Monday, September 26, 2011

Onward, Ever Onward

Hello everyone!
We've started to settle into a groove in our companionship. This week was the same as most other weeks, spending an equal amout of time teaching and finding. We had a baptism this Saturday and plan on having one in each of the upcoming 4 weeks. If I ever were to get discouraged, (which I'm not!), the joy of seeing a baptism is always something that lifts my spirits.
We held a Youth Fireside for one of our stakes on inviting friends to Church and to meet with missionaries. It was a huge success. One thing I learned was that there is definitely a lot more planning that goes into a single Church meeting than I ever imagined. There are certainly many things I learned and many ways I'll change it to be more effective in the future...but nonetheless, it was a great chance to energize the youth.
We've also had some great luck turning to former investigators and inviting them to resume learning about the Church. If somebody wasn't ready to accept the gospel a year ago that does not keep them from being open as life progresses now or in the future. It was great to have some success off of that.
In preparation for General Conference, I've been re-reading some talks. One of those was "Continue in Patience" by President Uchtdoft. As a missionary, this talk rings true. Cooincidentally enough, it's always been one of my favorites! One quote in particular rings true, "Patience is a process of perfection. The Savior Himself said that in your patience you possess your souls. Or, to use another translation of the Greek text, in your patience you win mastery of your souls." How true is that? As I reflect on that message and apply it to my life as a missionary, I look forward to more and more opportunities to grow in patience.
Thanks again to everybody who is keeping in touch. I really enjoy the updates from home. On a personal note, I would like to point out that JMU is 3-1, the Redskins are 2-0, and Mitt Romney is in a good position. I knew serving a mission would bring blessings!
Elder Bolling

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Change of Pace

Last week was the week of baptisms. This week? The week of finding. Let me just say that finding people exercises a completely different set of missionary muscles than teaching people does. However, I'm grateful for the opportunity. I've made every attempt to stretch myself this week and become the best missionary I can be.
One of the most rewarding things, other than baptisms, is meeting great people who are an example. One of those individuals is a Bishop in one of our wards. He was released on Sunday. I've only been in his ward for two months, but have viewed him as a Bishop as somebody I'd like to emulate in some way later in life. As I reflected during his testimony in Sacrament meeting, I realized that it wasn't because of who he was, or how smart he was, but rather the effort he put in. When most people would relax, watch some TV, or spend some time napping, he was putting in those extra 15 minutes. He never failed to follow up at least twice a week and personally do many tasks where he knew he could help. You could sometimes see the heavy burden of balancing life as a Bishop, a father, a husband, and a professional, but he never complained. He just kept working.
Applying that to my life as a missionary, I realized that life is all about those "extra 15 minutes". As I strive to emulate his example, I hope I'm able to be the same type of missionary he was as a Bishop.
As for the work, it's going well. I get along with my companions and we have all been learning in different ways. We'll have the teaching pool refilled in no time. I was also grateful for the chance to go to the Salt Lake Temple on Wednesday. What a beautiful place! It's also a little crazy to think that it's almost Conference's true...time speeds up every day on your mission!

Elder Bolling

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fruits Of The Labor

This week was the week where we picked the fruits of our diligent labor. We had five baptisms over the weekend. Each one was extremely memorable in its own way. It's touching to see the ways that the gospel can improve peoples' lives and bring them closer to their Heavenly Father. I was humbled each time as I was able to watch, participate, or perform an ordinance in a baptismal service. This truly is the Lord's work and I'm grateful to be here.

This week was also transfers. Elder Thomas, our third companion, was transferred to Midvale and we have a new third companion named Elder Nau. He is from Tonga and has been out for almost 14 months. I am grateful for his contribution to our companionship. He has a great testimony, is humble, and willing to help us in any way possible. It's also neat to see some different cultural perspectives. We may, actually, be holding a pig roast for a scout troop in a weekend or two that will be a great experience for us, the ward, and some neighbors.

An amazing thing is happening to me as I progress on my mission. Time seems to be speeding up. I don't understand how it's already the middle of September! This realization has allowed me to appreciate even more fully the short time I have to serve the Lord. As time continues to accelerate, I anticipate I'll be one of those missionaries who wonders where the two years went.

This week I began reading the New Testament - and a simple truth resonated with me. Behind each of Christ's miracles, faith preceded. Faith is the central theme of each and every one of us. Faith leads us to act righteously and do those things we know in our heart are right. With faith, we can achieve so much - even "move mountains" as the scriptures say. Without faith, we are left with our own strength, which isn't very much. (Even if you can lift 500 lbs like my Tongan companion! Wow!) As we grow in faith, we will stop worrying about tomorrow, doubting the power of the Lord, and asking for more. We will be content in what we're given. But it's funny how the Lord works, because as we stop doubting and worrying, we will receive tenfold what we could have done on our own! The Lord has promised it - and I've seen its truth manifest in my life. I am grateful for the example of the Savior and how he has helped me in my life.

As we continue to teach, and continue to grow in faith, my hope is that my faith will continually increase. As it does, I know we will be more successful as missionaries. I also know that translates to anybody in any situation in life. Faith in Jesus Christ can help us overcome anything.

Elder Bolling

Monday, September 5, 2011

Transfer One complete! Transfer Two begins now!

Over the first six weeks, I've learned a lot. I have learned how to work with companions who don't always see eye to eye with you. I have learned how to teach the gospel confidently and correctly. I have learned how to listen and discern issues that investigators need addressed before they can progress in the gospel. I have also learned how to work with ward and stake leaders to ensure that we are moving the work forward as best we could.

It's exhilarating to be learning so much is so short of a period of time. I'm grateful for the opportunity. As I look back over the few short months and look forward to the rest of my mission, I know that missionary work is an inspired process. It's inspired because it helps bring people closer to the gospel and closer to returning to live with God again. But it's also inspired for the missionaries.

There is no experience on this earth that prepares an individual more for what lies ahead in life. As we continue forward in missionary work, we draw closer to Christ, become more sure of ourselves in the gospel, and lay the foundation for a productive and happy life. Without this foundation, it's possible to acquire it through life, but the two-year mission program is truly inspired. I'm grateful to have the chance to learn, grow, and draw closer to the gospel in all things that I do.

It's incredible to think about all of the ways I may progress over the next 22 months. I can hardly imagine. As I continue, I have faith that all will work out for good. I look forward to seeing my family and friends again, but even with that, I am grateful for this priceless opportunity.