Monday, January 19, 2015

He's home!

Dear Friends and Family,
Elder Mitchell Bagley was honorably released from his mission January 14.  He has been suffering from some health issues and after much prayer he and his mission president decided it would be best for him to come home and take care of those issues.  We are thrilled to have him back.  It is the ending every mother prayers for, it just came earlier then we thought.  He has had an amazing mission with lots of successes and leadership opportunities...and his Spanish is amazing!  He will be reporting on his mission February 15th at 11:00 in the Parkway Stake Center. Stop by if you're in town.  This has been such a time of growth for all of us.  We have received may tender mercies from the Lord during Mitch's mission.  It's been fun sharing his letters with you.  He is excited to see what adventure the Lord has in store for him next.---Madre

Monday, January 5, 2015

Becoming a PMG missionary

Hello Mom

I forgot my planner at home which is where I put most of the thoughts that I want to send home so I am sorry about that. I will try and remember most of it all.

Gaudencia is on fire. She came to church alone this time because Columbia (her sister) made is safely home to Mexico. She was on our radar and we wanted to make sure she could be self supporting in coming to church, and she is. She is the best I just love it!

I actually ran into a member from the San Fernando ward who just has a special place in my heart. We really connected and had a special relationship back in Pacoima. I am proud to know her. When she got news of the return of her cancer I was the one she called and we prayed and worked together to get over it. At transfer meeting I heard the news from some Elders that her son had been stabbed to death 17 times leaving behind his son and a pregnant girlfriend. When I saw her at church yesterday I just started to tear up as she held her toddler grandson's hand and talked to me about how kind the Lord has been to her, how strong her faith is and how blessed she is to come to church. I am blessed to even know the same gospel as her. She is a powerhouse of faith. I love her lots.

We had ZTM this week and it was a great time. President has made a draft of the new 2015 Training plan and I stand behind it 100%. Independent of each other president and I arrived at the same point when it comes to the important of PMG (preach my gospel) and what we need to focus on. He is an inspired man.

A PMG missionary to me means a lot. I like to think of what a Book of Mormon or Old Testament missionary looks like in order to compare. What do I do as a missionary with the tools the lord has blessed me with?  Do I have a testimony of living prophet?  Do I know the church has been restored and glorified?  I want to use PMG. I only have a small season left before it will not play as big a role in my conversion or my service.

I love you Mom. I have no intentions of losing hope or weakening faith. I can't wait to see you. It will come fast.

Elder Bagley

Monday, December 29, 2014

Feliz Ano Nuevo

It was so good to talk to Elder Bagley Christmas day.  We got to Skype so we got to see him as well as hear his voice.

Hi Mom,

Gracias por la email :) lo fue muy bien a hablarles ustedes todos juntos en la Skype. Las caras suyos eran tan feliz y brillantes. Les amo! (Translation:  Thank you for the email.  It was very good to speak to all of you on Skype.  Your faces were happy and bright. I love you!)

Christmas was memorable. I have so many pictures to send. We ate/made a lot of tamales and just spent good quality time together at the Lipes. Work still went on and nothing changes but it's almost as if that's what Christmas should be like. We should already be living a "Christmas Life" before December.

Hermano Lipe is a brown version of Papa.

Ho Ho Holy cow you are doing so well with your reading goals! That is incredible how much you got done. You really like to read.  (I mentioned to Elder Bagley that I had finished the Old Testament and would finish up the Book of Mormon this week.) Elder McKinney and I have decided to read the Book of Mormon searching and marking the work "remember".  It's something I have been thinking about for a while but I think now is appropriate.

I reread my journal entry from last year’s Christmas. It is so wonderful to look back and see what the Lord has decided to do with your mistakes and weaknesses. I feel stronger.

District Meeting went well. We all felt the spirit and shared powerful testimony. I committed them to find a renewed strength in their personal testimony of the Atonement. We set plans: Read patriarchal blessing, take chpt 6 attribute test, and do/revisit last day in the field chpt 8 activity. I followed up Friday everyone was on track. I want to see what ZTM holds but I feel we have a good district unity built around something solid and easy to grasp.

I have set three goals for this transfer (longer if needed)
i. Become a PMG Missionary
ii. Develop more meaningful personal prayers
iii. Fulfill P. Blessing.

