Friday, July 24, 2015

Listen

Hey Mom! 

I am glad you have been making a lot of visits this summer!I

Grandka is such an example for us. She is so spiritually strong! I am pretty sure God will answer every one of her sincere prayers. Hopefully everything turns out all right with Pap! 

Aww, noo! Hannah fell off a horse? That must hurt so, so badly. I will pray that she gets better quickly! 

I am glad Bradley will be going on a mission soon! Tell me where he gets called as soon as possible afterwards. Hopefully he will go to a Spanish-speaking mission too! 

This week I pondered a lot about how I can improve my teaching skills. I read chapter 10 in Preach My Gospel, which is about specific ways to make a lesson powerful and uplifting. One section really called my attention, the section, "Escuchar" or Listen. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland teaches us that we should never think about what we want to say next, but rather listen sincerely to our investigators as they comment and answer questions. He says that listening is just as, if not more, important than actually teaching.


Sometimes in a lesson I find myself thinking, "Hmm, what is a good question to ask?" or "How can I change the direction of the lesson to fit the needs of this investigator?" when I should be paying attention and completely putting my trust in the Spirit and the impressions that I receive. Elder Holland proclaimed that there will always, always be something we can teach if we earnestly seek the Spirit and His guidance. As the scripture says, God will give us in the very hour the portion of His word that we need. Yesterday I put Elder Holland´s advice to practice. I tried even harder to understand my investigator´s points of view, my investigator´s needs. I could feel the Spirit so much stronger as I completely taught according to the Lord´s will, and not my own. He is the Teacher, and I am just his mouthpiece in my area.


This week I have been also thinking a lot about God´s plan for us, and that each one of us are literally spirit brothers and sisters. Here in El Salvador, we call each other "Hermano" o "Hermana," Brother or Sister. Isn´t that so fitting? We are all sons and daughters of God, who loves us all and wants to help us return to Him. The more I ponder on this, the more love I feel for everyone I see. Only through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ can I help my brothers and sisters return to our Heavenly Father in heaven. There is no other way. I am so happy to be an instrument in my Father´s hands! I have such a wonderful responsibility and duty!


I´m sorry, I am almost out of time!


Have a wonderful week!


Te quiero también! Hasta que hablemos de nuevo! :)

Elder Marriott

Friday, July 17, 2015

Just Like Job

Hey Mom!

This week was fantastic!

On Tuesday we had a multi-zona! President and the assistants taught us about the importance of setting baptismal dates and helping all our investigators go to Church on Sunday. Lately Elder Villalobos, Elder Kearsley, and I have really been focusing on invitations: to read the Book of Mormon and the lesson pamphlets, to pray to ask God if the Church is true, and to attend Church on Sunday.

Something I have learned on the mission is that we should always, always be direct when I invite others to repent. You cannot tell someone, "I invite you to maybe, if you have enough time and want to know if our message is true, to read the pamphlet sometime and ask if it´s true. If you want to, of course." Rather, you have to look an investigator in the eyes and ask, "Will you read the pamphlet tonight and pray to know if it is true?" There is power in a direct invitation.

Jesus Christ is a perfect example. He did not let an opportunity pass by when he could have taught a gospel principle and invited someone, or a group of people, to repent. I love reading his parables and pondering on the lessons they teach.

Yesterday we had a very spiritual lesson with the Marinero Family. Elder Villalobos shared his feelings about his family. He told us that as he grew up he always asked his dad questions like "Why don´t I have a phone?" or "Why don´t I have a car?" His dad would always answer, "We don´t have enough money, son. I´m sorry." He started to cry as he told us that his dad even collected garbage to provide for the needs of his family. He bore a powerful testimony that the gospel really does bless families. There was always food on his table, even if it was only tortillas and chile. His family was united and happy, even though they never had very much money.

I remembered the scripture that says, Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.


