Fish Hoek: 7/25/16 (Week 11)

Subject: The Final Update

As you can tell from the subject, this will be my last weekly update to conclude my two year full time mission. I will be coming back home next week… just so crazy that it is here. I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me the past two year. So grateful for the love and joy I felt from back home, it helped me in tough times. The prayers, letters, etc, did not go unnoticed! I love you all for that!

I had another super sweet experience this week. About two weeks ago I gave a lady a blessing in the Relief Society Presidency, she was super sick. It was a spiritual blessing. On Sunday she came up to me and said she was sick on and off and said in the blessing I said “in the Lord’s time” and she said she was kind of upset about that in a joking way, and we both laughed. And then she s said “I felt like I should tell you something… You repeated something in the blessing you gave me twice and it was basically word for word in my patriarchal blessing and it really woke me up!” The spirit is real, so grateful for it and to be worthy of the promptings!

My mission was my own Sacred Grove, where I learned for myself who my Father in Heaven is and my Savior Jesus Christ and what they expected of me. It was where I had the most sacred spiritual experiences where I learned for myself they are there. It was my Gethsemane where there were days that I didn’t know if I could push it any longer and wondered if there could be a simpler easy way…but I knew that there was not an easier way. Jesus Christ asked His Father if there was not an easier way, he didn’t want to go through everything He did, neither did I. But he wanted to please His father and he pushed through, and so did I. Because I love my Heavenly Father and earthly father and mother I knew I needed to give it my all and continue in the hard times. I am so grateful I pushed through. I have learned for myself that I KNOW God lives. Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. Joseph Smith was and is the prophet of the restoration. The church is true and so is the Book of Mormon. I don’t “believe” these things, I know them, by the power of the Holy Ghost and countless experiences that I have had. Tears come to my eyes as I write this as I reflect on these past two years. I don’t want to come home. I loved my mission and will forever cherish it. Looking forward to seeing you all.

Sincerely, (for the last time)

Elder Taylor

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Update 8/28/16 – Here is a slideshow summary of the whole mission:

 

 

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Fish Hoek: 7/18/16 (Week 10)

Well everyone, this will be my second to last update, next week will be my last. Time is going by so fast….starting to get a little scared that I am actually going home. I feel sad, joy, happiness, anxiety all at once, but it is what it is! Had my final zone training and an interview with President Merrill. He asked me to bare my testimony so I did and he talked a lot about how joyful it is to see the growth I have experienced. We talked about my mission and what not but he said he will save a lot of it for my exit interview which will be on the 31st… crazy. So grateful for the mission president I was blessed with. He stood by me through the ups and downs and helped me become who I am today. He told me he is so happy to see me finishing the way I am, full throttle! Like I said before, I want to work so hard till the last day where my parents have to take me off the plane on a stretcher, and I think they will have to, sho I am so tired hahahah!

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This week was pretty long though…Fish Hoek is a pretty tough area. We did see 4 investigators at church and a few less actives as well, so the work is definitely moving forward. One girl we have been trying to get to church for ten weeks finally came. When she walked in I was so pumped. We had a powerful zone training and Mormon Helping Hands (annual community service that the church is involved in) on Saturday. This week should blow by and then, my last week of my mission….eish. Everyone at church always says “how much longer? you are going home!” I am like “no, no, no I still have two weeks guys”…kind of have been in denial.

I have been reading my journal so much and looking back at the good times, times of sadness, of joy, just so grateful. One thing that I realized is how much time has been spent in studying the gospel. I will have finished my mission by reading: the Book of Mormon 5 times, Doctrine and Covenants 2 times, half of the OT, the New Testament, Pearl of Great Price twice, the Inevitable Apostasy, the Infinite Atonement, Jesus the Christ, the Continuous Atonement, the Autobiography of Parly P Pratt, the Way of the Master, Our Search for Happiness, Counseling: A guide to Helping Others, Mine Errand from the Lord, True to the Faith, Answers to Gospel Questions, and every Conference talk since 2000, hahahahah!! I have made studying the gospel an everyday part of my life. But I still don’t feel like I know enough…I always have that desire to learn more and more. All of us need to continue on that journey. The Lord reveals to us “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little.” I have had to work hard to get that knowledge….it doesn’t come easy. I am so grateful for the scriptures.

