Semana 63: This Is the Way

Howdy y’all! 

It’s been a little bit since I’ve sent out a nice, juicy weekly email. Welp, I’m stuck in bed all day today because I caught the stomach flu so I thought I’d crank out this bad boy telling y’all about some experiences I’ve had the past few weeks. The subject for this email comes from 2 Nephi 31:21, which President Guthrie is having us memorize in preparation for Zone Conference this week. I love this scripture! 

I’m here in Kemah still, I’ve been here almost 2 months. I’m still with Elder Haymore. We have lots of fun together (don’t worry, not too much). We’ve been working really hard, sometimes it feels like there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done that we’d like to/need to, so I’ve really learned the importance of effective planning. Plus, President Guthrie lately has really taken the mission towards a planning-focus, which has been really good for me. For any of you that know me, you know that I’m a much more “do it in the moment, live life on the edge” kinda person so it’s been humbling to learn and apply the divine principles of planning in this great work. 

We are working with a lady named Eva. Eva is here from Mexico on a workers visa making some mula. She moved in with a member family a few months ago, and that’s when we started teaching her. Well, about 3 weeks ago she moved out of the member’s home into an apartment with a couple other ladies that she works with. Thankfully, we’ve still been able to meet with her regularly and help her start gaining a testimony of the Restored gospel. I have a strong feeling that Eva will choose to be baptized soon.

On the note of baptisms, I think that it is so interesting to note the regional differences in baptisms across the world. For example, down in Brasil (shot out to Elder Roberts) they dunk like it’s a Harlem Globetrotters marathon. Mexico and Africa aren’t super far behind either. Whereas in places like Europe, it’s much more difficult to help someone enter the waters of baptism. Obviously, there could be a bunch of explanations for why we see this difference. I just think it shows that there’s still so much work to do before the second coming of the Savior. ALSO, on that note, it’s crazy because Houston is like the most diverse city in the United States. Seriously, this place is sooo cool. So you have some areas that baptize a lot because they cover a lot of diverse backgrounds. Whereas you have some areas out in the boonies that have a much harder time because there is so many options for organized religion hahaha. I don’t know, I just find it fascinating. 

A sweet miracle we’ve seen since I arrived here is the building of trust with the members of the branch. Some previous missionaries had done some things that broke down a lot of the trust with them, and made it difficult to work with together. Well, our entire focus my first transfer here was to build up trust with by showing how much we care and love them and boy has that led to some awesome fruits! We now get approached by members who ask us to start teaching their friends, or who need help with a sensitive issue, and I’m just like dang these people are amazing. In just 2 months we’ve managed to really turn around the work here in this area. I’m so grateful that the Lord puts me in situations where my faith is tested and strengthened. 

I’ll be totally honest, I have had lots of ups and downs on my mission. As many of you know, I struggle with anxiety. Before my mission, I was so worried about coming out here and not being able to handle the stress. There was even a time where I thought it might stop me from serving a mission but I had to put my faith in the Lord. My faith has truly been tested with the some of the things I have experienced the past 14 months, I am absolutely positive that Ether 12:27 in the Book of Mormon is a life-changing principle. Being a weak servant of the Lord, I was worried that I’d never be able to be a strong disciple of Christ like many of my friends and family are. But as I have gone to the Lord in prayer, he has made many of my weaknesses become strengths. I’m a first-hand witness of the power of the Atonement!

I’d like to share a really cool experience I had about 2 weeks ago. I was sitting in the apartment, and all of the sudden I kind of started panicking about something small. I prayed to the Lord to deliver me so that I could work effectively that day. However, I continued to be worried and anxious for the next 15 minutes or so. I laid down, attempting to take a nap to maybe “reset” my mind. Then, I had a scripture enter my mind, I can’t remember the reference but it simply is “Be still, and know that I am God.” All of the sudden, the anxiety was gone. A light entered my life at that moment that has continued ever since. I have been much more patient and obedient since that experience. I know that God allows us to struggle so that we can learn to rely on Him.

