a 2.25 hour drive south to Cardston. We were able to see some mountains from the temple that were in Montana. So, I can say that I saw U.S. soil this week. We were able to go through a session in Spanish which was a neat experience. I was worried that it would be hard to understand, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. There ended up being 117 people in the session which I heard afterwards was breaking fire code. So, we officially broke the law in the temple. The temple was very beautiful and it was great to be present with the members that we work with. A recent convert family was able to be sealed afterwards as well. The spirit carried into the fast and testimony meeting on Sunday at church as well which was great for many of the non members that were at church on Sunday.
The mission had 17 baptisms the first week of March, which was equal to how many we had total in the month of February. From past numbers and statistics, the Assistants just sent an email saying that we're projected at about 85 baptisms right now in the month. There's more baptisimal dates than that right now, but I assume it takes into account how many dates historically drop or something. But, it really is wonderful news. The member missionary work in the mission is really picking up and catching fire and the missionaries in the mission have never worked harder. I think the missionary department has decided to come and figure out what's going on because they are here this week as well going on exchanges and evaluating missionaries. There's a special training with the people from Salt Lake tomorrow with some of the mission too.
We've really been trying to focus our studies on the talks that we've been asked to study in anticipation for the meeting this Saturday with Elder Bednar. We have to meet at 4:30 AM to be in Lethbridge by 7:30 for the conference. I assume that it may be a once in a lifetime experience and so we have been trying to approach it in prayer and fasting. One of the talks is about asking in faith and the roal of faith in our daily prayers. He teaches that a faithful prayer leads to asking for strength and help but then continuing that prayer and putting it into action in our lives through consecrated work. He shares an example of how sometimes members may pray for the missionaries or ask the Lord to help the missionaries. But, if they really understood the principle of prayer, faith, and action, they'd pray for the strength to find people themselves for the missionaries and then go to work inviting people. Our prayers have taken on a different role as we apply that principle to our investigators as well. We've been trying to pray for more specific guidance of the things that we can specifically do to help the investigators progress and for the strength to carry those plans out.
The members continue to help us out. There were 3 people at church on Sunday that members had invited and brought to church that we weren't expecting. The weather has also gotten a little warmer and we've felt the need to get out and walk so that we could make ourselves available to talk to everyone on the streets. The Lord has put several people in our path. On afternoon, we were walking on a back street on the edge of a neighborhood and were a little lost, but we saw a lady with two children a ways off. I looked to Elder Galloway and asked him if we should go talk to her. At that time, she yelled something to her small son in spanish and we knew that we should go talk to her. We were able to schedule an appointment with her. She had attended church a couple years ago in Toronto and had met with missionaries before as well. It really was a wonderful miracle.
Right now, there's 6 baptisimal dates for March in the ward, and so the work continues to progress. Elder Galloway and I have pretty much all new investigators that we're really trying to help progress. Our current struggle is helping them see the need and benefit of meeting with us more than once a week. We've been praying hard for direction in what we can do to establish that with a lot of our new investigators.
I'm glad to hear that your lives are all going well! I love you all!
Con AMor,
Elder Dunlap

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March 3, 2010

Hola Familia!

We had an all around tough week last week, but we continue to work hard. It seemed like we just had a lot of canceled and rescheduled appointments. I know that it was a trial of our faith to begin the excitement of this month though.
Our miracle for the week was one night as we were praying, a name of a past investigator came to mind. We decided to visit him the next day. The old investigator had moved, but we found other relatives of his that still lived in the house from Peru and were very open to us. We were able to schedule a time to return and teach them. We have great hope that they'll soon lead to some very promising investigators.
A member also brought a lady from Ecuador to church on Sunday unexpectedly. We have an appointment to begin teaching her as well this week. She told us that she loved church and wants to continue coming.
The last couple days, we've also been able to schedule appointments with several new people that we've met as well. We're really trying hard to focus on finding those that the Lord has prepared to hear us through the members.
The excitement is Canada has been that Canada beat the United States in the Olympics in hockey. After church on Sunday, there were lots of people in the streets screaming and shouting and waving Canadian flags. We made the mistake of telling on of our neighbors that we're from the United States. He wasn't very nice.
The weather has been warming up and it's been nice to be able to walk around some more. Being able to talk to people on the streets more really brings a more "missionary like" spirit to the work.
We just recieved an email that Elder Bednar is coming on March 13th to visit us in Lethbridge! The whole mission is getting together in Lethbridge from 8-11 on Saturday March 13th. We're soo excited for what he has to say. There's two talks that we're supposed to study. Ask in Faith and Seek Learning by Study and Faith. This is supposed to be the topic for his conference with us. I really couldn't be more excited!
This Saturday, we're also goign to the Cardston temple for the first time. We don't get a Preparation day today, we are taking it on Saturday so that we can go to the temple. The entire Spanish ward is going on a bus and we're riding with some members. I haven't been to the temple since the MTC and so we're excited for the opportunity. There's a recent convert family that was baptized a year ago that will also be getting sealed. It should be a wonderful experience.
My studies continue to be focused in the challenge to read the Book of Mormon focusing on Christ from Sister Archibald. I am loving the examples of christlike attributes that I continue to find daily. I think that it's really helping me in my life, as well as our mission to become more christlike and unified.
The entire mission including members are fasting on this Sunday for the baptisimal goal in March and you all are invited to participate as well. I know that the prayers and fasting are helping to strengthen us. I'm glad to hear that all is well at home!
Miss you all!
Con Amor,
Elder DUnlap