Monday, November 29, 2010

A grateful Son

Dear Mom,
Thank you very much for the package!! All those things were very thoughtful of you. I hope everything is going well for you during this busy holiday season :) As for Christmas, I really don't feel like I need anything, but I know that whether I give you ideas or not, you're going to send stuff, so I guess I could offer a few suggestions. Recently Pres. Pfile changed the music policy from an approved list to just going by the Spirit. Music should invite the Spirit, be uplifting, and help us stay focused. So now we can make the decision on what's appropriate. Having said that, here's a couple of CD's that were actually approved before that I've heard a little bit and really enjoy: Reflections on Christ (2): Another Testament, CD's by "4 Ordained", David Archuletta's Christmas CD, recent EFY CD's (after Steady and Sure), etc... Or if you find something else that is really good, that works too :) I don't really get to shop around too much. It should just have some type of gospel theme and not be too crazy. I like healthy, easy, non-decaying snacks as well! (those Cliff bars are great!) And of course, I like ties :) If you find a cheap "dog-silencer," that would be sweet too! Other than that, that's all that I can think of. Of course, don't feel like you have to give me a lot. I'm better "forgetting myself and going to work," but I do appreciate all that you have done and will continue to do.

Oh by the way, transfers are tomorrow, and Elder Neff is going up to northern Springs. I will be getting Elder Bennett!!! Apparently he's a 2nd transfer missionary and is a little interesting, so I'm excited! :)

I love you so very much and wish you the best week ever!!

Dear Joshua,
Thank you so much for your tape that you made me!!! You are so good at those songs! I can't wait until I can hear you even more. Remember to always choose the right. Keeping an awesome boy. Be nice to Benson. I love you!

Dear Jacob,
Thank you for your card! I really liked it. You are very good at writing. I love you so much! Have a great day!

Dear Benson,
Do your homework. Don't get in debt. I love you!

MIRACLE Stories:
Yesterday at church we were surprised to see Kim Davis (an investigator who we had lost contact with). We've heard that she's been coming to church (and then leaving right after Sacrament Mtg), but she never returned our calls. Well, we found out that she started working nights, so she was never awake when we called. Also, her phone was messed up so she didn't get our voice messages. But apparently she's been reading the Book of Mormon and she's successfullly quit smoking for a whole month now! So we figured out a time when we can finish the lessons, because she said that she wants to make it for the next "baptismal ceremony"! We teach her tomorrow and will set a date for her baptism :)

Yesterday we also went to a "child of record" baptism, and the Spirit was so incredibly strong. People just don't know what they're missing. It gave me a stronger desire to do all that I can to share the gospel with others, so they can feel the peace and joy that I have.

Dear Dad,
I don't have a lot of time left, but I guess it would be unfair to not write my faithful pen pal dad. :) Thank you for the line of authority thing. Thank for all your hard work back home. Thank you for sharing the funny stories about Joshua. I love and look up to you so very much. I look forward to talking to all of you at Christmas. Have an awesome week!!!

Elder Craft

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear Mom,
It's really not that cold here, (not as bad as Utah) and I kept all my cold weather gear from last year, so I'm good to go! I appreciate your concern for me though :) As far as the home baked goods thing: I do miss your cooking (speaking of which, can I make a request for my first breakfast home to be your delicious crepes?), however, the people here are taking very good care of us. We've been blessed with more food than we can handle (I'm now 200 lbs!..... jk, I wish), so it's really okay if you send the package without that kind of stuff. Thank you anyways :) I really do appreciate all that you do in my behalf! I love you so very much! I can't wait be able to show that love more when I get home. Until then, just know that you are truly a choice daughter of our Heavenly Father who has made such a profound impact on my life, that I will be forever grateful for you. I wish you the best in your Savior of the World performances and hope you have a fabulous, stress-free, Spirit-filled Thanksgiving and week!

Dear Dad,

Give Grandpa Craft a huge ginormous hug for me! I hope and pray that you travel safely and have a good experience. Thank you so much for your outstanding example! I know without a doubt that I wouldn't be where I am without your great example, counsel, love, and support. I'm glad to hear that the past year has been eventful and exciting. I must say that the same is true for me. It's been an awesome year! By the way, I really like your "high-adventure rafting" analogy. I think that's a great perspective! Hey, I was wondering if you could send or email me our "line of authority". I don't think I have it yet, and I think that it'd be sweet to have. Thanks! Again, I want to say that I love you and at this Thanksgiving time, one of the greatest things that I have to be grateful for is the family that I've been given (especially my Mom and Dad). Also, I can't go without saying how grateful I am for the Gospel of Jesus Christ! It truly is the greatest thing on earth. Thank you for sharing it with me. Have an exciting ride this week!

