Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Day Letter from Elder Powell

Well guys (and gals), Justin is down to his final 2 ½ weeks in the MTC.  He is leaving for Mexico on January 16.  He thinks that he will have to stop in Dallas and visit the Mexican Consulate to have his Visa signed and will overnight in Dallas, so that should  be an added adventure. As you will be able to tell, he is really loving the MTC and is making loads of progress.  He has also made some great friends there and sounds so positive and uplifted. He’s always been a good kid, but I’m so proud of him.
Please keep the letters heading to him. He told me that he loves hearing from his friends and family at home. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers and send him good energy for this final push before heading out of the country and into the "meat" of his mission. Peace and love to you all, especially during this New Year's celebration.

Hey Familia y Amigos! How are you all doing? How were the Christmas Holidays for everyone? My Christmas was pretty grand! I was a bit homesick at first, but it was actually a great Christmas! Thank you so much for the Christmas package familia! I'm very grateful for it and I hope you all like my Christmas package.

So starting with Christmas Eve, we had a fireside with the MTC presidency and had such a blast! We watched A Christmas Carol and had amazing popcorn! The whole night I wore this Christmas tie (Thank you Ellingers!) and my companion got these Christmas light necklaces from his parents, so I wrapped it around my tie and had a light up Christmas tie all Christmas Eve and Christmas! Everyone thought it was the coolest thing ever because they thought it was part of the tie. After the Christmas day devotional, my companion and I went up to the MTC presidency and met with him, when I got up there they were laughing and kind of shocked that an elder had a light up tie in their own MTC. President Brown was like: "Only today is that all right Elder Powell." And then I ended up taking a picture with 2 of the 3 presidency. Their wives were all laughing hysterically. It was pretty funny. My companion gets these comic packages from his family like for example, 3 of us wore mustaches around the MTC a couple weeks ago, and it was soo funny! Everyone was laughing! I think President Brown would have had a heart attack if he was me with it! Haha!

And then we had this Christmas Eve party with my whole floor in this Elder's room. Chips, soda and fun! There were like 30 elders in this small room just partying for Christmas Eve! Most of them are Latino and so we all sang at the top of our lungs "Feliz Navidad"! A lot of elders in the other floors were mad! But we all had Christmas spirit and then our party got broken up by security... It was still a blast! Don't worry, I'm obedient! Just having some fun too! Haha! :)

And on Christmas day we had a sacrament meeting (MTC wide) in the gym with Elder Bednar and his wife. Elder Bednar was so inspirational to hear from! He talked about the natural attribute of Christ and how he should just look outwards instead of thinking of ourselves. If we just think about others rather than worrying only about ourselves, we should find everlasting happiness and we will be better people. He told this one story about when he was a stake president and how he saw this attribute of Christ demonstrated from this lady that had every opportunity to just worry about herself, but in the face of complete depression and sadness, she still acted just like Christ. Stake President Bednar received a phone call from the Relief Society President of a ward late one evening and said, "President Bednar, there has been a terrible accident near where you live involving 3 young women; one of them is my daughter. One of them is confirmed dead and the other two severely injured. Will you please go identify which of the 3 is the deceased young woman?" President Bednar said he would and what he noticed about the phone call is that the Relief Society President/Mother had another phone to her other ear and he understood that it was the nurse at the scene of the accident. There was some silence and President Bednar then heard the confirmation of the deceased young woman—it was the daughter of the Relief Society President. What really astonished President Bednar was that the first thing that came out of the Mother was, "President, please go confirm the other two young women and tell their mothers." He was amazed that she thought about the others before herself and what she had just lost; her only daughter. It's truly tragic what happened and it would be understandable if she felt sorry for herself, but she cared so much for others and demonstrated this Christ like attribute. Continuing, a couple days later, President Bednar received a phone call from the mother again and she said, "President Bednar, I want to extend an invitation to you to come see my daughter before they close her casket because the workers here at the Mortuary prepared her so well and I don't want your last memory of my daughter to be her when she was dead in the accident (all disfigured). So could you come with me to say goodbye before they close the casket?" Again, President Bednar was amazed of her thinking about others before herself. Finally, the morning of the funeral arrived. The mother was preparing at her home and she received a phone call from a very unhappy woman of the ward. This woman had been sick at home and she didn't receive breakfast in the morning from the relief society. This mother who is about to go watch her young only daughter be buried into the earth actually makes breakfast and takes it to this woman, on the way to her daughter's funeral! What strength and courage this woman has! Instead of just thinking only about herself and what she's dealing with, while she's facing probably the greatest disaster a mother could go through, losing her only daughter, she continues to act like Christ and look out to others before only thinking of herself. The beauty of worrying about others before yourself that a lot of people don't understand is that you will receive so many blessings and you will find so much more happiness! Because imagine you serving others before yourself, and if everyone followed your example, people would want to serve you as well, and you will receive endless blessings! That was probably the most inspirational talk I have ever heard! Elder Bednar seriously made this Christmas a lot better!

