Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Glendale week 11 *October 28, 2013

This week has been very interesting to say the least. For whatever reason the work here seems to be slowing down as far as "numbers" go but the spirit has never been stronger. It's really strange. I have been working harder then ever to be obedient and so has my companion but the lessons have just kinda stopped. We have been contacting so many people on the streets and trying to plant as many seed as we can. We have had some great experiences and I have seen the Lords hand in the work that is being performed here. Like it says time and time again in the scriptures, God has His own timetable and things will happen when He sees fit. That concept has had more meaning to me lately because I am finding it to really be true. We will not have very much success one day so we will stop and say a prayer to know where to go and who to talk to then one of us will have a name pop into our head of a person that needs us. As we ride over to that persons home we will stop to talk to a random stranger on the road and will have an awesome conversation all about them and helping them come closer to Jesus Christ through His gospel. We will then continue riding to the original person we thought of and they wont even be there. I know that that persons name came to us because the Lord knew which route we would take to get there and who would be in our path. It is a great moment when you stop, think and then realize just what you were a part of.
As of lately I have trying to study the Book of Mormon from the beginning because I really want to gain a better understanding of the stories and examples of those that have come before us. Each time I go to read I always pray to have the Holy Ghost to be with me so that I may understand the words which I will read and be able to relate them to not only myself but also the people I come in contact with everyday. The spirit bares witness to me everytime exactly what I need to read or hear. Its really neat to be able to read a passage that I have read 10 times before and to catch a simple word that changes the entire meaning of the verse. It has been a really big growing experience. I have come to love the scriptures so much more and I can now understand why they are the pure vessel of the spirit. All I have to do now is figure out how to get people to read and ponder them for themselves. That will be the best!
This week coming up is the last week of my training! I cannot belive that it has already gone by this fast. I am so excited to take the next step on my mission but at the same time I don't want to leave these people that I have come to love. Its a cruddy situation but I know that its meant to be if I do get moved. I know that there are people all over this great state that need my voice. I just have to have the faith to go out and find them. I will find out what happens this coming weekend. If I am training a new missionary I will find out on Saturday, if I am going to be a leader of any sort I will find out next Monday, and if I am being transfered then I will find out next Tuesday. But I am not too worried because I just want to go on as many adventures as possible and every area, companion, and assignment is an adventure.
I love you all a ton and keep you in my prayers constantly. Keep moving the work of the Lord forward and trusting in Gods plan for you.
Until next week,
Elder Cole Safford

Walking the streets during the day
Working the streets at night

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Glendale week 10 *October 21, 2013

Why hello there!
This week has been fantastic. The end of my training is coming up really fast and I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. I keep talking with missionaries who have been out for a while to get there take on how the time spent with their trainers went compared to my experience. And I can honestly say that I have had the perfect trainer for me. He is the exact missionary that needed to be here for when I came on my mission to Arizona of all places. He has shaped the rest of my mission for me. Whether he agrees that he did a great job or not I know that I would not be where I am today without him. Sure we had our differences but we have worked through those no problem. We have to be the most opposite people on the face of the earth but as far as missionary work goes we have the same goal in mind: to be the best missionary that WE can possibly be. We have not seen too much literal success but that does not mean that we are not giving it our best effort everyday. We have really looked deep into ourselves this week to find out what we need to change so that the Lord gives us the success that we so desire. They say that the Lord does not bless you until the trial of your faith and that is exactly what these past 3 months have been. A trial. But I can say without a shadow of a doubt that my faith is way stronger and my testimony is more firm because of it. I continue to learn how to further my trust in His plan for me and for my life. He really does know each of us better then we can ourselves at the moment.
I have had the opportunity to go on an exchange with a zone leader named Elder Knabbe. He has been out on his mission now for 21 months so I was excited to pick his brain on how to do certain things and just to ask him questions about his experiences so far. The day went really well and I was able to ask him a ton of questions. He is a great missionary that cares a lot about all people that he comes in contact with. He showed me what it means to become as Christlike as possible while out here. At the end of the night we do a little inventory to see how the day went and see how I as a newer missionary am doing. He had nothing but good things to say about me and the area that I am serving. It really built my confidence to hear someone that I look up to so much tell me how great he thinks I am doing. I am no where near where I want to end up but I am closer today then I was yesturday and will continue to grow all the time.
One of the biggest things that I am trying to work on is talking with everyone that I see on the streets. It is really scary to just walk up to a complete stranger and try to talk with them about the gospel. But I know that the Lord is putting people in our paths evryday who are seeking peace and comfort in their lives. If I dont take the time or make the effort to talk with people, then I will ride right past someone that needs the truth that I bare witness of. We have been able to see the fruits of our efforts in just this past week alone compared to all other weeks of my mission. We have had a ton of cool experiences (that I have recorded in my journal) that have really made this week fun. I have found that the crazy stories I have from my mission and most of the stories that other missionaries tell you almost all come from talking with everyone. So with that knowlege I am trying to do that so I too can have these expiriences haha But also to bring people closer to Christ of course.
That is all for this week. I know that the Savior lives and that His atonement applys to all of us if we will just reach out and ask for it. I know that we have a Father in heaven who cares about us and stands ready to bless us if we put forth out best effort to make it on our own first. Dont ever forget that He is there. When times get rough or you just need help finding your lost keys turn to the one that has ALL the answers. He will answer you. I love you all and think about everything that you have done for my life so far. Keep building up the kingdom of God in your own ways.
My nightly chocolate milk

