“Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succor of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.” Lord Of The Rings, J.R.R. Tolkein

Monday, January 25, 2016

Well I have exciting news this week! This last Friday (3 days ago) Portia, Kartier, and Sienna were all baptized by Rob! I am so excited for their family. I seriously love them more than I can even describe. It was an amazing experience. Seeing Rob give his daughters a hug right after he raised them out of the water was really, really touching. They're another step closer to having that forever family that Heavenly Father wants them to have! Then yesterday in Sacrament Meeting they were confirmed. I was asked to confirm Portia, Elder Christensen confirmed Kartier, and another man in the ward (Brother Wayne Johnson) confirmed Sienna. It was a really powerful day.

Other than that, things have just been going per usual. This week is transfer week, so we're about to have a lot of excitement. And sadness! Sad to say it, but Elder Keith is going home this Friday. He's finished his mission and it's time for him to go home. I really can't even describe to you how much it hurts to see companions go home... And this one is really going to sting. Elder Keith and I became brothers in the short 6 weeks we had with each other in Magrath. Thankfully we've been able to go on a few exchanges together before he left, but I'm really going to miss him. After he goes home I'll only have 3/8 companions that are still serving. Super sad! But it's not a huge deal because most of my companions are all migrating to Utah after the mission anyway. So that's a relief. It's just going to be hard to say goodbye.

I had an awesome experience this week! The Lord is really helping us out lately. We were having a really rough day on Thursday. It was crazy. We were having a hard time feeling productive, and it was like pulling teeth trying to get people to follow through with appointments. We finally got one with a chap named Dave Keister. He is a returning less active that has really turned his life around into the way that the Lord would want him to live. We were talking about some of the struggles we had been having that day and we were using them as an example in the lesson we were teaching. I spoke with Dave about how I really wanted to focus less on the task and more on the Savior. Then he told me some really profound things. He told me that I needed to stop trying to do my own will in the Lord's work. He told us that we should get out of the way and let the Lord do His work. Now, coming from Dave, this was perfect. Dave served his mission in Ontario and his mission President was Elder M. Russell Ballard. We asked him how we could stay positive when hardships came while finding. Dave - who baptized 30 people on his mission that he tracted out - told us that we needed stop looking at door rejections so personally and as failures. He told us that the Atonement had already covered that rejection. Holy crud! I couldn't believe my ears. What an amazing insight. The Atonement has already covered the pain and rejection we feel at a door. That is how far reaching it is! When I heard him say this, I had this visual pop into my mind. Elder Christensen and I were standing at a door and trying to share the gospel with this lady inside. She slammed to the door on us. Then suddenly, I saw Christ standing between us, and he simply put his arms around us, and walked with us to the next door.

I think sometimes I don't realize just how involved the Lord is in my life. His Atonement even covers that seemingly petty feeling of rejection and discouragement when the millionth door gets slammed in our face. It makes me happy to know that He has already taken all this.

My point in sharing this is to remind us all that the Lord's Atonement reaches into EVERYTHING. It doesn't matter what it is. Name a disappointment, a fear, a hurt, etc. I promise that He's already experienced all of the pain and agony for that specific thing, and if we decide to continuously keep dragging that pain around with us, it is our fault. We're not accepting the gift.

I love you all! Thank you for all your support!

-Elder Warenski

Monday, January 18, 2016

This week was great. We've finally finished up our exchanges! It was a feat, but we did it! There are so many amazing missionaries in this mission. It was really great to be able to learn together. There were some hard parts though... Sadly, I had my last exchange with Elder Keith before he goes home. Elder Keith and I were companions in Magrath.... He'll be going home on the 30th, so we were really sad that we only had that one more time to be companions.... But hey, he's moving on to bigger and better things. I love that guy. He's a brother to me.
So I have to tell you about a miracle that happened yesterday! I don't know if I've already told you this, but Portia, Kartier, and Sienna will all be getting baptized on this Friday :) Finally the family will be as put together as it could possibly be at this stage in time. Olivia and Byron are slightly below the age limit. I was told this again last night by Olivia who said "I am six and a quarter of seven". Now put that in an adorable kiwi accent and you've got it :) She makes me grin from ear to ear.

