Monday, March 3, 2014
Hey everybody! Its still freezing cold here haha I hope you all had a good week! We had a good one here! We had exchanges and then a zone conference on Thursday where E. Richens and I trained on finding people to teach. It was a good experience b/c we connected it with Faith, Hope and Charity and how we need to make finding a way of life, not just a missionary activity. It was a great zone conference and we had a lot of great missionaries there so it was good to see them all again.
Friday, I learned a lot. It was just one of those really hard days, so I got to truly practice what I had just preached the day before, having faith, hope and charity. I thought a lot about faith and hope and how they always point toward the future. I prayed just to make it through the day with a positive attitude b/c nothing seemed to be going our way. We made it to the night and then Saturday came. It was one of the best days of my mission haha we taught 4 lessons in a row to our investigators and 3 of them came to an 8 year olds baptism our ward was having. It reminded me of the promise God gives in the scriptures where He tells us to "endure it well" when we have difficulties and He promises to bless us afterwards. It was a faith-building experience for sure!
Aide is doing great and she is still praying to know if she should commit to being baptized or not. Alma, her boyfriend Jesus, and her daughter Alejandra are doing the same. They are wonderful people and are coming to Church and reading from the scriptures so we are confident God will answer their prayers. We also fasted for them yesterday! Baptism is the gate to the strait and narrow path that leads to living forever with our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and our families. It is essential. Just how there is no way to come to the Earth and get a body except through child birth, Christ taught there is no other way to return to God's presence to live with Him forever except through being born into the kingdom of God (see John 3:5 and Moses 6:59). Christ suffered and died for us. He also rose from the dead for us too. I hope we all find the true, deep happiness in this life and hope for what lies ahead as we come to Christ and follow His example. Make it a great week and love one another!
Love Elder Seth McGinn
Monday, February 24, 2014
Hey family and friends!
Its good to be able to write you all every week. Things are going really well here in Iowa. There are many things that someone could be frustrated with but my parents taught me how to be grateful. We are still teaching Aide, Diana, and Alma. Unfortunately, none of them made it to Church yesterday which was rough, but it was still a great day. Aide will be coming for sure next week as she was in Minnesota over the weekend. Diana has to work Sundays until March and Alma just flat didnt come because her 2 daughters were being rebellious...which is why they need to come to Church! haha Hopefully next Sunday, we will have a better turn out.
Well I have been feeling a little stressed out concerning my responsibilities as a zone leader. Its been a long time and sometimes it just weighs on you making all these decisions that affect the lives of others, especially when everybody turns to you for the answers to their problems lol Having prayed and talked to Heavenly Father about these things, I went to my favorite chapters in the scriptures to seek comfort and understanding. In the Book of Mormon, there is a righteous king named Benjamin and he gathers all the people to talk to them right before he is about to die. He talks about how he has done his best to serve the people as their king and to work with his own hands so that he didn't have to tax the people. Then he says this which powefully stuck out to me this morning, "Behold, I say unto you that because I said unto you that I had spent my days in your service, I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God.And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn ; that ye may learn that when ye are in the of your beings ye are only in the service of your God."
Boy, it hit me pretty hard that I'm not just serving missionaries in my zone and trying to help them feel happy and successful, but I am really just serving Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. And thats what its all about!!! There is no better way to draw closer to Christ than to serve Him, through serving others. Why? Because you become like Him in the sense that you have increased capacities to have compassion on others and desiring their welfare puts you on your knees in humble prayer. I love serving a mission here in Iowa and I know that everyone can "lift where they stand" meaning serve wherever or whatever they're doing. My sister-in-law Lindsay wrote a note in the journal I took with me out here and I have really come to cherish her comments. The quote is from Martin Luther King Jr. I believe and it says something like,"Anybody can be great because anybody can serve." Thats very true and deep within each of us is a heart that is enticed to serve others because you love them. My love for Christ motivates me to serve my brothers and sisters. So even though its hard almost all the time, its what brings true joy :) Jesus Christ is the Son of God and He came not to be served, but to serve us because He loves us and laid down His life so we can rise again. I love you all and hope you look for opportunities to love and serve others like Christ would this week!
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
We had another good week out here in Iowa City. We had a really snowy day on Monday and a mission leadership council meeting all day yesterday so we finally made it to the library today. On Sunday, Sister Chavez brought her sister to Church with her and we were able to teach her about the restoration right after Church! It was sweet! We have been teaching the members all about the Work of Salvation and helping them create family mission plans with goals and such. It has been cool to see them understand what missionary work really is and have enthusiasm to do it! We also show them how we as the full-time missionaries can help them :) its great! On a sidenote, at transfers we got a new elder from Las Vegas named Bailey Swainston. I couldnt find him afterwards to catch up with him but Im pretty sure thats Dr. Swainston's son/ Hannah Swainston's younger brother haha small world!
