"I know that it doesn't matter if the person you try to teach doesn't commit to anything, it just matters if you're doing your best at inviting them to come unto christ."

Monday, 28 May 2012

Weekly Update 28 May 2012

Hi Everyone!

This week has been wonderful! It is so sunny here that missionaries are getting tans! Isn't that wonderful? Missionaries don't "tan" in the relaxing sense of the word but we are out all day it is just great! I personally have had a very fulfilling week. On Tuesday I went to Southport again for an exchange, I had one of the most special privileges and experiences I've had in my entire life.

My companion and I were doing service for a family in the Southport ward who had recently had a new born child, we were gardening and I love it, I've never done so much gardening in my life until my mission, my parents can testify of that. We did a wonderful job on the garden, I mean it's no garden of Eden but it is good. We sat down to have lunch with this family. We ate lunch and talked for a short while in the sun outside. We then were asked to give a priesthood blessing.

I'm no "expert" at giving priesthood blessings, I've probably given about the number of my age, which is 19... I still have to look at the white Missionary Handbook to clarify that there is order in the blessing I bestow. But, I always carry consecrated oil. The most special privilege holding part of this experience is we were blessing this baby, who had a few health challenges, the father of the Home wasn't able to bless her because he didn't have the Melchizedek priesthood, so it was expected for me and my companion to do so. This baby was the purest baby I had ever seen, all children are pure and are free from sin, but this baby had never even had a priesthood blessing before, she hadn't even been blessed and named in the Church, and she was about 6 weeks old. As I prayed for Heavenly Father to help guide me to do this I felt just such an enveloping power, it felt calming, it felt purifying it made me know that this child is without a doubt pure and in need of the priesthood blessings which I held. As I laid my fingers on this young child's head I knew that she would get better, I knew that God really does have power on earth to heal his children. I had never been more grateful to hold the priesthood as I was in that moment, in that moment it felt as if God himself was beside me assisting me in the special ordinance, it was as if he was whispering the words in my ear, like a parent would guide a child in prayer. It was fulfilling.

Now I have weakness more than perhaps most men, I am not the most patient person and un-intelligent drivers sure make me angry... but when I act for good; I act for God.

One of my favourite scriptures is Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
This promise holds true, it is the principle by which we are saved, Grace it is called, when we trust in God, we are open to the eternal, perfect, complete power of grace, and God will direct us in all that we do, as long as we are faithful to this promise.

The rest of the week followed in a similar fashion, it was Celestial.


Elder Sapaden

Monday, 21 May 2012

Weekly Update 21 May 2012

Hello everyone!

It is another week just flown by and the ever inspiring question asked by Ammon applies more and more: "therefore have we not great reason to rejoice?" Personally I think so. One of the best personality traits that I have grown to appreciate during the course of my mission is "An Attitude of Gratitude" it is very self- explanitory, having that attitude invites the Spirit much more fully, it is so faith promoting and really allows us to organize our priorities in our individual lives. Yet as Ammon was able to recognise, before the "Attitude of Gratitude" comes about we first need to be humble as he was "I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God."

Well... back to business, this week I spent some time in a place called Southport, it is a great area, nice and sunny... on the Coast, it is such a great area to do missionary work.
Overall, this week we have been blessed, we have been able to teach some investigators... we have had so many on the spot lessons this week, it happens when me and my companion go out with a mentality "we are going out to teach someone", when we expect to do things they really happen, "I expect to Baptize" is also just another great mentality.

A great lesson that I have really learn't this week is about using time wisely. Firstly I would like to say I disagree with the statement "Time Management", the first lesson we need to learn is that time is a constant, we cannot alter time, we cannot run away from it, make it faster or slower. The important lesson to learn is that "We do not manage time; we manage ourselves in the time given" How we manage ourselves in the periods we have allotted ourselves to do certain activities is really a reflection on how productive and diligent we really are. Many times as a missionary I wish we could have extended time periods, I wish I could have made time slower, or in many cases, I wish things could go quicker. These wishes really can't be fulfilled, we always have to yield to constants in our lives. Just like how God used seven periods of time to do, we must fully utilize the time we are given. Time is precious, time is necessary, and I'd like to think, when we have truly mastered time, we have truly mastered ourselves.

Anyway, enough with the deep stuff, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about basics and so I'll stick to it. There was a funny experience my companion had whilst I was away in Southport, a fairly new missionary had come to St. Helen's with my companion and the proceeded to teach our Slovakian investigator... just before they entered my companion said "we might commit him to baptism, only do it if it is appropriate, we haven't done it yet, because he just has so many concerns we need to solve first." The new missionary sometime, part way through the lesson at a not very convenient time said "Will you be baptized?" at which our Slovakian investigator was slightly offended and started barking "No, No, No" very loud and they ended up with quite a situation, missions really force you to learn patience, I was once a new missionary, perhaps not the most eloquent or tactful but, I love how my mission has taught me patience.