They are so simple but I am tired of looking for complex answers. Sometime I just need to get over myself. Lehi had his moments too and all he was told was to look back at the sphere. I am happy with the plans I have made as well.

It was so great to talk with you all. I love you a ton! I pray and think about you daily. It was not out of the ordinary to see and talk with you because of how present you are in my everyday life. Skype or not I feel just as close to you as I ever have been. Except Rogan...I hardly ever think about her. Hope she is well... 
Love you Mom xoxo
Elder Bagley

Making Pozole

Christmas Eve dinner

Elder McKinney Skypeing with his familia on Christmas Eve

Making tamales with Hemana Lipe
Opening gifts Christmas morning
Homemade tamales

Monday, December 22, 2014

Feliz Navidad

Mother darling,

Feliz Navidad!

What a wonderful mission. In the real sense of the word I have found wonder and amazement, it's almost shock, at how perfectly things fall into play for my benefit and learning. It's a wonderful time to be a missionary.
This week has been a great one. Transfer meeting went well. Sending off Elder Madore was bitter sweet, we love that elder a lot. We talked with him and Elder Burton last night at the Stake Choir concert and they are doing just great. He is a very adaptive person. Elder McKinney and I feel like empty nesters being a normal companionship now ha-ha. The new missionaries that moved in next door to us to take over Elder Madore and Searles new area are Elder Stark and his trainee Elder Elder. Yep that's his legit name ha-ha. It's cool to have Elder Stark back around. He has a perfect training area and a great trainee. I have been a missionary longer than Elder Elder has been a member. Ya, I’ll talk to you about it on Skype because it's a lot but seriously we are so blessed to have him.

District meeting went perfectly. I taught the Atonement and gave a commitment that the district finds hope for change in the new transfer. I followed up on Friday and now have 3 goals (some chose to only have 1 or 2) and a scripture that each missionary will be focusing on daily for the next 5 weeks. It was really great to see a thread of common hopes in the district. Many want to focus on Spanish as well as developing more humility. I am excited to see the new training plan for 2015 but for right now I am focusing on conversations and new investigator. Give the people what they want! It is comforting that I know up front what they want to get out of all this. Furthermore, I feel hopeful and useful in helping them fulfill personal goals.

The Sander's (aka the housing coordinators) gifted us a sofa. It's divine. HO HO Holy cow I love our new couch.

We painted the LA bridge as a service project. It was a delightful time. It is so easy and natural to build district unity during service projects. They are priceless opportunities to feel the spirit and share love with others. 

BIG NEWS THAT I HAVEN'T TOLD YOU ABOUT BUT HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR QUITE SOME TIME. my bad... A new elder in my district (Elder Jack) hit his head on the car as he was getting in. He got a concussion from it. So, we stole his car since he was on bed rest all week. Then he started feeling better but then he hit his head a second time (the other side of his dome, bummer I know) so things got worst. Long story short he is heading home tomorrow...Okay sorry about that slipping by in the past emails. I just didn't know how permanent it all was. 

SO I am grateful for another opportunity to have served and supported Elder Jack where a departure home was fast approaching. We did a lot of exchange this week to try and work both the areas. I can foresee another trio in the near future. Honestly I just don't know what's going down.  I am willing to work in a trio again, just cautiously preparing spiritually for another trial of faith. Change is wonderful, it's almost always a blessing, but it still requires sufficient faith to transform change into an opportunity for repentance. Stay tuned.

Things with the car have been nice. A little annoying to work a bike area with a car just because parking is impossible around here. It is a blessing to run errands and help out other missionaries though. We played taxi a couple times this week. Once with Elder Elder, another with the 6-week follow-up for Elder Jack, as well as the hospital trip. I feel like I am a Zone Leader again with all this administration work. Looking back though Elder McKinney and I have felt satisfied with the effort we made, with the opportunities we had to have conversations about the gospel with everyone we could get the appropriate/chance to talk to. Even today we shared "The Gift" with the butcher at El Super. I feel like I am falling back into my older trainee type energy. I am reminded of Elder Speth's classic "Yeah lets go talk to them." moments when it would be out of our way to share the gospel but in the end it just felt good to try, to have a fresh start again. Transfers are perfect periods for re-newed repentance.

