Friday, August 30, 2013

Letter #51 (Byram, MS)

Wow,                                              July 22, 2013                  
I fell like each time that I get on here my time is shorter and
shorter, and the weeks hold more and more that I just need to tell you
all. So first of all, we had interviews with President McDonough, and
can I just say, that there could not be a better mission president.
The interview didn't reveal any information about where I will be
going to here in a few weeks before I leave, but the interview was a
good energy boost. President has such energy and desire for the work,
that it is totally contagious! So great. Every time we have
interviews, which is every three months, we are supposed to bring two
goals and one Christ-like attribute that we are going to be working on
over the next few months between interviews. Now, I had two real
solid goals, and was excited to discuss them with him. While he
thought my goals were great, he wanted to discuss the fact that I am
about single didgit months left. Wow, hadn't really even thought
about that untill he brought it up! Kinda a bitter sweet thought! But
onto the rest of the week.
So my new companion, Elder Parker, and I are picking up right where
Elder Anderson left us. Finding people to get baptized! We have a
few people right now who are progressing with baptismal dates!
Jennifer is a 23 year old mother who is married to a member who has
become less active. Well last week we finally got to meet with her
and her husband, and let me tell you, AWESOME AND ELECT! She was so
ready to hear the message of the restoration! She was in tears and
just couldn't stop thanking us for the "message of peace and comfort,
and for answering all the questions that she has always wondered!"
Ever since then, she has eaten up everything that we have given her.
On Sunday, when we taught her the Word of Wisdom, she looked up at the
white board that we had just wrote all of the "do not's" on, smiled
and said, ya I don't do any of those things! Haha she was just so
prepaired to hear what we had to say that Elder Parker and I could
only laugh as we discussed the lesson afterwards.
Another indivual that we are working with is Andrew. Andrew is just a
little bit different than anyone that I have taught, because he has
already made the decison to be baptized. His main hold up is that,
because he is 14, he needs his mother's permission to get baptized.
While she isn't against the church or anything like that, she is
reluctant to let him join, because that would mean that he would be
leaving his family church, a baptist church, that his Uncle pastors.
So when I got here in April, Elder Anderson and I set out to somehow
get Alica, Andrews mom, to allow him to be baptized. After many
prayers, fasting, and teaching his mother the majority of the
missionary lessons, she has consented to allow him to become a member
and to be baptized! Words could not describe the joy and excitment as
we left their home on Wednesday. The date that we picked for him is
August 10th. What an amazing testimony builder it was to see Alicia
smile, and have a change of heart as we were at her house. The Lord
truly prepairs ways for his work to come to pass.
He has given us commandmens, some easy, some hard, and has asked us to
follow. But he hasn't left us without a way to live the commandments.
As we struggle, and stumble to live in a way according to his
commands, He is always there, with a hand outstretched. It isn't
always easy to see him, but once we do we are promised that " I will
also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even
you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage,
and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter,
and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my
people in their afflictions."(Mosiah 24:14) What a very real promise
this is. An attitude that I have adopted since my life here in Byram,
is "this too shall pass." Now I used to only apply this thought when
I was struggling, when I was in the middle of trials. But this saying
also applies to success. Every day is new. We have new battles to
face, and new demons to crush. If we are stuck living off of
yesterday's victory, we will get swallowed up by todays new challange.
I try to live life one day at a time, wether I am going through a
trial, or having success. Each day is new, and with a new day, comes
new challanges, and new blessings. Become a little better each and
every day, and that is what I have come to define success as. Being a
little better, a little closer to God.
           ~Elder Maddox

Letter # 50 (Byram, MS)

                                                                                                                      July 15, 2013

I got a quick note from Elder Maddox today.  He had strep throat, a double ear infection, with a fever of 102 and lost 15 pounds last week.  But he said that the missionaries are well cared for there and he is doing much better this week.   So that was why we didn't hear from him last week.   His new companion is Elder Parker from Lehi, Utah!  He said he reminds him a lot of Travis.  Elder Maddox is also very excited for his cousin Caleb to enter the MTC next week.

