I’m Home Until August (Week 27)

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This email is a hard one to send but I do it because I love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ with all of my heart and soul! I know that they love us unconditionally and the Atonement of Jesus Christ is made readily available to us when we seek it.

I have been released as a full-time missionary and returned home to Oklahoma on Saturday night. There were some elements of my life I felt prompted by the Spirit to talk to our mission president, President Felix, about and take care of. As missionaries, there are standards of moral conduct that are set that we must meet to be worthy of truly representing Jesus Christ. I am home for 6 months to ensure that I am truly worthy of the oppurtunity and blessing it is to be a missionary. My goal and plan is to return to the California Ventura Mission in August of 2017 after obtaining a confirmation that I am doing Heavenly Father’s will for me.
There is a wonderful talk that President Henry B. Eyring gave in 2009 titled, “Adversity” that I heavily studied this week. God has created this wonderful mortality to be perfected and polished through trials of faith and adversity. Everyone should ckeck it out at https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2009/04/adversity?lang=eng!
My favorite quote from the talk is “The Lord will rescue His faithful disciples. And the disciple who accepts a trial as an invitation to grow and therefore qualify for eternal life can findpeace in the midst of the struggle.” I have felt the promised peace already in my life since I have taken the leap of faith into Christ’s arms. At times life seems like a foggy day and there is just enough light to see a few steps in front of you. As long as we use our internal hope and faith in Christ, there will always be enough light to guide us back to Heavenly Father and obtain eternal life!
We always have a choice over our actions and most of the time, the correct action may be scary and hard at times but it is always worth it. I have felt that I have let many loved ones down in this decision but I know of the growth and strength that will be added to those relationships I cherish! There has been nothing but continual support since coming home and I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for that much needed love.
I share my witness of the goodness and the love of our Savior Jesus Christ. The past 6 and 1/2 months of preaching His doctrine to the people of California has been an priceless experience. To be called to help others come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel is a great honor and blessing, I cannot wait to write more of my missionary experiences upon my return in 6 months.
Till then!
Austin Morgan

Emmy Awards and Baptism (Week 26)

This week has been a wet and busy one in California!

There were some priceless moments that occurred about the past 7 days and to start was a devotional by Emmy Award winning Jack Regas! I has no idea who he was as of 24 hours ago but it turns out that he a successful choreography and an LDS member!

He held a devotional last night about his conversion story and the many different roles that people played that lead up to his baptism and continued faithfulness. Jack worked with famous actors and performers but name a few were Elvis the Osmond Brothers and the Polynesian Culture Center in Hawaii! Its pretty amazing to see this 91 year old recall all the critical points that his own testimony grew until he came to know it was true and the life he wanted to pursue for his family. After his remarks he let everyone come up to talk with him and as missionaries we asked if he could hold his Emmy he brought! As the picture shows, he said yes! It was really humbling to hear him say “That not a thing in this life matters until the gospel enters your heart!” He also wanted each missionary that took a picture to say we got the Emmy for “Best Missionaries in the World.”

The next miracle we witnessed was the baptism of Scarlet Jablonowski! Elder Kelly and I have been working with the Jablonowski family since we were assigned to Thousand 3rd ward. Their family has quite the story and most of it is still being written. They used to be really active in the gospel when their children were younger but due to some tough situations that arose, the parents had to find jobs to make ends. The jobs pulled them away from their family most of the week and actually lead the parents down some pretty dark roads… After years of this lifestyle, the dad (Brent as pictured) decided that he didn’t like where he was going or the family. His course of action after that? Quit everything immoral cold turkey and glue the family back together. He has worked tirelessly, with a lot of opposition, to get the family back to church and eventually the temple.

The entire family was at the baptismal service plus some friends! The ward filled the room of the baptismal font and there was endless amounts of support for the family. There were tears and hugs and testimonies to go around for everyone. Elder Kelly and I were witnesses for the baptism and were asked to aid in the confirmation of the Holy Ghost for Scarlet. The experience is priceless and I feel so blessed to be a part of their conversion and to aid in their growth.

