It was great to get your emails! I've been doing good, it feels like this last 2 weeks have been a total flash. There is kind of a myth in the mission about the "Rocky Mountain Curse" that whoever serves as ZLs in the Rocky Mountain Zone that the time just flies unusually fast...I'm pretty sure that's coming true:) Elder Bradley just hit his year mark last Friday and I came out 1 transfer behind him...I've got about a month yikes!
I am soo happy to hear about the football program up there and everything that coach Pauloa is doing about it. He truly knows how to unify a team and bring them together. That was kinda touching to hear about the story of the Varsity going over and pumping up the 8th graders, how cool is that! It does my heart good to hear that Garrett is involved in that. And way to go about being the starting QB Garrett! Elder Bradley was the starting QB through HS and is going to play at a college in California after his mission.
Thank you for your words of encouragement for being healthy. I'm doing my best. I look forward to a time when I can workout whenever I want and people aren't pushing me to eat...just imagine being fed a full home cooked meal every night and it's annoying how people expect missionaries to just be bottomless pits - lol. Enough words on that, it's time to just stand up for being healthy whether people like it or not.
Don't ever let Satan make you think that God doesn't love you. "God is our Loving Heavenly Father" is the first thing that we teach people as missionaries. It is the foundational principle upon which all other aspects of faith build. As I have taught people, whether they be investigators or less-active members of the church, I have observed that until they let this knowledge sink into their perspective on life they do not progress to either make or renew covenants with God. He is our Father, we are his children! Christ preformed the Atonement for each of us...no one was excluded. I would still encourage and plead for you to read that book: "The Infinite Atonement", I promise it will grow your testimony and understanding of the Atonement and that God loves all of us. Read your Patriarchal Blessing. If reading our scriptures and praying are commandments from God, and to sin means to break a commandment that God has given us...then it is a sin not to read our scriptures or pray (or pay tithing, fast offerings, church, temple, sharing the gospel or whatever). To "sin" has a very negative connotation and it is important that we aren't too hard on ourselves if we don't do those things as consistently as we should. God is patient. It is also crucial that we never stop trying to do better at those things. There is a reason that doing those basic "seminary answer" things are so emphasised...because they lead us to be happy, and to become what God needs us to become. We can put our faith in that. Remember that you are right where God needs you. I have talked to missionaries who feel that God doesn't need them as much as other missionaries because they have not served in "leadership positions". That viewpoint doesn't come from God.
Elder Bradley and I are super busy with meetings and extra responsibilities but we are still teaching a lot. Last week we taught 29 lessons! The Zone right now has 11 people on date for baptism! Sunday morning we had to wake up at 4:30 to be to a stake meeting in Columbine by 6:00 :/ fun stuff! Tomorrow night we'll be driving up to Frisco to do exchanges with the Elders in the mountains and be at their District Meeting. Most of our teaching right now is with less active members (20 of our lessons last week). We are trying to increase the size of our teaching pool for investigators and the best way to do that is through the LARCs (less active/recent converts) because they often have more friends who aren't members.
Last night we were trying to contact this referral, Brent, and we knocked on the door of the address given and a middle-eastern man answered the door and before we could say anything he said in a very fast voice "I am sleepy and I am tired" we asked him if he was Brent and he said no and then shut the door. He looked scared. We knocked the door under him and it ended up being Brent (we have a return appointment!). As we were talking with Brent the middle eastern man came running downstairs, took a picture of us and ran back upstairs...kind of sketchy - lol.
I feel like it is hard to communicate all that I want to and how I want to through email but I hope everyone knows that things are going well for me, I am learning a lot, I love serving and teaching, and I am happy. Each of you truly have a meaningful and special place in my heart. I really mean that. I love you all and I look forward to seeing you when that time comes! Make this a week where you grow and learn.
Your Son and Brother,
Elder W. Marks