Monday, November 25, 2013

Willing to Submit

Tyler's letter for this week.  His cousin Blake just received his mission call and is going to the Democratic Republic of Congo Kinshasa mission and will be learning French.  Also, since he indicated in his last letter that he was so cold, my parents (grandma and grandpa Welch to him), who live in an Atlanta suburb, purchased him some sweaters and a coat and dropped them off.  They also were able to take him and his companions to lunch.  They reported that he is doing great and really focused on the work.  Sounds like he is getting attached to the Atlanta mission.  Enjoy!

Richard (Tyler's dad)

Lot's of lessons learned this week, one of which I will forever be grateful for.
However, before I forget... Blake Thomas Simmons... YYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Agghhh Yeahhh! I loved getting his email. I haven't been able to read it all yet but Africa?? French speaking?? Haha agh man, I'm so pumped for him. I seriously can't wait to see him, David, JD, and Matt again. Every time I read Alma 17 when the sons of Mosiah reunite, I think of seeing them all again after our missions. Man. That day will be awesome

So this week: Jessica was all lined up and looking awesome for her baptism this Saturday. We pretty much had everything lined up with the program, speakers, etc. she just had to have her interview. The zone leaders made the trip down from downtown Atlanta, about an hour drive, to interview her on Friday at 3:00. We met them at the church and then gave her a call. TEN MINUTES before her interview she was rushed to the ER at the hospital! Are you kidding me? We spent the next hour in a half praying and discussing what the best thing to do would be. Her phone actually died when I was on the phone with her, leaving us in the dark. Haha we had no idea what was going on, just praying for the best.
Well, Saturday evening, we finally got a hold of her and it turns out she was okay. She had to receive some shots and other things for something "personal." Not sure what it was but I left it at that. She said she would feel more comfortable if we pushed it back to next weekend. I was happy to hear she was okay and then we called everyone that night and rescheduled it to this coming weekend.
Pretty disappointing, right? Yeah. But it's understandable. It was just crazy because it literally happened ten minutes before her interview. So, I said a prayer to thank Heavenly Father for taking care of her and then hopped in the car to see the Johnson family.
The office elders scared me to death because they showed up on our way to the appointment to have me sign some more papers for my visa... I thought I was leaving! Luckily, it was just some more paper work I had to fill out. So, again, my heart was beating about 100x a minute from all of this happening within ten minutes of each other. (From Jessica asking to push her baptism back a week and the office elders calling and showing up to have me sign papers for my visa).
All right, so I said another prayer just to kind of "cool down" as we showed up to the Johnson's home. This appointment was big time as we were making the final preparations for their baptism this Saturday.
"Knock, knock, knock"
In we walked to an empty house with suitcase after suitcase after suitcase lined up.
"What's going on? Are you guys moving?"
I knew they had talked about moving back down to Florida some time before the end of Winter, so I asked timidly.
Man... Words cannot describe what that felt like. They were quiet and sad. Their grandfather is not doing well so they decided it would be best to go down now and be around their family for the holidays. They pulled their kids out of school here and sold everything online that they couldn't take with them. They were moving the next night (Saturday).
Haha I don't think I've ever felt like that in my entire life. It was painful/sad/any "bad" feeling you could ever have all slammed on me at once! I was crushed beyond words could describe.
They took a picture with my new companions and I and then we said our goodbyes. I gave hugs/knuckle bumps to everyone and then looked up to leave. Their mom was standing against the wall by herself when I lifted my head up. She reached her hands out and gave me a hug as she had tears coming down her face. They talked about how happy they were and how much we meant to them. They talked about how excited they are for still getting baptized and then being sealed in the temple as a family in a year from now.

Well, I left their apartment and after planning just kind of looked at the ceiling before going to bed. "What in the world just happened?" I thought. All of that happened within 30 minutes of each other. It was madness.
I woke up yesterday morning trying to figure out if that really happened or if I just had a nightmare.

Well, to wrap everything together, I've recently been thinking a lot about this Christlike characteristic of being "submissive". Mosiah 3:19 is starting to be one of my favorite scriptures now as I try more and more each day to "put off the natural man". It was so selfish of me to "want" these things for myself.