We went shopping today and I got everything I need to make Pazole as well as 4 or 5 other authentic Latino meals. I love to cook and the Spanish culture does not cut short on delicious foods to make!

I love you a lot Mom. I hope you know that. I am so excited to Skype you!  I miss you a lot. We will be Skyping at the Lipe's house. Elder McKinney is going to do it on Christmas Eve because his famila goes on vacation Christmas day but I think I will still Skype on Christmas if that is okay with the Lipes. It would be in afternoonish just like last time. If anything I'll just call the house and we can figure it all out.

Lately, I feel I need less coddling. I think that is generally what God wants. I am learning he want's more righteous use of our agency and less babying-sitting over minor trials and trivial mistakes. I love where I am at. This is the hardest thing I have ever done. But I am grateful that there are harder things to come. I am only going to past by this way once. This isn't a round trip--so why not taste the whole spectrum. This is what I signed up for, literally and in a preexistence view!

News on "missionary work" related topics are rather slim. Gaudencia is still just the best recent convert ever. I love her so much. But one cool story I want to leave you with happened yesterday at church. We saw a man we didn't know, Freddy was his name. Turns out a member brought him (I love it when that happens). He asked some questions during the class but then after church he asked us, I repeat he asked US to have a short chat outside. We talked for about 15 minutes and simply taught and explained about the restoration of the gospel. We have a follow up lesson with him tonight (after we eat pupusas) with him and his member friend.  Last night he came to the stake choir concert. We have an acronym for people like him it's WMOM. It means "what manner of men" ha-ha it's there to describe those investigators that come out of nowhere and are just so easy to teach and so willing to keep commitments. Gosh this work does not need me. I could stay in my apartment all day watching Dish Latino HD and this work would still go forward. And at that go forward quickly. It is such a blessing I get to keep pace with it all. I feel like I am tripping up the stairs but I am still going upstairs. I will talk/see you soon Mom. I love you so.

Elder Bagley
Elder McKinney and Elder Bagley with a member family in their old area, now the area of Elder Stark and Elder Elder. The little girl is the cutest thing ever. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

The trio is breaking up.

Merry Christmas Mom!
This week was a great learning experience. Oh, so great!

It is starting to get colder around here. I am still not sure what "cold" really is because I have been so use to the hot sunny Cali life but in any means it is cold.

It has been raining as well. Not a ton but just enough.  People here are not fans of the rain and people really act dramatic about it.  We were fine though.  We were excited to get out and work anyways.

We went to the temple as a mission.  I love the temple.  How could you not love the temple?  What a blessing. I loved seeing my old friends in such a beautiful environment and light.  We learned a lot and even had a small training from the Visitor Center President.  It was a big help in learning how to use the center to help our investigators.  We are so lucky to be in a temple district.  I can't wait to get home and again be surrounded by temples.

I have a wonderful area, district and ward.  So much good can come from this all.  I just want to give my area the best it deserves but with everything right now it is just a drag.  Being a district leader on top of it has also been rough.  I do not find being a leader to be challenging at the moment but with all that's going on leading has been a drag. 

I am excited to Skype home!  Things sound so well at home.  We will probably Skype at the Lipe's house, they have a sweet Mac, but I’ll let you know.  Gosh, I really am so excited ha-ha.

We got transfer calls on Saturday.  The Trio is breaking up.  Elder Madore will be leaving to a bike area and Elder McKinney and I will stay together.  I am excited for the change but will miss the trio life.  I have learned to love change out here.  We are always changing but it gives me so many "new starts"…repentance checkpoints almost.  I hope this transfer we will get iPads...I am still not giving up on those…one day.

Elder McKinney has given me such a great introspect on who I am.  Seeing him and his perspective has lead me to more understanding and purpose in my own life.  I am excited to go another round.

I have never been the way I am right now and I love it.  What an adventure all of this is.  I wish I could be doing more, I think we all do…more finding, more teaching, more baptizing.  But at the end of the day we get it all.  We have a Savior!!  A real, living and true Savior.  Not just a plan or blueprint that is in progress or under maintenance.  But a Savior that lived, lives and loves.  Mom when I think about it all it's just too much, too much to hold.  You kind of have to share it because you just can't keep it all to yourselves.  I love you a lot.  I can't wait to see and hear you soon. XOXO

Elder Bagley 
Service at the Church down the Street

Theses are a no-no. Dec 12 is Dia de la Virgen.

