Follow by Email

Monday, May 27, 2013

WHAT'S UP SUCKAHS?

Life is so, so good.
All right. This has been a crazy week. The summary will be extremely lackluster in comparison.
And the spell checker thing is broke so don’t judge me....

First and foremost thanks to all of you. Mom, Dad, Kate, and Jacob. You all are the best. The rest of you are great too. Thanks Grandpa for the shoes and thanks Grandma for writing me so much. It’s easy to give everything I've got to the Lord when you all are building me up so well.
Alrighty, so I'll try to write quick bc I don’t have too much time and my journal entries have sucked bc I’ve been so busy. My personal studies have completely changed. I used to be teaching doctrines to myself and now I am spending them to prepare to train other missionaries, funny thing is - I know that I learn 10 times as much as they do. 

Monday! We did a lot of driving of the other elders in the zone around. But it’s good to help out. I don’t have stuff to do so it’s a pleasure to help others out with what they have to get done. EJ didn’t like that very much. We were with Elder Bradley for most of the day. Idk if ya’ll remember him, he's the one going to Peru -- well now he's in Peru! Good Luck E Bradley! He flew out Tuesday morning so he got to spend the last day with us before leaving. He's a really good guy and a great elder. Trying real hard to do what’s right and learn what he can. I learned from him about humility. We had a funny visit with a non member today where we all thought she was a member until at the end of the visit she told us she was an investigator. AWkkkkkward. But no biggy. Just another person to try to teach! We also went and visited our investigators from Peru and they talked with E Bradley all about Peru which was good for him. 

Tuesday! We had a visit with an investigator and her son where we talked about baptism. She thinks it’s good but doesn’t want to do it... Then we drove up the mountain to a guarded gate, got a pass, drove for another 10 minutes, went through a gate locked with a code until we got to a members house. It had a courtyard. It was insanely huge. But they were sooo nice. The grandmother shared her testimony with us and it was awesome. Then we drove forever away to dinner. It was kind of a sad experience. The family is struggling a lot and one of the children has really bad mental issues where he hears voices telling him that everyone wants to hurt him and that he needs to run. So he tries to run away all the time and he will get these random paranoia attacks. It's tough. Then we visited Carolina, our super solid investigator. She's so awesome. She's read, she's prayed, and she knows the church is true. At first b4 I got there she didn't care. She didn't want the missionaries to come by. But she softened up a little and as soon as she started reading The Book of Mormon to find out if it’s true. Boom. She got her answer. It just takes a little bit of desire and a little bit of faith. I love the BofM. I love people with real intent. Those who are searching for ways to improve their lives and they look to God for how to do it. 

Wednesday was a great day too. We visited an investigator and then a LA [less active]. He was awesome. He had us sit down and pray for him and then we read a scripture about prayer and he asked how he can have better family prayers with his wife and daughter. So dope. He was soo excited for us to be there. He has real intent too. What a blessing. That night we tried to see another investigator but she was sick so we talked with her LA sister. Also super awesome. She's trying super hard to come back to church and get active because she’s felt the blessings she's missing. I started an exchange with my ZL, Elder Clawson, Wednesday night. He taught me soo much just in that night.

Thursday! It was cool. It was the exchange day with Elder Clawson and district meeting as well. This week I trained on using the Book of Mormon as the keystone of our teaching. Teach the lessons from it, and use it as the primary tool for conversion. When people really know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the BofM is true, they aren’t gonna fall away as easy. So that's our job, to lead them to that point, to invite them to try to see if it’s true. I could have done better. Everyone liked it and it was very spiritual.  Elder Clawson gave me a lot of good suggestions and critiques to make the next one even better. I had a good day. We talked to a lot of people and Elder Clawson taught me so much. I think I bugged him though. I asked for a ridic amount of suggestions and ways to improve. He gave them to me. Which is good. Before corrections and suggestions were hard for me, but now that I'm really truly doing everything I can to be better, BRING EM ON! It's not about me anyway. I'm just a tool. Or trying to be. 
We got a call in the morning from a member saying a family friend just called and wants to be baptized!