All is well in Zion however! Jessica is getting baptized this coming Saturday and the Johnson's gave our ward mission leader a call last night saying they went to church and are still planning on getting baptized. He, along with a few others, might drive down and surprise them for their baptism. That would be really cool. Haha, I keep thinking about how those missionaries must have felt when they got our referral text about this awesome family.

I'm willing to trust in the Lord with all my heart. To not lean unto my own understanding but just trust Him in all I do (D&C 6:36). I'm having a blast out here.
And yes, I am so happy. Especially because I'm warm now bc of gma and gpa Welch. They. are. the. best.

Elder Welch

Monday, November 18, 2013

Letter from Tyler to his family last week [11/11/13]

Dear Family,

Reading mom’s letter this week made me start tearing up.  I’ve always been a “cry-baby”, but surprisingly I haven’t cried much on my mission.  I guess tears don’t come out very easily when you’re smiling so big that your cheeks close your eyes up.  Anyway, I had an impression to write ya’ll a letter this week while I was reading mom’s letter.  Who can deny a prompting from God?

First things first - Matt… I’m so proud of you.  I seriously can’t find the words to tell you how proud you make me.  Your letter made me want to do the “double dream hands” dance with my mouth opened (like we would while watching YouTube).  Hearing that news was the best thing that’s happened on my mission.  I love you.  I keep being reminded of deciding not to play baseball senior year to lift and hang out with you more.  That was probably the best decision I have ever made in my life.  I am so grateful for those last 4 months that we had to hang out.  I look up to you, BIG time!  Keep spending time on your knees talking WITH Heavenly Father (not “at”).  Keep me updated on how things are going with you and Big Marsh – let me know if you need help with anything, even if it’s something small like bearing my testimony on a certain principle. 

I’m so happy to hear that you have “Risen from the Dust” and taken on this challenge to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year!  It’s a lot more than we’re used to reading, but I promise your testimony will grow to be like Nephi’s – UNSHAKEABLE.  This gospel is true; it’s so true.  And the Book of Mormon is literally the Words of Christ.  Treat them like that.  I can never put them down on the ground now.  That book changed my life before my mission and is now shaping my life as a missionary.  It’s literally “DA BOM!”

I got your awesome package, mom!  Holy cow, you’re so awesome!  My companion started laughing when he saw some of your writing, “Who loves you? Your mama ‘wuvvvvs’ you!”  Haha, and thank you so much for the healthy food.  My companion and I have a “cheat night” every Monday night now after planning.  I proposed the idea to him by calling it “Treat yo’self night” as part of our “Family Home Evening”.  Haha, he’s getting really healthy now too, and asks me “Elder, what are we going to ‘treat’ ourselves to on family night?” Its usually ice cream with some sort of topping on it. We usually buy something on P-Day for later that night.  Sounds lame, but it’s a fun tradition.

Mom… my arm is reached out right now to “nail it!”  Seriously though, you skipping make-up to take the sacrament made me so happy!  I wish I would’ve taken the sacrament more seriously when I was blessing, preparing and passing it while in High School.  I start looking forward to it as soon as Wednesday nights now as I try to realign my will with the Savior’s.  If we prepare ourselves each week to take it, repenting of those sins of commission and even omission, taking the sacrament can be the most spiritual experience of our weeks.  I invite everyone in the family to spiritually prepare themselves Saturday afternoon/evening (in between football games) to partake of the sacrament worthily this Sunday.  I promise that you will feel the spirit more abundantly not only during that meeting, but as well as throughout the week.  It will be unlike anything you’ve ever really experienced. 

The Primary Program was yesterday and made me think of Boston and Reese.  Man do I miss them!  They’re the first pictures in my photo album mom sent me and I love showing them off to investigators.

I think about all of you individually, at different points throughout the weeks and months, depending on whose face I decide to sleep on at night.  It’s kind of weird how I realize that I love you more, being away from you.  I’m so blessed to be apart of this awesome family.  I love my nametag because it has Christ’s name on it, but also I love it because it has “Welch” on it.  I’m proud to be a Welch!

Stay faithful family!  I love you all so much!

Elder Welch

P.S. Instead of writing me at Thanksgiving about how “grateful you are for me”, think of someone else that could use it, and write them a letter.  Handwrite it, make it short, and then feel good about it.  I have too many blessings right now – give some to other people who don’t have the same assurance of hope that we do, that we can be a family forever.

