Monday, January 30, 2017

January 30, 2017

Mark Owen Vickers

3:15 PM (4 hours ago)
to me, bcc: me
Hi Everyone!

Another great week here in Spring Texas. 

Just as I am writing this email a young woman texted our phone who used to meet with missionaries here in Texas but has since relocated to another state. She wanted to meet with missionaries again but was unsure of how to do so. We were able to help put her in touch with missionaries in her area. Small miracles! 

We have been having a lot of success recently working with the members in this ward. I've seen from my experience that when we work with the members rather than independent of them that the work moves forward much better. I know that the personal witness of these members is truly what helps those learning more about this gospel really grow. We are working with a woman by the name of Kay. She is so sweet and has about the most real intent that I have seen. She was not able to attend church with us this last week however we have good hopes for her in the coming weeks. 

I am going to work this week on personal honesty. I don't consider myself to be a particularly dishonest person by any means. My focus will be on understanding when I am being honest with myself, when I am being honest with others, and honest with my relationship with my Father in Heaven. I'll let you know how it goes this week and what I learn. 

Serving as a missionary has been the great pleasure of my life. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share these truths of the gospel. Something I have realized through serving is that these beliefs that we hold so dear are not just good slogans or good things to live by; they truly affect change in our lives for the better as we study them out and apply them to our various circumstances.

I love you all. I love the work. I love my Savior. 

All the best,

Mark Owen Vickers

3:45 PM (4 hours ago)
to me
Yeah! It's going to be really great. We have what is called MLC or Missionary Leadership Council tomorrow where we will decide as a mission leadership how to specifically implement the changes. It should mean more time on Preparation Days to communicate you guys! Also getting the normal p-day tasks done. I'll have more next week on the changes for sure.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Impressions from the Worldwide Missionary Broadcast

To the Missionaries of the Great Texas Houston Mission,

We were so happy to see you this week as we watched the training broadcast. We are so grateful to be led by prophets, seers and revelators. We sustain them with all our hearts! We hope you have had an opportunity to review the notes you took. If you haven't please take the time to do so and share those impressions with your companion and zone this next district meeting. Here are a couple of thoughts that we have had:

Doctrine of Christ as it applies to us in our current roles as missionaries:
     1. We demonstrate faith as we: are obedient, study the scriptures and PMG, make goals and plans and find
     2. We repent by always being willing to make the changes necessary to qualify for the powers of heaven. These corrections may come by the Holy Ghost, but also make come through our leaders (D&C 1:38).
     3. We are "baptized" and renewed every time we worthily partake of the emblems of the Sacrament each week.
     4. We are able to endure to the end by remaining worthy so that the Gift of the Holy Ghost can tell us those things we should do to find, teach and baptize those the Lord has prepared to receive the blessings in store for the faithful.

Doctrine of Christ as it applies to the way we progress investigators:
     1. We give them an opportunity to exercise faith by accepting the commitments we extend to them.
     2. They have opportunities to repent by keeping those commitments (PMG ch 11)
     3. We give them an opportunity to be baptized AFTER they have had the opportunity to repent sufficiently. DON'T SKIP ANY STEPS!!
     4. We help them endure to the end by making sure we they are continually taught the good word of God, are able to participate in temple ordinances both for themselves and for their kindred dead and then help "strengthen the church" (PMG p.10)

Elder Oaks stated that, "If we do things in the proper order, the invitation to be baptized with be both persuasive and powerful." We add our testimonies to those we heard on Wednesday. This is Christ's church. He leads it through Prophets and Apostles and it is our great privilege to serve with them in assisting the Lord in hastening His work!


President and Sister Mortensen

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

January 23, 2017

On Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 4:24 PM Mark Owen Vickers <> wrote:
(Hey mom! Could you share this with everyone? For some reason my normal list is missing.....) 

We had a great week here in Spring Texas. We are now teaching Jean Paul and Brittany. We were able to teach them about the answers to two of life's great questions; where did we come from and why is it that we are here? 

The significance of really knowing we are a son or daughter of God changes everything. The adversary is the one who would have us feel weak and powerless. Each and every one of us has more potential than we can imagine. We are here to learn and to grow. There are some things we can only appreciate by experience. This does not make our trials any easier but it does give them a framework and place in our growth. I love the perspective of one woman who lost all of her family to battles with cancer. 'Sometimes we don't go through trials because there's something that we need to change or something about us that needs to change. Sometimes we go through trials so that we can be there for others who similarly suffer.' 

