Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Best Week So Far!

Hey y'all non-southerners! This week has been the best one so far on my mission! We set really good goals, and planned out very well how we would reach them. Goal setting, and planning for your set goals and then working super hard to achieve them are so important for life in general. Elder M. Russell Ballard has stated, " I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don't set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life." This is so true! if we do not have vision on who we want to become, and what we want to do, then we will not accomplish anything of eternal value in our lives.

With that being said, this week I have found out what I really want to become as a missionary. I have been working on being bold and I will continue to do so. I want to be like one of our ward members (in terms of a missionary) Brother Bates. He went to three lessons with us this week and I have learned so much what I need to improve on in my teaching skills. He is super bold, but loving, and he asks such great questions. That is what I need to work on, question asking! Questions help the investigator learn so much better! good questions allow them to find out answers for themselves, and to really think hard about whatever topic. The right question at the right time will help us as missionaries gauge where their understanding is at, and questions also will draw out the investigators concerns. Elder Bednar (member of the quorum of the twelve apostles) is one of the best examples of teaching through asking questions. Asking questions also shows that you are paying attention, and that you genuinely care for other opinion or way of thinking. I have to learn not to be afraid of silence either. silence after a question is your friend! When in doubt, ask a question.. now this doesn't have to apply to missionary work either.

So this week he hit all of our goals.. .except for the big one- church attendance (and progressing investigator since both have to correlate). We did all we could to get our investigators to church, but at the end of the day agency was what happened. That is okay though! We taught a little over 30 people this week, which is pretty good for us down here (I don't know how good that is compared to out of country?) anyway, it felt good. We planned super well and we went out and worked our butts off to hit our goals. Our area has not been what it has potential to be. last Friday the 15th, we decided to turn our area around, and we were sooo focused! It's not that we have not been focused or obedient, because we definitely are, it's just that we haven't worked until we drop because of exhaustion. working our heads off just feels sooo good! #NoRegrets. We have committed to be missionaries like Alma and Amulek... I call being Alma haha.

Our member present lessons this week were so stellar. Brother Bates has been back from his mission for 5 years and still can teach so well. Most of our previous member present lessons were normal, like just ask the members to share a certain part of the lesson and their testimony. These ones this week (we had 3 with Brother Bates, 2 with two others) were like we had a third companion. He knows his stuff and all three of us worked with such great unity!! The spirit was so strong in all three of those lessons. At a few points in the lessons, Brother Bates asked some pretty good inspired questions that the answer that the investigators gave tied in perfectly with what I felt to say.

Brother Bates went with us to a lesson with Marcelo Garcia! I talked about him last week in the letter. He is on date to be baptized for May 28th!! He is super solid. The lesson was jam packed with the spirit and he really understood. He has been investigating many churches lately. We asked him what he would be willing yo do if he found out for himself that these things we were teaching were true, and he said be baptized. It was so great.

This week we lost our gas card, our car registration and got a flat tire on the way to a member present lesson (yes it fell through). that's life though. Never have changed a tire before, but now I have! woohoo! So two valuable lessons so far learned on my mission: How to mount a television and how to change a tire. So here's the back story. We were driving to visit real quick an investigator on our way to a member present lesson. These investigators are Chris and Maria. Every time we have pulled up in front of their trailer, We run over a toy or something. last time we ran over a dollhouse! woops! I made a joke right as we pulled up that we were going to hit something invisible again.... and then we heard a pop! We hit this tool and it has like dozens of metal spikes...looked more like a weapon haha.

We did have many of our less actives at church on Sunday! It was sick! We also will be singing in sacrament meeting with a less active named Maria Perez in two weeks! First time for everything right? And I suck at singing too! Whatever it takes to get people to church!

This week 'bout to be gooood!

