A day in the life of a Fort Worth missionary. . . as posted by his parents

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Knots in a Rope

(This is a portion of this weeks letter Paul sent to Elder Shoemaker about his five-mile swim in the Columbia River this past week - GREAT MESSAGE) 
As we swam, I learned another "swimming lesson".  Forest fires burning in the Northwest have brought a lot of smoke in the air so its hard to see long distances.  We hadn't completely covered the route we were taking before so we weren't sure of the exact path we would take.  I was the navigator and decided to take the journey a step at a time.  There were familiar landmarks I could see that helped guide us along the way.  The first landmark was the bridges I've driven over many times.  As we swam under the bridges, we stayed clear of the huge pillars holding the bridge spans as we were concerned there might be dangerous currents or turbulence.  After the bridge, I could faintly make out the next landmark, a large tree on the far end of Bateman Island.  Even though the smoke was thick, the landmarks safely guided us along our journey.  The next landmark was a navigation marker that was just downstream.  From there, I could see the shimmer of the sunlight reflecting from a building at our final destination.   We followed the landmarks and finished our trip safely and without getting lost or off course.  It reminded me of how we can successfully navigate ourselves through life.  As we identify our destination, there will be acquaintances, temptations and situations that could interfere with our trip like the smoke that clouded the landmarks on our swim.  If we have landmarks along our way, we can stay focused on those to progress through life.  Maybe some of those landmarks might be graduating from college, having a joyous marriage, ongoing spiritual fulfillment or any number of other things.  Having landmarks along our life journey can help us weather the turbulence that we all will ultimately suffer and help us emerge better than if we were just foundering along in life without purpose, goals or aspirations.  As we identify landmarks, we have a guide to follow and hopefully bring lasting joy and happiness as we base our landmarks on enduring values and principles.

Hope this can be a help to you as you navigate!  Have a great week, Elder!
Dear family,
Wow!  It sounds like the fires are really bad and are affecting a lot of things. That is crazy to hear about the ash on the trampoline and plants. I love your analogy Dad.  That is so important that we have landmarks to direct our paths and give us happiness along the way. It is really cool.  Maybe I can set goals as my landmarks and use those to help me continually progress out here. There was an analogy that came to my mind one day. I am not sure if I have shared it yet. Anyway, it is about knots in a rope. We go throughout our lives (the rope) and we get to the knots that may discourage us and possibly stop us from progressing. However, with those knots in the rope it give us something to grasp onto and build off of allowing us to build and even have a better grip to help us become better.
I finished the Book of Mormon again and it was so amazing. I did a challenge given to us from the Mission President and it really has helped me to gain an even stronger testimony of the truthfulness of it. I love the Book of Mormon and I am so grateful for the opportunity to share it with others. This past week we had a meeting for all of the district leaders. I do not know what it was but it was so amazing and I learned so much from it and it really helped me to see the importance of missionary work. It is not just to baptize people but it is to go out and serve how Christ would.  I have really learned to love the people that we meet every day. However, I will still go out and help people make the step of baptism in their lives. We should be helping two or three people make this step soon and come closer to their Savior, Jesus Christ.
I hope y'all are doing great and if I am ever in danger,  y'all will know as soon as possible. I am really loving it out here.  I miss my family but know that you are all being taken care of while I am gone. I have been purging my mind of trunky thoughts and have seen the success from focusing on the work.  I found that I can progress as much as I can and no one can kep that from happening. We are doing great here in the Temple 2nd ward and this area is finally starting to show the success from turn around that has happend from the Lord preparing the people here.
I have decide that I will take a weekly picture every Sunday and send it home each week.  I think it will be cool to see the difference between now and later and have a weekly picture of Elder Shoemaker. Thank you for your prayers.
Love, Elder Shoemaker

Monday, September 17, 2012

Elder Stanworth Gets a Rough Welcome

Dear Family and friends,
Sorry if todays letter is short. I had 6 different emails in my inbox this morning. 3 from family, 2 from President, and from one of his helpers. I thought I would let y'all know so you do not have to find out from the mission. We got rear ended this week.  Elder Stanworth and I are both okay and no one was hurt in the accident. Things have all been taken care of and the church in on the ball and Sister Sagers just called to make sure we are still doing okay.
It sounds like so much is always going on at home.  It  is so crazy how Erica and Kenzy are continuing on in their lives. It is so weird. I feel like I just was in elementary school with them. I cannot wait to see where Tanner (Cousin) is going on his mission. My guess is Texas - Fort Worth - the best mission in the world.
Anyway, about the contacts and Flonase,  it would be a lot easier if y'all could get them to me.  It is very hard to find extra time to do things like that. I could definantly use a long sleeve shirt and an extra pair of pants 32waist x 30length. Other than that, we are doing great.  Elder stanworth just got here this week.  He is from Delta, Utah.  We are here in the Temple 2nd ward still and working hard.  This week is already set up with a lots of appointments.
I hope y'all have a great day.  I am sorry my time is almost up and I want to send a few pics now that fall is here, and the computers we are using are unable to send pics.  I will get them to you some way though.
Love Elder Shoemaker.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Time is Flying

