Monday, December 26, 2016

Last Mission Christmas!

I had a memorable last Christmas on the mission!

We went caroling in downtown Charleston Friday night. It was fun, and every missionary in the zone came! Spread the Christmas cheer! Going to downtown again today for inspired us, mom. hahaha

We went to church from 10-11:15, and the Goose Creek Ward and us combined. We sang a congregational hymn, then someone got up and spoke about a Christmas hymn and bore their testimony and then sang another hymn and then repeated. It was pretty good. A lot of people showed up, including 3 investigators!!! wohoo! After church we went to Brother and Sister Evans house for lunch. There were other members there as well, and man was it so tasty! We had green bean casserole, prime rib, potatoes made some sort of southern way, and some good desserts! Brother Evans was a general authority in the southern area of the US, a stake president in Charleston, and also the temple president. We had some good gospel conversations, and oh boy is he sweet! 

Afterwards we facetimed the family, and leading up to it I was kinda nervous! It was great to see them all grown up! 9 months left- don't even get me started to how crazy that is...

Last Tuesday we had exchanges and we were driving around the Dorchester area of North Chuck. We had just visited a potential who said he was not interested. We got to the car and I looked at the plans. I felt to go see next a lady named Joann. We met Joann a few weeks ago while trying to locate our potential investigators. She lives by herself with her disabled daughter, and frequently has doctor appointments. I thought to myself as I sat there "well, we have no member with us, so we can't go inside her house, and we really need a member present lesson-" immediately a thought came into my mind to call a priest named Patrick- who by the way is the coolest 16 yr old kid in the country- 2nd to Monson of course! He answered right away and we went up to Goose Creek to pick him up and back down to Dorchester... we knocked on Joann's door and she opened up right away! She was so happy to see us and invited us right in! We taught a good restoration lesson, and she seemed to understand all of it. 

What made me so happy is that as the elder (Elder Kimball) I was exchanging with shared the first vision, her mouth opened showing all 6 of her teeth, and her jaw literally dropped. She said something like "Wow! Did that really happen? It's amazing!" We have a return appointment with her on Tuesday. Patrick bore a powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon, and it really brought the spirit. He will be a great missionary one day. He studies his scriptures, isn't afraid to talk to people in the streets with us, and he helps us so much during lessons- especially the last few weeks! He and his family went over to Joann's house yesterday and gave her a turkey for Christmas! So sweet!

On Wednesday we had 2 lesson with ladies on two opposite ends of the spectrum of faith. The first lady, Ms. Elliot, was a bible referral and she allowed us back in to teach her. We shared the Restoration with her and she immediately had a hold up with modern prophets, and the Book of Mormon. She used the standard "I'm Baptist" and "I have faith in Christ" cards. Those generally mean, I'm not interested. She bore a strong testimony about the Savior, and became emotional while sharing her testimony with us. She is a good Christian woman, which is so great! However, wouldn't open her heart and mind to the possibility of more scripture given to us from God. We told her that we aren't here to take away from the faith that she has in Christ. We invited her to read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully, and see if what she reads causes her to feel enlightened and edified- thus strenghening her faith. And if what she reads adds upon her current faith in Chirst, then she can know of a surety that this is the word of God, and that the word is true. She listened then thanked us for coming. We all held hands in a circle and prayed-- BTW I love the holding hands in a circle prayers! Super cool! I remember the first time that happned was in training and a lady put her hand out and I kinda freaked out and looked at Elder Fife and asked if that was allowed...It's a culture thing.

The other lady we met with was Ms. Parker. She is like 72 years old! She has met with missionaries before and she shared stories of her childhood, growing up Methodist, then switching to Presbyterianism. She talked about how her mom had tremendous faith and was an amazing woman. She read to them the bible and really cared for her children. She went on to say how she can't comprehend the faith her mom had, and how she felt that it was unfair that God gave her so many trials and challenges that took a toll on her. We shared the video "because of him" and talked about the realtionship we should have with God, and his relationship to us. 