We read about Job, who was blessed so much by the Lord. With time, everything was taken from him. His children downed, and all his possessions were burned by fire. But he did not cease to thank God for the blessings he had received. In essence he said, "God gave me everything I had, and now he took it away. I will give thanks to Him forever." 

I´m so thankful to be a missionary. It is wonderful to be guided by the Spirit as I teach with courageous men who have dedicated their lives in the service of God. I will not teach the gospel just for two years, but for all my life and afterwards.

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to be raised in a wonderfully faithful family. I´m so blessed, just like Job.

I hope you have an amazing week!!

I love you!

Elder Marriott

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

New Companion

Hey Mom! 
Todo bien! Wow, it has been stormy out there too? Here it has been pouring like crazy, and there is also a lot of thunder and lightning. Winter started really late this year, but we are technically almost in the middle of it! Yesterday was hilarious. It started pouring before we left the house to work, and I had accidentally left my beloved umbrella in Dennis´s house. Anyways, I had to bring a tiny, cheap umbrella we had found earlier. It barely covered the width of my shoulders. Hahaha! Whatever works.

Interesting. It is definitely true that sometimes we don´t understand who we really are and what our purpose is. President Vasquez told me there are two reasons people do not want to repent. They either don´t understand the doctrine of the gospel or they don´t want to repent. You are so right, it is extremely important that we read the scriptures everyday. As Alma 37 says, by small and simple things are great things brought to pass. 

On Wednesday we had another transfers meeting, and I am excited to say that I have new companion! His name is Elder K! He is the new financial secretary. I will be leaving the office on the 19th of August, and also be left with another eleven months out in the field. Voy a echar fuego! :) 

Elder K is great! I only saw him once, and that was at WalMart on my and Elder L's last P-Day together. He was just finishing up his training. He is from Oregon and is 20 years old. His trainer was Elder Soza, who is my office grandpa. He has already learned a ton in two days, and teaches really well too! He will hopefully be a better financial secretary than I was. ;) 

This week I learned a lot about hope. I find that a lot of time we focus too much on the past. We remember things we did, things we could have done better, and friends we had. After changes I felt a little sad. All the returning missionaries came and slept at our house for the last time. Elder Hazelgren, Elder Flores (my best Costa Rican friend ever), Elder Leatherow, and Elder Caldwell, not to mention a lot of other good friends, went home. I kept remembering all of the good times I had with them, and reminding myself that I would probably not be seeing most of them ever again. So sad! I realized that I should always, always look forward to the future with hope and patience. Elder Villalobos has taught me that the best day of your life is today, and should always be today. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but today! We just have to keep smiling, whatever happens! It´s definitely a hard lesson to learn, and I´m still in the process. I can´t imagine how sad I will be to leave the mission in just over a year! :D

Yesterday we had a really great lesson with our new recent convert. We decided to each read out loud our favorite scripture. She read to us Doctrine and Covenants 81:5. It says:

 Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.
 
She then bore a powerful testimony and shared her feelings about mission work. She wants to serve a mission in a year, after she turns 19. A returned missionary from our ward said she told him that sometimes she reads the scriptures really late at night, after finishing her schoolwork. That is dedication! I am so happy to have had the opportunity to help her receive the blessings of the gospel, and I hope she can serve a mission soon! 

Well, I´m almost out of time! 

I hope you have a wonderful week! 

Love you! 

Tu hijo menor favorito,

Elder Marriott
 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Another Really Successful Week

The Office

Denny's on P-day
Hey Mom!

This has been another really great week!

On Wednesday we will have another change meeting (or in your case, transfer meeting)! :) We have all been working really, really hard in getting everything ready. My good friend Elder L is leaving the office at last. He has been here almost nine months! When I came to the office he was the youngest, with only two changes. Now, more than five months later, he´s leaving and I´ll be taking his place with the most time here.

One of the wonderful blessings of my mission is that I get to meet so many great elders who have dedicated their lives to the Lord. It is sad to see them leave the mission. My mission "dad" is going home on Wednesday! If you didn´t know, all the missionaries who are leaving come to our house on their last night, so I will get to talk to him for a while and ask him more questions about his mission. He is such a great guy!

