Monday, January 27, 2014

Agency and desire.

This week has been a whirlwind. I can't believe we are on the last week before transfers and before my companion goes home. It was a 7 week transfer and it felt like 2 weeks. What's new though? 

This ward is on fire right now. It was been so cool to see the change in tone around here. Everything is missionary work focused and people are excited about the work. We had so many people at church yesterday and our Gospel Principle class (that we teach) was filled. The Lord has truly poured out His spirit upon us in this ward and ideas are flowing!! It is an exciting time to be in Shawnee. The ward is great and they are working their tails off. We are seeing so many families being prepared. We found a couple more this week through the members that will be solid. This weekend we are putting on a "Movie Night" where people of the ward and community can come to the church and watch the movie "17 Miracles". We also will be having a baptism before the movie night probably. It will be a great opportunity to allow people to feel of God's love and witness the miracles that were apart of the "marvelous work and wonder" which He brought forth through the Restoration of the Gospel in the 1800's. We're pumped.

I have been thinking so much about agency and desire recently. I have been obsessed with it actually. Life really is simple because we can make it simple if we want. It really is beautiful because we can make it beautiful if we want!! "All things are given them which are expedient unto man" (2 Nephi 2:27) and we can choose to act on our circumstances or be acted upon by our circumstances. We will all go through refining processes but not everyone will be refined in the process. This quote explains why and is really all I want to say this week because it sums everything up. Read this quote and give it some thought. It is brilliant. 

"I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I posses tremendous power to make a life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or deescalated, and a person humanized or dehumanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become who they are capable of becoming." --Goethe--

We will all face opposition, that is a given, so it doesn't really matter what we go through, but rather how we will choose to go through it. Our reactions are the difference between happiness and sadness. Will we act and "choose liberty and eternal life through the Great Mediator" or be acted upon and choose "captivity and death"? There are really only two choices. Eternal life is simply a sum total of our daily righteous decisions to follow Christ. "We call the actions of our righteously focused desires to follow the Savior, faith". Thus we have the choice to believe or disbelieve, to be happy or unhappy, to progress and become or to "dam" ourselves and live below our potential. As for me, I would much rather hope for a life after death that is eternal, where I can rest from all my present cares and be reunited with the ones I love the most... and if I choose to have faith in Jesus Christ, I can. Life is really that simple. We just need to be reminded once in awhile :)

Think about it!! There are miracles going on all around us!! Life is so awesome!! It can be hard sometimes and its natural to be down once in awhile, but don't stay there!! Get back up and keep your eyes on the Savior and move forward with a vision of what you can become. Have faith in Him who loves you unconditionally and perfectly. I testify as a witness that we can be happy in hard times. We can have peace in stressful matters and we can have answers if we will but just believe in Him and follow His example.  

Love you all. 

Elder Dallin Cutler

I grabbed elder watkins love handle right at the perfect time. CLASSIC picture. hahaha This was last night. the family on the right is awesome. Alexis and Cameron and their two kids. We taught them last night for the first time.

selfie sunday photo bombing

this was a couple of seconds ago

do i look hawt?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Miracles in Oklahoma

This week, I have a couple of cool miracles that I want to share with you all.

The first one is about a woman named Mary-Ann. What a sweetheart she is. She first met us 8 weeks ago at church because her friend brought her one night and we just "happened" to be there because we had a meeting with the Bishop. Well we now know that it was definitely all planned by the Lord, nothing just "happens" out of coincidence. Well after our first encounter, she went off the radar and we got busy. But 3 weeks ago, we had a feeling to give her a call and we started meeting with her. She is humble and receptive. Well we had a lesson this past week and taught her the word of wisdom. She knew it was true and committed to live it right there. We asked her to bring all of the things that she would have to give up and she did. She laid it all right in front of us and told us she was done and that she was ready to get baptized...she said she would cut it cold turkey and give up coffee, tobacco and cigarettes. Well if any of you don't have an idea of how hard that is, it's ridiculously hard and usually you have to wean off of things (in a world where there are no miracles that is). We offered to give her a priesthood blessing. She said she needed that and we blessed her that she would have no more desire for those things and that the addictions would be completely healed. The next day, she had been offered every single one of those things by family and friends multiple times and she said that she had no desire to have it. She has had no withdrawals and is set to be baptized this weekend. The lesson I learned: When we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, we always receive a witness in the form of a miracle. This woman had such great faith that God would help her quit, that He was able to fully heal her through His priesthood power. Modern day miracle if you ask me. 