I learned a great lesson from Jack Regas and the Jablionowski family and that is to keep your family a center focal point of your life. Not only your biological family but your gospel family. We are all literally sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father! We are all on the same team! As His children, we should focus less on what makes us different but rather what we have in common. That is what Jesus Christ would do if He were here!

My challenge for this week, is to find one person that you can help come closer to God. It doesn’t have to be a big event, it can be any act of kindness and generosity. You never know what that little act will do for someone in the long run of things! Do something today that has eternal consequences! When we do our part we are making God’s plan roll forth as told in Daniel 2:31-45.

“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”

Till next week!

Elder Austin Morgan
2455 Vista Wood Cir
Apt #17
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

Books of Mormon, Thousand Oaks 3rd Round 2, and Horses. (Week 25)

Hello from California!

This week was Week 6 of the transfer and there is a culture in our mission to expect miracles, and that expectation was definitely met!

After a lesson with the Jablonowski family, we were driving back to our apartment and decided to drive the long way home. As we were driving, we saw a couple taking a night walk. We pulled a little bit in front of them and jumped out the car super fast. We walked up to them and asked if they would like a gift, a Book of Mormon. They quickly said yes and we shared with them 3 Nephi 11! The conversation was pretty quick but they mentioned how they had been searching more for Jesus Christ. The Lord put us right where we needed to be that night to answer the prayers of others!

Another situation on another night was with a Jewish lady walking her dogs! We pulled up and jumped out and came right up to her offering her an copy. We got into a long conversation on Jesus Christ visiting ancient America and His ministry here. She was so interested in receiving answers to the questions she has always had about Mormon’s and our doctrine. She asked them all and we gave her the answers! She was most surprised at the fact we drive cars… I guess she got us confused with Amish people. It is amazing what happens when you take the time to seek out those ready to receive the gospel!

The focus of the transfer has been using the Book of Mormon in every situation and have given 31 out! We are so blessed to have the word of God flowing into our lives with the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and modern revelation from authorized prophets and apostles.

Elder Peterson in our district had to go home early from his mission on Friday… He had some medical and other issues that President Felix saw it best for him to have an early release. Elder Shumway joined Elder Kelly and I for 4 days until transfer day! It was really nice because we got to have to use the car for 4 days straight rather than switching off every other day, haha.

We had an awesome experience with one of their potential investigators, Ron the cowboy.

Ron has 6 burros and 3 horses in his backyard that he let us go feed and pet. They let us get up real close to them and everything! One of the horses started to eat Elder Kelly’s shirt which he didn’t enjoy too much. Ron’s son died 12 years ago from a drunk driver and the experience is still pretty fresh to Ron. As we were talking we got to bring up the resurrection from the Plan of Salvation. We testified of the truth that he will see his son again one day and how there are covenants that can made here on Earth to bind families together for all eternity. The Spirit was very strong in that moment and it was a major break through for Ron’s conversion!

Update on Jenne Bryce! She committed to be baptized! She shared with us this week in her lesson that she has been smoking for 81 years of her life!!! She doesn’t have any medical issues from it so at first she didn’t see why it was so bad. We explained the blessings of the Word of Wisdom and how we can receive the Spirit stronger and receive answers of the questions we have for God. This week she quit cold turkey from smoking! She said how each time she had a temptation she would say a prayer and read the Book of Mormon for strength. It is so powerful to witness one of God’s children start to recognize and feel His strength within the gospel!

To finish off this email I came across a great quote from our prophet Thomas S. Monson. “We become examples of the believers by living the gospel of Jesus Christ in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith and in purity. As we do so, our light will shine for others to see.” As we press on in our mortal life, our actions mean everything. It is those actions that either bring us closer to God or farther, there is no neutral ground. My challenge to everyone reading this is to reflect on your life and select one thing that is keeping you from feeling God’s love more fully. After you select it, write on a Post-it note or put it into your phone and work on eliminating that thing as a whole. I promise you that the through Christ Atonement, you can overcome all things that you yield up to God! We can improve little by little each day walking in total faith and trust.

Transfer results! I will be staying in Thousand Oaks 3rd ward with Elder Kelly for another 6 weeks! He is my first companion to have for 2 transfers. I will still be a district leader and within our district we are getting 3 new missionaries! Cant wait for all the great things that lie ahead!

