Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hello from the starting to change PTC!

Hello, hello! 
How are y'all doing today? Today is such a beautiful day here in PTC... this morning we noticed that the leaves on the tree's are starting to change ever so slightly. It's getting to be that time of year again! One of my favorite times of the year.... especially here in Georgia. Luckily, we still have tree's with leaves on them! We had a HUGE storm the other day and it blew down some tree's.... and literally broke a tree in half just outside the mission office. It feel perfectly around the office Elders car, missing it on ALL sides by inches... so it that was a sight to see when we arrived back one night from trainings. It's true, the Lord protects His missionaries... and even their cars :)
We've had a wonderful opportunity this last week to sit down with and train nearly every companionship on the entire mission. It's been a wonderful experience... and I've learned SO MUCH from the opportunity. One of the things that I enjoyed the most was feeling the Spirit work through me so uniquely and differently depending on who we met with. The training meetings with each companionship only lasted about 15 minutes at the most and we had no breaks between trainings... but it was incredible how different each one would be. The Spirit will pull things out of you to fill the needs Gods' children and servants that are placed around you... but only if we're worthy, willing and we do our best to listen to the Spirit and act on the promptings we feel.
I could talk about a million different things that I learned... but the one predominant lesson I've learned that's pressed on my mind most of this week is the importance of obedience... EXACT obedience. 
There's a story in the Bible of a group of people who are walking through the wilderness while carrying the Ark of the Covenant. The people are commanded to not touch the Ark under ANY circumstances or else they will be struck dead by the Lord. The story goes on and eventually comes to a point in which the people are walking across some rocky and rough terrain... as they do so, the men who had been assigned to carry the Ark (Think of Indiana Jones) begin to tilt and sway the Ark, and it appears as if it's about to fall to the ground. As this is happening, a man nearby notices and with good intent, reaches forth his hand to steady the Ark so that it doesn't fall... his hand touches that Ark and instantly the Lord strikes him dead.
Why did this happen? The man had a good intent and pure heart... he only wanted to make sure the Ark was steady and didn't fall to the ground... why did the Lord strike him dead?
It's because he wasn't exactly obedient. The Lord clearly commanded the people to NEVER touch the Ark... not under any circumstance... even if the intent was a good one.
So how does this apply to my experiences? Well, it became clear to me that the missionaries who had the most joy, the most happiness and the most light in their eyes and in their countenances were the ones who were being EXACTLY obedient to ALL of the things they had been asked to do. As a part of the trainings, we reviewed some of the basic missionary tools we're asked to use to assist us in our work... an example of this would be the daily planners we use to plan our days and weeks (track appointments, etc.) and a book called the "area book" (the area book is used to record the teaching of investigators of the church, etc.). As my companion and I continued our trainings and reviews of these tools, it came to a point where we would know whether or not the missionaries were using these tools and doing the other things they had been asked to do as soon as they walked through the door. Those who walked in and were using them were happy and upbeat and full of the Spirit... those you didn't do these things were always sad, gloomy and not so full of the Spirit. Even little things made big differences in the attitudes and behaviors of each of the missionaries.
Life is very much this same way... we're promised to be kept safe from ALL things and to be happy through ALL times as we're obedient to the gospel. I don't have much more time to expound upon these things or share more details of the experiences we had... but I want to testify that obedience is the first law of Heaven. Obedience is the great test of life... and that obedience is ALWAYS doing the right thing and then letting the consequences follow.
Luckily for us all, the Gospel doesn't have winners and losers.... it only has winners and quitters. As long as we never quit on trying to do the right things and we never stop trying to be exactly obedient... we are promised to be victorious in the end. This is only possible because Christ was victorious over all things... and conquered all things for us. Because of His perfect life and perfect sacrifice for ALL of us... we can all make changes and stop doing things that are wrong and start doing (and keep doing) things that are right. That's how we grow and progress and eventually receive all thins from God... and it's because of the restoration of the gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith that we can now enjoy the full blessings of this promise.
I invite you all to never give up! To always look for the ways in which you can be exactly obedient to all the things the Lord has asked us to do... and as you make those changes to start doing those right things that are needed to be made, I promise you will enjoy more and more light and happiness in your life... and eventually eternal life. Just never, ever give up! The Lord is patient and loves you! He just wants you to be the happiest you can be, and that will come as you do what He asks us all to do.... which is to follow Him.
I love y'all so much! Have a blessed week,
Elder Wahlen

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

New Pictures

A Quick hello!