That Christmas night, I was hanging out with 2 elders that are dear friends now that were leaving the next morning, and pretty much a lot of the floor came over and we all sang "Feliz Navidad" again! I recorded it so hopefully you can hear it and see it! I also am sending my memory card home as we speak with over 100 pictures, so look out for that!

This week was kind of hard because 2 districts that are on our floor, who are like brothers to me now, have gone on their missions. They were both Latino districts and they all have interesting stories and backgrounds. Amazing people and it was tough saying goodbye, but I'm going to have around 30 friend requests from all of them by the time I get home to Facebook. Haha!

I hope all of your Christmas' were great and I hope your New Year is the best yet! I love you all and take care! Please keep in touch!

Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Very Merry Christmas letter from Elder Powell

I’ve been looking forward to receiving this letter from Justin—his first Christmas letter home. I wrote him a couple of weeks ago and told him that I was jealous of him because he would be, for the first time in his life, celebrating a Christmas that was solely focused on the Christ and not on presents or other commercialized items. I asked him to pay attention to his feelings surrounding the true meaning of Christmas and the birth of the Savior and that if he did this, he would certainly not be homesick.  We should all be so lucky to be able to ignore the shopping and the sales and concentrate on things like charity, gratitude, service and love. I can tell, in his letter, that he did not disappoint and that he is getting it—getting what the true meaning of Christmas really is.  Hope you enjoy the letter and please remember that you can leave comments and if you could, I know that at the end, Justin will really appreciate it.  Merry Christmas to you all and may we all remember that celebrating this holiday isn’t supposed to be about what we get, but what we give. Peace and love to all of you.

Hola Familia y Amigos,
How are you all doing? Well I'm doing pretty well. Just pretty much another week already flown by! Now I have 3 more weeks in the MTC and then off to Mexico I go! Well the Spanish is definitely coming along very well and I am learning more and more each day. On Tuesday we were privileged to hear from Sister and Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy. They were both really great and had such great messages about this Christmas season. They talked about there are times in life when we can't really give the best of gifts back to people like how I want to get a great gift for you guys, and I can't really do that because I am out here. But what I and you could do is receive well. If you have gratitude and show much appreciation, that may be enough of a gift to the giver. And now that makes me feel better about what I can give back to my family/friends. So I just want to say thank you for the sacrifice and help for me getting here to the mission. I am truly grateful for all of the support from all of you that I have been receiving here in the mission and I truly love each one of you and wish you the best Merry Charismas! I wouldn't be the person that I am now if it really wasn't for you guys, and all that you have given me to this point is truly the best gift that I could receive. I'm very appreciative.
Now I realize that God works the same way. We are so blessed with all that we have and all we have to do is show gratitude and serve our fellow man. That is how we can give back to God for all that he has given us and that's exactly what Christ wants just as well, for his sacrifice that he has done for us. How great it is to give thanks by simply showing true gratitude and following Christ's example. And out in the mission field, we will be dedicating 100% to just people and all we ask in return is that they progress. And I know that when I see people progressing or when they become happier because of my service to them, I will be happy because that's how I want them to give back to me. So focus on the giving portion this Christmas and not about what you will receive because I promise that you will be truly happier when you give and then receiving the gift of gratitude towards you. That is a greater feeling to me than getting the nicest gift. And I know it will be for anyone because of all the blessings you will receive along with happiness.
I'm positive a General Authority is coming this Christmas and speaking. It will be very neat to be here to listen to him and his wife.
Here at the MTC, everyone on my floor is pretty much family. We are all kind to each other and it will be sad when many of them leave Monday. It was funny when 2 other missionaries and I wore fake mustaches around the MTC and people thought it was the funniest thing. I've got pictures so I'll mail the card home right after Christmas. I don't know how to upload it on the computer because everything is blocked. But it will come soon and then if you could mail it back before I leave so we can do a card swap like every some period of time.
I heard some crazy news happened like the leader of N. Korea passing away and The Hobbit is coming out December! Wow crazy! And Chris Paul traded to the Clippers and Kobe divorcing his wife. And my Broncos are doing well! Where are the Utes going for the bowl game? (GO UTES!!)
Well I am pretty much out of time but I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and I'll be on again to wish you all a Happy New Year. Sadly I won't be able to call home on Christmas but I'm pretty sure I can at the airport. I'll let you know how it goes. Merry Christmas and I love you all. Thank you again so much for all the support and you all are truly inspiring to me. Best of luck in whatever and time is already flying here so it won't be too much longer until I see you again! Almost 1/12 of the way done! But I can't wait to get away from this food and to the Mexican food! I haven't gained any weight here but seriously, it doesn't feel right eating like this for 2 months... Alright I'm now out of time!
Merry Christmas!         

