Monday, May 26, 2014

Summer begins...

We had some great experiences this week. We had another baptism for Coleton Easton. He is a stud. He feels like a little brother to me. We also put together a fireside for the youth so that they could bring their friends and we could meet them. Brother Merkley came down and spoke and Ashley came with him. It was so good to see them. I have so much respect for that guy. He can connect with the youth so well. Overall the fireside was an awesome spiritual experiences. Both me and Elder Gardner spoke about our personal experiences in coming to know Christ and we showed a couple of videos.

 I have been reflecting on what has been key to our success out here in Midwest City. Success for a missionary is sometimes hard to define because we are dealing with other people's agency. Some missionaries define their success by how many baptisms they are having, how many people they get to church or how many contacts they make. There are so many ways to define "success", but I have come to realize that we are only truly successful when we are able to give God's children spiritual experiences. All the other "kinds of success" stem from this one success and that is what we are experiencing in Midwest City. We are truly successful when we are able reconnect God's children with Him through His Spirit. There is no better feeling knowing that you were an instrument in helping others feel God's love for them. So if that's success, how do we get more of it? How can we help others have spiritual experiences so that they can "reconnect" with their loving, compassionate Father in Heaven?

I believe it starts with us. We must be connected to Him first. The greatest missionary's in the Book of Mormon told of "having many revelations daily" (Hel. 11:23) because they "search(ed) the prophets" (Jacob 4:6). These great missionary's not only had the Spirit with them, but were under it's influence constantly (and I believe there is a difference). They were having spiritual experiences DAILY and that's why they were able to help others have spiritual experiences. They knewwho God was and they were connected with Him on a day by day basis. Are we?

If not, we must be a little more obedient. We must pray a little more sincerely. We must be a little kinder. We must strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ and repent. I think we can make the greatest difference in our repentance by simply shifting our focus to the Savior in difference aspects of our lives. Nephi puts it simply,  "after they were bitten He prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look" (1Nephi17:41). True repentance is shifting our focus to the Savior and turning away from sin. I have found in my own life that as I have focused more and more on Christ, my repentance becomes a natural process and my desire to be more like Him is magnified. In that process, I have been healed and sanctified from the effects of sin and reconciled or reconnected with my Father. I have been "at-oned".

It is the greatest joy I have ever felt in my life to feel the Spirit of God and to help others feel it as well. Feeling the love of God and His Son Jesus Christ through the Spirit is unparalleled to an other feeling in this world. The Holy Spirit is a foretaste of what eternal life will be like or as Paul puts it, "the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession..." (Ephesians 1:14). We can feel the Holy Ghost more and more in our lives as we cleanse ourselves through faith and repentance on the Lord Jesus Christ. Look to Christ, by looking to others, "for inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me"(Matt. 25).

Love yall.

Elder Dallin Cutler

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sprint to the finish...

Things are getting insane here in Midwest City. Never have I worked harder on my mission that we are working here in Midwest City. Remember how I told y'all a couple of weeks we dropped about 50 investigators and put forth our focus on members? Well we are about up to 50-60 investigators again and the members are going crazy with referrals and friends. We found 13 more investigators this past week. We set 3 more baptismal dates, had 8 people show up for church and taught 18 member present lessons. In other words, the Midwest City ward is on fire. 

I want to share with you a miracle that we are having out here in Midwest City right now. At the beginning of the transfer me and Elder Gardner counseled about "obtaining and errand" from the Lord or some sort of vision for the ward and area. We set a goal to get to the point of where we could baptize every other week. That is a hefty goal in Oklahoma, the buckle of the "Bible Belt". We felt like it would stretch ourselves and it would be a good goal to work towards. Well, combined with fasting, prayer and diligence, we started our vision with a baptism this past weekend. We also have baptisms scheduled every weekend until the 21st of June. One next week, two on the 31st, two on June 7th, one on the 14th and then one on the 21st. This was made possible through diligent fasting, prayer and work. 

