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

Monday, January 27, 2014

1/27/14 "That they might have joy"

"Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy." - 2 Nephi 2:25
Missionaries frequently come up with games to make the work more interesting on slow days. Elder Mejia and I tried one such game this past week. One of us picks a word and we have to find a way to fit that word into the conversation the next time we talk with somebody without sounding strange. Words like "dog" or "gold" are fairly easy. Words like "diabetes" are a bit harder. I'm currently two points ahead of Elder Mejia.


Men are, that they might have joy...

I got a little taste of what joy was like this Sunday. We had nine people that we were working with come to church from six different households, five of them being investigators. I personally have never gotten such a good turnout on my mission, but that's not the story. 

There is one man in particular, a recent convert, who I have been working on for the last 5 months. He always kept telling us that he was coming to church but just never showed up. I love him to death but after several months of this we told him that we had to move on and help other people.

This past Sunday I was talking to people at church when all of a sudden I looked down the hall, and who should I see but this tiny little man walking towards me with an enormous smile on his face. I was taken completely by surprise, like perhaps at no other time in my life. I immediately ran up to him and gave him a big hug, and, seeing as the top of his head is about an inch or two below my shoulders, I enveloped the little guy entirely.

I think, at that moment, I knew complete joy.

For the rest of church I sat next to this small older man and couldn't keep myself from grinning the whole time. It was the best feeling in the world. I was so glad that he had come, after months and months of working with him, without us even asking him to.

I'm thankful that the Lord gave me that experience because now I know what I'll be looking for in the future when I'm trying to find pure joy again.

Experience number two...

We were over at a member home for dinner. Both parents had served missions, so all four of us were swapping mission stories. We, the two elders, were entertaining their three little kids by proving to them that putting bacon on a chocolate cake can make it even more delicious. (And it was.) After the dinner we showed them the Mormon Message "Earthly Father, Heavenly Father," which is an awesome video, and it successfully reduced the mom to tears.

This sister, who is expecting her fourth child, then shared with us that the world simply doesn't understand why LDS people have so many kids. She said it was because LDS parents understand that children bring so much happiness to their life. She talked about how much she loved her children, and even then -- even after all that she does for them -- her love is nothing compared to Heavenly Father's.


I once asked a nonmember during a street conversation why we, humans, were on the earth. He replied, "To glorify God." I'm glad that we, as followers of the restored Gospel, understand that God has much more planned for us than His own gratification. We are here so that we might have joy.

I shared these two experiences above because they helped illustrate this principle to me this past week.

When I first went through the temple and saw my family waiting for me in the Celestial Room, I was totally happy. When I saw my friend walking toward me in the church building and I ran and embraced him, I was totally happy. But it blows my mind to think that, as happy as I was on those occasions, that feeling of love and joy is nothing compared to what our Heavenly Father feels for us -- and what He will give us.

Some people say that they go to the temple to escape the troubles of the "real world." If you think about it, however, the temple is the real world -- it's as close to heaven as we can get. This other place, where we are living now, is not really our home. Our true home is back where our Heavenly Father lives and waits for us. We can only get little snippets now and then of the happiness we fully enjoyed there.

What a wonderful day it will be, not too far away from now at all, when we will look down a light-filled hallway and see, quite to our complete surprise, the Savior standing there, waiting for us with open arms and a smiling face. Will we run to Him, I wonder? Will we fall to our knees? Will we weep? Will we sing?

What a glorious day that will be, when we finally discover what real joy is like.

I think Enos put it best:

"..And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father. Amen."

I love you all. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

1/20/14 "Come unto Christ"

"Yea, come unto Christ..and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind, and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you." - Moroni 10:32

At zone conference last Thursday President Craven reversed his previous stand on checking email. We are now, again, only allowed to check our emails on Monday. No more checking during the week.

Also at this last zone conference we had all been asked to prepare a 5-minute talk about Christlike attributes using Moroni 10:32-33. President would then pick several missionaries to speak. I was asked by the assistants to sing in a musical number beforehand and then, wouldn't you know it, I was also asked to give my talk. Thankfully I'd prepared a good amount of material so I didn't make a fool of myself.

This week we had one of our investigators call us up and invite us to the Martin Luther King Jr. parade. They were going to be selling Girl Scout cookies and suggested that we set up a table to talk to people and hand out material. And we did. It was a fun finding opportunity, almost as exciting as seeing Ronald McDonald in an enormous shoe passing by us in the parade.

The Spanish elders were also there, as were the sisters. I suggested all seven of us getting in a line and marching in the parade as if we were a part of it and seeing if anybody cheered for us, but this was vetoed. Lame...


One thing about Elder Mejia that I'm very grateful for is that he is a good listener. He and I are able to have good conversations with each other about the gospel, about life, about the mission, about anything. I greatly appreciate this.

The Moroni 10 scripture was one such thing we talked about. We're both near the last quarter of our missions and so I was reviewing my time so far. I realized that I need to be far more grateful.

I concluded that there's about 4 kinds of mission experiences:
1) A missionary gets tons of success and their mission is a wonderful experience for them.
2) A missionary gets little success and their mission is a wonderful experience for them.
3) A missionary gets tons of success and their mission means nothing to them.
4) A missionary gets little success and their mission means nothing to them.

It's all about if you've changed or not, and change only comes through hard work and obedience. Change -- personal conversion -- is the true measure of a person's "success" on their mission. The numbers can actually mean very little when the two years are up.

So, reviewing my mission thus far, I would consider it successful because of how much I have changed. My objective now in the six months I have remaining is to change into the man I need to become by the end of my mission. It's a scary prospect, but I still have time.

