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Monday, March 11, 2013

Come what may and love it! JBW -It's a darn good talk

So this week! I haven't gotten mail yet so I don't have anything to respond to in particular so I get to blabber!
Serving a mission is very interesting for a million reasons. I'd like to highlight just one for a second. This past week we haven't done that much. But we have. But in terms of numbers, and lessons, and baptisms, this week has been pretty slow. But in terms of everything else, it's been amazing. It's ... hard to explain, but simply it's just a great time. I can feel myself getting better all the time. I know it's not about me, but as I focus on doing everything I can to help others around me, I'm the one who seems to be benefitting the most! It’s interesting how that works. On page 10 of Preach My Gospel it talks about what makes a successful missionary and I think that's why I feel so good, and so happy all of the time, because I'm trying my hardest. I was reading in a talk the other day when a Seventy wrote something along the lines of 'when we are doing everything we can to be perfectly obedient we have no excuse to complain about what happens in our lives.' I really liked it. His whole talk was about it. And it’s a very good way to live. Be the best you you can be, and then quit worrying and be happy! I'll be brutally honest - out here I've learned how to not be grumpy all the time. I was a pretty pouty, selfish baby back home. And it’s too bad (but sooo good that I finally learned!!) that it took me this long to finally figure it out. I'm getting off topic. Point is that even without teaching tons of lessons to loads of investigators who all want to be baptized ASAP, life out here is still happy and fulfilling. Don’t think that I'm not doing everything in my power to find those who are seeking the truth. Elder Crespo and I go hard. We've been trying everything we possibly can to find people to teach. But at the end of the day, knowing that I did my best is the best feeling in the world. I guess that's what it boils down to - as my boy Tommy Monson always says - "Do your duty that is best and leave unto the Lord the rest." When you do your duty, magnify your calling, and do it to the best of your ability just leave the rest unto the Lord. That's the key to happiness. Benjamin Franklin says that a clear conscience is a continual Christmas. Idk. That’s a long way of saying that my life is good - real good. J

Monday - It was a glorious pday. They all are. We drove around all day running errands but it was all good. I like being around other missionaries. It sounds weird to say but it’s fun and different than just hanging out with regular young men. So even when we are just driving around to try and find the things we need it’s fun to be with them. Dinner on Monday was crazy good. Sister Schwenke soaked this beef in her special recipe marinade for 2 days. Oh I thought I'd died. Then on Monday night our ward had a combined FHE [Family Home Evening] with all the families. Not everyone went of course, but it was really fun. Seeing the bishopric in casual clothes just laughing and joking around was great. The ward members loved it. We had a lesson on forgiveness and then played charades. Everyone was laughing and we all just felt like a big family. I loved seeing the members of our ward all so unified and happy. ‘Twas fun.

Tuesday - We had Zone Training, which is different than Zone Conference. It’s just 3 or 4 hours of the Zone Leaders training us. Some missionaries hate it, I love it. But that was good. We learned about a lot of things and I came away from the meeting with a lot of ways that I can improve. We spent the rest of the day trying to talk to more potentials. But the problem is that most of them moved or used to be interested and now are Jehovah's Witnesses or just want to stay Catholic. It's about 50 - 25 - 25. But no biggy. Tuesday night we went to see Marlon. Oh man. He's a great guy. Asks so many questions! He just wants to know how to be the best. We gave him my white handbook [Missionary Handbook of rules] to study so he can know what rules to follow. He liked that. Don’t worry, I got another one. He said that he wants to go to "Mormon Boot Camp" so he can learn all the stuff he's supposed to do and not do. 

Wednesday - We did the same thing we've been doing, trying to find the old potentials. Our area book is sooooo much smaller than when we got it. It hadn't been updated for a while and had so much extra junk in there. I wish I took a before and after picture. But anyway. That evening we got together as a district to help our ward come up with a ward mission plan. We've been working hard to do lots of stuff but we haven't had any plans so our efforts have been spread and not as effective as they could have been. So we spent a lot of time setting goals and evaluating past efforts and things like that. It was cool to sit in council like that. Six people all devoted to serving the Lord who come together to discuss how to help other people that aren’t even in that circle. It was wonderful and worked really well. There wasn’t contention or anything like that because no one was being selfish. It was really nice. I hope I have a chance to do something like that again- where everyone is united in purpose and no one has ulterior motives. Good stuff. 