Our table at the flea market. We had our iPads going with slideshows of temples and of Christ
Brady, Shaw, Seamans, Maxwell, Douglas, Me, Daynes (last AP), Volmar (insta friends & DL), Blackham, Astorga

beautiful road
lots of moss hanging from the trees here...
balling in the morning- got some sick Celtic socks at the flea market. 
soccer goal... pretty sweet haha
What we ran over...
Member's sick garden thingy

Monday, April 18, 2016

Yes, Yes, Yes...Sunday Miracle!

Okay first, to start off the week, we had the most spiritual lesson! I have never felt the spirit so strong testify through me in my life. We were visiting a recent convert named mike. He and his wife were having problems with their marriage, and so we were studying and praying as to how we could help them out. General Conference had so much good stuff about families and marriage. We had talked to his wife one night, and he still doesn't know that, but we found out a little more what was going on. We went in wanting to address what the problem was, but we were directed otherwise. 

We decided to share the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood with him (he is still preparing for the higher priesthood) and we felt to watch President Nelson's conference talk. It was so powerful. Y'all need to to watch it. It was from priesthood session. anyway as we were talking a little bit after, I felt a clear prompting to open up two passages of scripture. The first was in Matthew 19:16-22 and the second was in Alma 22:14-18. The first is the story of the rich man who wanted to know how to have eternal life, and asked what lack I yet? Jesus told him what he lacked, very specifically, however he did not do anything about it, and walked away. The second is when Ammon is teaching King Lamoni's father I believe, and Lamoni's father asks what he can do to basically change. I could not finish reading the Alma verses without crying. I told Mike that these men both asked the same thing, and both received an answer. The difference was that Lamoni's father was humble enough, and faithful enough and had a true desire to yield his heart to God. On my misson I have asked this same question: What lack I yet? Many times, and I have received an answer. The spirit filled the room as I testified that if he would follow the example of Lamoni, and ask god what he needs to change to be a better priesthood man of god, that the spirit would direct him to those things. My heart filled with peace as I promised him that, and I felt so much joy. I wish you all were there to feel the same thing that I did.

We did secret service for a less-active lady named Yola. She is from Bolivia (maybe dad baptized her, who knows?). We decided to weed her garden while she was gone for the weekend, and it looked pretty good! Hope she likes it! Haha

We have been using what we term "faith as a power" goals to do the work down here. Faith is a principle of power and if we use it correctly, we will see much success. We made another F.A.P goal to baptize one person by May 3. What that requires is that we needed someone at church (investigator) this last Sunday. On Wednesday, we went through our list of former investigators and called them. This guy named Marcelo Garcia popped out to us, and he said he would come! HE CAME! We have not had an investigator at church since I have been here (other than Julio at GC). We have a lesson with him this friday, and he already committed himself to come to church next week! Stinking awesome! Im excited to see what will happen with him!!

I have much more to say, but not much time. I would though like to share some things from Brigham Young, the second prophet of the church. He is so awesome! I studied from the teachings of the presidents book this morning, with a focus on prayer. Here is what I learned from him about prayer:

The duty of the Latter-day Saints is to pray without ceasing, and in everything to give thanks, to acknowledge the hand of the Lord in all things, and to be subject to his requirements.

