Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One of the Frozen Chosen

s always, this week was craziness. Thursday morning Elder
Tengelsen and I drove down to Edmonton for Christmas Zone
Conference. I am becoming a bonafide pro at driving in the
snow. Zone conference was really fun. I got to see one of my
MTC companions, Elder Meacham (he flew down from
Yellowknife) and I didn't realize until I saw him how
excited I was to talk to him again. We ate dinner together
and spent all of our break time filling each other in on our
areas. We also had like a little musical program and Elder
Tengelsen and I sang "Elder, It's Cold
Outside" ha. It was a hit and it was really great to
perform for the first time in forever.

Looking through all the emails I sent, I've concluded
that while I'm telling lots of stories, I'm not
sharing enough spiritual experiences with you.

To be honest, the days before Zone Conference were
extremely difficult for me. That week was my first real
challenge. I was really homesick, we didn't have anyone
to teach, and accounting to my Heavenly Father every night,
I started to feel like I wasn't doing a good enough job.
I was struggling with feelings of inadequacy, like I
wasn't becoming the missionary I am supposed to be fast
enough or something. And it started to affect my confidence.
When someone would answer their door, I would feel like
running in the other direction. I stumbled over my words and
got shy during teaching. My personality and character
weren't coming through in my missionary work. It all
kind of freaked me out. Every night I thought "What in
the world is going on? This is not me." But I
couldn't figure out what I needed to change in order to
keep progressing, because it felt like I was sliding down
this spiral that I've never experienced before. Elder
Rowley, self-conscious? Shy? Nervous around people? What?

All of this is why I was so glad to have my interview with
President Rhodes. It took about five seconds for me to start
crying (shocker) and I just expressed everything to him and
how I didn't understand why I was feeling like this
because it simply did not reflect any part of me. And his
counsel fixed everything I was feeling. I wrote it in my
journal so I will never forget. Here's what he said:

"Elder Rowley, you are a son of God. You must never
forget the reality of that statement. Heavenly Father has
called you to this mission for a very specific reason, to
find specific people and bring them to the gospel. He has
blessed you indescribably with unique talents, abilities,
and character that others don't possess to help you
fulfill your purpose and your call. I promise you that as
you continue to do your very best and abide by the
principles in Preach My Gospel, you will become the
missionary Heavenly Father intends for you to be. Any and
all doubts and fears you may have will leave. Never forget
you are a son of God."

It was exactly what I needed to hear. It is so vitally
important for each of us to remember our individual worth in
the sight of God. And that is one of the things I'm here
to proclaim to the people of Fort McMurray. Heavenly Father
loves each of us SO much more than the mind can comprehend.
He understands exactly how we are feeling. He knows our
strengths and weaknesses and the desires of our hearts. All
He wants is for us to return to live with Him. He has
provided us the way, the path and the life back to Him.
Always remember that each of us is, in every literal sense
of the word, a son or daughter of our Heavenly Father. Each
of us has been blessed with innumerable spiritual gifts.
That is something huge that I re-learned this week.

Since we couldn't drive back to Fort Mac Friday night,
we got special permission to go to the Edmonton Temple that
night. I was so excited because I had missed going to the
temple SOOO much these past few weeks. The temple really is
my favorite place to be. And the session was amazing. The
Edmonton Temple is a mini-temple just like Reno and there
were only like 8 people including us in the session. I love
the temple. I seriously can't say that enough.

So everything else has been going really well since then.
Elder Tengelsen and I are getting a massive response from
the members for Living Christmas Cards. At this rate we will
end up doing around 70 by Christmas. And it so wonderful to
share the gospel as I sing to the friends of the members. It
was seriously the one thing I missed the most last year -
not getting to go around with Mrs. Snow and sing to people.

Oh before I forget this is REALLY IMPORTANT. I'm so
sorry I seem to ask for something every week but I asked
President Rhodes about acceptable music and he said that it
was up to my judgement as long as it was 1. spiritual and 2.
reverent. The two artists I immediately thought of were 1.
Adrienne and 2. Hilary Weeks. So Mom, Dad, and Adrienne can
you send me as many church cds as you can get your hands on
with the rest of the stuff? I know some are just in my room
with the stacks of my CDs or Dad could you burn me copies or
something? If possible I would really love
-All the Hilary Weeks CDs
-Everything Adrienne has recorded (Esp. You Stayed and the
new one if you have it :))
-All my EFY CDs (in the stacks or Alex has them...I know my
Look and Live CD busted in half)
Thank you so so much. All we have is instrumental music and
its starting to drive me a little cuckoo haha.

Well I think that's all for this week. Thank you for
your prayers. I know that Heavenly Father is strengthening
me through the prayers of others because I could not be
doing this on my own.

