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…