She told us how she couldn't see how having a down syndrome child could be a blessing. She said that God occasionally messes up with creation... I was kinda mad when she brought that up. Those children with disabilites are little angels, and are so innocent. She said she wished she could have aborted, and that broke my heart. She had trials with raising a down sydnrome child, and from what I understood, didn't understand or see the blessing that followed. She does not go to church any longer, and can't remember the last time she went. Being her age, I felt bad becasue she is coming to an end of her life (she was physically frail) and lacks faith in Jesus Christ. She was kind, and I hope we can come back and help her with her faith.

Per my mom's request:
I love South Carolina, don't get me wrong, but most of my pet peeves center around driving. As missionaries, we do a pretty good roast of South Carolina. 

  • drivers are worse than Utah drivers
  • everyone honks at everyone for no reason
  • worst traffic system
  • on and off ramps that cause heart attacks for drivers
  • sideways sheets of humid rain that you literally slow down to 25 on the freeway in order to drive through them
  • traffic flow is darn right terrible
  • tiny roads
  • one way in and out of every major retailer taking like 20 minutes to get out
  • little to no sidewalks
  • no bike lanes
  • houses are pretty dirty and smelly, trash everywhere
  • everyone smokes here
  • car accidents every mile it seems
  • trains take forever to cross
  • jay-walkers like crazy, who walk like they own the road
  • sirens like nothing else
  • humidity- well I'm used to it-- 
  • getting bit by mosquitoes even on Christmas when it's cold
  • smell of the paper mills- wreaks like sewage in most places
Love y'all!
Woohoo! I'm in a family picture finally! 

MTC name tag & shirt  I wore for the first 14 months of my mission and sweetgrass that can only be handpicked & made by the Gullah- it is nowhere else but the Charleston area.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! We had a great start to the week. So backstory: we switched up the boundaries between us and the other elders in North Chuck last transfer, therefore we got a bunch of their investigators. One of which is named Peter. Peter came to general conference in October, and really loved it! He has been so hard to get in touch with. He switched jobs and we did not know where he was working. On November 5th, Elder Dillree and I went to Walmart in the afternoon to buy refreshments for Sheena's baptism, and as we were looking at stuff, a guy called out to us from behind the bakery counter. His name tag read 'Peter' and at first we did not know who this guy was. Then it clicked for me and I asked his last name, and wohoo it was who we had been looking for! Fast forward to Monday night. We finally got to sit down and teach him again. It had been since mid November that we had the chance to. We set expectations, had a member with us and taught a powerful lesson of the Restoration of the Gospel. He shared personal experiences and boy does he have a ton of faith. Like, he has been so prepared to accept the gospel. As I shared the first vision in the words of Jospeh Smith, I felt the spirit so strongly. The Spirit confirmed to me once again that young Joseph in fact did see God the father and Jesus Christ. There was a lot of silence as I tried to compose keep myself from weeping too much...I just couldn't help it though. We put him on date for baptism and invited him to pray to know if this was true, but immediately it seemed as if he was a bit frustrated with us for asking. He said that he did not need to pray about it. He already knew it was true from attending the general conference broadcast. He felt this confirmed to him especially as the choirs were singing. #PowerInMusic
He told us that he would have not invited us back if he did not know it was true...He is so golden! Now this week we had set up 2 other appointments and he forgot about one, but never showed up to the other. We have as of now lost complete contact. We have tried hunting him down at Walmart, because when we went to his house, all of his stuff was on the side of the road. He had been evicted! Pray that we will find Peter!!

This week we had 7 lessons with members present, but had 9 lessons with members present fall through! 9!! That was so frustrating! Right now the zone is on the upward slope, which is good! Our district is killing it right now... we have some dang hardworking elders. It is evident that every district has an x-factor. If these "x-factors" don't preform, the district as a whole does not. Its kinda cool seeing all of these patterns.

We had zone conference on Wednesday here in North Chuck! We combined with the Florence zone, which was pretty fun! We made district videos and watched them the second half. There were some pretty dang funny ones. Ours was pretty good too. I'll try sending them, but if not, after the mish everyone can see.

