Monday, December 30, 2013

Patience is my Middle Name

Whoa. What a Christmas to remember. I can't believe how emotional I got at the end of that phone call. Words cannot describe how awesome it was to be able to speak with all of you.
 Hurrah for another transfer here in Smyrna! I love it here. I really do. The ward is catching fire here. If we take it up a couple more notches as a "tripanionship," some incredible things are going to start happening. I'm antsy about the month of January. We're at about 210 degrees... Just 2 more and we'll start boiling here.
 We got the call today that we are all staying here in Smyrna. I'm not sure how to accurately express my feelings on Brazil, haha. I remember back to July while I was still in the MTC that I told myself that I would have a Brazilian accent when I talked to y'all on Christmas. Instead, I've just been picking up "southern." It's definitely been a journey here in Georgia. Being a "Visa Worker" is a little bit weird because there's no telling when you're going to get the call that your visa's in. I'm being patient though. I know The Lord still has some work for me to do. It's been a huge blessing as I explained at the beginning of our conversation on Christmas. I'm starting to learn what it means to be "Willing to Submit." And as I strive to "please the Father," I'm learning more about The Son. My testimony of the Savior has sky rocketed. It's incredible to be on His errand.
 So I've been thinking a little bit about WHY (gotta love the "why" questions) missionary work makes people so happy. I started to think about what happiness really is and the happiest moments that I've had in my life.
 For me, the happiest time of my life (if I were to limit it to a specific memory) would be when I went to the temple for the first time. More specifically, it was when I entered the Celestial Room and the first person I saw was mom. As I entered, I saw her with her arms out smiling. After giving her a hug and then turning around to meet dad right there in front of me, an indescribable feeling came over me. I then saw Ashley and Dustin walking over, then Grandma and Grandpa McFerson. They were all beginning to walk toward that same spot in the back corner where I first met mom. I looked at Ashley who smiled and then gave me a hug. I continued around the family giving everyone a hug (I may have even gave some non-family members hugs.) I was so happy. Why did I feel that way? Why was I so happy?
 I read a scripture in D&C 101 that stuck out to me. "... for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full." The first part of that kept me thinking all day. "My joy is not full, nor can it be in this world."
Alma 41:10 says that "Wickedness never was happiness." Because joy (at least to me) is "never-ending happiness," wickedness therefore will never bring joy. What causes "wickedness?" Satan. And Satan is the father of everything low, vicious, cheap, cruel, etc. Anytime we fail to follow Jesus Christ causes us to "sin," which will always lead us to unhappiness (and certainly never joy). Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that sin will always lead to unhappiness.
The happiest times in our life will always be because we followed Jesus Christ. It will be when we are cleansed of sin.  Why was the temple the happiest time in my life? Because I was in the temple, and in order to be in the temple, you must be clean. Why was the second happiest time in my life back when I received a witness that The Book of Mormon was true? Because I received and felt the Spirit in an amplified, intense manner. The Holy Ghost cleanses, and I was free from sin.
 Why does missionary work make someone so happy then? Elder M. Russell Ballard says, "Because living the gospel is essential to receiving a remission of sins, and because giving missionary service is essential to living the gospel... Missionary experiences can bring to every member of the Church the calm reassurance that his sins are in very deed being forgiven."
 Pretty interesting, huh? President Hinkley said that as we do missionary work, The Lord is more willing to forgive us of our sins. It makes sense. Even though we are guilty of so many sins, as we invite others to cleanse their sins, ours in a very real sense are forgiven.
 So, how can we be happy? Receive a remission of sins! Be baptized and confirmed by His restored Priesthood authority! Take the Sacrament worthily! Be a missionary! True happiness, and eventually Joy, will come as we stand face-to-face with the Savior and receive His mercy at the day of Judgement.
 I guess that's why I'm so happy. Despite all of my shortcomings and frustrations as a missionary, I'm so happy because I'm helping others receive lasting peace in this life through a remission of sins. It's what it's all about baby!
 This may explain it a little bit better. I love this. It comes from Elder Corbidge's talk in 2008 titled "The Way."
 "The Destination" - The greatest of all the gifts of God is eternal life. In this life, the greatest and most important blessing is the gift of the Holy Ghost. Every good thing depends on getting and keeping the power of the Holy Ghost in your life. God's destination for me and my awesome family is to receive these amazing gifts!
 "The Problem" - Sin. In the course of life we all make mistakes; we do not keep all of God's commandments; we sin. Our sins make us unworthy to either return to God's presence after this life or to have His presence, or power, that is the companionship of the Holy Ghost, while in this life. ("Spiritual Death")
 "The Solution" - Then Christ came. He did for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He suffered the full penalty of our wrongs that we not suffer. Because of His atonement we may be forgioven of our sins, made clean and whole; we may begin again, that we may be endowed with His power, if we will only have faith in Him, repent, receive the ordinances of baptism, the sacrament and the temple, and then stay on course.
 "The GLORIOUS News" - The authority to baptize, administer the sacrament and the ordinances of the temple was lost from the earth after the crucifixion of the Savior. This priesthood authority has been restored again in our day through the Prophet Joseph Smith. And the best part... You can know this is true by reading the Book of Mormon and praying to know for yourself if it is true. Love it!
What does this mean? ... We can be forgiven of all sin and receive the power of God in our life! We can be made clean, totally forgiven of all that has transpired in life. Everything depends on this. So, get on the path and endure to the end because it's the only thing that makes sense! In John 15 The Lord uses some awesome language. I love this imagery. I remember Karli once talking about the word "abide." I never took much thought in to it until now. Check out how awesome some of these verses are.
"I am the true vine... abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples... if ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in His love... that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."