"Mom… Dad… I'm Pregnant"

Haha I remember Dustin's letter heading on his mission when he wrote that and had no idea what he meant by that. But, I do now... Unfortunately Elder Evans is leaving me here in Marietta/Smyrna but I have two new companions on the way. Tri-companionship for the third time on my mission. I guess that's the life as a "Visa Worker". I could go any minute but to be honest, I really don't want to go until AT LEAST after Christmas. There are some pretty exciting things happening in the next couple weeks. Here's a few of them:

-Jessica Robertson, who I'll write about if I have time at the end, is getting baptized THIS weekend! Yeeeee! Man, I'm so happy for her. She was one of Elder Peery and my first investigators. She's got a rad story.

-The Johnsons, yep, all 6 of them, are getting baptized on November 30th! Man. The sisters in our ward also found an awesome couple who are going to get baptized and confirmed the same day... That's NINE of my brothers and sisters who are joining my eternal family in the next two weeks; eight in one weekend. Sacrament mtg is going to be taken up by confirmations here in the next couple of weeks... The ward seems pretty pumped right now. No need to prepare talks... It was pretty funny yesterday at church. Elder Evans and I were stopped by our Ward Mission Leader in the hallway at church and he said that he needs to sit down and get a list of all of the investigators at church. "There's too many to keep track of now." He said. Man, I know this is the Lord's work. 

-This ain't no "reassignment" that I'm on in Georgia. I've had multiple experiences so far that have confirmed that The Lord needs me here. My joy is through the roof right now. I'm seriously on happy medicine all day. I'm talking about having to use chap stick because I'm smiling too much... I can't say it enough how great this work is. Granted, talking to a wall for an hour+ everyday in Portuguese is getting pretty old, but other than that, every day rocks. It's actually pretty funny because it's starting to get pretty cold here (not like Ohio but still pretty cold, especially at night) and I don't have any warm clothes. I have no sweatshirt, sweatpants, long sleeve vests, etc. I wake up cold because all I sleep with is a blanket that covers my chest down to my ankles. (I like it though. It's motivation to get out of bed and start working out quickly.) Oh and I really only have short sleeve shirts with one suit (which I have to wear everyday by the way. Don't worry though, it doesn't smell too bad... Haha someone in the ward just gave me another one though, so don't worry about it.) It's also extra motivation to always seek to have the Spirit with me. I'm never cold when I'm feeling the spirit. *MOM-please don't send me anything. I know you are probably worried but I'm really fine. It doesn't bother me. I don't want all of that winter stuff anyway because I won't need it for Brazzzzzzzzil.

So let me tell y'all about Mildred (she's on date now to get baptized on the seventh!)
Elder Evans and I went to go see Carol on Wednesday with a member. Turns out, she wasn't home. (She actually was home, we saw her through the peep hole... Haha) Anyway, we just decided to go to our back-up plan. The thought popped in my head, "As you walk by Mildred's door, just knock on it..." I didn't think anything of it but as we were on our way out of the apartment building, I knocked on her door. (Elder Peery and I met her way back in September but she left a note on the door saying she doesn't want to meet with us anymore.) Well... She opened it and.... let me back up a bit.
We taught her about The Book of Mormon and how it's evidence that Christ's church has been restored again back in September (late). She had no furniture in her apartment, (we taught her as we sat down in an empty family room floor), and her husband who had recently died left her a pretty nice chunk of change behind. Turns out, when he died, different complications happened, not allowing her to have all of that money, leaving her with nothing. All she pretty much had was an air mattress I think to sleep on... Anyway, the lesson wasn't going great and the Spirit prompted us to leave her a promise. "Mildred... I promise you in the name of Jesus Christ, that if you read this Book everyday, you will be blessed financially, more than you could ever imagine."
A couple months past (until Wednesday), where she opened the door with the biggest smile on her face. In we walked in to her apartment to see three tables, one with a lamp on it, a couch, a love seat for two, and a stand to put a tv... (my jaw dropped). "Oh... I'm going to court in the next two weeks to get all of my husband's money back..."
She smiled again, ear to ear. "You wouldn't BELIEVE what's been happening to me since I last met with you guys. Something even told me to stay home today from choir practice and here you came knocking on my door... I'm so glad you came 'Brother Welch.'"
I asked her if she had been reading the Book of Mormon.
"Everyday. Yes... Once a day."