Dear Dad family and friends,
Oh yeah, it was definently hot enough this week. However this morning we came outside and it was first time in a while that it was colder outside than inside. It is showing signs of cooling down.
With the card thing, I was not suprised that you noticed that there was a purchase. I helped Elder Fa'onelua out.  He got a new suit and his parents had not sent him money for one yet. I have money back from that now so everthing is okay. I am going to try and find a bank soon so I can put the money back on the card where it should be. I was wondering though if you could order some contacts for me and address them to here. I tried the other day to use my insurance card and I could not figure out what to do. I also found my camera cord and will send some pics with my email. Thanks dad for watching out for me. My address will stay the same.  Elder fa'onelua is finishing his mission this week and I will be getting my new companion Elder Stansworth. He is a pretty cool guy. He was in my zone when I was in Stephenville. I will be excited to serve with him.
This past week has just flown by.  We have been working super hard and I even lost track of what day it was this week. Ha ha. Our Sunday was great.  The stake presidency came and spoke and there were also two investigators that were able to make it to church. One was a girlfriend of a recent convert. We met her this week and invited her to come and she did. We will be teaching her in a members home this week and will have a great spiritual lesson to help her to follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized.
Thank you for the scripture from Ether dad.  I needed it. I actually had just read it this morning in my studies and I currently have two chapters left in the Book of Mormon. I have learned so much this time from reading and studying it. It was part of a challenge from our Mission President to go through and mark every reference to Jesus Christ; his doctrine, his words, and his atributes. It has been truly amazing and has really strengthened my testimony and faith in Jesus Christ.
Thank you dad and mom and everyone for your prayers. The last few weeks have been some of the hardest and best weeks, because we are so busy. It is exciting to see how the Lord allows his work to go forth and work so well. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and I still have so much more to grow from. I hope ya'll have a wonderful week. Thank you for sharing about Brother Magee's talk.  It will help me from giving into peer pressure which there is a lot of out here with bending of mission rules and I have to always remind myself to remember my commitment is first to the Lord,  then the mission president,  and then the missionaries. That is from our missionary handbook.  I feel how important my calling is when I hear that, and I hope to remember it always. That is exciting to hear about your long swim and it sounds like the kayak is getting used efficaciously. Ha ha that is a new word I learned this week and I have bee trying to find a way to use it. I love ya'll and I will keep you in my prayers.
Elder Shoemaker

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Soaring with the Eagles

Dear Dad and everyone,
Really really, I have been doing so good. I love it out here and I recently realized this week that Texas is okay. I am sorry for complaining how hot is was all of the time. It really is not bad. This week is forcasted with above 100 degrees but I am actually used to it. The work has been going great here.  We have been finding those who really are prepared to be baptized. We had a lot of investigators with baptismal dates that we had  to evaluate if were really ready and discovered they really had much more preparation. However, this week we have truly been finding the elect and I feel like I have finally broke through the ceiling so I can get out and fly. There was an experience that was shared at a zone conference about an eagle that was raised with chickens and acted like a chicken.  A kind soul bought the chicken and took it out of its comfort zone and to a high ridge where it could soar.  After different attempts at lower heights proved unsuccessful, he found on a high ridge the eagle saw it's potential. I feel kind of like the eagle and now know that the Lord can take me to that ridge and allow me to fly.
Anyway this past week we did meet with the students again. We have decided that we cannot fulfill our purpose there but as me and elder (Fa-own-A-looa) were praying as to what we should do about them there was one name out of the seven that just struck us. We both had confirmed answers and hopefully this week we will see the results of dropping the others and working with the student that we felt prompted was ready. Also, we contacted a referral that was from a member this week.  We taught him and he is so ready. Alex is his name. We went and were briefly talking before the lesson and he mentioned that the missionaries had invited him to be baptized before but he declined. He said however that if they invited him again he would accept it. He was so ready and one way we could really tell was that when we asked "What can the book of Mormon do for you?" he opened right to a page and read how the spirit will become part of him and cleanse him. Take note: The Book of Mormon He read out of was a blank copy, so apparently he has been studying the copy he has that is his own. Anyway, it was a really cool experience of how well Alex was prepared.
I am also going to try and write Chels and Spence so sorry for the shorter letter. It sounds like you trip to day will be great and it sounds like things are busy. I have seen your prayers mom and dad and everyone. I will make sure to keep you in my prayers too.
Elder Shoemaker