A drawing we made in our apartment
Until next week,
Elder Cole Safford 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Glendale week 9 *October 14, 2013

Hey everyone!
Things are looking up out here in the mission field. I dont think that there was a huge change as far as the actual work I have been doing but there was a change in my attitude and the attitude of my companion. There is always a way to judge missionaries to see if they are being successful and that is by their "numbers". Which means the number of lessons they have taught, the number of investigators found, the number of referalls and of course the number of people baptized. For the bulk of my mission so far these numbers have not been all that high and I finally could not help but to become discouraged. At that very moment the thought of my family popped into my head. I began to think about all the blessings that have come to them since my desicion to serve a mission. I realized that everything they tell you about our Father in Heaven and prayer is absolutley true. Of this I am sure. He really does hear all of your prayers and does want to bless you in the ways you ask. But the thing about God that I have not really noticed until now is that He does not do things in the way that you want Him to. He will bless you in the ways that you need it most because He know all of us perfectly and knows how we need His help in our lives. I am really grateful for Him and for this new found knowledge.
The way that I have come to measure success is not by the numbers that we have put up on the board that week but by the number of lives that we have been able to touch. I know that numbers show the work that is going on in the area but I dont think that they are the best way to judge success. People have agency and can choose to accept the message that we share with them or not. We could talk to 100 people in one week all about their lives and how God can bless them and report in that we taught zero actual lessons. Does that mean that we failed that week? No. I dont think so in the least. The seeds that we plant in peoples lives will one day be harvested by future missionaries. We cannot reap if we do not first sow.
We have been trying hard to progress the missionary work among the ward members because they know their neighbors and the people that could benefit from the gospel. There is a particular family that has really blessed my life. Their name is the Evans. The husband is a convert and he was coverted after marrying sister Evans. They have a fire inside of them to share the gospel and the blessings that have been brought into their lives. It is such a motivation to me to be better because they are so willing to go out of their way to talk with people they come in contact with and I'm over here like I am a missionary and will probably never see half of these people again so why not share the gospel. Cause if they reject it I just move on and try again. The Evans told Elder Pettingill and I the other night just how big of an impact we have made in not only their lives but also the ward missionary effort. I am not telling you this to brag about how awesome I am but I say it to show you how loving people in all aspects changes their view of you. I have been worjking really hard at outwardly expressing the love I have for all people here in Arizona because I was not very good at it when I was home. I know for a fact that no effort is wasted and every good thing we say to people will not go overlooked. We really are being watched every minute and even a simple smile can go a long way. Never give up on people and always share your love. Dont bottle it up because it does no one any good.
The weather here is changing so rapidly! Just the other day we woke up to go work out in the morning and it was raining and 60 degrees. I didnt even bring a jacket with me so I was a bit chilly haha. But it is so pretty when its not raining. The air is so crisp and wonderful. I love it. I know that I will be needing some cold weather gear in the near future which I never thought would be a possibility. On the plus side its supposed to be under 90 all this week so I wont be sweating all day long! Thats a real plus. I am finally starting to see why anyone in their right mind would ever live in this barren dessert. The secret is the winter season.
Well I love you all and I cannot wait to tell you about next week. Life is what you make of it so go out there and make it an adventure. Write your experiences down because one day we will all be too old and senile to remember them