Second. We have been working through the members alot because that seems to be the most effective way to find those who are prepared....or the elect that "hear His voice" and are willing to listen and act. Well we went over a month ago to a members home, the McCrorys. We sat down and started talking. Well we asked who they knew that was ready. Well, Sister McCrory, being the spiritual giant she is, felt prompted to tell us about one of her friends that she had known for awhile. She didn't know if it was the right time, but we felt strongly about this woman. So being the "pushy" missionary I am...we pushed her to set something up so we could meet her friend. She told us to go to Staples and talk to her and we did. That's where we met Dee. :) She is an amazing woman. So nice and down to earth. She loves the Lord and wants to do what is right. Well that night we found out that 20 years ago in Shawnee she had met with mormon missionaries for a long time. They had planted seeds. Fast forward to last night. We were at the church with her and the McCrorys teaching the plan of salvation. We were talking about the Holy Ghost and the Spirit was SO STRONG in the room. We asked everyone how they felt. With tears in everyone's eyes, Dee said "I feel like my heart wants to burst out of my chest, I feel so strongly about all of this". We invited her to be baptized and she accepted this way "I will do whatever I need to do to be baptized as soon as possible. This is exactly where God has led me and I have never felt this much power". She is planning on getting baptized and entering into the covenant in February. What did I learn? God loves His Children and knows what they need when they need it. He never leaves us alone even if we leave Him alone for a time. His love is unfailing. 

Third. Last week we had one of the coolest experiences I have had up to this point on my mission in a lesson. The elders before I got here had found a baptist preacher named "Brother Garfield". :) He is the MAN!! Feeds us every time we go over it seems like. Well I met him once the first week I was in Shawnee and we talked about the Book of Mormon. Well this past week we had another lesson (which was my second one, so I was still getting to know him). We were planning on reading from the Book of Mormon, but last minute change and we started teaching the Plan of Salvation. Without going into to much detail, it was a powerful lesson and the Spirit was almost tangible. Everyone was edified. At the very beginning we talked about the Pre-Earth life...."before the foundations of the world". We mentioned that God had a glorified and perfected body of flesh and bone. That hit home for him. Then we asked him a simple question that I think we need to ask ourselves on a regular basis. What is the purpose of life? Never have I seen the Spirit work the way it did after that question. It was silent for the longest time. He looked at us and said "That is a really good question, and I am unprepared to answer that completely right now". We then taught him the plan of salvation. At the end, he looked us in the eye and said "something is going on here, when I first invited yall in, I was planning on teaching you and just 'breaking bread' to be kind, but now the tables are turning. You are teaching me now, and I have never thought of these things like this" It was amazing. I firmly believe that we all take for granted the answers we have to the simple questions of "where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?" Without the restoration of the Gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith, we would not have those answers in the clarity that we have them today. What a blessing we have in our lives. Cherish it and feast upon it.

Well that's all I have time for. I hope you feel excited about this great work in which we are involved in. Stay positive. Stay hopeful. Most importantly keep believing. Jesus is our redeemer. We can choose to be lifted above our trials as we follow Him, learn of Him and take His yoke upon ourselves. I testify of that eternal truth.  

I love you all.

Elder Dallin Cutler

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Manner of Happiness

This week was so great. We have seen miracle after miracle out here. There are so many people out in the world that are being prepared by God to recieve the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I was able to go back to a baptism this week in Edmond 3rd ward (where i was "born") for a lady named Noreen Champlain. She is 79 years old and we first started teaching her when I was in Edmond. She was baptized Sunday night and it was a spiritual outpouring at the baptism. She came up to me and just started crying. I couldn't help but tearing up and feeling so much love for her. I was so happy for her. She is going to the temple in a year and I will definitely be there. After being out for awhile, it is so awesome to have these kinds of experiences and go back to baptisms for people you found and first taught. The Lords timing is perfect, He knows His children better than we do. :) 
Living after the manner of happiness. (2 Nephi 5:27) What a beautiful concept that is taught so simply in the Book of Mormon where the Gospel of Jesus Christ is found. I am so appreciative of the Gospel and everything that it means to my life. I am so grateful to know that our Heavenly Father loves us enough and trusts us enough to give us our agency, or the ability to act for ourselves as individula agents. Because of the Atoenment of Jesus Christ, we have "become free forever". We have two options. We can choose life eternal throught the Great Mediator, or captivity and death according to the power of the devil. What does that really mean to me? It means that today I have the choice to choose to be happy or miserable. I can choose to be acted upon, or I can choose act upon my circumstances and be happy....whatever those circumstances may be.
As I have been in Shawnee, I have learned a great lesson. We have faced trial after trial and mountain after mountain. I found myself to be very unhappy at the beginning. I missed old companions, I missed old areas, I missed old investigators that I had grown to love. I started to wonder what was so different about this area. I loved the people, I loved my companion and I was still a missionary. I couldn't see a huge difference in what I was doing or who I was around. I didn't know why I wasn't as happy as I used to be. Then one morning I turned on a conference talk and this is what I heard from our Prophet, President Thomas Monson.
"We have all experienced times when our focus is on what we lack rather than on our blessings. Said the Greek philosopher Epictetus, “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”
I have come to learn the importance of perspective and gratitude. If we look at things with "spiritual eyes" we will always see the blessing in the trials we face. We will begin to see as our Heavenly Father sees with an eternal perspective. That hopeful eternal perspective will allow our trials, depressions, frustrations and stresses be swallowed up in the "joy of the Son", knowing that one day we will rest from all afflictions "to go no more out".  Once we focus on what we have instead of what we don't have, we begin to feel overwhelemed with gratitude for the many blessings our Father in Heaven gives us daily even though more often than not, those blessings are not always material things.
"Do material possessions make us happy and grateful? Perhaps momentarily. However, those things which provide deep and lasting happiness and gratitude are the things which money cannot buy: our families, the gospel, good friends, our health, our abilities, the love we receive from those around us. Unfortunately, these are some of the things we allow ourselves to take for granted."
How true that can be. There are so many people in the world today that don't have what we would call "materialistic blessings"....yet, they choose to live after the manner of happiness. Gratitude is the root of all happiness. As President Monson puts it, "it is the nobelest of virtues and the parent of all others".
Find time to aknowledge the Lords hand in your life. You will see light and peace come into your life the instant you choose to express your gratitude and focus on what you have instead of what you don't have. Its just a matter or MANNER of how you look at things. Thus, we can all choose to live after the manner of happiness, no matter what we are going through.
Love you all. Be happy and keep loving.
Elder Dallin Cutler
p.s these are the pics from weeks before that i wasn't able to send

