Elder Hyrum Snell

Elder Hyrum Snell

Monday, July 25, 2016

07/25/16- A Small Foothold Is All He Needs

A Note From Mom:
It is hard to believe this time has come! Please know how thankful we are for all of your support, prayers, and love. Please feel free to join us!

Open House-
    Saturday, August 13th
    455 South Kays Drive, Kaysville, Utah

Homecoming Talk-
    Sunday, August 14th
    1:00 p.m.
    LDS Burton Lane Stake Center (270 West Burton Lane, Kaysville)
Hey everyone! It has been a crazy past week, and everyone (including investigators somehow) seems to know that I'm going home in about a week, and they feel it is their duty and responsibility to remind me of that fact every time I come into contact with them. It makes me laugh, but sometimes the reality does set in that I'm not going to be here forever. My family also seems to love reminding me of that fact. Of course I'm excited to see them, but I'm not excited to leave behind this wonderful, incredible, sometimes dirty, magical island, as well as leave behind the most amazing people I have met in my life. I'll miss them. I'll miss this place. But anyway, on to answer my mom's wishes.
She didn't send me any questions this week (thanks mom :P), but asked me to "write from [my] heart." So that's what I will do.

Christ says in the scriptures that "whosoever shall save his life will lose it, but whosever shall lose his life for [Christ's] sake, will find it." I have experienced that first hand out here in Madagascar, and I have truly realized the importance of losing our life--or giving our life--unto God. We must let our will, our heart, and our lives be "swallowed up in the will of the Father." I have seen peoples' lives change out here because of that. For example, we have some less actives that we visit once a week, who have literally made a complete 180 degree turn-around in their life. When we first visited them, the husband and wife were at each others' throats; the wife accusing the husband of drinking, smoking, and cheating on her, and the husband accusing the wife of apostatizing to another church, as well as being the reason for his cheating on her. I almost physically felt the darkness in their home at that point. But, since then, we have helped them start reading the Book of Mormon together, as well as praying together daily. If they had not put aside their personal wills and accepted the will of God, and thus "los[ing] [their] live[s] for [His] sake". And I can be a first-hand witness of the fact that having done so, their lives have changed for the better. The wife, in our first appointment with them, literally was sobbing as the husband blamed her as being the reason for him cheating. But now, she weeps with joy at the love and happiness that has come into their lives.

Sometimes, we don't know everything and don't know what is going to be the result of our actions. Well, actually, that's pretty much always. Almost always, we have no idea what the future holds, or what turning our will over to God will do for us. And that's scary. However, God asks us to trust Him, and trust what He causes us to feel through the Spirit. He asks us to give up our will, and accept His. Elder Neal A. Maxwell spoke of this as a "cosmic fact: only by aligning our wills with God’s is full happiness to be found. Anything less results in a lesser portion (see Alma 12:10–11). The Lord will work with us even if, at first, we “can no more than desire” but are willing to “give place for a portion of [His] words” (Alma 32:27). A small foothold is all He needs! But we must desire and provide it. So many of us are kept from eventual consecration because we mistakenly think that, somehow, by letting our will be swallowed up in the will of God, we lose our individuality (see Mosiah 15:7). What we are really worried about, of course, is not giving up self, but selfish things—like our roles, our time, our preeminence, and our possessions. No wonder we are instructed by the Savior to lose ourselves (see Luke 9:24). He is only asking us to lose the old self in order to find the new self. It is not a question of one’s losing identity but of finding his true identity!" I will gladly and readily bear witness of the truthfulness of this principle. I have seem that, out of the thousands of people I have taught here on my mission, only a few have made the decision and the leap of faith through turning over their will to the Lord. But, the results are astounding. I have seen that those people who turn their will over to God experience incredible changes in their life. For example, one of our recent converts here: before, he was out of work. His kids were disobedient and going down wrong paths. His wife was cheating on him behind his back. He had little to nothing going for him. But now, he decided to get baptized, and to do as Carry Underwood says and let "Jesus take the wheel" in his life. And I can't tell you how much better his life is now.

Now I'm not saying that if you get baptized, or do whatever God wants for you, then your life will instantly turn around and get better and you'll find a lot of money and live happily ever after. No, that doesn't happen. BUT, God blesses those who give their will to Him. If someone is unwilling to give up their only possession--their will--to God, why would God ever be willing to give up even part of His kingdom, let alone all of it? For, as Elder Maxwell said as well, "the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!" And those who give is are also heirs to His kingdom, His glory, and everything that He has. Those who let their will, heart, and entire being be "swallowed up in the will of the Father" are given the promise of eternal life. For Christ has also said that "whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." And honestly, as Elder Maxwell said, all that we have is our heart--our will. There is nothing else that we can honestly give to Him.

