Monday, December 20, 2010

Weekly Letter -- 20 DEC 2010 "Robot No More!"

Hello Family, Friends, and Everyone Else (You can be my friend too!),

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

This week was GREAT!! Lots of fun stuff happened, especially one story that I'll tell you (even if it is a little embarassing) :)

So here's what happened:

On Friday, I was on exchanges with Elder Smith. We went and taught an investigator of ours. As we started teaching, our investigator (Brother Norman) said, "That's pre-plot! I don't want you to tell me pre-plot stuff. Just flip through the book and read whatever it lands on!" I wasn't sure what to do since we had planned on teaching about prayer (what we thought he needed). I started flipping back and forth through the pages and Elder Smith started talking with him about prayer. Brother Norman thought it was nice, but persisted that we flip through and stop on a certain page. We complied and read a random verse. I don't remember what it was, but it was a good verse and it was sort of relevant.

After a while, we started to teach him the Restoration again (since he had mentioned that "It doesn't matter what church I go to. We'll all end up in the same place). As we did taught, he said, "That's pre-plot! See? You tell me about His Church and then they all die and the table breaks into a million pieces and people start taking pieces and making churches based off of those and then you keep going. Pre-plot. I don't like pre-plot. That's why I asked you to just open the book and read whatever it lands on."

Elder Smith and I weren't sure what to say. We sat in silence for what seemed to be an eternity, and then he said something that I will NEVER forget. He said something that has changed my whole attitude on missionary work. He said something that has filled me full of life.

He said, " You know, sometimes when you're sitting there and we're talking, I feel like I'm talking to a robot."

YES! A robot! I am SO GRATEFUL that he told me that!!! What would have happened if I had gone the next 18 months teaching like a robot?!

It makes me think back on when I sold pest control door to door in Tennessee. It was in the summer of 2006 and I was trying to do my best at it. One of the managers went out with me one day and we started going door to door. I wanted to know how to be better at sales.

He told me that what usually happens is that people work and work and do their best at sales but they're still giving a canned presentation. After a while, they get really frustrated and basically say, "Forget this stuff!" and then they speak like a normal human being and they're successful!

That's what happened to me, more-or-less. I came out of that lesson thinking, "Forget all this stuff! Forget every little missionary phrase I learned! Forget these analogies that have been passed down from missionary to missionary! A robot?! I'm not going to be a robot!" Then I went out and worked, put on a BIG smile, was bold and upfront, and just TALKED. It has been GREAT!!!!!!!!!!! People respond well, we teach to their needs (more so than before), and it's effective! God bless Americans for their frankness :)

So that's the major breakthrough of the week! Also, there isn't any snow here, in case you're wondering. It's going to be in the 60's and 50's most of this week. Maybe a storm on Christmas Eve or Day, but we'll see. Surprisingly mild winter in Oklahoma this year!

Thanks for all of your prayers and support and letters and love! I love each of you and I hope everything is going well! Smile a lot! :)

Love,
Elder Woolley :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Weekly Letter-- 13 DEC 2010

Hello Everyone!

Merry Christmas! (it's not for a couple weeks, but it's still fun to say :) This past week has been great! We had a trainers meeting on Tuesday and then had surgery on my nose on Wednesday (so I can breathe clearly) and then went on a couple exchanges! It was a fun week!

Everything is good with Elder Cook. He's from Centerville, UT. He's a testifying machine. He's a great missionary. And he likes to play soccer :)

We had a family home evening with a member family and their non-member friends on Saturday. It was so fun! We made peanut butter pies (which consist of crust and a mixture of cream cheese, powdered sugar, peanut butter, and whipped cream). They were very delicious. I love America :)

Lately, I've been thinking about the Doctrine of Christ and it's evil brother, the "Doctrine of the Devil." I was pondering about all of the churches around here. The thought came to mind, "He who is not for me is against me" (see 2 Nephi 10:16).

The Doctrine of Christ is faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism by the Priesthood authority, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. This is the way that each and every soul can find happiness and peace in this life and the life to come. This is the way and there is no other way.

The Doctrine of the Devil may seem similar, but it is so far off. The Doctrine of the Devil is everything that isn't the Doctrine of Christ.

The Father and the Son bear witness that "they that are not for me are against me" (2 Nephi 10:16).

Jesus Christ is the way that His doctrine works. Because of what He did (the Atonement), faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism by the Priesthood authority, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end actually have some weight. I know this is true. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and our Master.

Thank you for your love, support, letters, and prayers! I love each of you a lot and I hope everything is going well! I love you! :)

Love,
Elder Woolley

Monday, December 6, 2010

Weekly Letter-- 06 Dec 2010

Hello Everyone!

We went to the temple on Thursday! It was perfect! I can't wait to go to the temple a lot when I'm back home! While at the temple and afterwards, I pondered on the covenants I made there. I finally am beginning to understand the significance of the temple...maybe... :P The Spirit bore witness of the significance of the covenants and I was suddenly much more awake to what I'm doing and ought to be doing with my life. Thank heavens for the temple!

It got pretty cold here a few days ago. The high was in the 40's, but Oklahoma wind is like no other wind I've felt in my life. It's very... brisk. :)We haven't had snow here yet, but I've heard it's supposed to snow this week sometime. I'll be in Lawton at least until 2011, so we'll see what the weather is like in the upcoming weeks!

We didn't get to watch the Christmas devotional because we were at an investigator's house and they had little children to look after and put to bed around when the devotional ended. That being said, we did have a GREAT lesson there! Everyone was engaged and it was a blast!

A few days ago, we were riding our bikes around and I saw a flock of birds. They were small, agile birds and there were about 50 of them. They were flying straight and then they suddenly dropped. Then they heavily pulled up, straightened themselves, and kept flying. I've been pondering on the scene for the last few days. I don't know the science behind why a group of birds behaves like that, but it seemed to me that there must have been a singular bird that made the command decision and said (or chirped), "Let's go this way now."

From that experience, I've thought about the influence a leader can have. Any deviation in the course and the rest of the group follows. Nephi was impressed by the Spirit to kill a man because he would have led a nation into unbelief. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to exercise their own agency and decide which way they want to go, but a leader can have a heavy influence on their thoughts and beliefs.

I have to go now. I love each off you and remember, God cares :)

Love,
Elder Woolley

Monday, November 29, 2010

God Bless America and Thanksgiving!

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving! We definitely did!

Before we get into that, I have a new companion! His name is Elder Cook! He's from Centerville, UT! He's the 4th child of 5 too! He plays soccer! He's an incredible missionary!

In fact, we had a great opportunity yesterday! We got to teach a Sunday School class at First United Methodist Church of Lawton! The Sunday School director called us a couple of weeks ago and asked us if we could be a "guest program" for their class. We actually got to do it yesterday and it was great!

There were only about 10 people in the class and all except one were 60 years of age or more. It was like teaching a class full of really nice grandmas and grandpas! We were grateful that they were very respectful and friendly. We taught the message of the Restoration and also the Plan of Salvation. We gave each of them a copy of the Book of Mormon, a "Restoration" pamphlet, and a "Plan of Salvation" pamphlet. They followed along and had a lot of good questions! I think the Plan of Salvation stood out to them a lot. They also asked how we get 50,000+ young people to be missionaries. We told them, "It's because we all know it's true!" Elder Cook testified a ton about reading and praying. It was a fun experience :)

We had two dinner appointments for Thanksgiving (I love food!). The Hodgsons fed us in the early afternoon and then the Womacks fed us later on that night. We had a couple other appointments set up with members throughout the ward, so we taught them too and had a good time. Oh! We also got to play FOOTBALL! Our ward had a turkey bowl game at 8 AM and President Taylor allowed all of us to play for 2 hours as long as there was no contact involved. We played ultimate football (which is essentially ultimate frisbee with a football) and it was so fun! It was also really cold (mainly windy, but wind+humidity="interesting") so we all had a good time trying to keep blood pumping through our hands! I love this place!!!

That's all for this week. Keep being great and working hard! I love you! :)

Love,
Elder Woolley

Monday, November 22, 2010

Weekly Letter - 22 Nov. 2010

Dear Everyone,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO SARA/SISTER DONAKEY!!! For those of you don't know who I'm talking about, I hope you get to meet her someday! She is an incredible missionary!!! :)

Transfers are this week and.... I'm staying in Lawton!!!!! God bless America :)

This past week has been fun! Elder Norman (and some others) went home a week early to beat the Thanksgiving travel rush, so I got to spend the last week of this transfer with Elder Keil! He's originally from Samoa, but he has lived in St. George, UT since he was 9. He's been a lot of fun and we have a lot of fun experiences!