Letter #49 (Byram, MS)

Hey Mom,                                                                                                               June 24, 2013
First of all, want to give a big shout out to Elder Reber the second who is preparing to enter the MTC come Wednesday. It is truly amazing to see the work go forward, especially from our little family. To think that over four years we were going to have 7 missionaries out is mind blowing. But to think that in just over a year we will have 7 out. No words can describe the feelings of pride as I share this with members and non members here in Mississippi. The dedication from the families, alone is enough to make me emotional. But this is not a time to get complacent. And this is not a time to dwell on what we did yesterday. This Gospel is all about progressing. Day by day and minute by minute. And how do we progress? By sharing the message of the Restoration with friends, family, and anyone who will ask us our reason for joy. My thoughts today are centered on the broadcast that occurred last night. I hope that you guys had the opportunity to go, it was an amazing night, and many thoughts were shared. The overall theme though was clear. Member Missionary Work. As a missionary, obviously I am biased when it comes to my opinion on what members should and shouldn't be doing. One thing that each of us must work on though, is to help the missionaries. Even you, in Utah must do more to help the missionaries. There are people all around us, who need the Gospel. One thing that I learned was taught by President Boyd K. speaking of Repentance. See as a teacher, you strive to make everything simple. To teach in the easiest way, and his brief teaching on Repentance hit me. To paraphrase he stated that Repentance is to go back to where you went off the straight path, figure out where you went wrong, fix it, and move forward with your life. Simply beautiful, his teaching of repentance, and I hope that we can all apply it in our lives. This week is going to be weird. Mine and Elder Anderson's last serving together as companions. While its definitely sad, its exciting to see the both of us close a chapter on our missions, and start a new one!
~Elder Maddox

Elder Anderson (left) & Elder Maddox (right) at a baptism in April.

Letter #48 (Byram, MS)

Hey mom,                                                                                                    June 17, 2013
So to get things started, first of all, Happy fathers day to, hands down the best father in the world. I got to thinking I have missed the last 3 due to being in the south, which is CRAZY to say the least! But I promise to be there next year, and hopefully we can spend it right! So this week was another crazy one. More than anything I was thinking about how my mission has just flown by. Next week will be month fourteen for me. Crazy to think that I have passed my year mark, let alone be a few months away from it. Another thing that has cause a lot of contemplation as of late is a conversation I had with the President on Saturday following Leadership Training. In the conversation he told me that the most likely thing happening to me come transfer day in a few weeks, would be for Elder Anderson to move and for me to train for again. That would mean that I would stay in Florence for at least another three months, which is not a bad thing at all. But the crazy thing would be that I would be in Florence till right around my 18 month mark, and then get transferred. So here is the crazy thing. My next area very well could be my last on the mission. Which is fine by me. If I continue to live my mission the way that I am now, I will go home with my head held high, knowing that I served the Lord to the best of my abilities. I will know that I worked tirelessly to bring souls unto Him. I am at peace daily when I go to bed, and let me tell you, there is no better feeling that I have experienced. To have the spirit confirm to you that The Lord is happy... Words can't describe. For those of you preparing to go, or are out and have a little time under your belt, don't slow up. Not for a day, not for an hour. This is a race, but it is not a marathon, it is a sprint. There is absolutely no reason to pace yourself.
             ~Elder Maddox

Letter #47 (Byram, MS)

Hey Mom!                                                                                                      June 11, 2013
What an amazing week this past week has been. So many amazing experiences, and so many miracles happening, We even received a phone call from President McDonough this week asking us what our key to success has been for the past couple weeks. It has been a roller coaster ride to say the least! I don't have too much to write today, because I am still trying to wrap my mind about last week, but there is one thing that has really been on my mind lately. So almost two years ago to the day I was out knocking doors in Savanna Georgia selling alarms for Vivint. This, as you well know was one of the hardest times in my life. After leaving Georgia, I had no desire to return to the South. Ever. You would always hear me joke about the different things I would do if I received my mission call down here. So when the night came that I opened my call to come to the South, it took a lot of prayer to understand why I was called to be down here. But this last week, has given me so much in the way of confirmation that this is where I should be. That God, through living Prophets and Apostles has called me to be serving in Mississippi right now. What an amazing feeling to know that God cares that much.
          ~Elder Maddox