I am just so grateful for all the wonderful blessings my Heavenly Father has given me while out here in North Carolina. I am amazed at what He has allowed me to become.

Love you all. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

1/13/14 "Ask, and it shall be given unto you"

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
"For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." --Matthew 7:7-8

One of our investigators was set to leave for Iowa to accept a job offer there. We had, of course, been praying that she would be able to progress ever since we had started teaching her. Her going out of state would prevent us from coming to see her and we were hoping that, though in a different place, she would be prompted to keep reading and meet with missionaries again once she returned.

On Thursday this investigator told us that her job offer had cancelled, so she would be staying in North Carolina for a while yet. This allowed us to continue teaching her and get her to church.

Essentially: we prayed her job away.

These sorts of things sometimes happen with missionaries.
So we often have to be careful what sort of blessings we call down on people when we pray.


This week had a lot of extreme weather that made working on bicycles difficult. There were times when we simply had to just call it a day and wait for things to clear up or get warmer. On Saturday we got caught out in such heavy rain that we had to take cover for about an hour until it calmed down enough to resume biking. I don't mind rain that much, though.


The best stories about this week actually came from church this past Sunday. The woman I delivered the Book of Mormon to last week came to church and got swarmed by members, who did such a great job of welcoming her that she had a wonderful experience. It also helped that all of the speakers in sacrament meeting did a fantastic job.

For a missionary, Sunday is Game Day. And you really hope that your investigators show up for the game and that your team, the members, do a good job. Fast Sundays are a terror for missionaries.

The story I'd like to share was a story by one of the members, a convert to the church in his adulthood and with an incredible conversion experience. Growing up in New York years ago without a father, as a teenager he dropped out of school and joined a gang. One day a group of his friends got killed in a drive-by shooting by a rival gang. 

When all that his "friends" wanted to do in response to the shooting was get the other gang back, this youth realized that he didn't really want to be a part of the gang life anymore and got out of it. He made new friends with a better crowd and started working harder in school.

Once, at a party with these non-LDS friends of his, they stopped in the middle of what they were doing to have a short Bible study and read the Sermon on the Mount. This member explained that it was the first time in his life that he had ever heard the words of Jesus Christ, and he immediately knew that the man who was speaking had to be the Son of God and that he must become a Christian. So deep was the impression this event had on him that he later studied to be a minister and, years later, came into contact with LDS missionaries, joined the Church, and served a mission.

It was incredible to see this well-spoken, well-mannered and well-dressed man tell such an incredible story. His actual conversion story is possibly even cooler, but there is no time to tell it here...

One of the things that the Savior taught in the Sermon on the Mount was that if we ask in prayer, we will receive. I know that this promise is true. Just be careful that you don't pray down some intense blessings on people.

I love you all. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

1/6/14 "Shafts in the whirlwind"

"...When the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."
- Helaman 5:12

Missionary info for the uninitiated:

Each missionary companionship is assigned an "area," generally a ward's geographic boundaries. (Though when I was in Pineville, I got the eastern half of my ward and the Zone Leaders got the western half. And the car.) A minimum of three areas is generally grouped as a "district," sometimes more, and a "zone" corresponds to a stake. My zone has about 30 missionaries in the about thirteen wards and branches of the High Point stake.

So, I am in the same district as the sister missionaries of the Lakefield ward, usually referred to just as "the sisters," and the Gate City Spanish branch elders, referred to by me as "Spanish," "The Spaniards" or "The Conquistadors," to make a district of 7 missionaries among three companionships. We all go to the same church building on Sunday.

Our district is what we call a "tri-share," which means we all share two cars among three companionships. We each get a car for two weeks and are on bikes for one week. Last week the Lakefield Elders, which areElder Mejia and myself, were on bikes.

Every once and so often we get a text message from Higher Up which has a referral from, meaning that someone had gone on the website and requested something, like a Book of Mormon, a Bible, or a missionary visit. It is then our duty to contact that person within twenty-four hours.


On Thursday we got one such referral, a person asking for a Book of Mormon. I checked the address and discovered that it was eight miles away, which is a decent bike ride there and back but nothing too major.

We looked out the window to see a sky overcast with light grey clouds.

Elder Mejia: "Do you think it's going to rain today, Elder?"
Elder Fisher: "Nah, I don't think so. Wrong color of clouds."

...Five hours later, after one lesson and three-and-a-half hours of biking in the pouring rain, we returned home, badly needing a new change of clothes and pretty confident that we had earned our salt that day.

It is at times like these that one just breaks down and makes himself a double-decker Nutella sandwich.

Thankfully it was a pretty good lesson which we had with the woman who wanted the Book of Mormon. She was extremely impressed that we would bike that far for that long in that kind of weather just to deliver a book to her. She'd darn well better read the blasted thing.


We realized this week that the majority of people we are actively teaching are either Spanish or have Spanish family members. So, after thinking this through and considering what would be best for the investigators, we had to man up and hand over about 11 people to los Conquistadores, reducing our teaching pool to a grand total of 1 person. Thankfully that one person isn't going to go anywhere anytime soon...

Finally, I wish to inform you that one of my favorite things about North Carolina is that it gets very foggy here. We've had thick fog almost all day every day the whole time we've been on bikes. I think it's the coolest thing ever. My imagination has a field-day with it.

Love you all. The Church is true. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

12/30/13 "Things I have learned on my mission"

"Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me." - Mosiah 26:30
In case you didn't notice, #72 does not exist. This was because we had to skip off to a Christmas devotional last Monday which caused me to miss my email time.

Just so you know...missionaries are now allowed to read their email on days other than Monday, but we cannot respond to our emails besides Preparation Day. So, please, send me all the email you want, whenever you want. I love to hear how you are doing.