In fact, here's one! We were tracting and talked with a woman named Barb. She wasn't interested or too open about accepting the message, but we talked with her for a few minutes. Before we left we asked if we could say a prayer. She told us her name was Barb but then said, "My grandkids call me Granny, so you could pray for 'Granny' and then that would cover all the other Grannies our there too." I was going to say the prayer and was confused about what to call her, so I just started praying! As I prayed, I asked Heavenly Father to "Please bless Granny Barb" and then had to pause because she almost started laughing (well, we all almost started laughing) and then kept praying and ended it. She was smiling and was more open after the prayer and we talked a little longer. It was a great experience! All Elder Keil or I have to do is say "Granny Barb" and we start laughing. Oh, Granny Barb. Haha!

Over the weekend we went to visit another investigator, Brother Johnson. He wasn't home, but someone who was driving by stopped and said, "Hey! Are you Mormon?!" "YEAH!" we replied. As we talked, he stayed in his car which was parked in the middle of the road (it wasn't a busy road anyway). He said he just wanted to know more and wanted to get right with God. We talked a little, then tried setting up an appointment (he said he had to go soon), and then he ended up saying, "You on bikes or car?" We replied, "On car" (which I am still EXTREMELY grateful for :) He told us, "I'll give you 30 minutes. Follow me." We got in the car and followed him to his house.

As we got in and started talking, he vented about how sick of Satan he was. He was angry at himself for always falling back into drugs, alcohol, and women, and how much he wants to get everything right with God again. He pounded his fists on the ground as he kept saying over and over, "I'm so sick of him! I'm sick of that guy!" Elder Keil and I spent most of the time listening. This man (we'll call him John) expressed that he always goes to God in prayer when he needs to repent but he never thanks Him much for anything and he knows he should. We asked, "Can we do that right now?" "Yeah, let's do it," he replied. We got on our knees and he prayed. He prayed. It was so sincere. We talked a little longer and promised him that reading from the Book of Mormon everyday and praying everyday will help him gain strength to resist Satan's temptations. He was very grateful for our visit and is excited to read and pray. We were all edified and rejoiced together. :)

That's all for this week. Thanks for the Thanksgiving wishes and I hope the Donakeys are having a blast in Hawaii! P.S. Dad/Mom -- what do "Lani" and "Ashkii" and "Kalienuemanomano" (?) mean?

Have a great week! I love all of you very much! :)

Love,
Elder Woolley :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Weekly Letter -- 15 NOV 2010

Hello Everyone!

How is everything?! Last week was incredible! I went to a Leadership Training Meeting for 4 days and got to stay in the mission home, so that was awesome! Talk about edification! Everything is great here! Thanks for all of your love and support! Thanks for all of the Veterans Day wishes! I love each of you a lot, even if I don't know you! Have a great day and keep reading the Book of Mormon! :)

Love,
Elder Woolley

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

We just finished having dinner with two of the nicest men...thought you might like another picture. These guys are the greatest...I know you are proud of each of them. We sure love them too.

~The McCollister's

Weekly Letter -- 08 NOV 2010

Dear Family, Friends, and your dogs too (if you happen to own one),

This past week was great!

Steven Gordon was baptized! After he was baptized he shared his testimony with everyone. He said, "Brothers and Sisters, I know that the Church is true. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know the Bible is true, King James Version. And I know the Church is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." He's 13 years old and stands five feet tall, but he was a giant of a man as he testified. I'm not sure how to explain what it was like other than his spirit was magnified and it filled the whole room, especially immediately around him. It seemed like he was eight feet tall. It was like watching a prophet testify. I'm deeply grateful that I get to be a part of his life. I love him a lot.

Yesterday, I felt a little overwhelmed with everything (it happens) and decided to figure out how to not be overwhelmed. The gospel of Jesus Christ is simple in nature, when it comes down to it. "Well," I thought, "then what are the one or two things I need to know and go back to? What are the things that, if I only focus on them, will take care of everything else, more or less?" I pondered for a while and then THE question came. "Is Jesus the Christ?" In my opinion, that is the question of questions. A closely related one would be, "Is the Book of Mormon true?" Those two questions feed into each other. If Jesus is the Christ, the Book of Mormon is true. If the Book of Mormon is true, Jesus is the Christ. And if those are both true, then we know exactly what we need to do, say, and think. If Jesus is the Christ, then we know why we should pay our tithing, fast, read scriptures, repent, pray, etc. If the Book of Mormon is true then Jesus is the Christ, and if Jesus is the Christ then everything He says, goes.

It makes me think of a quote my mother had put on our fridge. As she would cut my hair in the kitchen (in my earlier years) I would look at the quotes on the fridge. One of them was a cut-out from a newspaper column. I've forgotten the name, but it was an "Ask Suzy" column (supposedly, she held a world record for "Highest IQ" or something to that effect). One reader wrote in and asked, "What is the most powerful concept in the universe and why?" Suzy responded, "Truth. Because whether you like it or not, there isn't a thing you can do about it."

Jesus is the Christ IS the Truth, so what else matters?

He gave us two great commandments. Only two things we need to focus on in this life and the eternities. They are: 1) Love God, and 2) Love your neighbor. All other commandments point to those two. I felt the Spirit immediately comfort me when I came to a realization of this simple truth. When we hold up our thoughts, words, and actions up to the light of, "Does this express love for God and/or my neighbor?" then it's easy to discern and decide what to think, say, or do. I love the gospel. :)

That's all for this week. I hope you're okay with just reading my personal spiritual growth every week. I'm not sure what to write about a lot of the time and the gospel is always a worthwhile topic. :)

I love all of you! Mom, you're the best ever!!!! Don't forget it!!! I love you!!! :)

Love,
Elder Woolley

PS I just remembered something fun that happened this week! We had dinner at the Stringhams' again and they had a HUGE bowl of candy. It was all of their kids' consolidated candy. Anyway, one of their boys ate 27 pieces of candy in a half hour, so they dared me to break the record. So I did. 30 pieces of candy. And a funny feeling stomach. And a huge sugar high. And a huge sugar crash.

Oh, to be eight again :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween!


CANDY!!!


Bro. Revilla...funniest quiet guy ever!

Come, Let Us Anew

Dear You,

Come, let us anew our journey pursue,
Roll round with the year,
And never stand still till the Master appear.
His adorable will let us gladly fulfill,
And our talents improve,
By the patience of hope and the labor of love,
By the patience of hope and the labor of love.

Our life as a dream, our time as a stream
Glide swiftly away,
And the fugitive moment refuses to stay;
For the arrow is flown and the moments are gone.
The millennial year,
Presses on to our view and eternity's here,
Presses on to our view and eternity's here.

Oh, that each in the day of His coming may say,
"I have fought my way through;
I have finished the work thou didst give me to do."
Oh, that each from his Lord may receive the glad word:
"Well and faithfully done;
Enter into my joy and sit down on my throne;
Enter into my joy and sit down on my throne."


This week was great! We set some new goals and committed through prayer and the Lord has blessed us richly and opened up doors!
Last night, we had a lesson at a member's house with one of their friends, Sam. It went very well! The work here is burning stronger and stronger and the Lord will provide as we all do our part! This is fun! :)

This week, I realized that Elder Gene R. Cook's old "Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ" BYU devotional has changed my life. Believe, commit, and do it! Missionary work is so incredible! I hope all of you are reading and studying "Preach My Gospel" because if you aren't, you definitely should! That's my advice, at least! :)

That's all for this week. Oh! Just kidding!

When Elder and Sister Zwick were here, Sister Zwick talked about the importance of asking questions. That's basically how we teach now: asking inspired questions. I think I wrote about this a few weeks ago, but she said that Elder Bednar doesn't go to the temple to get all of the answers to his questions, but he does to find the right questions. Questions are so important! Next time you think you completely understand something ask yourself a question. For instance, with repentance, you could say that a step to repentance is to "Identify that what you're doing is wrong" and then leave it at that or you could ask yourself, "How can I tell if what I'm doing is wrong?" or "Why does is matter if I identify that what I'm doing is wrong?" and let the vitally important pondering process begin (as President Eyring talked about last conference). Questions are where spiritual growth comes from. Questions are inherently progressive. Joseph Smith had a question. How has Joseph Smith's question effected your life? :)

I love you! Thank you for all of your support and prayers and love and letters and happy thoughts! I hope all of you have a great week! The church is true! Jesus is the Christ. Let us go on in the work He has sent us to do! This isn't the work of the full-time missionaries only! ;)

Love,
Elder Woolley

Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekly Letter (Oct 25, 2010)

Dear Everyone,

Hello! I love you! Thanks for writing to me! :)

This past week has been a great one! We had Zone Conference last Friday and it was an edifying experience. Elder and Sister Zwick were there, so they spake, as well as President and Sister Taylor. Elder Zwick started off and taught us about teaching principles. He taught us to introduce the principle (for example, prayer), share a personal experience in 60 seconds or less ("This one time, I was really frustrated. I didn't feel good. Then I prayed. The feelings of frustration left and I was filled with peace") and then testify ("I know that our Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers") and then END. He said that too often someone will teach a principle, include a personal experience, testify, share another personal experience, and then talk about the principle some more. He said he learned this lesson from President Boyd K. Packer.

