Monday, February 29, 2016

February 29, 2016

Mark Owen Vickers

10:39 AM (12 hours ago)
to bcc: me
Howdy Ya'll,
Greetings from Texas everyone! Another great week here in Spring Creek/Tomball.
Our focus this week has been on the Ulloa family. They are fantastic! We finished the lessons with them this week and their baptismal service is set for March 5th. Opportunities to teach an entire family are rare and I consider this time with there family a huge blessing.
On Tuesday of this week Elder Roper and I attended an activity for the youth in our ward. It was held outside and that night just happened to be freezing and super windy. The youth invited quite a few of their friends not of our faith and we talked about missionary work for about 30 minutes as a group. Elder Roper and I spoke on topics such as 'what we wished we had done better to prepare', 'how to get along with someone 24/7', 'craziest thing we've eaten' among many other things. As you can see the topics ranged from the serious to the silly. It was great! The youth also made dessert and side dishes in dutch ovens as part of the activity with Elder Roper and I as judges. They aren't bad cooks, these kids.
We also had the chance to attend a "Why I Believe" fireside hosted by our mission president and his wife yesterday. Several recent converts bore their testimonies and we had a missionary choir of about 40 missionaries of which I participated in. For those of you who know me well, you know I don't sing haha. It was good. The Spirit helped make up for what I lack in talent. Such a great experience to hear these new members and our president bear testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Until next week,      (!:)     
                                                                   "Work Hard...Play Hard:)"

Monday, February 22, 2016

Week of February 22 2016

Can't remember if I shared with you but when the sealer pronounced the temple sealing on Skyler and Nat I heard heavenly hosts shouting for joy!!!  The church is true!!!

Mark Owen Vickers

12:55 PM (8 hours ago)
to bcc: me
So the other night we visited a local church members house and shared a church video called "Our True Identity". Awesome message. I highly recommend it. Anyway as we were about to leave their little girl, about 4, jumps on the coffee table and runs at Elder Roper. He had to "arm bar" her to keep her away. I couldn't help laughing. She said "I have to kiss him goodbye!" She said this probably 10 times. Super lighthearted. The mom had to restrain her until we left.

Good times in Houston Texas. :

Mark Owen Vickers

12:49 PM (8 hours ago)
to bcc: me
Hey Everyone,
Another great week here in Spring Creek. The Ulloa family are amazing. This week we had 2 lessons with their family on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The first lesson covered faith and repentance while the second covered baptism, the Holy Ghost/Holy Spirit, and enduring to the end. Some of my favorite scriptures on this lesson are John 3:16-17, 2 Nephi 2:6-8, Alma 32:21-22, James 2:17-18, Alma 34:15, 2 Corinthians 7: 9-10, 2 Nephi 31:16-21 among many more.
One of my favorite questions this week was how the Book of Mormon talks about a baptism of water and of fire. The baptism of water is literal while the baptism of fire is not. This is interesting. How is it that we each feel the Spirit? Galations 5: 22-23 gives us some guidance on the feelings that we can associate with feeling the Spirit. Often times it is described as a warm feeling.
We narrowly escaped rain this week but should have some this week. We will overcome.
Love you all,

Monday, February 15, 2016

February 15, 2016 Presidents' Message

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentines Day!

To the Missionaries of the Great Texas Houston Mission,

Valentines Day has a tradition that goes back centuries, but as we think about it today, we think of love and of those we love. It was the Savior's love that we celebrate each week as we partake of the sacrament. It was He who said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (Jn15:13) Each of you possess a degree of this love as evidenced by the fact that you have laid down your lives or set them aside in order serve a mission. We will forever be grateful you did. We wish each of you a Happy Valentines Day :)!

We are looking forward to seeing you this week at Zone Conference. We are going to be discussing a couple of important topics:

1. A Reverence for the Sacred
2. The Book of Mormon and the Restoration

We are sending you two talks (each in a separate email) to read before zone conference to prepare your minds to receive the revelation you need. The first is a talk by Elder D. Todd Christofferson that he gave to the YSAs of the church a few years ago entitled "A Sense of the Sacred." The second is a classic talk on the Book of Mormon given by President Marion G. Romney a former counselor in the First Presidency of the Church given in April 1980's General Conference. We request that you read both, but we only assign each companionship to prepare 5 minute talks on the following themes (one companion prepares a talk on the first and the other prepares a talk on the second):

1. In what ways can I better show reverence to God as a full time missionary?
2. How can I better teach the Book of Mormon and what blessings can I promise that have already been promised?

We are inspired by the increasing number of miracles we are seeing in our mission and know that it is a reflection of your continuing faith and hard work. We love you for it!