Elder Justin Powell 

Leia Mais…

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Week 4 in the MTC 15 December 201

Another week and another letter from our Elder Powell. I got a hand-written letter from him earlier, last week, and in it he talked a lot about the struggles that he is having with his companion—as he mentions here in this letter.  Let’s let that be our cue—let’s rally around him, send him letters and love and let him know how much support he has from home.  Let’s keep his spirits up, especially during these holidays, and for the final push before he heads to Mexico. He’s doing great things so let’s all take a second and send him some written love—yeah? On to the letter…

Hola Once again everybody! How are you all doing?? I'm doing very well and I am about halfway through the whole MTC experience! I'm so excited to get out to the mission field and start the work!
It has been a pretty wild couple of weeks with me already changing companions like 4 times! A lot of change, a lot of new adapting but it's a great learning experience and I learn to just deal with people with different personalities. I switched my first companion, Elder Buhler because I switched into a more advanced Spanish class which meant I switched districts. And then my 2nd companion, Elder Shafer, left to the Peru MTC a week ago and that meant I switched rooms once again! :/ And then I was stuck with a trio, Elder Fitzgerald and Elder Thompson. Elder Fitzgerald and I became really good friends and we worked well together, but then he got his Visa to go to the Peru MTC on Tuesday evening and we had to rush and pack for the rest of the evening. He left at 4 in the morning, so I was up on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning for 2 consecutive weeks helping my companions pack, and my current companion is most likely leaving next week too. So a lot of changes, but it's alright. My current companion is pretty difficult to work with. He just wants to party and doesn't work, which I really don't mind if he doesn't work because I've always just rather work or teach so that I know it was done the right way. So that is the positive side of having this kind of companion, it's just when the investigator asks him to bear his testimony, he sounds really dumb but oh well. I've tried my hardest to convince him, I've tried my hardest to pray that he would become better, but he's choosing not too and he will have to learn someday. I just hope it doesn't hit him very hard when he does learn to actually take this mission experience serious and use the time wisely. I have no problem with having fun and being yourself, but it's when no work is being produced. That's where I get frustrated.
On a brighter note, we had the privilege in hearing Elaine Dalton (General President of the Young Women) on Tuesday night and she was spectacular! She had so many great tips and advice to give! She talked about how we have faith and how we must obey, and even though we don't understand everything, just obey and we will be happy. I don't think we would be led on a path that only brings a bad ending. This can be applied to my mission, what I see right now is 23 more months of some of the hardest work I would probably be doing. Most of the times I just see the glass half empty, but what missionaries need to think is the ending and the time when we get off the plane thinking about our mission. I know that I will be very grateful for the mission and how it helped me a ton, I probably can't see that now and I'm pretty nervous, but I am going to give it my all and serve to the fullest. Because I want to be able to look back on this whole experience proud and pleased with myself with the work I've done.
And we also listened to a talk given by Elder Bednar given at the MTC like in the 1990's, and he was so animated and serious about us missionaries not going home. Because he knows that this missionary experience will help anyone who serves a mission and he really wants us to be a part of it. And he said that we need to teach people and not lessons. That we need to teach about Christ and not just aim for personal gain. That we need to teach because we want them to be happier and etc. There was a lot of messages that I heard and I wish I could share them all, but I have like no time.
I hope everyone is doing well and I will see you all soon. Keep in touch! :) Love you all! Ask any question you want and I will answer, just send a letter!

-Elder Powell

Leia Mais…

Friday, December 9, 2011

Week 3 in the MTC for Elder Powell

Can’t believe that already another week has passed, but here we are with another letter from Elder Powell.  It sounds like he’s still doing great, though he sent me a letter via snail mail and said that he wishes more people would write to him—that he hasn’t heard from any of his friends from the Scripture Study Group. Come on, guys! Let’s hook the guy up with some letters or care packages or both! He misses you guys and we don’t want him to get homesick or begin wondering where everyone has disappeared to. 
Remember, it’s so easy to use  It’s free and simple and fast, so I hope everyone will take the five or ten minutes to send him some holiday cheer.
Take care everyone—until next Thursday!