There is no greater work than the work of salvation. It is hastening everywhere. You can either be apart of it or be left behind, but it will move forward!! We are to invite others to come unto Christ, and we do that by helping others live the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel. Those who are not baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ must be baptized by the priesthood authority of God so that they can receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority to preach the Gospel. And if they don't, they are not living the Gospel of Jesus Christ fully, and thus they cannot progress towards Christ past a certain point. The Light of Christ, and the Influence of the Holy Ghost can only get someone so far on their At-one-ing with Christ. I don't have to justify anything either because the Book of Mormon does all the justifying for us. If it's true, God has spoken and still speaks, if it's not, then we must continue to search for a restored Church, because Christ taught "a house divided, cannot stand". There is only one Christ, one God and one Kingdom. They have one Church and in that Church is taught Their Gospel. There are no divisions in the Kingdom of God. That is the truth (or sword) that Christ spoke of that will set a "man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother" because Jesus "came not to send peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34-35). It's not about what is "politically correct" anymore, its about what is true and what is not and God will tell us if we sincerely pray with real intent. 

I am a witness of God's miraculous power. He works by faith and faith alone. This is the Church of Jesus Christ. We are commanded to boldly yet soberly declare the truthfulness of His restored Gospel in love. As we bring others to Christ, we find ourselves being brought to Christ in the process. I know that is true because I am experiencing it, and it is a process "most joyous to the soul" (1 Nephi 11:23).

I hope you are excited about this "Family Affair" we are engaged in. We are trying to put the "Family of God" back together the way it was once organized before we agreed to come to this earth. Lets start by following the perfect example of our Elder Brother and bring them back to Him "one, by one".

Love you all.

Elder Dallin Cutler

Monday, May 12, 2014

The influence of a mother.

"My life is goooood, reeeally goooood" -Jack Black-

This week was awesome. It is getting hot out here in Oklahoma and we are in the middle of tornado season. The sun is shining and people are happy when the sun is shining. There is so much to be enjoyed in this life. We are here to have joy and our Heavenly Father is expanding the capacity of our souls to experience joy through trials. I am so much more able to have joy now, then I was when I first left on my mission. An infant is joyful, but think about how that capacity to have joy grows as the infant grows older and older and experiences different challenges in life. That's the beauty of the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve could only experience so much joy, but when they "fell", their abilities and possibilities to experience a greater measure of joy came alive. Its a good day to be joyful today even though we may be unhappy!! :)

We have a lot going on these next couple of weeks. We have baptisms scheduled every weekend for the next 4 weeks. It is such a breath of fresh air to be able to work with powerful youth out here that understand their purpose and what the Gospel of Jesus Christ can mean for them. I am so impressed with so many of them because I know how much grief I caused to my parents and leaders growing up. These kids in the Midwest City ward are on fire. They know the potential they have and they're not afraid to rise above the standards of the world. If there was anything I could re-do from my teenage years, I would have stayed more focused on what is most important. I was so distracted with my phone, soccer, Facebook, girls etc. All those things are good, but I never prioritized. I wish I had. 

In honor of mothers day and my mother, I wanted to share my personal testimony and witness of the powerful influence a righteous, covenant keeping mother can have on her children. I can give you my witness because I have had real, personal experiences where I have gained this knowledge for myself. Growing up, I was rebellious, disobedient, disrespectful and full of myself. I never treated my mother the way that I should have and I never gave her the respect that she deserves. It would have been so easy for my mom to give up, because I really gave her hell. It would have been easier for her to walk out and never come back. She could have stopped trying. It would have been easier for her to do the things that she wanted. She could have had more friends. She could have had more "girls night outs". She could have focused on a career and had more time to herself with my dad on weekends. She could have done all those things, but instead my mom chose to "magnify her calling" and keep her covenants. She never gave up. She never stopped trying. She sacrificed what she wanted and instead did what was right. We were her friends. She never had "girls night out" because she was always supporting me on the weekends at my soccer tournaments. She didn't have an "honorable career" in the worlds eyes, but in God's eyes, she has excelled in a "divine career". I don't know for sure but I can believe that most of her time with my dad was spent talking about us kids and on their knees praying for us. Even after all this, I still rebelled, I still was disobedient, I was still disrespectful, and I was still full of myself. She could never change me. She could never take away my ability to choose. She couldn't force me to be good or to do anything because I still had choice. However when the time was right and when God saw fit, I was sufficiently humbled because of my own choices and disobedience. During that time, I felt God's power become so real in my life. I attribute it to the powerful example and prayers of a righteous, covenant keeping mom.There was real, influencing power behind her prayers because she always strived to be faithful to her covenants. She made real personal sacrifices for me constantly and even though it did not have an immediate effect on me, it influenced me when I was ready and when the timing was right. I will forever be grateful for the sacrifices that righteous, covenant-keeping mothers are making everyday, because before there was ever a great person, there was the influence of a mother. 