Making gingerbread houses
Advent Calendar

Monday, December 8, 2014

District meeting, Zone Conference and preparing for a temple visist

Mother dearest.

You are an inspired woman of faith. It is funny that you talked about late night habits and joy because I have something to say about both of those before I get to far into this email...

We were just talking this week about how I use to have the hardest time with curfew and waking up. I shared the funny stories about sleeping in the car and sneaking in at night but honestly the only reason I looked back and found them of any value is because of the relationship we still have. Through it all I know you love me and I love you too. All is well.

This morning I was studying what I wanted to plan for District Meeting tomorrow. I am going to do a Christmas centered meeting and use "He is the Gift" as a contacting idea to train.  But I was reading through 1 Nephi 8 as well as 11 and making the connection to the Christmas story.  How the tree could represent Mary, Christ the fruit, and the sweet taste joy.  In that view it changed so much for me.  Christ is Joy.  He is the embodied essence of Joy.  Your comments on Joy will make an appearance tomorrow in my meeting.  "Men are that they might have Joy", with a capital J.  Thanks mom, I love you.

Things are well. How could they not be.

Gaudencia was confirmed yesterday by Hermano Lipe.  It was great.  He helped us teach her throughout it all and is a great fellowshipper.  We actually have a pupusa dinner with him tonight :)  Guadencia and her angelic sister, Columba, came to the YSA baptism and stayed to watch the Christmas devotional with us.  It is just them against the world but man; the world doesn't stand a chance.

Insomnia still bites. It's honestly such a drag. I have been talking around to see what other missionaries do to help relax for bed. Stretching and music are next on the test list. Last night I couldn't sleep so I just cleaned the house until I was tired.

Lately to help with sleep and stress I bought some art supplies for Christmas and have been sketching as a release.  I love it a lot.  ALSO I love writing...and I think I am pretty good at it.  You're gonna love some of the stuff.  I honestly write so much beautiful things and it's just another way to give testimony to Christ.  I love it.  I am tired but still finding the tender mercies, whether in the day or deep at night :)

I interviewed a young single adult for her baptism.  It was so great.  I feel love and trust knowing that Christ chose me to represent him especially with deciding who can and can't be baptized.  That's a lot of pressure but with the Spirit it just becomes enlightening.  She will make a great addition to the YSA branch. The Hermanas were gently powerful in how they taught and shared our special message.

I had a great exchange with Elder Ale. He is doing well and we shared a heart to heart as I listened about some things going on at home. He is so focus and on point with his training but still shouldering burdens.  I felt impressed to train the next morning on Faith and Repentance.  We talked about how apart from rebellion and ignorance there are some sins that stem from weakness.  Sometimes it's hard not to sin just because we are weak…weak in faith, in body, in love, whatever.  The Lord created us imperfect and it is true that God has asked for perfection--But God has received perfection!!  And now perfection is asking us to have faith in Him unto repentance.  The plan is simply glorious.

Zone Conference was great.  As a companionship we had been preparing in study and conversation and felt really on mark with what President shared about Faith and Repentance.  It was great to see old friends.  I talked with Hermana Francis and Buxton.  I miss them dearly; they feel like sisters to me…such amazing Sister Training Leaders.  My old Zone had nothing but sweet words to say.  I got news of so many great things happening back in Pacoima.  It is great to be remembered.  Elder Speth also seemed content with his Zone leader call and area.  I am lucky to have been trained by him.  Elder Spears is working in Mission Hills which was an area in my last Zone.  As the zone leader I was able to see how the area stood number wise and success wise.  It has never had a baptizim but is still a great place.  Long story short Elder Spears and Elder Correa said they found 19 new investigators last week...That is mental!  They are the perfect companionship. Together they weigh more that’s 400 pounds...

I am super excited to visit the temple this week as a mission.  I wouldn't say I understand more of the temple in a quantity aspect but instead on a quality level.  Revelation found in the temple is more cleanly received and a lot of the time I have some great questions when I leave.  Just more things to study on :)  I am so excited to Skype soon!  I don't know when or where but I'll let you know.

