Monday, September 14, 2015

8/30/15 | Elder Bailey's Homecoming Talk

I've never been so nervous to talk to a congregation in my life. This is the biggest congregation I've ever seen in about 2 years. Last week I spoke in church and it probably took up about half the front section and that was the entire ward and some other people, so bare with me if I get nervous because I'm pretty nervous right now. I hope that the spirit will be able to carry the message tthat I've pretared for you guys. And today I'm going to be talking about something that is very dear to my heart. 

Today I’ll be talking on the power of personal testimony, what it is, why it’s important, and how to gain a personal testimony. 
So first off, What is a testimony?
In True to the faith it reads,
“A testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost.”
A testimony is a knowledge that something is true, such as knowing that the BofM is true, that Jesus Christ lives, and that Joseph Smith was called to be the prophet to bring back the Church of Jesus Christ in these latter-days. 
President Packer shared an experience of when he tried to explain what a testimony was to an atheist, he said,
I sat on a plane next to a professed atheist who pressed his disbelief in God so urgently that I bore my testimony to him. “You are wrong,” I said, “there is a God. I know He lives!”
He protested, “You don’t know. Nobody knows that! You can’t know it!” When I would not yield, the atheist, who was an attorney, asked perhaps the ultimate question on the subject of testimony. “All right,” he said in a sneering, condescending way, “you say you know. Tell me how you know.”
When I attempted to answer, even though I held advanced academic degrees, I was helpless to communicate.
. . . he said, “you don’t really know. If you did, you would be able to tell me how you know.
I felt, perhaps, that I had borne my testimony to him unwisely and was at a loss as to what to do. Then came the experience! Something came into my mind . . . and I said to the atheist, “Let me ask if you know what salt tastes like.”
“Of course I do,” was his reply.
“When did you taste salt last?”
“I just had dinner on the plane.”
“You just think you know what salt tastes like,” I said.
He insisted, “I know what salt tastes like as well as I know anything.”
“If I gave you a cup of salt and a cup of sugar and let you taste them both, could you tell the salt from the sugar?”
“Now you are getting juvenile,” was his reply. “Of course I could tell the difference. I know what salt tastes like. It is an everyday experience—I know it as well as I know anything.”
“Then,” I said, “assuming that I have never tasted salt, explain to me just what it tastes like.”
After some thought, he ventured, “Well-I-uh, it is not sweet and it is not sour.”
“You’ve told me what it isn’t, not what it is.”
After several attempts, of course, he could not do it. He could not convey, in words alone, so ordinary an experience as tasting salt. I bore testimony to him once again and said, “I know there is a God. You ridiculed that testimony and said that if I did know, I would be able to tell you exactly how I know. My friend, spiritually speaking, I have tasted salt. I am no more able to convey to you in words how this knowledge has come than you are to tell me what salt tastes like. But I say to you again, there is a God! He does live! And just because you don’t know, don’t try to tell me that I don’t know, for I do!”
From that experience forward, I have never been embarrassed or ashamed that I could not explain in words alone everything I know spiritually.”
That's why a testimony is so important. It's something that is inside each of us. It's not something that we can convey to people, but it's something that the spirit can convey. The spirit can go forth and touch the hearts of you we talk to as we share that testimony.  
Why is a testimony Important?
Elder Ballard said,
“Personal testimony is the foundation of our faith.
Testimony … changes lives. It changes how you think and what you do. It changes what you say.
When one receives a testimony of truth …, it immediately begins to have impact on that person’s life.”
As missionaries our main goal is to invite others to come unto Christ, we do that by guiding them and helping them come to know the messages we share are true by having them pray and ask God.  Once the people we are working with gain that testimony they act on it by being baptized. 
I remember one time we were working with 2 friends, their names are Shelly and Claricia. They were from Haiti and spoke a lot of Creole and a little bit of English so there was some difficulty connecting with them but I was able to get through pretty well.  We had been teaching them about the BofM and asked them to read and pray and ask God if it was true.  We came back the next day and asked Shelly about her experience with reading and prayer.  She explained to us that she started reading and it made no sense to her, so she prayed and asked God to help her understand what she read.  She told us almost word for word the chapter she had read and then said that she knew it was true. She had gained that testimony.  After 10 days of teaching them they were baptized because of that testimony they had. As of right now they are both faithful members living in Florida. 
Another experience I recall is when we were teaching our friend Tasiea.  We had been working with her for a few weeks and were striving to help her be baptized in March.  She was struggling to know if she was ready for baptism and if March was the time when God wanted her to be baptized.  My companion and I went over one day and shared the doctrine of baptism and bore simple testimony. It was a very simple lesson but the Spirit was there and it touched her heart.  
A couple days later we went back over after Church and she started off by saying, “Elder’s I need to tell you something, don’t’ freak out or get mad at me or be disappointed” And if any of you have ever served missions you know that if someone starts a conversation like that you know it's not going to end too well. And so I kind of braced myself to hear some disappointing news. And then she said “I’m being baptized on Tuesday!!!”  That was one of the happiest moments of my life. When an investigator tells you that they want to be baptized and that they've been able to receive that witness and spirit that it's true. 
My companion, Elder Hayward and I had taught Gospel Principles and chose to teach it on the power of the Holy Ghost and directed it to our investigators who were at church, Tasiea being one of them.  
We found out that after Gospel Principles class, she went home and she had been praying on the car ride home and while in the car she was able to feel the spirit and it specifically told her that March was the month that she needed to be baptized.  And then two days later on March 31st she was baptized and she's now a faithful member of the church preparing to go to the temple.  And again it was that testimony that she had gained that caused her to act. 
It was the testimony she gained that led her to act.

