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

taylor.dearden@myldsmail.net


Monday, April 25, 2016

The Lords Work

So this week was a very rewarding week in the work of the Lord on both sides of the veil!

I was so thrilled to get pictures of Brian Avery's Baptism last week! Made my day! I texted Brian a few minutes before the baptism and it was so exciting to know that day had finally come! 
I'm not sure if he'll read this or not, but I hope he knows how much I love him and his family! I'm so grateful for him allowing me to be apart of his life! 
Here are some pictures from his Baptism!

I received an email from Jason Hirschi last week, he had a really cool experience in the temple that connected here in South Carolina!

Before you read the email, here is some background. 
Robin Foster was a member in the Greenwood ward when I was there 14 months ago. We worked with her to help excavate grave stones in an overgrown cemetery from the late 1800's. Most if not all of those graves were African American graves. She is famous throughout South Carolina, among both members and Nonmembers for her expertise in Family History. 

Sister Foster and me
If I could just have her come to Utah someday and give a fireside of her experiences with doing family History, you would be amazed at the things she has accomplished. 

I got to know Sister Foster and her husband really well, in fact we had Christmas dinner at their home in 2014! 
Anyways, she is such a remarkable lady!

Jason Hirschi is the Son in Law of Kraig and Kim Dearden, Kortnee's Husband. They are living in Chicago right now.


Elder Dearden,

Jason here, how are things going? We have enjoyed reading your letters on the blog each week, crazy to think you are almost done! I had an interesting experience this morning that I wanted to share with you.

I had some time this morning before a work meeting so I decided to go to the temple with a friend from my ward here in Chicago. While we had time to go to the temple, we didn't have enough time to do a session so we decided to do initiatory work instead. When they gave me my names I looked through them and noticed they were all names done by the same person - Robin Foster from Greenwood, South Carolina.

The first thing that came to my mind was you serving in South Carolina. I had forgotten you spent time in Greenwood so I asked your mom and she helped me connect the dots. Thanks to living in the modern age, I Facebook stalked Sister Foster and found out that she was in Chicago today and it was indeed the same Sister Foster you came to know and love in Greenwood. Crazy!

I had to laugh when I realized what a crazy coincidence it was that I would get those names, but as I continue to think about it I am able to see a wonderful lesson learned through this experience - we are all connected in the work of Salvation. What a blessing it is that someone in South Carolina can index names and the deceased individuals are able to receive the blessings of the temple halfway across the country. We are beyond blessed to live in a time where temples are scattered across the world and we can all work together to redeem the dead.

Anyway, I just thought I would share that with you. If you ever speak with Sister Foster tell her thanks for giving me an opportunity to do temple work. If nothing else it served as a great reminder to me of how important the work that goes on in the temple truly is. I hope you enjoy the final months of your mission. Live it up, you will draw from the experiences you have for the rest of your life!

Be safe,

Jason 


Dr. Jerry Ainsworth, a good friend of mine that I met when I was 13 once shared a quote with me, I can't remember where he got this quote but it went something like this.

"Coincidence is God's way of being anonymous"   

Anyways, Ya'll have a great week!

Elder Dearden

Monday, April 18, 2016

Desperation....

Hello!

So nothing super new to say this week. I figured i'd share some thoughts that I've been having lately. 

I was reading through some old journal entries from my mission. It was amazing to reflect on what kind of experiences I've had with the Lord. I'm glad that I recorded those moments. I came to realize that the times that I grew the most were the times on my mission where I was most desperate for the Lords help. Those moments where I had no idea how to move forward, how to help others, how to follow the spirit. I recognized that desperation is the perfect fertilizer for the seed of faith. 

President Nelson's wife, Sister Nelson shared during a YSA devotional the following thoughts,

Think of the woman who, for 12 years, endured an incurable disease. She stretched out her hand to touch the Savior’s robe. This was her only chance to be healed.

Think of the man at the pool of Bethesda who, for 38 years, suffered with an illness and had never been the first one into those healing waters.

Think of the Savior’s disciples who, with life-threatening waves crashing around their small fishing boat, cried out to the Savior, “Carest thou not that we perish?”

What did these people have in common?

They were desperate! Desperate for the Savior to heal them, help them, cleanse them, guide them, protect them, and save them! They were desperate for Jesus Christ to help them do things they could never do on their own. They were desperate to have the Savior’s strength and power in their lives. Do you know that feeling? Believe me, I do.

Perhaps you’ve been desperate to complete an assignment because the due date was quickly approaching--or had already passed. Perhaps you’ve been desperate to have someone really understand you, to truly love you. Perhaps you’re presently desperate to be accepted into a university or to find a job or a place to live, desperate to make new friends and to find your eternal companion.

Well, here’s the good news: Desperation can actually be a great motivator.

Clearly the Prophet Joseph Smith experienced intense desperation in Liberty Jail. He pled with the Lord, “O God, where art thou?” Because of such intense spiritual desperation, the Prophet received some of the most sublime revelations of this dispensation.

When we’re desperate to be guided by heaven, we work harder than ever to tune in to heaven. When we’re desperate to be physically healthy, we eat and exercise accordingly. No excuses! When we’re desperate to have more money, we eagerly follow the Lord’s law of finances--which is, of course, tithing!