Love
One of the Frozen Chosen,

Elder Rowley

Busy Week!

Hi!! It's been such a busy week. Ok first though, I got
a letter from one of the sisters in my MTC District who said
the letters to the boys and the Arvizus came back to the MTC
the day I left for Canada because I once again forgot to put
stamps on the envelopes. Sorry! Im so scatterbrained. But I
will write them again today. Promise.

And Mom and Dad, the package from you was waiting for me
last Wednesday when I got home from emailing you! Thank you
thank you thank you! The presents are all lined up right
under the tree Gramma sent. :)

Ok so, as the title of my email suggests, it has been a
total week of firsts here in Fort McMurray. One of the
coolest things was that I saw the Northern Lights for the
first time this week! Seriously they were the most beautiful
thing ever. None of the pics I got did them justice in real
life. Another first was that we had to plug the car in
overnight for the first time so it would start in the
morning. Yeah.

One of the most interesting and unique phenomenons that
happened to me this week was that I felt the inside of my
nose freeze. Yes. It's so cold that when you take a
breath through your nose, your nose hairs freeze. It's
seriously the weirdest feeling in the world.

We did a bunch of service last Saturday for a couple
less-active/part-member families in the wards. One of them
involved hanging drywall on a ceiling. To start off with,
you all probably know that I had absolutely no idea what
drywall looked like, nor did I know how heavy it was to put
on a ceiling haha. And keep in mind that its of course
freezing cold in this trailer addition because theres
obviously no heater. So Elder Tengelsen, Bro. Keyworth, and
I put up the first 5 ft piece and I'm like "OK that
wasn't too bad..." And then we get to this 12 ft
piece of drywall thats like 110 lbs. And here's the
funny part. Because I'm so short I obviously
couldn't reach the ceiling, so I had a little stool but
even with the stool I still wasn't tall enough, so I was
on my very tip toes to reach the ceiling. So we get it up
and I'm like "Oh this is a lot freaking
harder..." And then Brother Keyworth realizes he left
the drill on the other end of the trailer, so he's like
"Elder Rowley can you hold onto this?" And I say
yes because what else am I supposed to say?? And Elder
Tengelsen is trying to work on a corner or something,
I'm basically holding this huge thing of drywall up to
the ceiling by myself. On a stool, on my tiptoes. Just
imagine that for a second. I felt like Atlas. Seriously. The
next morning it honestly felt like I had gotten run over by
a truck ha.

Um yesterday, the HIGH was -34 celsius. I'm not sure
what that is in F, (I do know they meet at -40) but for the
first time the question realistically crossed my mind that
it might be possible for a human to actually freeze to
death. We can't stay outside for very long because we
can get frostbite. I'm so grateful I have the Lord's
protection because I completely know that I would not be
able to do this without Him constantly watching over me.
I've really noticed so many changes in myself already.
This week in companionship inventory Elder Tengelsen said he
admires that I never complain especially since I apparently
look so miserable. I honestly hadn't even thought of it
before he said anything. But Heavenly Father is keeping my
mind at peace and I'm not even THINKING negatively, much
less saying anything.

As far as teaching, this week has been more difficult than
the past 2 because we lost both of our main investigators,
Ashley and Sean, and it's been an uphill battle finding
new people to teach. One thing I'm working at overcoming
is how much I don't like tracting. It's so weird but
I get so nervous and stumble over my words whenever someone
answers the door. It's just something I don't like
to do, but I think I will get better with practice.

We found a man named Wenceslao this week. He is from
Guatemala and he was going back there Tuesday (yesterday),
which seems to be a reccuring pattern here ha, but he let us
in right away and wanted us to teach him. The most immediate
problem was that Wenceslao didn't speak any English. My
first thought was "Evelyn would be so mad at me right
now for not knowing the lessons in Spanish." haha. But
We got through a rough lesson on the Book of Mormon in
Spanish and set a return appt where we could bring a Spanish
speaking member. The return lesson went so well and
Wenceslao said he wanted to meet missionaries when he got
home. He said the Book of Mormon made total sense and that
the other churches didnt believe in it because they just
didn't know about it. :) It's amazing to see people
so prepared for the gospel.

All the other people we've taught have only been first
lessons so there's nothing much else to report. Oh
except one thing we are doing this month is called Living
Christmas Cards. It's so fun and I get to sing!! Members
refer their friends and we go over with a plate of cookies,
a Joy to the World DVD, and sing them a carol and read a
scripture. So far, they've been a smash with the members
and we are getting referrals left and right.

Mom, could you send me some stuff when you have time? I
could really use my Brooke White T-Shirt, another sweatshirt
of mine, and another pair of pj pants. Just whenever you
have time to send them.

