Heating up in Colorado Springs

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It’sss Fiiiiiinally Summer!

And things are heating up around here in Colorado Springs with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees!  Additionally our zone is ON FIRE!!!  Thousands of acres have burned up in the mountains west of here and several companionships in the Zone have had to evacuate to neighboring areas as a safety precaution.  We also have 14 investigators in the Zone with baptismal dates right now which is HUGE for a Monday morning.  The last several weeks we’ve only had 8 so we’re poised to not only reach the mission standard of excellence in July of 12, but to set a new Zone baptism record!
Our Sunday ended up being super successful this week.  All three of our investigators with dates came to sacrament meeting, as well as a LA/PM family we’ve been teaching.  Wally Whitmire, Seth Murdock, and Keith Murdock are good to be baptized this Saturday at 7.  We’re doing a combined double baptism!

Friday morning, our investigator Wally Whitmire told us that after praying for several weeks, he finally got an answer from God that he, along with his wife, wasn’t supposed to smoke cigarettes anymore.  Now Wally is totally committed to not buy cigarettes or smoke ever again.  On Sunday he told us that since we started teaching him, God has been talking to him more than ever before and he is happier now than he has ever been in his entire life, and he expects to be even happier after he is baptized.  He is really starting to become converted to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and he has been smoke free for more than 3 days!

We visited with Rick and his non-member wife Karina again on Saturday, the LA/PM family that came to church.  He kept his commitment to read from the Book of Mormon and said he enjoyed what he read and felt good about it.  He still had doubts about praying and being able to get answers from the spirit, since he is worried that he might be answering his own prayers because he wants the Book of Mormon to be true, so we had a discussion about recognizing answers from the spirit.  We shared principles from Preach My Gospel and scriptures from the Book of Mormon that we felt would help him.  At the end of the lesson we invited him to offer the closing prayer.  He was reluctant to pray in front of us and his wife, but he did anyways.  Mid-prayer after asking God if he was “on the right path” the spirit came and touched our hearts.  He was silent for a few seconds, then he started to cry a little. As he finished the prayer I felt so much gratitude to the Lord for letting us help him have this great experience.  We have another appointment this weekend and our next goal is to commit his wife to baptism in July!
Love,

   –Elder Emmett Florence

[LaRee’s inserted update-] This letter was written Monday before the Waldo Canyon wildfire doubled in size, jumping into neighborhoods and forcing a mandatory evacuation of over 32,000 people.  Dozens of homes have burned with the real number not known as the smoke and conditions have prohibited officials from returning to burning and burned out areas. This is Emmett’s current zone.  See the below map with fire & evacuation area circled, Emmett’s current location by the red X and his zone outlined in yellow.  I am confident he is safe and I know he will be even more busy serving on the Lord’s errand with these new developments in his  assigned field of labor.  Thank you all for your continued prayers for his safety and all those on the Lord’s errand.

22 Months

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Salutations!

Today marks 22 months since I reported to the MTC in August of 2010.  I am amazed at how much I’ve been able to do and how I have grown since then and I am grateful to the Lord for helping me get this far.  There is nothing I would ask to have changed about my experience so far.

Wally Whitmire and the Murdocks made it to church Sunday and had a good experience.  The Murdocks are progressing and should have no problem making their baptism date on the 30th.  Wally on the other hand while still very accepting of everything we have to teach him is still struggling to quit smoking.  He relapsed after the blessing and is back to half a pack a day so he is going to need more time.

We had to drop Dawn this week after she told us repeatedly that she believes that kneeling and saying a vocal prayer to a perceived ultimate embodied higher being is for inexperienced and less intelligent truth seekers and that she had evolved spiritually beyond to the point where she can now pray to snakes, trees and wind and anything else God is part of.  She also doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God or the Savior of the World so there’s no point in baptizing her.  She seemed sad when we told we couldn’t teach her anymore but there isn’t anything else we can do for her.  She is a good person.  Maybe she’ll come around someday.

