Elder Joshua Flake

Elder Joshua Flake

Monday, September 28, 2015

Week 7 - Miami, Arizona

So let me start off by saying that being in the field is amazing.

Once I flew in, I was day trained by Elder Stowell, and he showed me around Mesa and we contacted a few people that are getting baptized soon. It was also raining...which is a rarity in the desert...but the sunset was unbelievable...and the rain was immensely powerful! 

The next day was transfer meeting. President Jensen is my mission president, and he is spectacular. At a transfer meeting, you find out who your new companions are....and I have two! Elder Riding and Elder West. We all have unique names I guess ha!

But we were driving out to the area that we were assigned (there are about 60 different areas in this mission), and it is located in Miami...which is an hour and a half outside of Mesa....and it is literally what you would say, "In middle of nowhere." 

Don't believe me...THIS PLACE IS INSANE..but awesome

Miami Arizona is named after the mine that came and established it...Now it still is a mining town...but the mine is a lot smaller than before....But I guess you could say that this place is rough...To paint an adequate picture...Imagine a place up in the deserty, dusty mountains where there are 85% gravel and dirt roads...and stray cats are rampant....now imagine this combined with the vast assortment of drug addicts and other such things. The houses are about 100 years old...and very dilapidated. Half the people in the town not living in a house, live in shacks or very old musty trailers. There are maybe 5 exceptions...but....This place is crazy!  I will make sure to include pictures...

But honestly there are so much that goes on that I cannot include in these emails...But at least I keep a daily journal! 

Anyways...As far as the gospel growth out here....it is wonderful. Even though I have been here in this place just for a couple days...I have fallen in love! I have been able to teach people about the restored gospel. I have seen miracles. Literally miracles. I know that God lives. I had the chance to invite someone to be baptized and how reassuring and comforting to see them willingly accept. This gospel changes lives...and this town needs it. They need something to help carry them through their rough lives and really need help. I have met some of the kindest people....The power of God is mighty...and I am so weak...but I have a job to carry the word to these people!

and I have also met some of the wierdest.. I will make sure to explain about that too when I send my photos...(which will be quite a few)

Anyways I love yall!

Love Elder Flake

Monday, September 21, 2015

Week 6 - Provo MTC: Semana seis... Finalmente

So this has been a fantastic week! I am so grateful for everything I have learned here in the MTC!

So I guess the secret is out that I am actually going to the Mesa, Arizona mission for a little while until I get my Visa! I couldn't be more excited! 

For one, teaching in English is such a blessing and a lot better than I thought it could be! I have only done it twice since I have been here....but hopefully I can express myself in English again! 

Segundo reason... MY SIBLINGS CRYSTAL AND JASON SERVED THERE. So if anything, I am so grateful for the chance to do what they have done! A lot of people told me I would go there, but I actually got called to Brazil....BUT SIKE they sent my papers back to the prophets and now I am going to go to Arizona.

It was bittersweet parting with Elder Crabtree and Elder Wyatt. Those two are definitely some stellar individuals! 

So guess what...I LEFT THE MTC and it was INSANE. I went to go get some sleeping medicine with my companion so a security guard drove us to the store. I passed by Jason's place as well as James's. hahaha I don't know if they heard me screaming out the window! It was weird going into the store and seeing Halloween stuff out! I went in here when it was like summer. It's cold now! hahaha jeepers has time passed!

I am looking forward to being able to share the gospel forreal...gosh I have learned so much! 

Other then the monstrosity of leaving the MTC, I did also made another monstrosity....another language mistake...bigger then my last one....

So we we started teaching over skype and teaching people from other countries that speak Portuguese...and Elder Crabtree and I skyped Sylvia and she was really cool! Our message was about prayer. Prayer is something super awesome, we told her that it is not just a petition to Heavenly Father when we need something....it is an act of alignment between us and him. We align our will with the blessings that he already has promised us. We are alignment our plans to his Great Plan. We asked her, "Why do you pray in the name of Jesus Christ?" 

After some thought, she said, "I don't know. Because we are honoring him?"

And I said in a way yes! We are honoring him, but often times we all pray in the name of Christ and skip over why. I told her that when we pray in the name of Christ, our thoughts are Christ's thoughts. Our words are Christ's words! When we say this prayer, we are trying to pray to Heavenly Father as Christ would pray to his Heavenly Father. We are trying to see God's children as Christ would see God's children. We do this because He is a perfect example, and if our mind is like Christ, we grow closer to Heavenly Father. 