This plan is simple. Get on the path and never give up. Abide on the path and invite others to do the same. EVERY good thing depeneds on it. God's greatest gifts ("The Destination") is for everyone - forever, only through His true church.

Continue to be awesome missionaries. I love you all so much. Being away from you and thinking about all of our Christmas traditions was pretty tough, but hey, we've got eternity for that. I'll just spend this year and next trying to invite more of the family to join the party - "Christmas Eve Amazing Race" and the "Christmas run down the hallway" would be pretty awesome with some of these investigators.

Gotta love the Gospel! It's true. It's so true.

I love you,
Elder Welch

Monday, December 23, 2013

White Christmas

I cannot tell you how good it feels to be a servant of The Lord. I feel awesome!
Two different families were baptized this week which was incredible. It was the best attended baptism since I've been here, even with all of the ward members being out of town. The ward is starting to catch this fire behind them. It's exciting to see. We had a lot of ward members talk to us after the confirmationson Sunday saying how excited they are. It's very fulfilling to see the fruits of so much labor in the past few months. When I got here with Elder Peery, we started a new area book with nothing inside of it. Most members hadn't been out with the missionaries and the Bishop didn't really trust us. Now everyone is just pumped. I've been reminding and reminding and reminding (I've learned on my mission how many times you need to follow up with people) our ward mission leader and bishop about calling more ward missionaries and these new members to callings. I think they appreciate all the reminders though. I just want to make sure these awesome people stay active and are "converted unto The Lord," not to my companions or me.

So Myisha is the one on the left in the dress and then Michele, Courtney, Jalen are the ones in the center/right. I realized I hadn't really talked much about Michele's family in my emails but we've been working with them for about six weeks. They've been incredible to work with and so much fun. It was a wrestle at some points but with help from Heavenly Father, the Spirit worked all of their concerns out.
The greatest feeling I think I've had on my mission was yesterday when someone asked Michele and Myisha's mom about Christmas and when/what was the most memorable Christmas for them. They had different responses but with tears in their eyes they both said, "This Christmas. It's going to be this Christmas because of the changes I've seen in my children. I'm so grateful for the Elders." I can't take any of the credit but it was awesome hearing that. It's incredible to see family's lives being touched and changed. There's no place I'd rather be than on a mission this Christmas.

With the unbelievable feelings I had this week came the opposite. I saw this quote in the MTC from President Brigham Young and it definitely rang true this week. "In everything the Saints may rejoice - I rejoice because I am afflicted. I rejoice because I am poor. I rejoice because I am cast down. Why? Because I shall be lifted up again. I rejoice that I am poor because I shall be made rich, that I am afflicted because I shall be comforted, and prepared to enjoy the felicity of perfect happiness,... it is impossible to properly appreciate happiness except by enduring the opposite."