I just talked to Elder May (we still email at the same library) and it sounds like things are going well in the old area.  Susan Landraum had her baby and accepted a date to be baptized soon which means someone I found tracting (after all this time knocking doors) is finally getting baptized!!!  Anne Baker is also being baptized on Wednesday and I should be able to go see it!

Speaking of tracting, we ran into a Part Member family knocking doors and started teaching them.  We checked our records and they are already in the ward directory and they have a teaching record in the area book but it is cool we found them the way we did anyways. The Less Active husband actually is interested in coming back to church and has good support from his extended family who are all active members.  His wife is a non-denominational Christian who has reluctantly agreed to support her husband and let us teach them.  We taught them a first discussion yesterday.  Interestingly I was inspired to go a lot deeper into certain topics during the lesson than I normally would teaching the restoration (for example, I busted out Ezekiel 37:15-17 to explain the Book of Mormon and I shared the Pugh Studies statistic that Mormons know the Bible better than anyone else, including JWs and Atheists) but later back at our apartment when we found their teaching record, after looking at unbeknown to us what they had been taught by missionaries before, we realized that what I had shared was exactly what she had needed to hear!  Cool huh?

The church is true!

     -Elder Emmett Florence

Staying Busy-22 Lessons Taught

Dear Family and Friends and Other,

Lots of success in the Palmer Park ward this week.  We started teaching the 15 and 13 year-old grandsons of one of our ward missionaries, Seth and Kieth Murdock.  They had been living with their Less Active Mom in Arizona and were never baptized but now they are living with their Dad, Step-mom and Step-grandparents who are active members.  They love having us over to teach them, especially when we use baseball terms to explain things.  They came to mutual and church and thanks to the young men had good experiences and want to keep going.  They are keeping their commitments, they love learning, they recognize the spirit and are solid for their baptismal dates on the 30th of June!

Our investigator Wally got lost Sunday morning so he didn’t make it to church, but he has recommitted to be baptized on the 24th instead.  The good news is we went over on Saturday and gave him a priesthood blessing to help him quit smoking and as of Sunday afternoon despite temptation he hadn’t smoked since.  Keep praying for him!

We started teaching the lady we found while helping the Snows clean.  Her name is Dawn Lamonte.  She is 25 and has had a lot of dark things in her past, including dysfunctional family situations, drugs, and disease.  Consequentially she prays to snakes, is all but homeless, and is afraid to do anything for herself.  She can be strange sometimes.  When we mentioned Satan while sharing the First Vision she pulled up her skirt to reveal a tattoo of a hermaphrodite devil on her upper leg and explained how she believed that evil was genderless (don’t worry, we’ve been exactly obedient about keeping the three on one rule with her. We’ve had a priest with us at every visit bless his heart.)  On the other hand she has incorporated lots of true principles about the plan of salvation from her trials and is very receptive to the things we have to share with her.  She is very charitable and is already boldly inviting her friends and neighbors to meet with us, so their is some potential to make a great latter-day saint out of her still.  She wants to come to church with us and be baptized even though we’re not sure why yet since she has trouble understanding the atonement of Christ, God the Father being an actual person and not a cosmic universal whatever that is everywhere and in everything (hence she prays to snakes and other things like plants or wind), and  she doesn’t believe in remission of sins.  She is reading the Book of Mormon and enjoying the peaceful feeling it brings her and the answers she is finding in it so I think if we let the spirit work on her by and by she will be converted.

I’m really glad to be in this area just after one of the companionships was pulled out.  It’s easy to stay busy and focused because we have only one companionship to do the work of two!  We taught 22 lessons this week to investigators, Less Actives and members and got tons of finding done and next week looks like it is going to be even better!
Love,

       -Elder Emmett Florence


Finishers Wanted

It’s June!