NOW the verb in portguese "to focus" is focar and the verb "to hang" enforcar.....so at the end of this beautifulish message I asked her something quite different than, "can you focus on the name of jesus Christ in prayer?"

I said, "Sylvia, can you hang yourself in the name of Jesus Christ?"

yeah that was bad....

Anyways to sum the rest of this week up:
I sang a piano duet in church
I got to see some very influential people give some devotionals
I directed traffic in pouring rain (and in midst of mothers whose eyes were pouring as well) 
I traded for a bowling ball tie...super awesome
I came closer to Christ

Anyways, talk to ya next time....'cept next time I'll be in the State of the Saguaro Cactus Arizona

Love Elder Flake

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Week 4 - Provo MTC: It's been almost a Month

I can't believe I have been here for a month! Time for sure flies by! Like I might have said before, the days are incredibly long but the weeks fly by!

It's funny that I am one of the veterans here at the MTC now. The English speaking missionaries only have to be here for 12 days as opposed to my 6 weeks....I knew learning a language would take some extra effort....

I have two more weeks until I am either in Brazil or possibly reassigned until I get my visa! I am so stoked for whatever may come!

Now it is such a trial and a blessing to be a zone leader. I mean it is so fun. This new district that came into our zone had 8 elders! 4 are going to capo verde, 3 to Mozambique, and 1 to Toronto Canada. haha they are so funny! Being a leader requires that you love those you lead...and these Elders are not hard to love. Three of them joined the church in the past 16 months and have such interesting testimonies of the restored gospel! When we were going to the gym, I had my shirt tucked in...and one of them said something and I looked back and all of them had their gym shirts tucked in....it was so funny. They crack me up.

I bruised my calf when playing basketball yesterday with some elders that were leaving...I will miss them! I actually bought an ankle brace too. I use up that 45 minutes a day that we get to exercise. I come out of that gym bruised and muito cansado and incredibly sweaty.

As far as the Portuguese goes...I have no idea how to gauge my progress but an elder came from brazil and is on our floor and he doesn't speak any english. I talked to him for like half an hour and it was great. Still a language barrier for sure but we find a way to communicate when we see eachother. I mostly can get by. If you know like 45 different verbs and somewhat how to conjugate them...you can get by. I try to study really hard and ask tons of annoying questions in class. There seriously is no better way to learn a language...because the way I am learning so fast is by finding words to say to teach people the Gospel!

I feel like the Lord makes the language hard enough to be a trial, but helps us enough to accomplish the plan He has for us.

Another thing that slapped my hiney this week:

Listening to President Holland...it was a recorded talk....but it doesn't matter. His words sunk deep and I won't ever forget them:

When Joseph Smith went in the woods to pray....what happened to him before his prayer was answered and he saw God the Father? His tongue was bound. The adversary "bound [his] tongue so that [he] could not speak." At that moment...the adversary, Satan, would have wanted more then anything at the time to end the life of Joseph Smith...for so he may have thought it would prevent the gospel from coming forth...But in Genesis it talks about Satan having power "to bruise thy heel" but we have power "to crush [his] head". So because Satan had no power to end a life, he did the second worst thing that one could do....bind the tongue.

If I refuse a prompting from the holy spirit to talk to someone and proclaim the Everlasting Gospel...then I have let the adversary win. I know that my job is to submit my all to God and He will lead me to those to teach. Nothing is worse then missed opportunities...and nothing is worse then your tongue being bound

Elder Madrigal, one of the new elders told me of a dark day he had (and he calls me All-american...not sure why but yeah). Anyways...he was on the streetside ready to commit suicide when two missionaries felt the prompting to go and talk to him. Long story short, he is here on a mission proclaiming the gospel....but think what would have happened if those missionaries refused the prompting of the Holy Spirit? Elder Madrigal wouldn't be here on a mission and probably wouldn't be alive.

Don't let your tongue be bound. Learn the truth. Proclaim the truth. Bless the lives of others

I have learned how important it is to lift others...Keep others in my prayers....actually pray every morning after I wake up, and every night before I go to bed. Gosh as a missionary that hasn't left the training center yet, I have probably used up my amount of prayers allowed....(Just kidding you can't do that, silly)

Prayer is so important...It is crazy to see how people don't take advantage of the blessings always!

Anyways I love yalls emails and I am glad I get some time to share about whats happenin here.

With Love!
Elder Flake

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Week 3 - Provo MTC: Meu nome e Elder

To sum everything up:

The days are really long
but the weeks go by fast!
I can't believe I am already on my third week!