We have had another really successful week in our area too! Lately we have been focusing a lot on finding new investigators. A lot of our investigators have not been progressing, and so we decided to put more emphasis on finding. I was telling Katie in the email I sent her that as a missionary you literally have to talk to everyone! A missionary who comes to the mission shy and fearful needs to change. He has to quickly make the decision to open his mouth, at every opportunity. That´s what we´ve been doing this week. We stop every single person on the street and share a short message with them, inviting them to listen to our message in their homes. Some say yes, and some say no, but the important part is that we keep searching and inviting, over and over again!


Also, Elder Villalobos and I have discussed with each other a lot about how we can make our lessons more powerful. There are three things we should to in every lesson: testify, invite, and promise blessings. Every investigator we teach needs to repent to receive the promises blessings of the Lord, and they can only receive them if they fulfill their commitments. Some of the commitments are, as you know, assist church on Sunday, read the Book of Mormon, and pray to know if our message is true. I have come to realize that one of our goals is that our investigators teach themselves everything we cannot teach them. If they go to church every Sunday, for example, they can come to know that the Church is true and that it is presided by divine authority. An investigator cannot be converted if he does not feel the Spirit witnessing of the truth.

I have been trying really hard to improve my relationship with Heavenly Father. I know that He is there and loves me and I want to feel His presence even more in my life. Through prayer He has spoken to me over and over again, and will help me throughout my entire life.

I love being a missionary, and I hope I can help hundreds and thousands of people "come to Christ, and be perfected in Him."

Have an amazing week!

Te amo!!

Elder Marriott

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Wonderful Week!

Hey Mom!

It is so great that you have been making a lot of friends in town. I have come to realize that there are so many great people all around us that we don´t even know. We just have to get to know them all and sometimes that is the challenge. :) 

I can´t believe the family reunion was this week. Summers are so short, right? We are already almost in July! That is so awesome that you all could go to the cabin in Hidden Springs again. It is amazing out there! I think my favorite part was volleyball, frisbee, and swimming. It´s nice to kick back and relax every once in a while! I bet Papi could have used a few good games of chess, huh? ;)
Zone Service Project

Yeah, Richard emailed me and said he got his mission call. Florida! I´m so excited for him; he will do great! Devin, Richard, Ben, and I will all be out at the same time. Just imagine, we hadn´t had missionaries in the Lincoln ward since who knows when. Our super cool group changed things. ;D I know Devin and Ben are such powerful missionaries. Devin wrote me a while back and said he was training! I´m so glad he made the choice to go on a mission. It is so worth it! :) 

This week has been wonderful! On Saturday the ward held a Church activity and we watched "Conozca los Mormones" or Meet the Mormons. You guys have probably seen it, right? I think it was published quite a long time ago in the United States but just recently here. Anyways, one of our investigators, Aleida, a 17-year-old whose mom is a member, came and watched with us. Afterwards we had another lesson with her and she opened up a lot to us. She said she would love to serve a mission too in a year or two. Her mom told her, "But you need to be baptized first though!" but she kind of just shrugged the comment aside. Two days later, on Monday, she called me at 9:30 p.m. and told me she wanted to be baptized on Saturday! The next day we went and visited her and practiced the baptismal interview questions. She did really well, and she even remembered the name of our modern day prophet, Thomas S. Monson. That´s rare, by the way. :) Yesterday the zone leaders came down and gave her the interview, and she is ready to be baptized! We will hold her baptism tomorrow at three in the afternoon. 