It matters not whether you or I feel like praying, when the time comes to pray, pray. If we do not feel like it, we should pray till we do (DBY, 44).
Some of the brethren come to me and say, “Brother Brigham, is it my duty to pray when I have not one particle of the spirit of prayer in me?” True, at times, men are perplexed and full of care and trouble, their ploughs and other implements are out of order, their animals have strayed and a thousand things perplex them; yet our judgment teaches us that it is our duty to pray, whether we are particularly in the spirit of praying or not. My doctrine is, it is your duty to pray; and when the time for prayer comes, John should say, “This is the place and this is the time to pray; knees bend down upon the floor, and do so at once.” But John said, “I do not want to pray; I do not feel like it.” Knees get down, I say; and down bend the knees, and he begins to think and reflect. Can you say anything? Can you not say, God have mercy on me a sinner? Yes, he can do this, if he can rise up and curse his neighbor for some ill deeds. Now, John, open your mouth and say, Lord, have mercy upon me. “But I do not feel the spirit of prayer.” That does not excuse you, for you know what your duty is (DBY, 45).
If the devil says you cannot pray when you are angry, tell him it is none of his business, and pray until that species of insanity is dispelled and serenity is restored to the mind.
When you get up in the morning, before you suffer yourselves to eat one mouthful of food, call your wife and children together, bow down before the Lord, ask him to forgive your sins, and protect you through the day, to preserve you from temptation and all evil, to guide your steps aright, that you may do something that day that shall be beneficial to the Kingdom of God on the earth. Have you time to do this? Elders, sisters, have you time to pray? (DBY, 44).Say your prayers always before going to work. Never forget that. A father--the head of the family--should never miss calling his family together and dedicating himself and them to the Lord of Hosts, asking the guidance and direction of his Holy Spirit to lead them through the day--
I shall not ask the Lord to do what I am not willing to do. Let every Saint, when he prays, ask God for the things he needs to enable him to promote righteousness on the earth. If you do not know what to ask for, let me tell you how to pray. When you pray in secret with your families, if you do not know anything to ask for, submit yourselves to your Father in Heaven and beseech him to guide you by the inspirations of the Holy Ghost, and to guide this people, and dictate the affairs of his Kingdom on the earth, and there leave it. Ask him to put you just where he wants you, and to tell you what he wants you to do, and feel that you are on hand to do it (DBY, 45–46). Let all persons be fervent in prayer, until they know the things of God for themselves and become certain that they are walking in the path that leads to everlasting life;

And this promise is the best that I read: If we do this every day, the last day we live we will be prepared to enjoy a higher glory.

Remember: Let no person give up prayer because he has not the spirit of prayer, neither let any earthly circumstance hurry you while in the performance of this important duty.

I know that prayer is literally a power, and a way that we can call upon the powers of heaven. Pray always that ye may come off conquerer, pray always that you can conquer satan. Praying fervently (Love that word) will help us quitar la influencia de satanas en nuestras vidas, y también nos ayudara quitar tentaciones.

Love yáll

When it rains here, every cloud is slanted and is super close to the ground. It is super beautiful.
I spy a deer leg hanging on the porch of an investigator's trailer haha
Sister Hyde & Brewer were transferred mid-transfe to Myrtle Beach! They were super cool!
Elder Ave. here in N. Charleston
Jorgy Boy Arzola, Elder Douglas, y yo in his 'chispeeta'

Monday, April 11, 2016

Service opens hearts... and gets me mauled by a dog

So first off, at the beginning of the week, we had 3 people on date to be baptized! We put one guy on date on April 6th, and visited him two days later for a lesson. He was not there and instead, we found his five drunk friends. We started asking them questions as to where he went. Apparently he moved to Florida! I was like are you serious!? These barrachos got frustrated that we asked them questions and one guy stood up and slammed the door and they all started laughing. I am okay with having doors slammed on me generally, but this time I was kinda ticked. I yelled back "tengan una línda noche!" That was the only thing I could think of haha. So Julio came to general conference last week, and we asked what his schedule was so that we could set up a lesson. He said he would find out Monday and give us a call. It was now Tuesday afternoon, and we had not gotten a call, so we called him. We asked what his schedule was and he said he did not like how we were
pressuring him. I apologized that we pressured him (we went through all our calls and texts, and they were not an overload, and our lessons were great, so i was confused as to why he felt pressured).
He said he would call us when he felt ready. So now he is off date as well, and we have stopped trying to contact him. Rocénto was our last one with a baptismal date. He cancelled on us again this week and also did not come to church. We even talked with him about coming to church. Unless they come to church they cannot be baptized. So more info TBA. Now we have zero people on a date to be baptized. We did a lot more English work this week...and we are not supposed to teach English households. We went through our area book and hit up some trailers that I have not visited and come to find out that not one of those people we looked for live there any longer. Instead there were a bunch of English peeps we found, and taught of course. One guy in particular was Joseph. He is like 25 and he does not get out of the house. He believes in some nature thing, having to do with Celtic beliefs. He showed us a deck of some sort of game cards he had... the pics were cool actually haha. They was kind of like dungeons and dragons or yugi yo or something, with like mythical creatures on them. He said he did not get out much and that he had no friends so just talked about him. I do not remember how, but we tied in the plan of salvation to his interests. He also likes wars and history, so I asked what his favorite battle of the Civil War was. Gettysburg was his answer, and then I proceeded to tell him about a book of scripture that detailed the relations of two peoples and their battles and wars (BOM). I told him about the great last stand between Nephite and Laminate armies at the Hill Cumorah. He did not seemed interested at all though... bummer! After talking it up, I was excited to read this
book myself! Haha. Anyway that was fun. We also got to practice asking him questions, and elder Douglas and I bounced off each other pretty well. He said he did not believe in a god, only in nature. 

