Monday, March 28, 2011

Weekly Letter -- 28 MAR 2011


This week is transfers!! And I'm staying in Elk City!! Elder Phillips is going to a Spanish branch in OKC and my new companion is/will be Elder Garner (who speaks Spanish and has been out about 8 months total). Sister Grant is staying in Woodward and is training, and Elder Kimber is staying in Clinton and is training. 6 missionaries in our district with 2 of them being fresh from the MTC! We're VERY excited!!!

This week we did a lot of sifting through potential investigators. It was a grand adventure with lots of people to see.

Yesterday, we went to the Thackers' home to teach them. Brother Thacker brought up his ever-looming concern: "If polygamy is righteous, then why did it change? If it isn't righteous, then how could Joseph Smith be a prophet?" The past few weeks, it seems like this has been brought up a hundred times when we see them. Sister Thacker is more humble and willing to change. Brother Thacker knows the scriptures a little better.

We left the appointment a little frustrated. We've emphasized over and over again "Read and pray. Read and pray." If there's anything robotic about my teaching now (especially with the Thackers), it's seems to be the ongoing chant, "Read and pray. Read and pray." We've also explained to Brother Thacker that it all goes back to, "Was Joseph Smith a prophet?" Regardless of what we say, Brother Thacker always seems to come out with his old polygamy argument, "It has to be one way or the other. It's either righteous or it isn't!"

So, today, as we real played in companion study, I started out as Brother Thacker. (PS "Real Play" is role playing but with the Spirit involved). We tried a little teaching, and then evaluated. We were still lost as to what to do. We switched roles and re-real played. I was lost as to what to teach and we sat in silence for a couple of minutes. Then Elder Phillips' eyes went big and said, "Oh! I got it!" He explained that we should use our "Communicating Effectively" model with Brother Thacker (our "Communicating Effectively" model being, "When you do _____, I feel _____").

We tried it out and basically said, "Brother Thacker, when you keep on bringing up the polygamy thing, we feel like you're misunderstanding what we're saying." Elder Phillips was like, "That's it!!!" YES! REVELATION! We've been trying to figure out how to help him for a while now. Real play totally works! Communicating effectively totally works! :)

So that's really it for this week. We're really excited to have a couple of fresh missionaries in our district. It'll be a fun adventure!

Thanks for the letters and prayers and love! I love you! :)

Elder Woolley

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pictures from this week!

YAY! Oklahoma Science Museum! We went there for P-day last week. It was fun!
Elder Ellsworth and I
 Do it for America!
Our whole district went to the LTM! (from left: Sister Jensen, Sister Grant, Elder Adair, me, Elder Kimber, Elder Phillips)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Weekly Letter -- 21 Mar 2011

Dear Everyone,

This morning, we had our sliding glass door cracked open for some air flow. There are blinds that cover the door, and as I studied, a cat walked through the door into our living room. I saw him out of the corner of my eye and thought, "Cool! There's a cat in our living room!" And then I stood up and it ran out the door.

Have you ever tried riding your bike against the wind? We've done that a good amount the past few days. Note to self: Tour de France training=biking against the wind in Oklahoma. Luckily, I like to ride my bicycle :)

This past week was the LTM in the city (Oklahoma City). Super fun! I stayed with the Zone Leaders again (Elders Madsen and Ellsworth, same as last LTM). It was a blast! There were a bunch of super spiritual meetings and I learned a lot!

As I was in the LTM, I wondered why the LTM's I've been to have always had a spiritually profound impact on me. It's because the Spirit is very strong there, and we're getting taught and guided by the Spirit in an intense way all week. It's the same as why we go to Church--for the Spirit! (Read Elder Bednar's address "Receive the Holy Ghost" in the Nov 2010 Ensign for more!)

Also, another note to self: armadillos jump/bound. We saw a live one as we were driving down the road in El Reno (an area the Zone Leaders cover). Seeing a live armadillo is a big deal! Elder Ellsworth has been out 18 months and it's the first live one he's seen! So we got out of the truck and circled around it (there were 5 of us: the Zone Leaders, Elder Hawker, Elder Cook (the one I trained) and myself). After a few seconds, the armadillo realized that it was surrounded. It ran and then started into some bounding hops. Those things are quick! We never did catch it, but supposedly they're dangerous (which we didn't think about at the time, but it was probably good that we didn't catch it).

Speaking of creatures, I've wondered about how some creatures fit into God's plan. For instance, camel spiders: A) they're big, B) you can only kill them with a bazooka or a big, green notebook, and C) they're attracted to red light for whatever reason. I'm not sure how they fit into the grand scheme of things, but I guess that's one of the lesser "mysteries of heaven" that will be learned someday. Cool creatures though!

OK. This letter needs to be more spiritual for all of the people reading this, right? Right. So here's some great scripture!

It's in "Nephi's Lament" in 2 Nephi 4:26-29:

26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine enemies?
27 And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?
28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.

I like that scripture a lot. How about you? :)

Love ya, everyone. Have a great week! I love you! Thanks for the letters and prayers! :)

Elder Woolley


Last P-day we went with Brother Gilliland to a ranch that he manages for a lady. It was AWESOME! We fed cows, wore cowboy hats (we had to become true Okies someday!), and learned phrases like "Jeet?" (Did you eat?) "Yannoo?" (You want to?). It was a great time! I love being out in the middle of nowhere :) It feels like home :)

Smile! I'm a cowboy!
my best "Southern used car salesman" face  
the ranch truck we rode in with a nifty thing that spear bales of hay and lifts them up

in the back of the ranch truck (my cowboy model pose!) :P

a cow pellet food thing
they don't taste good
Feeding the cows

Monday, March 14, 2011

Weekly letter -- 14 MAR 2011



Sing along!