Lately I have been thoroughly studying chapter 6 of Preach my Gospel, about attributes of Christ. My attention was called to a part that says that "obedience is the first law of heaven," and then lists the many blessings we receive when we are obedient, such as more faith, protection, and guidance of the Spirit. I remember that an Apostle said that when we understand and live the commandments we will even look for more commandments to keep, to obtain these precious blessings. I think, like you said in the last email, sometimes we only "go through the motions" rather than actively seeking for new ways to serve others and the Lord. We don´t listen to the gospel music, but we do dance. As missionaries we try really hard to tune in to the gospel music. I have never been more obedient than I am now, and I have never been happier in my entire life! God blesses me in so many ways. I know God literally has a plan for us and smiles when we make the right decisions. He is always watching and guiding us. 

Thank you again for being such a great example for me. I will never forget the countless times that you sat on the couch with me and read Book of Mormon stories, the Friend, New Era, and Ensign, and talked to me about God´s plan for all of us. I wouldn't be here without you and Papi, and will forever be grateful! 

Well, I need to go now! I hope you have an amazing week! 

I love you!
Elder Marriott
P.S.  This week we started waking up at 5:30 to go running every day! Afterwards I do 150 curls with our homemade weights. Life is good!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Best Two Years!

Happy Father's Day, Papi!
Hey Mom!

Today I wrote another letter to President Vasquez, and I decided to look at the very first letter I sent him. I laughed as I noticed how horrible my Spanish was just nine months ago! Heavenly Father has blessed me so much with the gift of tongues! I thought you might be interested to see the letter.
 
Hola Presidente Vasquez!

Esta semana fue fantástico! Estoy en Delgado. Mi área esta excelente! Hay mucho bueno personas aquí, y los miembros son amable y amigable. Mi compañero, Elder Leatherow, es fantástico también! Esta semana nosotros tuvimos trabajaron duro. Elder Leatherow esta también obediente en todo caminos. El es el mejor entrenador. Esta semana yo tuve aprendí mucho y mas! Mi español esta mejor, pero las personas hablan muy rápido! Cada dia esta mas fácil a entender. Me gusta caminando y ensenando. Tuve sentí El Espíritu mucho, especialmente cuando nosotros ensenamos familias. En las escrituras yo tuve aprendí sobre Ammon y los hijos de Mosiah, y también de El Predicad Mi Evangelio.

Aprendí acerca la importancia de preguntando preguntas inspirados, y escuchando y sentando la Espiritu como las personas hablan.

Hay no otro país yo podría ser mas para El Salvador! Me gusta mi área, mi compañero Elder Leatherow, las personas aquí, y las cosas aprendí cada día! Mi testimonia esta creciendo

Gracias mucho por enviando mi aquí con mi compañero! :)

Elder Marriott

Horrible, huh? And I thought I was all right! ;) "mucho bueno personas." I cringed as I read it. Hahaha!
Here is the letter from last week:

Hola Presidente Vasquez!

Esta semana fue, como siempre, fantástica! Tuvimos una experiencia bien espiritual ayer en una lección. Ensenamos, por primera vez, un investigador se llama Rigoberto. Preguntamos si el tenia una pregunta por nosotros, y nos dijo que hace poco tiempo su hermano murió. El dijo que esa experiencia lo ayudo tener una mejor relación con Dios. Ensenamos el Plan de Salvación, y sentimos que debemos introducir el Libro de Mormon. Lo hicimos, y sacamos escrituras inspiradas (en el capitulo 40 de Alma) para ayudarle entender el Plan de Salvación. Al final de la lección, el acepto nuestra invitación a leer el Libro de Mormon para aprender mas acerca del plan que Dios tiene para el y para su hermano. El sonrió con todo cuando lo dimos su propio Libro de Mormon, y estamos animados a ver su progreso.

Hoy leí en Predicad Mi Evangelio acerca del Libro de Mormon. El Espíritu estaba tan fuerte, como un testimonio mas de las verdades que se encuentran en este libro.

Se que Dios nos ama, y por eso nos dio el Libro de Mormon, para que podamos hallar la paz y felicidad al aprender mas de Su hijo Jesucristo. Me encanta ser misionero, y me encanta enseñar acerca de Jesucristo, Su Evangelio, y el Libro de Mormón.

Gracias por todo, Presidente!

