Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Letter #18 (Shreveport, LA)

It seems like the girls have been having fun huh? Saw picture after picture of the mountains! Jealous! We have hills here, but that's the extent of it! You girls seemed to have so much fun! Just a heads up mom, you might need to refill the cereal storage if you left the boys at home. Just an idea! That is so cool that Elder Spangler stopped by. We talked about having him do it, but I knew that he would be very busy. I hope that it was a good visit, and by the sound of it, it was a good meeting!
So like I said, Wow is the only word that could be used to describe this last few days. From Zone Conference to Baptisms, these last few days have been by far the most rewarding as a missionary. The spirit has been poured on in great amounts repeatedly and it continues to be present.
The most recent event on my mind is definitely Zone Conference. We combined with the zone from up in Texarcana, about 70 miles away, and had a good amount of missionaries. The theme if you want to call it that, was finding. President shared with us his vision of how to better find people to teach. This was a perfect lesson for me, since that is what will be my and Elder Merrill's focus this week! We have pretty much exhausted our teaching pool, so that means we get to get going on the knocking doors! Always equals so much fun! I am hoping that the members will help me out, but I have to rely on my own skill for sure!
An amazing experience happened on Sunday. I was able to baptize someone! See, we have been working with Bobbi Peters for a long time now, since about May, and were able to finally baptize her Sunday. But the original plan of having her son baptize her changed when she asked me to baptize her! It was the most amazing experiences of my life to see her, as well as to see the knight family baptize their sons! It was truly an amazing experience for all that were involved. And yes, I do have pictures mother!
~Elder Maddox

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Few Pictures!

Elder Spangler was Boo's (Elder Maddox) trainer, his first companion in the field.  He was the one who taught Boo how to function in the missionary world!  He made Boo learn to love knocking doors, let him "win" in a bike race and even made Boo pick up his own messes now and then.  Elder Spangler completed his mission a week and a half ago and headed home.  Luckily for us he lives only about 30 minutes from our home in Utah, so yesterday we got to meet him!  It was so much fun to hear all about how Boo is doing from someone that has lived with him for the last 3 months.  Listening to Elder Spangler's stories it was obvious that he really got to know our Boo.  I know from Steven's letters that he really developed a great love and deep respect for Elder Spangler as well as an amazing friendship.  And now having met
 Justin (Elder Spangler) it sounds mutual.  I am so glad that he has been able to have such a great experience.    
 Thank you Elder Spangler for being such a wonderful example to my son. 

I can assume they are burning Elder Spangler's well worn  suit...

Elder Spangler and Elder Maddox  saying goodbye.
The REAL Goodbye!!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Letter #17 (Shreveport, LA)

So this week has been one of hard work, and high temperatures. Its cooled off for a bit today, but the whole last week had to be pushing 115 with the heat index. I may be embellishing a little bit because my bike doesn't have AC! See the bike puts you in a bad situation. In order to stay cooler, you need to make the air around you travel faster, which requires more work from your legs. This extra exertion causes what we as missionaries call perfuse sweating. Once the bike is stopped for extended amounts of time, the body works over time to cool you down, thus causing you to sweat even more than is anticipated. But hey, it makes weight loss very easy!
While yes, this week was hot, it was also very rewarding. With the departure of Elder Spangler, my new companion Elder Merrill came in Tuesday, and the two of us picked up as if we had been comps for months already! This week we focused on three of our investigators who all three of a baptismal date for the 19th of August, that's this Sunday for those of you who don't have a calender handy! Two of the individuals preparing are brothers, DeShawn, and Tyron Gray. They are the son's of a member of our ward who were just sealed to her new husband. The boys haven't been baptized yet because they were living in Michigan with their father, but are now living here, and have the desire to be baptized, so I get to teach them! It is so amazing to be able to help them work towards this special day for both them, and their family!
The other individual we are continuing to work with is Bobbi Peters, who is more than prepaired to be baptized on the same day. She is a mother of a boy who was baptized just over two years ago named Daniel. Daniel is 20 years old, and is actually prepairing to serve a mission in the upcoming future. His estimated time to turn in his papers is about 6 months, so both him and his Mother are eager for that. But first things first! Her baptizim! She has asked Daniel to baptize her, which is awesome, and tomorrow we will be going over there to show them the ins and the outs of baptizim, and what to expect come this Sunday! Very excited for it! Pretty much all that is on my mind!
~Elder Maddox!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Letter #16 (Shreveport, LA)