. Take too many pictures!
Until next week,
Elder Cole Safford

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Glendale week 8 *October 7, 2013

Hello everyone!
Another week in the books. It is really crazy how much goes on in one week out in the mission field. Everyday is jam packed from sun up to sun down of great things. I mean it does seem like we do the same types of things everyday but then again they are all so different. Different people, different lessons, and different experiences to write about. The good news is that I have so far been good about keeping up a daily journal and have already seen the benefits from it. I have found that there are things I am learning now that I would have taken way longer to learn in the "real" world of an 18 year old kid. There will always be good moments and bad moments our whole lives so seeing those on a mission is not out of the ordinary. But there is a problem when you stop working and stand still to dwell on them. Move forward. Keep going because everyday will have good in it if you look for it. Make the memories you want to remeber and talk about.
I had the great opportunity to go on exchanges for the day with another elder that has been out just as long as I have. He is a really great young man so I was excited to get to work with him. I had to stay in my area while Elder Pettingill went over to this elders area to work with his companion. I was not too stoked about this considering I didnt feel ready to take on the area all by myself but I just had to give it my best. It turns out that I actually was more prepared to do it then I thought. The day went really great and we taught a couple of lessons and just had an overall awesome day. At the end of the day the elder commented on how good of a job I did at taking over the area. It was a huge confidence builder to see that an elder that started at the same time as me was able to see the difference I had made and how ready I am to be the senior missionary. I know that I still have a long way to go and I am really excited to see and learn as much as I can. I dont ever want to stop progressing or learning. I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and move forward.
I had another really growing experience this week. There was an elder who had been out in Arizona for a week and he had to spend the day with Elder Pettingill and me. even though he was 18 he seemed kind of immature. By the end of the day I told Elder Pettingill that a lot of what he did and said was kind of annoying. Then I was given a huge piece of humble pie when Elder Pettingill said that I acted the exact same way my first week out here. I was like WHAT?! Holy crud I dont know how Elder Pettingill put up with me. I took a step back and realized that we are all growing constantly and at different rates. We need to be accepting of everyone and their differences. I guess that without noticing it I have become a different person. Dont get me wrong I am still the same Cole that left but just a little more mature and I have learned what to say and do in certain situations. There is a time and a place for everything and I think that the key to being mature and acting as an effective missionary is to know when those specific times are. Like I said before and will continue to say for a long time to come I have a long way to go. I wont ever lose who I am but I will refine myself and become the best that I personally can be.
General Conference was awesome! It was super weird though to hear the people saying in their prayers to pray for missionaries around the world. I was like hey thats me! The talks were all super great! I think they have taken on a whole new meaning to me because I am not only listening to learn for myself but to also help the people in Arizona. I took away from the conference in a whole that times are going to get really bad pretty soon. We need to build up our faith so that we can resist anything the advisary throws at us. There are multiple paths that we can take to get to the Celestial kingdom but the best path we can ever take is the one that allows us to bless those around us and help them make it as well.
I love all of you and will continue to think about just how much you have all blessed my life so far. Stay strong and keep moving forward.
Until next week.
Elder Cole Safford

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Glendale week 6 *September 23, 2013