I love you all and I'm so sorry I've been lax on
letter but I promise I will send some today.

Love,

Elder Rowley

"What is impossible for you is possible with God's
help in His service."
President Eyring

First Baptism

Ok wow so much has happened this week I'll have to type
fast. The biggest news is that WE HAD OUR FIRST BAPTISM on
Saturday. Ashley got baptized!!! It was so amazing. I got to
be a witness, say the closing prayer, and be in her
confirmation circle. It was such a good weekend. Oh and
also, Sean left for Korea on Sat. which was sad but we
taught him every single day last week before he left and I
committed him to baptism. He said he would find the
missionaries as soon as he got to Korea. It has been such an
amazing experience to see him become truly converted to the
gospel. And in such a short amount of time too! He was so
ready to hear the gospel, all we had to do was find him.

Well, as I'm sure you're all wondering, it just
keeps getting colder. Today it is -27 with wind chill.
I'm not gonna lie I am freezing every single minute of
every single day. But I'm still alive haha. Basically, I
wear my thermal garments, regular thermals, slacks, shirt,
tie, sweater, coat, hat gloves and a scarf every day.
It's a challenge because I'm starting to look like
Randy from A Christmas Story "I can't put my arms
down!" hahaha. Speaking of scarves, Mom could you send
me all the scarves I didn't bring, because I can wear
them. They don't have to be solid colors. Gramma I got
your package! Thank you thank you thank you! I think my
companion was a bit jealous ha. The stocking is amazing. I
love it. And I totally lost it when I saw the back of it.
But hey, I lasted a month without crying so that's
pretty good right? In other news, (and I think this is a
little bit of a secret) President Rhodes has asked Elder
Tengelsen to start my "district leader training".
So I get to run the district meeting tomorrow and hes
teaching me how to do all of it.
One fun thing that happened this week was we got to do
exchanges with the zone leaders - Elder Kipp and Elder
McCarty. Elder Kipp served in Ft. Sascatchewan for like 9
months so he knows Brent, and Elder McCarty is from
Kaysville so he knows Abe's whole family! It was really
neat. Oh and also, Elder Kipp is from Sparks. Crazy right?
SO I went with Elder McCarty and we talked to this woman and
she said she was "born again Christian, going straight
to heaven and all that." When we asked her if we could
teach her she said "No you cant." And then as like
an aside she said " You Mormons are a false cult you
are." To which Elder McCarty responded "Well
ma'am that's not a very nice thing to say." It
totally stopped her dead in her tracks and made her look so
rude ha. She just walked into her house without a word. Kill
em with kindness right?

Well I think that's pretty much it. Oh except Mom and
Dad you can totally email me pictures because I can open
them and print them off on the library comps we use. If you
could send me a bunch of fam pictures, esp the ones we took
at the temple of all of us that would be great.

I LOVE YOU!!!!

Elder Rowleyrty is from Kaysville so he knows Abe's
whole family! It was really neat. Oh and also, Elder Kipp is
from Sparks. Crazy right? SO I went with Elder McCarty and
we talked to this woman and she said she was "born
again Christian, going straight to heaven and all
that." When we asked her if we could teach her she said
"No you cant." And then as like an aside she said
" You Mormons are a false cult you are." To which
Elder McCarty responded "Well ma'am that's not
a very nice thing to say." It totally stopped her dead
in her tracks and made her look so rude ha. She just walked
into her house without a word. Kill em with kindness right?

Well I think that's pretty much it. Oh except Mom and
Dad you can totally email me pictures because I can open
them and print them off on the library comps we use. If you
could send me a bunch of fam pictures, esp the ones we took
at the temple of all of us that would be great.

I

Happy Birthday Mom!

Ok first off, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHELLEY TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are
having Thanksgiving up here with a member fam from
California, so that will be good :) I do only check my email
once a week every Wednesday, just so you know. Let's
see...I got Sister Boyack's letter, I love her! I never
did get Sheri's letter, but maybe they forwarded it to
the mission office or something. But I did open my inbox
today with a bazillion emails ha, so I'm trying to
remember everything to answer. We have dinner appts almost
every night. Those have been sometimes amazing, sometimes
terrifying. On Saturday we ate dinner at a members house,
they were both environmental scientists... We had lettuce
and tomato salad with orange juice/softboiled egg dressing.
Yes. With salmon (Thank goodness) and this weird squash
stuff that tasted literally like vomit. I almost died ha.
Like really I was praying so freaking hard. Other times
it's really good, but either way I love teaching the
members. I'm staying warm and driving is going good.
Except for my wonderful sense of direction ha. This will
surprise none of you but my companion said to me today
"Elder Rowley you have the most fascinating mind. You
can remember names and faces better than anyone I've
ever met but you never have any idea where you are."
haha. Ft. McMurray is a very confusing town. And it's
all so different from St. George like I can't even tell
you. Just complete opposite of everything I'm used to
ha. Oh and the boys need to set up email accounts ASAP. ALEX
GOT HIS LICENSE!!! AHH! Have fun Al!