Elder Marriott
A little bit better, huh? I know you will find a few faults, but I am glad to say I have improved a little bit. I am so thankful that I could learn this beautiful language! Spanish is so great. Sometimes Elder Villalobos asks me questions about English, and I realize how unlogical it is compared to Spanish. Of course, they are both great though. ;)

This week was so great! I think I have been happier now than I have ever been before in my mission. The more I learn and teach the gospel, the happier I am.

On Saturday we had our zone conference. Elder Brinkerhoff and Elder Wade taught us a lot about the importance of achieving the "standards of excellence." Elder Brinkerhoff explained that the "normas" which, as you know, means standards, should be "normal." He promised us that if we earned the standards of excellence every week, we we have even more success as missionaries. The standards of excellence focus on new investigators,  investigators who are progressing, who have a baptismal date, and who go to church, This week we have been striving even harder to find new people to teach and invite everyone, EVERYONE, go to the Church on Sunday.

Preach my Gospel explains how as a companionship we have the opportunity to literally take care and help all the people in our small area. I know there are people who are prepared and waiting, searching for the restored gospel. Our purpose is to find, teach, and help them come unto Christ through faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring the end.
Like my mission packet said, "Que grandioso es [mi] llamamiento!"

Wish I had more time to write, but my time is short this week!

I hope you have a wonderful week!

I love you!

Elder Marriott

P.S. By the way, feel free to ask me whatever questions you have about my mission or El Salvador! :)

Friday, June 12, 2015

Another Awesome Week!

Hey Mom!

This week was so, so amazing. Lately I have been even more grateful for what the Lord has done for me. As time has passed I have plunged deeper and deeper into my mission, and now I feel I am completely lost in the Lord´s work! I am so blessed to be out here. I just read Katie´s email where she mentions how she has not had very many problems or challenges in her life, and I can say the same thing of myself! All I have received in my life are wonderful blessings from heaven. You and Papi, my wonderful siblings, the Gospel, my friends, the mission, and the opportunity to live in a time when the gospel has been restored for the last time on the earth! What more could I ask for? I am always reminded of Mosiah 2, where we read that even when we keep the commandments and love and serve others, we are eternally indebted to God and to His son Jesus Christ. That is so true! 

Yesterday Elder Villalobos, Elder Rowley, and I had a powerful lesson with a new investigator. After we opened with a prayer, we asked him how he has attained his relationship with Heavenly Father. He told us that recently his brother died, and that that has helped him feel closer to God and His love. We took the opportunity to testify of the Plan of Salvation, that it is possible for him to return to his brother again. We told him where his brother is right now, and introduced the Book of Mormon to him, reading from Alma 40 about the resurrection of the dead and judgment. As we finished the lesson, we offered him his own Book of Mormon, and he told us fervently and confidently that he would read it to learn more. The Spirit was so strong, and I was so happy to be a part of that lesson. There are so many people who need answers to their questions, and the gospel contains all of the answers we need to have peace and happiness in our lives. 

I never cease to be amazed that Jesus Christ came down from heaven to teach us the way to return to our Heavenly Father. He was central in God´s plan because he atoned for each one of us, whoever we are! 

On Saturday we were able to sing as a zone (zona San Salvador) at the priesthood session of stake conference!

Also, on Monday we had interview with President Vasquez! He taught us about three types of missionaries. There is the "social missionary" who has two feet still in the world and is not focused on the mission, there is the "honorable missionary" who has one foot in the mission and one in the world, and who sometimes gets distracted by thoughts unfocused on the Lord´s work, and there is the "consecrated missionary" who is completely focused on the mission and sacrifices everything to serve the Lord. That is the missionary I want to be, and I know the Lord will bless me even more for my efforts to work hard and be completely obedient. 

Well, I´m almost out of time! I hope you have another amazing week!! :) 

I love you! 

Elder Marriott
P.S. By the way, Peanut sent off his mission papers! He will receive his call soon!