MIRACLE Stories:

Elder Lyman (from Lindon) and I went on exchanges this past week and saw a couple of amazing miracles! We went down to La Junta a few hours before a baptismal interview to do some work in their area. We stopped at a town along the way to see some less active's and talked to a lady who just pulled up to her apartment. She agreed to hear our message and was very engaged in the lesson. She said that going to church will help her family come closer together, and she accepted a baptismal date for December 11th! After that unplanned miracle, we went to La Junta to do some service, but it fell through, so Elder Lyman took us to go see some potentials in the area. One lady that has been a potential for a very long time was home and let us in. We answered some questions and then she asked, "If I'm interested, what is my next step?" So we began teaching the Restoration. Everything made a lot of sense to her and she was very excited about it all! Not only that, but the Spirit was so strong! She said that she got the "chills" and felt really good about our message. She also accepted a date for December 11th! Within just a couple of hours, we were blessed to have the Lord place two different people in our path at just the right time. It was an awesome day!


Elder Craft

Monday, November 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Joshua

Dear Joshua,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR. 9 YEAR OLD!!!!!!! How's my little buddy doing?! You're getting to be such a big guy! Pretty soon, you might even be able to beat me up!!! Well anyways, I hope you have the best birthday in whole wide world!!! I wish I could be there to give you great big hug! I sure miss you Joshua, and I am so proud of the great young man that you are becoming. You're always so good at making people laugh, AND you're so smart, and obedient, and cool (not to mention your huge muscles!). Keep being a great boy and listening to Mom and Dad. They know what they're talking about.

I love you so much more than you know. I think about you often. I love hearing about the funny things that you say, and even more, I look forward to being able to come home and spend time with you again. Until that time, I hope you have a great birthday and continue to smile and let your light shine! Heavenly Father loves you so much and is very proud of you. He is preparing you to become an outstanding husband and father. Keep reading the scriptures, praying a lot, and being righteous. Be a good example to Jacob and Caleb and everyone else around you. Again, I want you know Joshua that I love you very, very much!

Also, I want you to know that I have a testimony that this Church is true. Jesus Christ really did die for our sins. This is His Church. I know that we will be happy if we keep the commandments. Thank you for all of your faith and for choosing the right. I know that you made the right decision to be baptized. The whole reason why I am out here is because I am trying to other people to know that and do likewise.

You're such an awesome guy Joshua, and I'm so excited that you've turned 9 years old. You've got 10 more years to prepare and then you can be a missionary just like me. I know that you're going to be a really good missionary! I love you buddy, and I hope you have an amazing birthday!!!


Dear Family,

Life on the mission is great. It's getting colder here, but hasn't snowed yet. We have 2 solid investigators right now: Samantha and Zeek Garcia. They came to church yesterday with their 2 kids (4 yr. old girl and baby boy), and later that evening they texted us saying thank you and that they had enjoyed church. We're really excited for them, and we have many other potentials who we're trying to contact right now. I hope all is going well back home.

No one commented on my t-shirt quote choice. Is that because you don't like it, but no one wants to tell me? It's okay-- I understand your predicament.
I'm sort of kidding, but in case that's true, I won't be offended if you want something different :)

Okay, I've got some time, so here are some of the things that I learned from my recent meetings:

Elder Jay E. Jensen:
"What would Sacrament Meeting be like without hymns?" Followed up with: "What would you're teaching be like without hymns?"
Reverence invites revelation.
Questions invite revelation.
"I'm never content with learning something until I can effectively teach it.
6 Principles to magnify your scipture study:
1. Pray- to the degree we pray, there will come a greater heighth, breadth, and depth to our understanding. This includes pondering. D&C 138. Pondering is a form of prayer. We should have "aha" moments regularly.
2. Pay the right price. What verbs in the scriptures are used to describe how we should study? (feast, search, liken, hearken, treasure up, etc...)
3. Link/Connect Ideas. Look for themes, patterns, processes, etc...
4. Create Outlines
5. Mark, annotate, cross-reference. "If there's white space, fill it up!"
6. Share- until you can articulate it, you need to work with it more.

Elder Russell M. Nelson:
In the last 2 months, 8 countries have been dedicated for missionary work.
"The Lord uses the unlikely to accomplish the impossible." (said over and over again)
When you love the Lord more, your capacity to love others increases. Love must first be verticle, then horizontal.

Leadership Meeting:
Pres. Pfile:
You've got to BELIEVE! What's it going to hurt?
When teaching the gospel, we need to teach them how to really study and ponder the scriptures.
We must have URGENCY. There's no time to waste! We all need a little idle time, but I get sick of it very quickly. I'm happiest when I'm working.
The Spirit knows all things. Rely on Him to know what to say and do (all throughout life).
There are not enough brethren in the church with the desire to serve.

Sis. Pfile:
Desire- willing to pay the price. It's not easy.
When the Saints went west, Brigham Young wasn't concerned about them. What concerned him most, was his vision of our day. He was worried that we'd have it too easy.

I love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Craft

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

18 months

Dear Dad,

I'm truly sorry to hear about Grandpa. I'm sure that it is a hard thing for you. It definitely is sad for me too, because I love and admire him very much and will miss him greatly; but I know that it would be a whole lot harder if he were my own father. So I want you to know that you have my love, comfort, and prayers. Thank you for telling me about his condition. I definitlely do want to hear about those kinds of things, so I can know to make an extra effort to write him some letters. And I promise to keep working hard and not get distracted. Honestly, I do feel the peace that the gospel brings at times like these. I'm so grateful for our knowledge of the Plan of Salvation! This is actually the first time that I've got to really experience the comfort that can come when you're about to lose someone close to you. So thank you for teaching me the gospel, because it definitely is true and blesses lives! I love you so much and will work hard to return with honor!

Dear Family,

Our meeting got done in 2 days this time, but was still amazing! I don't have time now but will share more of what I've learned from Elder Nelson and Pres. Pfile maybe on Monday.
I don't know if you realized this, but I hit my 18th month mark on Saturday! Aaahh! If I was a girl, I'd be coming home for the Holidays! But I'm not, and I'm a little slow at learning and accomplishing all that I need to on my mission. So you still get a 6 month break from me before I come back to eat all of your food.
Anyways, life serving the Lord is great! The church is still true! And I've always been one to kick it the harderst on the last lap. So, watch out Pueblo West, here I come!
Elder Craft

Monday, November 1, 2010

"You are My Hands"

Dear Family,

Guess what I get to do this Sunday? For the first time in the history of this mission, we are going to have a meeting with ALL the missionaries in one building. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will be coming to teach us, and of course I'm very excited! I never met any Apostles in Utah, but now that I'm in Colorado, I get to meet them every once in a while :)

We had zone conference this past week, and the theme was connecting everything we teach to baptism. We need to talk about baptism more, teach about baptism more, and make a very clear mental bridge between baptism and all the other commitments we leave our investigators. It was a very inspiring meeting! I sure am going to miss zone conferences when my mission is over. Also, next week we have another leadership conference, so I won't email till Thursday.

At zone conference they passed out an incredible talk for us to read on our own time. It's called "In the strength of the Lord"--by Elder Bednar. It was a talk given at BYU about the Atonement, and I highly recommend that all of you study it!

Okay, I decided on the t-shirt quote for this year! During one of my personal study sessions last week, I realized that I needed to decide quickly, and I actually had kind of a cool experience doing so. When I read the talk "In the strength of the Lord" I thought that it would be a cool t-shirt quote, but it didn't seem quite right. But when I sat there and decided to finally choose a quote, in the less than a minute I felt impressed to look at the recent General Conference talks for ideas. So I pulled out the table of contents for the May 2010 Ensign, and it just jumped out at me! The very first title I saw was "You Are My Hands," by President Uchtdorf, and I knew right away that it was the quote I should choose. If you don't remember the significance of it, I suggest you read to talk, because it's a really good one. So that's what I decided. I hope it's just as exciting and inspiring for all of you. As for a picture, I thought either a pair of hands or the face of the Savior--or just whatever you can find that looks good.

On Saturday we tracted into someone who was kind of excited to see us. He said that he's recently met a friend who is mormon, and he's interested in coming to church some time. He was too busy to be taught at that time, but we got his info and will set up an appointment some time. Guess what his name is? Ed Craft! Yep, that's right. C-r-a-f-t. :) It kind of took me back at first, because he's the first person that I've ever met in my whole life who has the exact same last name as me (except my family of course). Surprisingly, he did come the very next day! We went up and talked to him and his friend, and she asked us if we were teaching him. We said "not yet." :) She then offered to sit in on the lessons. He calls me his "country cousin." See, Grandma Craft, I'm doing family history work too! :)

Dad, you asked me what I thought was the most important principle for being a successful missionary, which is kind of funny, because I just recently have received some very strong impressions regarding that subject. Throughout my whole mission I've been trying to create a formula or list of critical principles for missionary work. I've had many different drafts, with mostly the same ideas, but recently I've changed it to something that is really making more sense than anything else ever did. As of right now these are the things that I would counsel a prospective missionary about:

9 Principles for Successful Missionary Work

1. Faith/Focus
2. Preach My Gospel/8 MTC Lessons/Book of Mormon
3. Prayer/Revelation
4. Goals/Planning
5. Obedience/Work
6. Charity/Selflessness
7. Effective Teaching
8. Commitment-Driven
9. Self-Improvement

I'm out of time, so I can't really comment on these principles, but I'll let you ponder them as they are. Then maybe next week I'll explain a little more.

I love you all so very much! Thank you for being amazing!

Elder Craft