Hey everyone!
This week has been a really big learning experience for me.  We have been working extra hard to be the best purpose driven missionaries that we can and the Lord was able to turn peoples hearts toward Him and allow us to be there at the right moment to witness that change.
We have really been trying to talk to as many people on the streets as we can and these very rarely turn into anything extraordinary but just spreading those seeds is a great way to help the work move along. One night we were on our way out of a lesson and we had the impression to go and swing by the local supermarket to try and street contact some people. We locked up our bikes and saw a lady standing there waiting for her 5 gallon water container to fill up. She was all alone so we asked her if we could carry it to her car for her. She said yes and we started to talk. She told us that her husband was out of town and she was really nervous as to how she was going to get the water to her car. She also told us that her father and brother both recently passed away and she was having a hard time with them being gone. We were able to teach her right then and there about the plan of salvation and she said that she would be willing to have us over to teach her more once she talked it over with her husband. I know the Lord put that situation in front of us and if we had not just stopped to ask her if she needed help then we could have missed it.
There is a "do not contact" list of less active memebers in the ward and we try to go and stop by at least one of these a week because the Lord softens peoples hearts over time and sometimes we can just happen to be there knocking at their door. Anyways, we have tried this particular family for like the past 6 months and they have never answered the door. We went and knocked on there door and boom. We got in and had a 30 minute conversation with them all about his mission and her obsession with Halloween. haha It was really cool to be able to see them open up and talk with us like we were normal people. Most people are afraid to talk with missionaries because they think we are trying to sell something. But its just the opposite. We are normal people with somthing very special to give away free!
I want everyone to go and read Ether 6:1-10 and learn all about how trials in our lives are really just Gods way of stengthening us. He will never throw anything at us that we cant handle. All we need is is a little faith and a determination to do all we can before we just go to him helplessly. This has answered so many questions for me and I know it will help some of you.
On a lighter note I have found out that E. Pettingill has no balance whatsoever. We try most of the time to ride on the side walk next to eachother. Almost everytime he manages to go off the side walk and smash through the bushes and whatever is in his path. Its so funny to see his huge legs trying to spread out and balance himself mid fall. Now he has added a new element to his bicycle riding... Taking pictures while riding. We made it a goal to take as many pictures as we can so that we always remember the great moments we have but its so funny because he makes the most serious faces all the time. I have had to yell at him to just laugh and have a good time. He likes to be very serious and mature but I have a way to bring the kid out in him and its so much more fun to be around that version of him.
I love you all so much and cannot wait to tell you all about my adventures next week.

Until next time
Elder Cole Safford

Glendale week 7 *September 30, 2013

Hey everyone!
What's going on? Everything here is going really great. It is a bit tough because we are not seeing the "success" that I would like to be seeing but we are seeing big changes happen everyday in ourselves, the ward and those people that we come in contact with. The Lord really does have a plan for all of us. I want you all to know that. He is there for us all the time and is putting both people and things in our path to help us grow spiritually, emotionally and physically. I have been learning a ton about myself over these past 2 months that I know for a fact would not have happened if not for me making the leap of faith and serving the Lord on a mission. At first I thought that it was just going to be all hunky-dory and I would just float around on a cloud bringing people to Christ because that is all you hear about from returned missionaries. You only hear the great times that they had or the spiritual experiences that go on in this chapter of their lives. I didnt have an older sibling that went on a mission to learn from so I had this image of a mission in my head. Let me be the first to tell you that although my days are filled with great things there are still plenty of trials that I go through physically but maybe even more in my own head. I have found that I am getting in the way of the Lord working miracles through me. My head is in the way and I try to think about things that dont matter. I have come to the conclusion after hearing the quote "Lose yourself and go to work" a 1,000 times that that is EXACTLY what I have to do. I am glad that I have figured it out this early so that I still have plenty of time to make the necessary changes.
I have always been a pretty curious person and I love asking the seasoned missionaries questions about their time out here in Arizona so I can better my own mission experience. I believe that every missionary has different trials and they all need to figure different things out. My missions is the most physically, emotionally, and spritually demanding thing that I have ever tried to do because you are constantly looking for ways to better yourself so that you are not the reason for someone not hearing about the gospel. It is a wonderful blessing to have the spirit with you so strong all the time. It makes self evaluation very easy and useful. I have a long way to come but I can already see a change in the way I see others, the way I talk to others and the way that I act. I now know why you only hear about the good things from returned missionaries. Its because the good things outweigh the bad things 10 to 1. I am so thankful for the opportunity I have to talk about the gospel so openly and freely. I truly see the difference in my life because of it.
I am also very thankful for the priesthood which I hold and the ability to administer blessings. Today we had the great opportunity to give a blessing of comfort to a lady whose father had passed away last night. He lived in Bolivia and this woman could not afford to fly back there to see him. She could not see her own father be buried and that really was hard for her. We went over to her house with our Bishop and he gave the most beautiful and comforting blessing I have ever heard. The spirit was SO strong and I was glad I was worthy enough to stand in that circle and be apart of it.
Thank you all for the love and support. It really means a lot to me. I also want to publicly share how much I love my family! They are my whole world and I know without a doubt that I would not be the person I am today without them. My mom writes me a letter every week without fail and let me tell you, those letters along with all the other letters that people have written me are my most cherished possesions out here on my mission. I love reading them and they make me feel that I am doing some good for people back home without actually being there.

Until next week. Adios!
Elder Cole Safford
Beautiful Arizona sunset
High waisted sweats and dress shoes. Nice.

That's one big cactus!