Wow, I cannot believe how fast May went by!  Chances are June will be worse.  I just got my “Finishers Wanted” letter from President Anderson so I’ve officially begun the beginning of the end of my mission.  It ‘s not so much that I’m afraid of my mission ending and going home, it just freaks me out that I only have two transfers left to be a full-time missionary in the CCSM!  I want to make the most of the time that is left as I can!

The new area is awesome.  Having only one ward to worry about and having my own apartment is great.  I also like my new companion Elder Gardner a lot. He’s from Carson City Nevada.  Very friendly and simple.  Doesn’t complicate anything.

Currently in the Palmer Park ward we have one investigator with a baptismal date named Wally.  He is an older gentleman, somewhere in his 70s.  He was formerly a Baptist but stopped attending church after his pastor offended him.  He agrees with everything we teach although he is struggling to grasp the whole “one true church” concept.  Other then that, the only thing that would keep him from being baptized on the 17th would be quitting smoking. He wants to stop, but his wife who is still smoking around him makes it hard.  He loves reading the Book of Mormon and he has already come to church so if we can keep helping him progress he should be able to overcome it.

Service Miracle!  On Thursday we were asked to come help Elder and Sister Snow, the senior couple in the mission over housing, go close an apartment that Elders had been staying in for several years.  Sadly the last Elders to live in the apartment left the place a mess, so we had to help clean it up.  After two hours of cleaning and hauling furniture, while making our last dumpster run, Elder Snow and I met a woman in the parking lot picking up trash and started talking with her.  After Elder Gardner and I left, Elder Snow struck up a conversation with her about the Book of Mormon.  Turns out she had read parts of it before but quit because of the war chapters.  She had just gotten a divorce and was going through a hard time so Elder Snow testified to her that the Book of Mormon was true and could help her.  She felt the Holy Ghost and told Elder Snow she believed that what he said was true!  The Snows got her address and phone number and passed it on to us so we will be teaching her sometime this week!  It’s amazing that what at first looked like a wasted afternoon cleaning up someone else’s mess, ended up being right where and when the Lord wanted us to be!

Love,

-Elder Emmett Florence

LAST AREA!!!

It’s finally transfer day!!!

Well as expected I’m getting transfered from the North East zone next door to the Colorado Springs zone where I will be serving in the Palmer Park ward.  It’s going to be an adventure because I’ve never served in that zone before.  I also will have stewardship over the Spanish branch which will be interesting since I don’t trust most Spanish speaking missionaries as far as I can throw them.  I’m going to miss all the awesome people here in 15th and Stetson Hills wards, especially the Ridgleys, but the bright side is that I will still be extremely close by so we can keep in touch.  It’s not what I had envisioned, but I know the Lord is sending me where he wants me.  The other crazy thing is that this will most likely be my LAST AREA!!!

My next companion will be Elder Gardner.  He is a newer Zone Leader and has been in Springs one transfer longer than me.  I’ve met him a few times and he seems like a good guy.  I’ve only heard good things about him from other missionaries.

We had tons of success this week so I feel good about leaving the area strong!  In the 15th ward we started teaching a 14 year-old girl named Anne who was referred to us by the Elders in the 18th ward a few weeks ago.  It didn’t seem very promising at first, but after several attempts we were able to make contact with her and set up a teaching appointment.  Turns out Anne had recently gotten into trouble at school, and after some serious self reflection decided that she need a religion to help her be a better person.  Despite coming from a not very religious family, she started going to church with her LDS friend from school.  We taught her a first discussion with the YW’s president last Friday and committed her to be baptized on the 6th of June!  She has been keeping all the commitments we leave her including attending church with us on Sunday.  Her parents have also given her their permission and have agreed to support her decision to become a member of the Church!  In the 15th ward we also made some huge progress re-activating two less active sisters.  One came to church on Sunday for the first time in several years, the other came to a ward activity and developed friendships with several members and met the Bishop.  Both have been progressing spiritually and keeping commitments.