We are staying busy here, talking to all sorts of people everyday and searching out those that are ready to LIVE the gospel. I really feel Im coming to understand just how white the field is and that its already to harvest. Recently, I've studied a lot about how we must learn by faith. So many people have been taught the gospel of Jesus Christ but few live it. Learning by faith is when we learn something in such a way that we live it. It means feeling assured that God will bless you when you do what He asks, then acting in faith and then having evidence (Hebrews 11:1) that God did keep His promise, thus giving you more assurance that He is there. You cant force the Spirit into the heart of the learner. All I can do is do my best to be a pure instrument through which the Spirit can teach and testify, but ultimately, the learner decided whether or not they let that spirit or message enter into their hearts. I think about the lessons I have learned that mean the most to me and it is all because I learned it for myself. Usually answers that are given to me aren't remembered for too long haha I guess what am trying to say is that as a missionary or a teacher of any kind, we should follow the example of a perfect teacher aka Jesus Christ. He didnt give people fish, but He taught them how to fish for themselves. We need to work for our knowledge so that we can literally "own" it. Then it means something so much to us that we actually apply it in our lives! I know that Christ lives because I have tested His words and promises. I have sacrificed like He asks His disciples to do and have tasted the sweet joy of being redeemed from past mistakes, sins and weaknesses. Its true that happiness can be consistent in life and hope can be full for what lies ahead, after this life, but we each need to do what it takes to find that for ourselves. So thats what we are all focusing on doing out here in the Iowa Des Moines Mission. The Book of Mormon is a true account of an ancient civilization and it teaches us about God's love for all His children. I simply invite you to get a copy of it and read it for yourself. Seek learning by study and also by faith!
Love, Elder McGinn
Monday, February 10, 2014
Hey everybody! I hope you all had a great week and that you are warmer than it is here :) We had a good week! Elder Richens and I will be staying together for another transfer so that puts me in Iowa City at least until March 27th, which is sweet! I love the people here and especially the members of the Church and our bishop here. Scott is still hard to get ahold of and Aide is doing great as she studies from the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Keep praying for them please!
The work of helping people understand and grow closer to Jesus Christ is going great! I have really learned that Christ works simply. Its through the small things such as prayer and reading scriptures that make the biggest changes in our lives. I think sometimes, we want or expect big things to help us understand what is true or what is best and get caught up looking "beyond the mark" as the scriptures say. I mean thats what the Jews were looking for in their promised Messiah. They thought he would come in great power and free them from the Romans and lead them to victory in a very physical, tangible sense. They forgot that the scriptures are replete with the simple and first principle of the gospel, which is to have faith, something that is intangible and comes from within. Christ did lead them to victory over physical death with His resurrection and spiritual death (sin) as He suffered and taught repentance, baptism, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost for a remission of our sins. I know that He lived, died for us, and lives again! One day we will be called to stand in His presence and account for our desires and our works with the time that He gave us here on Earth to live and learn. I know that true, deep, and lasting happiness comes when we keep the commandments He has given us. The first being to love God and the second to love those who surround us! I hope we can do this and continually strive to be better when we fall short. I love you all and make it a good week!
Love, Elder McGinn
Monday, February 3, 2014
I'm still alive and kicking here in Iowa City. We had a great week and are really started to see the work hasten. Unfortunately, we cant get ahold of our investigator Scott, but we are meeting and starting to teaching a ton of Hispanics here! Thats what we like cause we get to use our Spanish and it actually feels like we are out of America for a little bit haha The Valdez family in our ward are ward missionaries and they are totally on board. They introduced us to their friend named Aide and we had a sweet lesson with her, applying this new teaching method we were trained on by the Director of Training at the MTC. It is basically that you dont focus on teaching the doctrine, but you focus on teaching them how they can learn the doctrine for themselves. So we give an overview of the lessons, invite them to study it, then come back and ask them what questions they have and it works out great because we help them help themselves. Teaching this way, they learn from the Holy Ghost on their own and the Spirit teaches them those things that they need most in their lives :)
So we did this with Aide and it is sweet! She has studied with almost every other Church except ours. She has a ton of questions and could never find all of the answers. Well we went over the Restoration with her and the Book of Mormon and she came to Church yesterday with the Valdez! I love teaching someone who is thirsty for more. Also, we are seeing great things come from helping the families in our ward to establish family mission plans with goals on how to share the gospel. It is fun to see them get excited as we help them reach their goals.