I'm sure you heard on Wednesday night that I was taken to the ER. I lost at least 10 pounds in the first 20 hours of this sickness and continued to lose weight the following days. I became so dehydrated that I would wake up in the middle of the night because of cramps throughout my body, legs and feet causing me to pry my toes back to get the cramp out, my tongue turned WHITE, and I couldn't stand up straight - grandpa style (doubled over). I was in so much pain, it was unbelievable.
The funny thing throughout this is that I've been studying the Christlike attribute of "Patience" the past two weeks. I quickly learned that patience is much more than just not getting frustrated because of someone taking a long time to do something but enduring opposition without COMPLAINT or growing ANXIOUS. Man was this hard during this sickness. In order to grow in this attribute I had been setting daily goals every morning. At night I would follow-up in my journal and through prayer with how I did. After about 10 days I saw TREMENDOUS growth in myself and felt the assurance that Heavenly Father was pleased with my progress... Then came the ultimate trial. We left the house at about 8pm and didn't get home until 4 in the morning. The entire time I kept quoting scriptures on patience or saying prayers to not "complain" in my head or grow anxious every time the nurse would come in to the hall to call some one's name. It was SO hard, but I think I made some progress. As I'm at the end of the sickness now today, I am ultimately grateful for the sickness. I learned a lot about the enabling power of the atonement. It also highlighted some areas I still need to work on.

This work is INCREDIBLE!! I look forward to talking with y'all on Wednesday! (I only have 40 mins on the phone unfortunately)

Elder Welch


Pictures from Zone Conference this past week:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Enabling Power of the Atonement

Man... I have learned so much on my mission so far. It's the greatest decision I have ever made. I think I could live the rest of my life like this if I just had my family with me. It's the greatest feeling in the world to see people change their lives. I wish you all could meet Mildred. I wrote a little bit about her story about reading The Book of Mormon a couple weeks ago. She's incredible. Before I talk more about her baptism, let me fill you in on a little bit about this week.

I think I started off my mission a little "childish." I was pumped up, beating my chest every time I would look down and finally see a name tag on my lapel. I wanted to live every minute without a regret and just work, work, and work some more. I had a vision in my mind that at the end of these two years, I would sit across from Dad and look him in the eye, being able to tell him that I gave everything. That I held nothing back.
So I started and continued my mission like that. I would study, obey to the "T" and just work. I then had this thought hit me a week ago that was like a dark cloud over my head. The thought was, "If the Savior Himself appeared in the middle of Marietta right now, every person that wasn't prepared... Who's responsibility would that fall on?"
I was sitting at the time and sank in to my chair. The weight of that type of responsibility was overwhelming and I couldn't bear it anymore. I fell to my knees and prayed. The feeling of inadequacy was unbearable. I had thoughts, words I had said, and promptings I had ignored, come rushing back to my memory.
The reason I wanted to write about this is because of an aspect of the Atonement I had never really considered. I had committed sin growing up, bringing me to repentance, and then the incredible feeling of being forgiven. I had experienced all that, including the first few months of my mission, being so grateful for the Atonement. I could be clean! Repentance, when it was done properly, always felt awesome. Anyway, I was repenting of all of these thoughts that were coming back to my head. "I'm sorry for this... I can't believe I didn't go back and talk to this person... Sorry for not calling him... etc"
I continued doing this. It became frustrating though because I wasn't feeling anything. Where was that awesome feeling of forgiveness?
The thought came to read President Uchtdorf's Priesthood conference talk on "Rising Up." After reading it, I fell back to my knees and picked up where I left off on my repentance. Heavenly Father spared me with the answer.
"You can do it now!"
What I never realized until this week was the ENABLING power of the Atonement. To enable somebody to do something or become someone he couldn't do unless he received heavenly help. If I was asked to give a definition on the word/ phrase of "enabling power of the atonement," I would simply say, "to make one 'mighty.'"
Isn't that incredible though? Most of you probably understand that principal but I finally could understand it through experience. The atonement wasn't just suffered for our sins, or our pains and sicknesses, but to enable us to become something we could not otherwise become. To fulfill tasks that are much too large for a 19 year old.
"If the Savior Himself appeared in the middle of Marietta right now, every person who was not prepared to stand before Him, would look to me." Man, the thought still gives me chills. The "feeling" that I was looking for finally came, however. Alone, I can't do this. But "He who sent me is with me..." I can't fail! The final score is already posted on the scoreboard. I just need to invite people to look up, see the scoreboard, and put on the winning team's jersey. I can't begin to tell you the assurance I feel from the authority of my calling when I am out here. I'm not 'mighty' yet, but I'm striving. I like looking at this like a literal mission. A "Search and Rescue" mission. Because this is a matter between life and death- ETERNAL life or death... It makes it fun. I can get off my knees in the morning and jump out of the apartment with a sense of urgency.

