Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Week Twelve - Happiness

We get an email from ELOV every week on p-day - an audio file. I listen to it then transcribe what he says (depending on how long it is determines if transcribing takes one or two days.) Bonus for me: transcribing his words lets me understand more than just hearing. The nice thing about audio is I get to hear his voice and inflections more than just reading an email. (Abstract me: audio is three dimensional whereas email is two dimensional.) Here are some things Elder Lovgren said this week:
  • Hey-yo! It's Elder Lovgren here and it's week three of transfer two. I'm half way done with my second transfer - time's flying!! I love you guys! I love my mission! I've seen and felt the most joy on my mission so far this week - by far! This gospel makes me so happy and I cannot wait to tell you all the amazing things that happened this week.
  • Guys, I had my first baptism on Saturday! *I* baptized [our investigator]! So spiritual! Best day of my life! Best day of [his] life! It was the best! 
  • Our purpose as missionaries is to invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end.
  • We invite, and we help. That's all we do. To know that we have a Savior, God is real, they both love us, there's a purpose in this life, and we're eternal beings brings meaning to life. 
Not Where's Waldo? But Where's Elder Lovgren?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Week Eleven - Truly a Missionary

Andrew's message home this week was entirely spiritual. He's completely immersed in missionary work and it shows in everything he says:
  • It Will Help Me
    Something I'm doing is giving up one thing about myself every day. (Little things like allowing my companions to shower before me or planning to do my laundry so it doesn't interfere with studies)

    Sacrifice Brings Blessings

    Giving up things is stretching me from the circle I created for myself - the little bubble I formed for myself - and I see myself pushing farther and farther away from it. It's like a little bird that hops farther and farther away from the nest and it's father says, "If you spread your wings you can fly." (It's cheesy but I know you love it, Mom.) I've been in the nest but by me leaving, I can be like the Father.

    Sacrifice Brings Perspective
    Giving up things gives me perspective. I think "What am I gonna do when I get home? What am I gonna do today? What am I gonna do tomorrow? Who am I gonna marry one day? How are my parents doing at home?" but I don't have to answer the questions because the Lord is preparing for it all to happen. What links my faith is the hope that He'll make it perfect (even things I haven't dreamed of.)

    Spirituality is Most Important
    I love this gospel so much. I know personal prayer is essential to conversion. As a missionary, this is my life: study the scriptures (they're my iPhone), think about doctrine, and consider uplifting spiritual things. (If you think about it, spirituality is what this life is all about - we're spiritual beings living in a temporal world.) Our spirits will all have immortality because of Christ coming to earth and sacrificing his life for us. He gave us the ability to live forever, but its up to us to choose to have more than immortality - to have eternal life and live in the presence of God. To me, that makes so much sense and I want people to know that.

    Why Spirituality?
    Why would I want people to know that? Why would I want them to read The Book of Mormon? Why would I want them to pray? Because from the bottom of my heart I know it's all from God. God is literally putting His arm out and saying, "I am right here. This is all for you (Christ, His atonement.) You're all my children and I love you all very much. I want you all to come to me."

    Change Brings So Much More
    This is why I'm here being a missionary. I know I've been called to Irvine because there are people here who need to hear this - there are things in their lives they don't like. There were things in my life that I didn't like before I came out on my mission, and I've seen my life change (my self-control, my willingness, my happiness, how much I smile, and how interactive I am with people.) It's not the mission that did it but Christ. God reached His hand out and I humbled myself before Him. I came to him with a broken heart and contrite spirit (humble), gave up the things dearest to my heart, and said, "Paint me as who you want me to be." I've experienced many blessings because of it and I think "Wow! I'm becoming so much more than I was."  
Candid shot of Elder Lovgren playing ping-pong

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Week Ten - And The Work Goes On

Missionaries sometimes have fun on p-days!
  • What's up fam, this is Elder Lovgren and it is week...I don't even know what week it is! Right now I'm at a zone barbecue. We're at a member's house and we've got ping-pong going in the back, basketball, and these things called crazy karts (that are these little electronic karts you drive around and drift, so we're drifting around the cul-de-sac!) The kid of the family has a golf cart, and he was pulling me - I was skitching the back of the golf cart - super crazy!! 
And you never know whats gonna happen:
  • This week has been a ride for sure because we had an emergency exchange. One of the AP Elders' mom is in the hospital, in a medically induced coma...One of my two companions is gonna be companion (for a week) to the other AP and now I have one companion for the next week instead of two. It's been a lot to handle...On Thursday one of my companions dipped.
But missionary work continues:
  • On Friday night we got a call, "Hey Elders do you mind talking in church?" Now I'm stressing out about talking in church on why and how to share the gospel. I fasted (my testimony of fasting is so true! Fasting works.)  On Saturday from 2:00 in the afternoon to 9:00 at night (minus a couple of meals) I wrote my talk. (I remember praying "Please please please let this talk work" because my brain was kind of fried.) I got a weird rough draft done then went to sleep. The next morning I could really feeling the spirit like "Everything is gonna be fine." 

    At Sacrament Meeting four of our investigators were there. I was sitting on the stand looking at those new faces knowing my talk was about missionary work. I got up to give my talk and remember feeling joy (everything I'd been through that week washed away.) I remember praying "Please allow the spirit to speak through me. That's all I have. I've only read this talk twice and don't want to look like I'm reading it. I really want to be powerful and I want people to listen to why missionary work purifies us and is truly a gift from God."

    Before my talk a young guy sang "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" and it was the most beautiful version of the song I've ever heard. It was beautiful. I remember standing at the podium and saying, "This gospel makes me so happy." I stood there smiling then gave my talk and saw one of our investigators crying. A couple members (who had fed us dinner) were smiling. I looked at my paper maybe 10 times. It was a miracle! Somehow the words I had written spoke straight through me and I didn't have to look down but looked out into the crowd.

    It was really powerful, quiet in the room, and I felt so much joy. Afterwards people came up and said it was a really good talk, how pumped they were for the missionaries in the ward, and how excited they were to do missionary work. I was like "This is it. Everything that happened this week leads to this."

A family, Elder Lovgren, and Elder Cannon at the Newport Beach Temple

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Week Nine - End of First Transfer

It's incredible to realize Andrew being gone for two months and already in California for six weeks but the first transfer in California (six weeks) just got completed. He's staying in Irvine for six more weeks then might be transferred somewhere else.

Missionary work in California continues and each week brings something new. Andrew's thoughts for this week are:
  • This week has been pretty busy. It seems like each week there's something to learn. I can't really explain it. I can't say this week was good or hard because every day is both good and hard. But I'm always happy on p-day.
  • I've pondered a lot about obedience, the entire plan of happiness, and how we have agency. Agency is everything. Our entire purpose is to be agents unto ourselves. The reason our lives are a certain way is because of the choices we make - it's as simple as that and it's a beautiful thing! We need to know that life can be good, happy, and bring forth fruit (cause blessings) because of making good choices. Nothing can stop me if I always focus on Christ. 

    When I make good choices that are His will the fruits (blessings) will always come. Every time I think impure thoughts, or about things in the past hard things beat me down, but praying, forgetting about the past, and focusing on Christ ALWAYS makes me feel better. It's true and I can't deny it.
  • I feel solid about being the missionary I want to be and it's about being obedient. There's a line in the middle and on one side is darkness and on the other side is light. When you make an obedient choice you move toward the light and when you make a disobedient choice you move toward the darkness - it's as simple as that. I want Christ always in my life.
Elders Cannon, CedeĊ„o, and Lovgren enjoying the 4th of July