Some things I learned this week: 1) Faith in Jesus Christ inspires humility. When we are full of faith, then we realize our need to rely on Him and not on ourselves. I've seen this time and time again. 2) I learned that the moment we grow the most character or make the biggest decisions in our life in on our own or as Pres. McKay says "in the silent chambers of our hearts." We are all individuals and have our own personality and beliefs. The way we influence others the most is when we give them tools and show them how to use them, then let them go with that and figure it out on their own. Truly, we cant expect them to reach their full potential of happiness without them working, learning, and sacrificing for it. So lets look for opportunities to teach people how to fish and not just give them a fish here and there. That way, they learn how to feed themselves and increase in ability, stature and happiness. Thats what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about! I know that He lived, died for us, and was raised again the third day. The gospel is the plan that allows us to make it back, but we must LIVE the plan for ourselves: Faith, Repentance, Baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and remaining true to following Christ the rest of our lives :) Make it a great week and remember to love your friends and your enemies.
Monday, January 27, 2014
Que tal? Its still freezing here :) We had a great week this week. Last P-day we had a trizone P-day so missionaries from Cedar Rapids and Fairfield zones came to the Iowa City stakecenter and we had a lot of fun playing games. Elder Andreasen was there and he is probably one of my best friends I have made out here. We had a great time! This week, we had a couple exchanges and one was with the AP's. I went with Elder Anderson. Apparently, he came a played ultimate frisbee right by where I lived at BYU so we probably met and played together before but neither of us can remember it haha but we have lots of mutual friends. Well he is a stud missionary and we talked a lot as we worked that night about how to lead with love. I learned and realized that I need to praise and uplift the missionaries in our zone more and that as we simply love them and are examples for them, they will solve their little problems and the work will move forward :) I was grateful for that learning opportunity because it taught me more about Christ and His love. He doesnt solve our problems for us or force us to be happy and live the way He did, but He simply loves us and we can feel that as we pray, learn more about Him through the scriptures, and make covenants with Him like baptism. Also, as we serve Him by serving others, we become more intimate acquainted with Him and because we begin to understand His love for us, we choose to act by changing our lives so they align with His teachings.
This is what has happened with Scott this last week. He had a wake up call and ended up in the hopsital with some rapid breathing. They thought it might be a heart attack but it wasnt so he was released 24 hours later. This little scare gave him another push and strengthened his desire to change. So we taught about praying always, not just in the morning and at night, but saying little prayers throughout the day. He loved that and as he has done it, it has begun to really help him make the changes he wants to make, like exercising and such. Well, he was planning to come to Church for all 3 hours yesterday and had a horrible night on Saturday night with tons of negative thoughts and feelings. We went over about 45 minutes before Church started and prayed with him as he felt he couldnt come to Church because he felt mentally and physically exhausted. Well we read in 2nd Nephi chapter 2 in the Book of Mormon about how God created both things to act and things to be acted upon. We taught him how Satan desires him to be miserable like he is miserable and was acting on Scott all night with these negative thoughts pointed towards destroying Scott's self-esteem and resolve to get healthy and make changes in his lifestyle. It was so powerful as the Spirit filled the room and our minds were enlightened and it was so clear that Satan acts on us when we do not act for ourselves. We taught out of verse 27 where it says that we are free agents to choose for ourselves whether we want liberty and eternal life through Jesus Christ, our great mediator, or if we want captivity and death, according to the captivity and death that Satan, or the devil, wants us to be in. With this, Scott made the correct, but hard decision to act and he came to Church! He felt so much better and said that his negative feelings went away as he was in Sacrament meeting! I know for myself that we have control of our own happiness. Its natural to have feelings of unhappiness or self doubt, but those are times when we evaluate and decide the best course of ACTION! If we dont act now and take control of our fate and happiness, then outside influences and forces that arent focused on your happiness will take power in your life and lead you eventually to complete misery. So don't worry about the things you cant control, but take control of your own decisions, things you can control. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. That once blind, we can see and once lost, we can find ourselves. But it takes work and footsteps on our part :) So dont pray for your circumstances may change, but pray so you understand God's will for you and so He can give you the strength to change yourself. Then, you'll be happy in whatever circumstances you're in! Christ lives and His power to heal our hearts is real. I have experienced it and seen others experience it as well. Make it a great week and love you all!
Elder Seth McGinn
Iowa Des Moines Mission
8515 Douglas Ave. Ste. 19
Urbandale, IA 50322
Monday, January 20, 2014
We had a great week out here in Iowa City. We were able to start teaching two hispanic couples and they loved the lessons we had with them. The Spirit was strong as we taught about God's love for us and how He has restored the true gospel of Jesus Christ in our times. The zone had a great week as well and everybody is happy and working hard :) Last week, I was pretty sick but I felt a lot better and am fully getting over my cough finally so its been nice to be out and about and feeling good! Scott came to church yesterday and he has really been praying more sincerely. He was very committed to come to Church and his reading in the Book of Mormon is going great. The week was capped off by him calling yesterday to tell me that the Broncos won and were going to the super bowl :) I told him that God must be a Bronco fan because sunsets are orange and blue hahah we got a good laugh out of that!
