Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010 -- Summer

I am so thankful for this opportunity to serve my mission here in Chile. It is an incredible experience to give up every personal care and desire and devote every second to serving the Lord and serving my fellow man. But as Mosiah 2:17 teaches us, when we serve one another, we are serving the Lord.

Therefore, it all comes down to love. If we truly love the Lord, we will want to serve Him. We will want to obey His commandments. When we serve God and obey His commandments, we allow the Lord to bless us. The Lord wants to bless us, but can do so only when we do our part.

There is a quote by President [Ezra Taft] Benson [1899 - 1994] that says something like, "When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power from on high." This has been something that I have been working on as of late: showing God that I truly love Him and that I want to be obedient.

Right now in Chile it is starting to warm up. School will be getting out for summer break in a few weeks. Summer is just beginning and the temperature is reflecting that. Luckily, I am very close to the coast right now, so it does not get too terribly hot.

However, I am not very happy with the sun right now, because it seems he has taken it as his personal responsibility to beat down on me until I am red as a radish. He shall not prevail! Don't you worry mother, every morning I rub on my SPF 50 armor to protect me from his attacks.

But anyway, as I was saying before I went off on that random tantrum about the sun, the seasons are changing. November is almost over and then we'll be in December. A song keeps going in my head, "It's beginning to feel a lot like . . . summer?" It will be quite weird to have Christmas in the middle of summer.

This week was a kind of tough week. Some of our investigators that we have been helping are not willing to keep the Lord's commandments and therefore cannot progress and receive the blessings. However, the Lord gives us trials so that we can be humble and learn to have true faith, or as Ether says, "the witness comes after the trial of faith." For after having a very difficult week, the Lord blessed us with some great new investigators.

We have been working on talking to everyone in the streets and not letting a single person pass us by. On one occasion at the end of this week, a mother and her children got off a bus right in front of us and we quickly walked up to them and started to talk to them about the Church. We visited them yesterday and taught them about baptism. They are very humble and loving people. The Spirit was very strong in the lesson and it taught the family about the truths that we were sharing.

Olivia (the mother) and Nelson (her 13-year-old son) accepted baptismal dates for the 19th of December. It was really cool in the lesson, because before we taught about the essentials of true baptism (age, authority, and submersion), she told us that her son wasn't baptized into the Catholic church until he was twelve because she wanted him to be able to choose for himself and because she didn't believe that babies had the ability to sin. Then later she told us that "She was looking for the real baptism and everybody knows the true baptism is by immersion." I am very excited to help them come unto Christ.

Javiera gave birth to Aaron on Friday. A little note about Spanish. In Spanish "to give birth" is said "dar la luz," which literally translated means "give the light." I think that is a beautiful way to look at it. Both Javiera and Aaron are doing fine.

I am so thankful for you, my family and friends. Each of you teaches me so much. I thank our Heavenly Father constantly for each of you. I am thankful for all the little things that God has given me.

Here is a quote that I love from President Monson's talk this last [general] conference, "Regardless of our circumstances, each of us has much for which to be grateful if we will but pause and contemplate our blessings." I hope you each take a moment to think about the blessings that God has given you and then thank Him.

I love my mission!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010 -- My Shepherd

I am doing wonderful. I love it here. My Spanish is coming along, slowly but surely.

Living conditions are all right, not bad at all. Actually, the pension that I am living in right now is supposedly one of the best in the mission. We don't have much of a kitchen, just a sink, fridge, microwave, and camping stove, but that is all right. We don't really have time to cook and the Church members feed us almuerzo, so it all works out.

The food is very, as my cousin Poly [who served a mission in Chile] said "bland." By that I don´t mean that it tastes bad (because it is delicious), but rather that it is not spicy like most North Americans think about South American food.

There are little "stands" (people just turn part of there house into a place to sell food "to go") everywhere. I love going and getting empanadas and papas fritas. The empanadas are delicious as are the french fries. The fries are always freshly cut potatoes and cost maybe a dollar for a huge plateful. But don't you worry, I'm eating healthy and taking my vitamins.

As for adjusting, still haven't done it. Why you may ask? Well, let me tell you. I just haven't felt the need to adjust. I mean it does not seem that foreign to me. That probably sounds wierd as I am half way around the world in another country speaking another language, but I think you know what I mean.

You asked me about singing and playing the piano. Singing--I do it all the time. When we walk in the streets, in the house, in the shower--EVERYWHERE. In fact, I write songs as I go. Here is one I have been singing/writing:

My Shepherd

He knows me more than I can understand
He knows me and has raised me from a lamb
He carries me when I am broken or afraid
He encircles me in love and says tenderly:

``Ye are my sheep, I am your shepherd´´
Safely we sleep for He watches over
In the morn´ His voice is heard
He calls my name and I will follow
He is my Shepherd

He is my Shepherd and I shall not want
He is my Shepher and watches o´er His flock
He leads to pools of water, sparkling and clean
He encircles me in warmth and says lovingly:

``Ye are my sheep, I am your shepherd´´
Safely we sleep for He watches over
In the morn´ His voice is heard
He calls my name and I will follow
He is my Shepherd

When I was lost in the wilderness
The other ninety-nine He left
To find and bring me to the place
Where His sheep can safely graze
He carries me there and in my ear He says

``Ye are my sheep, I am your shepherd´´
Safely we sleep for He watches over
In the morn´ His voice is heard
He calls my name and I will follow
He is my Shepherd

The work is moving along here in La Serena. Javiera will have her baby on this Wednesday, so we have had to push back her and Danny´s dates to the 12th of December with Raquel.

Elder Brady and I are working hard to be tools in the Lord´s hands. Not caring about what we want, but going and doing what the Lord wants.

