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.