"Happy happy birthday, Adrienne, dear.
Happy days will come to you all year!
If I had a wish then it would be,
a happy happy birthday to you from me!"

Happy birthday, Adj! :)

Last P-day we went with Brother Gilliland to a ranch that he manages for a lady. It was AWESOME! We fed cows, wore cowboy hats (we had to become true Okies someday!), and learned phrases like "Jeet?" (Did you eat?) "Yannoo?" (You want to?). It was a great time! I love being out in the middle of nowhere :) It feels like home :)

Guess what's happening this week?! ANOTHER LTM! I'm excited!

The best part of this last week was the exchange we had with the Zone Leaders. We have been working hard here, but haven't been seeing much progress. We both learned a lot when we were out working, but the big ticket of it all was the exchange report. We tried a combined exchange report (so it was an open discussion about rating ourselves and whatnot) and it was great! The great part about was realizing that we definitely have a lot to work on. After the exchange was over, we went out an worked and noticed an immediate difference!

First, we started praying over streets to tract. We said a prayer to know which street we should tract when we look at the map. Then we looked at the map, picked one, and went there! Now, instead of tracting out an entire section of the city, we're going to the streets we feel prompted to go to and we're finding people who have been prepared! It's awesome!

Second, we have stopped giving up and started holding in there longer when helping someone to pray. We use the pamphlet a lot to help with that (and our tracting lessons) and they almost always end up praying! All it takes is a little encouragement and listening to the Spirit and people pray!

Finally, when we implement all of the 8 fundamental lessons in each lesson we teach, the lessons are better! There seems to be a direct correlation on the number of skills from the 8 fundamentals that are implemented and the quality of the lessons (fancy that!).

We taught a lesson yesterday to an older couple (the Thackers). Brother Thacker has refused to pray in front of us. This time, we stuck to it and invited either of them to pray. Sister Thacker offered a kneeling prayer. We talked about it after and read 3 Nephi 18:19-21 with Brother Thacker. He hasn't wanted to pray in front of people. After we read the verses, he discovered that he has been praying incorrectly all along (he hasn't been saying prayers "in the name of Jesus Christ"). After he read it from the Book of Mormon and the part about praying in our families, he went from saying, "I don't want to pray out loud. I believe it's a personal thing. Jesus said to pray in our closets," to a slight chuckle with, "I don't know what I'd say." We encouraged him a little, with the help of his wife too, and then he prayed! We've been trying to get him to pray for a month! This is awesome!

I'm convinced that having the investigator pray at the end of the lesson is one of the most important parts of the lesson. It has made ALL of the difference in our lessons. We're definitely going to stick to it a lot more!

Almost done with Jesus the Christ and it's awesome! Everything is just AWESOME!

That's it for this week. My mind is prepared to be blown away. Awesome!

Thanks for the letters and whatnot! I love you! :)

Elder Woolley :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Weekly Letter -- 07 MAR 2011

Hello Everyone!!!

This past week involved a lot of tracting. A really cool thing happened yesterday!

We were teaching a couple (the Thackers) who have been reading and praying a lot. We were teaching them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As we were talking about it with them, Brother Thacker said something that stood out to me. I felt like Mosiah 3:19 would work well for the situation. I turned to it as Elder Phillips was saying something to them. Brother Thacker started talking some more and that's when Elder Phillips also turned to Mosiah 3:19. We read it and went on with the lesson.
After the lesson, we were talking about it. I thought he had seen me open to Mosiah 3:19 and followed suit. He thought I had seen him open to Mosiah 3:19 and I was following him. In reality, the Spirit told us both to go there. How awesome is that?!

Brother Thacker has been baptized before in the past, and he's having a really difficult time with all of that. He keeps on saying that it doesn't matter who does the baptizing because it's the person going into the water that counts. We've explained the need for baptism by priesthood authority a couple of times. He's just naturally a skeptic, since he's been to so many other churches with their twisted "dogma" (which is probably one of Brother Thackers favorite words). Anyway, as we were finishing up the lesson, we read Moroni 10:4-5 with them. We told them that everything we've talked about it hanging on those two verses: eternal life, the plan of salvation, Sister Thacker being able to raise her three children she lost at birth, being sealed together forever, baptism, the priesthood, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, modern prophets. We plainly told them that they have to read and they have to pray about it. (It was almost a rebuke, since they haven't prayed about it consistently). We were pretty straightforward about it, but we actually care about them, so it seemed they realized the seriousness of it all and they made sure they had those two verses marked. We were straightforward and bold, and because we love them, they took heed to our words!

We had also done a few Real Plays this week for a couple who are living together. She (Cheyenne) has met with missionaries a lot over the past couple of years, but can't seem to quit smoking. He (Jeremy) is a less active member. As we Real Played, we felt prompted to ask Jeremy if he wanted to join in quitting smoking (we weren't really sure if he still smoked or not). When we were at their house yesterday, we asked Jeremy if he wanted to join in quitting smoking. He said he really did. That shocked Cheyenne, since other missionaries had talked to him about it and Jeremy gave a response like, "It'll happen when it happens." So now they're quitting smoking together! How awesome is that?!

Yesterday at church, we had 3 less active members and an investigator come to church. They were Brenda and Lexi (Brenda's daughter) and Jeremy and Cheyenne! Lexi told Brenda on the way to church that she wants to go through the temple and Brenda was SO happy to hear that! Jeremy and Cheyenne are both progressing, and it's AWESOME! We haven't baptized anyone in Elk City yet, but people are coming back to church! I love being a missionary! :)

That's all for this week. Thank you for all of your support and love and prayers!

To the families of Nigel Olsen and Carlos "Chuck" Aragon: thank you. God loves you and He is mindful of you. I miss them and I like to think they're both serving their own missions right now, too. We will see them again :)

Elder Woolley