Monday, July 23, 2012

Letter #14 (shreveport,LA)

What a crazy week this last one has been. Crazy busy. This week Elder Spanlgler and I had the opprotunity to find six new people to teach, and also found an additional family who we met briefly, but will begin teaching this week. Gotta love knocking doors!! It has been nothing but hott down here in the south, but no complaints from me! I think that Elder Spangler is starting to finally realize just how close he is to going home. It's not that he is trunky by any means, rather the oppisite. He is so lost in the mission that he dosen't know what to do when he dosen't have the tag on. I hope that I can be the same way when I leave. That is my goal! But his time is wearing down, he heads out on August the 8th, but I will get my new companion on the 7th. It is weird to think that I will be running the area in just two weeks, but because of Elder Spangler and the quality of training I have recieved from him. I broke my bike this week, I am sure my mom is rolling her eyes right now, so I have been using an old beat up one from a member, which makes everything a little bit more difficult, But I am hoping the Lord blesses me for my added workout:)
Latly for part of my personal study I have been reading part of the missionary library, Jesus the Christ. For those of you that have read it, you will understand what I mean when I say it is in depth. Written my James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ takes an in depth look of Christ's life, and the exact reasoning behind EVERYTHING that he did. From each miracle, to each sermon taught, Christ had specific reasoning behind each and every one of his deeds. But what I have enjoyed the most would be the miracles that He performed. Even though he knew that each miracle drew him closer to death, he continued to serve God. See, the church people back then , the Jews, wanted to destroy Christ and all that he stood for. So they would set up ways for him to be "breaking the sabbith," like when he healed a crippled man. The Jew's looked at this as breaking the Law of Moses, but it is never been against the church to serve on Sunday. But these breaking of their laws, cause a hatred against Christ, and eventually factored into his death. But Christ did what was right. Even when he knew it was causing anger and frustration among the Jews. I am happy to be doing what I know is right. To be serving just as Christ did. I am proud to wear his name over my heart everyday, and love enduring everything the badge brings.
~Elder Maddox

Friday, July 20, 2012

Letter #13 (Shreveport)

Sorry I was out of time. This is in responce to questions dad asked! Sorry I had to use part of his letter!

So my area consists of the exact middle of Shreveport. If you were to look at it from a map, "downtown" is almost the center of our area, so take the middle of downtown, and then about three miles to the east, south, and west of that would be my area. It is about a 3 mile square, and we are on the southern most bottom part. It equates to a lot of biking, and also a lot of pounds being shed. So the district that I am is the "Shreveport" District which is just out companionship, and another set of Shreveport missionaries who take all of the area around us. Elder Westbrook is our District Leader and is an amazing missionary. He is more soft spoken, and spiritual, and even though he hasn't had the "success" that the world judges missionaries by, he has taught me so much! So Bossier, and Shreveport are separated by the Red River, and Bossier and Shreveport together make the Shreveport Zone. There are 7 companionship's that are Elders, and one sister missionary companionship, so 8 all together in my area. The ward here is the biggest in the mission, since Shreveport is the largest city in our mission. Ya, Elder Spangler is down to 23 days left as a missionary, and is still pushing hard. He will be coming to see ya'll when he gets home and give you a full report! And because him and I opened up this area, I will most likely be staying here after he leaves. I may train, or I may get an older missionary, you never really know. And because this is my first area, I could still be in Shreveport till around Christmas, but like I said, you never really know. Now on to the fun stuff. My confidence is through the roof right now. I feel like the spirit has taken all of the talents that I had previous to the mission, and made them even stronger. It is crazy to think of where I was just two months ago, and now where I am. The hand of the Lord has been seen in my life on a daily basis, and it is so amazing!! I have been blessed with other talents I didn't know about as well. A unique ability to remember peoples names has been one that is very noticeable. Its is something that I have struggled with ever since my car accident, and it is a joy to have the ability back. My teaching power is crazy right now. My ability to recall scriptures, and to teach the lessons is a power that is simply beyond my own. I love it when people tell me that I need to rethink my beliefs, and then I bust out the Bible, and show them how our church is spoken of. Everyone down here wants to argue about religion, and I feel that I am able to help them see that we as a faith are not tearing their beliefs. Rather we add to them and give them a literal fullness! I love being able to go toe to toe with anyone now, and it's all because of my trainer that I have this confidence.