Whats up world!
So an interesting event took place about a half hour ago. My trainer got on a van and headed towards home. Weird thought that my safety net is gone, and I am now in charge of the Shreveport Downtown area. My new companion Elder Marrell is on his way to Shreveport, and for the time being I get to hang out with the Zone Leaders for the time being. Always good fun to be with them. But this next coming week is sure to be one of excitement as I get to meet another missionary who has chosen to put aside two years and put on the suit and the black name tag.
Elder Spangler chose to go out with a bang this week in sacrament meeting with possible the BEST fast and testimony meeting of all times. During the meeting we had two confirmations, a family that we were able to hear from that had just been sealed, who were baptized just a year ago, a missionary that had just got home, Elder Spangler, who is getting ready to leave, and a missionary who had his call, and was fixin to leave in the next two weeks. I was in tears if we were being honest. It is absolutely amazing how abundant the Spirit is in the life as a missionary. And in so many different ways. For example we were teaching a less active lady, and her two kids. During the lesson, I didn't feel the traditional burning of the heart that I usually do to relate to the spirit. Because of this I felt that we had missed the mark on what we should have taught them. But when I looked up they were in tears, and were feeling the spirit very strongly. See while I wasn't feeling it in my heart, my thoughts were clear, and my words were precise. It was amazing that I knew what to say, and when to say it. The gifts of the Spirit are abundant, and more often than not, go unnoticed. But I have really been able to see the Spirit work through me, and make up for my shortcomings as a missionary this week, and I gotta say, its been fun. It is such a great feeling to be able to facilitate the spirit in people's lives. It is truly an honor to be here, and to be here now.
These next two weeks, even though Elder Spangler won't be able to see it, will be filled with three baptisims. One of them, Bobbi Peters is a mother of a 20 year old who was baptised two years ago, and has been a great example to his mother. She is getting baptized on the 19th of this month, by her son, and will be an amazing experience. This will only be the first step for the Peters family. Later this year, Daniel, her son, will be prepairng to serve a mission to help pay back for the missionaries who found him. They are truly an amazing family, who will be the example for anyone who happens upon them. The other two baptizims set for the same date, August 19, are the son's of the couple that was sealed on Saturday. The dad, Sydney, approached me on Sunday and asked that I would start to teach them, so that he may baptize them on the 19th. It is truly an honor to know that this ward, inparticaular the Knight family, trust me enough to work with their son's to help them progress toward baptism. Truly an amazing experience for me.
Cousin Zack!!! Bro I am so Excited for you!! You go tomorrow! Get ready for some crazy times. Amazing feelings await you, and I hope that it is all that you hope for it to be! Love you bro, hope that you get to see Cousin Sam in there!
~Elder Maddox!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Letter # 15 (Shreveport, LA)

I love the digital era!  Since Boo has "lost" his camera and may I add broken his brand new bike all in his first 2 months in the mission field, I am grateful for those who have been so kind as to send me photos of him from time to time.  As well as feed him!  Tracy Barlow has been amazing!!!  Last month she made him a true Louisiana style dinner.  They had shrimp gumbo, red beans and rice, cheese and sausage grits, french bread and salad.  This picture was taken this week after she fed the missionaries once again!  Rumor has it that he did help with the clean up, yeah Boo!  Steven's cousin Sam just entered the MTC today too!  That is three of the four cousins.  Next week his cousin Zack will enter the MTC too!  Now a word from my missionary...

Hey world!
So this week was a hot one! Just look up at a bank marquee on my way over to the library and saw the number 108! As in degrees, plus humidity! Not fun when it comes to riding the bikes! But hey, we only have one more month of the heat right! So this next week is going to be weird, as Elder Spangler gets ready to head home, thus putting me in charge of the area. It is weird to think of the changes that have occurred over the coarse of the last three months. So much growth has occurred, I couldn't begin to list the changes. I feel so inadequate to put on the name tag everyday, and be a representative of Jesus Christ. But time and time again the Lord has blessed me to know how to get people to listen, or He leads us to the people who want to hear our message. It is truly amazing. One of the other blessing that I have noticed recently is that people change. Some of the people who we have been working with have changed so much, and that is because we as missionaries were able to help facilitate an endowment that the spirit can do work in! And it is so cool to help be a part of that. I got to see my first baptism since being out on the mission! Sierra Dean was baptised with the help of Elder Westbrook and Elder Reil, who are the other Shreveport elders! It was absolutely amazing to see, and the spirit just reaffirmed to me that what I am doing is what I am supposed to be doing.
So news has reached me that I have more cousins fixin to enter the MTC this week! Congrats Sammie boy! Get ready for the craziest time of your life! The next week will be the most crazy of your life. Your about to embark on the biggest rollar coaster of your life filled with more ups and down's than you knew were possible! Enjoy the MTC, it is a good break. But stear clear of the Choclate milk. It will mess you up! Take care in there! And write your big cousin boo boo if you have any questions!
              ~Elder Maddox!

Elder Maddox (front) with his trainer Elder Spangler during their last week together!