From our questions, we were able to find out that he does believe in God, but was kicked out of a church for being different. We testified of the Atonement and invited him to church! He did not show up, but the sister missionaries will be going over there next week!
Fun stuff this week... I got mauled by two dogs. Don't worry, I am alive and well. Only had to get 42 stitches. Just kidding, but really I did get attacked. They were huge dogs, who belong to a less-active family. They asked us to feed them for 4 days while they are in Tampa, and so we did. Service opens hearts! Elder Douglas and I had to hop a fence to feed them. He picked up a shovel just in case to defend me. I got scratched up quite a bit and my shirt super dirty! It was pretty funny though.

So we met some black guys who can really ball! We actually met them a while ago, and we have seen them around town as we have been proselyting. We saw them yesterday in one of our trailer parks and invited them to ball with us today at 4! Cannot wait! These guys are our age and they are soooooo goood! We were talking to "Lebron" (what people call him because he is basically Lebron james) and I have mad respect for these kids. He was saying that they want to stay off the streets, and the easy way to do that is to ball all the time. They want to make it to division 1 and the NBA. They also said they want to do some service with us! They are sooo cool! More on them later, okay?
I forgot to write this, but at zone conference, me, Elder Douglas,
Elder Blackham, Elder Aldous and A"storga sang ye elders of Israel" in acapella. It was a 5 part harmony and everybody loved it! Sister Turner was super impressed as well as most of the missionaries! I wish we had it on video!
We had a lesson last night and then got home at like 9:35pm. We saw that some people were moving out and decided to go help them out. We asked if they needed help, and so we moved a TV table thing, a washer and a fridge. The man was grateful for our help and asked who we were. We gave him a Book of Mormon and a card and he said he would check us out! Service opens hearts round 2!
Also this week we were on the freeway and the oil pan cover fell
halfway off and it was bad hahaha. We had to get it fixed and it was
making a lot of noise! Thats it! It was a tough week in terms of numbers, but this week is about to be good! 

Also we had a scout auction, and people could buy tickets and place them in a jar of the missionary they wanted pie thrown at.... we have 8 missionaries in this ward, and sister Housari and Douglas got the pie in the face. It was really funny! I have so much video, but my camera and email wont let me send it!

Monday, April 4, 2016

April Fools & the Plan of Salvation

Time flies when you are having fun!!!!
6 month sock burning!
First off, we put two people on date to be baptized this week! On Monday we asked Julio to be baptized on April 23rd! I am excited! 