I know that Jesus is my shepherd and that he has sent me here to find those lost sheep and bring them back to His waiting arms of mercy.

I love my mission!

Smile of the week: A lot of the houses here have patios with gates in the front of the house. I was on splits with Elder Roylance and we entered a patio with an open gate to knock the door. While I was knocking the door, Elder Roylance played with the gate and shut it. The gate could only be opened with a key. We ended up being stuck in the patio for 25 minutes before the owner of the house came and let us out.

Monday, November 8, 2010--The First Change

Today is the day that comes every six weeks in the life of a missionary. It is a day looked forward to, but also dreaded. Today was my first day of cambios [transfers] here in Chile.

I especially was nervous this morning about the change, because I had gotten a call on Saturday morning telling me that I would be leaving my area. When the call came I of course was excited, but also devastated. I love it here in La Serena and we have such wonderful investigators and Church members here. Although I knew that it was the right thing and what the Lord wanted, I did not want to leave. I took consolation knowing that I would be leaving the area better than I found it.

Then on Saturday night, Elder Brady got a call from the zone leaders and they told him where I would be going, but he couldn't tell me. Today in zone meeting I found out where I was going. The zone leaders said, "Elder Rowley, se va" (you are going), "a quedarse" (to stay!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

Needless to say, I was confused at first, but then I realized that I would not be leaving!

Hooray! It turns out that originally I was being transferred to Brillador B (I´m in Brillador A-- same ward), but the Saturday night call told Elder Brady that we would be together for another change!

This last week was wonderful! I set three baptismal dates with our investigators this week. Danny, Juan's brother, readily accepted a baptismal date for the 27th. Also, Danny's girlfriend, Javiera accepted a baptismal date for the same day, unless she has her baby, then we will have to push back her date.

On that same date, we will have the baptism of an eleven year old girl named Dangela, who's mother is a less active member who recently reactivated herself. Also, on that day, we will have the baptism of Jorge and Pia, a father and his daughter. Finally, on that date, Tamara will be baptized. Then in December, Juan's parents will be married and then his mom will be baptized.

Great things are coming this change in Brillador and I am thankful to be here. I love it here.

I love my mission!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Monday, November 2, 2010--Three Months

This week I turned three months old! How crazy is that? Yesterday I got my mission call, last night I reported to the MTC and today I am in Chile with three months of my mission already gone.

Three months. That´s one eighth of my mission already gone. That is scary. Seven times that and I will be home and will have to start worrying about myself again.

That is one of the things I love about my mission--you don´t have to worry about yourself. In fact, you shouldn´t worry about yourself. The beauty of the mission is that for two years you leave behind selfish cares and desires and devote yourself to the will of the Lord. I don´t have to worry about doing homework, about keeping up on politics, the latest fads, going out with friends. Every second of the mission is spent thinking and worrying about others--my companion, my investigators, my ward, etc.

My focus is to be the best missionary that I can and become a true servant and disciple of Christ. In the MTC they told us, "Be the kind of missionary that your mother thinks you are."

Now about our investigators:

Juan was confirmed a member of the Church yesterday. His mother, Raquel (who will be married and then baptized in about a month), and his brother Dani, whom I talked about last week, both attended. Dani does not yet have a baptismal date, but told us that he will be attending church every Sunday.

Francisca still has not been baptized. I have not seen her in over two weeks. Every time we pass by her house, her grandma tells us that she has been sick, or is gone, or gives us some other excuse.

It hurts me so much to be losing an investigator so wonderful. Francisca knows that this is the truth and was making the changes in her life to follow what she knew, but now we have lost contact with her. I pray that we will be able to find her and that she is okay, but for now we have decided that we need to move on and spend our time more effectively teaching other people, rather than passing by to look for her.

This week we were walking and we saw a lady struggling to push her stroller up a dirt hill. Elder Brady and I quickly ran to help her and carried the stroller to the top of the hill. We talked to her about the gospel and set an appointment with her. She is very sincere and was very interested in the Church.

However, in the lesson we found out that she is "convive" or is not married to her "husband." But on the other hand, she has four children, two of which could be baptized. She told us that she would go to church but would have to miss the first hour.

Yesterday, we hoped that she would come, but expected that she wouldn´t. We were sitting in Sunday school when the bishop knocked on the door and brought in Alison (the lady), her stroller with baby inside, and her six-year-old boy. She is very genuine and I am excited to teach her.

Halloween is celebrated the same here as it is in the states. The kids go around to the houses and yell, "dulce o truco" or "dulce o basura," and then they are given candy. Because of Halloween, we didn't get into any houses yesterday, but we contacted a lot of people in the street.

I love mission!

Monday, October 25, 2010--Terremoto!!

First of all, today is a special day. A day that does not occur very often. It's a day that we celebrate. Do you know what I´m talking about? It´s P-Day!

Okay, well that's not really what I was talking about. What I am talking about is the birth of my father, Kurt Stevens Rowley.

Let's just take a moment to recognize all that has been accomplished during his lifetime. He was born in a land called Pangaea. He was there to witness the discovery of fire and even help with inventing the wheel! Yes, that may seem like a long time ago to some of us, but to him it seems like just yesterday.

I think of that Primary song that says, "One year older and wiser too." Well, Dad is a very, very wise man.

But seriously, Dad, happy birthday! Know that people are celebrating your birthday on the other side of the world. . . .

Yesterday was a wonderful day. Every Sunday is wonderful, but yesterday was particularly special, because it was Jaun's baptism. I was privileged to be the one to perform the ordinance. It has been so beautiful to see the journey that he has started and how he was prepared, even before we taught him, to take this journey that leads to eternal life. His whole family (and the girlfriends of his brothers) attended and thought that the baptism was something very special.