While in the Skype conversation with my family on Christmas Day, I shared with them a list of things I've learned while on my mission. I might just share them with you, in no particular order:

25 things I've learned on my mission:

1. Elders can go anywhere. We can go in the most hood of hood places, where other people would get mugged and cops would only go when in force, and not get touched. 'Cuz we's Jesus people.

2. Family is so so important. I cannot stress enough just how important it is to have a husband and wife married to each other to raise their kids. No other form of relationship between men, women, and children works. It is crucial to have a man and a woman who love each other and respect each other, working together to nurture the kids. SO important.

3. Priesthood power is real. I have complete confidence in the power of a priesthood blessing. I am always certain that they will help a person who is in need. Faith + missionary mantle = miracle, every time.

4. Mormons really stand out in the world. No, really, we stick out like a sore thumb. And I'm referring to the general members of the church here, not missionaries. There have been numerous times where I've accidentally knocked into members that I've never met before, and I'm usually able to tell within seconds that they're LDS -- assuming that they don't immediately say "Oh, hello, Elders!" or something like that. But Mormons really are set apart from the world, in how we act, help others, and live our lives. People generally trust us and are impressed with us, even if they might think we're weird and may be afraid we'll try to convert them.

5. Miracles don't have to be big to be miracles. When people think of a miracle, they might think of an incredible healing or a check for $10,000 showing up out of nowhere after one pays his tithing. But this does not have to be the case. A missionary knows the thousands of little things that go wrong or get changed throughout the week that end up getting him in the right place at the right time with the right experiences under his belt to make a difference.

6. Everyone is a child of God. Some of the most profound conversations I've had my entire mission have been talking with drug-dealers on a rickety front porch. All of these people are children of God. All of them have the Light of Christ inside of them, urging them to do God. He loves them just as much as He loves us, the faithful members. He goes to great lengths to get us to meet them, so that they have an opportunity to accept the Gospel and come home.

7. The Holy Ghost does all the converting. At the end of the day, if someone ends up joining the Church it is not because of anything the missionaries did. It is the Holy Ghost. People get converted because they choose to do so. Therefore, I don't have anything to boast about if they are making the right choices.

8. Nothing is certain. Even the seemingly most prepared individuals can drop off the face of the map. Even the most vile and disgusting of people can change. So many times I have been humbled because someone I thought for certain would not keep their commitments actually did.

9. Little things over a long time cause big things to happen. It is the little acts of kindness and persistent obedience that change us into children of Christ. Conversion does not come through one glorious experience, or in leaps and bounds -- it is a gradual growth, a lifelong process. Investigators do not become converted in a day.

10. God always rewards obedience. I have never had a 9:28 PM last-door-of-the-night experience, but that doesn't mean that God did not reward my obedience. It is a law of heaven: whenever we are obedient, we will be blessed. Those blessingswill come. We may be blessed in ways we would not expect as a result of things we did.

11. Teachability is the greatest virtue. I've come to believe that humility is where everything starts. If we are humble, and accept the truth presented to us, we can have faith. Faith leads to repentance. Repentance leads to sanctification. Repentances leads us to God.
(Wow...unintentionally ended up sounding like Yoda there.)

12. Members are awesome. Your missionaries love you. There seems to be no limit to what members are willing to do for missionaries. They, the "rank and file" members of the Church, are some of my greatest heroes.

I repeat: the greatest heroes of the church are the thousands of people who quietly go along, faithfully serving. The Church could not survive without all of these wonderful people.

13. Gratitude and thoughtfulness = awesomeness. Members are awesome because they love missionaries. They will love missionaries no matter what they do. Therefore, it is important to be thankful. Members really appreciate gratitude and thoughtfulness.

14. Some things are not worth arguing about...but some things are. There are things your companion does where it's just not worth the trouble trying to change it. But then again, there are times where you simply have to draw the line. The Spirit (and the mission president) can help you know where to draw that line.

15. Sometimes you do things just on principle. There are times on a mission where it seems like the Lord is testing you. It's pouring down rain and you just know that nobody's going to be home and nobody's going to listen. Do you go out and work, or stay home? just do things for the principle of the thing. That's a sub-branch of the thing we call "faith."

16. Greater boldness, greater success. The more we open our mouth, the more opposition we might face, but the more success we will have.

17. People can and will feel the truth if only they're willing to try it. I completely rely on Moroni's promise. I am 100% certain that if people will simply read the Book with a halfway-open heart, they will know that it is true. They don't even have to read the whole thing. I firmly believe that if someone doesn't get a testimony of the Book of Mormon, they haven't read it. Moroni's promise works.

18. Tracting does not work. It just doesn't. I can give you several thousand examples of why.

19. Some people just won't accept the Gospel in this life. It's not that they're evil or that you're a bad missionary. Some people are just too good or too lazy to be able to receive the Gospel in this life. Such people you might just have to leave for Alma and Amulek in the Spirit World.

20. Leaving a good impression is often more important than getting in a door. Some people won't accept the Gospel the first time it comes knocking on their door. But leaving a good impression and helping them feel the Spirit can make sure that there's a second or a third time.

21. By their fruits ye shall know them. Words mean very little. People can say all they want about how touched they are or how excited they are to be baptized...but at the end of the day, what really shows their faith is if they keep the commitments.

22. You can relate anything to anything. Literally anything can be tied to the Gospel. Anything can be used as an object lesson. I have had so many strange parables and comparisons on my mission, trying to find a way to relate a concept to somebody.