Friday! It was a good day. We planned and worked on organizing the area. We talked to a man who preached that miracles are the true source of faith. Main thing of the day - we met Ethan. I don’t have time to tell the whole story, but I will in like 2 years when I get home. We were walking and he called out to us: 

Elders! Hey how are you? Elders, I'm not doing so well. I'm so weighed down by the things of this world. It all hurts so bad, can I walk with you?

Sure! Sure. We're sorry to hear that you are in pain like this. What’s your name?

Ethan

Are you a member, Ethan?

I'm an old member. (He said that kind of weird.) All right let’s walk. (After a few steps he stopped.)  Before I tell you anything I want you to look at these marks on my feet. 

We looked and saw two weird marks on his feet.

Ethan, what happened?

A long time ago some bad people did some bad things to me. They put a stake in me. 
(So we walked and he told us vaguely about all these problems.)

Ethan, have you been praying?

I talk to Heavenly Father every day. I just don’t feel like he's there anymore. This world is so empty.

When was the last time you read The Book of Mormon?

Open it and read to me. (So I did.) I remember when the angel wrote that.  (Then he turns and starts walking. We catch up.) If you want to really know the power of The Book of Mormon read it in the moon light. That’s when God can make the miracles come to life because the moon is out. When its night everything is dark but God still gave us the moon to know that he is there and can always make his power shown.

The dude spoke super poetically and laced with scripture especially Isaiah stuff. It was weird.
kk I’ll finish the story when I get home. Punch line -------------- afhilafhioafiohafiohahilfe jjjjj He thinks he's Jesus. The story is way better in person. I’ll tell it then. It’s too long to type.

Then Friday night we started exchanges with me in Elder Smith’s area. I love him. He is such a stud. He wants to be good so bad. He treated me like I treated Elder Clawson - all respect and all ears. It made me feel good to have him tell me he looks up to me. I look up to him!

Saturday! I was in his English area - we talked a lot and learned a lot from each other about how to do better. A woman tried to seduce us in a street contact outside her house. She told us where she worked and then invited us inside her house. We biked off.  We had a good, good day.

Sunday! Church rocked. A RM [returned missionary] gave a talk about obedience which was stellar. I was happy to have investigators there. We visited some member’s real quick at night. Great day. Great week.

Miracles are real. I've seen them. It just takes a little faith.
I wish I could talk more about them. 
Okay y’all
I love you all so much
Maybe one of these days I’ll get a good email to you wonderful supporters.
Love, 
Sam

Monday, May 20, 2013

Life, the universe, and everything

Just a random pic of my desk wall
Hey guys!
Time is short again. I'm super sorry if this letter is not so great. I'll pack it full of all the important stuff. 
I learn so often that when missionaries are working hard, they are happy. But it’s important for them to keep themselves happy of their own accord otherwise they can’t work as hard. It can be a viscous cycle for those who don’t take control of it.
This Church is true. Read the Book of Mormon to find out.

Monday! I got a haircut which was good because it was getting pretty long. We had a lesson with an investigator today that was really hard for me. She says to us that she's as happy as she can be and she doesn’t need to make any changes. Oh that’s tough to hear especially when she's suffering because most of her family has died in the last week. I think she just says that, but doesn’t really believe it. 

Tuesday! I went on exchanges with the fabulous Elder Sullivan which was a great experience. He's so great. This is his 3rd transfer out in the field and he has a fiery attitude and is not afraid to be bold with anyone and everyone. It was really fun and we talked with and met with a lot of really cool people. One of them was a man who had recently just got out of prison after being in for 25 years. He went in young and came out ancient. He was talking about how it’s hard to adapt to a society different than the one he grew up in. Keep the commandments. It will save you a lot of heartache and trouble later. We talked to a lot of other cool people. That night we had a very powerful lesson about The Book of Mormon with one of those elder’s solid investigators. It was a discussion with her fellowshipping family. She’s a younger woman and she wants to be baptized and it was bomb. I think she came away with firmer faith in Christ and a stronger resolve to read and study and learn. The Book of Mormon has helped her get to where she is and its going to help her take the last steps to prepare her for covenant keeping. It was a cool opportunity to do a little one on one training and it went well.