I feel like time flies by. To think we are halfway through July already is mind blowing. The days feel like hours, and the weeks feel like days. It is crazy to think that I am already two and a half months in. I have been here longer than I was in Georgia last summer. In that sense I am over the hump, but the hump bites me in the butt when I think of how much I have left to do. You know how when your training a new mule, and you finally get on it, and it doesn't throw you off? That's how I feel. I have conquered a bit part of it, the beginning, but even though I am on the mule, I still need to teach it to reign, street break it, desensitize it, and teach it to jump. Progress has been made, but still so much to go. I hope that analogy helps.

Good luck Sam, and Zack! Good luck with your talks, and then going to the MTC! Cherish your time there, it is much more simple then the field!!
Elder Maddox

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Letter #12 (Shreveport, LA)

Steven's cousin entered the MTC yesterday! That is 2 of the four boys in our family that will be serving over the next 2 years! There will be a total of 7 over the next 4 years. It was hard for these boys to say good by to each other. But, they each know the importance of it.         ~Lisa

Steven, Sam, Jeff, Zack.  Steven and Jeff are now serving, Sam and Zack will enter the MTC in the next 3 weeks!

These boys can never all be serious at the same time someone always has his finger in the others ear...taking their pictures at 18 was exactly  like taking their picture when they were 2 years old!!!   (Seriously) 

These 7 cousins will all leave on their missions over the next 2 years!
Now this weeks letter from My Missionary...      

O I can't believe I just started my email out with that, I have been
hanging around the spanish missionaries too long! But this week was a
crazy week here in Shreveport. Crazy rain storms like you never get
in Utah have been a regular occurance the last few weeks, and we have
had two investigators progress like crazy! One of them, Alex Doorman,
is a 15 year old young man who is being an amazing example to all of
his family, some of which, are inactive members who his example is
changing. He is progressing towards baptisim thorugh his own personal
study of the Book of Mormon. It is amazing how when the people we
teach decide to finally read, their whole perspective changes. They
see the need to be baptized, because, throught their reading, they see
how amazing both God, and Christ are, and when they see that, they,
the investigators, want to do all they can to become closer to God.
The Book of Mormon has changed me drastically in the last two months.
I am just a few chapters from finishing it, and can not put it down
most mornings. What continues to amaze me, is the more I learn about
the gospel, and the more effective I become as a teacher, the simpler
my personal testimony becomes. The more I teach about everything that
makes up the Mormon faith, I realize how truly simple all of our
testimonies should be. They should be comprised of three simple,
essentail truths. 1: That Jospeh Smith was a true Phrophet, and he
resoted the true church of Christ, and the autority to administer as
such. 2: That the Book of Mormon is nothing short of the word of
God. That when combined with the Bible, the Book of Mormon is the
fulness of the Gospel. And number 3: That our savior is Jesus
Christ. He felt all of our pains, afflections, guilts, and
temptaitons. He fell below all of us, to the lowest of low's only to
rise up, and loose the bands of death, and conquer all. Christ has
been refered to as both the Lamb, and The Shepard. He has transended
all. That is the simplicity of our church.
~Elder Maddox

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Letter #11 (Shreveport)