23. It's better to leave with the Spirit than defend your position without it. Some people are jerks and mock what you hold sacred. There are times were it's simply better to let them get the last word and leave with the Spirit then defend your point but cause contention. I have had both experiences on my mission.

24. The Lord's way is to forgive. Always. I have come to know that the Lord's capacity to forgive is infinite. Mercy isalways extended on the condition of repentance. Because the Lord will always forgive, we must always forgive.

25. The Atonement is real. It is not some abstract concept we always talk about in Church and Sunday school. It is a real force with real power. I have had the privilege to see it work in other's lives all throughout my mission.

I love you all and wish you a happy New Year! Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

12/16/13 "Eye to eye"

"Yea, Lord, thy watchmen shall lift up their voice; with the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion." - Mosiah 15:29

This last week we finally got our iPads. During the training President Craven shared the scripture that is the title of this email and said that, by using iPads in these latter-days -- and Skype/Facetime -- we are now, indeed, able to talk eye-to-eye with people all over the world.

Mind blown.

Having never particularly been gifted in the technology department, the iPads have been a bit confusing for me to use at times. But when someone asks you why you don't believe in the Trinity, it is extremely handy to be able to readily whip out Elder Holland's thoughts on the subject.

iPads also allow us to check Facebook more frequently, not have to wait for library computers to open, and make it so that we don't have to bring scriptures and Preach My Gospel to meetings anymore. My man-purse is much lighter to carry now.

The only hitch is that we now must go through the process of taking the papers in our Area Book and putting them into the iPad's Area Book, a process which will continue to go on for the next few weeks. There are times when I'd much rather just write things down on paper.


We were in a lesson with an investigator who asked us why we needed the Book of Mormon. As this was a family we were teaching, I came up with an analogy that I will share with you.

When a couple gets married, they are happy just the two of them and don't feel a need for anything else. Then they have a child. Having the child teaches them things they didn't know before and brings them greater joy than they had just the two of them. But again, they don't feel a pressing need for a second child. When the second child comes, they again receive greater knowledge and increased happiness. The arrival of a second child doesn't make them love the first any less.

Finally, in a family with multiple children, it is clear that the parents love all of the kids equally. They were definitely happy just the two of them, and later they were happy with one kid. Nevertheless, they have experienced the greatest joy with multiple children and would not give any of them away. They are also much wiser than they were at the beginning.

Compare this to scripture. People are indeed happy with the Bible and learn a lot from it. They may feel that they don't need anything more. But God has given us another testament, the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon gives us increased knowledge and love of God, but does not cause us to respect the Bible any less than we did. 

Perhaps in those early days of the Church people were happy with just the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Getting the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price does not make those first two books any less important. Collectively, we are able to learn so much more having all of them than we ever could have learned with just one of them. This deepened knowledge brings us greater comfort and reassurance. While we were indeed happy with just the Bible, we can get so much more with modern-day revelation.

And we're still looking forward to many more great revelations that Heavenly Father will see fit to give us in the future. Modern-day prophets are awesome.


I am excited for another transfer here in the Lakefield ward with Elder Mejia, my first companion in a long time to last longer than a transfer. I love you all, and I love this work. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

12/9/13 "Stille Nacht"

Our ward had planned an activity before the Christmas devotional depicting the Christmas story. Featured among the cast were two of the children of some of our investigators, one as an angel and one as a shepherd, as well as our investigator progressing towards baptism, Benton, who was also a shepherd. Perhaps the most well-cast member of all was our bishop, who donned a crown and sat upon a throne to play King Herod. I hope he doesn't get any clever ideas from it.

As for me, I sang "Silent Night" in German with Brother Skipper, one of the Wise Men. I got this on video, thankfully, and will try and get it out to you soon.

This Sunday we also saw a less-active member who we've been working with come to church for the first time in 27 years. Awesome!


During the course of my mission I have come to possess a small little whiteboard that I now take with me everywhere I go. I use it all the time in lessons to illustrate my point, drawing out a picture or a diagram or whatever else comes to mind. It also comes in extremely handy for those rare times where I feel sleepy in a lesson, because I can doodle on it to stay awake.

I learned rather early on that, if writing out a diagram or a list or something, it is very distracting to write the words out and then turn the whiteboard so that other people can read them. So I started just writing stuff upside-down instead so that investigators can read my words without me having to flip the board around. I've gotten quite good at writing upside-down now, the sad part being that my handwriting is actually more legible writing upside-down than it is normally.


We had the opportunity to go and speak with a man, who has member parents but was not a member himself, who had lost his son. He had gone into his adult son's room Thanksgiving morning and found him dead. The autopsy results have not yet come back as to how his son died. 

While we spoke with this man, who was extremely depressed and distraught, interestingly the impression came to offer a blessing, not to him, but to his other son, the younger brother of the son who died. I had the thought this son was feeling a lot of guilt about not spending as much time with his brother as he could have, so during the blessing I felt prompted to give him as much reassurance as I could that his Father in Heaven loved him. I can only pray that it helped him.


I've had a lot of good thoughts this past week but perhaps the one that most stood out to me was one I heard at church:

Tithing is the only commandment that we can obey fully. All the others, like "Love thy neighbor," we can always improve on, but for tithing, we can be exactly obedient. 10% faithfully, every time. How kind of Heavenly Father to give His imperfect humans something it is possible for us to perfectly obey.

Love you all. Hope you are enjoying your Christmas season. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

12/2/13 "Ye cannot bear all things now"

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you; and ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours."
 - D&C 78:17-18

Quick note about Greensboro: All homeless people here have to be registered before they can ask for money from others. So, rest assured that you won't be giving your charity to just any old Joe Schmoe panhandler: you'll be giving it to a registered panhandler.

