This is a post from letters we recently received from Elder Cottle that he sent on December 22, 2011 -
Merry Christmas I know it's late getting to you on time but I hope it's been a great one! I know Christ came unto the world and established His church and provided an atonement as the means necessary to break the bands of death and cure us of all ungodliness that we may return to the presence of our Father in exaltation to live with our loved ones forever. It is only by our Savior that Salvation cometh to us. I know that we have the fullness of the truth in His restored gospel on the earth today and I know these things because the Holy Ghost has testified of them to me and I have experienced the fire in which these things are made known unto us! With that testimony, I wish you the best of Christmas's :)
When I prayed before we left the flat on Saturday I asked Heavenly Father to lead us to those He has prepared to hear our message. I asked Him to help us fill our schedule for this week. That day, we rode our bikes 20 km and stopped by ten potential investigator's homes and we filled our schedule for Wednesday and Thursday of this week. We are teaching a couple, Evelyn & Raymond. We taught them the Gospel of Jesus Christ then invited them to be baptized. They had a big concern because they said they had already been baptized, but by the end of our lesson Raymond said, "Can I wear white overalls to be baptized?" Haha, we laughed and told him he could :0 we got them to church and taught a lesson on Priesthood Authority. We hope to have a baptismal date for them this week! Hopefully :) We will have a busy week before Christmas then have three days to kind of relax and visit people :)
I played rugby today and learned some steps. I am the first American they have ever seen score amongst the missionaries :) The classic line the Poly's use is "don't worry bout it!" in a joking way. I used the phrase today and all the poly's were like, "man you catch on quick." Elder Tamale is going to teach me Tongan! Everything is going well here. I am really learning how to have fun with the poly's, they laugh at everything! Elder Tamale said he seriously believes I will be a trainer, zone leader and assistant,. haha When he said that I said, "Elder, all glory to the Father." We laughed so hard! I've been writing in my journal everyday I have been cooking and cleaning, I even make my bed! and I repent when I don't do the simplest things. If anyone wants to have a strong influence from the spirit, repent for the littlest mistakes and strive not to do them. It's the little mistakes that lead to the big sins. If we get rid of the little mistakes, we will never get to the big ones, ever!
Thank you for the wonderful advice you gave for travel, believe it or not the MTC doesn't tell you anything about traveling haha! I used every bit of information you gave me. I basically let the pack of eight missionaries through the various airports, just used my father's natural instinct with the spirit and there was no way I could go wrong.
When we went through customs, the lady working at the counter asked about my badge. I said, "We are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who are serving for two years to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with those God has prepared to hear our message." She replied, "Wait so do you get paid to do that?" I said, "No, It is completely voluntary and we do it because we owe our Savior and we love Him." She said, "Really? well how do you pay to stay here?" I said, "Most of us saved up the money from jobs we had before we came out here." she smiled, stamped my visa, then the missionaries behind me handed her their passports and she didn't say a word to them, just stamped their visas and sent them on their way! Unreal right? I thought that was pretty cool. I watched the spirit guide us perfectly to the mission home.
Thank you for your support. This is an interesting part of life, I used to rely on your expertise. I realize how much you do fro me that I never noticed. Now all I can rely on from you is your words, the packages you send and your love and support. It's 100% emotional, without your temporal help I could have never survived high school! I'm barely surviving here without your temporal help! haha! I guess it's my turn to learn the walks of life, the things you cannot be taught, but I thank you for teaching me how to think through difficult situations. Your example helps me everyday. I realized that everything I have learned over my entire life has prepared me to be on a mission today. Brother Pledger, my seminary teacher at UCAS once talked about the Dead Sea scrolls and the Apocrypha that was contained on them. Someone I talked to yesterday brought it up and I knew what he was talking about and my trainer was like, how did you know what that was?" I laughed and said, " I went to seminary everyday and never missed." Another lady brought up evolution and my brief knowledge in biology batted that down. I know that God has his hand in every second of our lives. All those hard rough times in school had its purposes. I always wondered if UCAS was the right choice and not I know without a doubt that is where I needed to be for 3 years of my life. The way you raised me is a fantastic blessing in the mission field. I notice everyday how something you taught me affects how my success went for the day. Everyday I want to get something a little better. Went to the mall and saw other missionaries that were messing around . They say relax this is the islands not the states. Yes it is P-day but I believe there is never a time or place to mess around like that when you are representing the Lord. It's tough to stand up for that when these are Elders that have been in the field longer. Because of experiences in my life I know what to do in situations like that. It has only taken two weeks for me to connect all these things in my life and I wish I could have recognized the benefits earlier and thanked God for them. But I'm sure there was a purpose for that too, probably to teach me to recognize miracles. There are miracles everyday. All it takes is recognizing them to make your day or to build your testimony. I realize that work is ridiculous for you dad, and your most likely sick of it I can guess. I know that these small miracles can help everyone through the toughest of times through the annoying things in life and through the most joyous times in life. We ask for blessings everyday, but do we recognize the blessings as they come? Do we thank our Heavenly Father? I've learned to ask for blessings, look for them, then thank Heavenly Father for them. I've noticed that He opens up the windows of Heaven more fully when we do that. I know this is the Lord's work and that the only way it can be done is through the power of the Holy Ghost. I hope the family can feel the power of the spirit and notice the blessings that come from supporting His work, "Yea even a miraculous work and a wonder" that is taking place on the earth right now."
Love Elder Cottle