Week 7
So today is officially day one of the new mission president! President Tucker packed his bags, and is probably already home, and the reign of President McDonough is officially underway! Elder Spangler and I called him this morning to invite him to an up and coming fireside at in our fireside, and I had the opportunity to speak with him briefly, and he seems like a very loving man, and he is very eager to begin! One comforting thought about having him arrive this week, is that I am no longer the youngest in the mission!! Haha, but this week was full of excitement in my life, including the finding of another individual named Mario. Mario is a 22 year old young man who hasn't been inside a church in 4 years before Sunday. But he came to church, and I have to say, our ward THREW DOWN! The meeting was very possibly the most spirit filled fast and testimony that I have had the opportunity to participate in. Our ward is absolutely amazing. And they continue to get better and better. The theme of fast Sunday for our ward was missionary work. And our ward has caught mission fever! Many of them have been giving us referrals and signed up to come out with us, or to have us and some of our investigators into their house for member present lessons, and Elder Spangler and I couldn't me more happy. So because of the wards new dedication, we have devoted this week to the finding of new people to teach. This week will be filled with knocking doors, and talking to as many people as we happen to bike past. Speaking of bikes, I have had a lot of questions as to how it feels to ride my bike here in the south. Here is the most accurate way to let y'all know what I feel on a daily basis. Go turn your shower on as hot as it goes in your bathroom, close all the doors and have no ventilation. Then, get a stationary bike and peddle as fast as you can for 15-20 miles with a 15 pound back pack, in a white shirt and tie, and a pair of slacks! Don't forget the helmet, but that's just for looks!! And that would be the feeling of my life all day everyday:) Ya, that's pretty accurate portrayal.
So the word on the street is that Jeff is getting pretty close!! That is so exciting for me to hear! You will love the MTC. Words of advice though. Enjoy it. While it will be stressful, and you will feel the need to change who you are, don't. Remember that God called Jeff, not robot Jeff. But don't get stressed about it. Lay back, tell some jokes, and have fun. Best of luck to you man. Know that I am praying for you, and can't wait to have you out in the field with me. I had a lot of friends in the MTC who were going to your mission, and they will be some of your best friends. Look out for an Elder Quinn Hunsaker. Funniest kid in the world!!
~Elder Maddox

Letter #10 (Shreveport, LA)

Whats up??
Alright so I know I missed last week and that was totally my bad! It
has been nothing but hot here in Shreveport, yesterday was only 104 so
it was a little cooler, but this weekend is supposed to be even worse!
And to top it all off, I get to ride my bike everywhere, but hey,
that's the life of a missionary, and I would not trade it for anything
right now. These last two weeks have consitsted of a lot of knocking
doors, gotta love it. If you had told me a year and a half ago that I
would be knocking doors in the dirty south for the next three summers,
I would have told you, that you were crazy, but like I said, wouldn't
trade it. We have continued to meet with our top investigator, Luke,
almost every other day consistanly, and it looks like my first
baptisim is coming on Saturday, which would be absolutly awesome!
Many of our other investigtors continue to progress, and I see the
hand of the Lord working in their lives each day to help progress them
each day. One thing that has been crazy as we've continued to talk to
more and more people is the curiosity and controversy that Mitt Romney
is generating. Everyday people will yell at us and let us know that
they are "voting for our president", and a lot of the people who we
talk to on the streets are very curious as to what he, Mitt, believes
in with him being a Mormon. And then there is the other side of the
coin, the controversy that being Mormon brings. Its amazing how many
people try to tell me what I believe being Mormon, and don't seem to
believe me when I tell them that we don't worship Jospeh Smith, and
no, we don't believe in animal sacrafice, and yes, we do believe in
Jesus Christ. The misconceptions that people believe in the South are
crazy, and all I can do is laugh when I hear them. But the one that
makes me stoked on being a missionary is when someone calls me a
Mormon, thinking it is a diss on me! Haha silly misinformed people
don't they know what a compliment that is? Mormon was a legendary
phrophet, and will gladly be called that any day of the week! The
members continue to feed us on a near nightly basis, but because of
the temprature, and the bike, I am actually losing weight! We are
still trying to get the ward to catch the spark as far as missionary
work is concerned, and they are getting better. Its amazing to me how
much more effective members are, than us missonaries knocking on
doors. Many members are nervous about sharing their beliefs, because
they don't want to offend people, but I have seen first hand how much
the Lord prepairs the hearts of men. We don't know the events that
happen to people when we aren't with them, that are slowly prepairing
them to draw closer to Christ. It is very easy to be content with our
religon. To live it on Sunday's for three hours, but when we decide
to live full time, and share the message of the restoration of the
gospel with others, God will bless us more that we have room to

~Elder Maddox