I wish I could write more but I invite you to think about conversion at some point this week. Elder Bednar, who also coined the phrase "enable", made a comment that his mission president asked him. "If one of the apostles fell apostate, would that shake your testimony?"
Elder Bednar replied as a young missionary, "Well yeah. Of course. It would shake my testimony but it wouldn't change it."
I was reading in Alma this week about the Anti-Nephi-Lehi's and their conversion. The scriptures continually say, "converted unto the Lord." What makes someone have a testimony vs a conversion? And to take it one more step, "converted unto the Lord?"
The Anti-Nephi-Lehi's are the definitely the answer. To be able to just kneel down on the ground and let people kill you so you wouldn't break your covenant? Are you kidding me! Man. That stuff gets me FIRED UP!

I got to go unfortunately but Myisha is incredible. She sent us this text this week. "I believe I am ready as a daughter of our Heavenly Father. I am a witness, I come to accept these values and I am prepared to strengthen home and family and make sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple and enjoy His blessings."
Are you kidding me?? She's talking about serving a mission now and she's not even baptized yet! She received her witness of The Book of Mormon is true this week. She's another example of being converted unto the Lord. Not to a congregation, missionary or welfare... She's awesome. 
I'll close with a thought Mildred told me yesterday.
"How do you feel now!?"
"He (Christ) has brought me a long way in the last few months... (talking about the death of her husband) I am alone in time, but not in spirit. // I feel like a whole new person. I'm so happy."

I love you all! Y'all are incredible and I can't believe all of the love that I'm receiving from friends and family. I have never been so grateful for things in my life. Your letters, packages, and prayers mean everything to me.

Hope you all have a "White Christmas!" There's no snow here, but it sure will be white! 
Elder Welch

Here are some pictures of Mildred at her baptism: 

Monday, December 9, 2013

To all my friends and family... It's all about the DOCTRINE!

I want to write about probably the most important thing I have learned on my mission so far. I can already see how it will benefit the rest of my life. I'm going to write this kind of like I would in my journal. It will be most time effective.

While I was in the MTC, I saw a talk given by Elder David A. Bednar where he talked all about Doctrine, Principles, and Applications in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He laid the emphasis of his talk however on "Doctrine" and said this concerning it: "The answer is in the Doctrine. ALWAYS the Doctrine." He repeated himself after saying it to make sure everyone heard it. Anyway, I think about this a couple of times each week. The Spirit seems to be trying to tell me something.

Back in March while I was playing basketball in Italy, I had a little bit of a dilemma where I had to make a decision. We had two games on Sunday - the quarterfinals and the semifinals (if we won the first). It was Saturday afternoon when I found out about this news. We were getting ready to play Sweden in about an hour so I pushed the thought aside and started to get ready for the game. Two hours passed away and I found myself back in the locker room with my team again. Our coach was recapping the game and analyzing what we need to keep doing as well as start doing. We had just beat Sweden by twenty points, so everyone felt really good about the game - especially me. I had defended their point guard well and was "feeling it" from beyond the arc. I think I had four threes in the first half.  He then finished it up by telling us about a team dinner that evening and what time he would like us at the game tomorrow... The thought hit me, "No! Tomorrow's Sunday..." I immediately started to panic inside. "What do I do?"
We broke it out as a team and everyone started to walk back to their lockers. I stayed there, later calling every one's attention in the middle of the locker room. "I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Part of being a member includes 'Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy.' Coach, I won't be able to make it tomorrow to the shoot-around in the morning. I also will miss the first half. I will be there to watch the second half but I want to let you know that I won;t be playing tomorrow. Sorry if this may let anyone down but tit's something that feels right and a commitment I have made to always keep."
I got various responses out of different teammates, which opened up a lot of opportunities to share the truths I knew to be true. I found myself, along with four other teammates, still in the locker room about an hour after the game had already ended. Question after question was asked, as I prayed that I would be able to give an acceptable response. I definitely didn't feel comfortable, especially because I looked up to a lot of these guys. They were going to play Division one Big Ten basketball next year. However, the Spirit was with me. This decision just "felt right."
One question kind of stumped me, and not until today, can I finally give an answer that I feel comfortable with. "Why are you going to an Italian church tomorrow, where there will only be Italian people only being able to speak Italian? No one back home will know if you went or not, and besides, you won't even be able to understand anything that's said."
 President Boyd K. Packer once said (it's in PMG now), "True Doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior."

So what is doctrine?
According to Elder Bednar's talk, Doctrine is "truth revealed from God to His children, that will benefit man's eternal progression..." It's never-changing. "It will always answer the "Why?" of the problem/question. I think that is very interesting. Understanding "True Doctrine" always answers the "Why?" and will improve attitudes and behaviors.
Elder Bednar goes on by emphasizing the word "understood." "'True doctrine UNDERSTOOD changes attitudes and behaviors' - but understanding comes through our hearts and minds."