Jean Paul has accepted the invitation to be baptized and we hope to extend the same invitation to Brittany this week. We had an amazing experience with them as we knelt in prayer at the close of our lesson. Brittany offered the prayer after some reassurance and the encouragement to think about God as her Father. As she prayed she could not keep back the tears. I am so thankful for this knowledge; that we have a Father in Heaven who cares about us and the details of our lives. We also had the opportunity to participate in another 'Why I Believe' fireside. At this event there is a missionary choir and our mission president and his wife speak. I love being around so many other missionaries and feeling of their conviction. The experiences of the last year are something I would not trade for anything. I feel my Savior's love. He know me and He knows my potential. Because of what He did there is no such thing as too late. 

I love you all,

-- Elder Mark Vickers


We held a Mission President's "Why I Believe" Fireside, in Spring tonight and were blessed to hear beautiful music from our missionaries and touching testimonies. A spiritual night! The following are the pictures I took.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Our interaction with Ward Councils

To the Missionaries of the Great Texas Houston Mission,

We have been inspired by the work that is being sustained throughout the mission. Last week almost every area in the mission had 6 days or more of 15 ITLs. The faith to find is yielding wonderful results. We are seeing February shaping up as a month as good or better than January. We are seeing greater shepherding of those with dates and greater retention of those who are baptized. It is exciting to see the results of continued growth of collective faith and obedience.

We have realized that it has been some time since we trained the mission on our role in ward councils and in ward missionary coordination meetings. Understanding our role in these meetings will continue the positive things we are seeing. We want to remind you of three things:

1. If you have any updates in ward council on those you are teaching, they need to be given prior to the meeting throughout the week. Ward Council is a council to discuss those issues that require counciling (typically things we can't resolve on our own).

2. Too many of you get frustrated by the lack of "time" you get in ward council. If you need time, you need to work with your WML to add things to the agenda prior to the meeting. Otherwise your job is to participate (that means speak :)) on any topic the council is discussing.

3. We review reports with stake leadership that the zone leadership puts together every month. Many of you are reporting that your wards don't address the 9 key indicators or use the new and returning member progress records. The thing that is hard to understand is why you aren't "causing" this to happen. If you are trying to raise these issues and not having the success you would like, we understand. Please let your zone leadership know so they can address it in their weekly meetings with the High Councilor over missionary work. If you aren't addressing them, please start.

We attended Elder Byrd's district meeting this week and were edified by his instruction about how we effectively work with wards to shepherd our investigators. He read us the experience of Alma and his brethren and their desire to lead the Anti-Nephi-Lehi's to safety to protect them from the Lamanites. We read in Alma 27:

"20 And now it came to pass that Alma conducted his brethren back to the land of Zarahemla; even to his own house. And they went and told the chief judge (Bishop) all the things that had happened unto them in the land of Nephi, among their brethren, the Lamanites.

21 And it came to pass that the chief judge sent a proclamation throughout all the land, desiring the voice of the people (Ward council) concerning the admitting their brethren (investigators), who were the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi.

22 And it came to pass that the voice of the people (ward council) came, saying: Behold, we will give up the land of Jershon, which is on the east by the sea, which joins the land Bountiful, which is on the south of the land Bountiful; and this land Jershon is the land which we will give unto our brethren for an inheritance.

23 And behold, we will set our armies (ward members) between the land Jershon and the land Nephi, that we may protect our brethren in the land Jershon; and this we do for our brethren, on account of their fear to take up arms against their brethren lest they should commit sin; and this their great fear came because of their sore repentance which they had, on account of their many murders and their awful wickedness.

24 And now behold, this will we do unto our brethren, that they may inherit the land Jershon (be baptized); and we will guard them from their enemies with our armies, on condition that they will give us a portion of their substance (receive a calling) to assist us that we may maintain our armies (to "strengthen the church").

25 Now, it came to pass that when Ammon had heard this, he returned to the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, and also Alma with him, into the wilderness, where they had pitched their tents, and made known unto them all these things. And Alma also related unto them his conversion, with Ammon and Aaron, and his brethren.

26 And it came to pass that it did cause great joy among them. And they went down into the land of Jershon, and took possession of the land of Jershon (were baptized); and they were called by the Nephites (Mormons/Latter-Day Saints) the people of Ammon; therefore they were distinguished by that name ever after."

