Elder Taylor Dearden
South Carolina Columbia Mission
110 Oak Park Drive, Suite B
Irmo, SC 29063


Monday, July 28, 2014

Guess what I found?


This past week was amazing, lots of great experiences. I had an experience that I'll actually update ya'll on next week, as today it will continue.

I had a prayer answered last week, I prayed to the Lord and asked him this, "I want to know that you're not just something I've created in my head, I want to know if you're a real person"...or something to that effect. Anyways...the Lord gave me a sign to prove to me He is real! Not that I asked for a sign, I just wanted to understand that He wasn't something I made up in my head.


Last week on p-day we went to this  guy's house.   He has 500+ acres of farmland....anyways, he said he found some writings on his property and wanted me to take a look at them!!! He said he had an archaeologist look at them and he said it was a Cherokee Council Rock...whatever that means....I didn't get pictures because I forgot my camera. However, after I write this email I'm going to his place again (it's p-day). So next week I'll have pictures of the writings.
I never would have thought that the lord would lead me to more ancient stuff...just so happens there is a lot out here, people just don't know about it because it's all hidden in the jungle. It's kinda like mexico here, dense jungle and you don't go in there because you run into snakes and dangerous spiders, so people avoid the jungle, so therefore they don't know what's hidden! Anyways, I'm kinda overly excited to go back and spend some time at the site today....The Lord knows my passions and he knows they bring me closer to him (when kept within the boundaries of his laws)
So...I feel like by that rich guy randomly bringing up the conversation that he has some stuff on his property (I didn't initiate the conversation)....I feel like that was the Lord reminding me that He is real, and that He knows my passions and that I can draw near to Him as I follow His signs and the meanings associated with them. 
I had many other "Signs" that proceeded throughout the week, some of which scared me because of how real they were, the Lord is very real, and He will let you know how real He is, Just ask and ye shall receive, Knock and it shall be opened unto you!

I am going to spend more time writing personal letters, so I'm keeping this one short! Never underestimate what the Lord has planned for you to experience! He knows each of you individually, He knows your interests and passions, and he wants you to develop them! 

I love the southern people! This is the south, and it will rise again! (in the gospel of course ;D)
 I'll write about our investigators next week, just know it's going well! Keep them in ya'll prayers!

Life is good,
Elder Dearden

Monday, July 21, 2014

Whatever week it is, I lost count, I don't process time anymore.

Family, Friends, Enemies, random people who read my blog,
This week was an adventure!!!
I'll just tell some quick stories.

I blessed 3 people last week.

I blessed this guy who has cancer and he was getting surgery to remove it, and the surgery was successful and it all worked out, that was good.

I blessed a lady who had a stoke, and she is starting to recover, her nephew is a ward missionary and he's awesome. 
While we were at the Hospital we found out that a friend of a friend in the ward was shot in a gang fight the day before, so we went to visit him and prayed with him and his family, so that was interesting...he was shot in the stomach and lived, he's lucky, he probably shouldn't be alive.
Our ward had a baptism on Saturday with 2 kids that the other missionaries had taught, I gave one the the kids a heart rock I found out here and every time he see's me he runs up to me and gives me a hug and tells me he still has the rock, which was special. I wish I had a picture of him, he's this little 9 year old black kid.
We have so many investigators right now, last week we taught 28 lessons, which was a lot.
But out of our investigators, I'll write about 4 of them.
She is a sweet black lady here that is in her 60's. We met her 3 weeks ago and she was hard to follow up with, she is busy. But we were able to catch her last week and teach her about the restoration. She had been reading the book of mormon and was loving it. I sat down with her for 15 min while my companion was talking to another random guy who walked by and started asking questions (we were sitting on the porch outside doing the lesson). But while I was talking to Linda she was sharing with me a scripture that meant a lot to her out of the Book of Mormon, and after she shared that scripture, a light came through the clouds and hit her Book of Mormon, and it started to glow, she said this, "The sun is coming through the clouds, but (then pointing to the book of mormon), This is the light!" She quickly realized that was God's way of telling her our message was true, she felt the spirit and so I invited her to be baptized in August, and she agreed, she is set for August 23rd, but I'm thinking we can convince her to move it closer. I don't know if she'll follow through, but I'm sure hoping she will, we will be teaching her again tomorrow! So keep her in your prayers!
She is a progressing investigator who has been coming to church, she is loving what we are teaching her, so super cool experiences though, just a sweet investigator who is understanding, we are close though to setting a baptismal date with her.
He lives by Linda, and he has a huge family. He is black and in his 30's. We met him 2 weeks ago and taught him last week. His wife (girlfriend or something, but he calls her his "Old Lady" which is black slang for girlfriend I think) but she stole the book of Mormon we gave him, which ended up being good because she read 19 chapters from it over the weekend! She told us she loved it and that it was easy to understand and that it made sense. We taught Markus about the restoration and it all clicked in his head. He's a humble man who is trying to find the right path for his family. I think he'll come through if he'll just keep up with our appointments. So include Him in your prayers too.
Shane and Angie:
They are progressing, it's hard for them to get work off on sunday, but they are so nice, they make us food all the time and are like best friend neighbor people. We're teaching them again on Wednesday. I think they are understanding our message and I can see it in their eyes, but even if they ever rejected the restoration, we would still be nice to them because they are just such fun and welcoming people (plus they like to feed us). But I really think they have the potential to be converted, it will just take time, they are stuck in a lot of traditional southern beliefs.
There are many more people and experiences! But I aint got the time to share!