What a Conference! I loved how making Christ a priority was such a prevalent theme. Also shout out to my homie Sister Craig, her talk was amazing! My favorite talk had to be Elder Vinson’s, the dope Australian Seventy. I have learned a lot about diligence out here on the mission, and his talk just resonated with me. Living the Gospel isn’t a “one-foot-in, one-foot-out” kind of experience. Cmon this isn’t the Hokie Pokie. You gotta go all in! 

Well, this has been a fat email. Congratulations if you made it this far! I bear my testimony of the Plan of Salvation. I know that God has a plan for each of His children. I invite you to pray to Him to know that plan, and he will reveal it unto you as you keep His commandments. The Gospel is true, it is one of love, and I love the Gospel with all my heart. It has changed me eternally. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 
Love y’all, have a great week! 
– Elder Saunders

Here are some pics.

Semana 55: Houston, we have a problem

Howdy y’all! 

YES I’VE BEEN WAITING MY ENTIRE MISSION TO USE THAT SUBJECT!! Read 2 paragraphs down to understand. Prayers truly get answered. Anyways. 
Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve sent an email. I’ve been going through an interesting part of my mission and really don’t even know how to explain it. But I’m doing really well right now. Last Monday I was transferred to the Kemah branch. I’ll be working in another branch! I’m actually super stoked because this area seems AWESOME for me. The Elders haven’t baptized in something like 2-3 years so President sent me here to figure out why that is. We’re going to tear this area apart (in a good way). 
This area also has NASA!!!!! I live like 10 minutes away from it!! We also have this place called the Kemah Boardwalk (which we aren’t allowed to visit), the Texas City Bucees which is HUUUGE (Donald Trump voice [sorry if you have no clue what Bucees is, it’s the closest think to the Celestial kingdom in mortality 🤷‍♂️]), and we have Galveston in our zone. I’m loving my time here. 
Some other updates: 
– I finally hit my year one year mark on my mission! I actually have less than 11 months left at this point. I get home July 13th of next year so mark yo calendarios
– Our mission became famous 
– We baptized Hilda back in Brazoria
– I’m still a district leader but I’m totally happy with that. Any other leadership calling means less time spent working the area. 
– My new companion is Elder Haymore from Grantsville, Utah. He just got out of training so I’m having a fun time “breaking him”. He was trained by my good friend Elder Underwood who I was Companions with for 2 weeks and we both spent our first 6 months together in the same ward. But I am learning a lot from Elder Haymore and he is such a blessing.
– I’ve learned to heavily rely on the Lord to strengthen me and to help me overcome any fear which I face. At this point of my mission, I just wanna work my butt off. 
A cool experience that happened this past week is that we knocked into a man named Fernando. Fernando is from Guanajuato, Mexico (shout out to Elder Freebourn’s grandma) and has been here for about 17 years. He sat us down and asked us to teach him, so we did just that. We taught him the message of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and how through the prophet Joseph Smith God restored the same church that existed in the New Testament. The spirit was really strong during that meeting. He invited us to come back the next evening, which was Sunday night. When we got there, I almost immediately asked him “Fernando, do you wanted to be baptized by someone who holds the proper authority of the Priesthood? He was really thrown off by that. At first I was worried I acted with overbearance. But then he said “I’ve talked to a lot of people like you missionaries, but no one has ever been loving enough to be that direct.” That was super cool, as I was totally being led by the spirit and didn’t know what I was saying. But I just felt so much love for Fernando and that allowed the boldness to be tempered with love. So now Fernando’s striving to learn more in preparation for the covenant path. I can just tell that Fernando’s going to progress very far. He is one of the most humble men I have ever met, and is such a lover of God. I’m really excited to continue working with Fernando, and we have an appointment with him Tuesday afternoon.
The Lord Lives. As Paul says in his epistle to the Phillipians: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” I am now a strong witness of this. The Lord builds us up when we build ourselves on Him. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen! 
Love y’all, have a wonderful week! 
– Elder Saunders