In the Stetson Hills ward, the Marruffo family came to church for the first time and had a good experience!  The sacrament meeting was packed with powerful doctrine and focused on the Savior.  Couldn’t have asked for a better Sunday for them to have come.  We haven’t been able to teach them again so no baptism date but they have more questions and are excited to have us over again!

Liz hasn’t been doing as well.  She hasn’t been to church in 3 weeks because of mother’s day and work.  She doesn’t seem interested in talking with us anymore, even when we stop in just to say hi.  We had so many powerful lessons where she recognized the spirit but she still won’t keep any commitments.  Even Galadriel is getting frustrated with her.  Hopefully she’ll figure things out soon and get her act together so we can help her again.

I had an awesome thought recently about Temple marriage.  I had been puzzling over why the sealing wasn’t ever mentioned in the Bible or Book of Mormon when this came to me; if the Gospel of Jesus Christ is meant to undo the negative consequences of the fall and return us to where Adam and Eve were before their transgression (a man and a woman married together forever), then it makes perfect sense that the crowning ordinance of the Gospel would be eternal marriage between a man and a woman!  Cool huh?  There’s the answer right there in the basics of the Gospel just like Hyrum Smith said.  What can I say more?  The church is true.

I’m attaching a more lighthearted song to this email that I thought would be appropriate.  (By the way none of the songs I will be sending are from me or this mission.  We’re still working on that.)

Love,

   -Elder Emmett Florence

Still Tracting

Dear Family and Friends,

The week has been decent.  We dug up lots of new potential investigators tracting and working with members but nothing has turned into results yet.  Our investigator Liz had to work on Sunday so she lost her date for the 26th.  It’s disappointing but she is still progressing.  We may give her a date for the 27th but I doubt it.  She is having issues with the Word of Wisdom that we haven’t been able to help her kick yet and she still isn’t keeping her commitments to read from the Book of Mormon on her own.  We keep having these awesome spiritual lessons with her and she seems solid to start living the gospel but then nothing translates into her behavior the rest of the week.  She will get baptized eventually, it will just take some time I guess.

We started teaching the Marruffo family in the Stetson Hills ward this week.  They were referred to us by a member in the Cheyenne Mountain Young Single Adult ward. We taught them the restoration this morning.  They are 99% Mormon already.  Really friendly.  They agreed with everything we taught but we weren’t able to give them a date for baptism because they wanted to read the Book of Mormon and pray more on their own first.  They’ve had lots of experiences (good and bad) with other religions so they have tons of questions about ours and how it works.  Our plan is to get the a date ASAP!!!

I’m really concerned about being transferred.  I’ve been here for 4 transfers already so my chances of staying are slim but I don’t want to leave!  So many good things are happening!  I’m trying to figure out how I can get President Anderson to keep me here longer without actually asking him to let me stay here longer because he dislikes it when missionaries do that.  I’m just going to have to trust in the spirit and believe that God will send me where I’m supposed to be next transfer no matter what.

By the way we’re moving to another member’s house today so if you could start sending your letters to the mission office again that would be good.

Love,

  -Elder Emmett Florence


Happy Mother’s Day

I can’t believe I’ve called home for the last time!  I’m glad the next time I see all of you will be in person.  I don’t think Skype would cut it again.

Well most of my email time today was sucked up wrestling with mediafire.com but I have come of conqueror!  I figure since pictures are worth a thousand words each and I just uploaded more than a hundred of them it makes up for the brevity of this letter!

Also I got a great idea yesterday!  Starting today, to keep these last several emails interesting between now and August, I am going to start attaching mission songs for you all to listen to!

No major updates.  We didn’t get to do much work with non-members this week.  Liz is doing alright, other than Mother’s Day being rough.  We also just got a referral from a YSA to teach a family in the Stetson Hills ward!  We have plans to go start teaching them today.  Zone Conference this week went well.  It was my first time as the Senior Zone Leader so I was running the show!

Thanks for your prayers and letters,

    -Elder Emmett Florence