So that would be my last and final invitation or challenge for all of you, to turn your will over to God and do as He wills, and forsake your own will. I promise you that you will see the doors of heaven open and have blessings without number poured out upon you if you do so. Everyone has different things they must do. Some of you might need to be obedient to a commandment you struggle with. Some might need to decide to follow God, despite the doubts and fears that exist. Some others might need to fulfill the calling they have been given. I don't know all the things that you all do or need to do. But you know. You know, through the Spirit, what God would have you do. And I would like to hope that my email, if you read it all, has brought the Spirit into your heart. So please, follow that prompting, or whispering of the Spirit. Let go of your will, and do as God wills for you. For if you give Him your heart, then, and only then, can He change that, and allow you to reach your full potential and unveil your full identity and destiny. And that includes eternal life, happiness, and joy.
Thank you all for supporting me for the past two years. I really appreciate your love, support, and encouragement, through the thick and thin of it. Just know that God loves you, knows you, and wants what's best for you. I've felt that for you all, and I hope you all can feel God's personal love that he has for each and every one of you. Don't ever forget that, and don't ever forget that every single thing that God does is for your good, and to accomplish His "work and [His] glory" which is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

See you soon.
Elder Snell

P.S. The talk of Elder Maxwell that I quoted is "Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father" in the 1995 November Ensign, for those of you interested in reading an incredible talk.

Orlando, one of our recent converts who left for Mahajanga last Friday and therefore will not see me before I go. :P

Us with AP Elder Wiscombe on splits last Wednesday.

A chicken on the stairs.
An amazing talk!

Monday, July 18, 2016

07/18/16- Rely on God

Hey everyone! It has been an awesome week, with some great things happening. Just trying to make the most of the time that I have left!

First off, the lessons we had this week went really well. We had some great progression from some of our investigators, as well as some digression by some of the others.That's always how it is, with ups and downs every step of the way. But some of our newer investigators, such as Jose and Eva, and Michelle, are really progressing well. Michelle especially is progressing well. He said that he has been reading the Book of Mormon often, and loves it. When we taught him this past week, the lessons went really well. I could tell that he was feeling the Spirit. So, overall, the lessons are going great. We had some especially great lessons with our three recent converts who got baptized last Saturday. Definitely an awesome experience for them, and I know that they will make great members.

Second: memorable things that happened this week. Well, first off, we played soccer with all the missionaries here in Tana this morning at a way nice field just outside the city. Super fun. It was the North Zone versus the South Zone (my zone). And, it was a tie. So everyone won! It was great. And then also, besides that, we had a taco party with one of our member families, who are actually all good at English; the mom, dad, and kids. Pretty cool. And then also, there were riots in Analakely last Tuesday, so Tuesday and Wednesday, we had a curfew of being home at dark. But other than that, nothing else happened that was extremely memorable besides doing God's work and spreading the word, which is always memorable.

Third: things I have found to get along with companions. My answer is very simple; communicate. Companions must communicate feelings openly and often, so there are no hidden or hurt feelings. I'm sure those of you who are married can testify of the importance of open communication. In the past, I had just held in some of the things that I thought and felt, and it wasn't good for our companionship. But, when my companion and I are open and honest, things go infinitely better. So, that's my advice: talk with each other!

Last question: thoughts/advice I have gotten from President Foote over the course of my mission that I won't forget and will always remember and apply in my life. That would be two things. The first is something I learned from his teachings, and the second is what I learned from his example. The first thing is to rely upon God in all you do. Don't be afraid to pray, to ask for help and assistance, or to fast for help. We should never hesitate or forget to ask and pray to God for the help and assistance and support that we need. I have tried to apply that more in my mission, and have seen incredible changes in my life and spirituality because of that. The second thing is from President Foote's example, and that is to smile and enjoy life despite challenges, trials, or afflictions. Let me give you some background: President Foote is the presiding authority for eight branches not in a district, and for 2 other districts, each with 5 branches or more. If anything of importance is to be done in those areas, then President Foote is the authority for the decision/action. That's a LOT of stress, especially with how much traveling that means, because none of those branches/districts are within a three-hour travel radius of where he lives, some of which are only reachable by airplane. And yet despite all that, he always smiles and says that he has the best life ever. Happiness and joy is a decision you make based upon your faith. So make the right decision. I have tried to do so, and seen great changes in my life because of it.