President and Sister MortensenHouston Texas Mission Blog

Eighth Preparation Day

Mark Owen Vickers

2:00 PM (6 hours ago)
to me
Looks like the email list I have saved for my weekly emails doesn't transfer to the iPad version. I'll try to fix that for next week but could you forward this week's email to everybody? Thanks :)

Hey Everyone,

This was a great week to be a missionary; not that every week isn't great. Haha. So this week we started teaching the Ulloa family (pronounced oo-yo-ah). There were introduced to the church by the Bishop of one of the Spanish wards. He gave them 2 copies of the Liahona magazine and they read through them in quick succession. Sister Ulloa's family moved from Mexico City when she was younger and Brother Ulloa is from Mexico City. They have 3 children, Sabrina, Sebastion, and Oliver. This family is so perfect! The Spanish Elders had been teaching them but they decided to go the English route after attending our ward this last fast Sunday. As Brother Ulloa told us they don't want to isolate their family to only Spanish speakers and so decided it would be best for their family, especially the 2 younger boys to go with an English ward. Our first lesson with them we reviewed their Book of Mormon reading and they felt good about what they had learned so far but we're not sure if they had received their answer. We then invited Brother Ulloa to have us all kneel in prayer and pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true. After the prayer there were a good 2 minutes of silence. The Holy Ghost was tangible in the room. We opened to Galatians 5:22-23 to identify the source of these feelings. Right then and there this family gained their testimony of the Book of Mormon. We then opened to this paragraph in the Introduction page : "Those who gain this divine witness(a testimony of the Book of Mormon) from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is His revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth, preparatory to the Second Coming of the Messiah."
The Ulloas have a baptismal date for March 5th. It is a privilege to share this gospel and I can truly testify of the scripture in D&C that speaks about "how great shall be your(our) joy if we bring one soul into Him" paraphrasing. 

We are being so blessed right now not only with the Ulloas but also with new people to teach. We found five new investigators this week. I would say more but my time is almost out for this week. 

-Love you all,
Elder Mark Vickers
Sent from my iPad

Dad and I couldn't be happier for you!!!!  February 15, 2016

This week I'm emailing from my iPad.  Can you tell I'm excited?

Mark Owen Vickers

1:25 PM (7 hours ago)
to meSpencer
That is so awesome about Natalie and Skyler. So pumped for them. I might need to wait to add skyler to my email list until next week :/ The iPads email client isn't to most user friendly. But the reception went well?

Sent from my iPad

Mark O. says, "She is so darn cute!!!"

Mark Owen Vickers

Attachments2:12 PM (6 hours ago)
to me
Our district first transfer

Sent from my iPad

This pillow case is so cool because when Mark was sat apart for his mission by President Livingston these words were in the blessing he gave to Elder Vickers!

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Great Loss

Here is a copy of the letter that President Mortensen and I sent to be read at Sister Jazmyn Jeppson's Funeral Service.

Brothers and Sisters,

We are so saddened by the sudden loss of our Sister Jazmyn June Jeppson. We know each of you love her as we do, but we want you to know the kind of missionary she was. She was one of the first Sister missionaries we met when we arrived in Houston. Our first recollection of Sister Jeppson, fittingly, was at a baptismal service in the first month of her mission. She made that scene a frequent occurrence over the course of her mission. She and her companion Sister Hailey Heaps had taught a young man who was getting baptized that day. We could see in Sister Jeppson a kind of focused energy. We came to learn that this focus was part of what made her great. It wasn’t long after this experience that she was training. No matter who she was with, she led out because she knew who she served and she was clear minded in her purpose. There wasn’t a companion who served with Sister Jeppson who didn’t come away from the experience a better person and a much better missionary.

She would ultimately train several missionaries directly and be the Sister Trainer Leader responsible for many, many more. Since her passing, several of them have mentioned that her influence changed their mission. She was an excellent planner and even a better teacher. Often we would role play in district/zone meetings. When we would see that Sister Jeppson was participating in a group, we would know that those participating with her were going to get the best experience because of the great listener and teacher she became.

While we are saddened by her loss, we hope all assembled here today will celebrate her life and count themselves lucky to have known her and to be positively influenced by her. We certainly have been.

We learn in D&C 138:57 that faithful missionaries like Sister Jeppson are “continuing (her) labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirit of the dead.” There is no more fitting destination for someone like Sister Jeppson who became a true messenger in every way. She loved bringing light into the lives of those who sat in darkness.  We know she will immerse herself in the work in that realm just as she did here. All of the blessings promised to the righteous will be hers. In that knowledge we find peace.