I bowed my head and thanked Heavenly Father.
"Oh by the way," she said, "My old preacher is going to be out of town this weekend so the church won't be open... Can I come with you guys?"
I put my arm around Elder Evans and just said, "Is this really happening right now? Of course you can come Mildred!" We set up a ride to come get her later last week... She absolutely loved it and wants to get baptized now.

Why in the WORLD do I see so many miracles? Seriously. I ask this every night before going to bed.
The only answer I can give is that what Sister Nelson talked about so much in Seminary (man I can't thank her enough for her example and lessons) - Tender mercies... Heavenly Father seriously has been too good to me while on my mission. I don't deserve all of these blessings.
1 Nephi 1:20 - "...But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom He hath chosen..."
Have I not been called of God to serve in Georgia? Man, I love Him.

Well family, I love you all. Instead of writing me a thank you letter this upcoming/next week, thank our Heavenly Father for Jesus Christ. Thank Him in your prayers for allowing us to have this restored Priesthood to bind us together as a family forever. "God be thanked for the matchless Gift of His Son."

I've decided on my missionary plaque scripture. John 8:29
My only desire now is to "please the Father." He Lives!
Elder Welch

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ay yi yi

All right, well I really don't know what to say. There's a quote in Preach My Gospel by Elder Oaks that says something like, "We don't preach and teach to increase membership in our church... We preach and teach to open the gate to the Celestial Kingdom and on to Eternal Life. No other person can do this." I'm obviously paraphrasing but Yeah BABY! Haha "No Empty Chairs" is no longer just applying to the family now, but all of my friends back in Ohio and here in Georgia. I'm FIRED UP!

Man, I've got to calm down and fill you in on this week. I'm seriously so blessed. I told Elder Evans this week that the "windows of heaven are opened right now and there's just too many blessings for me to even receive." Seriously, I pray like 50 times a day just thanking Heavenly Father for the miracles and blessings that are literally down pouring on me right now. "Blessings raining down like cats and dogs..." And the cool thing is, I don't even pay tithing! Haha... Oh man, how much I wish I could just fill you in on half of the miracles that I have seen this week. I'll just bear my testimony.

-I know that the Priesthood was restored. Holy cow, how firm my testimony has grown in this. I've seen miracles, and I'm talking about things you wouldn't even believe me, type miracles happen right before my eyes. In the matter of seconds after a Priesthood blessing I've witnessed some unbelievable things.
-President Monson is a Prophet of God and he is the Lord's mouthpiece. How key is home teaching? If "numbers" mattered, I would send you some awesome stats here in my area of us going out with home teachers and reactivating less-actives.
-The Book of Mormon is the Word of God. It's now a mission rule to carry a copy in your hand every where you go. Phew baby, I feel like Ammon chopping people's unbelief away with my sword. It's so powerful. Even if you already know it's true, pray to know if it is true again. There's no limitations on how many times you can ask. I have mine confirmed over and over (and over...) again.
-LISTEN TO THE SPIRIT! Holy cow, I think that's the thing I'm learning the most on my mission. I've seen people's jaws, heads, and tears just drop/fall just from heeding a small prompting from the Spirit
I've got to get a picture with the Johnson family and send it over to you all. They're the greatest thing (minus my own family) that's ever happened to me. Haha that doesn't even make sense but I can't wait for November 30th. All six of them are getting baptized.
Whoo baby am I so grateful to be on a mission. Tis the season...

Thank you all for your letters. I love you all
Elder Welch

"And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; ... and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth..." - Moses 7:62
A picture from when Elder Dallin H. Oaks (Quorum of the 12 Apostles) came to speak to the missionaries in the Georgia Atlanta Mission a couple weeks ago.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"No, I told you three cards..."

First, thanks big time Mom for the shirts. I love you. You're so on top of things. Those shirts came a lot faster than I thought they would come. Thank you for being so awesome. I thank Heavenly Father all of the time for you.