I learned a lot. The assistants trained on key indicators again, but put an analogy inside of their training that totally made sense. Right now in the mission, we are pushing a focus on key indicators and hitting our standards of excellence. So we are trying to change the culture of the mission...slowly but surely. We want to see more conversions taking place and get rid of the days where we feel inadequate about our work not being reflected by our numbers. So he is the analogy... it comes form the movie "money ball". Apparently in MLB they would choose players who had the celebrity factor- those flashy big playmaker players. The A's got a team of not known players. They selected them based off of their on base percentage. On base leads to stolen bases, leading to runs and ultimately wins. When we focus on our key, key indicator- Member presents, everything else will fall into place. Investigators will come to church, we will get referrals and conversions will take place. It's cool.

Saturday we had 6 set lessons fall through. We had members with us as well. Even when we do confirm that they will be there, they aren't always there. Saturday night we went to a member's home who requested we do them a favor. Every year they put a bunch of Christmas food and goodies together in a HUGE box for a family in need in the ward. They asked us to drop it off at the family's house. They wanted it to be anonymous, and we as we were driving, Elder Jacobsen and I decided to ding dong ditch them! It was fun! I straight booked it down the street- clocked my 40 at 4.2 seconds while doing so, and dove behind a parked car in someone's yard. Elder Jacobsen was one house down from me, trying to catch the member's reaction on was too dark to see, sorries! As I was behind a car, this lady comes out all confused and kinda scared- woops! I told her real quick what we were doing and she was impressed! We drove out of the neighborhood with our lights off as the family was at the door peeking out. Felt good to do that for them, although we were just the deliverers.

There was a less-active lady who referred herself through this week. She said that she wants to come back to church and that her kids want to be baptized, so of course we were stoked as ever! We called her, and the number was out of service. We stoped by twice, and the second time we looked in the window and everything was gone from the apartment. We talked to a maintenance guy and he said they moved a few weeks ago! We are still confused, but just found her email yesterday, so we will send her a message! Stuff like this has happened to me before, so it wasn't too out of left field.

We forgot to send out referrals of people we talked to at the flea market, so yesterday I decided to put them into the referral system and send them off. There was a lady named Machell who had no address, so I called her! She said that she had looked at the card the missionaries gave her at the flea market Saturday night, and thought to call but got about perfect timing! I got to answer some questions she had, and I clarified the doctrine of the godhead being three separate personages. I read her over the phone Matthew 3:14-17 I think is the verse, where it talks about Christ's baptism, and the voice of Heavenly Father. She said that she believed in the separate personages doctrine for 52 years until recently when a pastor showed her a scripture in John that talked about Jesus being God, but in the flesh, since God didn't have a body. We talked about her background a little more, and wants to learn from the missionaries! Super solid too.

LUKE 9:57-62..... Christ invites us to follow him--- what will be your response?

I gave a talk on Sunday based on this story from last week:

Monday while shopping for food, I talked to an older man who was stocking shelves with cereal. He saw my tag and recognized me as a missionary. We talked and I found out he is a pastor of a small local congregation. He told me he was looking to relocate and told me this short story as to why... during church a while back, a man walked in and said that there were two gunmen. This man proceded to command that those who were willing to take a bullet for Christ were to stay, and those who wouldn't should leave. The pastor said the man was blowing smoke and there was no gunman, but many of his congregation left, and never came back.

He asked me then, if I would be willing to sacrifice everything for christ.

I talked about people who put everything on the line for christ... Acts 5:28-42, Alma 23: 6,7 and the story of the anti-nephi-lehies. If we want to truly come unto christ, we have to "offer [our] whole souls as an offering unto him" omni 1:26

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This is a place in Mt. Pleasant called Pit Street Bridge

Brother Treadway emailed me that he was in the area and then surprised me on 12/13
 at my apartment with cherry turnovers! 

Monday, December 12, 2016

That's a weird looking chicken & an unexpected visitor.

