North Carolina Charlotte Mission

Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are your brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee. -Alma 31:35

Sunday, May 26, 2013

5/20/13 "Is it poison, Nanny?"

I say...we're getting up there in the numbers of emails, aren't we?

We had a very blessed week. It started on Tuesday, when we knocked on the door of a sweet old Canadian man named George. (I'd like to say real quickly that I've yet to meet a Canadian that I haven't liked.) He opened up the door and we asked if we could talk with him, and he said sure, I went to your church last Thursday and really enjoyed it. And I've been meeting with you over the last few weeks, as a matter of fact.

Elder Fulton and I exchanged glances over this, since we definitely hadn't seen anyone at church and Elder Fulton, during his six months in Huntersville, had definitely not taught this man before and the LDS definitely don't have church services on Thursday anyway. The sweet old man had gotten Mormons and JWs mixed up, bless his heart. He thought the JWs teaching him were Mormons and that he had gone to the Mormon church, but we patiently explained that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints = Mormons =/= Jehovah's Witnesses.

I helped solve his confusion by holding up a copy of the Book of Mormon and asking, "Did they use this book at that church?" When he responded that no, they didn't, I said, "Well, they probably aren't Mormons, then."

The other funny part of this conversation was when a telemarketer called George right in the middle of it. George, this otherwise very kind, very accepting, very open man, simply tore this telemarketer to pieces over the phone. "I've told you people in the past not to call me and I've told you I'm not interested in anything you have to sell, so I don't know if you're deaf or just stupid. Goodbye!"

We have done a lot of service this week. I mowed two lawns, moved some furniture, held a guinea pig, helped washed some windows, biked, biked, and biked some more. It's been a very busy week. The real blessing, though, was the Stevens family. On exchange last Friday Elder Fulton and Elder Parker, our district leader, knocked on a door and the woman inside exclaim, "Hey! I was in Temple Square three days ago!"

This is Sister Stevens, whose father is a member. Elder Fulton set a return appointment and we taught them the first lesson on Thursday. I feel very good about them, since both Sister Stevens and her husband have a very sincere desire to learn more and to act on the answers they have. Best of all, they're backyard neighbors with one member family and very good friends with another member family. They were invited to church and came this Sunday, and I think they had a pretty good experience. The only issue might be that it was Ward Conference, so we may have to explain why there was all this hand-raising at the beginning. However, it was fun for Elder Fulton and I to represent the males in the ward and sing in the Ward Choir during the first meeting.

A member in Texas called up our bishop and asked him to host a funeral for their relative, who lived in our ward boundaries and had just passed away. The bishop recruited me to play the piano for the funeral, which was a bit interesting since the audience was predominantly nonmember. That ruled out most of our hymnbook, since they wouldn't know the songs. The bishop gave an incredible talk on the Plan of Salvation after the eulogy was given, and we told him afterward that several of the people in the audience were ministers of other faiths. He really did a fantastic job. What a stud!

Side note: It's always fun to see how, though every bishop in every ward is different, you can always tell that they are the one the Lord has called to direct the ward.

My thoughts have been turned this week mainly to the Plan of Salvation, and the glorious sense that it all makes. I've been making long discourses on it in my study journal, little notes that grow into large essays. I feel sorry for other Christians, because they only have 1/3 of the Plan of Salvation, the middle third from the Fall to the Spirit World. They don't know about the beginning third (pre-earth life) or the ending third (kingdoms of glory), so of course they can't answer all the questions they might have.

I had a thought occur to me as the sacrament was being passed last Sunday. I've said it once and I'll say it again: a lot of us think about the redemptive and saving power of the Atonement, but we often forget about the enablingpower of the Atonement. The sacrament reminds us a lot about that if we really think about it.

How often have we really thought about the sacrament. I mean, really thought about it? Why is it bread and water?What do they represent?

When we take of the bread, we remember the body of Jesus Christ. It represents the body which was whipped, crucified, and ultimately died for us. It also represents, however, that same body, which rose again, glorified and immortal. Because the Savior lives, all men will live -- this is the first, and possibly greatest, message of the Gospel: that death has been conquered, and families can live together forever. This glorious truth is something that we can remember when we take the bread on Sunday: that we need not fear death, and that there is such a thing as an eternal family.

When we take of the water, we remember the blood of Jesus Christ. It represents the blood that the Savior shed for us when He was in the garden of Gethsemane; the blood He shed when He took upon Himself the pains, sicknesses, and afflictions of eternity.

This suffering in Gethsemane is the second great message of the Gospel: that sins can be forgiven, and that we can become clean again, no matter what we've done. When we drink the water during sacrament meeting, we can remember that, while we are imperfect, the Lord loves us anyway. He has freely forgiven, and He will always forgive. It is not the Savior that will need to be convinced to let us into the Celestial Kingdom; He has already opened the door. We must repent so that we will allow ourselves to walk in.

This leads me to the second thought which came to me during the sacrament. Bread and water represent food and drink, two things that all humans must have in order to survive. We do not just eat when we are starving, near the point of death, and we don't just drink when we've gone without water for days. We eat and drink all the time, in small amounts or large, sick, tired, or in perfect health. Any fitness instructor can tell you that if you get thirsty during exercise, it means that you're already dehydrated and should've gotten some water sooner.

It is the same with the Atonement; it is not just some reserve energy supply that comes in when we've exhausted our own strength -- we rely upon it at all times, in all places. Sometimes in the midnights of our soul we need the Savior's love even more, but we rely upon Him even in the happy day-to-day moments. Just as we need food and drink in order to sustain life, we require the Atonement at all times to help us pass the test of mortality and return home to our Father in Heaven -- to gain eternal life.

The Spirit is what links us to that power of the Atonement, and, if you listen to the sacrament prayers, you will notice that we are promised that the Spirit will be with us.

We need his company, because his is the power that sanctifies us, making us more Christlike. We need to have the Spirit with us so that we will accept the Atonement, when the time comes. Do not underestimate the power of the Holy Ghost! He is extremely skilled at keeping a low profile in his work, to the point that you might not even notice his help in your life until looking back years afterward. I testify that he is real, though, and he is helping you. We may not get to see Heavenly Father and the Savior in this life, but we are entitled to always have the third member of the Godhead with us, and that's nothing to be scoffed at.

