Second is that Elder Bennett and I will be staying here together again! I'm technically done training now, so he is just my senior companion. Our district is staying exactly the same except Sister Despain is leaving to Warm Springs. The Zone has lost a lot though. Elder Gunnell is leaving and Elder Mitchell is leaving and I am sure Sister Monson will be leaving too, but I don’t really talk to her that much so I don’t knowww. And Elder Nonu is leaving, and by leaving I mean he already left! He's the AP [Assistant to the Mission President] now. Oo crazy, huh? He got emergency transferred on Saturday night right after stake conference. We went out to lunch with him and Elder T' to Wing Stop and ate too much food as always haha. It has been a pleasure to get close with Elder Nonu and I am super excited for him to have the opportunity and responsibility to serve the other missionaries in Las Vegas. We have been three packing it with E'T. since then and we miss Elder Nonu. Hmmm I feel like there is more to report about all that but I don’t know what to say haha. Elder Nonu taught me a lot of good things.
Tuesday night after I emailed you and did all my other p-day duties we had a fireside given by Elder Ellis about the importance of The Book of Mormon. It was great to listen to see the General Authorities of the Church doing the same things that we as missionaries are doing. Interesting, exciting and a little bit ... I don’t know how to describe it. I have never not known this, but that fireside reminded me in a different way that what we, as missionaries, are doing is important. People's happiness is at stake. As he talked about the teaching of the prophets and the Savior I thought about all the people I know and how the comfort and the hope The Book of Mormon has could comfort them. It got me even more excited to help those I serve and all those that I am around. Yay for making people happy! Not much could make me happier.
(I don’t know if I said in any of my last letters, we spend a lot of time with the zone leaders) After the fireside we (us and ZLs) went out to eat at the Cafe Rio in Warm Springs and it was kind of funny because we were joined by 3 other islanders so it was the 5 polys [Polynesians] and the 2 white guys. It was funny and I learned a lot of new words. Cafe Rio reminded of being in Utah with ya’ll and how that time is coming up pretty quick!
Wednesday through Saturday Elder Bennett and I were blessed with the opportunity to train a future missionary! He cannot go to the MTC in Provo for legal reasons, I'm sure you can guess which ones, so we got to be his MTC before he goes out to California to serve. Wednesday through Saturday we taught Future Elder A. all the things he would need to know before entering the mission field. Of course we are nothing like the Missionary Training Center but we did have a lot of time to study. From 7 - 4 every day we studied and then we would leave for the night to go proselytizing. It was a good experience and I know he enjoyed it and got to put the things he was learning right into real world practice which I hope will be a big asset for him as he further prepares to leave in the first part of December. One funny thing that happened on Wednesday is when we got a call from a sister in the stake saying that she was going to take Gustavo to buy some clothes for his mission and asked if we could meet her at Kohl’s. The situation was super complicated but in the long run we biked all the way to the edge of our zone and sent Gustavo across because we didn’t have permission from president to leave the zone. Then we had to bike to our next appointment all the way on the other side of the zone. It was a longggg bike ride and Elder A. was hurting (not me) when we had to go up the hill. I won’t share too much about Elder A. but I would like to talk a little bit about him. He has a very hands on testimony of The Book of Mormon. One morning during training, he shared with us a little of his life and conversion story. He has been a member for about 2 years and loves the B of M so much. Before he got baptized he said he was doing things he knew even then that he shouldn’t be doing, which is pretty sketch when you think about it. He said that the B of M saved his life. When he started reading and studying it, it filled the holes that he was missing and turned him from doing bad things. (He showed me some of his graffiti skills and he's got some serious talent.) Now he says that things are hard because all of his friends are in prison. He is the first in his family to serve a mission and none of his friends are members of the church and he is really struggling with that aspect but his testimony is what is forcing him to go. I write force, but I meant it in the way that he knows it is true and knows the power of the Gospel and wants to share that with everyone and cannot let an opportunity to help others pass him by. Dope if you ask me -- right thing for the right reason.
We had a lesson on Thursday with Marcos and it was so, so sad. He called us to say he wanted us to stop by and pick up The Book of Mormon because he couldn't do it anymore. My heart sank when I heard him say that. I could tell he was drunk, but through the inebriation I could tell that something was wrong. I asked what was wrong and he told us that he didn’t want us wasting our time anymore on him because he wasn't strong enough to change. I told him that wasn't going to fly with me and we would be right over, but not to pick up the LDM [Libro de Mormon]. When we got there he was even more drunk and he was even crying, I wanted to cry too. He kept telling us that he couldn’t change and he wasn’t strong enough and he didn’t want to keep lying to us and lying to God. It was such a blessing to be able to bear my testimony of the power of prayer and the atonement. Marcos may not be strong enough to end his alcoholism, but he is not alone. And he is not without help. I was able to share with him that our Savior loves him and is here to help make us stronger and to help us in the times we feel weak and that he can help us do the things that we think we cannot. By the end of the lesson he wouldn't have let go of the book even if we wanted to take it and he said such a touching prayer. We all were there on the floor of his tiny apartment as he asked for the strength to change, and to be the husband and example that he wants and that his family needs. It was so touching to see the spirit work in him and give him the hope to change.