Yesterday I saw a man who will forever be engrained in my memory. We were driving towards an investigator's house after church and this guy was wearing an old brown suit, riding a beat up bicycle. He wore a worn out motorcycle helmet with no visor. He looked skinny and frail. I had seen him before many months ago, and as I turned around to catch a glimpse of his face, he looked to be in his 70s. I felt something for him. It was dang cold yesterday too, but that didn't matter. He put in effort to go to church to worship God. How many of us would be willing to do what he did? He is being blessed for doing what he can to get to church, even in a dangerous part of town.

Fun fact: the first black man to receive the priesthood in South Carolina lives in our ward. We took him out with us this week. It seems that people are more apt to listen to us when someone of their color is with us. This rang true with hispanics and hispanic fellow shippers as well.

Yesterday I learned a lot at sacrament meeting! I was kind of tuning out until the lady speaking talked about charity. I feel like I have been judging people too much lately. Especially other missionaries and members. She said for her, charity means holding back judgements. I liked that a lot. She told a story of a three year old. This 3 year old saw a peacock and said, "that is a weird looking chicken". Our perception of others can be so skewed, when we don't know much about someone or their situations. We don't know why people necessarily act the way they do. Certain experiences cause people to act a certain way. So to me, charity is really giving others the benefit of the doubt.

I feel like my mind has been slowly enlightened these last few weeks. I read a talk by Bruce C. Hafen that really changed my perspective. He talked about 3 levels of people. There are advantages and disadvantages of the first two levels. The first level is categorized as the "ideal". The second is the "real" and the third are those who can merge the both of them. Y'all have to read the talk or none of this will make 100% sense.
We trained about key indicators at ZTM on friday- (side note: ZTM  as so great. It was very uplifting and spiritual. We felt excited and peace about our trainings as we prepared them together. Elder Jacobsen and I work well together and we left a good vibe amongst our zone. We got a few texts later on Frida, thanking us for bringing the spirit. People felt empowered, which is great, and just what the charleston zone needed!)

Back to key indicators, we used this subject of real vs ideal to train on it. Before the mission, we had idealities of missionary work. I thought I was going to baptize every week. I thought we would have success like none other. I thought every day would be a blast. (Don't get me wrong, it is a blast). I thought everyone was obedient. I thought P-day would be all day. I thought people would respect the missionaries. I thought I would have a huge teaching pool. I thought that once my tag was put on, I would automatically change. Those seem negative, but I also expected to have so many spiritual experiences, grow my testimony, grow a love for others. I experienced the realities of this work real fast. Doors slammed, appointments cancelled, people hiding from you, investigators who were once golden became uninterested, commitments not kept, mental exhaustion, spiritual experiences, testimony builders, planning and goal setting, administrative side of missionary work, listening to people's concerns and relationship problems. It is my responsibility to understand the realities of this work, but to still have the faith to reach the idealities. That is where the success comes. If I just focus on the ideals, I will fail to see that there is any problems with my current place. Thus, being no room for improvement form that view. If I focus just on the realities, I may become pessimistic and let skepticism take over, lacking faith. There is no improvement there either. As I understand the real and focus on the ideal, I can better use my faith and the atonement to improve....Key indicators in missionary work, connect the gap of real and ideal.

Another example: Jesus Christ is our ideal. He is what we want to become like. However, there is a problem. From the foundation of the world, Heavenly father understood that we would sin, thus keeping us from returning to him. That is the reality. We are human and make mistakes. Jesus Christ came down, and atoned for us. He had to understand the realities we face, and step down below us all, so that he could help bring us up to reach the ideal, which is him. He connects the gap of the real and ideal. The cool thing is that this third level are improvers-rather, problem solvers.

Last example of this is in Alma 4. Alma had at this point baptized thousands into the church. What a great time for that people. It talks about in the chapter the peace they had. That is the ideal- conversion to the gospel all taking place in great abundance, which brings about peace. However, alma saw the realities. He saw people becoming prideful with their riches, and vain things of the world. There came about contentions and strife and malice. The wickedness of those in the church became a stumbling block to those outside of it. The poor and the needy were rejected and alma became very sorrowful. Because he saw both sides, he understood that he needed to do something about it. He decided to give up his political power to serve a mission and bring people to a remembrance of their God. If Alma saw all the success at first and didn't acknowledge that a huge problem was arising, he wouldn't have stepped down. If he saw only all the iniquity of the people, he would have been distraught and maybe would have lost all faith in the people, thus doing nothing on his end to help them. Because he understood both the real and the ideal, "the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him" and he was guided to how he could best influence others. Well, thats my little shpeal on that.

