Monday, December 30, 2013

WK101 'Eternally Important'

Dear Family and Friends!
Well today I am extremely excited to share all the miracles and tender mercies that Father has provided us with this week in celebration of the birth of the Messiah, Jehovah, Jesus the Christ himself.

This past week I have had a chance to reflect back on what we truly should reflect back on during Christmas season, the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. One of the biggest lessons I have learned on my mission in the FFLM is the change that comes when Fathers children partake of the enabling power of the Atonement through baptism. I stand as a witness that as surely as the Lord liveth, men can change through Christ the Lord. Whether you are rich or poor, married or widowed, male or female, all of Gods children can change. It is our purpose to help them to do so by inviting all to partake of the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ through baptism.

This past week we saw many huge miracles, I wanted to share a few with you:
On Christmas Elder Morgan and myself were biking and we knew we need four more blessings to be obedient and get eight by Wednesday. So we stopped and contacted these kids outside their house. They took  us to the backyard to their mother who we then blessed. Little did we know how prepared this family is! The mother was taught by missionaries in Haiti and always went to the church just never got baptized. After the blessing she expressed how she desires to prepare to be baptized and how she knows God sent us to her family to help them to do so, on Christmas Day too!!

Another huge miracle came when we went to visit the lady that got baptized last week, on Christmas Day as well. There was an old time friend visiting and immediately when we walked up we greeted him. But he was very standoffish and immediately walked away. So we proceeded and went inside to pray with and teach the family. Just as we were about to pray the man ran up and exclaimed that he wanted to pray as well. We left a blessing with him and immediately he felt the Spirit and opened up to us. He talked about all the tough things that have been happening in his life and how he has been turning to alcohol instead God. Baptism=January 5th without a doubt!

The last miracle that I want to share with ya'll happened in the last hour Saturday night before church on Sunday. It had been an extremely rough day and no one was extremely committed to come to church the next day. So at 8 PM the Spirit told us to park and take our bikes and ride to where Father wanted us to. So we did listening to the Spirit and we saw a man that we would always pass and invite to church outside his yard about to go inside. The Spirit whispered yell at him to wait for you, so I did so and we went over and spoke with him. It seemed like every word I spoke carried direct power from the Spirit of God. Well Sunday morning him and his family came to church and are now preparing to be baptized this Sunday!

Well as you can see I am extremely grateful to Father this past week for providing us with many mighty miracles! "God is a good God, YES HE IS!"

Well now looking towards the future the New Year of 2014 is immediately around the corner so in closing I wanted to leave you with a quote from President Uchtdorf:
“[A] regret people express was that they failed to become the person they felt they could and should have been. When they looked back on their lives, they realized that they never lived up to their potential, that too many songs remained unsung.... I am speaking of becoming the person God, our Heavenly Father, intended us to be... Our Heavenly Father sees our real potential. He knows things about us that we do not know ourselves. He prompts us during our lifetime to fulfill the measure of our creation, to live a good life, and to return to His presence... Why, then, do we devote so much of our time and energy to things that are so fleeting, so inconsequential, and so superficial? Do we refuse to see the folly in the pursuit of the trivial and transient? Would it not be wiser for us to ‘lay up for [ourselves] treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal’?  How do we do this? By following the example of the Savior, by incorporating His teachings in our daily lives, by truly loving God and our fellowman... We certainly cannot do this with a dragging-our-feet, staring-at-our-watch, complaining-as-we-go approach to discipleship... As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we are capable of so much more. For that, good intentions are not enough. We must do. Even more important, we must become what Heavenly Father wants us to be... We do matter. We determine our happiness. You and I are ultimately in charge of our own happiness... The path toward fulfilling our divine destiny as sons and daughters of God is an eternal one. My dear brothers and sisters, dear friends, we must begin to walk that eternal path today; we cannot take for granted one single day. I pray that we will not wait until we are ready to die before we truly learn to live. (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, General Conference October 2012)

As President Uchtdorf stated let us fill this New Year with the eternally important things that matter most! As we do so, I so testify that our joy will be filled by the Lord himself.

With Love,
Elder Pond

Monday, December 23, 2013

WK100 'Eternal Gifts of Love'

Dear Family and Friends!
Well today my heart is full of gratitude unto the King of King, the Lord of Lords, even Jesus Christ. I am eternally grateful for all that He has given me. Reflecting back on my life before my mission, and how prideful and stubborn I was, He continued to stay with me no matter what. On my mission I am eternally grateful that He has molded and transformed me into who He intends and knows I can become. I know and testify that through the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ all can be made whole, we just MUST rely upon Jesus Christ!

This week was as always full of miracles! The biggest miracle that we saw this week was Father creating a way to baptize one of His precious daughters. With her it has always been up and down in relationship to the Gospel, but as we kept faith in her and in Christ he prepared a way for her to enter into the waters of baptism. It was remarkable to see her smile as a result immediately after the baptism, finally it brought her complete JOY! We must never forget how the gospel gives us as God's children eternal joy and happiness.
One thing I have pondered a lot on my mission is Judgement Day. How we all will stand before the eternal Judge and Mediator, Jesus Christ, and be judged according to our works whether they be good or evil. No matter what mistakes we have made, all can be made whole through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. But only as we repent and align our will with Fathers will for us. Then when we stand before him to be judged we will "Return With Honor". So let us live our lives in a way in which we can Return With Honor to our loving Father who is in Heaven.

In closing with Christmas right around the corner, I want to invite you to truly fulfill the meaning of Christmas and give eternal gifts. Make someone feel good, help someone come closer to God, serve someone, show some love, etc.. Then next week in your letters to me write me about your 'eternal gift' experience! I look foreword to hearing from ya'll next week!

'Years ago I was impressed with the story “The Mansion” by Henry Van Dyke. It’s the tale of a well to do man by the name of John Weightman who has become a self made man of impressive wealth. He also believes that you should give for all to see, to obtain earthly results, and in his mind a place in Heaven. He says, “You have to be careful how you give, in order to secure the best results—no indiscriminate giving—no pennies in beggars’ hats!... Try to put your gifts where they can be identified and do good all around.”
He slips off in what seems like a dream or vision late Christmas Eve, and finds himself as if he had died and was walking with others, each given a mansion according to their works on earth. John Weightman is expecting the largest of all mansions for him, but the “Keeper of the Gate” brings him to a small rundown hut in the middle of a dirt lot, hardly big enough for a shelter. John is shocked and tells the “Keeper of the Gate” that there must be some mistake. This couldn’t be possible from all the charities he created, churches he built, hospitals he started, and schools constructed (all bearing his name of course).
The “Keeper of the Gate” then responded, “There is no mistake…We have used all the material that you sent us…The things you did on earth, were marked and used as foundation for the name and mansion of John Weightman in the world…Were not all these carefully recorded on earth where they would add to your credit…Verily, you have your reward for them… Would you be paid twice?”
John then asks, “They accomplished some good in the world. Does not that count for something?”
“Yes”, answered the Keeper of the Gate, “it counts in the world—where you counted it. But it does not belong to you here.”
“Tell me, then,” he cried, brokenly, “since my life has been so little worth, how came I here at all?”
“Through the mercy of the King”, --the answer was like the soft tolling of a bell.
John then asks, “What could I have done better?”
The Keeper of the Gate answers, “Only that good which is done for the love of doing it. Only those plans in which the welfare of others is the master thought. Only those labors in which the sacrifice is greater than the reward. Only those gifts in which the giver forgets himself.,' President Anderson!


With Love,
Elder Pond

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

WK99 'TRUTH!'

Dear Family and Friends!
So yes this week is transfer week and no surprises there, I am staying again here in Plantation to finish up Elder Morgans training. So to say the least I am extremely excited for the even greater miracles that we finna see here in the beautiful land of Plantation.
This past week has kind of been a blur because of how busy we have been, but I have pondered a lot on the truthfulness of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and how the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is right around the corner. The biggest time this comes to life is every time we go to the Book of Mormon musical. At this musical there are many wealthy people that attend and unfortunately many that have none or little faith in God and Jesus Christ. Elder Morgan and myself go about three times a week and pass out mormon.org cards and teach people about what we TRULY believe. Many times unfortunately people pass us up when we offer a card to learn more about Jesus Christ. And after pondering more on this how many times in this world people hear Christ and run away, when in all reality we need to be preparing for the Second Coming of Christ. Another powerful experience that we had at the musical was as they were coming out of the musical we were handing out pass along cards and this lady stopped us and began to talk with me. I began testifying of eternal families and of how the Book of Mormon brings us closer to Christ. She replied, 
"I am Jewish and always been, but I would give everything I have to know what you know." The Gospel is true!
But that's all I got for this week. I love ya'll! Live the gospel and it will change your life!
With Love,
Elder Pond

Monday, December 9, 2013

WK98 'Spiritually Creation=Miracles'

Family and Friends!!
Well another eventful week in the Christmas season of the SUNNY and HOT Southern Florida!! This week was full of every part of getting wet from biking in walls of rain, to going down into the baptismal font several times! We have learned an incredible amount and been blessed incredibly by the hand of the Lord. I am grateful for the love that I feel from Father every single day, and know that as we all live our lives according to HIS will then we will feel of that same love.
 
Today I wanted to share a little bit about one of the most basic and fundamental principles of the gospel, FAITH in the Savior Jesus Christ. There is a really good talk by Elder Cook that speaks about this. He talks about spiritual creation and how it is an element of faith. For instance, before the city of Enoch was translated they had a testimony. God created the earth spiritually before he did so temporally. So they spiritually created then in came to pass. Elder Cook talks about how if we want to bring something to pass, and it is the will of the Lord, we just must believe with the innermost part of our heart and then we will literally bring it to pass.
 
We saw this principle of faith many times this week. One Child of God we were able to baptize on Saturday had an incredible amount of doubts throughout the week. But Father was able to help us cultivate spiritual experiences as we believed with our whole heart and gave him everything we have! Another huge miracle came at the Book of Mormon musical again. During the intermission we saw two younger men and God gave me the capacity to spiritually create and see them as they could become. We began to talk and they are now being taught by the missionaries down in Miami. Last but not least, we were biking down the street on one side and the Spirit prompted us to go contact a man on the other side of the street. When we began to speak with him I felt tremendous power from Father [this because we believed with every part of our soul]! He accepted baptism and church right on the spot. Him and his family of three were at church on Sunday, loved it, and are getting baptized this Sunday!
 
Truly Brothers and Sisters, if we can just believe with our whole soul as we spiritually create then miracles are promised to come from the hand of the Lord.
This upcoming week we are looking at an amazing week. I am extremely excited and urge all of you to have the best week ever by applying faith through spiritual creation.
I love the Lord and I know the Lord!

With Love,
Elder Pond

Monday, December 2, 2013

WK97 'ENDURANCE!'

Dear Family and Friends!!
This past week was crazy but as usual full of tender mercies from Father! What I feel like we as members of Gods church often times forget is to be keepers of our covenants. This past week I have been pondering on our baptismal covenant outlines in the sacrament prayers:
O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and asanctify this bbread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in cremembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the dname of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his eSpirit to be with them. Amen. Moroni 4:3

In this covenant we as members of the church always remember that we need to keep the commandments and then Father will bless us to have the Spirit to always be with us. But what we fail to remember is the higher law part of the covenant. That we have promised with Father to take upon ourselves the name of Christ and always remember him. In this life the things of eternal importance are those that help us live this covenant. We need to live our lives in the way that others see Christ within us, that involves losing our will and constantly doing the will of Father.

One principle that Christ perfected and I have been studying about this past week is the principle of endurance. I was pondering on a couple of situations. First with sports, the last game is always the Championship Game, the game that matters most. It is then when athletes take everything they have worked on and give it all that they have. Also with school, I know at least for me because in high school I procrastinated, near the end of the quarters is when students scramble and give it all they possibly can to get their grades up. Unfortunately many times I feel with eternal matters that at some point we get 'burnt out', when in the end we must endure. We must focus on the things that matter most, and always press foreword with faith in Christ to be able to endure.

Elder Morgan and myself saw this principle in action when we went out Saturday morning on our bicycles and it began to pour rain. That entire day in was in and out of rain, but we pressed foreword with faith in Christ and endured. As a result on Saturday we taught 10 lessons, got 4 blessings, and in the end was able to get five people to sacrament meeting on Sunday!

Another time I saw this principle was on Friday night. I'm not sure if ya'll have heard about the BOM Musical that was shown in New York, but now it is moved down to Fort Lauderdale. The musical brings a lot of publicity to the church, so before the show as people are parking and walking in and during the intermission six missionaries go and contact as many people as possible to teach them the true meaning on the Church and Book of Mormon. On Friday Elder Morgan and myself were blessed to be able to be a part of it and saw huge miracles. We were contacting people before the play and not seeing an incredible amount of success when all the sudden a lady stepped outside of a car and the Spirit told me to go contact her. So I did and immediately she opened up on all the tough times she has been going through. That then gave us an opportunity to testify of baptism and church and how the Savior can help her through those tough times, and she accepted everything! She lives on her own private island but because of other things that have been happening the Lord humbled her to accept the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am excited for her to receive the Atonement through baptism.

Something I want to invite all of my friends and family to do is write me a letter with the specific topic of Endurance. I would love to hear your thoughts and know that they can be an inspiration to me as well.

Well as you can tell Father has been incredible to us and me for my entire mission. I am eternally indebted to him for what he has taught me and how he has helped me to grow in his service for the short time of two years. I know the Lord and He loves me!

With Love,
Elder Pond

Monday, November 25, 2013

WK96 'Spirit of Thanksgiving'

Dear Family and Friends!
I know I say this every week, but this week was completely full of miracles. I have come to realize with even more of a certainty that our Heavenly Father does exist, and that Jesus is the Christ, the Holy Messiah! This week He has been so incredibly good to us and with the Thanksgiving Spirit, I wanted to start off this letter by stating a list of things I am grateful for:
My Family- Now looking back I realize how much you all did for me.
My Friends- Were always there for me through all the tough times, my fellow brothers and sisters from the pre-earth life.
My Mission- Changed my carnal desires to become a saint through the Atonement of Christ.
The Miracle of Forgiveness- I have seen this in my life and the lives of soo many of Gods children in Southern Florida.
The Prophet- I feel God's direction in my life through His chosen servants.
Food (especially Southern Soul Food)- I have grown a deep love for this on my mission!
Harvesting (tracting)- It is amazing to see how God leads you to His children who need you in the very second when they need it most.
The Gift of the Holy Ghost- One of the greatest blessings him my life, a huge source of comfort in all times of trials.
Eternal Families (sealing ordinances in the temple)- With this knowledge and peace I know that I will live with Grandma Ruby again.
The Sacrament- Ability to take what we have to the Lord, and allow him to make us whole.
President Anderson- His inspired guidance and leadership has changed my life.
My Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ- words cannot express how eternally grateful I am for all that they have done for me.

This past week was huge though, Elder Morgan and myself were blessed to have a lot of people come to church in every aspect of the work. We brought less actives back and rescued them. Baptized two of God's children. As well got some new investigators to sacrament meeting who are lined up to be baptized this upcoming week.

The baptism on Sunday was one of the most powerful baptisms that I have been a part of. The entire baptismal service the Spirit was extremely strong testifying to all of us there that baptism changes lives, and that it is the beginning step to receive the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Always remember that the power of Godliness is manifest in the ordinances thereof, especially saving ordinances.

One huge miracle that we saw that I wanted to share with you happened Sunday after church. We took a back road to try and get in contact with a part-member family that fell off the map. But it has been raining an incredible amount and as we were biking we soon realized that we were in a sand pit and basically surrounded with water. So we had to endure and push through it to get to the other side. Eventually we did and made it to the part-member family and they were home! We had an amazing lesson and set the members two sons to be baptized on the 8th! Huge miracle. This is often times what happens in our individual lives, we go through a rough patch, or in our case a sand pit surrounded by water, but as we ENDURE then miracles from God will come!

This month Elder Morgan and myself are looking to do what has never been done before in the FFLM and baptize 16 of Gods Children in December! So please include this in your prayers, we know with God we can accomplish all things!

With Love,
Elder Pond

Monday, November 18, 2013

WK95 'Let Us Be Faithful!!'

Dear Family and Friends!


Thank you for your inspiring messages this past week and especially your prayers, they definitely do help! One of the high councilman who spoke in Plantation told a story when a young boy met one of the apostles. He said to the apostle, you know why you can travel all over the entire world and not be injured or get sick, cause I pray for you! So know most importantly that God is your loving Heavenly Father, and your prayers always help!

This past week I have been pondering a lot on the big eternal vision, how ultimately the purpose of this life is to prepare us to raise a family to live in the Celestial Kingdom. That is the main purpose of a mission, to grow and mature to be ready to be able to do so. One huge lesson that I learned this week is that the Spirit is the ultimate teacher, we just must find a way to cultivate spiritual experiences. We saw this specifically three times this past week. Once when we were teaching our baptism for this upcoming Sunday. At the beginning of the lesson she expressed doubts of wanting to be sure about baptism. We began the lesson with a powerful opening prayer that invited the Spirit, then it seemed like every word we spoke carried straight to her heart. As we spoke you could see her countenance changing to the point where eventually the Spirit hit her so hard that she said, "I need this! I can't help but not have this in my life. I am getting baptized!" The other experience was when we were teaching a lady who was a little standoffish the first time we met her, she didn't really want to do anything but her husband was elect. We stopped by and he wasn't there but she was so we decided to teach her. During that lesson we gave it everything we had, at the end she said "you're right, my family and I need this a lot. We are coming to church!" The last experience was an interview that I had this past week. Before the interview she was expressing doubts about baptism to the Sisters but I went in there with full faith. I began by asking her what I can pray for, offered my whole soul up unto my loving Heavenly Father, after the prayer she looked at me and said "Wow that was powerful." And so went the interview!

Well I am eternally grateful for this past week in the mission field, Elder Morgan is amazing! This week let's make sure we remember our God. This gospel is absolutely true! Let us stay faithful unto our Savior and our Heavenly Father.
With Love,

Elder Pond

Monday, November 11, 2013

WK94 'God is our Father!' (Plantation)

Dear Friends and Family!
First and foremost, thank you for the love that you all show to me. I truly can feel the Saviors love from all of you.
But this week has definitely been tough but at the same time very exciting! The area that I got transferred to was struggling really badly so they took both the Elders out and put me and my new companion in. It is actually an area that I served in almost a year ago, PLANTATION!! It has been amazing to see all the members and recent converts and their progression in the gospel of Jesus Christ. My new companion is Elder Morgan straight from the MTC, originally from Spokane Washington. He is an amazing missionary with huge desires and it has been amazing to see him grow already!
This past week I was able to learn some huge lessons. The Lord is allowing me to grow which is amazing. One huge thing I learned this past week is that the Lord doesn't always give you what you want, but he does always give you what will be best for you with the eternal perspective. He loves us as his children. As a result the whole purpose of this life is for us to grow and prepare ourselves to meet God. Yes sometimes we are overwhelmed and feel inadequate. That is to be assumed because our nature is fallen since Adam and Eve. But God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son, that through Him our weaknesses can be made strong. So in this life we need not think, what do I want, or what do I think would be best. But we must think what will help me grow closest to the Savior, and what does God want. As we do so we will accomplish the purpose in us coming here to Earth.
 
This whole week I was pondering on why God sent me back to Plantation to train and he gave me one of the reasons through an experience. As Elder Morgan and myself were biking one night it started to pour down rain. I began to ponder where we could go and immediately the Spirit told me to go to a former that I taught a year ago that started avoiding us after she came to church. So we biked fast and locked our bikes up then walked up to her house. She came to the door and then in her own words she said, "There stood Elder Pond wet as a dawg, but with a smile on his face! So I let him in." As we began to talk I thought back to the time when Elder Wardell and myself taught her and her family. The tough time they have been going through with the passing of two of her kids, and suffering from depression as a result. We invited her to be baptized on Sunday and she accepted wholeheartedly! On Sunday, Elder Morgan was able to bring this precious daughter of God under the waters of baptism and back up. One reason why I know God sent me back to Plantation is because her family needs to be eternal, and if he hadn't who know how long it would of been since missionaries met back up with her family. God is in control of all things, if we allow him to be.
 
Well always remember that God is our loving Heavenly Father. He is in control and will help us in the very moment when we need it. Because it is by grace we are saved, after ALL we can do! I love you all as well and pray for you daily. Pray that the work continues to go foreword. And this week, rely more upon Christ than you ever have in your entire life, and things will change.
 
With Love,
Elder Pond

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

WK93 'The Lord's Plan'

Dear Family and Friends!!
Well an exciting, eventful, and fruitful week! What else can you expect in the greatest mission in the entire world!? Now as far as transfers... Last night we got a call from the Assistants. They exclaimed that the Lord has spoken and someone will be being transferred out of the beautiful land of Opa-Locka.. Elder Harris [aka Hot Boy Paris] will be staying and I [aka Lo Key Dawg] will be transferring and training a new missionary straight from the MTC. I was completely in shock, but am extremely excited for what the Lord has in store for me. I know I will learn lessons these next three months that the Lord needs me to learn. And I am willing to give the Lord everything I have and go 'All Out'! This morning I was actually listening to Elder Dube's talk from this past General Conference and something he said stood out to me, "The Lord through His servants calls us to serve in various callings, which we accept with total commitment. When a release has been extended and a call in a different assignment has been issued, we joyfully accept it, knowing, as our forebearers knew, that in the service of the Lord, it is not where you serve but how!" We must be willing to listen to the voice of the Lord always!

This past week we were able to see some huge miracles. One of the biggest ones that I wanna share with ya'll happened on Saturday. Elder Harris and myself were going around talking with all of our investigators getting them pumped for church the next day. We went to see one investigator and unfortunately she wasn't home.. But as we were walking away we contacted this guy sitting outside his house. Before the blessing he talked about how he just got out of jail and really wants to now reach his full potential. After the blessing he said 'I feel goosebumps man.', and he came to church the very next day even after he only got two hours of sleep that night. After church he came up to us and exclaimed how excited he is for his baptism in a week. He is getting baptized this Sunday.

Well that's all I got for this week. I am excited for huge miracles to share next week. I promise there will be amazing miracles, so be ready!

With Love,
Elder Pond

Monday, October 28, 2013

WK92 'OPA-LOCKA!'

Dear Family and Friends!
Well another week in the amazing land of Opa-Locka. Sometimes it is unreal how fast time goes by because another transfer has come and gone and transfers will be next week! I ain't worried though because I feel very strongly that God has huge things in store for me to prepare me to learn lessons that I need to learn.
One of the things I was pondering on today is how simple it is to share the gospel. We have to remember that we are not planting something foreign into God's children but they heard the Gospel taught by God himself in the pre-earth life. Also all of Gods children whether they have been baptized or not have the light of Christ with them. The gospel has a familiar ring to them. We saw this principle huge Sunday after church as we were able to go out after church and set eleven baptismal dates in less than five hours! Everyone we went and taught wanted to be baptized and was extremely willing to repent.
 
One of the baptismal dates we set was for this Sunday. It was a lady that I use to teach a couple of transfers ago, but never really progressed due to the law of chastity and the word of wisdom. But we felt prompted to stop back by and ring home the sweet message of the gospel. As we visited with her she had completely changed. She expressed that she had already quit smoking, wants to get married and baptized this Sunday! As we explained her her this was possible there grew a light within her of hope. She is extremely excited to be baptized on Sunday!
 
Another was a man that I taught a couple of transfers ago as well. We dropped him because he didn't want to be baptized. But as we were teaching him about the doctrine of baptism in the middle of it he asked, "When is the next baptismal service you're holding?" We replied, "This Sunday!" He said, "Alright I'm getting baptized on Sunday." Doctrine changes people.
 
The last huge experience I wanted to share with you was when we were going to an appointment but it fell through so we decided to knock one door on the way to our next appointment. The door we knocked on changed our life. She answered and accepted absolutely everything. As we went back and taught her the next day a question we asked her made her break down in tears. She then testified of how badly she needs baptism in her life. She came to church yesterday and will be getting baptized on Sunday!
 
Oh shoot one more experience I just thought of! We were walking out of an apartment complex and I said hello to a lady getting out of her car. As we were walking away she called out to us, "Hey do I know you?" Immediately I responded, "Yes when we were in God's presence before this life." We blessed her and she accepted baptism immediately! The Spirit will direct you exactly what to say we just must trust in the Spirit!
 
Well the beautiful land of Opa-Locka is doing amazing. I love the people so much, just wish I could express into words how much I love them. I am grateful for the time I have spent here and now I am absolutely willing to go where God wants me to go and do what he wants me to do, whether that is in Opa-Locka or somewhere else.
Be praying for miracles this week, we can feel it!
Love ya,
Elder Pond

Monday, October 21, 2013

WK91 'Change of Lives'

Dear Family and Friends!
Well once again a week full of eventful activities and HUGE miracles as always! I am excited to share with you the things that happened this week to change my life and the lives of others.
First and foremost, this past Saturday we had a mission conference with an apostle of the Lord, Elder Dallin H. Oaks. It was amazing the things I was able to learn from and most importantly the Spirit that was felt as he spoke with 200 missionaries. Some of the things that stood out to me that he spoke about are:
-Our focus must be on the ordinances of the gospel. Because within the ordinances the power of godliness is manifest. We must be baptized, receive the gift of the holy ghost, continue to partake of the sacrament, receive our endowment, and be sealed as a family for time and all eternity. Others goals are worthy and good, but the saving ordinances of the gospel are the most important!
-We must act with TRUE INTENT in order to gain a testimony. True intent means willing to commit to something.
-Also what matters most about your testimony is your conviction and conversion to the simple and basic doctrines. Not how much knowledge you have.
-The temple of God is were we are taught, make covenants, and receive promised blessings.
-Man is absolutely nothing without the Lord to guide him.
But a huge tender mercy from the Lord to be able to sit at the feet of an apostle just like unto Peter or Paul back in the times of Christ. Nothing he said was to profound, but everything he said he had no doubt it was true and from God.
Another huge miracle we saw was being able to baptize five of Gods children yesterday! It was amazing to see the different situations of each of them how the Lord stepped in and allowed them to partake of the first saving ordinance of the Gospel, especially since all five of them were from different households. One was an inspired contact on the street, ever since that day the glow of the gospel has grown and grown and grown. Another we knocked on her door, she felt sick, so we gave her a priesthood blessing. Ever since that day she was healed and felt the power of God more fully in her life! Another kicked out her boyfriend to be baptized so her kids can become like us. Another got married to be baptized and was able to gain the strength to do so through prayer. The last was a brother of my recent convert who just decided to show up to church and loved it! All of these souls are precious unto the sight of God, and as they were baptized I definitely felt the power of God!
But God is amazing! I am eternally grateful for the things I have learned so far on my mission and how I have grown. My mission has meant everything to me. And for the rest of my mission, I am excited to give the Lord absolutely everything I have. So He can change my life while He gives me the strength to change the lives of others!
With Love,
Elder Pond

Monday, October 14, 2013

WK90 'This Mighty Week'

Dear Family and Friends!
Well be ready for the best email ever! Haha. But thank you soo much for your emails and letters this week! I truly do appreciate them. This week I had a lot of reflecting to do and huge miracles seen that I am excited to report on.
As I was in personal study one day I was pondering on how I can finish strong and completely return with honor. I was studying in the doctrine and covenants 30:1-2 and it talked about how we must dwell and focus more on heavenly things than temporal things. This is something that is definitely tough to do but extremely important. Temporal things will perish after this life and have no true meaning, but heavenly things carry eternal importance and meaning. We saw this huge this week. We had a couple of appointments fall through so we decided to go to a new place and find people to teach. As we were walking down the street we were stopped by a homeless man asking us for money. As we began to testify and invite him to be baptized a lady walked past us and the Spirit told me to go talk with her. As my companion dealt with the homeless guy I went to go speak with this daughter of God. As I began to speak with her I could feel of the difficulties she was going through, because for the most of her life she has sought more after temporal things. Well this daughter of God came to church on Sunday. She had a complete smile on her face the whole time and she is getting baptized this Sunday! Her life is improving. Brothers and Sisters, we must seek more for heavenly things than earthly things. Yes it takes faith, but yes it is always worth it!
Another huge thing that I saw this week is the spiritual power that comes as we keep the commandments, especially keeping the Sabbath Day holy. In Presidents email today he talked about this same thing:
“This is a commandment with a promise. By participating weekly and appropriately in the ordinance of the sacrament we qualify for the promise that we will ‘always have his Spirit to be with [us]’ (D&C 20:77). That Spirit is the foundation of our testimony. It testifies of the Father and the Son, brings all things to our remembrance, and leads us into truth. It is the compass to guide us on our path... The ordinance of the sacrament makes the sacrament meeting the most sacred and important meeting in the Church. It is the only Sabbath meeting the entire family can attend together.... In his writings on the doctrines of salvation, President Joseph Fielding Smith teaches that we partake of the sacrament as our part of commemorating the Savior’s death and sufferings for the redemption of the world. This ordinance was introduced so that we can renew our covenants to serve Him, to obey Him, and to always remember Him. President Smith adds: ‘We cannot retain the Spirit of the Lord if we do not consistently comply with this commandment’ (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:341).... How can we have the Spirit of the Lord to guide our choices so that we will remain ‘unspotted from the world’ (D&C 59:9) and on the safe path through mortality? We need to qualify for the cleansing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We do this by keeping His commandment to come to Him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and in that wonderful weekly meeting partake of the emblems of the sacrament and make the covenants that qualify us for the precious promise that we will always have His Spirit to be with us. (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, General Conference, October 2008)

Yesterday we had an investigator come to church who we found this past Wednesday. We were running around during church and did not have much time to talk to her during church. But after relief society we went to talk to her and she was walking out saying, "I love this church! I am getting baptized this Sunday! This finna be my home church!" Then she began to walk up to Bishop Andrade and ask him if she can be baptized and be a member of his church. He explained how it isn't his church but Gods and how she absolutely can. That all came to pass because of the spiritual power that she felt as she kept the Sabbath Day holy. We too must keep this commandment and we will receive spiritual power as well!
Well God is good as always. Keep pushing foreword and know if you keep the commandments, then He will be on your right hand and on your left to bear you up through all manner of afflictions!

With Love,
Elder Pond

Monday, October 7, 2013

WK89 'I love the Ghetto!'

Dear Family and Friends!

In response to Presidents email today I was pondering on one of my favorite scriptures found in Proverbs 3:5-6. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths!" I remember sitting in seminary in ninth grade when we were studying the Old Testament. This was a time when I had very weak faith in God and in Jesus Christ, and my heart was completely set upon the world. As my seminary teacher read this scripture everything came down on me and I realized I was not applying this scripture so thus my life was full of disappointment and sorrow. This began my conversion. Likewise as missionaries we need firm trust in the Savior and our Father in Heaven. Elder Harris and myself were actually talking about this yesterday. As we trust in the Godhead, we will never fall no matter what.
“You show your trust in Him when you listen with the intent to learn and repent and then you go and do whatever He asks. If you trust God enough to listen for His message in every sermon, song, and prayer ... you will find it. And if you then go and do what He would have you do, your power to trust Him will grow, and in time you will be overwhelmed with gratitude to find that He has come to trust you.” (President Henry B. Eyring. General Conference, October 2010)

We saw huge miracles this past week in our area though. We found a man on Wednesday who was baptized on Sunday just four days later. After his baptism he was smiling from ear to ear. God provided for us as we put our trust in Him. Another huge miracle was as we pushed foreword harvesting to find a family who needed this gospel the Lord lead us to a mother who was extremely elect. After the blessing she told her son, "Look, these are the TRUE disciples of Jesus Christ." Another huge blessing came as we applied your training from MLC literally a couple hours after we left the Mission Home. We have an investigator who has been wanting to put off her marriage until December. During the lesson we both felt a spiritual prompting to apply President Anderson's training he gave to us in MLC and have her offer a kneeling prayer asking specifically if God wants her to get married on Tuesday to be able to overcome her concerns. She did and after the prayer she talked about how she felt goosebumps and a peace come over her. Long story short, she is getting married on Tuesday and baptized on this upcoming Sunday!

Well in short, I love ya! Miami is amazing. I love the ghetto. I love the people. I love my God. He does provide miracles, just trust in him!
With Love,
Elder Pond

Monday, September 30, 2013

WK88 "In the Ghetto.."

Dear Family and Friends!
As always another amazing week in the beautiful land of Opa-Locka! Something President Anderson shared in his email today touched me and I really wanted to share it with ya'll:
"My Father is a convert to the Church. It was a small miracle when he was baptized; he knew that he would never be the same again. He knew that he wanted to be with his family for eternity. Later he and my mother knelt at the altars of the Temple, to realize their dream to be sealed for time and eternity as a family. Their five sons, including myself, dressed in white were ushered into that same sealing room to kneel at the altar by their sides, to have that sealing power and miracle made complete. Direction of lives changed, advanced and improved in an incredible, eternal way. All five of their sons and ten of their grandchildren have served full time missions throughout the world where hundreds of souls have come to the Gospel and ordinances of the Temple. To those souls, direction of lives also were changed, advanced and improved in an incredible, eternal way. It started with the small miracle of my Father feeling the Spirit and progressing to baptism. It has progressed currently as huge miracles to all of those that have embraced the Truth and have been blessed because of the Gospel. This great miracle is eternal; it will not end, but become greater as we gain Eternal Life with our families in the presence of God. You will encounter many “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” miracles in your mission."

As I pondered on this inspiring experience I began to ponder on a family that I taught and baptized in Wellington who will be entering the temple this month to be sealed together as a family. I remember finding them, and how it was a little small miracle of following the Spirit to a family who was praying for us. I remember teaching them with members and the family feeling the Spirit. I remember the magnificent day of their families baptism and truly how all the small and simple things led up to something huge! Then onto them receiving the priesthood and callings in the ward. Now to this day where they are about to qualify for exaltation one day with their Heavenly Father. By small and simple things truly are great things brought to pass!
This past week we saw huge miracles. On Monday as we set out to work hard and unfortunately an appointment fell through. As we were about to go to our back-up appointment the Spirit told us to harvest. So we set out to knock a couple of doors really quickly. We knocked and met this lady who's apartment was just broken into. She felt the Spirit immediately and began to cry. She accepted baptism and church and anything we told her! Then we kept pressing foreword with faith and the next door we knocked on was a complete miracle. We knocked and this family opened immediately. They began talking about how they prayed to be able to go to church just yesterday and now here we were on there doorstep. They said after the blessing that they finally felt the peace they have been searching for and couldn't of been more set on coming to church and getting baptized. After that blessing then walking away to our next appointment, I couldn't help but express how grateful I was for the amazing tender mercies of the Lord!
It was also a huge tender mercy of the Lord to baptize once again this past Sunday. One huge thing that impacted me was the light that came into their countenances as I brought them up out of the waters. There was a glow that I had not seen in either of them before and I could definitely see and feel the difference within them.
An experience that actually happened yesterday that made me smile I wanted to share! I was out with my new companion Elder Harris and we were following up with people in this super ghetto apartment complex who unfortunately did not make it to church. Elder Harris just randomly decided to ask them what our street names are. They came up with amazing ones which we will now be called! Mine is "Low Key Dawg" and Elder Harris' "Hot Boy Harris". They loved it and most importantly it was amazing to see us build that relationship with them.
September was definitely a month to remember! The two months of September I baptized more than any other months of my mission. But a huge scripture that I am going to face this transfer around is Mosiah 4:11-12. I invite ya'll to read it and ponder how you can apply the teaching of King Benjamin more fully.
With Love,
Low Key Dawg
AKA Elder Pond

Monday, September 23, 2013

WK87 'My God is Awesome!'

Dear Family and Friends!
I am eternally grateful unto God for this past week absolutely full of miracles. All Saturday and Sunday all Elder Burgon and myself could do is talk about how amazing God has been to us. I love my Heavenly Father! Also for the huge miracles this past transfer. And upcoming now this transfer I will be STAYING in the beautiful land of Opa-Locka and Elder Burgon will be leaving! I am super grateful God is allowing me to stay here once again in this amazing area! Huge things are coming this transfer!
 
Cherloune Baptism
But this Sunday was a huge miracle because we were able to baptize six people! It took a lot of work but God provided the miracle after we gave all we had. Sitting in sacrament we realized that we had six people there who could be baptized. But only two of them were set with a firm date. But we went foreword with faith and got second interviews for a family that then got permission to be baptized. That family of three was baptized! During there second interviews we went and invited one of the other people to be baptized that same day. She gave a whole bunch of excuses, but I looked her in the eyes and said, "You need to be baptized and you know it." She agreed and was baptized as well. Then the two who were set walked out of Relief Society and said they had to go because their feet were swollen up really bad. But we acted in faith and bore testimony that God would give them the strength that they need to be baptized. They stayed as well and were baptized. I learned a lot of lessons from these huge miracle experiences. The most powerful being our motives must always be love or it will not work. The importance of being led by the Spirit. And how we MUST be bold like unto Peter in Acts 2!

Fritz Baptism

The Zone is doing amazing though as well! A huge outcome of that is us reaching our baptismal goal of 30 baptisms in four weeks. This week we are working hard to baptize 13 people and do what has never been done in any zone in the FFLM in one month.
 
This upcoming transfer I am excited for new things as well as new miracles and records broke! This week I want to challenge you all to do something that you have never done before and return and report!
My God is awesome!
 
With Love,
Kiki Baptism - Gotta love Elder Pond's tent!
Elder Pond

Monday, September 16, 2013

WK86 'Hasten the Work'

Dear Family and Friends!
Last night I was actually thinking about obedience as we took a recent convert with us to teach. He said, "Sometimes we block the blessings God wants to give us because we don't obey!" As he said that, it rung home. We must be exactly obedient always, so we don't block Gods blessings! So find this week one thing you can be more obedient with, and be very diligent with it. Account with the Lord nightly on how you are doing, and I promise you will see more blessings from God!
 
This week we saw a huge miracle while on exchanges and harvesting though! We began a harvest as a zone and set out to see a huge miracle in our area. We knocked on a door of this man and he immediately let us in. We left a blessing for his family and he talked about how that is exactly what he needed. Then looking towards the future his whole family showed up at church on Sunday! As I spoke with him after he talked about how he loved it, and is excited to be baptized next Sunday to receive those blessings from the Lord! I'm always eternally grateful that God leads us to those that are elect.
 
But once again, I am excited for an upcoming powerful transfer. I can't believe it is that time already but next week is transfer week! Whatever God has in store for me this transfer, I am ready to go and do what he wants me to do. This transfer I focused huge on humility and have grown an incredible amount. Elder Burgon has been an amazing example to me. I love him.
 
Huge miracles are coming this week though! Let's go hasten the work of God!
Love ya'll!
Elder Pond

Monday, September 9, 2013

WK85 'Countenance of Christ'

Dear Family and Friends!
 
This week definitely huge miracles have come and I know will continue to come as we continue to rely upon Christ! As I ponder back on this week I am eternally grateful for the power that comes from the heavens as we exemplify Jesus Christ in our countenance. No matter who we are but especially as missionaries, others must see Christ in us, and then power comes from heaven. But to do so we must do the things that Christ has done, and ahead to his counsel of "Come Follow Me"!
 
This Monday we were out working hard. We were with a member and decided to follow up with a lady that we blessed a while back. Her children came out and immediately started talking with us. One of them was in tears because something just happened with her family. But they explained how they use to always come to church but then they moved and lost contact with the missionaries. Also the member we had with us was friends with one of them from school. We prayed with them, the spirit immediately came, we taught them the doctrine of baptism, and they all accepted immediately. They got interviewed the next day and we baptized one of them that Wednesday! A three day baptism. Now looking at her it has been amazing to see the countenance change within herself and she decided to follow the Savior. She always has now a happy smile and attitude about things. Looking back now I love how the first time we met her she was crying, but now she is a completely different person! I can definitely see the Savior within her now!
 
We also saw a huge miracle with baptizing on Sunday! A week ago from this past Saturday we got a spiritual prompting to call one of our former's who came to church many times but we lost contact with. She answered so we invited her to come to church! But she stated how she likes the Catholic Church more and doesn't wanna change. So we set up an appointment to stop by the next day after church. We brought over a member to that appointment and through down on the doctrine of the kingdom. By the end she knew what she needed to do, but was still being very stubborn and not wanting to change. But when we saw her on Tuesday she explained how she had a dream where her brother came to her and told her to listen and get baptized immediately. Since then everything changed. Saturday when we met with her she exclaimed that she should of listened to us a long time ago, and gotten baptized. She had us pray and ask God to help her keep her promise and keep coming to this church and not the Catholic anymore. She then found out that her sister is a member of the church in Haiti and always tried to get her to come to church but she never did. Then at her baptism she had complete tears of joy! God changes people.
 
The work is amazing, the area is amazing, my companion is amazing, and MY GOD IS AWESOME!
Love ya'll and see miracles this week!
 
With Love,
Elder Pond

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

WK84 'Let's Go Baptize!'

Dear Family and Friends!
Thank you soo much for your letters this week! One huge word I have been thinking about lately has been Humility. Since pride is one of the most deadly sins we must be humble. So I invite ya'll to ponder on this word this upcoming week and seek to apply it.
 
Huge miracles came this week though! So one day we were walking out of this apartment complex called "The Panks" and we passed this lady. Not two seconds later she stopped, and called us over and asked if we are 'the people that pray'. We exclaimed yes and left a blessing with her. She exclaimed after the blessing huge desires to get baptized and come to church. This past week we taught her the law of chastity because she is living with her boyfriend and found out that they want to get married, but can't because they are both married to someone else who they haven't been able to contact in years. So we left it at that and they came to church on Sunday. Then we heard about the huge miracles that came into their lives when we visited them yesterday! She exclaimed how amazing they felt at church and how they have been imagining themselves getting baptized since then. Also the day we taught her the law of chastity, their spouses that they need to get divorced from called them and want to get a divorce. They are coming this week! Huge miracles come as we exercise our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and especially as we help our investigators exercise their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
But my father actually sent me a talk today and some things it talked about struck me. It talked about how we need to teach with power and doctrine especially to recent converts. It is extremely important that we study the doctrines and as we do so we will see our attitudes and behaviors change.
Well have an amazing week! Let's go baptize!
 
With Love,
Elder Pond

Monday, August 26, 2013

WK83 'God is Real!'

Dear Family and Friends!
I am extremely grateful once again for how I have grown closer to the Lord this week and become more converted unto Him. This week I especially had a chance to ponder on how amazing and loving God is. I love those moments when you can take a step back and just reflect on the love of our father in heaven! Opa-Locka is going to turn into Zion one day!
 
Zone Conference August 2013
We saw huge powerful miracles this week with helping God's children progress towards the waters of baptism. This past Sunday, Grandma's 92nd birthday, big things happened. When I remembered this I reflected back to a family that we use to teach that God told me needs to be baptized. So the whole week we tried to get in contact with them but got nothing. Then Saturday came and we went to see our recent convert to take her with us to teach her neighbors and we saw that lady walk inside her home. So quickly we went to go catch up with her. As we taught her the Spirit was amazingly strong, I definitely could feel the presence of my Grandma helping us in that lesson. At the end of the lesson she readily accepted to be baptized!
 
Another huge miracle we saw was we went back to follow-up with a lady that we blessed the other day. As she was about to say the closing prayer there was a knock at the door. A lady walked in and talked about how she use to go to the church but then lost contact with us. She was never baptized because she wasn't prepared. So the next day we went to see her and I had an impression to throw her in an exchange with Elder Shepherd since we were on exchanges. She came out excited and pumped to be baptized! I am grateful for the Spirit and the ability it has to lead us and guide us to see miracles!
 
Things are going amazing though. One of the biggest things I learned this week is the power of the ordinances and covenants that we make in Christ's church. It brings the power of the Atonement into our lives which allows us to change. All those need this POWER in there lives!
 
With Love,
Elder Pond