Then last night, we had a noche de hogar at their house and watched Our Heavenly Father's Plan. After the movie, Dani (the older boy, he and his girlfriend will have their baby in November) said that he wants to have an eternal family and that he has the "ganas de bautizarse." It is wonderful to see how the Lord works and how Jaun´s decision will lead to the salvation of his family and many others. We will start teaching Dani and his girlfriend more often and prepare them to be baptized.

As the subject suggests, I experienced my first Chilean terremoto, or earthquake. Don't worry. Nothing major happened. On Friday night, we were sitting at our desk on the second floor, planning for the next day. In the distance I heard a rumbling and then the desk started to shake. I quickly jumped up and ran to the door and Elder Brady and I huddled there, waiting about ten seconds for the tremor to pass. Nothing happened, but it definitely got my adrenaline pumping.

I have learned so much already. The gospel is incredible and I know that this is the true church of Jesus Christ. I love my mission!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010 -- Light of the World

As the whole world knows, and as eyes all around the world have watched on their TV screens (except those of missionaries of course), thirty-three miners were rescued from a collapsed mine here in Chile. This is a very huge event here in Chile, especially because mining is such a huge part of the culture here (which I will talk about a little later). I must be my father's son, because I couldn't help but draw gospel parrallels when I thought about this event. Time is short, so I will only share one little piece of food for thought.

When the mine first collapsed in the three months ago, the miners were in utter darkness. They were trapped in the darkness, afraid, not knowing if their comrades had survived. My thoughts turned to the events in ancient America after Christ's death. How would it have been to witness and live through the tempests, earthquakes, fires, and whirlwinds after His cruxifiction? Then after that, to be trapped in a darkness so thick that a fire could not even be lit? For three days, the people lived in utter darkness. Then on the third day, when the darkness dispersed, the first thing that Christ says is "I am the light and the life of the world." How much more of a meaning that [declaration] has after experiencing life without light!

He is my light and I cannot live without Him.

This week, Jaun had his baptismal interview and he is good to go for his baptism. He will be baptized this next Sunday after church. I am so excited for him. He is the light in his family and will lead the other members to Christ through his example and desires to follow Christ.
Our other investigator that was going to be baptized next Sunday--Fransisca--did not attend church yesterday, so she will have to wait another week.

In one of our appointments with Fransisca this week, we checked up on her commitment to live the law of chastity (something that is a big problem here in Chile). She told us that she had talked to her boyfriend, shared with him the pamphlet and section [on sexual purity] from For the Strength of Youth, and told him that she would be living this commandment of God. In our lesson we asked if she thought that he would like that and she said, "I told him that it was my decision and I want to follow Christ. If he can't live with that, then chao!"

I am so excited for [my cousin] Devin [who starts his mission next week]! The MTC is an incredible place and we missionaries are so lucky to have such a center to prepare us for the mission field. Devin is going to have such a wonderful time and I can't wait to hear about his experiences.

As I said before, mining has a huge effect on the culture here in Chile--in particular, on the family. Many of the men work in the mines. For their work, they are assigned "working tours." A usual tour would be "twenty for ten," meaning that they are gone for twenty days working in the mine and then home for ten days. Two-thirds of the time, the men are gone, living in the mines and working!

I am so thankful for this opportunity to serve and I know that God is watching over me and all of you.

I love my mission!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010 -- Editor's Apology

It has taken us a while to get this blog up to date. Shameful indeed. But today, October 11, we added seven new posts (not including this one). The blog is now current!

We aim to do better, to keep current, in the future. In the meantime, please read the posts just added. They include Elder Rowley's pictures from his days in the Missionary Training Center, his phone call home from Texas, and his arrival in Chile--as well as the experiences that keep him saying, "I love my mission!" -- Ed.

Monday, October 11, 2010 -- Every Member a Missionary

Have I ever told you how much I love my mission? Well, I love it! So there.

Yesterday we had a beautiful baptism. Our investigator Carlos was baptized along with three investigators of the other missionaries in our ward. It was so wonderful to see them all dressed in white, entering the waters of baptism and entering into a covenant with their Heavenly Father. I wasn't there to teach any of them. With Carlos, I taught him twice, but the lessons were just to take care of some baptismal interview and baptism business. Despite this, my heart reached out to them and I felt an overwhelming love for them. It is so lovely to see God's children finding their way home. One of the baptisms was especially moving. As the women came up out of the purifying waters, having been born again, she began to weep. She was touched by the joyfulness of the moment and understood what a wonderful step she had just made. It is such a privilege to take a part in this work and see the true beauty in life and in people.

The baptism was also wonderful because one of our other investigators, Francisca, attended. She is nineteen years old and she was found a couple days before I arrived, so I have had a large part in teaching her. She has a baptismal date for September 23. The baptism yesterday was directly after church and she stayed for all three hours of church and for the baptism. Not only did she attend the baptism, but she also took part in the service! The Young Women sang a song called "Hija de un Rey," ["Daughter of a King"] . . . and Francisca sang with them. The members here are excellent and have done a wonderful job of befriending her.

Members are so pivotal in missionary work. In every stage of the work, the members need to play a role: finding, teaching, and persevering. Finding can often be hard for the missionaries. But if the members invited all their friends to listen, the missionaries would be able to spend more time teaching. I invite you to think of anyone you know and talk to them about the gospel and invite them to listen to the missionaries. Although it may be difficult or scary to do so, the worst that could happen is that they say that they aren't interested. On the other hand, if they do listen, their lives will be changed for the better and will come back to their Heavenly Father. I also invite you to go to lessons with the missionaries. The testimony of a member can be extremely powerful and the role of a friend is irreplaceable. Remember, every member can and should be a missionary!