Hola Familia y Amigos!
How are all of you doing? I hope you all are doing great because I am doing very well still! I am learning so much still and I can't believe how much I am progressing as a teacher and in the Spanish language. I am almost fluent! Just a couple weeks more and I should be pretty dang close to speaking very comfortably in the next 2 weeks if I keep at this rate of progressing and learning! Something interesting that I have noticed this week is that this week is flying so quickly! I can't believe I am already writing to you guys on Thursday and it feels like yesterday I was just starving on fast Sunday... haha.
So right now I have 3 investigators to teach so far and it's pretty interesting because they speak only Spanish and I have to teach lessons in Spanish. Sometimes it's pretty frustrating to forget one word in a sentence and having to stare at the investigators with a blank stare... But I am far better in my lessons than I was a week ago. We don't really baptize the investigators, but we just get them to that point because they just volunteer (I believe they're already members).
My companion just left to the Peru MTC and now I am in a trio with Elder Thompson and Elder Fitzgerald. They're way cool and funny! We have good times and it makes the MTC experience enjoyable. It's nice to be able to act like 19 year old boys with your companions when you have been studying the gospel for 9 hours a day! There is a time to have fun and there is a time to work hard, and sometimes I have to remind elders in the district about that because we can sometimes lose focus on our purpose here. But if you don't have fun here, you'll burn out in a heartbeat. Just an FYI for you future missionaries. :)
I was very privileged to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional and it was a treat to listen to the Presidency talk. I hope many of you had the opportunity to watch and listen because they had great messages. What really got me was how everyone is losing the true spirit of Christmas. It's not about who has the fanciest gifts, or the nicest parties, or the most decorative homes. It's about the celebration of Jesus Christ and his birth. And what does that mean? It means it's the season of giving and serving each other. To be with your loved ones and it's the time where we can be grateful for all of the things we have. For all the blessings we have, and finally for the sacrifice Jesus Christ did for us. So don't worry about needing to make a perfect Christmas. Just simplify and be with loved ones, it's a time of giving and not caring so much for what you will receive. I kind of got homesick after listening to the line: "an opportunity to be with your loved ones." Well I may not be able to be with my family for Christmas, but I have the opportunity to make families happy with the gospel in their lives and to actually serve and be servant of Christ. And you all have the same opportunity to do the same exact work as I will be doing, serving your fellow man. So I challenge all of you to think only about others this Christmas season and be completely selfless, because I promise that you will be happy and blessed.
I also was privileged to listen to Elder Steven Snow (Presidency of the Seventy) on Tuesday night at the MTC weekly Devotional and he also had a great message. He talked about working hard on the mission and sometimes you may feel discouraged at times, but he knows that we will feel so much more satisfied looking back on our missions knowing that we served to our fullest. I know that will be true and I now understand why everyone says that a mission was the best decision they ever made because it is hard work now, but if I could make it through this, I could make it in just about everything. So it was a neat talk and I was very privileged to listen to him.
Well I guess I better be going because I am out of time but I love you all and keep in touch! I would love to hear from all of you to know how all of you are doing. Especially my Scripture Study Group that I haven't heard from them since I've been here! Write me and keep in touch! I love you all! :)


Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…

Thursday, December 1, 2011

New letter from Justin--1 December 2011

Well, it’s P-Day again and here is another letter from Elder Powell that arrived in my e-mail.  I hope that you all enjoy it as much as I did—he sounds like he’s progressing and learning and growing. In spite of some feelings of inadequacy that he had, he sought out advice and perspective from a great source and continues forward with a humble and excellent attitude. Please remember—especially those of you that have not been on a mission—letters and packages are wonderful highlights and Justin would love to hear from you, especially during the holiday season.  Please take a few minutes of your time to put together a letter or a care package to let him know that he is thought of and loved.  Peace and happiness to you all.

Hola Familia y Amigos!
How are all of you?? I'm doing very well! This place is still great and I'm learning so much! I am getting very good at the spanish and doing solid on my studies! We have to teach investigators at the MTC already (except they're teachers) and we have 3 each companionship. They're pretty difficult to teach sometimes because they portray investigators from they're missions, but it's an awesome learning experience. I wish I had a lot more time for studying for investigators because we barely have no time! We have classes for like 9 hours a day and we have gym everyday for 50 minutes. :) We get plenty of time to eat though which is good. The food here is still way good! And the better thing is that I haven't gained weight! The bad thing about dinner time and stuff is that we all have to binge eat because we eat at around 5:15 each day and we get so hungry by the time we get personal time at 9:30. Personal time is pretty great here too because its pretty relaxing and it is so crazy how exhausted you get at the MTC. No one likes to go to bed late because we value our 8 hours of sleep. Sometimes its very difficult to stay very awake in class because of how tired we get. It is good work though and I'm glad to be a part of it. 
The MTC is a great place to be and it is very spiritual. My testimony is growing stronger and I'm doing much better. I just can't wait to get out into Monterrey, Mexico to start teaching! I talked to my Branch President Tyler, (who by the way reminds me of Gramps, he is an amazing person!) about some of the problems I've been also having here at the MTC. Because for awhile, I have been struggling with my teaching skills because of scenarios where a family is happy in another religion and then I don't know how to convert from that point on because my main goal is to just love and serve all who I come in contact with. President Tyler told me that in the MTC, "they will pound gospel doctrine into you until you become sick!" And that is pretty true, for my case, that I am getting overwhelmingly pounded with gospel doctrine, but I am very appreciative for the opportunity to learn about this Gospel. It's just there are not enough times to serve people here and that is where I feel the spirit the most. I feel the spirit the most in the actions and through the appreciation of the person or people I help. Not as much when I read an amazing scripture or when I do a daily prayer. I thought I was a weird specimen of Missionary, but President Tyler told me "that I am a rare type, but the ideal missionary. That the spirit will just radiate off of me, and that he knows that I will bless many on my mission." That was very uplifting and my confidence is amped up again. I thought I was weird and having feelings and questions about whether I was really in the right place or not, but President Tyler probably didn't think that his comments would help and strengthen my mission a ton, but it did. So to everyone, I challenge all of you to just compliment anyone you come in contact with and just think about nice things to say to people because you never know how much your compliment can mean to someone else. 
Gosh I'm almost out of time already!!!! :(
Well today is P-Day and we're going to the Temple for the first time since we've been here, and then we have the whole day to just take care or personal things (laundry, haircuts, etc.). It will be such a relaxing day and a good time to write letters. And yesterday was the 2 week mark of since I've been here! Its crazy how time is just flying so quick here. It feels like I got here like a week ago, but its already been 2 weeks!!! 
Oh and Brother Yumoshita of the Seventy and his wife came to talk with us in a devotional Tuesday night. It was a pretty cool experience because they just moved here like 4 months ago from Japan (I believe?) and their english was rough, but I totally understood their talks because of the spirit they had and their message was excellent. 
Well I have to be going now, but I love you all and take care! Missionary work isn't only for the signed up missionaries, EVERYONE has the ability to serve your fellow man. So do so with love and charity, because it will bless you in return. Thank you all for the support and I would love to hear from you in letters and etc. See you all in no time!
-Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Elder Powell's first e-mailed letter