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Letter #46 (Byram, MS)

Hey mom!                                                                                                                       June 3, 2013
Another week that went faster than a blink is in the books, and what a week it was. To start off, Elder Anderson and I are absolutely untouchable right now. Nothing is slowing us down, nothing at all! In our mission we have whats called a Standard of Excellence, I think every mission does, or should. Our Standard, at least to this point of my mission, has been pretty hard to get, but for the last two weeks, Elder Anderson and I have done it. I can only think of two other times that I hit the Standard on my mission, and those two times were in my first area with Elder Spangler. So that should give you a pretty good idea just how good were doing. For whatever the Lord is blessing us with more success than we know what to do with. President even came to district meeting this week to find out what we have been doing that is working so I taught him! Dad, you remember when we talked on Mothers day, and you told me about how you used to invite people to be baptized right as you started to talk to them on the street? Well, Elder Anderson and I have been doing it since the Mothers Day, and when I say I have been doing it, I mean like A LOT! And the response from people has been amazing. People are suddenly willing to listen. Well I just found out that not only did president like it, but he also taught this way of finding to all of the Zone Leaders in the mission at Zone Leader Council this past Friday, so thank you for sharing with us dad! But other than just working hard, and teaching a lot, we continue to find success, and awesome people!
~Elder Maddox

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Letter #45 (Byram, MS)

Hey Momma!!                                                                                                                     May 28, 2013
So first of all, its been forever!! Since mother's day I believe! Crazy crazy busy would be the simplest way to say what the last few weeks have been. It all started with sister Gladys Knight coming to our mission the Thursday following mothers day! She rocked it! The entire night was focused on getting as many people as we could into the Stake Center in Clinton! Here is the play by play of the night. It all started with us heading up to Clinton, about twenty miles away, at around 4:30. We had a lot of non members and less actives coming, so Elder Anderson headed to stand with them in line, while I did what I do best! Talked to everyone who was standing in line. I talked for one hour non stop to just as many people as I could, teaching them about the referral cards in the program. It like to think that I helped out a lot! But because I was talking to people for so long, I missed the opening part of both shows! But it was totally worth it. Once I finally made it inside, the place was PACKED, you would have thought it was a Jazz-Lakers playoff game 7. Southerners love Gladys Knight after all. But like I said, slammed. People everywhere. Luckily one of the other missionaries saved me a seat, and I was able to watch the last half, and it was so amazing!! Now, the choir was not your average Mo-Tab. No not even close. Do your best to imagine what you think a big baptist choir, and that will get you close! It was absolutely amazing, but the music was not the best part. The best part, were the testimonies of Ms. Gladys and her Husband, William. Now, as many of you know, many people down here are not the biggest fans of us Mormon Missionaries, but that did not stop these two from being blunt and bold. They described the church, and taught possibly the best Restoration lesson that I have ever heard, and they held nothing back! They told everyone in that room, in both sessions, that our church is the only true church because of the Authority that our church possesses. Then came one of the coolest moments of my missionary life. While Ms. Gladys was sharing her testimony she talked about how her conversion came about. How the missionaries had found her through her children, who had become members just a year before. She then proceeded to brag on missionaries world wide. How we are such upstanding young men, and messengers of Christ. Many people were giving her amen's and head nod's. She then said " You know what, I bet there are some missionaries in here right now. Why don't we have them stand up!" So we all looked at each other and stood up, and wouldn't you know it, we got a standing O from all the people in the room, both non member, and member alike! Imagine my surprise, to see people, many who had slammed doors in my face, standing up and applauding us missionaries. Talk about weird! Haha but it was absolutely amazing. Well, the music continued, and the testimonies were shared, and many people, who before May 16th had no desire to hear about the gospel, or talk to missionaries, suddenly had a strong desire to hear the Restoration! All in all we had a grand total of 10 referrals come our way to Byrum/ Florence, and many people who we have contacted are now taking the lessons! Thanks Ms. Gladys! It was great, and they have super charged our mission! We continue to to work hard, and play hard. Lots of ball in the hood, and we win most of the time. Loving life
            ~Elder Maddox