First, for some humor, I want to recap on a couple of things that the McLachlan children have said in the near past. I think you'll get a kick out of this, but you'll also see how well they're learning the gospel.

1. Olivia was saying a prayer and she said something to this affect: "Heavenly Father, please bless that Satan won't get us and that we won't burn in hell." LOL What a girl! Olivia is one of the sweetest little girls I know, but she's had some dark prayers, lol. She's a cutie.

2. Rob has quit his drinking - obviously - but now he has a full fridge of beer that he doesn't have a bleeding idea of what he's supposed to do with it. He was having some of his "mormon" friends over for a little get together, and he visited a non-member friend with Kartier and asked if he wanted to come to it. He told him that he could have a beer if he wanted. His friend told him that that would be weird, and Rob asked him why. He said that none of his "mormon friends" would be drinking and it would be weird. Rob said that it wouldn't be because mormon's don't judge. Then Kartier piped up and said "That's right! Mormon's don't judge! Jesus does when we're dead!"

Pure doctrine spoken by the mouth of babes ;D I LOVE THIS FAMILY!

Now I'm going to tell you about an experience that happened last night. It was a night full of miracles.

We went over the McLachlan's home to teach the final lessons that they needed in order to be baptized. We began by teaching about the Priesthood. We viewed the Mormon Message called "Sanctify Yourselves" in which Elder Holland shares about the experience of a football coach who gives a player a blessing because he was struck by lightning. It was incredible. The spirit was so incredibly strong in the room. I shared an experience that happened on my exchange with Elder Keith. We were called to the Foothills hospital in the NW of Calgary. A woman in Cardston had had a severe heart attack and was rushed to the foothills hospital. When we arrived, we proceeded to give the blessing. Elder Keith was voice, and he promised many incredible blessings to this woman upon the precepts that she read the scriptures, had patience, and prayed. When we lifted our hands from off her head, Elder Keith began to speak with her, and he discovered that she was not even a member of the church. We were blown away. She had such great faith to request a blessing of us, and it was amazing to see this woman hear the counsel of the Lord on her behalf. I told Rob and Hilary that we had no idea that this woman was not of our faith, but that she was a woman OF faith. They were really touched by this.

The next thing we taught was the principle of Eternal Marriage. This one was amazing. We used the mormon message called "Enduring Love". If you have time to look this one up, I highly recommend it. This one really seemed to touch Rob in particular. It's all about a man and his wife that are disabled. He seems to have Parkinson's disease, and she has had something like a stroke. In the video, you watch him take care of her. Selflessly caring for her every need and helping to keep their marriage alive and fun. It's beautiful. I shared about my Grandfather Jackson in relation to this video. More than perhaps anyone else in my life, I feel as though Grandma and Grandpa Jackson have the greatest understanding of being Sealed. Growing up around them, it was a privilege to see them in their marriage. They work together. They love one another. A real, true, living love. Their love has conquered many of the challenges in their lives because they have stuck together through thick and thin. They serve one another selflessly in Christlike ways. I told Hilary and Rob how I had always seen my Grandfather treat my Grandmother like she was a Queen. I told them how greatly I admired their example and how desperately I long to treat my future wife with such respect. Rob was in tears at this point, hearing how great the love of the Lord can be ushered into a relationship. It was incredible how touching it was. I think Rob and Hilary looked at one another with a bit more love after this section.

The next topic was Temples and Family History work. This was actually a part that specifically touched me as a missionary. We watched a video (yes, we watched a lot of videos last night. It helps to keep the kids focused ;D) about temples. President Monson talks about a Tahitian family that sacrificed so much to go to the Hamilton temple in New Zealand. It was a powerful video. But something sacred to me happened while it was playing. As I listened to our Prophet's voice, the spirit testified to me of his sacred calling and of his love for us all. I know through the spirit of God that Thomas Spencer Monson is the Prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ and that he is his mouthpiece. I know he is just as surely as I know Joseph Smith was the Prophet of the Restoration. The Prophetic mantle continues to be passed down from one worthy servant to another. The Lord Jesus Christ is with us through his prophets. I've seldom had such a strong witness. So that was the Lord's tender mercy to me during the lesson.