Abinidi in Mosiah ch. 12 preaches to King Noah and his priests that they do not understand The Law of Moses because they "have not applied their hearts to understanding." They could recite off to Abinidi what the Law said, thus understanding in their "mind", but they didn't yet understand it in their "heart." Understanding through you "heart" comes by the Holy Ghost. He will confirm those thoughts that you understand in your head (mind) by the feelings you receive in your heart. The Lord taught this same thing to Oliver Cowdery. See D&C 8:2.

So this makes sense, right? Once we figured out what the "doctrine" is, and after we study it out in our minds, we come before the Lord and ask if it be right. If we feel the Holy Ghost, it's true (Moroni 10:5). If we do not, we've got some more studying to do.

Because I've been thinking and studying this, I decided to apply it to a couple of investigators. I thought, "If they understood what was at stake, they would do these commitments. It they truly understood the "doctrine' of reading the scriptures (WHY we are commanded to study the scriptures), their behavior would change and they would study The Book of Mormon everyday. They would be keeping these commitments."

Jessica would drive me crazy. She would ask us to keep coming back over to teach her or to come to our scripture study every Thursday night, but she wouldn't come to church. She would read and pray when we were with her, but she wouldn't when she was alone. I grew so frustrated with her and felt that it was just a waste of time, that I tried "dropping" her.
Every person we teach, we fill out what is a called a "Teaching Record" which tracks basic personal information, lessons you have taught and how they received those lessons. At the bottom of the piece of paper on the back side is space for you to "drop" an investigator - in other words, stop teaching them. I never enjoy doing this but it needs to be done in order to stay focused and use your time most effective.
I met Jessica back in the first week of September with Elder Peery, tracting. We began teaching her and things were okay. I didn't know exactly what to expect, I was brand new. Anyway, we would invite her to do something (like read the BoM) every lesson and then find out that she didn't do it in our next visit. It was heart-breaking! I would show different emotions in response to her not keeping commitments, to try to "motivate" her in some way. I would pray with her and for her to remember things. We would send her reminders over text or call her at nights.  It got to the point when I felt that she was "wasting" our time. We met her back in September and it was now November. She had read I think two chapters total from The Book of Mormon in two months. We would line up rides everySunday for members to pick her up for church, but she wouldn't wake up. She even would schedule appointments on her own and then cancel when we would finally get to her house on bikes. So, I pulled out her "teaching record" and "tried" dropping her.
To make a long story short, the Spirit wouldn't let me. I seriously couldn't "drop" her. The Spirit hit me after the third time I tried with Elder Bednar's words: "The answer is in the doctrine. Always the Doctrine."
I got ready for bed this third time of a failed attempt of dropping a non-progressing investigator, thinking about Myisha. Why she was progressing so well. She was the same age as Jessica, lived at home with a single mom, had little brothers, graduated high school last year but wasn't starting college until January. I realized how similar they were to each other and then thought how strikingly different their behaviors were to our teaching. Myisha was on FIRE! It hit me again. Jessica doesn't understand the doctrine. She doesn't understand the "why?" where Myisha does.
It became evident the next day when we saw both of them. I asked Myisha why she would read and pray about the BoM (she was almost in Mosiah in 6 days). She said, "If I come to know this book is true, then I know what y'all taught me about Joseph Smith is true. If Joseph Smith was a Prophet, then the Priesthood really was restored. If the Priesthood was restored, I can finally be baptized by the proper authority. And if I'm baptized by that authority, I can live with my family forever. So, I read because I want to live with my family forever."
Talk about music to your ears... Wow.

I wish I could write more about this but I'll close with these thoughts.
Motivational speeches are only effective temporarily because it's only one part of the two parts of understanding. If we understood, truly (mind and heart), our behaviors and attitudes would change. If we understood the "why" behind a principal of the Gospel, our entire character would begin to change.

Well, you know the story - Jessica was later baptized last week. She finally caught a grasp on the doctrine of baptism and confirmation. Myisha, along with her two younger brothers, are also on date now to be baptized in two weeks.

At the time I was in Italy and was faced with this dilemma between going to church or playing in the game, I didn't know what to do. I didn't understand the "why" I should attend an Italian speaking ward on Sunday or "why" I should keep the Sabbath Day holy. All I knew was that it "felt right." I failed to truly understand the doctrine behind these things (Sacrament and Sabbath Day). This time, I understood in my heart, but not my mind. Luckily, for me, I have received the gift of the Holy Ghost, which gift I am incredibly grateful for.