Thursday - Elder Crespo got his "trunky call" this morning. That is when one of the sisters from the office calls him to talk about his plans for going home. If he's flying out, and if so where he's going to fly into. So that was weird to hear. It was another slap that one day all of this will end. Lucky for me I've still got like 2 years left! Trunky calls are notorious for making missionaries ... trunky. But it was a good day. We talked to a few people and 2 of them said we could come back! So that was super exciting to have happen. (They both flaked though. But we did everything we could!) Oh man. Dinner Thursday night was soooo good. It was super authentic super delicious enchiladas. Oh man. I wish I could cook like that. That night we had a coordination meeting with some of the leadership of the ward. I really like meeting with ward leaders outside of Sunday because you get to see how devoted they are. Our bishop is a great man. He works so hard to serve the people here and it’s nice to get together with him and plan how we can work in tandem. Then we did English class. I like it a lot. It's interesting how speaking, idk how to explain this. Point is most people that come in to learn have a real problem with words that start with 's' and that end with 'd' or 't'. It’s just interesting that someone who maybe spoke French wouldn't have the same problems. duhhhh. Idk how to explain it. The effect our 1st language has on learning others.

Friday - we did our planning and then visited some members in the evening. I love hearing people’s conversion stories and then hearing about all the blessings they've received since then. It makes me happy and it makes them happy to reflect back and think about it all. Personal reflection is super important. Planning beforehand and then reflecting and evaluating after. I'm learning how to do both of these things better. One of the members talked about a really interesting point. She said that the gospel is not a routine. If you feel like it is you need to repent. Every week shouldn’t be the same because every week you should take new challenges to sacrament meeting and you should put the ones of last week behind you. We should be getting better every day and taking the sacrament is a good time to reevaluate and rededicate ourselves. I like that. If we don’t participate fully, we won’t get the full blessings that are promised. It’s as Elder Bednar says -It's not going to church - its worshipping and worthily partaking of the sacrament. It’s not just leaving for 2 years -its consecrating 2 years to the Lord. Good stuff. Gospel is not a routine. It’s a staircase. 

Saturday - We celebrated Elder Crespo's 're-birthday' He's been a member of the church for 9 years. YAY! So went and visited potentials. But then dinner was pretty cool. After dinner we shared 1Nephi 4 as a spiritual thought and talked about the importance of commandments. I think it’s like verse 15 where it talks about His children needing to keep the law to receive the Lords blessings. Or something like that. Go read it. Anyway. We shared that and then the girlfriend of the boy showed up right beforehand and after we finished sharing she asked us about the commandments. She said what are the 10 commandments? It started me thinking. We said nothing about the 'ten' but in her head (mind you she’s not religious) she connected that with the 10. She really wanted to know them because she had heard so much about them. (There is something about them that demands respect I think maybe it’s because they are one of the most commonly accepted. Idk this is a train of thought for another time.)  If you ask me (maybe I’m too optimistic) she felt the spirit as we discussed the importance with the member and she wanted the blessings as well. That's what I think happened. Anyway - we taught them to her and after she thought for a while and we let the silence sit. (Silence is a powerful teaching and learning tool) Finally she asked, so what do I do if I messed up? BOOM! Oh man it was perfect then we were able to testify of the doctrine of Christ and the Atonement as well. If we had rushed she might not have had time to really internalize what we were saying. It was so cool that she was able to then apply these teachings to her life. I don’t mean for you all to think that good teaching is a miracle. Just that it makes me happy. We haven’t had too many lessons for a while so to have one, and a good one. Dreams come true.

Sunday - Sacrament meeting was sooo good. It was all about sustaining our leaders. The youth speaker got up and testified of callings and it started things off right. Then the next person spoke about out covenants and obligations to support and then the final speaker talked about personal apostasy and the blessing that we have in this dispensation to have callings and revelation and direction. It was sick. And then all the Melchizedek priesthood holders got up and sang ‘Brightly Beams our Father’s Mercy.’ There were many teary eyes in the audience. Then Sunday night we tried more potentials (it’s almost an ironic description to me now hahaha) then we visited a member family. We sat with them and told mission stories. It was fun to have a few of my own to be able to share. It was full of laughter and the spirit. As we left, the member shook our hands and looked us in the eye and thanked us sincerely for coming and bringing the spirit so strongly into their home. SO. TOTALLY. WORTH IT! Sounds silly but that made me so happy that he appreciated us being there and telling us that we did a good thing and that he was happy we spent time in their home. Man life is good.

So that's this week it’s been bomb. What a blessing it’s been.
Thank you all so much for your support and your prayers and most importantly your love.
I love you all so much.
Sam 

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