President Packer had assigned Elder Zwick to speak at the Palmyra temple dedication in four different sessions. Elder Zwick spake and then had a learning experience from President Packer. Elder Zwick said they were on the plane ride home and President Packer told Elder Zwick that he would like to teach him something. President Packer got a napkin and in the bottom left corner he drew a "P" with a circle around it. He said, "You started here with the principle. You did a great job of that!" Then he drew a line up to a "D" with a circle around it. "Then you taught the doctrine. That was very well done." Then he drew another line up and in so that they started to form an arch. At the end of that line wrote "Experience" with a circle around it. "You also did a great job of sharing a personal experience." Then he drew a line to the top center of the napkin, drew a star, and said, "Then you testified of the doctrine and testified of Christ. It was perfect!"
Then he drew a line down and to the write to another "Experience" with a circle around it. "But then you shared another experience." He drew another line down to another circled "D" saying, "And you taught the doctrine some more." Then he finished by drawing a line to another star in the bottom right corner of the napkin. "And then you testified again."
President Packer then drew a line, cut off the right part of the arch right after the star at the top and said, "That is where you should have stopped! That is when the Spirit was the strongest! It got lost and dulled with all of the other words after you testified the first time." Elder Zwick said he was humbled and grateful for the advice.

How true it is! The Spirit can only dwell in holy, quiet places. After hearing of that story and being taught by Elder Zwick, all of us have been trying our best to "Simplify and intensify!" as Elder Zwick put it. I've felt the Spirit a lot more than before! I know that sharing the gospel with others is more effective when we use less words. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. He will always be there for us.

Thanks for all of your support and love! I love all of you! Have a great week! :)

Love,
Elder Woolley :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weekly Letter -- 18 OCT 2010

Hello Everyone!

Transfers were this last week and I'm still in Lawton! And I have a new companion! And his name is Elder Norman! And he's from Eagle Mountain, UT! Elder Norman is a missionary's missionary. He is GREAT! He's planning on flying for the Air Force, so he likes talking about the military with me. He just got done being a Zone Leader for a couple transfers and now he's our District Leader/my new companion. It's his last transfer, so he goes home in about 5 weeks! And he is definitely not trunky! I've only been with him for a couple days, but I've already learned a lot from him!

Elder Norman and I!
Lately, we've been working a lot to get the members involved more. A couple days ago, Elder Norman pointed out that if we want to get the ward involved, we need to go through the bishop (thus says Preach My Gospel). I've known that before, but I guess I didn't ponder on the idea very much. He said, "Let's go stop by his house!" Seems like an obvious thing to do, right? Well, we hadn't done it yet, so we rode over to his house!

When we dropped in, Elder Norman introduced himself, and we ended up getting a couple referrals from the bishop! We tried the referrals the next morning and then reported back to the bishop (neither of them were home, but we tried!). Elder Norman told our bishop what Elder Holland had told all of the mission presidents about the Lord hastening His work. I think that struck a chord with the bishop. He seemed to ponder that thought quite a bit.

Yesterday in Elders Quorum, a few verses that we read really stood out to me. It was Mosiah 4:11-12. In verse 11, King Benjamin states, "And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have... received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls..." The source of exceedingly great joy in our souls is from receiving a remission of our sins; from being made clean through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Repenting causes joy! What a simple, profound truth! If I'm not happy, I must repent! When I repent, I'll be happy!

King Benjamin goes on to say, "...and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God and your own nothingness, and his goodness and suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourself even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel. And behold, I say unto you that if ye shall do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true."

"Always retain a remission of your sins." What a promise! Receiving a remission of our sins will cause our souls to swell with joy, and not only that, but we can retain that remission of sins. And if we retain a remission of our sins, which causes exceedingly great joy in our souls, we will always have that joy in our souls!

I think there should be a special name for those verses. Maybe, "The Two Verses to Happiness." Or maybe a math equation would work better: repentance=happiness.

Anyway, that's all for now. My advice for the week: repent :) hahaha it feels GOOD!!!

I love you! :)

Love,
Elder Woolley

More Pictures!!


My last crazy district.


I heard Kanye likes these things?


"Here comes Halloween! Here comes Halloween!"
(Note from his sister: Phil's face was too dark so I inserted this pumpkin head and a few other Halloween things). :)

Email from last week (Oct 12, 2010)

Hellp Everyone!

This is going to be VERY SHORT! I'm sorry! And probably no pictures this time either :( BUT, we got tranfer calls on Sunday and... I'm staying in Lawton! Gotta love military towns. Elder Jackson is going to Norman and my new companion is Elder Norman (ironic, eh?). Anyway, we had a great week. People committing to be baptized and all. We talked with a group of drunk 25ish yr old people on Sunday. That was an adventure. Almost thought I was back in the Marines. Let's see. Conference was great! Oh yeah, that was two weeks ago. Anyway, I don't have a lot of time and I don't know what else to write about. I love all of you! Thank you for you letters! I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!

Love,
Elder Woolley :)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

This Week's letter



Hello Family and Friends!

I hope you enjoyed conference as much as I did! I was drained yesterday from the spiritual communion. It was a good feeling :)

This past week was more eventful than I thought it would be. With Elder Jackson's surgery/recovery, I was able to go on a lot of splits with members. I liked it because a lot of my faults are more exposed and now I know what I need to work on!

The work is going well! People moving this way and that way in spiritual progression, so it's an adventure!

I learned a profound lesson about love during conference also. At some point, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang "Love One Another" (I think that's the correct title). The final line is, "By this shall men know ye are my disciples, if you have love one to another." I never noticed it before, but the Spirit told me, "By THIS shall men know if ye are my disciple, if ye have love one to another." It doesn't say, "by how well you study the scriptures" or "by how well you can recite scriptures" or "by how well you can talk with people."

When all is said and done, love is the motivating factor that drives the universe. Love is the reason we were given a Plan of Salvation in the first place. Love is what drove Christ to do all He did, even though it involved pain and loneliness unimaginable. Being nice to people matters. Being kind to people matters. Being gentle with people matters. That's why if we lack charity, we are nothing. If we don't have charity, what's the point? Try as we may, we don't really live unless we have charity. And once we get it, life is the grandest adventure of all!

Sorry this letter is so short. I don't really have a lot to talk about and I'm just about out of time anyway. Write to me (on paper, in the mail) and I'll have more to write about!

I love this gospel. I love this work. I love YOU! I know that God loves each of us individually. I know the Book of Mormon is true, and to me, that's all that matters.

Love,
Elder Woolley

This expression mixed with the glasses reminds me of a picture of Cousin Grant for some reason.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hello! :) (Sept 25 email)

Hello Hello!

I'm writing today (Saturday) because Elder Jackson is having a nose surgery on Monday, so we got permission to email today.

This past week was a great one! I went on a 4 day exchange with Elder Smith as his companion and my companion were in Oklahoma City being trained on the new 8 Simplified MTC lessons. We spent Tuesday/Wednesday in Lawton, Thursday in Blanchard, and Friday in Chickasha. As we drove to/from/around Blanchard, we listened to some old BYU devotional talks. One of them was an answer to my prayers.

The talk was "Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ" by Gene R. Cook ("Elder" Gene R. Cook? I don't remember). For a while I've wondered about how a person's faith in Christ can be used to accomplish tasks. For example, the scriptures often say something like, "_________ was done according to their faith in Christ." Ether 12:13-16 lays is out for us, "Behold, it was the faith of Alma and Amulek that caused the prison to tumble to the earth. Behold, it was the faith of Nephi and Lehi that wrought the change upon the Lamanites, that they were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost. Behold, it was the faith of Ammon and his brethren which wrought so great a miracle among the Lamanites. Yea, and even all they who wrought miracles wrought them by faith, even those who were before Christ and also those who were after." Moroni caps the message in verse 18, "And neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith; wherefore they first believed in the Son of God."