Wednesday! We had another lesson with the same investigator from Monday and we explained that we are here to help those who want to follow the example of Jesus Christ and if she's not willing to do so, we can’t continue to meet with her. We said it less rude than that though. It was bold and she felt it. She said she'd start reading and praying. Then two other lessons flaked and an investigator switched to English which was pretty hard on EJ. But it’s all good. We found some cool people we talked to as well; one who asked us a lot of questions, not to question but to learn. That was cool. I love the people that come to us because they want to improve their lives and follow Christ. Then we visited some more members.

Thursday! I got to give my first formal training as district leader which went well. I was kind of rushed because I didn't allot my time properly but it was good and people said they liked it and learned. It was about the PMG principle of We Invite - They Commit - We Follow Up. Then we did service for a less active and we visited members. Then we had a good lesson there too. 

Friday! We planned. We did lots of service. NO lessons. We visited members

Saturday! We did service. We drove two hours to give a kid a blessing. Still in the branch... that was crazy. 

Sunday! Great day.  Awesome church. Visited members. Taught a good lesson to our most solid investigator, Carolina. She's awesome. She told us how she was bragging to her coworkers about getting baptized. Earlier in the week she texted us and told us that she read and prayed and felt the spirit. It was a sick experience.

Sorry!
Life is good.
I love you all so much.
Sam
Belated picture of Sam's birthday cake. He writes about it, "This is what my cake looked like.  I love Elder Crespo.  That's Elder Beers eating it and Elder Alvarez holding it."

Monday, May 13, 2013

EA phone home!

Happy Belated Mothers Day! To all you wonderful women in the world, thank you for the incredible things you do. If it wasn't for women, I wouldn't be here, specifically my mom. You all know this, but, I don't hesitate to tell anyone, I have the best mom in the whole world. The rest of you mothers and women are great too. 

I want you all to know that I know that Christ lives. I know that he leads and guides this church through a living prophet. I know that through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end we can receive eternal life. God loves each and every one of us and hears our prayers. I know that the church is true. Because I know that the Book of Mormon is true.

This was a great week. I don't have too much time so sorry about the quality of this letter.
MONDAY! We did pday stuff - giving rides and helping out and buying food and writing home. Then just as we were getting ready to go home someone in the office asked us to run an errand. So we drove all the way up north to the tip of the mission to deliver some medication to an elder who needed it. It took a long time but it was cool to be in the right place at the right time to help out. Monday night we taught a lesson about prayer which was pretty good. It was a little awkward because the person we wanted to teach wasn’t home so we just taught her daughter and friend. Monday was a good day. It is a totally different look of a pday, but pretty much the same ole thing. 

TUESDAY! We did a lot of good things Tuesday. We did some service moving rocks in the morning. This time I didn't mess up my fingers or my hands so that was nice. Slowly but surely I am reaching a level of basic human proficiency. Maybe in two more years I will have mastered pincer gripping cheerios. Then we took the other elders in the district to lunch and we just chose a random place and we walked in and the owner was a less active member who we had planned on visiting that day because no one knew who she was! Crazy huh? She gave us a good deal and some good chicken wings. Later in the day we were visiting some former investigators which was cool. Most said that we could come back, now the trouble is just finding them again. This city has no schedule so it's like impossible to find anyone especially if they don't answer their phones. But still. It was good. We also talked to a few people on the street which rocked. Most all of them set up return appointments with us and the English elders went back and had great lessons with at least 2 of them. Now we just have to find the Hispanics and we are set. We didn't have a dinner on Tuesday so we bought stuff to make cookies and made some for our neighbors. A few friends who are going to UNLV all live there. They are all studying kinesiology, its two men and two women and its crazy. They are only two years older than me but their life is so different. And all of them are super fit. They asked us a lot of good questions and we planted a few of those seeds for later. Hopefully we'll be able to follow up and they'll want to learn more about the gospel. 

