Saturday, July 23, 2011

Weekly Letter -- 18 JULY 2011

Dear Everyone,

Hello! What's life like there?! Life is spectacular here! I remember glancing at a TV screen the other day while the weather man was showing the next 7 days. Everyday was "Sunny!" and temperatures of 105, 103, 107, 105, 106, 104, 103. Some are calling this the "Great Drought of 2011." It's pretty toasty :) I'm just glad we a car!!! :) :) :)

Our ward is getting more and more into missionary work. A couple of investigators showed up to church yesterday and people were introducing themselves. It was awesome! Our bishop, Bishop Davis, is really big about members teaching with us, so we're expecting more of that to happen soon.

I remember listening to a General Conference talk this past week. I can't remember which talk it was, but it was about the Atonement. The Elder said something like, "The Savior chose to experience pain in mortality in order to better understand us. Perhaps we need to experience the depths of mortality to better understand Him." This means that our trials are opportunities to get to know the Savior more. Our trials are there to help us grow and understand and be patient and humble. I'm glad God gives us trials. I'm grateful for my own trials, because I always learn something that I probably couldn't learn any other way.

I think that's it for this week. I'll try to get more stuff to write about next week. Thanks for all of your love and prayers and goodness! :) Love ya! :)

Elder Woolley

Oklahomans love their trucks!

A Yoo-hoo cooler!!!!! What could be cooler than a Yoo-hoo cooler?!?!

'Nuf said.

We ate these tiny peppers (called pequin peppers) at a member's home yesterday. It was HOT HOT HOT!!! I had to get up and walk around and drink milk and wait a few hours before the burning finally went away. Good stuff! :)

Weekly Letter -- 11 JULY 2011

Hello Everyone!

How's it going? Fun fact about Oklahoma: this past week, Oklahoma was the hottest place in America! A few days ago, it was a new level of "HOT!" Yeah, it was really hot here, but I guess that means more all-natural sweat detox! Good stuff! :)

We had a baptism on Saturday! His name is Brother Eddie Johnson. He's about 50 years old and is really firm in the gospel. It was cool to hear him talk with other members after his baptismal service. They'd say stuff like, "Oh! You used to go to that Baptist church over there? I used to go there too!" Hahaha it's fun to be around so many converts from the big melting pot of Christian religions that make up Oklahoma. So that was a good time :)

We also had an awesome show on Friday! It was "Weaving the Tapestry of Faith through the Heartland." The youth from all 7 stakes in Oklahoma had a youth conference this past weekend and part of it was a free show in the Lloyd Noble Center (OU's basketball arena). We've been giving tickets to people and promoting over the past few weeks. It was a huge show (over 900 youth participated in various ways!). It was full of singing and dancing and Preston Taylor! Preston is President and Sister Taylor's son (I think he's 16), and he can sing like it's nobody's business. He had a solo and sang, "I'm Proud to Be an American." It was AWESOME! Anyway, I'm pretty sure everyone in Oklahoma knows who he is by now because no one else can sing like he can. So that was cool!

The big lesson I learned this week was about trials (the God-given type, not the type that we sometimes bring upon ourselves through disobedience or being unwise). I learned that trials are opportunities in disguise.

Growth can only come after and through opposition (a muscle cannot grow stonger unless it is worked out first). If we were to go through life without trials, what would we learn? How could we grow? And so, life is full of trials.

When the trials come, there are a few ways of reacting to them. The first way is to rely on our own strength, or "the arm of the flesh." When we do this, we use our own understanding, reasoning, and intelligence to work out a solution to our problem. We try out different methods of relief. We do what we can to make it all seem less painful. When we only do this method, not much is learned (if anything), there is little growth (if any growth at all), and at the end of the trial, we are exactly the same way we were before, if not worse.

Another way of dealing with trials is to turn to God. We turn to God, hearken to His word, and do His will. That's right! TURNHEARKENDO! Instead of focusing solely on relieving the pain that has been caused by the trial, the focus turns to God. We continue to do everything He has asked us to, even if it seems contrary to what would relieve the pain.

Perhaps the test isn't only to see if we'll turn to God for help when a trial comes, but if we will continue to turn to God throughout our trial. (It's "Endure to the End" on a smaller level).

Here's the way I imagine it: If we rely on the arm of the flesh, we don't really get anything out of it except a lot of pain. If we turn to God, it's as if God is standing a little down the road with a big slice of "Atonement" to give us. If we make it down the road, He gives us the slice of "Atonement," which not only heals us but exalts us and makes us more. And so, trials are opportunities to take advantage of the Atonement on a deeper level than we could otherwise. When we take advantage of the Atonement, we grow more than we could otherwise. I'm convinced that God often gives us trials to correct our character flaws. He loves us :)

I also learned that God answers prayers through other people. I've had multiple prayers answered through other people lately, and it's neat to see how it all works.

That's all for this week. Thanks for all the prayers and love! I love you! :)

Elder Woolley

A group of youth from the OKC South stake (my stake). Preston is standing front and center (the tall one). He looks a lot like President Taylor.

Elder Goodrich, Elder Glazier, Brother Johnson, and Me

Weekly Letter -- 05 July 2011 "God Bless America!"

Hello Everyone!

God Bless America!!!!

That's all for this week!

Just kidding! ;)

I can't even remember what happened this past week. Something super-cool was that we got permission to stay out till 11 PM last night so we could watch fireworks. It was AWESOME! In Oklahoma, July 4=BBQ! Altogether, yesterday, I ate 3 hamburgers, a bratwurst, a couple of cups of potato salad, A LOT of Doritos, some BBQ chips, a few deviled eggs, and some good blue drink (any kind of juice/mix is _____ drink (it depends on the color)). It was good :)

Yesterday, we went to downtown OKC to go to a few things. We went to the Botanical Gardens. There's a thing called the Crystal Bridge. It's basically a huge bridge/tube where they grow a whole bunch of exotic plants and have waterfalls and walkways through it all. It was really cool! Probably like being in the Philippines ;) Here are some pictures of it.

"It's SO HOT!"

"Ancient Nephite ruins!!!!"

We also went to the OKC Bombing Memorial. It was a reverent experience. There are rows of chairs that represent where the people who died would have been sitting when the bombing happened. I felt like I was walking on sacred ground as I looked at all of the chairs. I felt gratitude for this nation. I felt gratitude for the freedoms we have and the value that freedom has in the hearts of Americans and people everywhere. I love freedom. God bless America :)
The OKC Bombing Memorial

The Chairs

The somber reading at the entrance of the OKC Bombing Memorial

Playing the Ukulele


The people we watched fireworks had chickens, so we had fun chasing them around and trying to catch them while the food was cooking on the grill. :)

This past week, I remember listening to a talk by Elder Nelson from this last general conference. From listening to it, I learned that there are two ways to go through trials: God's way, or by "the arm of the flesh." God gives us trials and circumstances to give us an opportunity to choose His way or to go by the arm of the flesh. So trials=opportunities. Maybe that's how it works in the way of the gospel. When God wants to give us greater opportunities (for our own growth and/or the growth of others), He gives us greater trials. It's interesting. The Gospel at first seems to be a giant paradox. I suppose that's what makes it such an adventure. :)

That's all for this week. THANK YOU for all of your prayers and fasts and letters and everything. I love all of you!!! :)

Elder Woolley :)