One of the greatest signs of growth in myself during my mission is that I've come to greatly appreciate and look forward to the sacrament. I ask each of you to really focus on the great blessings that come to you because of the Savior, His Atonement, and His gospel this next Sunday.

I love you and are grateful for you. I need your prayers and I'm very thankful for them. I love my companion and I love my mission! Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

P.S. -- Transfers are next week; we're getting transfer calls on Saturday. Even if I don't get transferred, the Huntersville missionaries are moving to a new apartment (one that's actually in our area, thank goodness), so either way, my address will be changing. To all those sending letters to me, unless you get them out around Monday to Wednesday, you'll probably miss me. I'll know by next Monday what the plans are.

5/13/13 "I told the truth, Lord!"

"I told the truth, Lord! How am I supposed to learn moral lessons if you keep confusing me like this?"

(paula's note:  this is a character named Philippe the Mouse in the movie "Ladyhawke."

Last week I mentioned that we met an older lady named Sister Norman. We followed up with her this week, and began to explain to her about how the Book of Mormon tells us of the Savior's visit to the Americas. She told us that she knew all about that, and proceeded to tell us about the Savior's life. The account she presented goes something like this:

"So Peter betrayed Jesus Christ so that he got crucified. But when Magdalene came to the tomb, he wasn't there. He was right in the midst of them the whole time, in the middle of this big crowd, and they couldn't see him! But then Nicodemus, he was a real short man, so he went up and climbed a tree and then he could see Jesus. He saw the woman come up through the crowd and touch Jesus' clothes and she became healed, just like that!"
-- an excerpt from The Book of Norman

I encountered a man on the other end of the spectrum of scriptural knowledge. While on exchange in the Lake Norman area with Elder Wilkinson, we came across a man named Matt who was painting his porch. We offered to help, so he put us to work pruning his grapevine. This reminded me of the Savior's remark in John 16 that He is the vine and we, his disciples, are the branches, though of course I wasn't going to bring this up. I was pleasantly surprised, then, when Matt brought up this very same scripture himself.

What followed was a very engaging discussion about the Gospel. Matt decided in his teenage years to read the entire Bible and pray about it to know if it was true or not. After some time, he received a witness that it was. (I figured that he would probably be willing to do something similar with the Book of Mormon, then.) He had some questions for us about why there are qualifications for entering into the temple, and also brought up a few other interesting points. Such as: "If a person had only read the Bible all their life and had never come to church before, would they feel comfortable at your church?" I responded to his question with a firm yes.

Matt was a very polite man, and he listened very nicely. It was a very civil discussion. Near the end he started to get into a debating mood, so at that moment I pulled the plug on our conversation. You honestly can't beat LDS people in a scripture bash -- since we have the truth -- but I have learned from experience that the Spirit excuses himself from the conversation when it gets too pointed. So instead I bore testimony of the truthfulness of our message and we closed with a prayer, bidding Matt a fond farewell and leaving him on good terms.

On Saturday morning we had a knock on our apartment door. Elder Parker and I answered it, and we saw two nice gentlemen in front of our doorstep, one of them a bit older with snowy white hair and facial scruff, displaying a delightful South African accent. Lo and behold, we were tracted into by Jehovah's Witnesses. We had a pleasant conversation with them, where they read us a scripture and we shared with them our testimonies. The younger one was particularly curious about what we believed. Since we, as missionaries, couldn't accept their material, I felt like I couldn't give him an Articles of Faith card. Anyway, this is the first time on my mission that I've ever had Witnesses knock on my door. I had a great outpouring of love for them, since, bless their hearts, I know what it's like to knock on a door. I would've been happy to talk longer, but apparently they figured that they weren't going to get anywhere with LDS missionaries, so I said goodbye and let them go.

As for the temple question Matt asked: the purpose of a temple is to make sacred covenants with God. Their sacred nature deserves a sacred environment, one that doesn't allow for disrespect or irreverence. It also figures that you cannot make these additional covenants if you're not already keeping your first ones: baptism, confirmation, and being an active, faithful member of the Lord's Church. All this is required so that a person will be prepared to understand the ordinances performed in the temple. If a person cannot even accept or agree with the Church on basic doctrines, how could they possibly appreciate something as precious and special as a temple ceremony?

Besides, religions can do what they want. If some religion somewhere said that you couldn't come into their ziggurat or something and play a game of holy checkers unless you were under three feet tall and left-handed, you'd have to deal with it. They would face no obligation to let anyone above three feet tall come inside and play checkers with them. The nature of the qualifications or the activity performed makes no difference as long as it stays within the law. In a man's house, you abide by his rules, and in the Lord's House, you have to meet His standards. He does not have to change them if men complain about them.

I know that temples are incredibly sacred and holy places, places that deserve respect and reverence. I have been inside them, and I know that one of the most joyful moments of my life was when I entered the Celestial Room in the Bountiful Temple and saw my family waiting there for me. I have never felt so close to Heaven then at that moment. I testify that the temples are true, and that they are the houses of God. I strive to be worthy to enter inside them. I wish that I could attend them as a missionary, but, alas, there isn't one in my mission.

I know that someday I'll pass through the veil of this earth life and see my family there, waiting for me. It was all be a grand reunion for us, someday; a day of wonder and light. I testify that the Atonement of Jesus Christ allows families to be together forever, and that temples are part of His great redemptive work.

I love you and pray for you always. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

5/6/13 "We're your friends!"

"We're your friends! We're your friends! We're your friends to the bitter end!"
(paula's note:  this is a song sung by vultures in the Disney movie "Jungle Book")

While we were biking down the street one day, we saw some vultures doing their business to some roadkill at the side of the road. Elder Fulton and I stopped to watch for a minute or two in horrified fascination. We all know that vultures eat dead things, just like we all know that cats catch mice, but to actually see them do such things is a different story. It was fun to watch, in a gross sort of way. Maybe it's because I'm a guy. One thing the Jungle Book did do right is that vultures really do hop when they walk.

Suffice it to say, it's been an interesting week. Elder Fulton and I were happily going about our business this week, when suddenly a middle-aged lady in a car pulled up in front of us and rolled down her window. 