One Year…Feeling Blessed

One year ago, I left my family in Utah to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All I can say is that was by far the best decision I’ve ever made. I’m so grateful that the Lord has given me this opportunity. I don’t know much, but here are four things that I do know for sure: I know God is our loving Heavenly Father. I know he sent his son Jesus Christ to atone for our sins and overcome death. I know Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Hace un año, dejé mi familia en Utah para servir como misionero por la Iglesia de Jesucristo de los santos de los Últimos Días. La única cosa que puedo decir es que esa fue la mejor decisión que he tomado en toda mi vida. Estoy muy agradecido que Dios me ha dado esta oportunidad. No sé muchas cosas, pero yo sí sé estas cuatros cosas: Sé que Dios es nuestro amoroso Padre Celestial. Sé que el le envió a su hijo Jesucristo a la tierra para superar la muerte y expiar nuestros pecados. Sé que José Smith es profeta de Dios. Sé que el Libro de Mormón es verdadero. Yo sé todas de estas cosas en el nombre de Jesucristo, Amén.

Semana 45: Rainin’ Mighty Miracles

Hola y’all!

Hey! It’s been about a month!!! Sorry about that. Been busy fighting off alligators and life-sucking mosquitoes 
🙈
. Well… I’ll be staying in my current area of Brazoria for 6 more weeks as District Leader! I’m totally stoked for that, I love being a district leader because things are just more personal. And we have some awesome new missionaries coming into the district so I’m just full of energy. We out in Bayyyyy City!
A couple things have been bumping lately!
Hilda!
Hilda whew. I’ve been teaching Hilda ever since I got here over 4 months ago. She was super close to getting baptized and then backed out an hour before. But now she is going strong again! We are actually hoping to go over tonight and help her set a new baptismal date. Hilda has been an amazing example to me of faith even when we have many trials in our way. She has held on so strong and has come to church every week for the past 6 months! What a baller. So please pray for Hilda by name! 

Elder Robinson!
Man I love my companion Elder Robinson. We get along really well and just have tons of fun. I’m trying to turn him into a workhouse out here in the hot, humid Texas summer. And it’s working .

Lots of rain!

There’s lots of rain. And it’s humid.

Exercise machine!

TENDER MERCY ALERT. So we went to go move this one lady this past week. Get this: Elder Saunders has really been looking to get some workout equipment so that I can come back swole in a year. Well, we walk into this lady’s apartment and boom right there is an exercise machine that could collapse and fit in our Corolla. I’m eyeing it the entire time we are there, just waiting to see if there’s any chance that it’s being left behind. Finally, we get to the end of the move. All of the sudden, she comes up and asks “Hey, would you like this exercise machine, I’m not taking it” and I literally go crazy. I pick that sucker up and chuck it in our car faster than a Hispanic worker leaving the plants in Clute on a Friday afternoon. I prayed for something that would help me wake up and exercise in the morning, and it came! Moral of the story: Prayers get answered!!!! (see Enos 1 for more info)

KAHOOT!

Hahahaha I discovered a secret. It turns out the missionary department doesn’t block Kahoot on missionary devices so I made a Kahoot on Teaching with the Scriptures for our last district council! hahaha everyone went crazy when I pulled it up, it was so fun. #ThanksMissionaryDepartment!
👍

Quick question! Respond if you want!

So I actually have a question for the probably 2.5 of you that are actually reading this. What gets you motivated to do missionary work? What kind of things can missionaries do to really excite you to share the Gospel? For those of you that served or have been involved with small (15-30 active member) branches, how did you help the great Work of Salvation progress? I’m not expecting to baptize the nations, I just would like to hear people’s thoughts. Feel free to email me back, I’d appreciate it a TON!