I have really come to appreciate the time I have each morning to study the scriptures! It is precious and I always feel so good during and after I read. I hope we are all finding or making the time to read the scriptures so we can feel and come to a more perfect knowledge of the love that God has for us. Sometimes I find myself thinking about home or what lies ahead and the gentle thought always comes that I just need to focus on what I can do today or right now to serve God and those around me. Then I have the Lord's promise that "all things will work together for my good". I love my Redeemer Jesus Christ. As I have served as a missionary, my purpose has been to do the things that He would do and say the things that He would say. Im been imperfect many times but I have come to love Him more because I find myself seeking to be like Him. So I think its the coolest thing that as we are Christlike, we become connected and bonded to Him, and I have become friends with someone I have never met face to face haha its crazy but its true because I feel it in my soul! I hope you make it a great week and that you find happiness in the simple things!
Monday, January 13, 2014
So we have a lesson in like 30 minutes so we just dont have much time to write so sorry! To cover the important things, it was a good week :) We had our mission leadership council which was very fun and spiritually uplifting. We set our yearly goals as a mission and set our baptismal goals to match with the various ward and stake goals here in our mission...which is very smart and doctrinal-ly correct! The bishops and stake presidents are the ones who hold the keys for missionary work in their units. So that was awesome. I dont know if you all remember Elder Weiss whom I served around when I was in Muscatine. He is the one from Moapa Valley and we have become great friends, well now he is one of the assistants to President Jensen so I get to see him a lot more! He's a stud!
The work is really picking up as students are coming back into town and as people are returning to work and a normal schedule after the holiday break. Scott came to Church! He is doing better and is now working towards being baptized on Feb 14th! We are going to teach Wakweya (the Ethiopian guy) right now about the prophet Joseph Smith and the importance of the Book of Mormon and also try to set a baptismal date with him too! But life is good and time is moving fast haha Elder Dallas Teshima wrote me today and we are both starting to plan a bit for this coming fall which is crazy that its so close. But everyday counts in anything that we do and I really appreciate my mission because it has taught me that time is a precious resource and that we must use it wisely :) So, just like we do in sports, we do in the work of bringing souls to Christ- we "leave it all out on the field"! Make it a great week and love those around you..you'll be happier, I promise!
Monday, January 6, 2014
So its freezing today with a high of -12 not to mention the windchill :) talk about bitter cold haha but I am warm and happy so dont you worry mom! Real quick, a birthday shout out to Leesee who is now in Laguna Beach from what I hear. Thats sweet and Happy Birthday!!! So Elder Bates got transferred to Des Moines and my new companion is Elder Richens from South Jordan, UT. He is awesome, really easy going, and we get along great! He is a new zone leader and has been out for 10 months so it kinda feels like I'm training a little bit again, which I love. I've realized at this point that I will probably be a zone leader for over half of my mission haha I love it because we get to serve and help missionaries just as much as we serve and help those we are teaching. Also, we have a full-time car which is great this time of year! I love serving here in the Iowa City 4th ward too. We have a great bishop and ward council...that makes a huge difference!
Well Scott is still not doing so hot because he is in terrible shape physically and thats really affecting his shape spiritually. He didnt make it to Church yesterday, but we are going to meet with him tonight to see how we can help him. On another note, an Ethiopian man named Wakweya came to Church yesterday and we started teaching him. He ran into some sisters over a different ward and they helped him get to Church and then handed him over to us. He is sweet! He works crazy hours though so the hard part will be meeting with him, but other than that he is solid!
Im really excited for school to start up again out here so that all of our members come back haha Things have been a little slow but they are starting to pick up again! We are grateful for all the many people who we teach who listen, act, and then come closer to Christ by being baptized. In 2013, our goal was 550 and our ending number of people who were helped and strengthened by Christ and His atoning sacrifice was 545!!! A little short, but overall an amazing year! I look forward to 2014 with HOPE that it will be even better than 2013. I have learned so much about myself serving as a missionary and especially, I have learned that progress is what makes me happy. I love learning and even though it takes trial and opposition to grow, there is no greater feeling than when you can look back and see how much you have grown only to look forward in anticipation to how much more I still have to learn. Our potential is so great and our opportunities are endless! I know that it is with faith in Jesus Christ and love for those around us that we make the most of who we our and strive toward our true potential. I love you all and wish you a happy 2014! Love, Elder Seth McGinn