It is vital for each of us to gain a personal testimony at some point of our lives.  I believe it is critical for the youth to seek diligently to gain a personal testimony.  Especially before they leave their houses, before they go to college, before they serve a mission.  It was my testimony that caused me to keep working hard with faith and diligence during the 2 years I spent in Florida.  I remember some days it felt like everything was working against us, Like all the powers of Satan were trying to get us to not be obedient and not put forth our efforts.  Like days when it was 100 degrees and 100% humidity; Days when we rode our bikes through thunderstorms and extreme heat; Days when it appeared that no one cared to listen to us as we knocked door to door for hours; and days when it seemed that every gnat and mosquito was out to get us. It was on days like this when my testimony was tried and tested, but it was never shaken because I had gained my testimony when I was younger in my youth been and was able to strengthen it and help it grow for while before I left on my mission. 
If there is any advice I would give to the youth it would be this, to gain a personal testimony that this Church is true, that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was called by Jesus Christ to restore His church, before you leave home to serve a mission or to go to college. That's the biggest piece of advice that I can give because that is what will make a difference in your life. 
I’d like to share my experience of when I gained a personal testimony.  A few years ago, when I was 17, I had the opportunity to work in Nauvoo doing construction for the Church.  At this time I really wanted to know if this church was true, if everything I had been taught growing up was true and if Joseph Smith was a true prophet. One evening I was sitting on a hill just south of the Temple looking over old Nauvoo and decided to pray and ask God if all of this was true.  As I offered up that simple, silent prayer, the Spirit confirmed to me that it was all true.
  This little experience changed my life.  It was because of this moment that I decided to go serve a 2 year mission for the Church. Before that I didn't really have plans to serve a mission, and because of that moment when I gained that testimony that I had the desire to go. After 2 years later I have no regrets of my two year service. I was able to go and change the lives of people in South Florida and it was all because I gained that personal testimony. 
Because I gained that testimony when I was younger I was able to strengthen and grow that testimony so that when I went on my mission I already had a testimony of all the messages that we shared.  Because of my testimony the Spirit was able to teach with me more and touch the hearts of those we taught. 

Just last Monday I had the opportunity to teach my last lesson as a missionary, to a couple we had found. We found this couple last Saturday night and then taught them Monday night.  By this time I had taught it hundreds of times, yet the Spirit felt while sharing that message was the same.  As I testified that what we had taught was true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that this is the Church of Jesus Christ, the Spirit touched the hearts of the couple we taught.  They said, “This all makes sense, we believe that what you taught it true.  Now, when can we be baptized by that authority you were talking about?”
That’s my favorite question to hear!!  It is the bearing of simple testimony that helps change the lives of many people.  For us and for those we teach it is great to acquire a testimony, but that’s just not enough. Elder Bednar said, “Testimony alone is not and will not be enough to protect us in the latter-day storm of darkness and evil in which we are living.  Testimony is important and necessary but not sufficient to provide he spiritual strength and protection we need.”
So what gives us the strength and protection we need?
Elder Bednar continues, “Testimony is the beginning of and prerequisite to continuing conversion . . . Strong testimony is the foundation upon which conversion is established”
To stay strong and resist temptation, one must be converted.