Consider President George Q. Cannon’s approach to tithing when he was an impoverished young man. When his bishop commented on the large amount of tithing poor young George was paying, George said something like: “Oh bishop, I’m not paying tithing on what I make. I’m paying tithing on what I want to make.” And the very next year George earned exactly the amount of money he had paid tithing on the year before!

When we’re desperate to become the people we were born to be, our vision changes. We wake up from the spiritual amnesia the adversary so cleverly administers, and suddenly we see things about ourselves, others, and our lives we’ve never seen before. The world’s “fun” and “entertainment” start to look almost ridiculous, perhaps even spiritually dangerous. We begin to see the adversary’s tricks and traps for what they really are--temptations to make us forget our true identity and our destination.

We begin to spend our time differently. Time on Facebook doesn’t seem half as compelling as time in the temple. We experience for ourselves the profound truth taught by a wise temple president: “When we enter the temple, we leave the world of make-believe.” We become much more interested in eternal truths the Lord will teach us in His holy house than in the latest sensational comments on social media, which can be so glib and brain-numbing.

I feel as though being on a mission I can relate to that doctrine! I've had so many moments where I know that alone I am nothing, I have been desperate for my Savior's hand to be revealed! Those are the moments that are burned forever into my mind and heart, those moments where it is as if Christ Himself puts his arm around me and says, "I'm here, I'll help, just believe."

However, being 22 months through this adventure, i've noticed that I am not as desperate as I was at the beginning and middle of my mission, I've developed strength where weakness was, and become a stronger individual. 

I've lately however been praying for the Lord to help me to feel desperate again, because those are the times as Sister Nelson said, that we we grow the most and find the most joy. I know that is a risky thing to pray for, but the investment is worth it. 

The Lord may send trials in the days to come, but recently I've had impressed on my mind that we are actually always desperate for our Saviors hand. We take for granted that we woke up in the morning, we fail to realize it was the Savior who gave us our first breath. We forget that he created the Sun, and air we breathe, and the food we eat. We sometimes don't realize how fragile our existence is, how much He is involved in the details. He provides for us in so many ways we don't realize. 

I've noticed that my recognition of these things causes me to feel a sense of desperation, realizing that without the Lord the sun would never rise. Gratitude I believe is also to recognize our desperate need for the Lord.

Anyways, there are some thoughts to chew on for a few days. 

Thanks everyone for all your prayers and thoughts!

Elder Dearden 

Elder Dearden and Elder Barker, fishing on P Day 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Beautiful Time of Year!

The weather here has been beautiful! I'm so glad that the one time that I have to bike is during the Spring in the south! Everything is really colorful right now, flowers are blooming everywhere. 

So, we have had some great things happen again this week, we picked up a new investigator named Brantley who came to church yesterday! He is only 10yrs old, and his parents are members. But he came to church yesterday and loved it!

We are still teaching Nick, but he has been busy the past week and we didn't get to have an official lesson. 

The members here in this area are amazing, we had 3 dinners last week where we ate with active families and they invited their nonmember friends, and they all went really well. 

My Mom sent me pics of the place I'll be staying in for school this fall, which was strange for me to see! I cant believe that part of my life is just around the corner. 

I've been calling this phase of my mission the sunset phase, yes, it is the end, but the sight is beautiful! When I reflect on all the past experiences I've had here, I feel so blessed to have been in South Carolina for 22 moths at this point! I love the South! I'm certainly not worthy to be called a Southerner, but right now I'll call this place my second home!


I have some pics for ya  -


I'm doing really well, I don't have to much to say on the blog today, other than life is good, and I'm excited for this week, it will be great. 

Ya'll be good

Elder Dearden

Monday, April 4, 2016

Make The Time Count!


Hello people!

Life is going so great here in Lugoff, each day I experience the
tender mercies of the Lord as he reminds me of his love! 
We have picked up some new investigators. One is a 14 yr old named Nick. He is super cool and excited to keep learning. His Friend is a member and invited Nick to be taught.
It was really fun to teach the restoration to Nick because Joseph Smith was the same age when he asked one of the most important questions ever asked!

Last week the Furlows, a family in the ward had a little surprise birthday cake for me at the end of Pday! It was super fun! Here is some pics of the cake!

Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes! I feel so weird being 20...I still think I am 16 sometimes.

General Conference was so fantastic! It is sad to think that was my last one as a missionary.  
The Great theme that I noticed for myself, was the great need to draw near to Jesus Christ, and to become very close to him. I was really excited after hearing President Nelson invite us to ask the Lord "to teach us how to obtain power in the Priesthood". The idea of personally being tutored by the Lord to learn the ways of His Priesthood fascinates me, and motivates me to be a better person. I believe the Lord will interact with us in very intimate and personal ways that are specific to our individuality.

I love ya'll, thanks everyone for all the gifts and cards and emails! Means a lot!
Ain't got much time left!  My goal for these final days of my mission is to NOT COUNT THE TIME, BUT MAKE THE TIME COUNT!

Elder Dearden