Hello everyone!

I only have a few minutes this week (so sorry!) but I just wanted to say hello and that I love you! One of these days I'll be sharing some experiences more in depth...
I just want each of you to know how amazing of a place the temple is... it's incredible! I was able to go there almost every day this last week as part of zone training meetings... and wow! I wish I could go there every day of my life... there's no place on Earth closer to the Heavens than the temple. This last week has been crazy... we picked up 4 new Elders on short notice from the airport and loaded all their things in the middle of a rain storm... it was intense and a good memory. More to that story later...
Also started teaching a young women at Papa John's... we went there to pick up Pizza for lunch for the training meetings... but most importantly we were sent there to find this wonderful young women and share the gospel with her. It's so great.. there's always people out there... no matter where you are that are in need of the gospel... we just have to keep looking for them and find them!

Last thing... shout out to my best friend Michael Bradshaw!!! Someone let him know that I got his announcement and that I'm SO EXCITED!!! I'm going to try and write you Mike... sorry I've been so slow! Busy busy. I'm so happy for you!!!! 

Love y'all so much!
-Elder Wahlen

Monday, July 14, 2014

A very short hello from GAM

Howdy y'all,

How are you today? Good? I sure hope so! Every day is a good day with the perspective of the gospel :) 
Super short hello today... we're busy, busy, busy!
I just wanted to share something that I learned this week... which is the importance of our desires (or in other words, our hearts).
Here is a simple diagram to illustrate my thoughts.

Desire --> belief (in the word of God) --> action (in faith) --> change (repent) --> receive (The Spirit) --> results (fruits of the spirit)

And the fruits, or those things that we feel as we act upon the word of God.... those will fuel our desires. 

Ok, so I have a lot less time than I thought! So let me ask you this... what do you treasure most in your life? My intent in asking is this: Where are treasures are, there our hearts (or desires) lay also. As we prioritize the gospel... the word of God... and we desire to follow the word of God each and every day... each and every moment of our lives... and as we choose to believe that they are true.... that the promised blessings (the fruit/results) really will come as we act upon them and make changes in our lives to live in greater accordance with those things... and then we do just that, we go and act upon them... there are just an endless amount of blessings that come from acting in accordance to the word of God. But it's all a choice! So my short invitation is this... read and ponder the words of God daily and then I invite you to act upon those things that you learn... and see if you don't find greater happiness and joy in your life as you do so. I promise miracles and blessings to come as you do! But it all starts with your heart and your desires... if your heart isn't in the right place, then pray and ask God to help you soften your heart so that you can be. He will bless you with that gift. I promise. I know these things are true for myself and testify of them in the name of Jesus Christ, amen!

Love y'all!
-Elder Wahlen

Monday, July 7, 2014

Elder Wahlen and other missionaries!

                                        Gotta love that smile!

                                                            Keep on keeping on!

Early Hello from GAM HD!

Hello everyone!

Happy late 4th of July! The 4th was great down here... nothing like serving the Lord and teaching families (and the YSA) about the restored gospel on the 4th in the middle of downtown ATL!

I'll keep it short today... the work is hastening after all! 
Something that has been pressing upon my mind and spirit is the topic of the Atonement. More specifically the ENABLING power of the Atonement. I pray that in relating some recent experiences that I've had to you today that you will be able to instructed by the Holy Ghost as to how you can more fully utilize, recognize and appreciate the power of the Atonement in your lives.

