Wednesday, April 2, 2014

34th Letter from England (Sheldon) plus a letter he was asked to write to the youth

March 10, 2014

Hey!  Okay, I got loads of emails this week  (that's a good thing) so I'm going to have to hurry through all of these!  I also forgot my planner, so I don't really remember what we did this past week... I'll try to remember though.  That's weird that the Zacharys are moving into our house ahaha?  And I hear that Emma has claimed my room.  That's good.  She'll enjoy the loft, especially with the books and bean bag up there.  Sulphur really won't be the same without them.  I'm actually pretty sad that they're moving.  Its strange to think about how much time I've spent there.  I remember tons of sleep overs and parties and just late nights hanging out over there.  I'm sure it'll be a good change for them though (:

This week has been pretty good, Sunday was crazy. 
Last Monday we had district p-day.  It was actually quite sad because Elder Hyde who is supposed to go home in 6 weeks got a call and said he's going home this Friday.  I guess he had visa problems.  We're all kind of sad about that.  We went to Pizza Hut then went to play sports in the Solihull chapel.  That was well fun.  Then... I know what mom is dying to hear... we got the transfer call.  I'm still here with Elder Tupou.  Not much changed in our district.  But Elder Harris is now a Zone Leader!  That's really cool, he was never even a district leader.  He's not in my zone though.

Tuesday we had planned to go meet that guy named Yves, but we couldn't get in contact with him.  I guess Tuesday was Mardi Gras!  Here in England it's 'shrove Tuesday' or 'pancake day'.  We taught English that night but I went on a mini exchange to help with an addiction recovery class.  Weird to say, but after 7 months on my mission I have quite a bit of experience with helping people over addictions!  The Young Women made us pancakes for their activity so that was good.  I miss king cake and parades though.

Wednesday, we took a bus down and found a new place to find people to teach.  I was so excited for this area!  There were tons of people down a high street and it just seemed golden.  We stayed there for a few hours then headed in.  I looked at our map and... that area is JUST out of our boundaries.  That sucks but I guess it's good to know.   

Thursday we had district meeting!  The whole district is the same except the Solihull A team is shut down for a while.  And Elder Fonseca from Cape Verde is now here taking Elder Hydes place.  He's in my MTC group.  After District Meeting we went to Solihull A's old flat with Subway and scavenged tons of stuff.  We got a guitar, a ukelele, an american football, some weights, and things like that!  It's also been really warm lately!  The weather is dead nice.  I just can't even believe it. 
Friday is our typical weekly planning day, we woke up, had studies then weekly planned.  We had a lunch appointment with a less active called the Rollins.  He always makes us such great food.  He made us a homemade curry.  I tried black pudding again, it wasn't bad this time around!  It was higher quality for sure.  Still not a big fan.  We went back to our flat and finished planning, then had another DA with the Hadley family.  That was a really funny DA.  We challenged them to role-play, and showed them our role-play about how we're devastated when people don't keep commitments.  It's brutal. (:
Saturday was cool!  All morning we helped a member named Richard move house.  He's getting married in May so they're preparing a place to live.  He's living down the road from us too so that's good.  We had a good time doing that.  Then we showered and got ready to go to Stake Conference.  Elder Adler of the 70 spoke to us.  He gave a powerhouse talk.  He's a really cool guy.  Elder Tupou got to meet a guy in the stake from Tonga named Hezekiah.  He was happy about that. 

Sunday we got to go to stake conference again of course.  It was a good meeting that was insanely full.  We actually ended up sitting on the edge of the stage at the back of the cultural hall because we gave our final two chairs to a couple of old ladies.  President and Sister Rasmussen spoke and so did Sister and Elder Adler with a few other people like President Griffiths the stake president.  It was a really great meeting!  Hezekiah gave us a lift home and we took a nap and ate.  Then something crazy happened.
We went to teach the Romanian family.  We were about an hour later than planned which was perfect because David had just gotten home.  We started talking to him and answered his questions then taught the plan of salvation.  For some reason this lesson went on for ages, then right at the end, Davids brother Pedro came to visit.  He started listening in as we extended the baptismal commitment for the 28th of March.  We then turned to him and asked him a couple of questions and by this time we'd been at their house for 2 hours!  1 1/2 hours too long.  (:  They brought out some food for us to eat and David and Pedro talked for a bit.  Then Pedro started asking us questions.  After a long time of talking, we concluded the restoration and committed him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon.  We had a 4 hour lesson.  We didn't end up getting out until 9.  We were getting calls from the Zone Leaders worried that we were in trouble or something because on Sunday nights at half 7 we're supposed to have call ins.  I've never heard of a 4 hour lesson before but the spirit would just not let us leave!  It was crazy, and so spiritual.  I'm excited to teach all of them!  In total there are 5 Romanians we're teaching now,  Pedro, his wife, David, Maria, and Nelu.  Miracles.

This work has been doing amazing.  The Lord is proving every day that people are prepared and ready.  That His work will be done.  That the work is being hastened in these days!  I'm excited to be a part of it!  I'm excited that so many of my friends are a part of it!  We started an email group between me, Elder Price, Sister Haynie, Sister Johnston, and Sister Randall.  We are literally all spread around the world.  Finland, England, Korea, Albania, California. 
I hope all of you are having a great week.  Can you believe it's almost been 8 months!  I can't
Love y'all!
-Elder Pogue     

Evan was asked to write a letter to to the youth of the branch, here it is:

Hey Young Men and Young Women!