"Hey! I love you guys!" she said in a thick Chinese accent. She quickly introduced herself to us as Betty, quickly explaining that we had knocked on her door the other day and that she had moved here from Hong Kong 7 years ago. She informed us that she was already saved, but she invited us to come attend the Asian Festival at the nearby park on Saturday, where we could watch her compete in the Dragon Boat racing. She then said, "God loves you! Don't let people get you down!" and drove off, leaving us somewhat stunned at what happened.

So, we accepted her generous invitation and met up with Betty the following Saturday, where we (briefly) observed some Dragon Boat races, which are basically teams of rowers on long, thin boats. At the head of each boat sits a drummer, which, of course, brought back Ben-Hur memories. (Duhhhhh-duh! Deeduhhhh-duh!) It was pretty fun to watch, and I took a few videos during our short stay there. To win, you have to row at Ramming Speed. After one particular race, we met with Betty again, and she gave us a few Gatorades and invited us to come see her at her house at a later time. "You have my number!" she called to us as we walked away. "Don't disappoint me!" What a sweet little Chinese lady!

On Tuesday we met an older woman, Mrs. Norman, who is coincidentally older than the Lake Norman that I live next to. (lake norman is a huge man-made lake in charlotte that was built by the electric company) She saw that I had a Book of Mormon in my hand and said, "Hey! I got one of those!" I at first assumed that she thought I was holding a Bible, but the 80-something year old lady shuffled back into the house to bring out her own copy of the Book of Mormon, bookmarked and worn. It had missionary material from the 1980's stuck into the pages. Apparently some sister missionaries had given her a copy years ago, and she has been reading it regularly ever since. Someone at her Presbyterian Church had once seen her with her Book of Mormon and told her to throw it away, and she had told them no because she knew it was God's word. We were quite surprised at this.

I was Super Music Missionary this week, as well. I had two Primary teachers ask me to play piano for both Senior and Junior primaries, and I also had the ward choir director ask my help to sing. The Zone Leaders also asked Elder Parker, Elder Fulton, and myself to sing at Zone Meeting. Of the three, being a primary pianist was by far the most stressful. It turns out that playing the "Hello Song" is actually quite an intense experience for the uninitiated.

I've continued reading through the Book of Mormon. I am always amazed at the great spirit that book contains. The Gospels are wonderful, as are the other scriptures, and they contain all manner of teachings and instruction, but the fact is the Book of Mormon just has a unique feel about it.  The prophets of the Book of Mormon were always writing with us in mind. It was written, preserved, abridged, and translated from prophets, and the result is a 531-page package of spiritual power. Study the Bible and the Doctrine and Covenants, but be sure to read from the Book of Mormon every day.

This last readthrough the Isaiah chapters made sense to me. Is that a bad sign?

Well, that's about it for the stories of this last week and I haven't gotten any huge revelations to share. I love all of you, and I'll talk to some of you on Sunday! Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

4/29/13 "You are a specter from the gods..."

Elder Wilkinson in our apartment had never seen The Testaments, so this week the four of us watched it in short segments over the course of a few days. Despite the many quirks about the scenes in America, I still love that movie, and I still cried in the final scene with the Savior. I've also come to the conclusion that it is possible to respond to any possible situation with a Kohor quote. The man is simply one of the best characters in film history.

I again want to send a general shout-out to all the wonderful people who participated in my birthday. Your testimonies are the greatest gift I could have ever asked for.

As for the work itself, this last week was a lot of running around. We met with a lot of less-actives, set a lot of appointments, had a lot of appointments fall through and had a lot of little miracles occur to remind us that Heavenly Father was still in control of things.

One notable highlight was meeting the Headen family, a family of 7 who we caught right as they pulled into their driveway. They let us in their home, where we were able to teach them a little bit about the Restoration. Hopefully they will progress and find that the Gospel is what they're looking for.

Elder Fulton and I are getting along well. I kind of like how there is no senior or junior companion, since we respect each other. He and Elder Parker, our District Leader who lives with us, also like to sing, so I finally get to harmonize! How wonderful!

I guess the biggest thing that stood out to me this week, though, was a bit more personal. For one reason or another I had felt that I really really needed to read through the Book of Mormon again and renew my testimony of it. Perhaps it really clicked with me just how much the Church depends on the Book of Mormon being true. I sat down with a piece of paper and wrote down "Evidence the Book of Mormon is true," and I've been filling it out as I've been reading through it.

As you all probably know, I want to be a writer someday; I'm constantly working on various stories and I hope to write at least one book before I die. I guess I had been looking at the Book of Mormon from the point of view of: "Could I write something like this?"

Here are some of my thoughts on the Book of Mormon:

Apparently the portion of the Book of Mormon that we have was written, if I remember correctly, in 88 days. 7-10 pages a day on average, and a constant flow of words from Joseph Smith, with no stopping. No proofreading, no going back and making revisions.

I first got the idea for my story at around age twelve. Provided that Joseph Smith made up the Book of Mormon, and assuming, for convenience's sake, that he got the idea around the same time that I did, age twelve, that would have given him about ten years or so to finalize and prepare the story before the translation process began.

I am currently 19, so that would give me about two more years to prepare my fantasy story and wrap up all the characters and such. If I could possibly manage to do that, I would then have to write about 7-10 pages a day, every day, until I had produced a 531-page work, with the pages containing a similar amount of material as the Book of Mormon's. I would have to do this to match Joseph Smith. Just so you know: before my mission, the best I ever managed to do was 10 pages in a day -- that was with major pauses and revision, and I was stumped of what to write for days after.

To accomplish a feat like the Book of Mormon -- to be able to make any sort of story at all, at that rate and at that size -- Joseph Smith would have to be a genius, a seat-of-your-pants author the likes of which the world has never seen before or since. The level of detail in story, including battle tactics, religious discourses and philosophical arguments, just adds to the enormity of the work.

To compare: Tolkien's Middle Earth took decades to create. J.K. Rowling took over a decade to write Harry Potter. Robert Jordan, author of the massive Wheel of Time fantasy series, had spent over twenty years in the actual writing process, and who knows how long he had been thinking about it before that; even still, he died before he finished it. All of these stories are fantasy worlds, with no geography or locations or religions to restrict the story. The Book of Mormon, however, restricts itself by claiming both Old and New World locations, as well as civilizations with Hebrew origins. It fits within these restrictions.