However, before relating these experiences, I feel that we should briefly discuss what exactly the "Atonement" is.... so what is it? Simply stated, the Atonement is a comprehensive term used to describe the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It's because of the Atonement that we can and will overcome the obstacles of physical death and spiritual death (sin) which are the obstacles that prevent us all from entering into the Kingdom of God once again. It's also the way and power in which we can overcome all obstacles, trials, afflictions, etc. in this life.... and the way in which we can all learn, grow and improve. More specifically, the word "Atonement" means and describes the atoning sacrifice that Christ paid in order for us so that He can remove the effects of sin (and suffering) from our lives as we follow His example and teachings. Think to make even or equal or to pay for....
Now, that is not all that can be said or described about the Atonement... but want I want to talk about now is how the ENABLING power of the Atonement has blessed me recently in my life and service. The enabling power of the Atonement being the ability that we have to overcome obstacles and to learn and grow as we rely on the Savior and His Atonement for us.

While I was serving in ATL on the 4th of July... I went on exchanges with an Elder who had been struggling with his confidence over the last several weeks... he felt overwhelmed being in the big city and with the new responsibilities as a district leader and trainer. We sat down for lunch and I was asking him how I could help him... and he responded with this question: "Elder Wahlen... how did you become so confident?". Initially, I internally laughed and scoffed at the question... me? Confident? NO WAY!!! But what I realized and the Lord helped me to see in that moment is just how much I've grown through the enabling power of the Atonement. I answered this Elder and relayed my feelings to him about this very thing by saying something along the lines of this.... I'm not confident at all! In fact, the more I learn and with the different things I'm asked to do, the less and less confident I feel! Less and less confident in myself, that is. But what I've learned is this... I've learned more and more to have faith in the Lord and trust in Him and His promises... and those promises are that as we act in faith and do our very best, that the Savior will be there to guide you... and that everything will be ok. Everything WILL work out... and if you make a mistake along the way, then that's ok! That's what the Atonement is there for... it's the light that leads you down the tunnel of uncertainty and over the stumbling blocks, turning those into stepping stones... but it's also the enabling power that helps us to overcome mistakes and to learn and grow from them. It's by receiving the strength of the Lord through our faithful actions that we are enabled to do more... to do things beyond our mortal capabilities and capacities... and to keep taking those steps, even if they seem impossible or even painful that will enable us to become more like Him... and we are always able to receive of that power... as long as we have faith and follow Him. I'm not sure if my answer helped this Elder or not... but it helped me.

So how do we receive of this strength? How do we become enabled by this power of the Atonement?

The next day, I went on another exchange with a different set of Elders. Before the exchange started, I felt sick! I felt so worn out and just bleh! I was worried that I wasn't going to be able to do much good and the exchange was going to be anything but a faith building and helpful experience for the missionaries we were with... but I knew that the Lord wanted us there and that we were on His errand. I decided to retreat into the bathroom and say a prayer. I prayed for the strength of the Lord and humbly submitted that I couldn't do this on my own... that I needed His strength and I needed help through the enabling power of the Atonement. I prayed and prayed and prayed with all my heart and finally after several minutes I concluded the prayer and walked out of the bathroom to begin the exchange. It only took a few short minutes... but the power came. My body received strength, the weariness in my legs was taken from me and I was filled with power that was not of mine own. The day went very well and we saw many miracles... and I've felt perfectly fine ever since. I received of the enabling power of the Atonement in my life as I humbled myself before the Lord, recognizing that I was and am too weak to do what was asked of me without His help... and then prayed and asked the Lord for His strength. Then, I went out and worked. I acted in faith and trusted the Lord and His promise that He would and will be with me. 

Now, I could've accredited this strength to the peanut-butter smoothie I had a few minutes early (which was amazing!)... I could've passed it off as coincidence, but I am here to testify that it was the power of the Atonement. I am not able to do the things that I'm able to do right now on my own strength or because of tasty smoothies or by any other way or means... it is only by the enabling power of the Atonement that I am able to do more.