Pictures! Horses from Ron, Elder Kelly and I found a swing, and our tri-pan!

Till next week!

Elder Austin Morgan
2455 Vista Wood Cir
Apt #17
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

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LightTheWorld, Cow Feet and more of Jeanne Bryce (Week 24)

(Sorry a week behind on this one… -Doug)

Hello from California!

This week has really flown by and had a lot of great “baby” miracles happen! We also try and focus on the small miracles so when the going gets tough, the tough get going!

Scarlet Jablonowski is a 10 year old investigator that will be baptized on the 22nd of January!! Elder Kelly and I have been teaching their family all transfer long. They were inactive for many years and had a few children that haven’t been baptized yet. In addition, they haven’t been sealed in the temple yet. We are excited for their family because they are opening up and feeling the spirit in their home again. The entire family doesn’t attend together yet but we know that the Lord can and will do miracles!

This email will be about explaining the pictures of the week!

Picture 1- This is a GIANT pass along card that was printed for us during the #LightTheWorld Christmas initiative. We were able to take it home after Christmas and on the way into the apartment we went up and offered it to someone to have! They were kind of confused while we held this giant poster board but it started a really great conversation about missionary work and families! Just shows sometimes you have to think outside the box to talk to new people!

2 and 3- We had dinner at a member home, the Harwards. They are actually thinking about to Oklahoma in 2018 for a job opportunity and I might have made a great sales pitch to help them out! They served their missions in Paraguay and have some pretty fun souvenirs from it. The best one in Elder Kelly and I’s opinion was this cow hoof cup! It is a real cow hoof and comes with a pure silver straw. The cup that is inside the hoof is wood and isn’t very big. We took turns drinking some Mexican Coke-Cola out of it and of course took the chance to take picture evidence!

4- Jeanne Bryce, she is our 94 year old investigator that we found in a very unique way! (I have mentioned her before) We were talking through a senior living community to offer service when a physical trainer from Simi Valley came up to us and gave us his business card. He said to give him a call because he has a friend that might want to talk to us!

Long story short. We went over to talk to her and shared some testimonies of forever families! She has been to church 3 times in the past 4 weeks and feels like we really do have the truth! She was a little late the sacrament meeting and when she came in they were passing the water and it was very quiet. She forgot about the reverent time of the meeting and was almost yelling as she walked into the chapel. She was yelling (on accident) to someone that was sitting in the back row, “Well I was late but at least I’m here now!” She continued, “Where are my missionary boys?? I want to sit by them!”

We shot up and greeted and kindly shushed her and reminded her of the sacrament time and she got really quiet and started praying on the spot for forgiveness! She was happy to be at church so we took a picture with her in a class!

I know that this gospel has the ability to bring us closest to Christ and our Heavenly Father! We can all be so blessed when we open our mouth in boldness and proclaim the truth that we KNOW. I challenge each one of us to pray for the opportunity to share the gospel this mouth and realize that now is the time because we adore Christ!

Till next week! We have transfer calls this Saturday and I will let everyone know if I am going or staying!

  1. Boomer Sooner! Heard of the win against Auburn!

Elder Austin Morgan
2455 Vista Wood Cir
Apt #17
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

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Happy New Year, Japanese Basketball and Jumping Fences. (Week 23)

Happy New Year everyone!

I hope that your celebrations we as fun as mine! Just kidding, ours wasn’t that exciting at all. It was still good though! We had to been in early for safety curfew in our mission but Elder Kelly, Shumway and Peterson are all REALLY sick. The majority of the night consisted of them falling in and out of consciousness but I got to just relax and write in my journal of many experiences I have had this week! Here are a few!