So it is looking like I am going to be here at the Provo MTC for another 3 weeks....BUT THAT IS TOTALLY COOL

The thing is, I know I am supposed to be here. Hard to gauge the blessings I have gotten, but if I was to place it on a scale from 1 to 10 I would give it a 10000 with a remainder of 2. Seriously I love missionary work!

Language seems to be a common question for most, so I will say the gift of tongues that they speak of in the scriptures is a real thing. I am not exactly gifted with the ability to learn languages, but Heavenly Father is there to help me out for sure. The way we learn the language is so unorthodox but awesome! We are to teach about Christ every day almost to people and every time, I feel the spirit helping me with words that I may have only studied once or maybe heard somebody else say. I am able to sit with my companion and a random person and give about a half hour lesson in Portuguese if that gauges our level of learning for ya. Definitely not fluent or close to fluent, but with His help, I will first achieve fluency of teaching with the Spirit.....and then the language will come!

So four people out of our district of eight left to Brazil because they got their Visas....but I wasn't upset about having the chance to be here for three more weeks! Being a Zone Leader is such a blessing I EVEN GET A PHONE (that has restrictions but still)

Every day there are new challenges....New Elders and Sisters...new problems too....BUT IT IS SO GREAT!

Last night we spent a little time looking at the Mormon maps website (because that is an approved website) and we looked at the homes of all our district members. Once it was my turn, I showed them street views of fairview and of the natchez trace! Gosh I need to repent because that made me miss home a tad, but I am so appreciative of where I am from! My district fellers had no clue I came from the prettiest state! haha! (Yes the Texans were jealous). Regardless, I am very happy with where I am and where I am going...and two years may be quite a bit of time...but it is the right thing to do!

The highlight of my week was not what one would typically call their highlight of the week (because there are always fun crazy things that happen here)

But this was different.....I feel a lot different too! I listened to a recording from Jeffery R. Holland...one of the apostles of the Church. His Talk was titled, "Missionaries for Life." Hard to fathom how much it literally changed me, but he spoke about how important missions were. How important obedience was. He talked about a scripture is Mosiah 27 where the people were "astonished" by the words of the missionaries! I know I don't do justice to his words when I say this, but it is vital that we remain as close to the Spirit as possible. I am called to a position where I am inviting people to come unto Christ for the Salvation of their being. What job is more important? Whatever my aspirations are after my mission...they are not important. 50 years from now, I am positive there will not be a day that I dont think or talk about an experience from my mission.....and truthfully, my mission doesn't really end July of 2017....it continues through life! I am not here to "do my time" only to return home and be normal....I am going home with the knowledge and experiences from my mission to bring people unto Jesus Christ...to be baptized....and to not just know, but EXPERIENCE His atonement.

I know that we are all in this together. I have to answer....in Portuguese....questions such as, "Where do we come from?" "Why are we here?" "What is the significance of a Savior?" "What is the Gospel?" I know going to Brazil will make these things even more real for me! But I know for sure, through this Gospel, the answers to these questions. I am a missionary for life. Until I die, I will be working to "astonish" people here by bringing them the words from Heavenly Father. I might be in a suit and tie right now, but  whatever uniform, person, or occupation I fulfill after my mission, I want to continue to spread the Words and Love from Christ. Like I said, I feel so differently about it all!

Isn't that great?!?!  I have always had a love for the teachings of Christ, but my love has grown immensely more! I have learned that my goals and aspirations to do great in the Secular world don't matter in the way that they used to. Yes, I have big goals and big dreams, but they are now not geared at being successful for myself, but for my Heavenly Father. And I can use my talents to forward His kingdom!

Sorry I don't mean to rant....but I just had to share that. I don't mean to take away from my words,but if I was to compare my transformation to something, I would relate it to the episode in Avatar the Last Airbender where Prince Zuko was confused and then went into a coma, having a change of heart....only to come out a stellar person that helped save the world.

...........I guess I could have talked about Alma the Younger in the Scriptures that went into a 3 day coma that changed his entire being...But Avatar works too!

I just wanna share my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. I know that Christ Lives! I know that God gave Him to us unworthy people to suffer for our sins, and to be there when we fall short. I know that His Gospel is again on the earth today and has been restored to its fulness by a modern prophet. I know that this Gospel is true. I know Christ will return, and if we are worthy, and endure to the end in righteousness, Heavenly Father will extend his arms, and take us into the Celestial Kingdom.

Love Elder Flake