I'm needing to wrap this up more quickly then I had planned... but brothers and sisters, my dearest friends and family... I can testify to you that the enabling power of the Atonement is there for you. Each and every day. Each and every moment. And we NEED that power in our lives. I've come to realize more and more just how weak and pathetic I am as a mortal man... but I've also grown that much more strong in my reliance upon the Lord and His strength. I promise that as we humble ourselves before the Lord and ask for His strength... and have faith that it will come as we ACT IN FAITH... I promise that it will come. It's real. The Savior lives and His power is real. You will be helped and you will overcome. I promise this power comes most as we reach out and help others... and invite others to receive of these blessings and power in their lives. We are enabled to do His work every single day if we are willing, worthy and act in faith... and ask Him for this guidance and help. I invite each of you to strive to access this power more each and every day of your lives... especially as you pray and seek for ways to help others come unto Christ. I testify of these things in the name of the Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.
I love you all so much! Have a blessed week.
-Elder Wahlen

Monday, June 30, 2014

hello from the office of GAM

Hello everyone!

How's everyone doing today? It's a wonderful and beautiful day here in Peach Tree City... and the work of the Lord is rolling forth! 
I will be brief today... but I wanted to relay some things that I've learned the last couple days:
Something that has been pressing on my mind and spirit lately has been the importance of simple, daily obedience. We had a wonderful opportunity at church on Sunday to listen to a special speaker... his name is Bob. I know, right? Just Bob. But this is no ordinary Bob... Bob is in fact an undercover police officer. He works with the FBI to bring down drug dealer, smugglers, murders and just about every other kind of criminal you can think of. He goes among some of the most vile and dangerous people that our world has to offer nearly every day of his life and puts himself in harms way to uphold the safety and well being of this country... yet through all this, he maintains his testimony and faith. I will keep things short due to my time restrictions today, but Bob said one thing that hit me really hard in regards to simple and daily obedience... when discussing with us the dangers of his work and the conflict of interest it seems to pose with his required actions and environments... and after someone had pointed out the small pistol strapped to his ankle... Bob said this: 

"I rather have an active temple recommend in my pocket with all the blessings and protections that come from that, and having studied my scriptures that morning than any amount of tactical gear or weaponry that they could give me. The Lord protects me. My answer to pollution is dilution. I dilute myself with good things daily."

Wow! This is a man who has guns pointed at his head, who runs down murders, who fights against the evils of the world each day... and yet, he relies on the Lord for his protection. He relies on scripture study, the blessings of an active temple recommend... and those are the things that keep him safe both physically as well as spiritually (and I believe we can assume emotionally and mentally as well). The importance of simple, daily obedience cannot be understated in the case of Bobs' life... and certainly the same can be said for each of us. We must take life one day at a time... one small and simple choice at a time. As we focus on each day and what the Lord needs us to do just for that day... and we choose Him in each decision we make... we can know and rest assured that the Lord is with us "with-soever thou goest". 

Brothers and sisters... my dear friends and family. I testify to you that simple, daily obedience is a line of safety that we all must cling to in this darkening and ever so dangerous world. There is safety for our souls which can be found each day as we simply choose to obey. I invite each of you to review your daily obedience to the small and simple things such as daily scripture study (drinking from the well of living water), daily prayer, weekly temple attendance and the other daily and weekly simple acts of obedience and blessings that we have available to us. As you do so, I would invite you to prayerfully seek ways to improve upon your daily acts of obedience so that you may more fully "put on the whole armor of God" and receive more blessings, happiness, peace of mind and protection in your life each day. Just take things day by day... "Therefore, let the things of the morrow take thought for themselves." I so testify of these things in the name of the Savior, Jesus the Christ, amen.

Love y'all!
-Elder Wahlen