I know that this is quick, but we got an e-mailed letter from Elder Powell today and so I thought I'd post it as it is addressed and written to not only his family but his friends also.  Please remember that there is an option to make comments so please feel free.  Justin will get to read them all at the end of his mission. 
Hope everyone has had a great Thanksgiving and please remember that gratitude expressed in action is service. We are all blessed in incredible ways so let's show that we know it by taking time to truly love and serve the people around us.  Much peace and love to you all.  

On to the letter...

Hola Familia y Amigos! Happy Thanksgiving!

How are all of you doing? Still doing well?
Well I can say that this is such a good place to be at right now. It’s actually not a hard place to be. It’s very different from the outside world, but I am now getting in the hang of things around here and feeling more comfortable. You get so busy here that you rarely have time to even just read the scriptures to yourself and do those small things. I wish I had more time to do that, but I'm pretty sure they keep you that busy because they don't want you to think about home and all the things you could be doing outside of the mission. I haven't really had a problem with getting home sick or a lot of those things. I miss my music though and mi familia and amigos! But 2 years is seriously going to fly by and I'll be home in no time! Here at the MTC, days are like weeks and weeks are like days. I really do feel like I just got here, but I've been here for just a week. I love it here though and it’s becoming home for me now.

I've switched districts pretty much on my second day. The first district I was with were all beginners in Spanish and I knew all the answers to the teacher's questions, so they moved me to Intermediate Spanish (New district, I had to re-pack my luggage and move to a new building, new companion, etc..) It was an interesting change, but I love my new district! My companion is awesome and likes to study and we both work well together because when we talk with our investigators, I am more of the "get to know you" and more of the counselor type and my companion is more of the teacher type. It’s like a 1-2 punch! I'm still learning very much and it is going to be crazy how much knowledge I am going to have when I get out into Mexico. To all of you people thinking about a mission: The MTC is seriously not very challenging and you will adapt quickly! The MTC is whatever you make of it. It can be the easiest place, or the hardest place to be. It's whatever attitude you have. I love this place though and I know anyone could love it too!

Elder Christofferson of the twelve came on Tuesday and it was an awesome devotional! He taught the very same principle that I embrace when I teach people here, "Teach out of love and for the other person, and not because "it's your job" and for yourself." 2 years is dedicated to just people, and the service doesn't stop! And it doesn't just start from the time you enter an MTC as well. So serve your fellow man and out of love, because the blessings will return to you! 

Well my time is up... I love you all and take care! My Prep Days are every Thursday, so expect emails then. I also love letters/packages so don't be shy! Haha Take care everyone and you all are the best! 