I could cite loads of other evidence I have found that the Book of Mormon is true, but for the sake of time I'll throw out some food for thought:

1) The Book of Mormon would be a literary masterpiece, even if it had taken decades to write. It was completed in 88 days.

2) Even if the Book of Mormon had required revision, regardless of the time it took to make it, it would still be one of the most brilliant and incredible feats of literature ever made. However, other than minor spelling or punctuation changes, no revisions were ever made.

3) If any man had written the Book of Mormon in 88 days, with no revisions, it would have been amazing. Joseph Smith, however, was a fairly uneducated farmer.

4) If the Book of Mormon and its origins was a lie, someone involved in its making would have exposed it. No one ever denied it. Even the Three Witnesses, all of whom left the Church at some point and all of whom could have done massive damage to Joseph Smith by going back on their testimony when they no longer supported him -- none of these ever went back on their testimony of the Book of Mormon. No one ever denied. Joseph Smith endured horrible persecution and sealed his testimony of the Book of Mormon with his blood. Would a liar do that?

5) If Joseph Smith was a liar, then his movement, the Church, would have died with him. But no; the Saints survived, and, against all odds, established the Church across the plains. How could any group of people accomplish this unless they were helped by a divine power?

6) The growth of the Church over the years has been nothing short of miraculous. Its success is a testament to its truthfulness. Could a church founded on a lie possibly grow like this? Could a church founded on a lie possibly survive?

The Church is true, and coming to a testimony of its truth is essential to the salvation of each and every one of us. We may nitpick at small issues, but when taken as a whole, it becomes abundantly clear that this is the Lord's work. It is described in scripture as "a marvelous work and a wonder," and indeed it is. With saints of old, with great joy I too can testify that the Savior's Church is restored, and that we are the only true Church upon the face of the earth. I will carry this news the best I can out here, and you make sure to spread it the best you can out there.

I love you, and I love my mission oh so very much. I wouldn't trade it for anything else. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

4/22/13 "Happy birthday to you!"

[A drunken Kid Shalleen walks into the room and sees the candles lit around the dead guy in the casket. Confused, he blows one out.]
"Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you..."

(paula's note:  this is from the movie "cat ballou."  if you'd like to see the funny 35-second clip, here is the link.)

This is, without a doubt, the best birthday I've ever had. I've felt a massive outpouring of love and support from family and friends from numerous different places in the world. I am so moved at how you are all helping me and cheering me on. I feel so blessed to be the person I am.

Well, here I am, at the big 2-0. That's either 1/4 of the way done through life or 1/5 of the way done, depending on how you look at it. Crazy. Absolutely crazy. Where has the time gone? I think I'll write me my own version Elder Packer's "I'm getting old" poems to celebrate the occasion.

Here's the update for this last week, briefly:

1) My new companion is Elder Fulton. He came out on the same plane with me, so we've both been out the same amount of time, but he wasn't in the same district as I was.  It is extremely unusual for something like this to happen; most of the time one member of the companionship is more experienced than the other, but in our case we're both nearing the 9-month mark.

2) I am serving in the Huntersville area. We share an apartment with the Lake Norman elders, Elder Parker and Elder Wilkinson. The funny thing is that we live outside of our area, so we have to bike two miles every day just to get to the place where we can actually start working.

As for Huntersville itself, it's a bit north of Charlotte. It's a nice balance between Dobson and Pineville, since Dobson was mostly farmland and Pineville was mostly the city. Huntersville looks like a transition between the two. I'm excited to work here.

3) Elder Molina, my trainer and first companion, is serving in the Mooresville area, which is in my district. It is so  much  fun to have him in my district. I love that elder.

4) On Friday, Elder Fulton and I got caught out in the rain. As always, I came prepared, but Elder Fulton was not, so the two of us huddled underneath one relatively small umbrella while standing underneath one relatively small tree in the pouring rain. Thankfully, a nice lady across the street saw us in the rain and let us come and stand under her porch. Nothing builds companionship unity like getting drenched in the rain together.

5) Of the four elders in the apartment, three of us love to sing. (Poor Elder Wilkinson.) I finally have a companion who's able to sing with me!

6) My address:
19135 Chandlers Land Drive #307
Charlotte, NC 28031

Well, I had at first wanted to share my testimony as today's thought, but for some reason I'm getting the feeling that that's not the right thing to do. I will instead share a story from this last week.

We had been out working in a particular neighborhood. We knocked on a lady's door, and she was not interested, but I asked her who she knew who could use a message about eternal families. She informed us that a family up the street had lost their 19-year old son not long ago and was having a very rough time. We thanked her for her help and went to go visit them.

When I saw the mother, I could tell that this was a woman who was totally distraught. They did not let us in the door at first, but apparently something in what we said or did softened their heart to the point where they were willing to let us in. What happened was one of the most thoughtful lessons for me that I had ever had.

In my many moments of self-reflection over the last few weeks, what with me leaving the teenage years behind and reaching the 1/3 mark of my mission, I was thinking over how I taught people. I determined in my head that I needed to listen really hard and try to teach to the family's needs.

Their son had gone off the deep end. He'd made a lot of mistakes. After a few months, he turned his life around and wanted to come back. His parents received him back gladly. Shortly afterward he was killed in an accident. A few weeks before this, however, his parents had discovered a note he'd written to God during the low point in his life, asking God to help him.

I was very touched by this story, and what followed was a lesson talking entirely about the Atonement and about eternal families. The whole time I was not particularly concerned about if these people ended up joining the Church or not; I wanted them to know that families are eternal and that death is not the end. I wanted to comfort them, and let them know that everything was going to be all right. It was a powerful experience for me, one that I needed to have and which I took as an answer to prayer.

I would share so much more about my thoughts if I had the time, but sadly, I don't. I want you all to know thatfamilies  are  eternal. We were with Heavenly Father before, and every single one of us is going to be able to live with Him again. There will be no empty chairs when we get to heaven. With all of eternity to look at, this life and its troubles is really but a small moment, and all the trials we must face will simply fade away. Maybe this particular family will get baptized. Maybe they won't. But years from now, I will remember teaching them, and I won't remember all the slammed doors beforehand.

I sure love all of you. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

4/15/13 "No time bro, no TIME!"

First off: I am getting transferred! I don't know where yet, so put a freeze on all letters and fanmail until I get my address out. It's been a great experience out here in Pineville East, though, and I have learned so much since I arrived here.