So... the last experience for this week is being able to utilize my talents. My companion once had an idea, to "just help the Stake choir with a one- off mentality" by playing piano for them, and so I did, this was a couple of weeks ago, I told them I could come back to help them because I needed to use the time for choir practices to proselyte. After that first practice they asked me "can you come back?" to which I said "maybe" they again said "can you come back?" to which I said "probably not" the conducter then said "I don't think you understand... can you come back?" to which I pretty much had to say "yes", so... well... now I'm playing piano for the Liverpool stake choir for Stake conference... it's quite exciting for a missionary.

"therefore have we not great reason to rejoice?"


Elder Sapaden

Monday, 14 May 2012

Weekly Update 14 May 2012


This week I am grateful for so many things! One of my favourite inspiring questions in the Book of Mormon is found in Alma 26 "have we not great reason to rejoice?" this is my attitude today! We have been blessed with such a great knowledge, such a great treasure. A great quote I heard is that "we have knowledge of the plan of happiness, so act like it!" This is a great opportunity to express the things that I am grateful for. I know it's not thanksgiving, but "What are YOU thankful for?" Just think about it for a couple of minutes and then express in prayer your gratitude for the things in your life which make you smile.

Our efforts with our Slovakian investigator is still quite frequent, teaching him really has caused me to really spend time studying my Bible, I love it! there is just so much growth when you study for a specific purpose, when I have normal personal study I learn quite a bit, but when I study to be able to help my investigator understand a principle it just fills me with knowledge that stays. An interesting principle that we always hear of is the scripture in 2 Nephi 32 "Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do." Commonly we hear "Feast upon the words of Christ", sure feasting is eating a lot, and we are commanded to study the scriptures diligently, feasting also has the connotation of enjoying as we study, but perhaps for me the deepest insight I learn is that "Feasting" also has a connotation towards variety. When we are at any feast, would we only eat the meat? would we only perhaps eat vegetables because we are on some low- fat diet? When we feast we partake of all the substances on the table and when they are mixed together that is when the true meaning of feast comes alive, similarly we cannot only read "just the Bible" or "just this or that" but we must take advantage of all the scripture that has been revealed to us.

A deeper lesson comes to me from the first line. "Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost", after Baptism we have received this great gift. So what I gain from this is: when we speak by the power of the Holy Ghost we BECOME angels. Not all angels are found in Heaven some are found on earth too. We all have angelic moments as we speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, an angel is just a messenger of Jesus Christ, in this Church we currently have about 56,000 full time Angels, for about 2 years. However, I know that Nephi did not by accident put these two great lessons in the same verse without a deeper meaning, we can only speak by the power of the Holy Ghost when we feast upon the words of Christ. Countless times on my mission have I had scriptures enter my mind as I teach a principle. One of my favourite quotes is that "We do not prepare lessons, we prepare ourselves", a missionary can be guilty of giving the same lesson twice, however, that isn't teaching to the individual need of the investigator, everyone has their own differences and needs, and by preparing ourselves through scripture study to meet our investigators is such a wonderful thing! Before my mission, I couldn't see how my scripture study was relevant to my life, now my scripture study is an important hour of the day, if not the most important.

What a great time it is to be a missionary!


Elder Sapaden

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Weekly Update 9 May 2012


As always we have had such a fantastic week! With it being bank holiday monday we had an opportunity to go to the Preston temple for a little while and it was Amazing, the temple is just such a great place. Being filled with symbolism it can fill the humble seeker of knowledge with hidden treasures of knowledge and power, and to the people who go prepared to receive revelation eyes are opened to millions of possibilities, just like parables they teach those who are ready to receive such light with immense wisdom and for those less ready/ prepared to receive some symbolism it still comes off as a spirit filled occasion.

Something that I have recently gained a testimony of is: "To take full advantage of the Atonement we need to leave our comfort zones, there is no growth in a comfort zone and there is no comfort in a growth zone."
For me my mission is a very great thing, something that I would never trade the world for, I disagree with the statement "the best two years" they are going to be two great years I will often treasure, two years that I will always remember and keep close to my Heart, infact... I believe anyone who takes that statement to heart has limited their potential. The idea is that life continues to go on after the missionary's mission and that spiritual progression is never meant to stop progressing.

These two years are going to be immense, I have grown so much (I do not boast in my own strength for I am nothing, but I do boast in my God, Alma 26) but I will never stop progressing, even after my mission. If you were to ask me "so, Elder Sapaden when do you think we are supposed to hit the pinnacle of our spirituality?" I would say "Never"; some favourite words of mine are found in the last two verses of hymn 284.