To close this weekly update, I just want to share some of the things I have come to know to be true over the past 2 years. For one, I know the church is true. You just need to compare a church that exists today with the church that Christ established in the New Testament and you will see. Does the church baptize the way Christ did? Does it have apostles, prophets? Does it have the Priesthood and the authority to run that Priesthood? Does it partake of the Sacrament to remember Jesus Christ? Does it believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost to be three separate people but one in purpose as Jesus Christ taught… John 14:26, “the father will send the Holy Ghost in my name” (Jesus Christ). And there are so many more things. If you took at all that was in the New Testament and compared it to a church, the only one that you would find is exactly the same is “the Mormon” church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has all of the characteristics laid out in the New Testament. It is the church that Christ established in His time, and it has been brought back in its fullness in our day. We are often hated as a religion, but I take comfort knowing the Savior was despised as well. One of the main evidences of the church today is the Book of Mormon…which was prophesied to come forth in Ezekial 37. There are two options, either it was made by God or the Devil, you can figure it out for yourself. The book was translated by a boy with a 7 year old education who never read the Bible all the way through before that… 531 pages of history, that draws you closer to God. Christ teach us “by their fruits ye shall know them… a bad tree cannot bring forth good fruit” and what does the Book of Mormon do? It draws you to Christ. People claim we are not Christians which is funny because the actual name of the Church is “the church of Jesus Christ” and the Book of Mormon makes reference to Him one out of every 1.7 verses. Every verse, every page, every chapter is the word of God. I stand, with the millions of people who have received a testimony that it is true. People have died for it, left their homes, and millions of lives have been blessed because of it. And because I know that book is true, I know that this is the only true church on the earth. Joseph Smith was and is the prophet of the restoration…if I did not know that I would have been home a long time ago. A mission would have been too hard to do unless I KNEW what I was sharing was true. And that is why I say if this church isn’t true, which one could be? And luckily I KNOW it is… sorry for the bluntness but I was prompted to say that because there was someone, I do not know who, who needed to hear that because it will change their life. Love you all.

Elder Taylor

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Fish Hoek: 7/11/16 (Week 9)

Shoooo everyone! The week was a good one, flew by super quick!! We finally saw some sweet results. By small and simple things great things are brought to pass! We saw 6 less actives at church on Sunday, ones that we have been working with for weeks. It was so nice to see them walk in to Sacrament meeting. One was a young couple with two little kids. They were thrilled to see us, but we were even more thrilled to see them!

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We had a brutal Tuesday and Wednesday. We tried to see 23 different people and they were either not home or too busy and we only saw two. But then two other days we had 4 lessons each day. If you think you have given 100 percent and you don’t see success, give another 10 percent. Often when we push ourselves to the maximum we think we can go and don’t see results, that is the Lord telling us we can push ourselves even harder. And that is what we have done, and miracles are following. We had a lesson with a girl named Linda. We taught her the gospel of Jesus Christ. I did the math and added everything up, I will end up teaching about 3000 lessons over these two years. So a lot of the time you are trying to think of new ways to teach these things. But I just followed the spirit and we taught her. The spirit was just overwhelming.  Afterwards the man there was looking at us and asked if we get paid, we told him no and he said “then why are you here?”.  He said he felt so good as we were talking. I told him “that is exactly why we are here, because the gospel makes us happy and it has made my family and I happy and that is why I am here, to bring this happiness to you.” While we were talking to him I looked at Linda who was talking to a recent convert saying as she was touching her heart: “I feel so much peace and happiness”. The recent convert said “that is the spirit you are feeling”.  It is powerful when members bare testimonies to their friends! After the lesson Elder Ianu and I were just kind of sitting there and we looked at each other and basically at the same time said “wow, that lesson was just amazing”. The spirit was so strong. The gospel really does bring joy!

But this week my family and I finished the Book of Mormon.  It took us 9 months reading a chapter a day… and we finished. My heart is full thinking about it… I love the Book of Mormon. Every page every chapter every verse is the word of God. I know it. There is no denying it. It has changed my life and has changed the life of my family members. Thanks be to God for providing the Book of Mormon and Bible to go hand and hand and teach us His word.

I love you all and am so excited to see you all… but not excited to come home if that makes sense hahha. I will only send two more updates as a missionary…how crazy…but love you all!

Elder Taylor

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Fish Hoek: 7/4/16 (Week 8)

Today marks 700 days that I have been gone! And yesterday was my last Fast Sunday, it was a weird feeling. But life is good, enjoying my mission a lot and working hard till the end. We had a good week and saw 4 less actives at church on Sunday. We have been emphasizing less active work so it was nice to see!

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My birthday went well, the members here spoiled us. They gave me some cool things as well. Going to miss this area a lot!  Last week I wrote that I rebuked the ward for lack of missionary work and they responded this week with a few referrals, topped with 7 dinner appointments and people volunteering to fellowship! They responded hahaha.

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Elder Ianu is doing well….he is really starting to respond to the promptings of the Spirit. It has been super cool to see the growth in him these past 8 weeks, and to be a part of that. The least I can do is help a brand new missionary learn how to teach, study, communicate with people, and really just how to be a missionary, after experiencing that myself for 23 months now! Ready to endure to the end!