We were so busy this week. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we did not work, because we had meetings and we were planning for ZTM. So the next 4 days were super duper busy. We had so many appointments and we managed to get some pretty good key indicators still. We found some really cool new investigators as well. I love it when you walk in to an appointment, introduce the Book of Mormon and they really get pumped to read it. BEST FEELING EVER! It was a great week. President Turner had some sweet tracings in MLC, and overall I was very uplifted.

To end the week, Sunday evening Uncle Mark surprised me- thanks to jorge and mom... Uncle Mark is a pilot and was in Charleston on a layover. I felt kinda bad, and could've been more warm at first, but I was so surprised and thrown back to see him here. It was great to see him though! He got a warm welcome from Jorge and other Spanish members, so that is good! He said I got taller too---heck yea! 

(side note from mom: Uncle Mark served in Portugal, but while he was awaiting his visa, he was in Arcadia, CA for a few months. It was only about an hour from our family home, so when Brayden was 4 months old, we all went and visited Uncle Mark on Christmas Eve. So this same uncle visited Brayden on his mission almost exactly 19 years later. Karma:)

Okay, that's all for now!


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Waiting by Brayden's apartment door for him to come home.

Uncle Mark & Brayden

Monday, December 5, 2016

Drum Roll....

Okay drum roll please!! My new comp is Elder Jacobsen!! I am so
freaking stoked out of my mind this week! We are getting along super duper well. We have a similar work ethic, and this zone will see so much success here pretty soon! We finished the month in the zone with 8 baptisms- and we had estimated 11. Not bad. 38% of the missionaries in the zone baptized. I want to eventually get above 60%. That would be sweet!! New month, new transfer, new comp, new adventures, new investigators....couldn't be better. 

Back to my comp- he comes in at 5'6" (fun fact). He is from St. George (like tons of the missionaries here). He has been out one transfer longer than me...he will go home in August. He has been a zone leader for 7 months in West Columbia, and I served with him while he was in Mt. Pleasant, SC for 9 months. We are actually instagram friends beleive it or not from before the mish- and while he was in Mount Pleasant we would always say how cool it would be to be comps one day, but never thought it would happen since I was Spanish. We made it y'all!

Last night we had a stake event called coookies and carols. The
performances were amazing, and I definitely felt the spirit! Every
ward had two performances last night. I was going to be playing
violin, but bageled out on Friday morning...I hadn't had sufficient
time this week to practice the songs they wanted to do, and I really
need some more practice after seeing last night- there were 3
violinists and they were all pros... next time though, maybe?

We did a lot of finding and contacting reassignments this week-
but not too many people were found. Doors went unopened and
appointments fell through. We did get 2 new investigators, and taught 6 Less-active and recent convert lessons.

The First Presidency Devotional was pretty good last night! I
felt that I need to put more effort into studying spanish. I had the
gift of tounges, but recently from talking to hispanics in public, I
just can't understand them as I used to. I felt really bad about it.
I have been reading in Acts for the first time-- I love it!!! Straight
up missionary work and basically missionary stories. I liked when
Phillip was out and about and came across an Ethiopian dude who was trying to understand Isaiah, but really couldn't. Nephi talks about how it is hard to understand Isaiah's words because we are not familiar with the Jews manner of prophesy.

2 Nephi 25:1 "...For behold, Isaiah spake many things which were hard for many of my people to understand; for they know not concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews."

The same was with this Ethiopian- obviously an Ethiopian may not be a costumed with the prophesying of the Jews, just like us.

Acts 8
27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet
Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a
sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so
opened he not his mouth:

33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall
declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom
speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?

35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

Pretty cool to me how this is an instance where the Bible and the Book of Mormon support each other!
Not much else to tell...
We have an apostle and General authority coming next month, and
tonight we are heading up to Columbia for MLC Tuesday!

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