How do we become converted?
From the Book of Mormon we receive a 5-step process on becoming converted:
1.     Study the scriptures and the words of the prophets; general conference talks
2.     Exercise faith in Christ
3.     Repent
4.     Experience a mighty change of heart
5.     Become “firm and steadfast in the faith”

It’s a simple process. God wants every one of His children to know that this is His church and to be converted unto Him.  He asks us to learn of Him, whether by reading the scriptures or listening to the missionaries, and then asking him through prayer so that He can send the Spirit to tell us that it’s true.
I invite all of you to seek to strengthen your testimony and become converted by following this process.  The way to stay strong, faithful and happy is to have a strong testimony as our foundation so that we can build upon it and become converted.
I urge all of you who are questioning whether to serve a mission or not, to ask God if you should serve.  He will let you know that it is one of the best things you could do with your life!  I don’t regret one minute of my missionary experience. 
And please seek to gain a personal testimony before you leave the comforts of home or leave to serve a mission.  It will increase your experience dramatically if you have a testimony and if you’re converted before you leave. 
I saw too many times missionaries come out into the field seeking to gain a testimony as a missionary.  It grieved my heart to see these missionaries struggle with disobedience, laziness and lack of desire as they struggled to know if this is true.
 On the flip side I also saw many missionaries come into the field with a firm testimony, those were the ones who worked miracles right from day one. They understood why they were there, they had the desire to work, and they were able to go and work miracle among the people for the entire 2 years. 
There is nothing more important in life for the youth than to gain a personal testimony. Become converted to the gospel young and then be able to build upon that and strengthen it over the years.    It is just as essential for the adults and the parents as well to keep their testimonies strong and bright and to help their families gain testimonies of their own and then help each other become converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
That's my prayer to just help each of us to become converted. I want us all to be able to make it one day to the Celestial Kingdom of God. To be able to live with friends and family, and the way to do that is to become converted.
And I'd like to just give thanks to all those who helped me through my two year mission. Especially my family, my siblings, my dad. All my friends and all those members of the ward here that helped me throughout the two year experience.
I'd like to bear my testimony that I know that this church is true. I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet. That he was called to bring back the church of Jesus Christ. I know the Book of Mormon is true. There is no other book that compares to it. And I know that Jesus Christ loves each and every one of us and he's there for us. He wants us to live with him again someday. He just asks us to reach out to him. Pray and ask him for that help.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

8/26/15 | Welcome Home Elder Bailey!

Monday, August 24, 2015

8/24/15 | The Last Email

Hey Family!!
It's crazy that 2 years have gone by! we worked hard and finished strong this week, our baptism on saturday with Corey fell through. we were super sad about that.  His wife went crazy so we had to postpone the baptism to a later date.  But we didn't let that stop or phase us, true success is measured off of our commitment to find, teach and baptize.  We stayed committed all week and finished strong!

Yesterday we went on splits with the Elder's Quorum. I went with a brother Cluff. We stopped by a LA who wasn't home so we went to see some investigators, neither of which were home. But while walking to a home we OYM'ed this lady named Tammy. We had prayed with her the night before and she wasn't extremely interested.  But something changed over night. She started asking questions about why we had invited her to be baptized again and why she needed to be baptized again.  We said a prayer then taught the Restoration, she understood it super well! By the end she said, "I get it, I understand why I need to be baptized again! It all makes sense!"  She is super solid for the 12th of September.

I got to give a talk yesterday in Sacrament, spoke on repentance. It went very well, it was good practice for this upcoming Sunday when I get to speak again:)  
Thank you family and friends for your support over the past 2 years! Your prayers, letters, and emails were much appreciated!  

I close with just one thought based on what I've seen over the past 2 years serving a mission.  We've been closed off to a lot of what's been going on in the world, but we've seen enough to know that Satan is attacking the family hard!  We can especially see it with the recent allowance of gay marriage in the US.  It's more important now than ever before to strengthen the family and be a defender of truth.  Here's a quote from "The Family: a Proclamation":"THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. . . Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. "
The Prophets came out with this statement in 1995, the family wasn't under attack like it is now, so this proclamation is definitely inspired!  The only way for Satan to win is for good men to do nothing.  I would invite whoever reads this to review "the Family" and find ways to strengthen your family so that we can have more power to withstand the temptations of Satan and one day all live with God again, that's what its all about.