thanks grandma and grandpa <3 hahah

the whole watson crew

great scripture :)

Christmas eve with the #Moore

Monday, January 6, 2014

Shawnee rollercoaster...

I am telling yall right now, ever since I got to Shawnee, it has been trial after trial after trial in my life. I have never learned so much about faith and trials than I have in these past 8 weeks on my mission. It has been unreal. I have also never felt closer to Jesus Christ than I have these past 8 weeks. He continues to lift and support me in every aspect of my life. The Lord has answered every single one of my heartfelt prayers and He continues to qualify me and my companions for the work He has for us to accomplish. I have felt it and I know its real. Miracles are happening everywhere. Here are a couple I have been able to witness recently.

The first one starts in August of 2013 in the Stillwater Zone. I went on exchanges one weekend in Blackwell, Oklahoma with an Elder Prewitt and Roundy. We had appointments all day and finally we decided to take a quick dinner. Well I wanted subway because I was sick of fast food so we went to Subway. As we sat down, I looked across the tables and saw a woman quietly eating her sandwich. It was one of those experiences where you couldn't stop looking and wondering what she was going through in her life. I felt compassion for some reason and I will never forget the feeling. So I started talking to her. She asked who we were and I said "we are servants of the Lord Jesus Christ". We started talking about her family as we ate and she told us that she had met with missionaries before. Long story short, we got her address and the missionaries up there started teaching her apparently. 1 month later as we were collecting numbers from the zone I saw a Myra on the baptismal dates sheet. I asked if it was the same Myra and they said it was. Well I went back up on an exchange that week and she asked us to come by. She related the experience to us of the night in Subway. She told us that when we had started talking to her she had heard a voice telling her that "these are my servants" and that she had felt very warm. I was blown away by the feelings she described as we spoke to her. It was so interesting to hear about the "behind the scenes". Well this past saturday she asked us to be there for her baptism and so I had the opportunity to drive back up to Blackwell with those Elders and watch Myra get baptized and make her first covenant. It was such a spiritual experience. It taught me that God prepares His children and He always backs up our words with His Spirit, even if we don't see it. Miracles are happening around us, even if we don't realize it at first. All we need to do is open our mouths and invite others to follow Christ.

Second...When I got to Shawnee we immediately had a mission tour with Elder Cardon of the seventy. The Zone Leaders had an MLC with him the night before the mission tour. So we ended up just staying the night in the city with some of the other Zone Leaders. Well the MLC ended a little early and so we drove back home. We got to their apartment at 8:40 pm and so we decided to go find a miracle. It was raining and 15 degrees that night outside, so in other words, it definitely wasn't ideal weather to go out and tract the rest of the night in an area you don't know. Well we said a prayer before we got out of the car asking Him to lead us to someone. We knocked 6 doors and got rejected 6 times. It was now 9:05pm. We decided to knock one more door before going back to meet the other elders. He was an atheist and was not interested. We wouldn't settle, so we looked at a house and decided that the Lord probably meant that one ;) haha. So we knocked the last one and she opened it and invited us in. We taught a short truth, got her number and set a return appointment for the other elders. That is all we heard about her until last week, about a month later. The other elders ended up going back and teaching her. She asked to be baptized and they set a date for 4 weeks later. She is now baptized and has read the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price and the Doctrine and Covenants. When the other elders told us, I felt like crying. That womans life will be changed forever because of one decision in 30 seconds. Decisions, really do determine destiny and don't you ever forget it. 

In short, miracles do happen. God is the author of this great plan and an abiding trust in Him will always result in miracles. We have to do our part and exercise faith in Him though. There is no comfort in the growth zone and no growth in the comfort zone. Faith in Jesus Christ will always push us outside our limits and take us outside of our comforts. 

I love you all. I know God lives and I know there is a purpose to this life. We are here to be happy and the only way we can do that is by following our Master, Jesus Christ. He is your friend, He is on your side. Learn of Him and follow Him and I promise you will find rest unto your souls....a peace that "passeth all understanding".


Elder Dallin Cutler

p.s This is Elder Chavez. He baptized Myra. First baptism :)

"THE" moore :) <3

This is Myra. She is pretty awesome :)

Christmas Eve with the Shawnee Elders.