In the final night in the mission home we have each departing missionary write their testimony so we can preserve it for us and for them. Here is an excerpt of hers:

I am so grateful to have been able to serve at this time. I know the Lord is in the details of our lives and that He knows exactly what we need and we can know His will if we just ask. I feel I have just got a glimpse of how our Heavenly Father sees each of us and I hope I can hang onto that. I have seen a light so pure in so many of God’s children and it’s been such a privilege to help that grow brighter.

I have felt such an urgency to share this gospel with others. The gospel has become so clear to me because of the training I received and the many opportunities I’ve had to teach the principle of the restoration and the gospel principles. The most powerful experiences on my mission have been testifying of the restoration. I know the gospel has been restored. I am so grateful for Joseph Smith and the sacrifices he made to restore the church.

I know that I have a great responsibility to live the gospel…I will be faithful.

Sister Jazmyn Jeppson

We extend our love to each of you and challenge each of you to honor her life by being equally faithful in living the gospel as she was and she will undoubtedly continue to be.


President and Sister Mortensen

Seventh Preparation Day

Dear elder Vickers,

I love being able to say that. How has the work been going? We've loved being
able to put your investigators names on the temple roll and pray for them.
 Are you still with Elder Roper?  How has the weather been?
Sorry I'm just full of questions right now :-).
Don't know if you heard or not but the Broncos beat the Panthers in the
Super Bowl yesterday.

Look forward to your email today. Love you so much.  dad  

Mark Owen Vickers

11:04 AM (6 hours ago)
to me
Hey Dad,
The work is going well. Details to come in this weeks letter. Still with
Elder Roper for at least 4 weeks.
After that I'll likely stay and he'll be transferred out. The weather is doing alright.
There have been a few cold days, not too much rain.
There was a good storm the other night that woke me up which you takes some doing. haha
I heard.
Good for Payton, he needed one more, hopefully he'll retire now.
Now to get writing on that update. :)
Love you!

Mark Owen Vickers

11:06 AM (6 hours ago)
to me
I can definitely pray for Lance. I'll write him a letter. :)
There is a great talk that Elder Bednar gives in the MTC which
tells us that a testimony is not enough, that we must be converted and
continue to be converted throughout our lives.

Mark Owen Vickers
11:08 AM (6 hours ago)

to me 
Not sure yet! I haven't been able to get on a scale.
 Probably something like 20 pounds. :)

Mark Owen Vickers

11:36 AM (5 hours ago)

Hey Everyone,

What a great week this was. 

We continue to help this family in our ward to paint their house.
 If you see a picture of us in yellow we are either painting or doing
some sort of other service. 

After emailing this last week we went to a park about 3 miles
from our apartment and biked around for a bit.
We came to this grassy area with a large pond and a sign which
informed us not to feed the alligators. Wait, alligators? Yep.
So that was a bit unnerving but made for a fun day at the park.
Oh also we saw this snake. :)

We are teaching this man named Jim who is in his 50's and loves
rock and roll. Most of the time we start our lessons with him by listening
to his latest song. He is a musician and loves his Gibson guitars. 

This next week will be focused on preparing me for my 8 week review where I'll be teaching fellow missionary trainers as well as our mission president. Quite intimidating but I know that with the Lord's help I'll do just fine.     With love from Houston

Mark Owen Vickers
10:48 AM (10 hours ago)

to me
Nice! Tell him I know it's not easy but to keep with it.
Braces are the best and the worst.

Mark Owen Vickers
11:37 AM (10 hours ago)

to me
Very nice. Tell Natalie and Skyler I am super excited for them and
proud of them. Wish I could be there!

All for this week. Love you all!

  Dear Sons,
Today, February 6, 2016 your sister Natalie went through the
Timpanogus Temple and received her endowments!!!
It was wonderful!  Bryan babysat Elly so Laura could come.
Skyler was there by himself, but what a special night!
It was kind of fun because I brought one of the names you did Spence.
Her name was Cora and she was born in 1883.    She was born in Texas
I loved being Nat’s escort.  
I told her she’s among the angels now
Skyler has moved his bed, TV, dresser downstairs so far.
I think he will get the rest of his stuff in there this next week
Lance is on a date tonight  I am just sitting here waiting for him.
It’s about 11:40 p.m.  I didn’t realize Utah has a curfew for teens under 18.
They are not to be out between the ages of midnight and 5.

Bryan is publishing on his own now!  He will have to tell you all about it.
We can’t wait to get the actual publication.

On The Texas Houston Mission Blog President Mortenson took this picture
with Mark and Elder Roper.

"We saw these wonderful elder today at church"