I love you all and thanks again for all that you've done for me!
Elder Spencer Bailey

Monday, August 17, 2015

8/17/15 | Allow God to keep His Promises

Hey Family
This week was amazing! I can definitely see the hard work, obedience and diligence of the past 2 years paying off this past week.  We had 5 investigators at sacrament and 7 dates set, 5 of which are going to be baptized in the month of August, it's going to be awesome!!!  Elder Kama and I got along a lot better this past week, and I've been praying super hard for the gift of charity and the other night I felt the Spirit very strongly when praying and I've felt so much more love for others ever since then, it truly is a gift from God to have charity.  Corey sadly wasn't baptized over the weekend, but he'll be baptized this Saturday for sure!

We saw a huge miracle last week as we followed the Spirit.  We felt prompted last saturday to go stop by some former investigators.  We followed the prompting and went and visitied them, Shirlene and her daughter Jae'mitria, and they still really wanted to be baptized and to come to church. We had just lost contact with them and they were wondering when we would come back.  We got them committed to come to church and they came yesterday and loved the service!  We taught them the Resto yesterday after church and they are so committed to be baptized on the 29th!  I'm not even going to be here to see them baptized but I'm going to do whatever possible to ensure that they'll be baptized on that day.

I heard a quote this week from one of the church videos that goes something like this, "Do whatever it takes to allow God to keep His promises."  God wants to bless us and help us out.  He's promised that He will always be there for us and help us make it through anything as we keep His commandments.  For God to keep His promises, we need to "believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your [heart], might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul." (2 nephi 25:29) If we do this then God can keep His promises and help us "prosper in the land", we've seen this in our area this past week as we strived to become better missionaries and work diligently to the end.  We applied a lot more faith and even though we got rejected hundreds of times last week, we didn't let our faith die down, because of that we'll be baptizing 5 souls in the month of August and help them prepare to live with God again, it's been such a blessing to help God's children out.

I'm loving the work, crazy that I only have 1 week left, but I'm going to give it my all!  I gave my final training last week on the law of sacrifice and how God asks us to sacrifice our all. In the Old Testament he asked for animal sacrifices as a similitude of Christ's Atoning Sacrifice. Now he asks us to give of ourselves. We made a list of things that were impure about ourselves that were holding us back to put on the "altar of sacrifice".  our district has done really well at sacrificing those things that were holding us back from progressing.  This final week will be great, we'll finish strong by baptizing Corey this Saturday, very excited about that!
Elder Spencer Bailey

snagged a pic of this sunset last night right off of the Caloosahatchee river

we found a pier last night and went out to it and took this pic

Monday, August 10, 2015

8/10/15 | Everything always works out

Dear Family!!
Man, I'm exhausted! This past week was crazy, started off when my comp ran away while we were playing a game of knock out with the zone on pday.  He got mad and left the chapel without anyone knowing.  We found him a while later and  he was extremely mad, so the Zl's took him and I stayed with another set of elders for the rest of the day.  The ZL's got him calmed down and we've gotten along all week, he just had a random explosion of anger. 
also President almost transferred me to finish training someone for my last 2 weeks, there was a problem with the other companionship, but they got it sorted out, so I got to stay here, thank goodness.  

Everything fell apart this week, all of our investigators dropped and we lost contact with our most solid one, Corey.  But then on Friday afternoonwe ran into Corey's wife, who is a member, and she said that he was still reading the BofM and they couldn't visit with us because they had an emergency with her pregnancy.  Everything worked out and Corey is still planning on being baptized this weekend, such a miracle!

I learned this week the importance of faith and the power that comes when we exercise it. I was reading in Alma and read these verses in Chapter 44 when Capt. Moroni is fighting Zerahemna 
" ye are angry with us because of our religion.

 3 But now, ye behold that the Lord is with us; and ye behold that he has delivered you into our hands. And now I would that ye should understand that this is done unto us because of our religion and our faith in Christ. And now ye see that ye cannot destroy this our faith.