"There is no end to virtue;
There is no end to might;
There is no end to wisdom;
There is no end to light.
There is no end to union;
There is no end to youth;
There is no end to priesthood;
There is no end to truth."

"There is no end to glory;
There is no end to love;
There is no end to being;
There is no death above.
There is no end to glory;
There is no end to love;
There is no end to being;
There is no death above."

All of these lines have one running theme "There is no end", it is a principle I am grateful for... because there is no end... no end to growth, there is no bigger lie than "all good things must come to an end", as long as we live the Gospel of Jesus Christ there is one thing we can be sure of : there is no end to good things.

Anyhow, it seems that I have gone off on one. Back to how my week have been,

So as you are all aware it was transfers on Wednesday, you want to know something that I did on tuesday, I prayed to stay in St. Helens, I wonder how many missionaries pray to stay in an assigned area for longer, perhaps the answer is "not enough", it truely is a reflection on how great the area is here... the members, the geographical area, the ward. I cannot name one negative thing about it.

We had quite a saturday this saturday we lost 6 investigators in the space of two hours, by lost, I mean: they because of extraneous variables or other circumstances are unable to continue to investigate, a family we were teaching is moving to London, a part of me knows even though he will not get baptised here, somewhere... whereever that may be he will be able to receive that ordinance. He has a wonderful name, it took my a couple to tries to say it, I told him to write it down for me so I can remember those days, he is from Sri Lanka, and his name is: Apayappirathapan

The fact that we lost that many investigators does not however frustrate me or aggrivate me, it sure would have in the beginning of my mission, sure I'm sad, I would have liked to see him and his family progress in the Gospel... and they will somewhere just not in St. Helens. Heavenly Father sure has a mysterious way of working, one that I will never be able to comprehend in this lifetime but because he works the way he does I learn.

So, in St. Helens we have the best ward mission leader in the world, without a doubt, he invited our slovakian investigator for dinner at his house last sunday, we were there and it just went really smooth, we had a great dinner, we were able to watch a church film from a projector and have a nice little bible quiz (because our investigator loves those sort of things) it was great.

Well, I have to shoot of like a busy bee (like always)

I love you all!

Elder Sapaden - "one of the greatest indicators of a man's conversion is his desire to share it with others"

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Weekly Update 2 May 2012


It has been quite the week! As you know (or may not know) transfers was this week, and the wonderful news is that I am staying in St. Helen's! I love it here and I really believe that it is the "Gem" of the mission, the next transfers isn't until June so I will be staying here for a total of 6 months, which is quite spectacular actually to have two areas for a missionary under one year, either President is keeping me here because I'm doing really well here or ... well I can't see any other reason why I would still be here so I'll chose to believe that I am doing great here! A missionary hasn't stayed in the St. Helen's ward for 6 months in the last two years, so it really is a privilege for me to break that boundary.

Well... we've been through quite a lot together Elder Lamb and I, and we have another 5 weeks together before any opportunity comes to break us up. We have been able to utilise both our talents, Elder Lamb is an Electrician so we have been doing some Electrical work for members in the ward, we have even fitted some extractor fans while I have been able to serve them musically.

Since I am e-mailing on Monday as well, I'll keep this e-mail relatively short. We were able to go home teaching on Member "splits" I went with the High Priest group leader and Elder Lamb went with another member, we had some intense lessons together, it is amazing the knowledge that the High Priests have over here in St. Helen's I walk out of a lesson and I have a headache. We met a less- active man who used to be on many bishoprics and who just delved into anti- Mormon doctrine, and the "mystery" that is meaningless and is of no use as information. As the High Priest group leader attempted to resolve some concerns, I learn't an interesting lesson from it.

A tool of the Adversary is over complicating things, the gospel is simple: Jesus died so that we might be saved if we keep and meet certain requirements. Pretty simple isn't it? Who cares about this man did this, this and this... it truly is about the spirit we feel and knowing that, God still speaks to us today because he loves us.

A great lesson and a realization that I have learn't on my mission is how far I really need to go. I'm a pretty weak person and I still have a long way to go, I just love how my mission has really humbled me.

D+C 18:10 "Remember that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God", now from a missionary perspective we obviously view that we are trying to "save souls" that we are out to save others, some missionaries never Baptize, you may ask "who's soul did that missionary save?", the wonderful answer is sometimes: "his/ her own" our own souls are wonderful to a loving Heavenly Father. Sometimes we may not save the "one soul" that we are supposed to look for, but in the end we were looking to save our own "one soul" in the end.


Elder Sapaden