-Elder Powell 

Leia Mais…

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Justin's First Letter Home

We have received Justin's first letter to home from the MTC. It's short and short on details, but long on feeling and enthusiasm. I'm sure that as we all write to him with questions and information, the letters will fill out more.  He sounds like he's loving it at the MTC and doing really, really well. Hope you all can take some time to write to him and keep him full of love and support from home.  In case you haven't heard about it, you can use a service called It's free and, while he is in the MTC, the letters that you submit are printed and delivered same day. When he is in Mexico, you can keep using it because they have access to the church's pouch system. It's pretty self-explanatory so I hope you can all take a second and send him your love.  His MTC address is: Elder Justin Powell, MTC Box #325, MEX-MONE 0116, 2005 N. 900 E., Provo, UT 84604-1795.
On to the letter:
Dear Familia!
Hey, how are you guys doing? I am doing excellent already!  I love it here!  It’s actually a busy place where I don’t get a lot of break time. But its fun and I actually look forward to the classes. I’m doing so well with Spanish.  I really am happy here. My district is awesome, I’m already learning a ton and the food is excellent.
I love you guys!  I miss you all! I know that I belong here and this is where I need to be. I’m already learning so much, to love more compassionately and to understand where people come from and to use that as a tool to get to know people—to use love before you get to doctrine. I think it’s funny how some of these guys come here knowing the scriptures but not the feeling behind them and don’t understand them.  That is an assurance to me, to know that I belong here because love is what you show and where you begin and everything else comes after. I am learning the scriptures but I want to get down to the level of the people and have understanding and love and then I will be enabled to push them up to the gospel, if they want. I know that’s true.
I’m switching districts tomorrow because I’m moving to an accelerated one. I have pretty much been teaching the guys in my district, but I won’t be leaving any earlier.
Please send FOOD!!! (Sometimes I get pretty hungry). Also, I need new long sleeve shirts (Sunday white shirts) and athletic shirts (from Walmart).  Send whatever else you guys feel that you want to send me.  Getting packages with treats and letters is great!
Elder Powell
P.S. They have gotten rid of the “trees of life” (if you’ve served a mission, you’ll understand that). It’s awesome that they are gone! And life is busy and easy here. This is not bad at all! Love you all!
I love you all so much.  Stay strong! Time is flying for me, so I’ll see you guys soon.

Leia Mais…

Monday, November 14, 2011

Justin's Farewell Talk (copy of the talk)