There was one house that we got into this week that I would like to talk about. The man who we taught is named Nelson. As we talked and invited him to be baptized, he told us that he could not because he is Catholic (here, almost everyone is Catholic, it's like a nationality--they are born into it, but most of them don't practice the religion). We invited him again to be baptized, but he said that he couldn't because it was a tradition in his family to be Catholic. His parents were Catholic, their parents were Catholic, so he is Catholic, although he does not practice the religion. When he said this, my mind turned to the scriptures and how people are lead away because of the ''traditions of their fathers.'' The only reason that Nelson would not accept our message was because of the tradition of his ''padres,'' which can be translated as parents or fathers.

As I have thought about that experience and others that I have had, I began to think about the way that the Adversary works. He leads men away "with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever." He does not try all at once to bind people, but rather slowly and gently leads them step by step with a soft flaxen cord. If he can get men to take one step away, off the path that is all he needs. I like the analogy they used in [general] conference [on October 2-3], of walking in a minefield. We have the way set out before us, the safe path through the danger, but if the devil can get us to take one step away from the path, it can be fatal. . . . This is why we must be strictly obedient. For if we let ourselves wander, if we are selectively obedient, we could stray from the safe path into the dangerous minefield.

The Spanish here is pretty crazy. The natives talk at a hundred miles an hour. They drop endings to words all the time, or even drop whole words from a sentence. My companion described it as ''lazy Spanish.'' However, I am starting to understand it more and more. I hope that I will be able to learn Spanish better so that I will be able to invite all the people to come unto Christ.

I love my mission!

Monday, October 4, 2010 -- The First Week

Where to start? I feel like I haven't written to in an eternity, but at the same time, it feels like yesterday that I was on the phone in the airport. Aha! There's a good place to start--the airport!

From the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport, we had about a 9 1/2 hour flight to Santiago. I slept some, but not very much. I was too excited or nervous to sleep. Needless to say, that was the longest flight of my life! No, literally, I had never been on a flight lasting that long before! Haha! In all seriousness, the flight wasn't bad at all. After being in the
MTC for two months and sitting in a classroom and studying all day, everyday, a nine hour flight was nothing.

When we arrived in the airport we had to go through customs and security. Dogs were sniffing all the bags, making sure that we weren't bringing in "illegal foods"--they are very protective of their agricultural industry because it is such a large part of their economy. I had some dried mangoes in one of my bags. When my bags went through the scanners at customs, they freaked out a little and took away my mangoes, but everything was fine.

Waiting right outside the airport was
President Gillespie and his wife and assistants. They took us to the waiting vans, gave us a sack lunch and we drove and hour and a half to Viña del Mar. We were driving through the countryside and then we drove up and over a hill. When we reached the hill crest I could see the city stretched out before me for miles. It seemed that anywhere you could squeeze a building, it was there. For as far as I could see, city clung to the hillside until the hillside dropped off into the ocean. We stopped at a scenic turnout and President talked to us for a little. He told us to look out and think of all the people out there. All of them are looking for something. Some of them don't know that inside they are wanting more, and others are actively trying to find something. President told us that it is our job to go and find them. That, as Preach My Gospel says--nothing happens in this work without finding. That was our theme for the day--finding.

We then continued to the flower clock where we took pictures. After pictures,
President gathered us all into a group. He said that continuing with the theme of finding, we now had to find our way to the mission home. He divided us into five groups (there were about 18 new missionaries) and gave us a paper with the address on it and told us to go find. My group got in one of the vans and was dropped off down town in the city. However, what President didn't know is that I am an Eagle Scout and came prepared with my own native-speaking missionary! Okay, well actually, I was lucky enough to have one of the native Spanish-speakers in my group. Because of him, we were able to make it there quite quickly.

At the
mission home, we filled out some forms, had interviews and ate "lunch" (I will explain the meals later). For the lunch, we ate some delicious empenadas. The first was an empenada de pino. This had ground beef, a slice of hard-boiled egg, and an olive in it. The second empenada was a napolitano. This had ham, cheese and tomato inside of it. They were both quite tasty!

We were all enjoying our food and each other's company and then all of a sudden at about 4:30, the
assistants told me, Elders LLoyd, Blumel (they were in my MTC district) and one other to go to the President's office. In the office he told me who my companion would be and where I would be serving. He told me to hurry up, grab my stuff and get in the car because I had a seven hour bus ride ahead of me.

At about one in the morning, I arrived here in my area and met my
companion! Well I think that I have built the suspense enough. Aren't you just dying to know where I am? Well . . . I am serving with Elder Brady. He is from South Jordan, Utah and is the leader of our district here. I am in the farthest north area of the mission, in the area La Serena. There is a lot of work to do here and right now it is one of the most successful areas of the mission.

Now some cultural things. Here in Chile, the society is a much later society. By that I mean that they get up later and go to bed later. Because of this, we
missionaries go to bed at eleven and get up at seven [instead of 10:30 and 6:30, the normal missionary standard]. For their meals, the breakfast is pretty much the same--oatmeal or toast and jam. However, their lunch is eaten around 2 PM. This is the big meal of the day. We eat every lunch with members and they usually serve us a few courses for this meal. However, they don't really eat dinner here. At around 9 PM they'll maybe have some tea and eat bread and cheese, but that's about it. It is very different from what I am used to, but I'm sure it will grow on me.

The work is going well here in
La Serena. We will have a baptism this Saturday with an investigator that they have been teaching for a while. We have four other investigators with [baptismal] dates set. Two of these are from the familia Torres Fredes, which we have been teaching. One of them is named Jaun, who is fifteen years old. He has so much light in him and desire to learn and grow. He willingly excepts what we teach and then seeks his personal testimony. From watching him, it has strengthened my testimony of Joseph Smith and how he was called as a 14-year-old. Although Jaun is and Joseph was so young, they both want to know and are willing to do what is asked, knowing that they will recieve their answers.

Time is almost up. Here is a section from my letter to
President about general conference:

I loved General Conference! It was so wonderful to hear the counsel of the prophet and other Church leaders. I particularly liked President [Thomas S.] Monson's talk on gratitude. We have so much to be thankful for--everything to be thankful for. When we express our gratitude we realize how much we actually have and our desire for more decreases. As I have seen in my first week here in Chile, we people in the US have so much and often are not happy. However, here, the people have so little but are willing to give so much. This talk has instilled in me the desire to give thanks for everything, to express my gratitude to God for all He does, to express my gratitude for His children and all that they do for me. It is such a simple thing, but it can mean so much to say, "thank you."

I also particularly enjoyed and was affected by President [Dieter F.] Uchtdorf's talk in the priesthood session [of general conference] on pride. It occurred to me how important his talk was for me as a missionary. We can do nothing by ourselves. This is His work and His glory and I am privileged to take part in it. I am determined to "humilfy" myself before the Lord and His people and give everything I have to the Lord, giving Him all the glory.

I am so excited to be here in Chile. Although the Spanish here is crazy I am confident that the Lord will direct me and help me to bring His children home.

I love my

Monday, September 27, 2010 -- The Phone Call from Texas

On Monday, September 27, Elder Rowley called home from the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport. (It was one of the rare times when a phone call is permitted.) Here are a couple of excerpts:

Thursday, September 24, 2010 -- MTC and Provo Temple Pictures

Elders in my district. Taken the second week here at the MTC.
Right to left: Elders Keith Perry and Billy Hagee with me. Both were in my BYU ward before our missions. Elder Perry was also my roommate.
The name's Elder Rowley.

Elder Mateson--my MTC companion--with me in front of the Provo Temple.

I love my mission!

Thursday, September 23, 2010--Flight Plans

Well, I have some rather disappointing news: next Monday [September 27, 2010] I won't be going to Chile, but rather I will be going to Texas. We received our travel plans last week and apparently I will now be going to Texas. But that is okay, because after that I will be going to Chile!!! Hooray!

My flight leaves the Salt Lake City ariport at 2:35 PM on Monday and then I will arrive in Dallas/Ft Worth, TX at 6:10 PM . . . . Then my flight will leave Texas at 9:10 PM on Monday night and I will arrive in Santiago, Chile the following morning at about 7:50 AM . . . . I am so excited! Four more days until I will be out in the
field, serving in the Lord's vineyard, serving in Viña del Mar.

I don't have much more time and my hands are shaking a lot, which us making it quite difficult to type. This last week has flown by. I don't know where to start.

A couple days ago, Hermano Gentry showed us something. He asked us what our fears for our mission are, like learning the language, messing up and losing an investigator. He then wrote F-E-A-R-S on the board and this is what it stood for:

F orget
E verything
A nd
R eally
S erve

This really hit me. Why should I be afraid? The Lord is on my side, anything is possible. As
President Thomas S. Monson has said, "doubt and faith cannot exist in the same person at the same time." Do I have faith? Yes. Do I trust in the Lord? Yes. So I will not fear. It is so nice to forget about myself, to forget about my cares, to forget about my desires and serve the Lord, doing His work. No more worrying about anything except the Lord's work. I am His instrument, His tool, and I will do His work.

Thursday, September 16, 2010 -- Keep Sprinting

¡Hola familia y amigos!

The day that I leave for Chile is close at hand. This is probably my second-to-last email from the MTC! My district will get our travel plans tomorrow, so next week I will have detailed information and a time frame that I will be able to call you in.

This week has been such a wonderful week, one of my favorites thus far. I have had so many wonderful experiences and oppurtunities. Here is one:

On Sunday, Elder Matesen and I were going to find somewhere to study. He said that he thought that we should go study on the couches next to the elevator, in the building that our class is in. While we were studying, a couple elders from our zone walked by and Elder Matesen said something funny to them and then as they walked away, he called after them and said "chiste"--the Spanish word for joke. Right at that moment, a middle-aged latino woman, who had just gotten off the elevator was walking by. She turned and said "que es el chiste [what is the joke]?" My companion explained and she smiled and walked away. She came back a few minutes later and was talking to us in Spanish about our families, where we were from, where we are going, etc. Then she asked, "Elders, can you give me a blessing?" Elder Matesen and I looked at each other confused. We had just met this woman--Sister Carmen Ventura Batz from Guatemala--and she was asking us for a blessing. She said that for nearly a month, she had been asking Elders for a blessing for her health, but they always came up with an excuse. I told her that we'd be happy to give her a blessing. I always carry consecrated oil with me so I will be ready for these type of situations.

We went to our classroom because we knew that the sister missionaries in our district would be there, that we we wouldn't be alone with Sister Batz. Elder Matesen anointed her and then I sealed the anointing and gave her a blessing. After the blessing we talked for a little bit and then bore my testimony. When I finished she said, "Gracias Elder. Me senti el Espiritu muy fuerte durante su testimonio. Vive su testimonio!" (I felt the Spirit very strong during your testimony. Live your testimony!) She then asked if she could bear her testimony. During her testimony, the Spirit was so strong. Tears were brought to her eyes and nearly to mine. The whole time, we were talking in Spanish and I could understand what she was saying and respond back. She even complimented me on my Spanish and on my accent.

I am so thankful for the Spirit. We were guided to be there at that time to help Sister Batz. At the same time, she was guided there to tell us some things that we needed to hear. It was such a tender mercy to meet this wonderful woman and to be able to carry on a conversation in another language.

Now, I have devloped a motto for my mission: keep sprinting. It all goes back to my cross-country days. I trained for hours, days, weeks and months for cross country. I trained all that time for a three-mile race. Similarly, I have been training for my mission for my whole life! For this two year race. At times, the three-mile race seems like it lasts forever. You feel like you have plenty of time. However, the whole time the clock is ticking. I took pride in knowing that I gave all I could, all the time, every race. Even when I felt tired, fatigued, sick I kept pushing. The last mile I would sprint with everything I had left. "Time is short--I can rest when I'm done."
I have 1/12 of my mission race nearly done. I am going to sprint to the end. When I cross the line, I want to see my Captain, my Coach and tell Him that I kept sprinting.
Keep sprinting! I love my mission!

Thursday, September 9, 2010 -- Choices


This week has been wonderful! I feel like I have grown and learned so much about myself, about others, about God and about His
church this week!

* * *

When I heard about the news of Carol Joy, it hit my kind of hard. [Editor's note: Carol Joy is a young woman of Truman's age who passed away a few days earlier. For many years her speech and gait had been impaired due to a brain tumor.] To have such a wonderful spirit, such an inspiring girl, and one of my peers who was younger than me, pass on was quick a heartwrenching experience. When I read the letter I began to cry. My companion saw how much I was affected and in a very sacred and touching conversation, we talked about the plan of salvation. He told me how muscular distrophy runs in his family and that his uncle had recently passed away because of this disease. However, through his tears he told me that he knew that his Uncle was free in heaven. He is no longer confined to a wheelchair, it is no longer painful for him to do the simplest of tasks. I know that Carol Joy is running in heaven. I know that she is home. I know that because of the choices she made that she will be blessed and has been blessed and also has blessed the lives of so many.

Choices. Life is made up a series of choices. Our choices reveal our true nature, and we will become what our choices reveal us to be. Choosing is becoming. God has given us everything and one of our greatest gifts is the
freedom to choose. After all, this is what the entire war in heaven was fought over and is what we are valiantly fighting for today. In Moses 7:32-33, Christ is crying and Enoch asks Him why He is crying. Christ responds that He gave us power to act, to choose; He only asks that we love one another and choose Him. Our choices will either bring us closer to Christ or further from Him. Choose Him. I am striving to choose Christ in all that I do. I am greatful for the series of choices that brought me here: both the choices I made, and the choices of those around me that influenced me for the better. I know that this is where I am supposed to be and I am glad I made the choices to come here.

I want to share with you, why I am here on a
mission. I am here because I want to serve God. God has asked that I sere a mission and I am answering His call. My whole life I have known that I was supposed to serve a mission and that I wanted to serve one. The gospel has blessed my life so much and I want other people to see the blessings in their lives. As one of Christ's sheep, I know His voice and His love, but there are lost sheep who need to come back to Christ, to His open loving arms. I want to bring the gospel of joy to people and let them know how much they are loved and that they can return to God their loving Heavenly Father. I love this gospel! I love my Father in Heaven! I love all His children! I love all of you! I love my mission!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010 -- Attitude Is Everything

Well, I am officially more than half-way done with my time in the MTC and have already completed 1/24 of my mission! I know I say this every week, but how time flies! We must use every moment while we can, because if we don't, at the end we'll look back and wonder where all the time went.

This week, like every other week has been amazing! For our devotional on Tuesday night, we were privileged to hear from Elder [Richard G.] Hinckley of the Seventy and his wife. As he talked, I couldn't help but think of his father, President Gordon B. Hinckley. President Hinckley is dear to my heart because he was the prophet that I grew up with. I remember hearing all the stories of President Hinckley's cheerfulness and optimism. One of the Twelve [Apostles] (I believe President [Henry B.] Eyring) said that if he could ever get President Hinckley down, it wasn't for long. During their talks, Elder and Sister Hinckley both mentioned that attitude is everything. In my mission and in all of our lives, I know that the way that we look at something will determine what kind of experience we have. Even though the glass might not be full, it will never be empty, we just have to see the water and be thankful for what we have been given.

Just before the devotional on Tuesday, I watched a CES fireside from 2007 given by [Elder Jeffrey R.] Holland. I learned a lot from his talk which is entitled "Lessons From Liberty Jail." The time spent in Liberty Jail were some of the darkest times for Joseph and Hyrum Smith and the other men illegally and wrongfully held captive there. However, during this time Joseph received many revelations--some of which have been canonized in Doctrine and Covenants Sections 121, 122, and 123. Joseph was able to turn this prison into a temple, or as Elder Holland says a "prison-temple." Even in our darkest hour we can learn and grow or as stated in Doctrine and Covenants 122:7, "...all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." We should "fear not...for God shall be with [us] forever and ever" (Doctrine and Covenants 122:9). Although it was a horrible time in his life and the conditions were painful, harsh and unjust, Joseph was able to turn his prison into a prison-temple. We must also remember in these times that "the Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art [we] greater than he?" (Doctrine and Covenants 122:8). As Elder Holland says, "the road to salvation has always and will always go through Gethsemane." In these times, we can look to our Savior for guidance and support and He will be there for us!

In the very last verse of the canonized sections from Liberty Jail, Joseph demonstrates his incredible attitude and says "therefore...let us cheerfully so all things that lie in our power" (Doctrine and Covenants 123:17). I am striving to have an attitude similar to my hero, Joseph Smith. I am trying to do all that lies in my power and do it cheerfully.

As of Sunday I am no longer the district leader. During my time in that position I learned a lot about myself. I also learned about how to be a better leader. As with everything else, we have a perfect example of leadership in Christ.

I am thankfully for the example of Christ in my life. I am thankful that I Elder Rowley have been born of goodly parents and was taught in the learning of them.

The glass is never empty! Find the water! . . . I love my mission!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010 -- This Is not Burger King!!!

Thank you so much for your letters! I received so many birthday cards and wishes this last week. Mom, you must have been pulling some major strings! :) I think I celebrated my birthday with more people than I have ever before! I love my mission!

* * *

This week we had an amazing devtional. It was given by one of my favorite speakers. Who also happens to be one of my favorite members of the Quorum of the Twelve . . . ELDER HOLLAND!!! For all the devotionals and firesides thus far, we have had to watch on TV's in overflow rooms because the gym bleachers have been under construction. However, on Tuesday we were able to sit in the gym. Elder Matesen and I had some of the best seats in the house. Elder Holland said many things that affected me. One slightly humorous comment he made was "You are not free to do it your way--this is not Burger King!!! We do not hold the pickles!!" We are to do what the Lord has commanded us. This is his gospel and it is my responsibility to preach it how he has told us missionaries to do so. I want to preach how the Lord would have me preach because I love Him and I love my mission!

Elder Holland told us that this is war. We are fighting in a battle between good and evil that began in the dawn of time. We will continue in this battle until the Captain comes again! In this war, we missionaries are the Red Cross. I really liked that analogy. We are not trying to take away life, but rather, we are here to save life. We are here to heal the hurt and the broken. We are here to offer them the lifesaving and lifegiving medicine of the Atonement. I love my mission!

One of my favorite subjects to teach is the Atonement. About a week ago I stained all my white shirts. Each of them had orange streaked. However, the dry cleaners were able to cleanse them of their stains and make them pure again. We must be willing to offer oursleves to the "Cleaner." Through Christ, even if our sins be as scarlet, we can become white as snow! I love Jesus Christ and His Atonement! I love all of you! You are in my prayers!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010 -- Goodbyes.

¡Hola! ¿Como estan? [Hello! How are all of you?]

I cannot beleive that I have been here three weeks already! One third of my time in the MTC is already gone. I feel like the next two years will pass away and I'll look back and say, like Jacob, that my mission "passed away like as it were unto . . . a dream" (Jacob 7:26). I am trying to seize every moment while I can, because I love my mission!

The last few days have been very interesting and have given my a taste of what it will be like to say goodbye to my friends and investigators in Chile. Two of the Elders in my district--Elders Griffey and Sederholm-- went to the Guatemala MTC on Tuesday. Saying goodbye to them was extremely difficult. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of love! And as we Elders have learned about this gospel and taught each other, we have come to love each other deeply and have developed everlasting friendships.

A couple of weeks ago, when we were going to the temple, two of the Elders from my district didn't make it in time for the session. Throughout the session I was thinking of them and how much I wished they were there with me. I couldn't help but wonder where they were. I am usually the first of my district in the celestial room and I like to hug each of my Elders as they come in. It's so amazing to feel the love and happiness emanating there.

However, I was not able to share that joy with the two Elders that didn't make it. Before Elders Griffey and Sederholm left, we had a little testimony meeting and I related that experience. I told them that in next life, I don't want to have to wonder where any of them are. I told them that I had better be able to hug each one of them as they enter the celestial kingdom. Amidst tears we all promised that no matter what, we would see each other there. I love my mission!

I had another experience of saying goodbye this week. As I have said previously, Brother Catt (one of my teachers), is a convert. He celebrated his fifth year of being a member on this last Saturday. On Saturday, we were privileged to hear his conversion story. By hearing his testimony, mine was strengthened so much. At the end of his testimony, the Sisters and I (as usual) were in tears. Sister Deas said "Hermano [Brother] Catt, thank you so much for being our teacher. You always know just what to say." When she said that Hermano [Brother] Catt smiled and looked down and then said that he needed to talk to us about something.

He sat down in a chair and hunched over as if he had a heavy weight on his back. I felt inside as if my father was gathering the children around to tell us that a loved-one had passed away. Hermano [Brother] Catt began to cry and proceeded to tell us that his position as our teacher was half job and half calling and that in a few weeks he will be transferred to a new class (usually teachers stay the whole time with their district). He told us that on our mission we would have similar situations. I love Hermano [Brother] Catt and will miss him. I love my mission!

Thank you all so much for your birthday wishes and cards! I have received so many unexpected cards and letters. ¡Yo tengo mucho gozo en mi alma! [I have much joy in my soul!] I am so happy and I am working hard to deserve all the wonderful friends and family who support me and who have helped me in my life!

I have a favor to ask of anyone reading this. There is an Elder in my zone who I have come to love--Elder Michael Scott. He joined the Church about three years ago. He is an incredible person and has an incredible testimony. However, both his parents are dead and his two sisters are not members. They have not responded to any of his letters or emails. If you could send him a "deareleder," that would be amazing! Here is his info:

Elder Michael Scott
Mission: MEX-TIJ 0830
MTC Box# 270

Thank you so much!

I know that God is watching over my life and is blessing me and my family because of this small sacrifice. You are all in my prayers! I love my mission!

P.S. As of last night, I do not speak English EVER :) ¡ustedes amo mucho!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [I love you all much!]

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010 -- Weeks Like Days and Days Like Weeks

Querida familia y amigos,

¡Yo tengo mucho gozo in mi corazon! [I have much joy in my heart !] My mission is so wonderful. As I said before, time behaves very strangely here. The weeks feel like days. I am now two weeks old; I have 1/54 of my mission gone already; I feel like I just got here. The days can sometimes feel like weeks. When I look back on the day at nighttime, it's hard to believe that just that morning I was in class with my district. I love my mission!

Class this week was really good. At the end of last week, we began teaching progressing investigators. Our teachers both portray investigators from their missions or lives and we teach them from the very beginning. Brother Gentry is portraying a man named Thomas from L.A. As we teach him, I feel love for Thomas and have a great desire for him to come to know Christ as his friend, brother, and Savior. Thomas is very excited to learn and is progressing quickly. Another investigator we have is Kord Catt. He is portrayed by Brother Catt—Kord’s older brother. Brother Catt joined the Church about five years ago and his mother and one of his brothers, soon followed. However, Kord did not join the Church. Kord is a senior in high school and has had the lessons a few times. As we teach Kord (Hermano Catt) I think of the actual Kord in Arizona who is also being taught. Hermano Catt said that Kord is like an iceberg—he only shows a little bit of who he really is and we have to find out what is really under the surface. Hermano Catt told us that some things we have taught in class, he has relayed to Kord and talked to him about them. I hope Kord will come to Christ and be baptized! I love my mission!

On Saturday in class, Hermano Catt took us for a walk around campus. We sometimes do this to practice conversational Spanish and so that he can teach us Spanish words outside. However, on Saturday he took us to a statue. This statue is of Samuel Smith walking with a Book of Mormon in hand and a sack over his shoulder. He relayed the following story to us: Samuel Smith was the first missionary of this dispensation. Samuel left his home and family to go spread the gospel and bring people to Christ. All he took with him were the clothes on his back, the sack on his shoulder, and the book in his hand. Samuel traveled across New York and left that copy of the Book of Mormon in a tavern. This copy ended up being the means of conversion of the [Kimball] and Young families. Samuel left everything he knew to go spread the truth. In the church we usually only think of Hyrum and Joseph being the Smith-brother martyrs. However, after they were murdered, Samuel hid their bodies so that they would not be mutilated or mocked by the mob. He then rode through the night with a mob in tail. He rode his horse yelling that the Prophet had been murdered, the whole time the mob was in pursuit and shooting at him. By the time he had reached safety, he had received multiple bullet wounds which would kill him. I know that these men did not die in vain. The Lord is watching over his people. Samuel, Joseph, Hyrum and hundreds of others gave their lives for this gospel because it is true! I love my mission!

Last night our district went to the TRC (teaching resource center) for the second time. We knocked doors and spoke in Spanish for the first 15 minutes. Then we taught the first lesson in English for 35 minutes. I love the TRC. It is such a valuable resource. Elder Matesen and I have definitely improved our teaching skills from last week and I know that we will continue to do so. I love my mission!

Also, yesterday, we got a new district in the zone. Many of the Elders are going to Dallin’s mission, Monterrey Mexico East. I am very excited for them. I even know one of the Elders from BYU—Chris Reed! I love my mission!

I am so glad that you have had a fun summer together as a family. Good luck with school! If you rely on the Lord, He will always bless you! I love my mission!

¡Yo se que la iglesia es verdadera y el libro de mormon es verdadero! [I know the Church is true and the Book of Mormon is true!] I love my mission!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010--EFY on Steriods (Well, except for the no dancing, no music, and no hugging girls)

Guess what? I am over one week old now! Time is very strange here at the MTC. At times it moves very quickly; other times it moves very slow. Looking back though, it always seems as if it passed as "if it were a dream." I love my mission! I love my mission!

As I said in the subject line and as [Redlands friend] Isaac Arnott said when he got back [from his mission], the MTC is "like EFY on steriods." It is so spiritual all the time. It seems like any desire to other things have left me for the desire to learn and grow that I might be able to reach my full potential. I like to compare EFY to a spiritual drinking fountain. When you drink, you try to drink all you can, but some still goes down the drain. Well, if EFY is a drinking fountain, then the MTC is a fire hose. Constantly, you are being pounded (in a good way) with the Spirit. No matter how much you try to take it all in, a lot of it just shoots right past you. I love my mission!

Here at the MTC, everywhere I go, the Elders and Sisters are practicing their languages. There are so many different conversations in so many languages. On my first full day here at the MTC, our teachers (Hermanos Catt and Gentry) taught us how to pray in Spanish and made us promise to never pray in English again while on our mission (except in certain circumstances).

The next day we were taught how to bear our testimony in Spanish. We have already learned five tenses in Spanish! It is incredible how much you can accomplish when the Lord is on your side and when His Spirit is there guiding you. On Sunday, I bore my testimony in Spanish! My district is already constantly talking to each other in Spanish.

On the first day here, I told the teachers that I wanted them to push us, and they definitely have--both in language and spiritual studies. While all the other foreign language districts haven't had to teach the first lesson in the foreign language until about week four, we were teaching the first lesson in Spanish on Monday-- day five I believe. I love my mission!

On Sunday, I was called to be the district leader. I am working hard to be a good leader and a good servant of my fellow Elders and the two Hermanas in my district. I have already learned so much from them and I still have much to learn.

Mis maestros
are incredible men. They both served their missions in Southern California. One of them (Brother Catt) joined the Church one year before he served his mission. His testimony is so strong and he has taught me so much! I love my mission!

Our district was able to have a spiritual treat that hardly any others do. The American Sign Language district came and taught us the first lesson. Although I could not understand anything, for nothing was spoken, the Spirit was so strong that I was in tears. The gospel is true in every language, even Sign Language. God loves all of us! I love my mission!

. . . I am working hard. I know that this is where I need to be and that people will be blessed because of my sacrifice. I love my mission! . . .

P.S. . . . I love my mission!