Secondly, this has been a rather fun and notable week. Spring finally hit, which meant about a 20 degree boost in temperature and the humidity returned. It's not that bad, though. Trees have started sprouting leaves, providing shade; bare tree trunks have become covered in vines. Some other fun aspects of the North Carolina spring includeenormous bumblebees that have been flying around all over the place. Or rather, hovering. These bumblebees are fond of just hovering in one spot for about ten seconds at a time, then zipping off to who knows where only to reappear and resume hovering in the exact same place a few moments later.

These bees have to be big, I guess, because there is so much POLLEN here. I have no idea where all this pollen is coming from. There were a few days where all parked cars had a yellow layer on top of them from all that pollen. Not good on poor Elder Fisher's allergies.

Another fun aspect of spring are the silkworms. These little things seem to float in the air, but really they're hanging from small, nigh invisible silk threads. Elder Heathcote seems to hit all of them as he bikes, and I need to dust them off of his shirt before we start finding in an area. They always miss me, though, and I'm not sure why. Perhaps it is The Force.

Every morning we run to the fitness room in our apartment complex. Well, what I mean by "run" is that the Zone Leaders run, and I try to get Elder Heathcote to run with me. Anyway, I've been running to the fitness center every morning for about six months now, but on Friday and Saturday we found a surprise. Apparently a hobo figured out the pass-code to get inside the fitness room and he was sleeping on the bench when we came inside. Kind of funny. I was kind of disappointed when he didn't try it a third time.

Elder Heathcote and I came up with a brilliant idea on Saturday. We were going to go teach a lesson to a recent convert family. As the member had not had a chance to watch Priesthood session last week, I wanted to paraphrase Elder Hales' talk about putting on the Armor of God. The only thing is, I had this brilliant idea about half an hour later. Using my ingenuity, along with available materials and a little cardboard, I managed to construct the whole ensemble in record time and get to the lesson on schedule. (Pictures of Elder Fisher's exclusive homemade deluxe antique custom Armor of God set are forthcoming.)

The member's oldest son, Gary, was brave enough to volunteer and we put the armor upon him while explaining each piece and how it defended us from harm. (P.S. -- It's always tough to explain the feet.) We finished up the lesson around 8:55, with just enough time to say a closing prayer and get home before 9. The father asked Gary to give the closing prayer. Gary stood up to do so...then paused...then fell over and started convulsing.

Quickly an ambulance was called and we moved Gary into the other room. I quickly moved the other children into an upstairs room and got them playing with toys to distract them, then Elder Heathcote and I, at the request of the father, gave the son a priesthood blessing. Afterwards, I sat with the other children. I had them say a prayer, and then I told them funny stories to keep their mind off their brother, like the time when I drove off the cliff in a four-wheeler or when David hung me on the doorknob by my diaper. The ambulance and the family's home teacher arrived at about the same time, and Gary was taken to the hospital.

Thankfully, whatever caused the episode was not bad, since Gary was able to come to church the next day. However, I had a few thoughts about this whole experience:
1) We had not planned to go see this particular family that day.
2) We had delayed our coming because I was working on the lesson.
3) The incident happened after we had already finished the lesson -- not before or during. It happened right before we were about to leave.
4) The same boy who put on the Armor of God had the accident occur to him.
5) Gary did not have anything bad happen to him in the long run.

This was, in a way, a very sacred experience for me. I had an incredible opportunity to be the Lord's hands that night. The whole incident was timed perfectly so that we would have been there to provide the blessing -- and still be able to give a good lesson. It was a good experience for the family; as recent converts, this experience helped their testimony of priesthood power. Years from now, they will not remember my name or the name of my companion, but they will always remember that the Elders were there when they were needed. Most importantly, however, I think it was a good experience for Elder Heathcote. This was something that he needed very much.

I said many a prayer of thanks to my Heavenly Father that night to thank Him for this sacred opportunity. I'll remember this one for a long time.

The only bad part of this story was that we got home late, at 9:50. Oh well.
Well, I'm about out of time. I wish for you to know that I have loved my mission so far, and I am excited to meet my new companion in a new area. There are great things around the corner, I can just feel it. I love my mission. The Church is true. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher 

4/8/13 "Catch a wave"

For a missionary, Conference time is better than Christmas in a lot of ways. We don't get to talk to our family, but we do get to just sit and listen for a little while. We talk so much on a mission, that it's really nice to sit back and hear people a lot more spiritual than you talk for a few hours. This Conference was particularly nice, with my most notable highlights being:

1) President Monson's sad face during his Sunday Morning talk. I will love forever the person who gets me a picture of that expression with a funny caption. Oh, and when he rolled his eyes shortly before that. There are just so many possibilities with a picture like that.

2) Dear Elder Enrique Falabella in the Sunday Afternoon session: "I need you to hug me!" (That means you, Dad!)

3) Elder Ballard's epic win line to President Packer. Sadly, I don't think dear President Packer's going to make it to the 98th edition of his poem...

4) That picture of a knight that Elder Hales' dad drew for him is good.
If my life on a mission was a book, and it was divided into chapters, then the title of this week's chapter would be "Lost Souls." During this last week, I biked up to a group of people and was hailed with:
     "Are you selling weed?"
     "No," said I, "I'm selling something better: eternal life."
In short, what ensued was an epic 5-for-all conversation on religion between the four drug dealers present and a woman who was nearby. I will label the participants as Rachel the Faithful, Teba the Confused, Jay the Uncaring, [Forgot] the Defiant, and Dante the Catholic. It was hilarious. I literally could have sat there for hours and watched them go. Sadly, I realized that I was on the Lord's time, so we moved on after a little while.

My favorite part of the whole conversation:
The Defiant, to Rachel the Faithful: "You say to pray about it? Who I'm prayin' to? God? Who made him? How'd he make the world? Look at that black pole there. How'd that get there? Did some guy just say 'Let there be light?'"
     "Well, it is a lightpole," I offered.

Later that day, we met all sorts of people. We met a young man with a few Word of Wisdom problems and many tattoos; we met a rather beaten-down young woman; we met a man who served in Iraq at the same time Dad did, and he really wants to know the truth. During pouring rain on Thursday, a Haitian man named Colbeat let us in the door because he could only see the top of my head through the window and thought I was his son. We've since taught him twice.