Yesterday, Sunday the 13th of November, Justin gave his farewell talk in church. He gave an amazing talk and his assigned topic was The Divine Nature of Service.  He spoke about being servants of each other so that we can be closer to God. He used a touching story about his friendship with one of his best friends, Josh Austin, who passed away 7 months ago, which helped Justin decide to serve a mission.  He even sprinkled in a quote by Gandhi and another by Bono, much to the delight of his dad (and everyone else, it became clear). He was confident and poised and it several people commented that it was apparent that he is ready to go out and serve and that he will do a great job.
After the meeting, we went to Duston and Kate Todd’s home for the luncheon and it turned out really well also. Dionne and I baked 6 15 lb. pork shoulder roasts and then pulled them all by hand for barbecued pulled pork sandwiches. Many family members and friends helped with deserts and salads and we served A LOT of Justin’s supporters.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the time to sit and talk and eat and send him off with lots of love and support. Kate and Duston were awesome to open their home to us and we’re so grateful for everyone that contributed. It would have been impossible without all of you.
It was requested by a couple of people that I post his talk here on this blog. Here is the talk, but keep in mind that he did ad-lib in some places and at the end, he thanked his friends and family and young men’s leaders.  He was especially poignant when he thanked his mom, Dionne, for everything that she has done for him and then when he thanked me, his dad, for the same.  I have to say that it was one of the greatest moments of my life and he’ll never know what it meant to me.  What a fantastic son I have.
The Divine Nature of Service
Hello Brothers and Sisters.  I am truly blessed to have such loving family and friends to come and support me while I make my way into the mission field to serve the people of Monterrey Mexico.  Thank you so much for coming out.
My talk today is on the divine nature of service and what my feelings about it are. 
It is the Lord’s will that we serve one another.
God wanted his children to understand that service is the most important commandment.  I have wondered why that is, during my life, but I think that I now understand His reasons.  First of all, we are His children.  He knows us and understands us. He said, in the book of 2 Nephi, chapter 2 verse 25 that “men are that they might have joy.” He wants us to have joy but He knows that true happiness and joy do not come from selfishness and isolation.  This kind of divine happiness—the kind that radiates within us and lifts us—comes not from worldly things but from serving our neighbors—our brothers and sisters here on Earth.
Also, as I said earlier, we are all brothers and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father. One of the most important ways that our Heavenly Father cares for and looks after His children on Earth is through the good works and service that are done to and by each other.  We all know the scripture from Mosiah where King Benjamin teaches us that when we are in the service of our fellow men, we are in the service of God.  During King Benjamin’s address that is found in Mosiah, he expounds on the beauty and necessity of serving God’s children, our neighbors. The scriptures found here, the words of this wonderful prophet, are such beautiful instructions regarding service.  Though the words are familiar, I would encourage each one of you to go home and open up the Book of Mormon to Mosiah, beginning in chapter 2 and read these excellent words of wisdom from one of God’s chosen prophets.
Heavenly Father sent His son to Earth to show us a perfect example of how to live more perfectly by loving and serving His fellow men.
It is important that we live to serve, as Christ did.  We can’t sit back and wait for service opportunities to fall into our laps.  It is important that we seek out those that are in need of help.  If we truly desire to be Christ like, then we must not stop serving. Christ set the example. He was very clear in His words that service and charity are divine and God-like and that by doing these things, we will become like Him. Serving is ACTING, not just talking.  Elder Theodore M. Burton once said “It is easy to say, ‘I love you.’ But love should not only be declared; it should be proved by actions. Love, unless demonstrated, is only a crashing cymbal or a booming drum which deafens the ears and does not soothe the soul”
We claim to be disciples of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  To be a disciple means to be a follower, in our actions and in our deeds. We can read in the scriptures the many examples that are given about Christ serving those around Him.  He was not choosy.  He was not discriminating.  Many times He likened Himself as a physician, a healer.  He healed the physical bodies and He healed broken hearts. He sought out the most needy, the most sick, and served them. We, who are trying to be like Him, must do the same. If we are going to call ourselves His disciples—His followers in action, then we must do the same.  And don’t think for a second that the needy and sick are not all around us—they are.  They are everywhere.  As Christ said we “have the poor always with” us. President Howard W. Hunter taught us that, "We need to walk more resolutely and more charitably the path that Jesus has shown. We need to pause to help and lift another and surely we will find strength beyond our own. If we would do more to learn 'the healer's art,' there would be untold chances to use it, to touch the 'wounded and the weary' and show to all 'a gentler heart'".
On the night before Christ was crucified, He gathered together with his 12 for the feast of the Passover.  After the feast, knowing that His time on Earth was coming to a close, He rose, took off His clothing and, wearing only a towel, filled a basin with water, knelt before each of His disciples, washed the dust from their feet and dried them with the towel He wore. After He finished, He asked them “Know ye not what I have done to you? Ye call me Master, and ye say well, for so I am. And if I, your Lord and Master have washed your feet, ye ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done unto you. The servant is not greater than his Lord, neither he that is sent greater than he who sent him. IF YE KNOW THESE THINGS, HAPPY ARE YE IF YE DO THEM.”  Christ was demonstrating to us that we must all serve, no matter what our station in life is, if we are to find true and divine happiness.
Now, I want to share with you about a person that has influenced me to serve people in need; a best friend of mine that influenced me to serve a mission. Josh Austin was an ideal example to me of having the divine nature of serving all those around him, including me. He taught me and gave me a new perspective of life and how we should all live to serve each other. I remember times when we would just be hanging out, making plans to watch a movie or play video games when he would bring up people that he knew that needed help. For example, there was a co-worker of his that is a grandfather and is handicapped and needed help building a bed for his granddaughter who was staying at his house because her mother had been arrested. Josh, without hesitation, canceled our plans to do something fun and dragged me to the grandfather’s house.  I remember that I had a slightly poor attitude due to already having worked the previous week and wanting a relaxing weekend.  But Josh kept a positive attitude and a couple of hours later, we were finished with the bed.  The grandfather was so thankful and I was actually very happy to have had the opportunity to serve, even if it was on the weekend.  I was taught a lesson that day—to always look to serve without hesitation because, in turn, it blesses your own life.  I was amazed by how happy I felt and how the Spirit touched my heart and how much of an example Josh was to me. He tragically passed away 7 months ago.  When he passed away, I was so hurt and felt like I had hit a brick wall.  I had no desire to serve a mission before he passed.  I had high ambitions to do much more in life than to just spend 2 years serving a mission.  I was very prideful, only worrying about myself and my future.  I felt like I didn’t need God. I then lost one of my best friends, who had amazed me by his example. It took me totally by surprise and I was emotionally destroyed. Ironically, I really did need God in my life and God actually helped me. For some reason, I got this feeling that Justin Powell needs to serve a mission. God wants Justin Powell to serve people, just like Josh did, and to serve to the fullest. On April 9th 2011, I decided to flip my life around and serve a mission and to do it to the best of my ability, to look for those in trouble and in need so that I could serve them. Because I know that if I devote 2 years of my life to serving people, just like that 2 hours of service that Josh and I had done that surprisingly made me happy, I will make people happier and, in turn, I would become happy. Because of Josh’s example and because of the example of our Savior, I will devote these next 2 years of my life looking for ways to serve and putting myself in places where I will have opportunities to help as many people as I can in Mexico.
I challenge all of you to look to serve without hesitation.  It is the example of Christ that we must follow for it will bless others and in turn, you will be blessed. It is the ultimate medicine for sadness and a distraught heart.
Mohandas Gandhi once said “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  I would add to that that the best way to find God is to lose yourself in the service of His children here on Earth.  Service is divine. Serving cleanses us; it brings more joy and happiness to others and, it brings so much joy and happiness into our own lives.  It is the way that we become like Christ.
There is another quote that was made by an inspirational humanitarian, the lead singer of U2, Bono.  He said this while giving an acceptance speech at the NAACP awards and it is a line that will stick with me forever. He said, “The poor are where God lives.  God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house.  God is where opportunity is lost and lives are shattered.  God is with the mother who has infected a child with a virus that will take both of their lives. God is under the rubble in the cries we hear during war time. God, my friends, is with the poor and God is with us if we are with them.”
This applies to anyone who is in need and I testify that God is with you if you are with them, and to be with them, shake off your pride and heed the call of divine service--to serve all in need. Be like Christ and you shall be blessed and God will be with you. I am so thankful that I had a live demonstration of how God is with us if we are with the needy and troubled by having one of my best friends, Josh, in my life and now, for having the opportunity to serve the people in Mexico for 2 years.