On Friday nights, we have started a pick up basketball game at 7:00 pm and we try to get as many members and nonmembers there. This Friday we had 5 nonmembers show up from the Cal Lutheran University here in Moor-park/Thousand Oaks area. Four of them are from Osaka Japan and have been here in the United States for about 4 months. They have never played basketball before in their life! When we started it was a funny sight to see all this guys running around trying to play basketball. There was a lot of tripping and falling over. Each time they would score they would all cheer super loud and yell “Wow!” Even if they got scored on, they would still be really happy to see the ball go into the hoop. We had a member, Brother Van Woerkum, come and play with us. He is the bald man in the picture and was the Japanese favorite person to be around. They thought we was the next best NBA star and would always pick “the bald American” first when they picked teams.

The Elders in our apartment went and did  some surprise service for a lady in our ward named Grandma Coy. She is spunky 80 year old that loves to feed the missionaries Taco Bell every Friday for lunch. She mentioned last Friday that her year was all messy but she didn’t have the time or energy to get it done, so we went over there to surprise her! Both her gates we locked so we decided to jump the fences and just start working. We got about 10 minutes into the service when we hear a voice from the house saying, “Ever have your butts kicked??” She said how we scared her and we didn’t have to clean up but we went ahead and did it! We spent about 2 hours raking,  sweeping and bagging all her leaves. At the end one of her neighbors came by and asked what we were doing and wants us to come surprise her with a clean yard! I guess service really does pay off.

Final experience from this week was Jeanne Bryce. She is a 94 year old that was a referral from a physical therapist we randomly met. Has has already been to church two times and for Christmas we gave her a large print version of the Book of Mormon. When she unwrapped the package she was so happy that she picked it up and gave it a big hug! It was the sweetest site to see someone love the word of God that much! Elder Kelly and I are thinking we need to baptize her real quick because being 94 she may not have a lot of time left!

I love being a missionary and I can’t imagine doing anything more fulfilling than serving the Lord for the entire year of 2017. Its crazy to think that next year I will be done with the mission that I look forward to service for all my life. Until then, I will soak up each moment and serve with all my might!

Have a great start to 2017!

Elder Austin Morgan
2455 Vista Wood Cir
Apt #17
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

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We had a green Christmas. It was still merry. (Week 22)

(Sorry folks, running a week behind because of being out of town… -Doug)

Merry Christmas from California for the final time this year!

This Christmas season was one of the most rewarding and spiritual Christmases ever because of this wonderful mission! I have witnessed the miracles of the season as people’s hearts have become changed and focus on Christ as a world. There were many great memories and experiences that happened this week!

First off was Christmas day! Our apartment of 4 missionaries arose and made a big breakfast before opening the presents that friends and our family had sent our way. I was in charge of making all the pancakes and there were a lot…. In the pictures attached, I got a little lazy at the end of making breakfast put as much batter into one pancake as a I could. The result was this HUGE pancake that actually really tasty. Props to me for that! We enjoyed our morning before 10am church service and went on our way wearing our new ties that we got! (Ties are personal essentially your identity as a missionary…)

We had a zone conference this week with the Newbury Park, Thousand Oaks, and Simi Valley zones! We had about 70 missionaries there and it was focused on pushing ourselves in the work because we adore Jesus Christ with all our hearts! We then had a baby picture surprise that all our parents sent in! Thanks mom for sending one that wasn’t too embarrassing. We then watched parts of the Polar Express and found the gospel analogies! It was a pleasant surprise and I never knew Polar Express could be so motivational and spirited!

As a district we went caroling to a few homes for 2 hours before Christmas! We went around handing out candy canes and singing our little hearts out. Most of the time we weren’t in tune but it was still fun! We got to one house, the Morgans (don’t think that I am related. Grandpa Morgan will need to check) and they invited us all in for hot chocolate and food. Singing Christmas songs sure does pay off!

It was a wonderful Christmas and the highlight was getting to call home and talk to my family! As missionaries we sacrifice most communication with them so that we can focus on the work 24/7. We call home on Christmas and Mother’s day. I just want to say that I love my family and thank them for all their support!

I want to end with a great quote that was shared with me this past week that wraps the season up perfectly!

“You can give a great and wonderful Christmas if you remember the gifts that God has given you ,and as best you can, offer them to others as He would.”

Happy New Year and keep the Christmas spirit going all year!


Elder Austin Morgan
2455 Vista Wood Cir
#17
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

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Sing Noel, Baptism Dates and Merry Christmas! (Week 21)

Hello!