Love you all!
Elder Taylor

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Fish Hoek: 6/27/16 (Week 7)

Hey everyone! Can’t believe this week I will hit 23 months on the mission and I will turn 21 years old, so weird! But this week went well…still carrying on the Lord’s work. I said goodbye to Elder Smith on Wednesday and he returned the favor by sending a picture of him hugging his mom at the airport hahaha! But soon that will be my family and I! I had to give a talk this week so I decided to give it to the ward on what better than missionary work from a missionary haha… I felt they needed a slight rebuke on their lack of missionary work, so I was pretty blunt.  But afterwards many people came up saying “great talk, I think it will really opened the eyes of the ward, they needed that”…hahaha!

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The work is going good.  We just figured out our new area and now we have to whitewash the other area as well…. a lot more people to teach now! We have seen quite a few less actives returning to church and cool things happening! The members are super cool… love them, probably have been some of my favorites! The training of Elder Ianu is going well. It is weird to only have us at our boarding being far away from other missionaries, but it’s cool because it helps me get to know him better.

We also went to this funeral on Thursday and it was so weird.  It was in a language called Afrikaans, pastors yelling and what not. If it was in Xhosa at least I would understand a little bit but I don’t know any Afrikaans.  It was brutal to get through hahaha!  But Africa is amazing.

Can’t believe how fast time is going! Thank you all for the birthday wishes! You are the best!!

Elder Taylor

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Fish Hoek: 6/20/16 (Week 6)

What a week, lots of things happened. We just finished another transfer, and now I am on my last, number 17/17, and now officially the missionary who has been out the longest in our mission, crazy. One of my best friends is going home now from this mission, Elder Smith. We were together when we were 4 and 5 months out! So weird! We got transfer news this week and I found out that the other two Elder’s in our district working in Fish Hoek will leave and Elder Ianu and I are going to take over their area as well, so basically another white wash hahaha. The Lord is really trying to get every ounce of energy out of me, which is great actually!! Helping me work hard and endure to the end!

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My family and I have been reading a chapter in the Book of Mormon everyday for a few months now and on Monday’s we share in a group email our favorite scriptures from the past week. Myself, my dad, mom, Haley, Kaitlyn, Matt, and Tanner will all finish the Book of Mormon on the 18th of next month, which is so cool. A lot of other missionaries are now starting to do that with their families as well. It has really helped our family even grow together more, which I didn’t think could be possible! The Book of Mormon is true, I know it. No man could have ever made that up, almost 3,000 years of history which is completely accurate and never contradicts itself. No man can falsify any length of history without contradicting himself. Read the book, pray about it. You will also know. If it promotes us to do good, and it does, it has to be from God. The Savior himself said “a bad tree cannot bring forth good fruit”. I have taught thousands of people, and every single time someone sincerely reads the Book of Mormon and applies the teachings, they grow closer to our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ. Read!!

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Something interesting is that before this area I only prayed once in a sacrament meeting,,,my whole mission… and in this area the first 6 weeks, they have asked me to say the opening prayer 3 of those weeks hahaha, but I love this ward and the members…really great people. I have a few ideas to get them involved in missionary work at a higher level and I’m excited to present that to them.  I love you all!!

Elder Taylor

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Fish Hoek: 6/13/16 (Week 5)

This week went well!  We were able to teach 17 lessons, which is still not up to par, but we are getting there as we are finding new people teach. Also added 7 new investigators this week…all of those came off of referrals from ward members. So we are very happy with the work going on. I kept telling Elder Ianu, slowly but surely we will get there, and it is cool to see it happening. We committed two people to baptism this next month, Linda and Khyanisa.  We are super excited for that!  Elder Ianu is starting to love the work.  One time this week when I was trying to correct something obedience related he said “I am a Poly, what do you expect?”. I told him not to use that as an excuse and he was better than that. He is really starting to see the importance of obedience on a mission, and how important that is to having the spirit. Even yesterday he felt prompted to go somewhere. As we were teaching this lady we saw another lady come in say hi and walked out… didn’t think much of it.  After the lesson Elder Ianu felt prompted to go to a members house and we did…and the same lady was there.  Happens that she is a less active member that we have been trying to contact, so we set up a time to go see her this coming week.  It is cool to see him start recognizing the promptings of the spirit.  He is very humble and teachable.

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The Fish Hoek members have probably been some of my favorites on my mission. We got fed 8 times this week.  We have only had to cook a few times ourselves these past few weeks, so that is a plus! We also had a ward conference and a lot people turned up for that.  We had 61 last week at sacrament and this week had 139. There were a lot of people from Meadowridge there, my former area, who came because they are in the Stake.  I had some pretty cool reunions.  All of them said “you are still here??  You have been on a mission forever!”  hahahaha yeah I really have been… 97 weeks!  But life is good.  Crazy to have my flight plans for going home…getting too real…but ready to finish strong for the Lord!

Love you all!
Elder Taylor

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