Anyway, thanks to everyone for all that you have done. You are all incredible, and I wish a great week to come for all of you.

Elder Snell

A satchel a member gave me for my birthday!

Some Souvenirs
Pictures of cute twins from the taco party

Taco Party
Pictures from the top of our church

Two cute little beggar girls who always say good night to us and give us donas, but never ask or beg. They're awesome.
Pictures from P-day and soccer

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

07/11/16- His Love Surrounds Me

Hey everyone!!! First and foremost, thank you all for sending birthday wishes and everything. I really appreciate it and feel your love and support for me. You're all awesome! Secondly, this was a pretty great week, even though we didn't teach as many people as we would have liked to. But that's the mission. There are ups and downs and everything in between.

Firstly, the only medication they will have me take when I go home is "the pill" which will pretty much push the "restart" button on my digestive system. So Mom, just saying sorry beforehand, I may be in the bathroom for a while when I get home.

Second, about the "My Plan" program for returning missionaries. Honestly, I have no idea what that is... So I'll say no, Madagascar has not adopted that quite yet. I have actually not even heard about that yet out here, except for maybe a few friends on missions who mentioned it briefly.

Third question: fun stuff done to celebrate my birthday. As for me personally, I didn't do anything special. But, our ward mission leader and ward missionaries threw a small birthday party for me, which was awesome. They even made a really good cake as well. And then we had the classic rice and laoka for dinner with them all, which was coconut chicken with beans and ground beef. WAYYY good. But don't worry, there are lots of pictures that I will send from the party. Some of the ward missionaries stole my camera during the party and took a ton of pictures of everyone and the food and stuff. So yeah. :P

Fourth question: the baptisms went great! I was kind of disappointed with how many people showed up, because it was kind of a small turn out, but the actual baptisms went really well. I was especially impressed with Miarintsoa's testimony that she gave after the baptism. She truly has asked God if this is true, and gotten an answer. It brought an amazing spirit, and I know that she will be a super strong member. The other two guys gave great testimonies as well, but her's was particularly powerful.
Next question: other things that stuck out from this week... Well, one sad thing is that our investigator Bary has now found work and will be building a five-star hotel on a small island off the coast of Sambava, which is north eastern Madagascar. And he won't be coming back until December. So that was one thing that was hard for us. But he says that he will continue to read the Book of Mormon and everything, so I hope he stays true to that. We also had Zone Meeting on last Thursday, which went really well. Other than that, no real comments about this week.

Last question: the time when I have felt closest to God on my mission. It would be hard to pinpoint a single experience or time when I felt closest to God, but it is the kind of experience or situation in which I have felt God's love and closeness repeatedly that I think would best express my feelings on that question. And honestly, the times when I have felt closest to God are the times when I have been in the most distress, or struggling the most. Because it is in those times--when it feels like my heart will rip apart, or when I can't do this anymore--it is in those times that I have felt closest to God. Because in those times, I feel His love surrounding me and enveloping me. When I struggle the most is when I feel God the most. I know that may sound weird, but it is the truth. I know that God supports those who are faced with trials and tribulations, because that's what He's done for me, when I have faced trials and challenges of every kind out here in the mission field. I feel God's love when I pray to Him, and I know that He will support me, and you, throughout all the many trials that we face.

Anyway, thank you all again for your love and support. I hope you have an incredible week and enjoy your summer!

Elder Snell

These are pictures from our recent converts house with their adorable little baby that they call "rafotsy" which is a pet name for a grandma, usually...

A little alleyway filled with trash

One of our investigators
This is a picture of a little girl who lives with some of our investigators. She is ADORABLE!

My new suit

The Baptism

The following pictures are from the birthday party the Ward Mission Leader and Ward Missionaries threw for me. They got me in the face with some of the cream from the cake.... :P Also, I'd say about a good third of them are passable at English. Pretty impressive. So they sang Happy Birthday in English. Didn't get a video of that though... Also, sorry if some of the pictures are kind of dark. The lighting there wasn't that good. They had like one old incandescent lightbulb in the middle of the ceiling and that was it. Sooo yeah, sorry.