It is crazy to believe on Sunday it is Christmas! Seems like just last week was Thanksgiving but time is flying by! I hope that everyone reading this, wherever they are, has a special, merry and Christ centered Christmas.

We had the amazing opportunity to go to a multi-stake concert called “Sing Noel”. It was a Christmas concert held at our stake center and had 2 performances. It was a concert that was free and open to the public but the quality of it would made you think you had to buy expensive tickets! There was a big choir, violin and piano performances, and even the Spanish version of “Joy To The World” that we all (attempted) to sing along to! It was a perfect way to prepare for Christmas day and just inspired us to continue sharing the reason for the season more boldly this week!

The work in Thousand Oaks is really picking up with Elder Kelly! This week we have had two investigators set a day to be baptized in January 2017! Our ward hasn’t has a baptism in a long time and everyone is so excited to support and prepare these people. Everyone likes to jump on the success train and more members are doing missionary work with us! It is thrilling to be apart of this work in the Christmas season.

A great missionary experience was one night we were walking around our apartment complex and came up to a guy sitting outside and smoking. We decided to talk to him about the Book of Mormon and got to know him a little better, his name is Carl. Carl was kind of shy a first but really opened up to us and we were able to give him a copy and set an appointment for this next week! It is a great missionary experience because we have been getting instructions on being more bold in our work. We were straight forward and just promised him that our message WOULD benefit his life!

Fun news: Our water heater went out this week… it was cold showers for the apartment. Not just luke warm but COLD… Elder Kelly had a solution to duct tape a spaghetti strainer to the head of the shower and then we proceeded to boil water. We then dumped the hot water through the strainer so the other could have hot water… obviously we went one at a time and tried to aim the water without looking. The heater got replaced the next day but it was well worth the story.

This week was a chance to help serve food at a homeless person dinner at another church! I was in charge of serving lasagna while Elder Kelly had ham. I promise I heard Elder Kelly say the word “Hammmm?” at least 100 times… People were so grateful for our service and seeing smiles shine on other people’s faces just makes me remember why serving a mission is such a blessing and privilege!

I love being a missionary, it is the greatest thing I could be doing with my life. I have seen every day how the Lord directs us for the good of others. He is molding all of us into the generations that we need to be in order to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ. Let us all continue to #LightTheWorld this final week leading up the Christmas day!

Merry Christmas to all!

Elder Austin Morgan
2455 Vista Wood Cir
Apt #17
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
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New area/district and Elder Ballard (Week 20)

Hello from Thousand Oaks California!

This week has been a crazy busy and rewarding. Elder Kelly and I were whitewashed into our new ward and the previous Elders didn’t do a great job at keeping the area organized… so we spent a lot of time week fixing it up! We were able to really rely on the Lord for guidance as to what we should do each day and He answered our prayers!

Our ward had a Christmas party this weekend and we had invited about 4 nonmembers we had meet on the street to come and enjoy a free meal! All of them came! We had a table full of people that didn’t know anyone in the ward, including us because we are still new! A lot of members came up and introduced themselves and invited them to come sit with them and get to know them. It was really impressive to see how the Lord’s work continues on even if there are new individuals in the equation! Attached is a picture of Elder Kelly and I with Santa and our festive ties!

My district that I am over covers the T.O. 1, 3, 4 and 6th wards! We have a total of 8 missionaries (6 Elders and 2 Hermanas). We had our first district meeting which I have this responsibility of planning weekly! It went really well and we all to go know one another a little bit better. Our focus of the meeting was to prepare for Elder Ballard! There were several of his talks shared and was special to get spiritually ready to listen to an Apostle of the Lord. Pictures attached are of our district!

The highlight of the week was Elder Russel M. Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles coming to our mission!!! Our entire mission of 165 missionaries came together in Ventura Stake Center early on Saturday and awaited his arrival. I was asked to say the opening prayer to the meeting so each second that passed by I got a little more nervous, I mean I was saying a prayer in front of an apostle! A picture is attached of my literal front row spot, it was amazing to be that close to an apostle in the midst of instruction for missionaries.