As I thought about it, the Spirit started to make things a little clearer in my mind. For instance, faith in Christ can be used to move mountains and someone can do it in the name of Christ (God willing) because Christ was the one who created it in the first place. That makes sense. Christ made the mountain, so a man acting in the name of Christ in accordance with God's will can move the mountain because he believes that it can be done; he has faith in Christ that it can be done. I kept thinking it over and thought to myself, "Alright. That makes sense. I still don't really know what steps to take or what to do in any given circumstance, but it makes sense."

I kept going about my life until I listened to the talk by Elder Cook (I'm just going to assume he was an Apostle/Seventy--I don't remember if he was or not). In it, he gives six steps a man (or woman) can take to accomplish tasks according to their faith in Christ.

The first step is to, "Be believing with an eye single to the glory of God." To me, this means that everything we do we should do with an eye single to the glory of God. For example, one might think, "Do I want to baptize people so I can have good weekly numbers or do I want to bring people closer to Christ and feel the love of God? Will I serve others so my parents/girfriend/boyfriend/leaders will know how righteous I am, or will I serve others and obey God quietly, humbly, and meekly? Will I obey the commandments so I can know how much more or less righteous I am than the next person, or will I obey the commandments of God with a willing heart, knowing that my Heavenly Father will be pleased with me as I do so?" When we believe something can be done and we do it solely for God's glory, we're on the right track.

The second step is to, "Commit and discipline yourself totally in word and deed." If we believe something can be done, we commit ourselves to doing it and make every thought, word, and action be in accordance with our desired course of action.

I don't have time, so here are the six steps:

1. Be believing with an eye single to the glory of God
2. Commit and discipline yourself totally in word and deed
3. Do all in your power to fulfill your part
4. Pray as if all depended on the Lord
5. Prepare for constant and intense trials of your faith
6. Expect the Lord to perform according to His holy will and your faith

I hope all of you have a great week! I love you and thank you for your prayers! I love you! :)

Love,
Elder Woolley

Ever had a CT scan of your head? It's AWESOME!
(Bottom right: what I'd look like with no face).

As a representative of Jesus Christ, I teach a message of peace and good will and don't talk about politics. So... I'll let the picture speak for itself.

What can I say?

Weekly Email of Love :) (Sept 20 email)

Dear Family, Friends, and Everyone (and your dogs too!),

Hello from cyberspace! This week was great! After our experiences last week, we just told ourselves, “Let’s just keep working! Whatever happens, happens.” So that’s exactly what we did this week. We just got out and worked a lot. We tracted a lot to find new people and the Lord blessed us with people to talk with! We had a neat experience on Saturday with that.

We were biking from one part of town to another. We had just finished tracting a street and were headed to the apartment for a quick resupply stop. As we biked home, a man on a bike going the other way stopped us and started talking with us. We listened and it didn’t take long to realize that this man was crazy. Literally. (I really think he’s certifiably insane, but that’s not my judgement to make). Anyway, we did the polite thing and talked with him.

As we talked with him, one of our investigators was driving by. He stopped and talked with Elder Jackson for a second (I had the privilege of being the main person the crazy guy talked at since earlier I told him I’m a Marine). Elder Jackson told our investigator, Raymond, about the crazy guy talking to us. Raymond said, “Well, that’s good. It’s common courtesy to listen to someone.” So we scored points in Raymond’s book! Raymond has a sister who’s Mormon, but he’s Catholic. He likes talking with us though, so hopefully his heart is being softened more and more to our message.

So the crazy guy kept talking at us and telling us all sorts of conspiracy theories and then another great thing happened! A truck of young men stopped and the driver leaned out and said, “Hey! My parents just got into town and they’re looking for a church to go to. Can you help us out?” Um… let me think… YES! So he gave us their address,we finished the crazy guy conversation, and went back to the apartment to get some water and stuff.

Later that night, we stopped by the referral the young man had given to us. They’re the Hix family, and they’re from Kansas. They are VERY nice and I love the people from the Midwest a lot. We taught the parents and one of their sons, Van (who is about 14 years old), and they all committed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and committed to be baptized on November 9. We went back yesterday to follow-up. They had read, but were confused about it all. The husband is legally blind and the wife is diabetic, so she doesn’t have a good memory. The son, Van, read aloud to them, but they were just all lost in the sauce. We spent time yesterday reading along with them and stopping every two or three verses and explaining what was going on. At the end of the lesson, they said they understood what was happening as we explained it, so we’ll just have to keep doing that a lot. It’ll help me explain scriptures more and expound on them more than I usually do, so it works out great!

So this week, overall, was really good and our area is alive a lot more than before, so we're excited to keep on going! Elder Jackson is going to a Leadership Training Meeting from Tuesday-Friday. All of the leaders in the mission (Assistants to the President, Zone Leaders, and District Leaders) are getting together and are going to be trained on the new core lessons for Preach My Gospel. Then they're going to train all of us. Long story short, I'm going to be on exchanges with an Elder Smith during that time and I hear he's pretty crazy, so it should be a good time :) I'm be going to Chickasha (sp?) on Thursday and Friday (that's his area), so it'll be fun to go someplace new.

Elder Jackson is having nose surgery (so he can breathe better) next Monday, so I'm not sure when the next email will be. I hope all of you are reading your scriptures and praying and going to church! By small and simple things are great things brought to pass! I know this is THE true Church of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is true. I know President Thomas S. Monson is a REAL prophet and that Joseph Smith was the prophet of the Restoration. Remember that and everything else will work out :)

I love you! Thanks for all of your prayers, love, and letters! I love hearing from you! Have a great week! I love you! :)

Love,
Elder Woolley :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Peace, Love, and Member Involvement

Family, Friends, Romans, Countrymen—Lend me your ears!

How’s it goin’, y’all? Dug-gum darn tootin’ soundin’ like a good time! This good ol’ week was a tipsy turvy one! Lots o’ them crazy happenin’s and all. Ya know what I’m sayin’?
This last week was a grand doozie of a week. It was crazy! Basically, all of our investigators dropped us and Satan was working hardcore, trying to get us frustrated with everything. It also rained all day Wednesday, so that kind of hindered our plans for the day. BUT it’s okay, because we have Jesus! And He makes everything okay (or at least helps us through it all!) :)

This week’s District Meeting was GREAT! We had the Zone Leaders there and they gave us a training on member involvement. They came up with the REAP Method.


R-Real Play
E-Evaluate
A-Ask
P-Pick a Date


The first step is Real Play with the members. It’s like role playing, but they member pretends to be a friend they know. As we teach them and they act as their friend, the Spirit guides us as we teach and also reveals things to the member who is acting. Basically, everyone receives revelation and then the member knows what’s REALLY going on in the friends mind and how to best approach their friend about the gospel.

After that we Evaluate. We ask the member how they felt as their friend, what thoughts were going through their heads. We basically talk about the experience and figure out what’s going on in their friend’s spiritual life and how we can help them.

Then we Ask, which basically entails, “Will you invite (friend) to your house to hear the lessons?”
Finally, we Pick a Date. We’ll find out the member’s usual schedule and ask the member, “Will you invite them to come over two weeks from today?” Then we follow-up and see how everything’s going. Then we have a member referral being taught in a member’s home!
We just started, but so far the member’s we’ve done it with have become excited about missionary work. And we don’t even really talk about missionary work that much! They’ll say stuff like, “That’s it! THAT is what I need to talk to him about!” Member involvement and member referrals are basically the “make or break” thing for us here, so it’s going to be nice to have things get kickin’ again!

So that’s the big news for this week, I guess! I know the trials we went through have made us stronger through Christ, so it’s onward ever onward! Jesus is the Christ! The Book of Mormon is the most important book on the earth! The Atonement is the most important thing that ever happened for mankind! Study the Atonement through the Book of Mormon and just see how much better you feel! :)

I love all of you and I hope all of your lives are going well. Don’t let the media/world blind you to what life is REALLY all about! Have a great week! Love ya!

Love,
Elder Woolley

P.S. I can totally do a lay-up more than once-in-a-blue moon now. The Donakeys would be proud of me ;)

p.p.s.
Elder Jackson and I found an old Huffy in a ditch, so I brought it home to fix it up! I spent most of last P-day on it. Chaos insued :)

Me on the Huffy before I repaired it or anything. I'm putting on my best Ron Weasley face I can.

Enter the Woolley Big Wheel! I took parts off of Elder Jackson's old bike and created a monster. It's pretty fun to ride around, even if my knees are up to my chest when I pedal! Aaaaawwwww yyeeeeaaahhh!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tuesday!