If we will similarly work with our Bishops and wards to shepherd our people first to church and then to the water, we will see even greater miracles than we are currently seeing!

We love you and are looking forward to seeing you this week!


President and Sister Mortensen

We had the 8 week Follow-Up Training for the missionaries who arrived last November. It was so good to see them altogether again. They are doing great and becoming master teachers!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

January 16, 2017


Mark Owen Vickers

AttachmentsJan 16 (2 days ago)
to me
Nope! We went rock climbing this morning at an indoor gym and just got
back from shopping. :)

                    Weekly Update 01.16.17


Mark Owen Vickers

Jan 16 (2 days ago)
to me, bcc: me
Hi Everyone!

What a great week this has been. We started by doing some service for a senior couple in the ward. They needed some power washing done on their exterior siding, windows, and driveway. The driveway gave us some trouble however we got it done! We also got invited by the Sanfords in our ward to join them for dinner. They are an awesome family and working here in Houston for a couple of years before returning to Utah. They showed us some pictures of their property and you just want to go there looking at it. They are in a area considered to be high desert and often get snow in the winter. (Yes mom, they are feeding us out here. ;)   

We do a lot of personal contacting looking for people to teach. I am struck by how many people we talk to who know of someone who is LDS. It makes me realize that people take notice even if we mention it just the once. While they are sometimes leery of discussing the church, people almost universally say "they are just so nice!" So keep it up and invite where you can. 

We have been working with this wonderful family over the last month or so. We have Celma, Patrick Sr., and Patrick Jr.   Celma is originally from Brazil while her husband is from the states. They met when he was on assignment in Brazil for work. For most of their marriage they have lived here in Texas and Colorado. Great people. There is a family here in our ward who live right down the street, the Brassaninis, who clicked with Celma's family right away. Sister Brassanini is from Brazil and her husband is from the states as well. Sister Brassanini has a sister in the same neighborhood. Last night we were able to pop by and share a lesson from Matthew 14 about Peter walking on the water to the Savior. There was a great atmosphere and we even learned a bit of Portuguese.  

We are seeing great miracles here in The Woodlands Texas Stake as more and more of those we teach decide to be baptized. We are off to a great start this year and can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for this Stake and the Texas Houston Mission in the coming year.

I love you all. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you or anything you're wondering about mission life. I'd be happy to answer. 

All the best,

I made a new friend this week



The dip to end all dips....


Mark Owen Vickers

AttachmentsJan 16 (2 days ago)
to meb.crum1984skylerbrooksby
Ground beef, refried beans, velveta and Rotel, string cheese mozzarella

Now that is a sunset

This is how we do it in Montgomery



Monday, January 16, 2017

Edifying District Meetings

To the Missionaries of the Great Texas Houston Mission,

We love to see the growing sense of purpose in our mission. The growth in our collective faith to find is leading to rises in our mission to every key indicator. We are inspired by your efforts to find and your growing efforts to incorporate members in our efforts to invite and get people to church. We are influencing the outcome and lives are being blessed :)!

We hope you each had edifying district meetings. Each of us has a responsibility to come prepared to district meetings to contribute to that edifying experience. We hope every district leader will share the monthly training plan with all of the district members so we all can come prepared (hearts and minds) to participate to receive that inspiration the Lord sees fit for us to receive. We also hope you will take an interest in one another's investigators. This can be a wonderful time for us to be strengthened and enlightened.

We have noticed two things that we think will enhance the Spirit of these meetings. First, too often we approach role play in district meetings with a mindset of trying to "get through the material." While many of you role play well, we aren't seeing the evidence that we are trying to "move" people in the way we practice. We need to remember that we play the way we practice. You can't practice with little warmth and little enthusiasm and then expect miracles when you are sitting in front of those whom the Lord has prepared. Please expect higher quality teaching of each other. Bear testimony with power and teach through the investigator's experience. You will feel a greater power and confidence that will result in many more hearts being changed.

Second, we would like to invite each of you to pay closer attention to using the language of prayer in your personal and public prayers. We would like each of you to read a conference talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks given in April 1993 entitled the language of prayer. This seems like a small thing, but we promise you that as you incorporate the appropriate and more respectful language of prayer into each prayer we offer, we will feel greater reverence and purpose in our own prayers and the Lord will bless us and those for whom we pray more openly.

We love you and pray for you and those you teach.


President and Sister Mortensen