The time came where he walked in and we all stood up and welcomed him! He is a shorter than I imagined but he is a spirit giant! We all got a chance for a quick handshake and he went right up onto the stand and started to address us after Elder Hallstrom and Wild. We got to listen to Elder Ballard for about a straight hour and every phrase he would utter was inspiring!

The theme of his address was “Let Us Adore Him” because of this great Christmas Season we are in the midst of! As members of this wonderful Church we have a lot of knowledge and responsibility to help the world be prepared for Jesus Christ Second Coming. We must able to teach more powerful than the other influences in the world that distract and destroy families.  As we talk to more people daily about the gospel, we will see more success in our work and Heavenly Father will be able to open up new opportunities.

One of the most powerful things that Elder Ballard said was for us to imagine passing on form this life and seeing family and friends that will ask us, “Why didn’t you tell me? You had the truth and didn’t tell me!” We have all had experiences were we could have opened our mouth and testified of Christ but didn’t, I know I have! My invitation to myself and to all that read this email is to go forth and share the gospel with those the Lord has placed in your life! Think, of all of His beloved children, He has entrusted you to be where you are and around who you are to help bring them to the truth of this life!

Success isn’t measured by numbers but it is measured by effort! We have to really try in a simple, clear and personal manner to connect with our friends and families about the gospel. A smile goes a long way and will radiate your love of Christ to all that see it! Keep going,file forward, teach, testify, witness and lift those around you.

Elder Ballard left us with a beautiful Apostolic blessing and his confidence in our work.

I witness that we are lead by Apostles today and that Elder Ballard, along with all the other Apostles are truly the Lord’s chosen to lead us through this crazy world. We are blessed with modern-day prophets that speak with God then instruct and edify us to be strong enough to press forward back to His presence! I know about all things that Jesus Christ lives. This Christmas season, I have already seen countless miracles because He is hastening His work. He is coming quickly and we must be ready to accept and feel His unconditional love!

Best wishes and #LightTheWorld,

Elder Austin Morgan
2455 Vista Wood Cir
#17
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

Baptism, District Leader, Thousand Oaks 3rd Ward and Christmas Cheer (Week 19)

Hello from California!

This week has been full of amazing spiritual experiences and knowledge that many more are in the near future!

First off, WE HAD A BAPTISM THIS WEEKEND! It was for Ciomara Stolp who is nine years old. She is the daughter of a single mom of eight children that is returning to activity in our ward. The service was a little bit smaller but a lot of her nonmember family, members that help teach Ciomara and all the missionaries in the district attended! For refreshments we had Cheetos and cake because it is Ciomara’s favorite thing to eat. Keep in mind all this was at 10 in the morning! But it was her special day and we are so blessed to be able to have witnessed the Lord’s loving hand make it a reality.

This is the last day of the transfer in Westlake Village and I have been transferred to the Thousands Oaks 3rd Ward in the Thousand Oaks Stake! In addition to a new area, I have been called to be a District Leader! This assignment makes me nervous and excited. Elder Kelly will be my new companion and we are white washing into this ward (meaning that both the previous Elders left and two new ones are coming in). Elder Kelly was my MTC companion back in July and I am so excited to be working with him again but out in the real world! This next transfer will push me to rely on the Lord even more than usual. This is only my fourth transfer in the mission field and the new situation has a lot of responsibility, but I know that who the Lord calls, He qualifies. I trust Him completely!

I feel so blessed to be able to be a missionary in the midst of this Christmas season! Our district had the chance to volunteer for several hours at St. Jude’s Catholic Church this week. We spent the time putting up trees, lights and stuffing our face with the pumpkin pie they had out. The tree in the picture attached was first decorated on the floor and then we had to left it on top of the table… good thing we had a lot of Elders there because the old ladies weren’t of much help lifting. It was a great experience to be able to work with other Christians and focus on the things that bring us together! I challenge all of you to focus on the commonalities as we share the #LightTheWorld message each day of December.

The Westlake Village family ward had their ward Christmas party this Saturday and it was a great chance to be able to say bye to all the members that I have come to love over the previous 4 months. Elder Allen and I took the chance to sit on Santa’s lap! We asked for a lot of baptisms this next month… I guess we will see if he can deliver.