This week has been crazy. WE are so BUSY as missionaries.
Since we are both brand new, we knew NO ONE when we got here
so have had to meet all the ward leaders this week and
remember who is who ha. The members are awesome. They are
definitely in the minority even moreso than in Carson I
think, so the active members are all very strong. However
there are 3 inactive or less active houses for every active
one here in Ft. Mac. So there is definitely a ton of work to
be done with the less actives. We are teaching tons.
Teaching is definitely really fun. We actually have a
baptism this saturday for Ashley, the girl who the old
missionaries were working with! I'm excited.

Fort Mac is so incredibly diverse, I was honestly shocked.
For example, out of all the investigators we found and
taught this week, Ashley is the only Canadian and her native
language is French. Here are some of the other
investigators:

Shadrac: We went to Shadrac's house looking for a
former investigator who had moved, but Shadrac invited us in
and let us teach him and his roommates - Ayom and John. They
are from Sudan, how sweet right? At first Shadrac was a
little cautious to talk to us but then something way funny
happened and Dani you will get a kick out of this: We went
downstairs where his roommates were and they were playing
music on their laptop. The song that was on was Sim Simma by
I think Shabba Ranks but I'm not sure ha. Anyways,
it's this way black reggaeton song that Brent gave me
last year, not something you think I would listen to, and I
guess I was kind of singing along with the song and Shadrac
stopped and looked at me and was like "You know this
song brotha?" And I was like "Oh yeah I love this
song!" to which he replied "Well then you teach me
whatever you want and I will listen." Apparently it
made me legit haha. So we taught him the Plan of Salvation
and a return appt. It was good for me because he kind of
focused on me the majority of the time so I taught alot of
the lesson. Oh the things that open doors ha.

Sean: We street contacted sean last week outside the city
building. He is from South Korea and he's been in Fort
McMurray for a couple of months. And sadly, he actually
moves back to Seoul on Friday because his visa expires, but
here is the story. His English is...ok but there was
definitely a communication barrier at first. We met with him
last Friday at the library and taught him about the
Restoration. He was totally receptive and said he had been
looking for a true religion in his life for years but had
never found what he felt was exactly right. But that he knew
this was right. He said that during our very first
discussion! So he committed to come to church and he came
and he loved it. On Sunday it was amazing because he asked
the member who gave him a ride on the way over if there were
any other Asians who went to the Church, and there are
definitely not. But at 10:00 a couple of guys from South
Korea, a member and a nonmember friend he brought, walked
into the chapel. How amazing right? Apparently Jason, the
member had moved here a couple weeks ago and just decided to
stop by the church to see what time sacrament was. It was
totally an answer to prayer. They totally connected with
Sean and it made him feel so comfortable. He loved Church
and we taught him on Monday and Tuesday. Yesterday I
committed him to baptism and he said he will find the
missionaries the second he gets to Korea to prepare to be
baptized. When he prays its seriously so amazing because he
has these really simple heartfelt prays that are so sincere.
In just one week he has been converted and yesterday he said
to us that he wishes he wasnt going back to Korea because
now hes found what hes been looking for. He stays up late
reading the Book of Mormon and says he brings it everywhere
he goes.

We also have a few other investigators, Mark from Poland,
Yvonne from Nigeria (I think), Javier from Peru who we are
committing to baptism this week, Tommy from S. Korea, and
Chaitee from India. Those are the main ones right now. But
it is seriously such a blast. We had 4 investigators at
church on Sunday. The work is definitely progressing and we
are working really hard. Heavenly Father is blessing us so
much in our work every day. I wish I could tell you every
single detail but I'm out of time. I love you all. The
church is true.

Love

Elder Rowley

D&C 46: 40-43 (I think. I dont have my scriptures but
it starts with 'And this is the gospel...")

PS. EMAIL ME!!!!!

PSS. Mom will you start forward these to Mr. Saxton and
Mrs. Snow, please? And Ms. Stucki, thank you! Oh and to
mattmehr@gmail.com & shawnrm08@gmail.com They were my
MTC teachers.

PSSS. Dani are you alive ha?

PSSSS. No, I havent gotten a package yet but I'm sure
it's coming. Thank you :) ILYE

I wish I could email everyone seperately but I just
don't have enough time. I'm writing letters today
though to everyone. Sorry boys you didnt get your letters, I
will rewrite them.