Oh! and we ate dinner with the bishop in our ward last week, he's loaded, he's rich. But he has an amazing conversion story from being a bum alcoholic that found the church, changed his life, then got rich haha. He's so cool.
I love it here in Greenwood! I can't believe how fast time is moving! I love ya'll and I'm so excited that Mckade will be on a mission soon! It's a crazy adventure in the mission field! And that Ian will be too! Maybe they will be entering the MTC the same day? (Elder Rushton and Elder Swaner, look for each other at the MTC!).
WTH moment of the week:
I watched a Drug Deal go down yesterday, all the black people in the hood were staring at us a watching our every move when it happened, we just pretended to be oblivious to the fact that they were trading drugs (they all had hundreds of dollars in their hands)...haha. But the Lord was with us, I got kinda nervous, white boys in the hood during a durg deal isn't the best mixture, but we're fine! We're going to avoid that area for a bit until we feel comfortable about going back.
Elder Dearden

Me eating Subway

Large cross here in Greenwood

Alma street!  So weird, wonder how they came up with that?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week.....I don't know what week it is?

This week has been crazy! I don't even know where it went. Time flys out here, I didn't even realize until yesterday that it had been 1 month sense I left home!

I have had lots of great opportunities to teach and bless others. 
We have 3 investigators that are rapidly progressing, Shane, Angie (Angie is Shane's girlfriend), and Jasmine. 

Shane is amazing, we met him 2 weeks ago and he is flying through the Book of Mormon, he has so many questions and they are all being answered as he reads. He made a deal with us, if we went to hear his preacher man, then he would go to church with us. We agreed. So last Monday I went to this prayer meeting thing where a preacher man prayed for three hours for all the people that were there. He prayed for each individual by name, it was really interesting. He then basically gave priesthood blessings without any authority, which was actually really funny. We wouldn't let him "bless" us because we felt like that would be a mockery to God if we participated in something like that. They also did something super similar to what happens in the temple, so that was interesting.

All the people that were there had good intentions to know God better, but they were just being misled by this false prophet preacher guy. The preacher has lots of good stuff to say, he just has no authority to do what he claims to be able to do. But anyways, after we went there with Shane the next day we had a lesson with Shane and he was even more receptive than before! We taught him the restoration again and we felt the spirit, we all felt chills run down our back at the same time, and we were all like "Did you feel that?!" It was so cool. He knows the church is true, he has a whole heart desire to do what is right. He is sick right now though, so we won't teach him again until later this week.

Jasmine, she is a single black lady we met last week who approached us wanting to know how to be baptized....we were like "WHAT? you want to be Baptized!?" So we started teaching her and she said she has been wanting get baptized in the right way, she doesn't know what church does it the right way....so she was just golden and we taught her the restoration and she came to church yesterday! She has a friend who is a member, sister Starks, sister Starks used to be a preacher woman, but she quit her profession of being a minister to join the church so she is a powerful tool to help Jasmine. 

We met so many other great people that we are teaching, I don't have much time so I won't talk about them....just know that we are busy teaching and the Lord won't let us rest!

I loved the packages and letters that came this week! Thanks Grandma Dearden for the package full of the goodies! All my companions have been fighting for the chocolate! And Thanks Grandma Dixie for the letter with the Subway Card! My companion and I are so excited to use it! It's nice to have that card so we can eat when we're to busy to go home and cook food! And thanks Mom for the package with my rock, and the music! 

I want all of you to know, that Jesus Christ is VERY REAL. He is an actual person, I've learned that in such a unique way by being here on a mission. It's a heavy duty to represent Him!   Personal revelation is real! "Ask and ye shall receive, Knock and it shall be opened unto you!" That is very real too! 

I met with President Turner for an introductory interview, I'm so excited to work with him the next two years! He is going to be amazing!