As we finished the lesson, we taught on Teaching and Learning in the church. We spoke about seminary and institute, Sunday school, the auxilliaries, etc. I spoke about how the spirit speaks to us about what to teach. To illustrate this, I shared another experience from my mission of Elder Keith and I teaching Ina Old Shoes. I shared how through the spirit we both knew exactly what to teach to them without even speaking to one another. Everyone in the room - including myself and Elder Christensen - were all misty eyed.

At the end of the lesson, Rob asked who would like to pray. 13 year old Portia - who up to this moment had been pretty opposed to participating in any way, most likely due to being a teenager ;D - piped up and said she'd like to pray. Then she said one of the most powerful prayers I have ever heard. She thanked our Father in Heaven for Jesus Christ's ability to make us whole. She thanked Him for making it possible to be forgiven for the stuff we do wrong. As we opened our eyes, we looked around the room and found a Family. Mom, it was a true Family. The Lord has taken them and is building them into a Forever Family. I have never had such tender experiences and found such a spirit of the Lord on my mission than within the 4 walls of the McLachlan home. Rob and Hilary were in tears because of the prayer of their daughter. Elder Christensen and I were touched at the spirit that this 13 year old girl ushered into the room. The Lord loves her so much.

As I reflect back on this experience, I think of the beginning of my mission. I wasn't sure if I was ever going to do anything worth writing about. I always wondered if I would ever be a part of something great that changed lives. I wondered if I would make a difference. I would turn to my scriptures and look at a small glue-in that I have in Doctrine and Covenants. It was given to me by Mikaila before I left on my mission. It is the Starfish story. Mikaila wrote on the back of it that she had no idea why she felt like she needed to give it to me, but that she knew that I would make a difference.

Mikaila, I have done it. Or rather, Christ has done it through me.

I want to tell my family that I could not do this work as effectively as I am if I did not know what a Celestial Family felt like. Thank you so much for giving me that experience. I owe so much to my Mother, Father, Mikaila & Justin, Cierra, my Grandparents, my Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins... You've all shown me what a Celestial family looks like, and I am so touched by the experiences we've all had. Vacations to California, trips to Disneyland, going to temple square and having endless pictures taken of all of us (I love you Aunt Kellie!!!). I know now why all of you insisted that we be together.

Because in the end, our Families are all that matter. And you know what?

We have the best one that there is.

I love you all and hope you have a good week!

-Elder Warenski

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sister Spackman's copy of her father's book

The inscription on the inside of the book. Written by N. Eldon Tanner

Yes, I successfully survived all of the driving! It was a very very long trip.... We put something like 1500 km's on the truck last week.... It was ridiculous. The roads are really only bad when you drive from Lethbridge to Cardston on the main highway. Sometimes you run in to black ice and all that jazz, but I've never been driving and something super sketchy happens. We were very safe.

I haven't gotten the package yet, but Sister Peppinger in the mission office got a call from the lady you gave it to. Apparently she's trying to find someone to get the package up here to Calgary. So it should be up here within the week. I'm glad that everyone liked the pictures. Brother Ockey is a total stud. If you google him, he's all over the internet. He's the world champion ferrari racer in his class. Check this out:


I definitely did not look that up on the internet..... ;)
He's a very humble man. When you talk to him about his races or his cars, he's super proud of what he's done, but at the same time, he just regards it all as "just a race" or "just a car". He's fantastic. And that inscription on the inside of that book is written by the hand of President N. Eldon Tanner. That still blows my mind. It was a miracle to be able to meet her. Unfortunately, Facebook is completely shut down for the mission, so it wouldn't really be a possibility for me to see any of the content that you've put on Facebook.... I know, sad day... But you're right! There will be plenty of time for me to see everything when I get home.

I'm glad that things finally seem to start speeding up for you. I'm telling you. We're going to blink and I'll be home. It's really beginning to move that fast for me. It's insane. I can't believe how fast January is going by. I'll be 18 months by the end of February. What a gong show.