Leia Mais…

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A tribute to my amazing son

One week from today, I send my son Justin out into the wide world with his first venture being his mission to Mexico. My thoughts are varied, of course, as are my emotions but I’m so proud of this son of mine.
I know that there are a lot of parents, whose children leave home under negative circumstances, and that is certainly not the case with Justin.  He will walk out of this home on his own terms with the blessings of his parents and head out to perform wonderful work, first in Mexico, and then in whatever adventures he chooses to pursue. 
I feel short of breath when I think about him leaving but that isn’t because I wish he weren’t, rather because my little boy is a man and is leaving the nest and I will miss having him so close to me, living in my home and seeing him every day.
I remember clearly the day that Justin was born. His mom had been in labor for 24 + difficult hours and, finally, the doctors decided that he just wasn’t going to try and fit his 10 pound chubby body into such a narrow place.  As I’ve thought back on that day and as I’ve gotten to know Justin’s personality, I can see that this is just another facet of his will and determination (and stubbornness).  That wasn’t the path for him and he wasn’t going to be forced into anything that he didn’t want. Time and time again, since then, I have seen this same determination manifest in his behavior. But once he arrived, I was the first to hold him and I remember standing there crying like a baby. He was beautiful and I couldn’t believe that he was mine. It was overwhelming.  I was the first to hold him and I’ve held him close ever since.  In fact, Justin and I have had an extraordinarily close father and son relationship. During his life, there have been moments that have been rocky between us, but they have been just moments and insignificant when compared with all of the rest. Justin and I have always been close; always made great efforts to stay in contact, in spite of living in different states. I’ve watched him grow and I’ve watched him struggle and I’ve watched him overcome it all and all the while I’ve cheered on this beautiful son of mine.
This morning he told me not to be sad and proceeded to lecture me on the fact that this is just a natural progression in the course of our lives, etc., etc., etc. It was a strange thing to have the roles reversed but it doesn’t surprise me. He’s become wise and practical and, again, determined. He told me not to be sad, not to cry, but that is like telling the sun not to rise. I am not good at good-byes. I am going to miss this boy. I worry about him and I will always worry about him but only in the sense of a parent caring with concern for their child.  I have learned that he is smart and kind and good and, for that, I will not worry about him. He will always be my child, no matter how big or how old he gets. But I know that I have been blessed by having been a part of the creation and development of this man. I’ve been blessed in more ways that I can count and, more than anything, what I feel is gratitude for being able to be his dad.
As Justin leaves my home in a week, I want him to remember that his biggest fan is his dad—his Papi, as he used to call me. I want him to know how proud I am of him and of what he is about to do. I know that there will be times during his mission and during his life that are difficult to handle, but I also know that he has the capabilities and the strength and the wisdom to overcome them, to rise to the challenges presented and triumph over them. He has my confidence; he has my blessing; he has my respect; and he has my love.  From the time he was this beautiful curly haired baby until now, I’ve loved him in unfathomable ways.  I will always be there for Justin, loving him and cheering him on as he conquers the world.

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Blog Introduction

As my son, Elder Justin Powell, heads to the MTC on November 16 and then eventually to Monterrey, Mexico in January, I thought that making this blog available to everyone would be a really simple way of getting news and updates about him and about his mission out to all of his family and friends.  As Justin writes home and sends pics, I will post news here for everyone to keep up with him. I will do the best that I can to be prompt, fun and informative.

During the two years that Justin is serving the people of Mexico, if you have any question, requests, etc., please let me know. You can e-mail me at

At the end of Justin's mission, I hope to print these posts, letters and pics into a book of sorts for him to keep.  I therefore request that if you are going to make comments on the blog, please keep them clean and above board. With that being said, I hope that this tool is useful, fun and memorable--for all of us and, eventually, for Elder Powell as well.

Justin leaves in two weeks from today.  Watch for updates as the date nears.  We're all going to miss Justin--no one more than me, his moms, brothers and sisters--so let's all send him off with love, support and prayers.  I know Justin and I know that his reasons for going on this mission are pure.  He truly wants to do good and to serve the people of Mexico.  He's a great young man, will do wonderful things in Mexico, and deserves all of our love and support.

Leia Mais…