I love this gospel. I love my Savior. I know that He lives and that He understands fully what we are going through. He understood the doctrine of The Plan of Salvation, giving Him with the determined resolution to suffer every pain, to endure every sin, and to literally descend below ALL that is crude and filthy in this world. He knew who He was.  He knew that every living creature depended on His perfect performance. He truly understood that He was the Savior - that He was the ONLY way.

I want to invite all who read this email, to seek to understand the doctrine behind every principle and application of the Gospel. To ask the question, "why?" - Why home home and visit teach? Why should I attend all three hours of church? Why break the bread during the song and not before the meeting? or kneel as you offer the blessing on the Sacrament? Your mind will be opened and enlightened as you seek to understand these eternal truths. Mothers could even apply this to their children.  Instead of saying "because I said so" when a child asks why he should clean his room, or wash the dishes, teach them the doctrine - "Well, it's because it's a commandment of God to honor me, your parent." You may have to go deeper depending on their age and conversion, haha.

It's true. It's so true. Everything in this amazing restored gospel is sound doctrine. It's pure and never-changing. President Monson is the Lord's Prophet. He has called me to serve here and I am beginning to truly understand who I am as a full-time missionary. It's a heavy responsibility, but I have He who is the Greatest of All with me.
I'm Livin' the Dream! And my dream is to baptize the entire world... (after they understand the doctrine...)

I love you family!

Elder Welch

Update from back home in Ohio:
This is Marshall Davis.  He is a senior from Olentangy Liberty who goes to school and played football with Tyler and Matt.  Matt attended the missionary discussions with Marshall who became interested in learning more about the church after attending Tyler's mission farewell.  He was baptized last Saturday (December 7). So awesome!!

Monday, December 2, 2013


This week really testified of 2 Nephi 2:11 - opposition in all things. Holy cow being on a mission is like a roller coaster of emotions... I sometimes have to slap myself to remind me to "Man up!" Haha I've never been so happy in my life. And along with that, I don't think I've ever been so down in my life.

But to start -- Karli's going to HONG KONG!? Haha are you KIDDING ME?? Aghhh man, that's crazy! I totally did call that back in May. It feels good to "brag" right now because I was really drowning in the depths of humility this week. But seriously, that's incredible. Seeing and reading about family and friends doing missionary work and going on missions gets me FIRED UP! I can't believe she's learning Cantonese though. I remember talking to some mandarin missionaries back in the MTC and the only positive thing they could say was, "At least I'm not learning Cantonese..." Yikes! Haha I think there's nine different tones in that language? It's a good thing she can sing. Whoooo, that puts learning Portuguese with the wall every morning to shame.

Anyway, I was thinking a lot about missionaries this morning as we opened up Companion(s)ship Study with the hymn, "In Our Lovely Deseret." So much gratitude came over me for both you mom and dad, all the aunts and uncles, and then Grandma and Grandpa McFerson. I seriously am so thankful to have had the opportunity to have grown up with all of the cousins so close by. My favorite line of the song is, "They are generous and brave, they have many SOULS TO SAVE!" You've got to sing it to the tune. Whooo man, it gets me pumped up and thinking about Jd, Blake, David, and soon Matt (even though he's already killing it with missionary work in Powell right now) out in the field. I was so happy to hear about Blake's call last week.

Anyway, on to this week:  JESSICA GOT BAPTIZED!
So let me write down two things she wrote on a piece of paper to our mission president.
"I testify He's true because before I met the missionaries, I was on the wrong path doing the wrong things. But Jesus Christ sent me the Elders which changed me completely. I know through reading your scriptures and attending church, He will always be there for you and forgive and love you. No matter what."

"I was sitting at the bus stop one day with my friend and two elders approached us (Elder Welch and Elder Peery). They gave us a card and invited us to church. At first, I didn't take it serious because I guess I wasn't ready to change but as I saw the motivation of the missionaries and their continuous effort to not give up on me. I realized it was really time for me to take that step and listen to them and change... I knew that Jesus Christ sent the Elders to me... Months later, I have changed... I got baptized and it was a wonderful feeling being closer to God! I had many feelings of nervousness and happiness, but at the end I am happy with my decision and I know God is too! :)"

Man... No joy matches that of bringing a soul unto Him. This work is His work. I am so happy. Thank you all for your continuous support.  

Elder Welch