Well, other than that, I just want to bear my testimony of a special set of the Savior’s servants. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like being an Apostle during His earthly ministry. It must have been such a faith building experience to be right there alongside the King of Kings as He ministered to those that needed healing. Imagine the indirect impact of the miracles Christ performed. Imagine how He blessed those that witnessed the healings, casting outs, and raisings from the dead. The modern day Apostles have a special sanction that separates them from all other general authorities: they are to stand as “special witnesses” of the Savior. I invite each of you to study the teachings of the modern Apostles. Whether it be Elder Holland, Elder Bednar, Elder Cook, or Elder Gong, there is so much to learn from each of those 12 men. I promise that as you study their teachings, you will come to develop a “special witness” of Jesus Christ. I bear testimony that power has come to my teaching as I have studied the words of living prophets. I love those men so much, and pray for them. The organization of the Church is definitive proof that God has restored the Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days. I know that Jesus Christ looks out for you! Just… look for Him! In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Love y’all! Have a dandy week!
– Elder Saunders

Semana 39: I TRAVELED TO CAMBODIA (not click bait!!!)

Howdy y’all!

I had a dream last night that I was the DJ for a dance back in high school, it was super dope. Anyways now that that’s out of the way, how’s it going? Over here in Brazoria, we just chilling doing missionary work and the such. Actually, we’ve been working hard to keep the work progressing. Something that bothers me is that a lot of people call this zone “exile” because it’s so far away from everyone else and because they say the work is a lot slower. But we are the only zone hitting out monthly goals, so we are literally just flexing on everyone. For any of you other missionaries that get sent to “exile” areas, don’t even listen to that kind of stuff. The Lord prepares people EVERYWHERE, EVERYDAY. Just go in with the mindset that if you are obedient and work hard, the Lord will bless you with success. But also remember that SUCCESS DOES NOT ALWAYS EQUAL NUMBERS.

Now it’s time forrrrrrrr theeeeeeee newwwwsssssssss.

Monday

Monday was super awesome, we got to go play baseball with our mission president Presidente Guthrie because our zone hit our monthly baptismal goal in March and April. It was super fun, after hitting around a little we played a game of baseball with the tennis ball. Our team was the Little Squeezers, that’s what Elder Perkins and I call Little Caesers and so it caught on quickly. We won the game because President Guthrie hit a walkoff home run, it was super clutch and just a good time overall.

Tuesday

We went around and put up some fliers for English classes. We then helped Hermana Reyes with her yard. While we were out walking around, we talked to this super awesome lady named Jennifer. She has tons of faith and really connected with the message we share. We talked with her about the Come Follow Me program and how it blesses the home with a Spirit not felt before. She is interested in learning more, and said she loved what we do. People down here are usually super awesome, I love Lake Jackson. We wrapped the night up by teaching English Class and then talking to Hilda, who is going to be baptized May 17th.

Wednesday

Wednesday we had district council as usual. During district council, we were told that the Mission-wide policy for music has changed: we can only listen to music that would be appropriate for sacrament meeting. Oof that hit me hard. Because I have a tons of missionary music like raps about the Gospel and parodies (like one of Justin Beiber’s “Boyfriend” called “Convert”). So I immediately deleted any music that wasn’t approved by these new standards. It was really hard, but one of the best lessons I have learned on my mission is when the Lord commands, DO IT. Later onWe met this kid named Kevin, he is actually the son of a lady we are teaching named Ana. Anyways this kid is super solid in the Baptist church he goes to, even though he is only 8 years old. His parents don’t even go with him or force him to go. He’s just been going there for like 3 years or something like that. But I’m praying he will be open to listen and come to church.

Thursday

We helped this one lady move and her house was kind of freaky. She literally had a shrine to Dolly Parton, had tons of picture of her son photoshopped next to Dolly Parton, had statues of her, it was actually hilarious. But she was a nice lady so it was all good!

Friday

Insert thoughts or feelings when you don’t have your….wait was that a squirrel? Those that know will get this.