Hello Family, Friends, Loved Ones, Aquaintances, and EVERYONE ELSE!

How's it going? This past week was a fun one!

First off, COOL STORY TIME!!!

Elder Jackson and I were riding around last Monday evening (maybe it was Tuesday?) and the tornado sirens started going off. It was a nice, sunny day, but we could see massive dark clouds from the south headed towards Lawton. We talked to a guy on the street who was saying it'll be 70 MPH winds possibly with hail. We were like, "SWEET!" and started taking pictures of the clouds.
We rode over near the Evans' house (Brandon and Katrina, our recent converts) and took a few more pictures of the clouds (which were full of lightning and were quickly headed our way). As we were taking pictures, the temperature dropped about 15 - 20 degrees in just a few seconds. We looked at each other and said, "It's time to go!" So we went to the Evans' and watched the storm come from their porch.
Well, it came with reckless abandon! There was a ton of lightning! It was AWESOME! I was standing at their front door (behind the storm door, or whatever those are called) and I watched the storm outside. There was so much lightning (more than I've ever seen in my life) and the thunder was LOUD! :) Then, as I was looking out at the road, lightning struck the road right in front of the Evans' house!!! I saw lightning strike! It was incredible!!! The thunder/crack from the strike was immediate! Elder Jackson was sitting on the couch and he said that (since all of the lights inside were out at the time) when it happened, he just saw my sillouette (sp?) at the door. Needless to say, I jumped back and was like, "WOAH!! THAT WAS AWESOME!!"

After hearing the sirens. In reality the clouds were darker.

The temperature dropped 15-20 degrees as I was taking this picture.
Anyway, I'm fine and healthy and all that good stuff, so no need to worry :)

I've come to see how real Satan's influence is on people's minds. Check out 2 Nephi 28. All that stuff is happening all over the place. People's minds have been clouded over and their hearts hardened. I think one of the worst things Satan does is lull people into complacency. He makes them think that he doesn't exist and their is no devil. They just say, "Jesus is my Savior and that's all I need to know." The scriptures talk about always being watchful. It's true! We have to keep our spiritual guard up to make sure Satan doesn't slip in somehow!

So everything's still going good. We're just going forward and doing our thing and letting the Lord do His thing. The field is white! We know it. God knows it. That's all that really matters :)

Anyway, I hope you feel spiritually enlightened/edified/good/happy/etc! I'll try to remember specific spiritual experiences to share with all of you next time.

I love you! Thanks for all of your prayers, supports, and letters (those of you who have written!) :)

Love,
Elder Woolley

Monday, August 30, 2010




Transfer Week!

HELLO EVERYONE!!!

This week is transfers. We had transfer calls last night (when they call and let us know who's transfering and to where). "DRUMROLL PLEASE!"................................................. I'm staying! and so is Elder Jackson! So we're both in Lawton for at least another 6 weeks. I'm excited!! It's awesome being here! So yes, that's the good news :)

Let's see... what else happened this week... oh! Brandon and Katrina Evans were baptized on Saturday and confirmed yesterday! I got to do the confirmations, so that was a cool experience! After they were baptized on Saturday, we stopped by their house to ask them how they felt (to help them recognize the feelings). They said they felt good. They said they’ve felt good before, but now they feel GOOD! And that was before they were even confirmed! After they were confirmed, the change was immediate. I could sense that they really did have the Holy Ghost with them. Brandon carried himself like a new man. It wasn’t really a conscious thing, I think, but he just seemed more…manly. Is it manly for one man to call another man “manly”? Who knows?! It’s the sense of direction and purpose that is now in his life that has wrought that change. Huzzah for the gospel!

We’ve been riding around and tracting a lot still and trying to see who actually wants to know more and who doesn’t, so it was a good week! We were tracting in one neighborhood and we met this awesome guy. We told him who why we were out and about and he just said, “Alright, thanks!” and looked at us with a smile. We asked him if he had talked to missionaries before. He said, “Yeah, but they weren’t to fond about what I said about the upcoming zombie invasion.” I said, “Yeah, you gotta stock up!” “Assault rifles!” he replied. HAHAHA!!!!! I love tracting for so many reasons! He didn’t want to be taught anything, but it was still a good refresher. :)

And then something else happened. I really should write litte notes down so I can remember.

That’s what journal writing is for, right? :p

Today, our district is getting together for our last P-day this transfer. We’ll probably play basketball and go out to eat or something.

Oh! Basketball! So, if you have ever played basketball with me, you may have been able to tell that I’m not the most proficient with a basketball. No need to fear! Elder Jackson is here! We’ve played basketball a few times over the past weeks and he has given me tips to help me out. Slowly but surely, I’m getting better at basketball! We played on Wednesday and I was doing okay and then I went on an exchange to Altus, OK on Thursday. And what do they do on Thursday nights in Altus? Play basketball! So I got to play some more. I’m getting a lot more handy at it all, so it’s good. Oh, “a lot more HANDY at it all”. Yeah, get it? Okay, it wasn’t that funny :P Anyway, I like basketball now that I’m partly proficient at the game.

I’m trying to think of some spiritual stories I have had, but it’s all a blur!

Here’s one! Elder Jackson told me yesterday that I’m like Ammon. I was like, “……..okay? thanks?......” Then he shared Alma 27:16-18 with me. Verse 17 reads, “Now the joy of Ammon was so great even that he was full; yea, he was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; and he fell again to the earth.” That’s what happened to me on August 11! Hahaha! AWESOME!!! Verse 18 reads, “Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which non receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness.” So if you REALLY want TRUE happiness and you pray and serve and try to find ways to express love to people, you WILL get this happiness!!!

Anyway, I think that’ll be all for this week. Thanks again for all your love and prayers and stuff! I hope you're enjoying this totally sweet blog (and if you're getting this directly and haven't looked at the blog, check it out!) My sister made it and maintains it!!! Props to Adj Woolley! Woot!

Anyway, I love all of you a lot! Go be happy and say "I love you" to someone!!! I LOVE YOU!!!

Love,
Elder Woolley

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

RAIN!

After our ride home in the rain.



All Smiles!

Genuinely Genuine! Welcome to the Heartland!

Hello hello hello!!!
The past week has been great! I can't even remember what happened! It was THAT good! :P hahaha

O.K. Let's see...

Can I just say that being bold is the best thing ever? President Taylor commited us to extend the baptismal commitment on the first lesson every time unless the Spirit whacks us over the head with a 2x4 and tells us not to. So that's what we do! And it's awesome! We've prayed to be led to people who are looking for the truth or for them to be led to us or put in our path, and we find them!

Let's make one thing clear as well: tracting is AWESOME!!! Everyone that we have taught, found, and committed to baptism was off of tracting. While tracting isn't the MOST effective way to do the work, when all other sources aren't putting out, tracting WORKS! We pray to be led to know which streets to tract, then we look at the map, and then we pick a few streets that we feel strongly impressed to check out, then we tract and find these people! It's awesome!!

Embarrassing moment of the week: yesterday two of our investigators came to church (Brendan and Katrina - a young married couple that's getting baptized on Saturday!). Brendan was introducing himself to someone and the guy asked, "Brennan? Or Brendan with a D?" He replied, "With a D." Elder Jackson and I have been calling him Brennan this whole time! When Brendan says his name, the D isn't as emphasized when he says it than when others say it. So we've been traching someone for a month and we find out we've been calling him by the wrong name. Yeah. That's special. :P

Oh! So you may wonder why I titled this letter "Genuinely Genuine! Welcome to the Heartland!" Well, here's why: the people here are REAL!!! Some of you may not understand what I mean by "real", but for those of you who do, it's awesome! Almost every single soul here is sincere and genuine and genuinely kind. Even if we're tracting and they tell us they're never going to go to our church and they think we're weird, at least they're genuine about it! And then we find people to teach and we teach them and they say stuff like, "I really do appreciate it. Thanks so much." But it's not the "I know that I should say 'I really appreciate it' so I'm going to say it and give you a faked smile." THEY REALLY MEAN IT!!!