 4 Now ye see that this is the true faith of God; yea, ye see that God will support, and keep, and preserve us, so long as we are faithful unto him, and unto our faith, and our religion; and never will the Lord suffer that we shall be destroyed except we should fall into transgression and deny our faith."
No matter what other people say or do they cannot destroy our faith.  Satan can't even destroy our faith.  The only thing that destroys our faith is when we fall into transgression, which weakens our faith.  The way to strengthen faith and to ensure that your faith doesn't dwindle is by doing the basics, 1. reading scriptures daily 2. praying daily 3. attending church weekly and repenting frequently.  We shared this with a LA we found this week and she came to church on Sunday, met with the Bishop and started on the repentance process so that she can be worthy to partake of the Sacrament. 

I also had my final interview with President on Thursday, it was really good! Gave me a lot of good advice and we talked about my mission and the things I learned and how to adjust to normal life in a couple of weeks. 

all in all, it was a crazy week, but I learned a lot and everything worked out in the end, so can't complain about that:)
Love you!
Elder Spencer Bailey

Monday, August 3, 2015

8/3/15 | Living it up in Paradise

Heyo Family!!
This week is my final week to find people to baptize before I depart, the pressure is on!  We have quite the line up of people being baptized in the next couple of weeks, so we are excited about that.  Yesterday we had a very interesting testimony mtg, we had 2 older black women get up and bear their testimony and they both had Baptist backgrounds.  It felt like we were at a Baptist church listening to preachers, it was one of the best testimony mtgs i've witnessed!

 we also had a miracle at church! Our investigator Michael came and after sacrament we were walking out of the chapel and this lady flags us down.  It took a second to recognize her but she was  a lady that we had prayed with the night before! (Her name is Beverly) She was completely not interested when we prayed with her, but she said she woke up and felt like she needed to come visit the church. (We had left a church invite with her)  I had the opportunity to bear my testimony last and I bore it simply on the restoration and the Book of Mormon.  Beverly asked if we could stop by and talk more about Joseph Smith and the BofM, she was really interested!  It was awesome!  I learned a couple of lessons from this experience. 

1."the worth of every soul is great in the eyes of God." If we hadn't given Beverly every opportunity to accept the Gospel Saturday night she wouldn't have come to church.  I learned that it is essential to give it all you got at every door approach, we're planting seeds with everyone we talk to.
2. Bear your testimony whenever possible.  Beverly was so interested in Joseph Smith and the BofM simply because of the testimony I shared during Sacrament mtg. which allowed to Spirit to touch her heart and spark the interest.   I learned that there is power in bearing testimony.

Nothing too interesting happened this past week, just another week!

Love you!
Elder Spencer Bailey

Monday, July 27, 2015

7/27/15 | Fried Chicken & Ice Cream calm the soul

Dear Family!
This week was pretty good! Elder Kamalamalama and I are continuing to get along and progress as missionaries.  We committed to work harder, be more obedient, be more consecrated and to be nicer.  Elder Kama has been making a lot of progress over the last 6+ weeks. We've been studying PMG daily and role-playing A LOT!!  Both of our teaching skills has improved and our investigators have felt the Spirit very strongly as we teach.  The members that come out with us also notice and feel the power and spirit as we teach and have enjoyed coming out with us, so the work in Ft Myers is rolling right along!

We had a miraculous Sunday yesterday. We had 3 of our investigators show up to church, very excited about that!  They all enjoyed the service and are set to be baptized in the upcoming weeks!  Their names are Russ, Corey and Darrell. 

My good friend Elder Hayward went AP last week, very excited about that. And an Elder Johns in now in my district.  We went to BYU summer semester together and lived in the same hall and shared a lot of the same friends, so it's been good and weird serving around him. We have to keep catching ourselves and not call each other by our first names. small world!

Last week I was on exchanges with my ZL friend Elder Fisher, and we got a call from a companionship in my district saying they had reached the end of their rope and were about to kill each other. That's not a very good call to receive.  So we called the AP's and got permission for them to sleep over at our place so we could help administer and minister to them.  We asked them if we could do anything to immediately help them and they wanted strawberry ice cream... so we went and got some ice cream and fried chicken from the store and had a good chat with them while eating.  Thankfully our chat worked and their getting along great now, at least we think they are, their both still alive  so thats  a good sign:)

It's also been raining non-stop for 3 days now, there's water every where!!

That's about all that happened this week! we're going to finish strong and baptize many people in August!
Elder Spencer Bailey

pic 1 - us at chick fil a for cow day