Love you mom.

Take care everyone.

Elder Dallin Cutler

Monday, May 5, 2014

"So this is what He felt like"

I have some thoughts and an experience at the end that I want to share with y'all. It will be really quick.

"You must ask for God's help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need is being given. Nevermind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up and try again. This process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn on the one hand that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and on the other, that we need not despair in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection." (C.S Lewis)

I thought this quote was so insightful. This has been my life. I have often pondered, as do all, why God allows us to fail and experience trials where we have to pick ourselves back up time and time again. Why do trials seem to escalate as we make good decisions? A lot of times we are under the false impression that when we do good and keep God's commandments that trials and opposition will ease or cease completely. I have found the opposite to be true. As I have come closer to God, my trials and temptations seem to increase. I have begun to realize why that is. 

When we covenant with God at baptism we promise to take upon us the name of Christ and to stand as His witness at all times and in all places. Real personal experience is necessary in order to be a witness. In order to be a witness of Christ's healing power, we must be given opportunities to be healed. In order to be a witness of Christ's enabling power of grace, we must be given opportunities to be weak. In order to be a witness of Christ at all times and in all places, we must have real, personal experiences with Christ at all times, and in all places. Those opportunities to "experience Christ" are given in the form of trials, opposition and service. When those opportunities arise we have two choices, we can leave the world behind and go to Christ, or we can leave Christ behind and go to the world. In all of our earthly experiences, God wants to teach us about His Son and what it means to be His witness. 

I can't tell you all how much peace and love I have felt on my mission as I have learned about Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father. As I have come to know what it means to be Their witness, I have realized that there is so much good to be done in this world. There are so many promptings we are receiving on a daily basis to do good. Learn to recognize the voice of the Good Shepard and act on those promptings. I want to leave you with one experience from this week.

We were driving home from the city yesterday and as we stopped at a light at a busy intersection, my attention was directed to a family on the side of the street. It was 95 degrees outside and this family was sitting under a 7-Eleven Sign with all their stuff. They had two teenage daughters about 12 and 13 years old. Their dad was on the phone and mom looked really stressed. I couldn't stop looking at them. I felt so much compassion for this family. Elder Garder looked at me and said "man, we really do have amazing lives, we are so unbelievably blessed". I thought about it to myself and the first thoughts that came into my mind were "there is nothing you can do for this family." "you have no money to give them, and you can't give them a ride, you will only embarrass yourself". Then, the prompting to pull over and go talk to them came. I pulled into McDonalds and we parked and got out and walked towards this family. We knelt down and talked to them and had some good laughs. They told us that they had just lost their home and that they were worried because they had nowhere to stay and dad was looking for work. As we listened to their story, I felt so much love for them and wanted to help them so badly, but there was nothing we could really do besides pray. Before we left, we asked if we could pray with them all. We all stood up and for a time, everything around us seemed to go "still" as we all held hands in a circle and prayed to our Father as brothers and sisters.

I learned from this experience that more times than not, we cannot solve people's problems for them, only God can do that. We did not give this family money, a home or some magical solution to their problem, but we were able to comfort those that stood in need of comfort at "that time and in that place". Secondly we were put into a situation that Christ was in many times while He was on the earth. As I walked away from the family a thought popped into my head, "So this is what He felt like…" I knew Him a little better after that experience because as we followed through on that prompting we were able to witness what He must have felt like as He went about His life and ministry. That experience changed our hearts and our desires to become more like Him were strengthened. Through His Spirit, God taught us what it felt like to be a witness of Jesus Christ in that time and in that place.

We can all have those experiences as we look to do good, observe those around us and pray for the courage to act on those promptings. They will change you if you act on them. :)

Love you guys!!

Elder Dallin Cutler

 Hello from Oklahoma.