I don't mean it to come off as judgemental, but people can tell if someone is being genuine or not. It makes me cringe when people say stuff because it's the "(insert compliment/statement of gratitude here)" thing to do. Basically, I LOVE the people here! It's so nice to be around real people all of the time. There aren't any fake personalities here in Oklahoma. Just good ol' Americans doing stuff the American way and just being themselves. I've met the most genuinely kind people here. They're so sincere. They don't use fancy words or way of speech or try to say stuff like General Authorities or anything. They just talk from the heart and I can FEEL what they're saying, not just hear it. A conversation here isn't just words and words. It's hearts and hearts. I love this place :)

Speaking of the most genuinely nice people I've ever met in my life, Brother Revilla had us over on Saturday for birthday dinner. He turned 40 last Wednesday and made US dinner to celebrate HIS birthday. I LOVE THIS GUY! He made some Peruvian food for us (he's from Lima originally) and it was DELICIOUS!!! We offered to help him but he kept saying, "Thanks, Elders. It's okay. Have a seat, Elders." He's Diego's dad, P.S. So that was really nice.
Then the Brisolaras had us over for dinner. They have a big family (12 children between the ages of 11 and 29, something like that) and they're all really cool. Brother Brisolara and I had a nice chat and it just reaffirmed to me that the people here are so loving and genuine and charitable. This place is incredible!

Oh yeah! It rained really hard last Monday. We were at a dinner appointment and were just about to leave as it started to pour down rain. Luckily, we had our bikes outside waiting for us, so we rode the 4 miles home in the rain! It. was. AWESOME!!! We got inside and took pictures of how soaked we were (it was a memorable moment since it's been 105 F all the time!). So that was fun :)

I think that's it for now. Life is fine and dandy like sour candy! haha :P Thank you, everyone, for all of your prayers. I can FEEL the power and strength from the prayers said in my behalf and in behalf of the people of Oklahoma.

Oh yeah, praying for large groups of people to receive the Spirit works! We just started praying that the Lord will pour down His Spirit on the people of Lawton, Oklahoma to prepare their minds and hearts for the message we share and I can already see the difference in the conversations we have with people! It's INCREDIBLE! (or, een-cred-dee-blay as we say it in Gringo Espanol). So, PRAY! 'Cause God hears you! And He wants to help you! And if you try to think of what Christ would pray for if He were in your same situation, then your prayers will be SO POWERFUL you won't even know what to do with yourself! I promise you that this is true!

Have a wonderful week, everyone! I love you! Testify and be happy!

Love,
Elder Woolley :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Birthday Dinner

Happy Birthday to me!


Me and the Stringhams

DIEGO! He's Bro. Ravilla's son. Bro. Rivilla is in the Army and is basically the nicest person I've ever met in my entire life! I think if Diego's energy could be converted to electricity for houses and stuff, he could power the whole world for a long time!
Patching Elder Jackson's bike tube...again... :)

Birthday/Miracle Week

Hello Family and Everyone!

First off, I love you!!! Thanks for all of your birthday wishes!!! This week was a fun one!!
So my birthday was on Tuesday and we worked just like we would any other day. We have a calender that we pass around at church for people to sign up to feed us (God bless America! :) and one of the guys we're working with put "Elder Woolley's B-Day" on the top of the 10th. A family named the Stringham's signed up. They're a really cool, down to earth couple who are really nice. They called us on Monday night and asked me what I want to eat for my birthday. "Lasagna! (my favorite food) No! Wait! Chinese food... yeeeeaaaah.... :)" I've had a hankerin' for some o' that Chinese food!!!

So we worked all day and then they picked us up for dinner. We ate fried rice, homemade egg rolls, steamed veggies, white rice, and kim-chee! Kim-chee? Kim-chi? I dunno. I loved getting reacquainted with kim-chi (thank you Evan Phillips and Derek Wakamatsu!!) even though it burned my eyes :) It was really good! We ate till we were stuffed and then we had BIRTHDAY CAKE!!! They made a German chocolate cake with German chocolate cake muffins and put candles in it and I blew it and made a wish and it was awesome!!! So they definitely scored points for the cake. And then candles. And the Chinese food. MMMmmm.... Chinese food....... :)

O.K. On to the Miracle part of the week!

We had Zone Conference on Wednesday. We talked about Our Purpose and The Gospel of Jesus Christ and some other stuff. It's part of the new training we're all getting. Anyway, it was really good and I learned a lot. At the end of Zone Conference I asked President Taylor for a moment. We went into a room and started talking. I told him about my struggles with feeling charity for people and being frustrated with trying to love people more. He told me to just show love for other people (serve them, say "I love you", etc) even if it seems robotic or I'm just going through the motions at first. Then he told me something that has changed my perspective a lot.
He told me he had similar struggles when he was a missionary and after a while, he said he started looking at everyone as if we're from the same graduating class in the pre-earth life. Some a little earlier than others, but basically the same. We all came down here TOGETHER and he said he would just put himself out there and say, "Hey! Here I am! You don't remember me or know me, but we came down here together! And I'm going to do EVERYTHING I can to reach out and grab hold of your spirit and try to communicate with your spirit!!!" I've been thinking about that a lot and it has helped me see people for who they really are--my brothers and sisters :)

After our meeting I was in the bathroom and said a quiet "thank you" prayer. I looked at myself in the mirror and I started laughing. I had no idea what was going on, but I was laughing and I felt REALLY GOOD!!! I kept on laughing and laughing and everytime I looked at myself in the mirror, I laughed harder!!! When I looked at myself, I FINALLY saw the genuinely happy person I've wanted to be my whole life!!! It felt like a huge weight was lifted off my chest and I could finally breathe like I never have before! The Atonement of Jesus Christ took away ALL of my burdens and ALL of my pains. I could finally really forgive myself for everything I've done (I've been told I'm too hard on myself) and I just kept laughing and laughing and laughing. I couldn't even stand up!! The answer to my prayers was a cathartic experience. All of the stress I've ever felt, all of the hatred, all of the sorrow--it was ALL GONE!!!

Elder Jackson came in and saw me and thought I was going crazy or something. I told him everything I just wrote in the paragraph above and kept laughing. And laughing. And laughing! At first I thought I was going crazy too, but that's how God answered my prayer! He gave me an experience that purged all of the stress in my heart and soul and basically gave me a clean slate to work on! Even though it's still difficult/awkward to express my love for people, it's a lot easier because of the work of the Atonement in my life!

GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS!!! It may take A LOT of praying (and I mean A LOT A LOT A LOT of praying) but He answers prayers! I KNOW He does! So if you need help, get on your knees. If you don't feel happy, get on your knees. If you hate someone, get on your knees. If you want to be more friendly, get on your knees. If it feels like everything is crashing down and you want to give up and you have NO idea what to do, GET ON YOUR KNEES!!! Tell God what's up, and He will talk with you. Give Him time to speak, and you'll ALWAYS have a conversation with God EVERY TIME YOU PRAY!

Another evidence of this: a couple weeks ago, Elder Jackson and I were praying to know which streets to tract to be led to those who are praying for us and looking for something more and looking for happiness. We were led to Oklahoma Ave. We met a lady (Dorthea) as we were tracting that vented for about 30 minutes on how her life is horrible and she's worried about her grandkids and all that (she really is in a bad situation). So now we're teaching her and she's scheduled to be baptized on Sept 4th.

So there ya have it! God answers prayers! :)

That's all for this week. Thanks to all who follow faithfully and pray for me and write to me! You do not go unnoticed! I love you a lot!

Have a great week! I love you!

Love,
Elder Woolley :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Happy Birthday Elder Woolley!

Phil's 22nd birthday is tomorrow, August 10. I should have warned everyone last week. Phil would love to hear from you. You can email him at philip.woolley@myldsmail.net. He can only send email responses to immediate family, but he promises to write letters to anyone that emails or sends him snail mail. Here are a couple of pictures he sent us this week. All captions to his pictures are provided by Elder Woolley.

A picture of my new favorite that's on an old trailer.
And the chapter heading about tools in one of my bicycle maintenance books (must be missionary approved!)

Dag-gum!!!

Hi!

I'm in Oklahoma (as you may already know) and it's wicked fun! Like, totally righteous! Get it? WICKED fun?! Totally RIGHTEOUS!! Yeah, I don't get it either.

This past week was a doozie of a good time! And guess what, time is already going a bazillion trillion miles an hour because it's like I breathe and an hour passes! So does that mean every time I breathe I've moved a bazillion trillion miles? Hmmm.... interesting....

Uplifting story time!

The other day I was trying to take apart my rear hub on my bike. There was a rattling sound as I turned the wheel slowly (a sign that some of the ball bearings had fallen out of place). We had an appointment to give a blessing to an investigator in the Sisters' area a few miles from where we live at 2 PM. I was taking apart the rear hub as best as I could with the tools I had, but soon realized I needed some wrenches. I prayed to be led to an adjustable wrench. As I looked for it, I was led to the heating and A/C repair guy for the apartments. We lent me a pipe wrench (I think that's what it's called? The big red one? Monkey wrench?) Anyway, that helped me get the cassette off (the cassette is the gears on the back of a bike), but I didn't have another wrench to disassemble the hub.