One of the people we've been teaching is Shane, a 21-year old man. We were knocking in his apartment complex one evening and a man came across the street, walking across a parking lot to get to us. He started shouting obscenities at us, and then all of a sudden we hear, "There's no reason to be so rude, man!"
We looked, and lo and behold, there was Shane, who had happened to be walking through the complex and had heard the shouting. What a stud! He came to the Sunday Morning session with us and has a baptismal date for May.

Brother Johnson came to Priesthood, and Brother Green came to all five sessions, by the way.
It seemed like we bumped into a ton of lost souls this week. With all this in mind, it seemed like President Uchtdorf's talk in Priesthood session stood out the most to me. He talked about four universal title that every priesthood holder has. The very first that he mentioned applies to all people: "Child of God."
The very first thing we teach as missionaries is that all of us are Children of God. He loves us, and wants us to be like Him. As President Uchtdorf said so eloquently, we rejoice in every step that a toddler makes. When the child falls down, we are not upset with him; we applaud him and congratulate him for making it so far. It is the same with our Heavenly Father: He rejoices in every single effort we make to come to Him. (This statement reminded me a lot of Carol Lynn Pearson's poem The Lesson.) (paula:  i've included that below)

I particularly loved Elder Christofferson's talk about redemption. I have always loved the scene in Les Miserableswhen Valjean is redeemed. All of us are imperfect, but thankfully, we do not have to be perfect all at once. I have come to love the song O, Divine Redeemer while on my mission, because it captures so well that sense of desperation that every one of us feels at some point in our life; the desperation of a lost soul with nowhere to turn.

However, there is good news. As Elder Ellis proclaimed, we are not spiritual orphans! No one is a lost soul.  That is the message we bring as missionaries. We have a Divine Redeemer who can never forget us, because He paid for every single one of us, quite personally. No one is lost; no one is not paid for. We are all redeemed, despite our imperfection, and we will all be brought home to our loving Father in Heaven. We may fall down at times, but Heavenly Father doesn't mind. It can be hard, at times, to learn the great lesson of Godhood.

I know this to be true. I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ lives, Joseph Smith His prophet, this Church His Church. President Monson is a prophet, despite the fact that he played with matches when he was little. I love you all, I love my companion, and I love my mission.

Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

The Lesson

Yes, my fretting,
Frowning child,
I could cross
The room to you
More easily.

But I’ve already
Learned to walk,
So I make you
Come to me.

Let go now—
You see?

Oh, remember
This simple lesson,
And when
In later years
You cry out
With tight fists
And tears—
“Oh, help me,
Just listen
And you’ll hear
A silent voice:

I would, child,
I would.
But it’s you,
Not I,
Who needs to try

-- Carol Lynn Pearson

4/1/13 "I can break these cuffs!"

"I can break these cuffs!"
"You can't break those cuffs."

(I chose this because one of our neighbors got the cops called on him the other day.)
Ooooh, buddy! Conference is coming up! So excited!

Have you all filled out your brackets? One little game I always love to play at Conference time is to try and guess which Apostles will speak at which sessions. (Guessing when the First Presidency will speak doesn't count!) It's a fun game to play, but to do well at it you have to have a good memory of who's spoken at what time for the last few conferences. For example, I think it's highly likely that we're going to hear from President Packer in the Priesthood session and Elder Holland in the Saturday morning session. You fill out your guesses and see how close you get.
Well, it's been a crazy week. We got back in contact with Brother Johnson, a man that I've taught for three months who disappeared since Stake Conference. We took our new investigator Shane on a tour of the church and invited him to Conference. We had a couple of good lessons with Brother Green, and we're going to have a huge one with him tonight when we try and figure out what his holdup is.
This week has also seen the advent of a new member lesson, pitched to me by Elder Risenmay. He would read to the family Alma 50, which is Captain Moroni preparing the Nephite cities, fortifying them against Lamanite attack. So, while he's doing this, I draw a picture of the member family in the center of a piece of paper, with marauding Lamanites coming at them from each corner.

The Lamanites are things that attack the family: contention, media, over-scheduling, whatever. Then, I begin to draw in the fortifications, namely heaps of earth, wooden fence, pickets, towers -- things that protect the family, like family home evening or priesthood. I get a real kick out of it, since my drawing skills have been mostly shelved during my mission thus far, and the members get a kick out of it too. Especially when I draw the dad so that he looks really buff.
Since there are currently five missionaries living in our apartment, we are in desperate need of personal, creative lessons to teach the members. I send a shout out to everyone out there to help supply us with clever object lessons that we can show the kids. Anything would be appreciated :)
It has been interesting for me, being here in Charlotte, to see the approach of Easter. I've seen enormous advertisements, noted large crosses with fabric draped over them, and seen all manner of hype around it. I'm very glad that they celebrate this sacred day and pay it honor. I note, however, that despite all the churches here, despite their size and grandeur, despite all the things they've done to try and lure people in and boost their attendance, the sad fact remains that Easter is one of two days in the year when mainstream Christian people really go to church. 
I truly truly have loved Easter. Like so many other things, it has taken on a special meaning for me now that I am on a mission.
I have thought and puzzled and prayed, and it has come to me that the very greatest question of life is:
"If a man die, will he live again?"

The truth is, you will never truly know until you die. I fully believed our Heavenly Father intended it that way. If He gave us any hints of what would come afterward, or if He made it obvious that death was not the end, then there would have been no meaning in this test that we are now going through. There has to be an incredible doubt around what comes after death. There has to be no way of really knowing. If not, there could be no faith. We must be kept from a perfect knowledge so that we can have faith. If we have faith, we can be tested.
I read Jesus the Christ by Elder James E. Talmage in January. Something I read in there gave me the idea that the Savior had perfect faith. As part of the Savior's particular test in mortality, He had to go about with the knowledge that He could do anything if He wanted to, but He couldn't. He could easily have called down angels to help him; He could have easily turned stone into bread; He could have easily come down from the cross, but He didn't.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Savior Himself did not have an absolute, perfect knowledge that there was life after death. He had complete faith that there was a God, and that He was the Son of God, and that He would thus be able to come back to life after He died...but I am led to believe that He didn't know all this. His faith was just so strong, His confidence so sure, that we can't really tell the difference by looking at it. Despite this lack of complete knowledge -- as I see it, this is the Gospel according to Elder Fisher here -- He never once turned to self-indulgence. He never once gratified himself, instead going through with the whole Plan of Salvation, suffering and dying for us. He was willing to bet His whole life on faith.