That's really what the good news is. You can do it. You are not alone. There is a point to all of this. It is my great blessing to be able to share this hope and strength with them. I haven't been out very long but I have seen it change people in indescribable ways. (Even change a sinner like me! still sinning of course. Don’t worry, I won’t be getting translated anytime soon). I can’t remember if I've shared about Felix but I will again. Idc[I don’t care] it’s powerful. I was here to watch as he grew in his knowledge of the gospel and I can attest to the physical and emotion changes that I saw in him. As he learned and studied more he became happier and there became a glow about him that I swear you can see. Before when he would smile or talk, he seemed sad and lost, but now his face has practically changed shape and it glows and he always smiles and laughs his unique laugh. Watching him change his life around was wonderful; to hear him rag on his life, to hear him asking if he could pay more tithing touched my heart, not to mention the heart of the elders that taught him. He is such a special person. It was fun to see that unique and wonderful side of him come out. Almost like there was a dirty window in front of his 'candle.' I was able to watch as the window got sprayed and scrubbed and finally washed clean. We were all so pleased to find that it wasn’t a candle but a full fire place. That might sound suppper dumb and corny but idc. When I have more time I'll find a better way to describe all of it. Like when I'm dead or something.
Life here is really tough for a lot of people. Really tough. It makes me so sad to see people suffering.
I had fresh oysters this week and I ate them all classy like. But they tasted like sea water. And kind of smelled like salty death and starfish. Luckily here in new, new Mexico we don’t have to eat them very often. I'll try again when I get home.
Sorry - skipping to Sunday -- I don’t have time to talk about everything. One day I'll sit in a rocking chair and read excerpts from my journal to you all sitting on the floor around me. So Sunday was stake conference and we, the zone, sang “Called to Serve” and it was so touching. Standing up in front of that big group of people smiling and singing, I saw so many people crying. It again struck me how much people love the missionaries. It might have been like half the building was in tears. I could hear the stake president behind us crying. It was quite touching. People love us for so many reasons but I think the main one is that they have either been changed by the work we do or they have seen their loved ones changed by the glorious message we bear. I have often in my few seconds of time to ponder and reflect thought about this. People all around the world are praying for us, the Primary children, the saints gathered at sacrament meeting, people in the temple, and even the prophet. (Even people who aren’t members tell us to keep up the good work in the street sometimes) because they all know that what we do really does help. Lives are changes, hearts are healed, and families are brought together. Everyone (or at least a lot of people) pray and wish us good luck because they want the world a better place. Okay that sounds corny too. It's hard to express these feelings in words without sounding silly.
Ugh! I have no time! I'll try to write about Juana's lesson real fast but words can’t describe that one either. Yesterday we had a lesson with Juana and she expressed her pain of not being able to be baptized and it was so hard to hear. She says she has been asking herself if this is really worth it. She says she knows it is, and we know she knows it is. But seeing someone so strong going through so much pain makes me sad. Sorry I don’t have time to write any more about that. Just know it was powerful, happy, spiritual, and sad too.
Hey before I forget, Elder Fischer (my old District Leader) asked me if you could send him a Nacho Las Vegas poster like the one I have. Just address it to Elder Russell Fischer and send it to the mission office. He says he will pay you back. I like E'F. He's a great guy.
So that's all. I love you all so much.
I hope everyone who reads this, and everyone else too, is happy, healthy and hopeful.
If not, hang tight and I'll give you a hug or something when I get back.
Suppperrr quick. Dad, It sounded like you gave a dope lesson about reading the scriptures. I agree with what you said. One thing that I do is if I haven’t taken notes, or learned something new in more than 5 verses I stop think about what I've been reading and start reading again from the last time that I learned something or took notes. It’s time consuming but it makes the study soooo much more productive. If that doesn’t make sense, I'll try to explain another time. STUDY HARD! Like really hard, I promise you will learn new things. "If you're not learning, you're doing it wrong"
kk love yall
<("<) -- here is my hug!
P.S. Thanks for the package I loveeeee packages. Although next time, less candy and more ... idk other stuff, like hexa-mexa-flexa-t-rexagons or dope ties
Ahh I forgot! Something I love is talks and study guide type materials. If you want to send me things those are like my favorite specifically New Testament (gospels are my favorite) and The Book of Mormon.