Man oh man oh man... Leslie Williams was baptized this week! YEEEEEEEE! Haha we've been working with her for almost two months now and she was baptized this past weekend. Holy cow, you have no idea how happy moments like this make you. Elder Evans baptized her on Saturday and she asked me to confirm her on Sunday (yesterday). (Elder Ross got his Visa so he's no longer with us, just in case you were wondering...)

I really don't know what to say about this picture. Haha the feelings are just indescribable. If there was a way that I could send my feelings to you through this monitor, I would. I think the best way to think about it is a glimpse of what Eternal Life is going to be like; living in a state of "Never-ending happiness." I guess y'all have to get used to seeing me smile nonstop when it comes time for that because there'll be "No Empty Chairs!"
 Saturday was awesome and a lot of support came from the ward. It was kind of funny though because she called us 15 minutes before her baptism was supposed to happen and said that she's going to be a little late... Haha we didn't start the baptismal service until 45 minutes after it was supposed to start. Talk about some serious prelude music. It was basically a piano solo for the pianist for an hour...
Sunday was "Rad-dunk-ular." I don't even know what that is but it's supposed to let you know how awesome yesterday was. The miracle with yesterday was definitely her being confirmed and receiving the greatest gift that we can receive in this life - the gift of the Holy Ghost - but it also came with the Johnson family.
So to back up a little bit, Elder Evans and I were teaching the "Butterworth" family who has 10 people in their family! Yes... they have eight kids... Haha anyway, the past two weeks has been awesome with them. Well, until Saturday. They called us and said that they don't ever want to see us again, that they're baptist for life and don't want anything else to do with us. The mom was in the background of the phone call telling her son what to say to us. We tried understanding them and then the mom started yelling that her husband has been yelling at her and the children to stop talking to us. That his family is baptist and they will stay baptist. Anyway, super disappointing because Elder Evan's and I were way pumped about them.
 Soooo, we had a huge goal for the week with investigators to attend sacrament meeting. It quickly was cut in half as the Butterworth's called us Saturday afternoon and let us know not to come by and pick them up in the morning (we were lining about three sets of members to go pick up their entire family... haha). We didn't think we would reach the goal we felt confident in. We continued to go about the rest of the day Saturday trying to contact some referrals and do what the Spirit prompted us. To make a long story short, the Johnson family gave us a call... We knocked on their door and the 11 yr old daughter answered. She told us her parents weren't home so we left her a card and told her to have her dad give us a call when he got home. Well... Who would've known that they had six kids? Eight total with the Mom and Dad. AND they called usSaturday night saying they wanted to come to church on Sunday... Are you kidding me?? As we saw them at church on Sunday, and saw them walk in as a train, I immediately bowed my head and asked Heavenly Father why? I definitely am not worthy of a blessing like that. The lesson I learned was as you continue to do the little things, following the TINY, tiny promptings from the Spirit, you will be blessed. Alma 37:6-7. It's the small and simple things that bring miracles in your life.
An example of this would actually be this morning. We left the apartment really early this morning to go on a run for some exercise. When we were outside about to start, I noticed that neither of us had our nametags on. I told Elder Evans that we should go inside to put them on even though it's dark out and no one will even see us. (You have no idea how much I love wearing this... haha). As we were leaving the apartment for the second time the thought came to me, "grab three pass-along cards." I was just about at the door frame and thought, "no one's going to even be out here this morning. The moon is still going up..." Nevertheless, I turned around and grabbed two of them and started walking out. I felt two in my hand as I reached the door and was beginning to put them in my pocket. "No. I told you to grab three of them." I was like, "c'mon seriously? Nobody is even out here!" I couldn't do it though. I turned around and grabbed one more card and ran out the door.
Well, guess who saw three people this morning on the jog? It was incredible. Small and simple acts bring about miracles. I see them everyday.

The church is true.  I don't know why my Heavenly Father is so good to me, but He is. He lives. I know He does. And I know His Only Begotten Son lives.

I absolutely love it here. I'm so happy.
Elder Welch

Elder Welch's Mission President has created a calendar for the missionaries to follow to read through the entire Book of Mormon by the end of the year.  Tyler has extended this challenge to all friends and family who would like to follow along.  He said he would love to hear of your personal experiences and testimony as you read through the same scripture passages together.

Please leave a comment on this blog with your email address if you would like me to send you the calendar.