The message of Easter is that, if a man dies, he shall live again. For when the third day came, the disciples found an empty tomb, and heard the angels proclaim, "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here; for He is risen!"

Easter is the great celebration, the time where we remember that the Savior conquered death, and because of that, death need not make us afraid. Families are eternal, and death is not the end. We may not come to a perfect knowledge of such things, but we may come to a perfect faith of them.

I add my witness to those recorded in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and those given by the modern-day prophets. Families can live together forever through Heavenly Father's Plan. Death is not the end. I know this to be true.

I love you all, and I still pray for you. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

3/25/13 "I like to sit on MY pancakes" of today, I am a third of my way through my mission. Wowza, Bowza!

Well, very briefly, in response to last week's cliffhanger, Elder Heathcote was gently tapped while crossing an intersection last week. An older lady didn't really see him and clipped his back wheel as she turned right. Nothing major. Sorry for those of you who were expecting more.

We found a couple of promising new investigators this week, sought out a ton of less actives, gave Sister Helms (the recent convert we stumbled across a few weeks ago) the first birthday card she'd received in ten years, and other good stuff.

The milestone I reached today has been a lot on my mind, though. It has now been over a year since I received my mission call, and I am a third of my way done. I've talked to a lot of people, and I've knocked on a lot of doors. I've been doing a lot of reviewing and thinking and planning about what I'm going to do for the next two thirds of my mission.

I've realized a few things:
1. The mantle.
As a missionary, people wave at you when they see you on the bike. They say you bring a special spirit into their home. Occasionally they'll give you a free meal. Near the beginning of my mission, I subconsciously felt that all these things were done because of me. It was my personality that had people wave, my testimony that brought that special feeling, my character that had people provide for me. Slowly, however, I have come to the conclusion that all of this was not because of me. It is because of the mantle I wear. I am, in fact, not special at all.

Oh, there are plenty of things I'm good at, and I think that I am a fairly spiritual person (at least now), but I am special at this moment because I have been called and set apart, and I wear a mantle. I have been given this mantle for the sole purpose of helping people come unto Christ and feel the Spirit. In a short while I will no longer have the name tag, and I will no longer have the mantle.
With the realization that you wear a mantle -- that it's not really about you -- and that this is not really your mission after all -- but that it's His -- comes the realization of how you need to act and how you need to work. You, my dear Elder Fisher, need to work harder, because you have this very, very brief time where you can go forth and serve. After your time is done, you might always be at the same level of spirituality, and you may continue to live the missionary lifestyle, but you will never again wear that mantle. People give you special treatment because of the mantle you wear, not because of who you are (though you are quite a good person anyway.) Go forth and serve, then!

2. Teaching with power.
Missionary work is not just teaching a lesson. We do not accomplish anything if we just go and parrot to someone the stuff we read about the Restoration. We are all about providing people with spiritual experiences; we are to teach with spiritual power, and we cannot do that unless we study, unless we are worthy, and unless we focus onthem. We have to give them spiritual experiences so that they want to come unto Christ; they cannot do that without making covenants; they cannot make covenants without accepting and keeping commitments, and none of this process can begin if we are not focusing on them, teaching with power and providing them with spiritual experiences.
My problem is that I came out knowing so much. I studied Book of Mormon and other stuff like crazy before my mission in order to prepare myself. (Frankly, I probably know my material better than any other missionary I've been with out here.) However, there have been times in my mission where my knowledge has gotten in the way. Reciting a lot of doctrine is not teaching with power. (Knowing a lot of stuff really helps, though.) 

3. Weakness.
There have been times on my mission so far when I've gotten fed up with myself. Sometimes is that I didn't work as hard as I could, or that I didn't work as smart as I could, or that I pushed too far, or pushed too little, or that I haven't gotten as much success as I've wanted, blah blah, etc. I have come to realize though that it is okay to not be perfect. It is not my mission, it is the Lord's. It's going to work out. My perspective is not His perspective.
The other day I read the Lord's words to Moroni. In Ether 12 Moroni talks to the Lord about how he's so bad at writing, and he's afraid that people are going to mock at him for his weakness. (Moroni? Weak? Really? Read Mormon 8-9 to see how much baloney that is.) Anyway, the Lord responds by giving those great words of counsel, "I give unto men weaknesses that they may be humble."
Elder Nelson told us that perfection is an immortal result. I am so glad that I have been permitted to make mistakes. The lessons I've learned thus far in my mission have been priceless. I am so glad that Heavenly Father allows me to learn, and that He is willing to make "weak things become strong."


Well, I've gone and run out of time. I love you all, and I will write more next week. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

3/18/13 "Good luck storming the castle!"

"Good luck storming the castle!"
"Do you think it'll work?"
"It'll take a miracle."

Things are starting to warm up here in Charlotte. Things are starting to blossom, as well. It looks very pretty. I can't wait until the trees regrow their leaves. Elder Heathcote and I are doing well together. He is definitely willing to get on the bike and go.

A few fun stories from this week:

1) Elder Heathcote and I went to go teach Renee, one of our investigators, with a recent convert couple, the Parkers. We had scheduled to come over at 2 PM, but Renee had apparently thought we were coming at 3 PM. When we showed up, the house was in disarray, there was a smell the air, and there were two young men of a shady character present. We were pretty certain they were drug dealers. So, we introduced ourselves, invited them to have a seat with Renee, and proceeded to teach them the Plan of Salvation.

One of them, a young man named Teba, was extremely interested in what we had to say and asked a lot of really good questions, like "How can I know what path to follow? How can I know which church is Christ's Church?" I thought this experience was hilarious. I learned, though, that all people are children of God, no matter what they look like or what they are doing at the time. If you had seen Teba on the street, you never would have thought that he was a person who was wondering about God and where he should go in life. Heavenly Father definitely arranged that little meeting for us.

2) I'd had a nagging feeling for weeks that we needed to go find at a particular apartment complex, so last Tuesday I heeded the prompting and we went over there. When we arrived, though, I had the distinct impression that this was not the right place to go. I was slightly confused by this, but I'd noticed that the street we'd just barely passed looked fairly promising. We locked up our bikes and started finding. The second door we knocked, a man named Adam let us right in. We didn't even have time to say our names or who we were before we were in his house, sitting around a table.