I am definitely keeping a journal. I'm actually keeping several, but that's beside the point, haha. Trying to fill pages and pages of things that I've done/am doing out here. You're right. I'm gaining so much wisdom from President Miles and from so many other sources that I really need to be writing it down. I really have a strong belief that these notes could save me later on in life. I'm sorry that my emails have been short, Gramps! I promise I'll repent. It's just always so darn hard on that week where we have to go down south. We're actually in the process of reorganizing the way we do the exchanges, so hopefully we'll be able to fix that problem. But I really miss my talks with Grandpa as well. I seriously can't stress enough how many times in a day I think of him and try to figure out what he would do in the situation I'm in. He's been an example of wisdom and kindness to me my entire life and I really try to adopt the positive parts of his character into my own character. I look up to him so much. And I miss my Grandmother as well! She has been absolutely STOIC in sending me letters! I really enjoy hearing from Grandma. She is always so positive. I read about Lehi in the Book of Mormon and I'm always so baffled by how often he thanks the Lord and looks to him in everything. Grandma's letters are like a reflection of those scriptures to me. They are amazing. She's always considering the Lord and telling me about how grateful she is for everything He does for her and our family. She's an inspiration to me.

Thanks for the photographs of the Foreigner. I really miss theater, but that is the positive part about my coming home plans! If all I am doing is working, then I should be in pretty good shape to do a show when I get home ;) (Hint hint, Robinne! Hint hint!)

Alright here's a quick update on me:

This week we're going to be doing exchanges with all the zone leaders in the north. Because of the stake realignments in Calgary, we have a whole new zone, so now we have 7 sets of Zone Leaders to exchange with.... Yeesh. But hey! It's all good stuff. I really love the missionaries in this mission. It's a really humbling experience to be with them and try and help them as best I can. Granted, I don't think I really do much for them, but if I can help them feel better than they did when I got there, that's a success. My experience with the Book of Mormon is just getting more and more precious with every word. President and Sister Miles' Christmas gift could not have been more inspired. It is exactly what I needed. It is amazing to see just how much the Savior speaks in the Book of Mormon, as well as how much He is spoken about by His prophets. My testimony is strengthened every time I read. I've also never gained such an immense appreciation for Isaiah. I never really realized just how much the Lord speaks through him. Even sometimes to the point where one can't tell who is actually speaking. As I reflect on my mission, I'm more grateful that ever for the experiences that have been given to me by Jesus Christ. He saved my life through this mission. I have never had such a life-altering experience before, and I have forged a relationship with Christ that is so near and dear to me. I really know now that He knows me and that He knows everyone. I know Him. I know the Man who lived and loved all of God's children. Even those who beat, spit upon, betrayed, and crucified Him. He is the Messiah. He loves us UNCONDITIONALLY. This is a huge one that I have come to discover. He is with us ALWAYS. He is with us even when we make mistakes. It has been enlightening for me to understand that when I make a mistake and beat myself up, Christ is with me watching me do it. He's there with me, watching me try to take my own pains and weaknesses on by myself. I've really been learning to honor Christ's sacrifice by giving my pain and grief to Him, and moving on. I love Him, and I'm so grateful for the love that He gives to me.

Thanks to all who are supporting me and keeping me out here. To all those who have sacrificed to see me succeed. Your sacrifices have lead a guy like me to know the Savior of the World.

I love you!

-Elder Warenski

Monday, January 4, 2016

No explanation accompanied this photo...

I don't have loads of time unfortunately.... It's exchange week in the south again, so we're pretty limited. I'm emailing from Medicine Hat again, and we're starting up our great big driving week. Anyway, I'll get on with it!

Yes! I will get to see you THIS YEAR, so it's going to be awesome. How crazy is that?! I keep on thinking in my head how bloody long I've been away, but it really doesn't seem like that long of a time for me. I think I've reached the point where I'm trying to relish every moment. Talking/thinking about home doesn't - and never has - made me distracted or un-focused, but now more than ever it makes me want to just milk the rest of my mission for all it's worth. I want to make you proud of what I've done out here, so I'm going to fight right to the end :) That's sweet that you home teach an Irish lady! I'll be on splits with a missionary from Ireland tomorrow. Elder Stephen Murphy. He's a stud.
Hey! That's great that you got a Fitbit for Christmas! They are really pretty awesome. There are a few missionaries out here that are really melting off some fat because of those things. Elder Christensen and I have started exercising every morning consistently, so that will hopefully help me shed a few pounds as well ;)

Sorry this is short!
Love you all

Elder Warenski