Monday, October 12, 2015

Family and Friends,

I'm sorry for the lazy emails lately, it's just a lot of things are going on. 

So, I'm loving it here in Bangued. It's beautiful up here and we don't get that many death threats like people say. I love the zone and we've been seeing a lot of success. Let me give you a little background of what has going up here the past 2 months. 

When I showed up here, Bangued was the one the worst zones in our mission. When I say worst I mean lowest in baptisms and in other statistic things. As I looked back on the past stats of the zone and as I went in exchanges with missionaries in their area's, I noticed some red flags. 

1) Our zone has baptisms but they're a lot of individuals.  A lot of missionaries were teaching young children and youth. There hasn't been a family baptism in a long time. 
2) I found in some area's where a lot of women and gay's were being taught.
3) All the branches here in Bangued are small and weak and really don't have any potential leaders. We don't have that much Priesthood holders They heavily rely on the missionaries for everything. For example, I taught Relief Society last picking up what I'm putting down? 

So as I noticed these things in our zone and knowing we have hard working missionaries but yet this zone isn't seeing a success. After prayer and fasting I felt like what our zone was really lacking was a goal. Not just a goal to get high stats or lessons but we really didn't have a goal to push for. Remember in the Book of Mormon with Captain Moroni and the Title liberty? There were problems with the government and separation within the people and then Moroni came and presented the famous Title of Liberty, which stated what they were willing to fight for, what their priories were and they made a covenant with God. As I reflected on our zone I asked myself, "What are we fighting for as a zone?" What really is our goal? What do we want to accomplish? So with some inspiration and a lot of praying and fasting, we made the goal for our zone BUILD the KINDGOM. 

What the build the kingdom means is we change our focus to people that can really help these struggling branches up here in the mountains of abra. Building the Kingdom isn't really focused on "stats" but on finding families and future leaders. Instead trying to baptize 10 year olds we go find engineers. When we see a big wealthy house, we don't get scared but walk right up the door. We also pushed for weekly baptisms in our zone. What that means our zone will have a baptism every week. The baptisms will be future leaders and families. We push for the middle class. We know the gospel is for everyone but we need to focus on people that help the church and help themselves.  And we will the build the Lord's kingdom here in Bangued. 

The zone responded well to this goal and went to work. We changed our focus and applied more of the concept "smart work and along with hard work." Being united with a goal that isn't just focused on numbers really motivated the zone. And miracles have happened the last 2 months. We teach more families and future leaders. Me and my companion are teaching a professor and lawyer and their families. We have missionaries that are teaching the mayor of Bangued city and the police captain of the city. We have no fear. For the last 7 weeks Bangued Zone has baptized weekly. We're now the top baptizing zone in the mission and we have many more weeks a head. 

Now, I say all of these not to brag or bring attention to me. What this zone needed was a goal or a "title of liberty" you might say. What I've witnessed here in Bangued Zone is a miracle. Because we relied on the Lord and we knew what we were fighting for. We had a goal has a zone. We put our focus to the most important things. As I reflect on these things I feel it can apply to all of us. Sometimes we feel our life has no direction. We're good people, doing good things but we feel there is a lack of something. When we're asked, "What are you fighting for?" We don't know. Maybe our focus is on, other, not as important things

I invite you all to find a goal for yourself or your family. What is your title of Liberty? What are you fighting for? a temple sealing? To be successful? To be a good father or to make money? Don't go through the motions. I want to testify, as disciple of Christ, that I know what and whom I'm fighting for. I know where I want to end up. I have no fear. I can't be stopped. I know the Book of Mormon is true because I read it. I know my Heavenly Father loves because I've felt it. And as a missionary I know that I'm here in the Philippines to build His kingdom. Till we meet again. Love you all!

Your Valiant Missionary,
Elder Strader 

P.S. Here's my new companion Elder D! We were friends in the MTC and I'm so excited to work with him. He's from Las Vegas. 

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