I love all ya'll back home, I appreciate your prayers, I can feel them!  Know I am serving because I love the Lord! Don't do anything in life that will cause you to love the Lord less. ( If you love me, Keep my commandments)

I met a Cherokee Indian two days ago (there are some Cherokee Indians that still live in the area, mostly in trailer homes), he told me this. "Our body is the vessel of our spirit, don't focus on the vessel, it will just die eventually, but the spirit, that is eternal, and that's what we should be focused on." I've learned more than ever being out here with the people, that I need to let my heart listen to the heart of our investigators. They may smoke, they might scream at us, they might slam doors in our faces, but that's just the vessel, that's the natural man. We're here to overcome the vessel, to focus on the spirit, so when I talk to people, I ignore the vessel and listen with my heart what they are really saying. The spirit of God is what overcomes the vessel. So when I'm with people, I make sure I'm living in a way that the spirit is with me, so that after they've talked with me they will hopefully ponder this phrase in Luke 24:

  32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

Anyways, I just want you to all know that the Lord is taking care of me. He's refining me with his fire, it hurts sometimes, but in the end it's worth it. 

WTH moment of the week:

While we watched the preacherman prophet guy, he "casted out devils" This crazy woman started screaming "AMEN! PRAISE JESUS! OH YES!".....Talk about awkward.....and that was only a tiny part of the whole deal haha.

Till next week,

Elder Dearden

 Utah Street....lol kinda funny...I told the people that lived on that street, that I traveled 2000 miles from Utah, so I could knock on Utah street and share a message with them...they laughed. It was funny.

 A Ghetto Rig again, they are all over. Poor people drive them, they live in crap trailers, but drive these crazy cars.

Monday, July 7, 2014

To the people of the Earth...

This past week flew by so fast I have no idea where it even went! I am loving it here!
We started a totally new area and we already have about 10 investigators! It's crazy actually, the Lord has put us to work and He did it fast.

I had some amazing spiritual experiences, an epic Bible bash, and some really sweet tender moments with some people who we met on the streets who were having a hard life.

One lady we met, Nashay, she is a lady who we ran into late one night on her porch. She was having a rough day and started crying when we gave her a Book of Mormon, she felt the spirit and then told us that she knew we were meant to find her.

We had another situation just like that last night, we talked to a lady who said she was looking for something in her life, she told us that God told her that there was a piece of a puzzle that she needs to get in her life. She realized that we were messengers from God and she started to cry.
It is just amazing to see God lead us to people who are being prepared. We met a 16 year old boy who is searching for a new church, he says all the pastors are corrupt, and he wants to find the true church.  We gave him material to read and we're meeting with him to teach him this week!

Anyways, I had an epic bash where this guy knew the Bible like non other! He has logic that is so cool! The only thing we could do was ask him to pray about the Book of Mormon, but he accused us of being satanic because I told him that Satan was our brother in the pre-existence...so anyways tons of doctrine was launched all over the place and I just started to raise my voice, I told him to shut his mouth and that it was my turn to talk:  I bore my testimony and told him that they only way he'll know if our message is true is if he reads the Book of Mormon and then to pray and ask God if it's true, but then he wanted to argue with my testimony, so then I just left....He was screaming at me as I left, but I read in D& C 84:92 later that night "He that recieveth you not, go away from him alone by yourselves, and cleanse your feet even with water, pure water, whether in heat or in cold, and bear testimony of it unto your Father which is in Heaven, and return not again unto that man"
So, I will not return again unto that man.........I did really good with the bash, I beat him on several things, but he was so hard hearted he still wouldn't listen...so I've chosen that I just wont bash because people who want to bash don't want to listen anyways....but it sure was fun.

Many other things happened, but I just don't have time to write about all of it!
I love all ya'll, and I hope that you have a blessed week!

-Elder Dearden

Moms questions:

What did you do on the 4th?
-We were on lock down in the apartment, we rested, because we don't get much time to rest, so we took the opportunity to do that.

Have you been able to eat in the homes of any members?
-Not in the homes, but we have members that buy meals and bring them to our home a lot.

What do you guys do for exercise?
- I tried running, I'm so out of shape, but I am going to keep trying....it doesn't help that I have a car so I don't get much exercise anyways.

Do you know if your getting tablets? 
-Yes, we should be getting some soon, we don't have exact dates yet, but we know we will before the end of the year.

Have you been able to play the piano?
-Yes I play at every meeting, all the time.  Send me all my music, including John Schmit.

This is a typical road here.... a tunnel of trees.

I bought this Confederate flag for all my companions to sign.

These "Pimped out" cars are everywhere!