We had three different investigator groups at church yesterday, including Benton, a man who is set to be baptized on the 28th. He basically fell into our laps and is ridiculously well-prepared. For example, he's the first investigator I've ever had who's read Jesus the Christ by Talmage.


The scripture at the top of this email was shared by a member of the bishopric in testimony meeting last Sunday. It happened to be exactly what I needed at the time and has really made an impression in my thoughts.

There is a sister in my ward who is called "The Queen of Physics" because of her highly acclaimed and renowned work on synthetic diamonds. When I met this particular sister, I was fascinated to hear about it. Though I didn't hear the specifics, I find it extremely cool that humans have the capability to artificially create something like a diamond.

It got me to thinking. As we all know, normally a diamond is made when carbon, one of the most common substances on this planet, undergoes massive heat and pressure. This heat and pressure turns the otherwise worthless carbon into something beautiful to behold, harder than anything else, and of great value. This sister is famous because she can make precious diamonds out of lowly carbon.

Compare this, then, to our Heavenly Father, who has told us that His work and His glory is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." It is His glory that He can take something as weak as a human soul and make it into something like Him. As a perfect being, it is His glory that He can make other perfect beings.

But it is difficult, though. Just like it takes enormous heat and pressure to make a diamond, the process of becoming like God is enormously difficult. So difficult, in fact, that of the billions of individuals to have attempted it, only one, out of all of God's children throughout eternity, has ever managed to do it on His own.

Our Heavenly Father told us that mortality would be hard. We would face things beyond our ability to overcome by ourselves. This is why a Savior was necessary. Not only would He redeem us, but He wouldstrengthen us. The promise was made that these challenges we faced would not defeat us, but help us grow. We would become stronger by overcoming challenges and passing through tests. This is the only way to become like Heavenly Father. A diamond cannot become a diamond without heat and pressure.

On my mission I have encountered problems and struggled with things. The Lord assures us that we might not be able to bear all things now, but we will, someday. When we were toddlers, it was a struggle for us to walk more than a few steps. Now we can do it with ease. Similarly, the temptations and weaknesses that give me so much trouble today will someday no longer be a struggle for me. The Atonement rescues us and sets us free, and provides the strength to overcome, an inch at a time, until we have become what our Father in Heaven wants us to be.

These were the thoughts that went through my mind at sacrament meeting. I am so grateful for the growth I have experienced on my mission and I look forward to the changes I will yet go through during this final third. Life is a wonderful and beautiful thing, isn't it?

I want you to know that I know the Atonement is true. I have felt the Savior's strength in very direct and special ways this last week. I am so grateful for it.

Love you all. Hurrah for Israel!

11/25/13 "Born of Goodly Parents"

"I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents..."  
- 1 Nephi 1:1. 
(and probably the most frequently read verse of scripture among Latter-Day Saints. 2 Nephi is hard.) 

Another fun fact that you should know about North Carolina is that we have psychics here. With the exception of Pineville, every area I have been in has had psychics, palm readers, tarot card and ouija board people, and all that sort of stuff. (Do I get bonus points for knowing how to spell ouija without having to look at a dictionary?) I have never seen this anywhere but North Carolina. And it's not just an isolated thing -- there's actually multiple of them in every area. 

I was initially surprised that such a religious area would have superstitious stuff like psychics all over the place, but now I realize that there actually isn't much difference between what these sorts of kooks do compared to what goes on in some of the churches around here. Maybe we should go and get their opinion the next time we're trying to find new investigators.

On the subject of superstitious...

A few weeks ago I was in the library using my Facebook time. I generally try not to pay too much attention to what other people are doing on their computers, but I am still usually vaguely conscious of what they're up to. I was happily working along when suddenly I saw the lady next to me get on Google, type in "Mormon underwear," and click on the third link or so from the top, not a Church website.

Brain: "And...intervening."
Elder Fisher: "Excuse me, ma'am, I happened to notice that..."

And thus I was able to redirect this woman away from the presumably anti-Mormon site she was going to be looking at and onto, where I was able to show her my profile, explain that I was a missionary, and start answering her questions about what we believed. Situation avoided. Whew! 

We ended up giving her a Book of Mormon and a ton of other stuff when she asked us for it. It turned out that she had been living across from our street for years and had always wanted to know that we believed. Did we worship Joseph Smith? What was the Book of Mormon? Did we still read the Bible? A bunch of stuff like that.

To think that all of this happened because I am aware of what other people are doing...


The meeting with Elder Quentin L. Cook was very short, only two hours instead of the regular three or four or five. Having shaken hands with Elder Cook before, I had told all the missionaries in my district that he had a squishy hand. They didn't believe me, but this was later confirmed when he shook hands with all of us at that meeting.

He didn't really have that much counsel or direction to give us, but he did tell us some interesting things. He talked to us about his responsibility to assign missionaries. Some missionaries, he said, need a certain mission president; they need to be around his example to help them grow. Most assignments, Elder Cook said, are ultimately made for that reason. Some missionaries are assigned to a certain people; they have talents and abilities that allow them to really succeed in that place. Some missionaries are assigned to a mission because of some future experience they will have there.

Elder Cook also told us that the time will come when we will understand that our mission has blessed everyone near and dear to us -- not just our families, not just the people in the field, everyone in our life. He also said that some of the companions who have the least in common with you will have been the most important for you in the future.

I could expound more on what he said, but there isn't all that much time. I'll close with this: Upon seeing all the sister missionaries in our mission, which is the largest mission he's been to at around 250 missionaries,Elder Cook commented that perhaps the greatest effect of the age change will not necessarily be the people who will come into the church during the wave, but the effect a mission will have on all these sisters who will be mothers someday. 

I thought that was cool. The Lord needs missionaries, but even more importantly, he needs good parents, and serving a mission is a great way for Him to prepare the youth of today for parenthood in an increasingly evil world. To quote Elder Cook from the meeting: "Being born of goodly parents is not as important asbeing goodly parents."

I am definitely grateful for my goodly parents and all the people in my life who are doing an awesome job at raising their family. The most important battlefield in the world is not out on the streets, where we the missionaries are, but in the home.

Love you all so much. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

11/18/13 "Great and Marvelous"

"And there had many things transpired which, in the eyes of some, would be great and marvelous; nevertheless, they cannot all be written in this book." - 3 Nephi 5:8

While playing a game of Catch-the-Less-Active-At-Home yesterday, we knocked on a door and a lady answered. After a brief moment of introduction, I politely asked her, "What is your name?"
"I'm not interesting in talking to Mormons," she growled.
I replied, "What an interesting name!"

...Possibly not the best response, but I've been itching to do it for 16 months now and it felt so satisfying.


I am now companions with Elder Mejia, a bilingual elder from Kernes, Utah. He came out one transfer after I did, so we are both fairly experienced and close to each other in age. I am enjoying being his companion. He is very good at asking people questions that make them think.

This week we have had several days as cold as apostate Christian perceptions of the lowest circle of Heck. On the way home from transfers it started snowing, and Wednesday was pretty cold. Coming from a person who was quite happy walking amidst the snowdrifts at BYU in shorts, flip-flops and T-shirt in the middle of winter, this means that it was probably pretty cold here. It is wet cold, not the dry cold of Utah -- layers don't help that much. But it warmed up for the weekend. Saturday and Sunday we had heavy fog for most of the day, which is always cool.

Both Thursday and Wednesday we joined forces with the Spaniards to help people unload massive U-Hauls so crammed full of life possessions as to put an Egyptian pharaoh to shame. In both cases I did the majority of the heavy-lifting. I was happy that I am able to do it.

We found out this week that this Friday we will be having a surprise meeting with Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve. This was nowhere on the schedule earlier this fall and will be the third Mission Tour we've had in two months. Normally they are once every four months. Makes me wonder what's coming down the pipe here in Charlotte that keeps causing all these General Authorities to come our way. (My guess is City of Enoch-style translation.)

We also had it announced to us that December 1st we will be getting our iPads. This sadly means that this is the last transfer that I will be using my favorite little pocket planners. :(  Yet another example of the changing face of missionary work.

The Church has asked that ward buildings and family history centers be made available for missionary use during the daytime. We haven't been able to use ours because we don't have a key to our family history library. On Sunday a stake representative came to talk to the ward secretary about getting us the keys. Our ward secretary then informed us of the meeting.

When I thought a bit about this situation, I realized that it could all be summed up like this: 
President Monson, who has all the keys, delegated keys to our stake president, who then had authority to delegate the task to the stake representative to give the keys to the ward secretary who could then give the keys to us.
Sadly, someone made an error down the line and we still do not have the keys.

There have been many things this week that are great and marvelous but I don't have the time or space to write them here. And that is only a week. Imagine Mormon and later Moroni trying to sum up one thousand years:

THE LORD: "My son, thou must remember: only the important things shalt thou write."
Moroni: "Cureloms are important!"

I know that the Church is true and I love being a missionary. I look forward to telling you all about Elder Cook next Monday. Love you all. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

11/4/13 "The Pure Love of Christ"

"But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him." - Moroni7:47

A North Carolina autumn is truly a sight to behold. I have been bedazzled this whole week as trees have started to explode with color all around me. Elder Herr has had to put up with me suddenly stopping on my bike to take pictures.

This week had a few fun events. For example, it was the first time that I've had an investigator cry during the recital of the First Vision. We also had one of the recent converts in the ward, sweet little Brother McCray, talk to us about how he'd been reading the sacrament prayers in the book of the prophet Macaroni.

"Moroni," we corrected.

We had about eight lessons lined up this week with a member present -- which would have been the most I'd had my entire mission -- but they all fell through except for one of them. A bit saddening.

On Friday we were forced to retreat indoors due to heavy rain. As much as I loved my time biking in the rain back in January, I felt that I would spare Elder Herr that experience. :) While we sat inside our apartment waiting out the storm, I turned on a DVD with short documentaries about the lives of the modern-day prophets and began to watch a few.  During the documentary of John Taylor, the video mentioned his presence in Carthage Jail, and how he sang "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" immediately prior to when the Prophet was martyred. 

Perhaps it was the rain, or the fact that my mother has recently been reading "The Work and the Glory," or that I had happened to stumble upon and read that book series' account of the Martyrdom just a week before, or perhaps it was the way that the song was presented in the documentary. Whatever it was, the words of that song hit me with a lot of power, and I immediately got an idea for a picture. 

I have never taken any art classes and my natural talent is not that great, but I tried my best to create the image that had popped into my mind. To help explain my thought process behind the picture, I will share some of the lyrics with you.

A poor wayfaring Man of grief
Hath often crossed me on my way,
Who sued so humbly for relief
That I could never answer nay.
I had not power to ask his name,
Whereto he went, or whence he came;
Yet there was something in his eye,
That won my love; I knew not why.

Next this man was starving. Then he was dying of thirst. Homeless, and then beaten and stripped, and then: 

In prison I saw him next, condemned
To meet a traitor's doom at morn.
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,
And honored him 'mid shame and scorn.
My friendship's utmost zeal to try,
He asked if I for Him would die.

When Joseph had gone to the woods to pray, all he had been looking for was an answer. He received much more. He had seen God. He had seen the Savior. He had seen things that other men would have given anything to see. He did not know that that prayer, offered in the peace of a sheltered grove, would end up taking him through fire and pain and cold and darkness. But the other Speaker in that conversation hadknown what would happen. Knowing what Joseph would have to endure, the Savior had called him to be a prophet. 

Joseph had borne affliction before Carthage Jail, to be sure. He had been beaten and imprisoned, betrayed and abandoned. But I am certain that as Joseph sat there in that upper room, listening to John Taylor sing, awaiting his martyrdom, that perhaps he thought about the words of that verse. I would imagine that he thought of the Savior, whose face he had first seen and whose voice he had first heard twenty-four years before. We can only imagine what the Savior sounds like, but Joseph actually knew. And I am sure that he could hear that voice ask the question in the song.

"Joseph, would you die for Me?"


The flesh was weak; my blood ran chill,
But my free spirit cried,
"I will!"


At baptism we promise the Lord that we will keep His commandments. In the temple we make a further promise with Him that we would do anything and everything for Him, should He ask.

The Savior can require us to make such a promise because He was willing to do everything for us.

"Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail--
But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him."

That is the love that we are here to acquire during our earthly existence. When we love God enough to do anything. Even give up our life for Him.


Then in a moment to my view
The Stranger started from disguise.
The tokens in His hands I knew;
The Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name He named,
"Of Me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou didst them unto Me."

I know that this Church is true. The Savior's love continues to astound me. I have felt it. I have felt it very abundantly. I know that He is there. He directs this Church. It is His. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that President Monson is, too. This is the work of the Lord.

I love you all. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

11/12/13 "The works that I do shall he do also"

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do." - John 14:12

While biking to an appointment one evening, Elder Herr and I passed by an Outback Steakhouse. The neon lights in its letters had gone out, making it an Outhouse. I wonder how long it will take them to notice that.

Very quickly -- I am staying in Lakefield but will be getting a new companion. He will be my eighth companion in eight transfers, which is highly unusual. I'm thinking that if the Lord ever brings back plural marriage I will have been prepared for it.
I will miss my current companion, though. I will miss Herr a lot. Making puns about Herr was so much fun.


This week was an eventful one. On Saturday the 8-year old daughter of our Elders' quorum president was baptized. We had two investigator families at the service, and it was very beautiful.

We are currently working with the _____ family. They were progressing very well until Brother _____'s mother-in-law suddenly showed up. In short, she is living evidence that the adversary will oppose any attempt to come unto Christ. She embarasses Brother _____ terribly. After one particular lesson Brother _____, who does not like his mother-in-law, escorted us outside to talk about it. I commented to him, "Youdo know we believe in eternal families, right?"

One advantage of the mother-in-law being here is that we can get Brother _____ to do basically whatever we want as long as it gets him out of the house and away from her. On Saturday we even got him to come out teaching with us. He came with us to a part-member less-active family and actually did a really good job, bearing testimony of the First Vision after we shared it. I had never seen anything like it -- aninvestigator teaching members. It was unbelievably epic.

Later that day we succeeded in getting Brother _____ and his son to stake conference. It wasextremely good. I could share all sorts of good things from the speakers but I will save it for another day. I want you to know that our stake president is awesome, though.

This conference led me to realize that the Lord grants requests. A few weeks ago I had realized that I'd never met an Area Seventy and I wished that I could. And lo! at stake conference Elder Meredith was presiding. After the Saturday evening session I remarked to Elder Herr, "Well, with that, the only position I've never met is a temple president." And behold, the next day President Amacher of the Raleigh Temple was there.


I had the opportunity to be a part of a powerful experience this last week. On Thursday we found ourselves with twenty open minutes. I decided to go and try a less-active that we hadn't been able to contact in over a month, an elderly sister named A___. She was home, but a few minutes into the conversation her daughter and her niece J_____, both adults, walked into the room. The next day J_____ was scheduled to go in to the doctor for tests, as she had cancer. A___'s daughter, a member, had told J_____, a nonmember, that we could give her a blessing in preparation for it.

We agreed. I briefly explained what a blessing was to J_____, read the story of the woman with an issue of blood, and explained to her that healing comes from faith. We then sat her down and I gave her the blessing. Afterwards many of the people in the room were in tears. We rescheduled to return on Saturday.

When we returned, J_____ explained to us that a month ago, when she had gone in for testing, the doctors had found four growths and a grapefruit-sized tumor. When she had gone in yesterday, they found nothing and, slightly bewildered, had declared that she was cancer-free and could go.

I am not saying that the blessing caused the tumor to magically shrivel up and go away. For one thing, I'm pretty certain that I don't have that kind of faith. But things didn't have to happen that way for the occurrence to be miraculous. I am certain that the Lord knew at what time to send us to give that blessing so that it would be a faith-building experience for J_____ when she went in for her appointment. 

I am honored that the Lord would allow me to participate in such a story. I am honored that He would allow me to have been a part of it. It has been at times like these that I begin to understand what it really means to be a representative of Jesus Christ.

I know that this Church is true. I love you all. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher


"We believe in meetings: all those that have been scheduled, all those that are now scheduled, and we believe that we will yet schedule many more meetings. We have endured many meetings and hope to be able to endure all meetings. If there is an opportunity to have a meeting, we seek after it."  -- The Fourteenth Article of Faith

This transfer has been a transfer of meetings. We had General Conference, then zone meeting, then zone conference, then a mission tour last Monday with Elder Zwick of the Seventy and then another mission tour with Elder Kopsichke of the Seventy last Saturday, and then we'll have another zone meeting next week.

But honestly, I love them all.

It was interesting for me to keep track of how many different ways people pronounced Elder Kopischke's name. President Craven said it "Ko-pis-kuh." I originally said it "Ko-pish-kee." I also heard it said "Ko-peesh-kuh" and "Ko-pis-kee." Thankfully no one said it "Ko-pis-cha-kay" or else I would have had to firmly correct them. Finally I listened in to how Elder Kopsichke said his own name to settle the matter: "Ko-pish-kuh."

He had a lot of great things to say and a ton of practical advice. His accent is a lot better than President Uchtdorf's -- you can barely notice it. I nearly ran him down after the meeting so that I could introduce myself. Elder Kopsichke had worked with my dad about twenty years ago in Germany, so I had to bring that up. 


My current district leader Elder Haskell is a Spanish elder, so this Wednesday I went with his companion ElderFacemyer to their area. It's interesting being on exchange with Spanish elders but I generally find ways to participate in a lesson even if I can't speak the language.

Introductions can sometimes be problematic, though:

In Spanish:
Investigator: "Hello!"
Me: "Hi, I'm Elder Sinner."
Spanish Elder: "What my companion meant to say is that his name is actually Elder Fisher."


Another fun thing about North Carolina is that every restaurant or store here has a sanitation rating, usually posted near the cash register where people can easily see it. They're graded to 100. Rule of thumb: subtract seven from the total to get the actual cleanliness of the restaurant. If the posted number is below 85 or so, you're in trouble.

This last Sunday was the ward primary program, which is always one of the best Sundays of the year. Solid doctrine, pure and simple. Musical numbers that get me teary because I understand the principles inside the songs now. The other nice thing was that there were three nonmembers in the program. It's awesome seeing one your investigators' kids talking about prophets in sacrament meeting.

I have had a ton of spiritual thoughts this week but none of them are really surfacing at this moment. It has been shown to me yet again this week how truly important repentance is. Preach My Gospel calls it "the central purpose of our lives." And it's true. We have faith so that we will repent. We get baptized to commit to repentance. We receive the Holy Ghost to help us repent. "Endure to the end" is just another way of saying "Keep repenting."

Repentance is the "action step" of the Gospel. The Atonement is the message; repentance is the process. It doesn't matter how long it takes for us to repent. From an eternal perspective, all that matters is that weget there.

I am looking forward to another exciting week of repenting and helping others repent. Being a missionary is the most wonderful experience. I know that the things I teach about God and Jesus Christ are true.

I love my companion, I love my area, and I love my mission. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

On the subject of the van...I see this thing cruising around in my area all the time. Driving it automatically makes you awesome.

Elder Fisher with Elder and Sister Kopischke

10/22/13 "Whether by mine own voice"

"What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself...whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."

We had a surprise meeting in Charlotte this Monday. Elder Zwick of the Seventy came to visit Charlotte due to the death of Charlotte-native Elder Page in California, and after the funeral on Saturday he decided to stick around and speak to us. So this is why this email is a day late. Also coming down the pipe is a meeting with Elder Kopischke of the Seventy this Saturday, which I'm looking forward to seeing as he worked with my dad back in the 90's.

It is a beautiful fall here. The leaves have not yet started changing colors but the weather is lovely. This last week the sky has been pure gray from sunup to sundown every day. In the mornings, huge clouds fill up the valleys here, and whenever it finishes raining, mist rises from the ground.

A member shared with us that the LDS Church was on Jeopardy this week. This led me to come up with the should-have-been Final Jeopardy question:

Alex Trebek: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints."
Contestant:    "What is 'the truth?' "
Alex Trebek:  "That is correct!"

Here's a much harder question: Would the winner have to pay tithing on the money he'd won? (Remember, answers must be phrased in the form of a question.)

This last Saturday, at the end of a long day, with all other options exhausted, I felt prompted to try a former investigator family that I hadn't been able to get hold of for six weeks. We knocked on the door and when the husband opened up and saw me, his eyes went wide. We had achieved complete and total surprise.

We came in and talked with them and he told us that, quite honestly, he'd figured we'd forgotten about them. (Never.) We talked to him and his wife and invited them to church. The husband, who has always been the one holding the family back from baptism, again put up some resistance. "Every time we start getting involved in the church bad things start happening," he said. "I don't want that to happen again."

A thought immediately jumped into my head, so I took it. I leaned forward and said, "As a representative of Jesus Christ, I promise you that if you come to church tomorrow you will be at peace."

I can count on one hand the number of times in my mission that I have really pulled the "As a representative of Jesus Christ" card. It is not something that I feel comfortable throwing around casually. Preach My Gospel talks about remembering the authority of your calling, but I have usually reflected that in other ways. The thought came into my head, so I obeyed the prompting. It was not a premeditated thing.

The husband balked at this, and said that I didn't have authority to make a promise like that. I repeated it. He again balked at it. I didn't want to argue, but I replied that I was confident that what I had promised would come to pass. So Sunday he and his family came to church for the first time in over six months. We will see where it all goes.

It has been a growing experience for me, being on a mission, as you all have probably seen. I am grateful for the loving support of my mission president and my companions. I love being here, and I am honored that the Lord has chosen me to represent Him. 

My call as a missionary came in response to my request. My assignment came because an Apostle of the Lord sat in a little room in the 5th floor of the Church offices, saw my face, and in fasting and prayer received a revelation on where I was supposed to go. That is an amazing thought.

By the way, Elder Zwick informs us that there are currently 81,000 missionaries serving, with 17,000 more with mission calls. I really would be honored if I got to be serving when the Lord's army hit 100,000. We'll see if it happens!

I love you all, and I love my mission!

Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher