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Hi Mom,

We went to the temple this week! That was really nice. I’ve learned something new every time I’ve been. And I feel the Spirit too. I love going there.

Thinking about this election, I’ve learned that our country and the world in general is heading down a slippery slope towards hell. The only way we don’t fall is if we build our house upon the rock! We know that the Rock is Jesus Christ and His church! In a constant changing whirlwind of morals and values, it’s great to be in a church that won’t change, for we cannot change His commandments.

At the Cabela’s here in Tualatin they have a fudge place and it reminded me of the time where you taught me how to make fudge! That was fun! I learned how to make papusas  (A pupusa is a traditional Salvadoran dish made of a thick, handmade corn tortilla that is usually filled with a blend of the following: cheese cooked pork meat ground to a paste consistency refried beans, or queso con loroco) last night too! That’s about all I learned food wise. I’ve also learned that Little Caesar’s makes a mean deep dish! Thank you so much for the gift cards! I’ll definitely use them soon!

My favorite collection of Scripture? That’s like giving me a plate of crunchy bacon and asking me which one is my favorite… I really love the Book of Mormon, especially right now because I just finished reading King Benajmin’s “conference address” he gave in Mosiah.  (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/mosiah/2?lang=eng) Reading that slowly and prayerfully pondering the message he gives helps me learn many many things. It’s great!  In the Scriptures I am studying in every collection we have. I am in Leviticus, Acts, Helaman, D&C, and Abraham, do I’m all over the place. I’m learning a ton though.

I discovered an amazing place. Kohl’s clearance rack. I got some amazing Apt. 9 slacks for $16.50 that were originally like 60 some dollars. And I got 2 ties there for really cheap, one of them is a Duck Dynasty tie. I spent like $23.50 and it said I saved $99.70! It was awesome.

I love you!

Elder Laing

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Marionberry Pie–Yum!

On Saturday I got to do a temple session with a member I had been working with in my old area and had been teaching on Facebook. It was really awesome! I was really so proud just to see him in the temple.

I had the best dessert last night! It was homemade 😉 Marionberry pie with blackberry and vanilla ice cream.., oh my goodness.. I fell in love. Oregon food is sweet. I had two plates of it. I’m a fat kid haha.

The biggest changes I see on my on my mission are these: One is my view on the Gospel. The Gospel is simple. We obey God we get blessings. We go through trials not because God loves us, but He wants to help us grow, He knows our potential. I guess more of an eternal perspective. I was in the celestial room praying and I received a comforting answer sort of like, “Look up. Look around. All this glory will be added to you if you are firm and endure to the end. Worry not too much about earthly things because they will pass. But this, is forever.” And that’s my goal at the end of the day. To be united with my family in the celestial kingdom in a state of never ending happiness. A happiness we cannot even imagine. And I’m not perfect. I am far far far from it. But that’s why I love this Gospel and the Atonement. God loves us so much He sent His Son to die for us,  and to suffer for us so that when we fall short He can pick us up. Out of all the power and glory and majesty our Father and Christ have, Their work is to help us return to Them and become like Them. It’s a Gospel of pure love. I’ve also learned to work hard even when I don’t want to.

I love you so much.

Elder Laing

New Area!

I am in a new area.  It’s also pretty hard work here too. We’ve done a lot of knocking and finding.   Our group leader is really awesome and a big help for us though! He served his mission in Peru and knows a lot of the Hispanics we teach. It’s slow, but it’s how Butch Jones is doing it! #BrickByBrick.  I met this lady today who both of her sons graduated from UT and she knows Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. I told her when I get back from my mission, I’m going to go up there for a week to just stay there haha, she said she didn’t blame me! My scripture study is going well. The first thing I study is almost always a chapter of the Book of Mormon in Spanish. I want to read through it all in Spanish. I’m in Alma 34 I think now. All about Alma and his bros going to teach the apostate Zoramites. Good stuff! And in English Book of Mormon, I’m reading through again and I’m just out of the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi where Nephi lays down some really good chapters about Christ, false churches, and the ever powerful 2 Nephi 31 (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/2-ne/31?lang=eng) about the Gospel of Christ. Then I read a section or 2 in Preach My Gospel, some old conference talks, and some New Testament if time permits. Pray for me… would you? I love you so much!  Go Vols!  (I still sport my orange ties in Oregon!)

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I’ve got some inspirational things I like to post on facebook. Here are some:

 The Gospel of Jesus Christ is like a delicious pie! It tastes amazing, but it is even better shared with your friends, family, or complete strangers! So take the time to share with someone this wonderful Gospel, or invite them to church! You could even have them over for pie afterwards!

El Evangelio de Jesucristo es como un delicioso pastel! Su sabor es increíble, pero es aún mejor cuando es mejor compartido con amigos, familiares o completos desconocidos! Pues, toma el tiempo para compartir este maravilloso Evangelio con alguien, o invitarlos a la iglesia! Y después, invitarlos a comer pastel!

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Our Heavenly Father feels the same! All He asks of us is to do the best we can to follow His commandments! He loves us, and will always be there for us!

Nuestro Padre Celestial siente lo mismo! Todo lo que pide de nosotros es que hagamos lo mejor por seguir Sus mandamientos! El nos ama, y siempre estará allí para nosotros!

Andy

My One Year Mark!

Dear Mom and Dad,

  I can’t believe that I’m at my one year mark!  I will be home in one year. That’s crazy. I’m not ready yet! There is still a TON of work to be done. I’m gonna make this the best year yet! It is crazy how fast the days start to fly by. And the weeks fly by too. We taught 28 lessons last week, 1/4 of those on Facebook.  We are working hard!

  We had a guy grill us burgers last night. It was awesome. I actually ate corn on the cob with a looooot of butter of course. I am trying new things!

  We are helping a man get his life back together by throwing out his alcohol and cigarettes. We have a baptism on Saturday!  I’m excited!   

 We went to the temple. I’m sending picture.  Remember 1 Nephi 3:7: “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”

 I love you guys…keep praying!

  Elder Laing

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Happy 4th of July!

Dear Mom and Dad,

I hope you saw some pictures from the dance festival. It was awesome! It was like a youth conference. All of the mission sang. It was a great missionary opportunity.

The facebook page for the festival is: https://www.facebook.com/ldspdxyouthdancefestival

The web page for the festival is: http://www.pdx-youthdancefestival.com/

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Dance Festival

     Okay, now then! I’m glad to hear that you had a great vacation and didn’t get washed out to sea by the hurricane! Being mentioned in the Advance News is big time…Good for you! LOL I’m glad you had some good barbecue! I had some as well. This family made some pulled pork for us. It was great!  One of the crazies things about my area is that we eat with different people every night, a different ward every week. We cover the top half of the Beaverton stake, so just imagine it like one week we eat with the Athens Ward, the next week is Cleveland, next week Hixson, and so on. We meet so many amazing people every night at dinner. It’s amazing up here!

     Ok so 4th of July. We had a joint Spanish party at a park with our group, the Spanish Ward I served in, and a Spanish branch in Tigard. We played Lotería! It’s a Mexican version of Bingo. Thanks for my 4th package! They had those sparkling hats at the party too, and I probably still have some glitter on me. I was America pumping everyone all day.

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     President Ballard (our new mission president) is awesome!. He’s really neat. He’s the son of an Apostle! I have sort of a 2 minute interview with him next week, that’ll be fun.  (I’m in the front row of the pics…can you find me?)

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     So I’ve got one year and a week left in the mission. It’s crazy. I’m definitely not ready to come home yet, but this next year should be great! I’m at the point where I know what to do, who to stop by, and how to listen to the Spirit to be more effective. I’m far from perfect, but the Lord knows I’m improving, even if slowly but surely. I miss the South like crazy. I miss rednecks, Walmart, Nascar, and Rocky Top.   

    I like this story from Brigham Young:

“Brigham Young was not baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the first year of his learning about the restored gospel. But of his conversion he said: “If all the talent, tact, wisdom, and refinement of the world had been sent to me with the Book of Mormon, and had declared, in the most exalted of earthly eloquence, the truth of it, undertaking to prove it by learning and worldly wisdom, they would have been to me like smoke which arises only to vanish away. But when I saw a man without eloquence or talents for public speaking, who could only say, ‘I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the Lord,’ the Holy Ghost proceeding from that individual illuminated my understanding, and a light, glory, and immortality were before me. I was encircled by them, filled with them, and I knew for myself that the testimony of the man was true” (11: How Do I Help People Make and Keep Commitments?)”

    I try to be better every day in all that I do and I have learned the value of hard work. There have been times where I’ve been tired, hot, and missing home, but the remedy I’ve found is to buckle down and go to work. I’m so thankful for this Gospel and the love that Christ has for us knowing that we are not perfect and that He will always give us another shot. I love you all so much!

Elder Laing

I’m doing pretty good! I’m glad you enjoyed your video.  I’m glad that you’re feeling much better. I am sure that you all are going to amazing in your youth conference presentation! How are the elders in Athens back there doing? How are the sister missionaries?? The work here in Portland is coming along. We have someone with a baptismal date of the 19th of July.

I gave my talk in the English ward about the Great Apostasy. I tried to liven it up. Elder D., our zone leader spoke right after me about the Restoration. It was a good combo!! I’m gonna be with my companion for another 7 weeks. The new mission president comes in this Saturday! My focus is obedience. Obedience brings blessings and happiness! And that’s what we all need. I love you so much! And I hope that you have a great day today!

Because of Him

Dear Mom,

 

I’m really sorry to hear about DJ. He was a great guy, and someone I’ll always remember with a smile on his face as we always talked about sports, especially Kentucky basketball. But whenever a death happens, I always feel the most sorry for the family and friends of those that the person was close to. So you all basically. I may be only a 20 year old kid, who has only had a year of college. I’m far from imperfect. But I have been called of Jesus Christ to declare his everlasting Gospel to everyone, not just the people here, but to y’all as well. And as an authorized representative of Jesus Christ on the Earth I can promise you that this grief and sorrow is only temporary. The prophet Alma taught, “Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.” (Alma 40:11) What I would advise you all to do, and by y’all I mean you, Meme, Dad, even Kim and Kelsey and anyone else to watch the video “Because of Him” that the Church put out. (https://www.lds.org/youth/video/because-of-him?lang=eng )This video declares powerful truths that have been made possible because of Christ’s infinite suffering for us. But more importantly, I want you to pay attention to how you feel throughout the video and after it. I can promise you that the Holy Ghost will teach you things and put feelings into your heart that are indescribable. I know, for it has happened to me. Every time I watch that video, I feel the Spirit inside of me. I feel such peace, joy, and hope that can only come through the spiritual witness of the Holy Ghost. This is not the end.

 

That is about all I can say regarding that. You’ve got Bishop Dad who can probably give more help than I! But remember, be strong and be an example of the believers. Fight on, don’t let Satan’s sting linger on. It is sad, but through Jesus we can have that hope. La fe trae la esperanza.

 

Love,

Your Elder Westin Laing

Happy Mother’s Day!!

This entry are reflections of our Skype call on Mother’s Day!  Elder Laing called and we were so excited!  We put the call on our TV so we could see him “larger than life!”

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He looked great!  Sounded so happy and told us that he loves his mission and the people! He shared that the two things he was most worried about when he left on his mission was the food and being homesick.  He said he loves the food he has eaten and is not homesick!  His ward had a Mother’s Day celebration complete with a mariachi band and cookout.  

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He told us that he enjoys sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and seeing the changes that happen in lives of other when they hear it. He shared with us Matthew 16: 24-26 as being especially meaningful to him.

 24 ¶Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

We enjoyed the call and love our missionary so much.  

 

Hello Mom and Dad! 

  I’ve a good week. My personal study is good.  I love reading from the New Testament! People need to read that over again.  The real King James version is amazing. My Spanish is alright! I can understand almost everything…. but speaking is difficult still.  I have been reading Elder Tad R. Callister’s talk called, “What is the Blueprint of Christ’s Church?”  It is great. I would recommend you read it.  (the link to the talk is:  https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/article/ces-devotionals/2014/01/what-is-the-blueprint-of-christs-church?lang=eng )

  The two attributes I’ve focused this week on are “long-suffering” and “patience”.  As Jesus said in the parable of the unmerciful servant, if we don’t forgive others for the small faults they have, how will our Father forgive us for all the stuff we do wrong?  

    I have seen the Hand of the Lord in keeping me patient, asking myself not only what would Jesus do, but what would Mom and Dad do? That’s probably what I miss most about y’all right now… your wisdom. Our work is going well. We should have a baptism on Mother’s day, and 1 more the Saturday after! 

   Oh I went shopping in the Nike Employee Store…wow!  I got some new tennis shoes!

  I love you guys!

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I Loved Conference!!!

I loved conference! It was awesome. I watched in 2 different stake centers up here. I received some good personal revelation that will definitely help me out in the upcoming months. My favorite talks were Elder Holland, Elder Andersen, President Uchtdorfs priesthood talk, Elder Oaks’ priesthood talk , President Uchtdorfs Sunday morning, and Elders Bednar, and Christofferson! (The links to the conference talks are here:  https://www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2014/04?cid=HPSU040614654&lang=eng )

 

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Well I got a new companion, Elder B.! He was born in Mexico, but grew up in Utah. My other companion, Elder M., is probably on the plane ride back home now. Elder B. is awesome, he is funny and has nice suits. He goes home in two transfers.  But the bad news is Mom, that the 3 pairs of Ralph Lauren slacks I have, uh…. don’t fit me around the waist. I’m fat. The other slacks fit sort of alright, but pretty tight.  I’m eating well!

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Dad, it’s cool you are the Bishop now.  Make sure you are a Bishop involved in missionary work.  The greatest work we have is to share the Gospel, so work hard with the missionaries! Be their best friend along with the Ward Mission Leader. 

My favorite scripture is the second part of Moroni 8:16, starting with Behold. In my interview with President Morby, he asked for my favorite Book Of Mormon scripture, I told him that. We read it, and he was surprised that he hadn’t had that one marked, so he put my name by it in his Scriptures so he remembers that one.  En Espanol dice, “He aqui, hablo con valentia, porque tengo autoridad de Dios. Y no temo lo que el hombre haga, porque el amor perfecto desecha todo temor.” That was from memory… I think it’s right  (In English is it:  “Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear.”)

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UConn vs. Kentucky I guess should’ve been pretty a good game! But that seems like a boring matchup to me. I hope y’all enjoyed it.

I love y’all.  Keep praying for me!

Elder Laing

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