I'm excited to write to y'all and share a few things about my mission with you!  I've heard a lot of things has changed in Dhahran since I've been gone.  I want you to know though, that the leaders you have are amazing.  The Dhahran branch has to be one of the best in the world.  I'm so thankful for all the time I was able to be there, and for my leaders and teachers.  I never realized how much I learned from them until it had to be put to use! 

The answer to the question 'what specific item would I focus on to prepare?' is so easy to answer.  Preach My Gospel.  I'll be honest, before my mission, I hated Preach My Gospel.  I didn't understand it.  It didn't seem to be applicable to me.  I didn't know how to study it or how to understand it.  I'd encourage all of you to read through Preach My Gospel.  Know it before the MTC.  Maybe start on Chapter 3 and know the lessons.  Then move on to the other chapters.  All missions are Preach My Gospel missions and by following PMG is how we become effective missionaries.  Study it with the scriptures.  

Secondly, If I could do it all over again what would I do more of?    Before my mission, I would have worked, studied, and served more.  The mission requires a lot of long days but if you know how to work it won't be hard.  By study I of course mean the gospel, but not only the gospel.  Develop good study habits for school.  This will help you in your daily personal study on your mission.  Maybe take suggestions from chapter 2 of preach my gospel.  And serve others selflessly as often as possible.  Building a habit of service builds so many Christ-like attributes.  Be charitable always.  Look out for the kid that doesn't have as many friends.  Make sure everyone is involved in all activities or social events.  Learn to be more Christ-like in all that you do. 
The people I have met on the mission are some of the best people I know.  I look up to all of my leaders.  Kind of to echo myself, they are constantly serving others.  Looking for opportunities to help others at all costs.  Making sure everyone is taken care of.  Also, their spiritual power.  Spiritual power doesn't come from having more knowledge, but by studying faithfully, being diligent, and understanding our purpose as missionaries (before, during, and after the mission).  Mainly, they have become more and more Christ-like in all of their thoughts and actions.  That is key. 
As far as attributes to improve on, I'll share something with you.  I had a companion who didn't really like to work, who was a slob, and didn't talk to people including the members.  Become a diligent worker.  And know how to keep things clean and organized.  The spirit could not be there when the flat was overflowing with rubbish.  And I'd say most importantly, learn how to talk to people.  Don't be scared to make phone calls, or to talk to people you don't know.  Learn how to make conversation and be relaxed in doing it.  Our call as a missionary is to talk to as many people as we can.  We have to find people to teach by talking to strangers, we have to help the ward by listening to their needs and concerns and trying to help them out.  I assume a few of you have the calling of a home teacher.  Use this as an opportunity to learn how to talk to people, to lead in teaching a short lesson, and helping someone you love.  We can be called on missions all over the world, to all different countries and cultures.  If we know how to serve others, and love them, we won't have any problem adjusting to their cultures and unique personalities.  This also works with companions who's personalities you might clash with. 
I am so happy that I am here on a mission and would not want to be any where else right now.  So far on my mission I have been a part of many miracles.  I was able to help a girl who had a history with hard drugs, and alcoholism, and who smoked over 60 cigarettes a day, walk into the waters of baptism.  I am so thankful that God has trusted me in such a huge responsibility.  I am in no way qualified by anything except the Spirit to do this work.  Alma 26:12 is one of my favorite scriptures.  It says:
 'Yea, I know that I am anothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will bnot boast of myself, but I will cboast of my God, for in hisdstrength I can do all ethings; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.'
This is the Lords work and I know that he is leading it.  I am so grateful to be able to share my testimony every day with so many of God's children.  My brothers and sisters.  The mission experience is far greater than anyone could have ever expressed to me.  Far greater than I ever imagined.  I know that I am a better person for it, even after just 7 months.  I really hope that EVERY young man makes the choice to go on a mission and that you are already preparing.  Stay away from the evils of the world.  Listen to the prophet.  Obey every word he says.  And I hope that EVERY young woman prayerfully considers going on a mission.  

To the young women, I've been so lucky to serve around a few Sisters in my mission and I promise you, they are so much better than Elders.  Sisters are so much better at serving and listening to the needs of investigators and members.  The Lord needs you to help in this work.
I know that this gospel is true.  My testimony has grown so much since I've been here in England.  I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that it has more power to bring joy and happiness than anything else in this world.  I man I was teaching once held the book of mormon and said 'I can feel a power coming from this book.'  I testify of that spiritual power.  I know that Thomas S Monson is called as a living Prophet today.  He has the same authority as all of the Prophets in the Bible.  I know that our Heavenly Father loves us far more than we could ever comprehend.  And I know that His son Jesus Christ is our Saviour and Redeemer.  I am so grateful for this knowledge.  I pray that all of you are making the right decisions and preparing yourself to serve the Lord.  and I do say all of this in the name of Jesus Christ. 
I love y'all!  :D
-Elder Evan Pogue  

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