Adam asked us if he could have a copy of the Book of Mormon. Slightly surprised, I gave him one, and he told us that he'd read it before and had a few questions for us. Such as:
"In the Book of Ether, the Brother of Jared comes across the sea. He forms the Jaredites, right? Where do they fit in with the Nephites and Lamanites?"
Needless to say, I was very surprised. Apparently about five years ago Adam had noticed that there were quite a lot of Mormons in the world, so he went to the nearest bookstore, bought himself a Book of Mormon copy and read it so that he could see where we were coming from. He asked us where the Word of Wisdom came from, since he didn't read anything about it in the Book of Mormon. All of his questions were extremely sincere. We had a good talk with him, and despite the can of Anti-Word of Wisdom-Fluid on the counter, I was very impressed with his character; he was a young husband and father who seemed like he was honestly seeking the truth. We challenged him to re-read the Book of Mormon and told him we'd come back to check on his progress.

I don't know how things will end up with him, but I do know that Heavenly Father guided us that night. It frightened me, in fact, how we had been directed to Adam. We said a prayer of gratitude after we left his house, thanking Heavenly Father for sending us His Spirit to tell us where to go.

3) Elder Heathcote got hit by a car this week.

4) On Saturday, an appointment fell through on us, so we felt prompted to go visit an elderly sister in the ward who happened to live nearby. It turned out that Sister Perkins was having some health problems and had really needed a blessing. On cue, we appear to provide one. The other small miracle here was that I paused to share a scripture from the Last Supper (John 14:18-19), and before I could begin, Sister Perkins quoted the exact one I had picked to share. I have no doubt that Heavenly Father was aware of how Sister Perkins was feeling and inspired us to go and visit her, exactly in her time of need. I don't know how he can keep track of all His children, but He definitely does.

That's one thing about a mission. There are tons of little miracles all over the place. Possibly picking the same scripture someone just quoted is not that big of a miracle; possibly finding the exact house at the exact time is not that big of a miracle; perhaps hearing a drug dealer ask how he can find the truth is not that big of a miracle. Who knows.

I read one of my favorite passages from the Book of Mormon this week which talked a little bit about miracles. This is the prophet Mormon in Moroni 7:

"Has the day of miracles ceased? Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has [God] withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?
"Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain."

The Atonement was made for billions of people, but it is of great comfort to me that Heavenly Father probably would have sacrificed His Son if He had only had one other child. He wants us all to come home, and His work will not be finished as long as there is one man upon the face of the earth to be saved. He will do all He can to make sure you get your miracles, large or small.  The Lord told us that "signs will follow them that believe in my name." (Ether 4:18) Looking back, you will see that all those little miracles add up.

Well, I love you all, and I love my mission. Good luck reaching the Celestial Kingdom!
("Do you think it'll work?")
("It'll take a miracle!")

Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

3/11/13 "And now for a game of disappearing bears!"

Happy Monday!

First item of note:
My new trainee is Elder Heathcote from Orange County, California. True to Murphy's Law, he is exactly the opposite of Elder Shumway; short, stocky, orange-haired, blue-eyed. He's not as quiet talking to people as Elder Shumway was, but he isn't as fast of a biker. Turns out that 4 months in a full-bike area apparently has made me very good at going up hills and such. The first day was rather hard for him, poor fellow.

Second item of note:
I live with the Zone Leaders in our ward, Elder Steenson and Elder Risenmay, both Idaho boys. They were informed by President Craven on Friday that the First Presidency has authorized missionaries to email friends, priesthood leaders, and recent converts, not just their families anymore. So...I'll be able to email you all personally! If you'd like to send me your email, everyone, I could try to send something your way eventually.

Other things of note:
1) This week was the first time in my mission that a man kissed me. (It's not what you think!) Or the first time that anyone, in fact, has kissed me. We offered to help a man load some furniture into his car, and he was so filled with gratitude he gave both Elder Heathcote and I a great big hug and kissed me on the neck. Heheh, he sounded like the voice actor for Hades in Hercules. 

2) Elder Heathcote and I were biking around when I saw a mother walking with her little girl. I stopped and offered her a card to get a free Book of Mormon, and she said, "I already am a Mormon!" Her name was Sister Helms, a mother of three and convert of two years recently moved her from Texas and trying to find the church building. We introduced her to the Relief Society President and got her to church this Sunday. Her husband is not a member, so we've got some work to do there. It was a miracle that we found her.

3) We were out finding people to teach on Saturday, and we met a man named Will. He was initially reluctant to let us in to bless his home -- he felt it would be like a betrayal to his church -- but we explained what we were going to do and what we believed, and he let us in. After the blessing, we offered to help him with his yard, and we spent the next hour or so helping him hoe his lawn and get done other chores. The whole time I talked to him about the Church and what we believed. Some good work done there!

4) I forgot to mention this last week, but something rather ludicrous happened not too long ago. Elder Heathcote was one of 26 new missionaries that came into our mission. However, the week before that, President Craven got a call from the MTC asking him if he could take 13 visa-waiters. Being an awesome man, President Craven said yes, so a week before transfers we got a lot of Spanish and Portuguese-speaking elders. The Zone Leaders were asked to take one of these new missionaries, making a tripanionship.

Well, I walk into the room the day the new elder arrives, and who should I see but Elder Kason Kendall, who I twice had seminary with at Bountiful High.

It just blew my mind how the Lord works. Think about it: of the 350+ missions in the world, and of the 80+ companionships in my mission, Elder Kendall just so happened to get placed with the missionaries that live in the same apartment as one of his high school friends. That's at least a 1 in 28,000 chance, and it's probably much much higher than that. Only the Lord could have worked out that one. It was pretty fun to see him for those two weeks; he headed off to Brazil earlier today.

Well, it's been a good week. The Church is still true. I encourage all of you to make sure that:
1) You are reading the Book of Mormon personally every day.
2) You are reading as a family every night.
3) You are attending the temple at least once a month. Especially you, Utah people!
4) You do your home teaching!
5) You honk at the elders when you see them.

Congratulations Sarah, on your engagement! Congratulations Zach on completing a worthy mission. I love you all. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher