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!