Backstory: We have been teaching Julio since I got here. We found him, as we were knocking around a trailer park in February. Our first actual sit-down lesson with him was sick! He had so many great questions, and wanted to know more and more. He then dropped off the map. He wouldn't meet with us because he was too busy, and one day he called us and said he can't meet because he is having problems. We went to his house and his wife said that he just left and rented out an apartment. They have been married for 23 years, and she was so sad about this. We got in contact with him again, but he did not want to meet with us anymore, so we dropped him. On Monday, we felt to go visit his wife, and his car was there! We were so stoked! He let us in and we had a bomb lesson, about the plan of salvation. He had lots of questions and it was great! His wife was in the kitchen going back and forth cooking, and out of the corner of my eye I saw her listening. As I looked up, she would walk out really fast. I was lame, cause I should have invited her to listen. Anyway, we taught him and asked him to be baptized on April 23rd! We invited him to conference, and he came to the last session on Sunday!! It was perfect for him as well! I am so excited for him!

We also asked Rocento to be baptized! We taught the plan of salvation to him, and we asked many questions to see if he understood, throughout the lesson. He did not seem like he was
into it, but his responses were super good! He understands what it means to be baptized, and wants to be baptized May 7th! Still trying to help his wife understand.

One sad thing this week is that some latinos got into a fender bender a few nights ago. We jumped out (it was pouring gatos y perros) and asked if we could help. There wasn't anything we could do, but anyway the result was that one of the headlights on one of their cars was now smashed and broken. I felt bad, because they had like 10 miles to get to their destination, and now only had one light, therefore the cops could pull them over. They were illegal and so that means they could be going back to their country.

We teach many people who are illegal, and I just can't imagine the fear they live in, of having to be deported if they have something happen to get them caught.

General conference was a blast!!! For missionaries it is basically like Christmas. I loved the general topics of strengthening the family, our Heavenly Father's love for us, and the Atonement. 
I felt the spirit super strong throughout all of it. One favorite quote was from Elder D. Todd Christofferson: "Challenges are an indication of the Lord's trust in you". That is so true. Heavenly father gives us trials in our lives so that we can learn to use the atonement to receive strength. Christ suffered for us, so let's go on and use this gift to our advantage! We can get through anything, because of Him. 

I have been studying in Mosiah this last week. In the MTC I had a question for conference which was, "What does it mean exactly to sing the song of redeeming love?" I had forgotten about this question, and then it popped in my head again this week. The answer I got was found in Elder Bednar's talk---the answer was "always retaining a remission of my sins." I like how he said that being born again comes by the spirit through ordinances. We cannot receive the fullness of the blessings of the Atonement without these ordinances, which is why baptism is so vital. It is the departure, not the destination. Like in 2 Nephi 31, it is the gate, because it's just the beginning of the long path called enduring to the end. Missionary work is so important because not only are we putting out an invitation to come unto Christ, but we are making it possible for others to receive the fullness of the blessings of the Atonement in their lives. 

I loved the powerful opening remarks from President Eyring. I felt like everybody was very bold and loving this conference! If you have not seen the Saturday morning sesion, go read the talks by Elder Hallstrom and Elder Kevin Duncan! They are so good! Elder Bednar and Elder Holland had beast talks as usual. I had the opportunity to watch 2 sessions in spanish (since we had spanish members in the translation room). It was tough to learn from it, because the translation is super fast, but I was still able to pick out some stuff. 

{Mom note- some things never change- Brayden is still 18, and still finding crazy ways to have fun, and STILL breaking things. He also decided to give himself a haircut and botched it.  Too bad he didn't include pics}

April fools was so fun. We snuck into the zone leaders apartment, taped the button down on an axe can, and left it spraying into the room from the counter top. We also put their beds in the bathroom and taped the separate spray nozzle on the kitchen sink, so that when they would turn on the water, it would not come out of the regular faucet, but the spray thing on the side! It was funny, and apparently it worked! I also broke their front door too...oops. They slammed it but my tennis shoe was there to stop it and so it somehow cracked the wood. We had to take it off and put some screws into it.  

Anyway these were the highlights of my week!
We got soaked in the rain! South Carolina downpour.
Hermana Perez is moving to Tampa-- NOOOOOOOO!

Hermana Perez, Miguel, & Jorge