I love you so much Mom.  We were talking the other day about how in the next life if we have followed the gospel here, we will be born into the next life by the blood and body of Christ, essentially becoming his children. Or like King Benjamin said "Spiritually begotten" children of Christ.  I thought it was so weird that I have the power to choose my father in the next life.  Christ or by another name.  Satan solicits a tough bargain but in the end I will be called by the name of Christ.  That is my hearts truest desire because he is the truest my heart has ever tasted.  What I would do to be His begotten son.  It made me think of what I have fought, experienced and endured in the past life to have the honor of being your son.  I truly am born of goodly parents who love the Lord. Merry Christmas Mother.  I love you.

Elder Bagley

Monday, December 1, 2014

Gaudencia was baptized


Happy Thanksgiving :) I just wanted to say we ate all of the goods you sent and it was perfect! My companions love you so much. We are pumped to start hanging ornaments on the advent tree! Missionaries enjoy the littlest of things.

So I have a lot to write but first I’ll send my BYU stuff in another email along with some pictures of the past little bit. Thank you so much for helping me with school. I had a great phone call with president and he talked me through some of it and gave me some priceless advice. I love that man. But long story short I should try to apply to as many places as I can and then try and make some decisions from that point on. He said Salt Lake is very supportive almost encouraging in allowing missionaries to end their missions early for school. He is happy to do it as well; he actually prefers it so I don't feel bad about that. Thanks again. You are an angel.

This week was wonderful. We had a great thanksgiving with the Familia Lipe. We ate SO MUCH food. Turkey, ham, potatoes, latino cold slaw, pan (bread), pie, ice cream, gravy, stuffing, pan de pollo, just basically everything. I am away from home but I feel like I am with family when I am in the homes of loving members who sacrifice so much for us. It was a great holiday.

Elder Bagley, Hermano Lipe, Elder Madore, and Elder McKinney

Like I said I had a great phone call with president. Lately with getting sick, the trio, plus school stuff and all I just felt really beaten up. I felt like I was back to square one and that I was not improving anymore spiritually but rather just messing up over and over. Talking to him was the greatest. He spoke peace to my heart and I just felt good. I felt an increase in patience and kindness towards myself and where I have come from to get where I am at. I always pictured repentance as a process to perfection, as a plan B and a back up but it's not. It is the plan. It is the small immediate actions of faith right after we have messed up and want to change. It's the small whispers in your heart that promise God you'll be better tomorrow It makes you want to promise over and over even though you have broken your promises so many times before but for some reason you think this time will be different; that you really will be better next time. And that's not a lie--it's true! Through faith and repentance, next time will be better. You can make your promises to God become true through Christ. You don't have to lie to God and say you will stop this or forget that, because through Christ you really can change. My testimony and understanding of repentance is different, more potent and more applicable. I love it.

Gaudencia was baptized. Oh Mom it was wonderful, so great. It was raining outside and there were few ward members that showed up because of the rain (latinos are strange when it rains) but gosh it was perfect. She and her sister just get it. They understand what it's all about. They understand faith and Christ’s love and it's just them versus the world. It could have been us and them only on the darkest night with no member support, no printed programs or songs but a font and they would have still filled that moment with the amazing light they carry. I loved it so much. I wish you were there.

So it's December now. There is a lot of good to come from the month. Mission temple trip is coming up, zone conference, Skype home, Christmas just so much!  Unfortunately, iPads won’t be coming until at least January. It breaks my heart but I can't complain. I was thinking about Christmas gifts and I came up with a short list--Ties, relaxing music (missionary handbook gives a good outline of what’s appropriate), a new Journal, and a photobook would be wonderful. Elder McKinney has one from Shutterfly that has baby pictures family vacations, dances, friends, stuff like that in it. I think it would be a lot of work but I would love to have one to show my companions my family and friends in Utah. But in all honestly Christmas gifts as a missionary are an unexpected blessing. An empty stocking and I will still have some of the best gifts. Please search HE IS THE GIFT and share it with your friends :)

I love you mom, SO, SO much. I am really finding myself out here. Its funny how lost you become as a missionary, you forget your music, past, clothes, they even give you a new name! But I have never felt I understand myself better than I do now. I am figuring out who I really am, how I was really designed and I love it…can't wait to hear back from you.

With love,

Elder Bagley
Sunday naps

Awesome whoopee pie

Study time on the balcony