Saturday

DUDE SATURDAY WAS TIGHT!!! So we went and drove up to a service project where we helped America Red Cross install free smoke detectors in a bunch of Cambodian and Hispanic homes. It’s literally this place called Little Cambodia right in the middle of nowhere Texas. They had a freaking MONASTERY here! Plus we met some super cool Hispanic people that were all from Guanajuato (think I spelt that wrong but too lazy to check) Mexico. It turns out they were all family. The best part of the service is that a bunch of missionaries from other zones showed up, so I got to see a lot of old friends including my trainee Elder Freeborn. It was really good to see him. There was this super cool Cambodian guy that played these magical instruments that I didn’t know existed. He was getting dang HYPE on these things.  It was soooooo lit. Anyways Saturday we also had dinner with the Stake President, call me fresh 😎. And at night, we found this cool guy from the Caribbean named Alex and started teaching him.

Sunday

Normal Sunday activities. Plus we had a General Priesthood Session of Stake Conference over in Bay City. It was pretty dope because they talked about missionary work and a lot of stuff I have been talking about with members recently in order to get them involved in missionary work in natural ways like just inviting people to things.

There is the rundown. Sorry I’ve been flakey on sending out weeklies, I honestly am too lazy to write out an email sometimes. Jajajaja así es. I want to hear from people this week though! What’s been going on in your life? What’s been bumping? I can’t wait to hear from all 3 of you that read my emails 😍 Welp, that’s it for today folks. I love the Lord, He has helped me become a tool in His hands. I want to invite you all to check out these DOPEEEEE new videos about sharing the Gospel that can be found in the Gospel Library App. To get there, you just gotta go:

Missionary > Sharing the Gospel > Come and See Videos.

Here’s a link to one of the videos: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/video/come-and-see-videos/2019-04-0010-inviting-others-to-come-and-see-1080p-eng

The “Inviting Others” videos are honestly super awesome, I love them and know that if put into practice the Gathering of Israel will hasten.

Anyways, love y’all, have a good week!

– Elder Saunders

carson.saunders@missionary.org

Pics

1. A super lit Cambodian dude playing an instrument
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2. Elder Perkins has evolved
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3. This one is super random lol. I was going through some pictures from my Farewell, and found this one of one of my best friends, Elder Taylor “T-Dog” “Tay-Tay” “T-spence” “Pizza time” “New Jersey’s Finest” Spencer. What a hot kid. Love ya Tay.

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Semana 32: Fetchin’ Great

Howdy y’all! 

How’s it going? Things are just chilling out here in the big TX. This will be a decently short email because this week wasn’t too busy besides just balling out hard.

Actually, I probably am only going to include a couple highlights from this week because it wasn’t too eventful.

Getting fed infinitely by members

We get fed soooo much down here. I’ve gained a solid 10 pounds or so in the 2 weeks I’ve been here. The members are few but are super strong and so they feed us everything. We get so much food sometimes we don’t know what to do with it. Which is such a blessing honestly, and it’s teaching me to learn how to EAT!

Finding tons of people

We were able to start teaching tons of new people this week! It’s a record-high for this area at least, and 5 people came to church! For sure was an amazing week for the work of the Lord.

Learning the Uke!

I’m starting to learn the ukelele. Which I suck at but it is still tons of fun and Elder Perkins is teaching me well. I can’t wait for when I learn to play the Pokemon theme song.

Loving life!

Anyways, as you can tell these are happy days in Elder Saunders’ journey. I am really loving the people and striving my best to become a consecrated servant of the Lord. My advice: Be obedient! Obedience is key to personal revelation and feeling good about ourselves. YOU WILL NEVER FEEL BAD ABOUT BEING OBEDIENT if you do it with a love of the Savior, I can promise that.

Welp, that’s it for this week folks. Between the things above, I’ve just been cracking jokes, speaking Spanish, and playing Futbol. Love you all, hope you have a great week. 

Elder Saunders
Pics
1. We found a dope bridge called The Bridge and we hopped out real quick for a photo op
2. Ya bois serving at the Lake Jackson Sea Center