I was getting a little frustrated since without our bikes we're a A LOT less effective. And it was already after 2 (we called them and told them we'd be late). I got on my knees and prayed and told Heavenly Father that I have no idea what to do and asked to know what to do. He told me to give the blessing, so I put my bike together, told Elder Jackson, "The Lord will provide!" and we went to give a blessing.

When we got there, the Sisters were in there already talking with a man, a woman, and a young boy. They all wanted blessings, so we gave all of them blessings. We gave the man, Kevin, a blessing to help him overcome his addiction to coffee so he can be baptized. We blessed him with a bunch of other stuff and then afterwards we all sat and just talked a little bit.

Kevin just sat there with a face of awe and wonder, stroking his long, wavy, black hair every once in a while, staring at the ground a few feet in front of him. After a few minutes, he looked up and said, "So this is real." YEAH!!!!! We talked about his feelings and that he was feeling the Holy Ghost right then. He said, "It's like all of you know something that the rest of us don't. It like, you just know it, and it's different. And I think I know it. It's like I really KNOW it. Like, I didn't know something before and now I KNOW it." Hallelujah AMEN Brotha! He KNOWS! Clap yo' hands togetha! Sing PRAISES! Sing it wit' me now!

OK. I went a little Gospel Choir on you there. My bad :P

Anyway, it was really cool and I couldn't stop smiling the whole time and I love that guy and I just want to give him a big hug. Maybe I will sometime! Hmmm......
So that's that.

OH! I remember something else that's awesome and amazing and going to completely change everything about missionary work (not COMPLETELY, but definitely make all of us missionaries more effective). There are going to be 8 lesson/section things that we're going to be trained on over the next year. They're short and simple, but very powerful. I think eventually it might be added to Preach My Gospel (at least that what the MTC Admin Director (who's basically in charge of all of the training missionaries go through and was a big part it the development of Preach My Gospel) said at a fireside while I was there).

This past Thursday we had a trainers meeting. It was for all of the new missionaries (me and the 4 others I came with) and our trainers. President Taylor taught us about part of one of the lessons. The lesson was called "Teach People, Not Lessons". He outlined 4 steps and we trained on them. The 4 steps are:

Ask inspired questions.
Listen in love
Discern which way to go
Teach the doctrine

Basically, we focus on listening to the Spirit more and being comfortable with silence while we listen for what to say. AND IT'S INCREDIBLE!!!!!! Missionary work is about to get SWEEEEEEEET!!!

Also, he asked all of us to study and reconnect with our purpose as missionaries, "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." So Elder Jackson decided to use that as we contact people and it works crazy good! People are like, "Okay, that's cool" and then we teach them a little and Elder Jackson committed a lady to baptism right there! It was INCREDIBLE! So we're going to do that more and more. The gloves are off! The gospel's comin'!!!

I think that's about it for this week. Thanks for anyone and everyone who's praying for me. Prayers are an act of faith and things happen when faith is practiced. So thanks! :) Keep true to the faith! Read the Book of Mormon!!! A lot!!! Really, A LOT!!!! It'll make you happy :)
Ok, I love you! Have a great week!

Love,
Elder Woolley

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Thems is pictures right there!

A picture of Elder Jackson and I in our room.


We ran out of milk, so I can Pops cereal in V8 Splash juice, topped with blueberries and crumbled up chocolate cake. You know, for fun! I could only stomach half of it :p


And I fix bikes. A lot. It's fun though, so it's all good! :)


Another Week! MMmmmm...

Hello Family and All!

This week was fun! And hot! And sweaty! Mainly fun though :) Ok, so we've been tracting and been finding a lot of people to talk to and a few to teach. We have a family that we're teaching that we found while tracting when I first got to the mission. It's a young Army guy, his wife, and their 13-month-old son (who loves to grab/take/steal anything and everything we have when we come over, so he's fun to have around). Haha yeah, so they read 3 Nephi 11 and prayed about it like we had challenged them to do last week and they did it! They weren't sure if they had received and answer or not, so we talked a little bit about what it feels like when the Spirit gives us an answer. Elder Jackson whipped out a cool scripture (Galatians 5:22-23) about the fruits of the Spirit. So that was cool! And then we taught them the Plan of Salvation last night. They really liked how it was all broken down and whatnot. They said, "People have tried to explain all that kind of stuff, but they couldn't break it down like that." We "soft committed" them to baptism ("If you get an answer to your prayer and know what we're teaching is true, will you get baptized into our church?" something like that) and they accepted, so it's not official per se, but they're getting there!

Let's see... it's consistently 105, 106 degrees outside, so we get our daily detox everyday as we ride our bikes and tract. It's not too bad!

Speaking of bikes, I've become the "go to bike repair guy" in the mission. I've been working on my companion's bike a lot (hooray for flats!) and it's been fun to adjust our bikes and fine tune them. They're our only mode of transportation besides walking, so it's important that it's all working and working well and whatnot. Terry's Bicycle Shop (the local bike shop up the road) is now one of our favorite places. Anyway, bikes are fun :)

So to answer a few questions from my faithful readers, there are probably some interesting historical sites here, but I don't know of any yet. It doesn't really feel like the "South" down here. Some people have accents, but they aren't very heavy (most of the time). People here are genuine (no "Hey-ya, buddy! How are ya?!" kind of keeping up appearances) so I really really really like that. Even when they tell us frankly that they're a member of another church and they aren't going to change, they're genuine and respectful, so I look up to the people in general for that.

Yesterday we had dinner at a member's house (PS Last Friday, I had THE BEST ribs I have EVER had in my life! God bless America!!!). They're a young couple and the husband reminds me of Jerry Lewis. Anyway, he has a garden and told us this story:

"I was back in my garden a while back and I saw this little green ball that was growing there, so I thought, 'Oh! A cucumber!' Then it grew a little bit and I thought, 'A squash!!' Then it got even bigger and had little lines and designs and I thought, 'A WATERMELON!' Then it turned orange. A pumpkin. PSH!"

Hahahaha he was so excited during all of it and then he reached the pumpkin part and had a disappointed face. Hahahahaha it was so funny!!! It may have been one of those "you had to be there" kind of moments, but Elder Jackson and I laughed really hard. Hahahaha it's still funny!!!

OH! Here's a good story! We had one of those "An Evening with a General Authority" firesides last Saturday. Elder Stephen (maybe Steven?) L. Fluckiger of the Seventy spoke, as well as President and Sister Taylor. It was all about how we can stengthen families. One of the key things that each of them hit on was saying, "I love you" everyday to each family member, especially those who are having a rough life at the time. They all testified that doing that alone will help resolve many problems in family life. They added their testimonies to Elder Bednar's from his October 2009 General Conference talk, "More Diligent and Concerned at Home." So tell people you love them!

After the fireside, Elder Fluckiger was talking with some Sisters who had brought an investigator with them. He talked to the investigator a little bit and then asked, "So when are you going to be baptized?" The investigator responded, "I don't know." Elder Fluckiger replied, "How about next week?" "Sounds good!" Talk about bold! Haha it was awesome! I'm going to be more bold in everything now. We have the truth, we know it's the truth, and we know people need it. If they're receptive (or even if we're just talking with them at their door) might as well be bold! Of course, we'll let the Spirit guide too :)

Anyway, that's all for this week. I'll try to remember weird/crazy/funny/odd/happy/interesting stories that I can tell all of you next week. I love all of you and thanks for your thoughts and prayers in my behalf! Have a fantastic day! :)

Love,
Elder Woolley

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

MTC & Mission Arrival

Me with Elder Browning, some elder, Sister Clark (one of my teachers)


Elders Browning, Stilson, Katoa, Cornelius and me on the day I left the MTC.

Me with my mission President and his wife and the other elders that came with me.

Elder Jackson and Josh in our apartment

Ok-a-la-ho-ma!