I would just like to close this email with my testimony of the truthfulness of this restored gospel. I have been able to witness the true change in individuals and families over the past few months. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings an unique sense of joy and happiness that cannot be found anywhere else! We are blessed to have a prophet of God, Thomas S. Monson, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to guide us through these turbulent times. We are lead by Jesus Christ, who died and lived so that we can return back to our Heavenly Father! When we share the news of this gospel, all involved in that process are blessed beyond measure.

Till next week! I will have new stories of a new area, a new companion and a mission wide conference that is happening on December 10th! Our speakers will be Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy!

Elder Austin Morgan

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Thanksgiving, Hikes and Turkey Bowl (Week 18).

Hello from California!

We had an amazing Thanksgiving week here in Westlake Village! Transfers are next week! Crazy how time flies on a mission but I just try and cherish every second of the experience!

There are a lot of pictures for this week so I will just explain in order!

1- It has been turning cold and rainy here in Westlake Village the last week (relative to normal.) It is averaging in the mid to low 50s and 60s! I thought I was serving in a place that was just constantly sunny and 75… It was funny though because we were tracting in the rain and there was this little old lady that saw us and felt so bad that we looked cold. We asked if we could come inside and share a message with her about Christ to warm up! She said no… but hey, at least she was loving and sympathetic to us!

2, 3 and 6- On last Pday we got a chance to go hike on a day that clear and little warmer. It was an amazing hike!!! It was called “Sandstone Peak” and from the summit we could see the ocean, LA, Ventura, and the entire Canejo Valley. We spent about 30 minutes driving on these windy two lane roads without guardrails and hiked a good hour and half to the peak! As pictured it was the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains! On the way down we got to watch the sunset out on the ocean and it was an amazing moment to soak in the scenery and appreciation God’s creation.

4- Elder Allen and me at Thanksgiving at the Gates home! The have a beautiful home and had a lot of non-member family and friends over in their 14 million dollar home… ITS HUGE!!! There is this homemade strawberry jam they make that is to die for…. We got a jar of it but Elder Allen dropped it in the kitchen floor and shattered the jar. Oh well. They are a wonderful family in our ward and Brother Gates is the one that invented high density WiFi for college campuses and corporate businesses. He joined the church because he was able to do some business at BYU-Idaho and the men he meet with introduced the gospel into his life. If you were like me, I have always been wondering if they are related to THE Bill Gates. Their response was, “Yah, we call him Uncle Bill!” Interpret that for what you would like!

5- The Elders in our district was able to go to a Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving day in Oak Park! It was a great opportunity to get out and know the ward in Agoura Hills. We had a lot of fun and just reminded me of home and the tradition. P.S. I was told that it is Bedlam this week between OU and OSU and apparently both are ranked 8 and 10 respectively. Boomer Sooner! Hope my little brother Daniel cheers for the right team this time, haha.

This week we have been able to witness so many miracles, but I would like to mention two! We have been working with a less-active family here in the ward and they committed to go to the temple in early 2017 to be sealed. They are overcoming physical health road blocks but have a strong faith and desire to do what they Lord asks of us. We were able to share the Christmas message of #LIGHTTHEWORLD with them that is on Mormon.org and they want to strive to serve others as much as they can with their limitations! What an example of faith! At times we feel like our physical or spiritual limitations are too great to help others but when we turn our efforts over to the Lord, He blesses us with the ability and strength!

On Saturday we have a baptism for a 9 year old investigator, Ciomara! She is a daughter of a less active single mom that has 8 children. Ciomara really wants to attend church and grow in the gospel together in hopes that it will bring them more joy and peace. She is an example and a witness as to how the gospel truly blesses families.

I am so grateful for the gospel in the life of my own family. It has brought us through the thick and the thin situations. It allows us to have greater joy and purpose in this life because we are closer to God. This gospel has the ability to enrich your life like no other thing on this earth!

Thank you to Todd Turner, Christa Jones and Cheryl Neuberger for the letters this week! It really lifted my days when I got them!

Best wishes,

Elder Austin Morgan