I'm here!!!!!
Sorry I didn't get to email last week. I left the MTC last Tuesday and our P-days were on Wednesday, so I didn't get a chance to get online before I left. And then P-days are on Tuesday here, so yeah, it's cool.
So I left the MTC last Tuesday morning, and got to Oklahoma City early that afternoon. President Taylor and his wife and the Assistants to the President met us there. We went to Pres. Taylors house and had interviews and some training from the Assistants. Then we had dinner (Yum! I don't remember what it was, but it was good!) and went tracting a little bit. The first time tracting, I felt like I was back in Chattanooga, TN selling pest control. Thankfully, I have a little bit more passion for the gospel then bug killing :P So that was fun and dandy and then we went back to the mission home and talked about our experiences and had a little testimony meeting.
One of the Elders that came with me is Elder Anjain. He's from the Marshall Islands and his first experience in America was going to the MTC. There's a community of Marshallese (?) people in northern Oklahoma (Enid, OK), so I think that's one reason he was sent here. Anyway, he speaks English as a second language and isn't very comfortable and fluent with conversations yet (at least not with people he doesn't know). When we were sharing our experiences about tracting, he let out his frustrations and said something to the effects of, "In the Book of Mormon, it says..." I can't remember what he said after that, but it was a very powerful testimony by itself. "In the Book of Mormon, it says (blank), and so that's how it is." He's one of my heroes. He taught me that, when looking at life and the gospel, it's actually very simple and laid out right in front of us. "The Book of Mormon says it, so that's how it is." He's a really good guy and I hope we keep in contact after the mission even if we never serve as companions.
The next day (last Wednesday) we went to the local chapel where all of the missionaries who are getting transfered meet up. I'm in the Lawton zone, so we're the southwest region of the mission. It includes Wichita Falls, TX and all that down there and then Lawton and a good distance around it in all directions. We got to Lawton and I met my companion/trainer, Elder Jackson. He's from Manti, UT and he's been out just over a year. He's a hard worker, so we get along well :)
So my first area is in Lawton, Oklahoma! It's the home of Fort Sill! Ft Sill is where a lot/most (if not all) of the artillery schools and training go on for all of the branches of service. We can hear the artillery shooting off in the distance. The first time I heard it I was in our apartment. I was walking and then stopped and turned to the direction the sound came from. Haha Elder Jackson was like, "Oh yeah, they shoot artillery everyday." It was just suprising to hear that sound again. Hahaha :P
We're assigned to the Lawton 2nd Ward, Lawton Stake. Our area has needed some work though, so we've been tracting a lot. We're finding people and teaching them right on their doorstep and setting up appointments, so it's working! Maybe not the most effective finding technique, but tracting is actually pretty fun. Teaching people half of a lesson (or a whole one!) in 5 minutes on their door step is exciting! Haha, yeah, this stuff is cool :)
I'm the only military person in the mission right now (as far as missionaries go). Whenever I meet a missionary, they're like, "You're the Marine, right?" and then they follow-up with a bunch of random questions that span from the general "what's Afghanistan like?" to "so are you like the Marines in Halo?" Yeah, it's... spiffy. But it's helped as we're out tracting or just talking with members. We got an appointment with one guy because I told him I'm a Marine and I asked him about what he does in the Army and we just talked a while. So that's that.
It's been hot and humid, so that's dandy. It's been around 95-ish? I think it MIGHT have been over 100 for part of the other day. I dunno, it's hot and humid and I'm sweaty the whole time, so it's all good :) Living in Tennessee before this has helped. And it's not as bad as stagnant 110 degrees in Afghanistan, so I'm up and kicking and trying to be as effective as possible as quickly as possible (even while stumbling over some words sometimes :P.
The apartment is actually a 4 man apartment, but there's only us two in there, so it's one of the bigger ones in the mission, I'm told. It was... less than clean when I got there, but we bought a bunch of cleaning supplies and now they know what a "field day" is like (for those of you who don't know, a field day in the Marine Corps basically consists of ripping your entire living quarters out and cleaning every little nook and cranny as clean as it can get). So maybe it wasn't a true field day, but it's definitely a lot cleaner now!
OH! Did I tell you I get to bike?!?! The car in our area was in an accident last transfer, so it's out for the count for a while. Anyway, I love my bike :) I had to fine tune it a little when I first got it set up from the Assistants (luckily, they know how to put bikes together). So we bike everywhere we go and it makes us hot and sweaty and it's SO FUN! We're going to go to the local bike shop today to get some stuff. Elder Jackson's left crank arm (the thing the pedal attaches to) broke off again (for the third time), so we're gonna get that fixed because really, our bikes are VERY important to everything we do out here. So yeah, I'll probably pick up a tool here and there and have a nice collection when I get home :)
OK, this is a long email.
We've been teaching a guy a lot lately. His name is Josh. He was in the Marines (he's only in his mid-20s) so we can talk our lingo and know what's going on and we can relate to each other well (he was deployed three times). Anyway, he's a less-active member who is trying to get his life in order so we've been teaching him. I told him that the Book of Mormon is the most important book on the earth right now and by praying and reading it, he can find every answer to every question he has about his life in it. So he started reading. And we started praising God more! He's a really good guy who's been through A LOT, so it's good to see he's making the effort to change.
Yeah, this email is a long one, eh?
Thanks for all of your prayers and love and support!!! I love all of you!!!! Write to me and I promise I'll write back! Ok, have a good day. BYE!

Peace Love,
Elder Woolley :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Another Week in the MTC

HEY!

MTC life is still fun and dandy. I feel better and better everyday and I'm learning a lot! (Especially about patience :P. Elder Oaks' daughter played at the Sunday fireside (she plays violin very well). Elder Oaks was there and me and my comp went outside by where he was parked and waved goodbye to him as he drove off. That was pretty cool :)

MTC life really isn't that bad. I'm not falling asleep all of the time (thanks to going through a billion classes in the Marines) and working hard all day isn't a problem (not to be "look at me", but it's frustrating sometimes to work with people that don't know how to work hard.) That's life! I'm still having a lot of fun and really excited to actually get to Oklahoma!!! I LOVE AMERICA!!! I'm SO glad I'm not leaving America for another couple of years. Yeah, not for me. The Lord knows what He's doing when He sent me a couple states away!

Only 2 minutes left! [On the computer]

Note for everyone who wants to serve a mission or is thinking about serving a mission or is thinking about NOT serving a mission.

YOU NEED TO GO ON A MISSION!!!!!!!

I have never been so blessed and so happy and had such hard times but growing times in my whole life!!!!!! Marine buddies, you think Afghanistan was an adventure and learning experience, YOU NEED TO GO ON A MISSION!!!!!! And so should anyone else that has the opportunity!!!!! That's my main thought this week :) The Church is true. All that good stuff. Gotta go! I love all of you very very very much!!!!!

Love,
Elder Woolley!! :)

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

First Week in the MTC

Hello Family and everyone!

This past week has been GREAT! When I showed up, I was feeling okay about everything and was okay with the idea of working with people 2-3 years younger than me, but I was still in "Marine mode." With every passing day and every passing hour, though, I feel happier and happier and just GREAT! It's been really nice being able to talk about and study the gospel and the scriptures all day every day. It's really the only thing that could bring joy back into my life, and it's only getting better!

We had a patriotic fireside on Saturday. It was all about America (think of that! :P ) and how our forefathers were divinely inspired. It even talked about the 50 eminent men appearing in the St George temple, requesting that the work for them be completed. After the fireside we DID get to watch the fireworks. All of us stood in the parking lot at the south end of the MTC campus and watched them. Surprisingly, it was a great view! Missionaries would start singing patriotic songs/hymns and then everyone would join in. It was really an unforgettable experience.

I'm okay with being the only one going to Oklahoma City in my zone, I suppose. I've been doing all of my "adjusting into missionary life" with these Elders though, so I'll definitely miss them and remember them. I can't wait to get to Oklahoma!!! Rednecks! Tornadoes! Bison!!!! I'm really really excited :) It's where America is still America, you know?!

Another note, I'm amazed at how people survive here for 8-15 weeks. Sara is Wonder Woman for being able to survive it! Okay, maybe "survive" is too strong a word, but it's kind of like training in the Marine Corps. Marines are okay (and actually like) getting deployed and stuff (at least I do :P ) but training is always the worst part of a deployment. Not that it's bad here, because it's not, but I think I'll only be able to handle 3 weeks of the MTC. Anyway, the MTC is still cool! I'm excited for Oklahoma though!!!

I've been getting happier and happier as I pray for charity and study the scriptures more and more. It really is the only thing that could cure my "not so happy" state before I got in here :P but hallelujah for the gospel of Jesus Christ and for the Atonement!!!! I know it's the ONLY way to true happiness!!! I love this gospel!!!

Thanks for sending the packages and random stuff. I've already used the super glue numerous times and the scissors too. And I love having my shirts with the little cartoons on them :)

One minute left!!! All I have to say is that this is THE BEST THING I'VE EVER DONE IN/WITH MY LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!! HANDS DOWN!!!!!!!!!

Gotta go. I LOVE YOU!!!!!!

Love,
Elder Woolley

(Note: This is being posted a week late...sorry) :)