WEDNESDAY! We had a lesson with one of our investigators, Martha. She's an older woman whose husband just died. We talked with her about the importance of church and reading the Book of Mormon and prayer and she came to church and bore her testimony during Relief Society which was pretty cool. Hopefully she just takes the next few steps to committing to be baptized. She's satisfied with her life so it's hard to help her to make steps to improve her life and relationship with Heavenly Father. When you love people you want to make promises with them. We are gonna keep working with her and help her to see that church is not just a social thing; it’s the way we connect with God. Then we went to teach a recent convert and we worked out a plan on how she can do missionary work with her neighbors. Her husband then gave us a lesson on Mexican history and government. MAYBE best part of the week: a baptismal interview. I got to meet with a candidate for baptism and it was an incredible experience; a sacred and powerful chance to help someone prepare to make a covenant with our Father in Heaven. Oh it was so cool, she was so prepared. We talked a lot about repentance and prayer. I wish could describe how awesome it is. It made me really excited to be able to serve in this new way. Then a little later we had a lesson with an investigator about the Book of Mormon. I love helping people to read it and come to know that it is true and all that that means. It’s like I was inviting others to come unto Christ or something.  :) It's true or it’s a fraud - black or white. 

THURSDAY! Great, great day. We had our zone training meeting [ZTM] about the doctrine of Christ which was a great learning experience on how to apply an eternal perspective in every lesson. Y’all can read my notes on it in 2 years. We went to two lessons that fell through and then we had a really sweet visit with a sister who can’t come to church because she has to take care of her two bedridden daughters. Then later we did a little street contacting which I love. It’s tough and usually pretty ineffective but it’s fun and feels good. Then later we taught a lesson to a mother and daughter using the principles we learned in ZTM. They both are now set for baptism 22JUN2013. It was a powerful lesson about the importance of faith, repentance baptism and confirmation. 

FRIDAY! Friday gotta plan out on Friday, gettin ready for the next week.... We visited a member in the morning which was super cool. He's the 1st counselor in the branch presidency at 29 and he's super cool. He's trying now to get into the Special Forces. He was just outside working on flipping a Camero he bought. He's pretty good with cars. Then we visited a few other people. Then we came home to plan. After we went to try to visit a referral but we drove so far up Las Vegas Blvd that we got scared and turned around. It’s crazy weird over there. So. Much. Pornography. A little later we visited an investigator we passed off to the English elders and it was cool to see his change of countenance. He talked for like 20 minutes about how much he loves the church. It all started bc of a lesson with him where we helped him to commit to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. He did, and it changed his life.

SATURDAY! It was a kinda slower day but still good. In the morning we went to a baptism for the woman I interviewed. It was a sweet, sweet service and the branch really came out to support. She bore her testimony after and that was awesome. I also got to see Sister Despain and Burrup which was cool. They're good missionaries. Then we visited a few members and when we tried to visit our branch prez, he practically pushed us in the car and drove us to In-n-Out to buy us hamburgers. We told him we just ate lunch and that dinner was in 2 hours but he took us anyway. Great guy. Super funny, super spiritual. Then we tried visiting other people. We stopped by an investigator's house just as she and friends walked out of the house in their bikinis. We left. We went to the ward party and ate and talked with members. Then we went to do a few more visits. EJ shared a bomb spiritual thought. 

SUNDAY! Great day. Church was good. I got to talk to my favorite family in the world. Then after Brother Lopez shared his testimony with us for a long time. It was incredibly powerful. He's working on wiritng it all down and when he does, I'll send it home. He's so cool.
That's the week!

Having all these district leader responsibilities is cool. But it’s weird to have people looking up to me. It's a lot of pressure.
I love you all so much!
Sam

Monday, May 6, 2013

Life: it’s just too darn good

My brain and heart are very full this afternoon so if my thoughts are jumbled, don't judge me. 
I'm emailing right now from the mission office. Weird. This is my chapel. Sitting next to me is my new companion and old friend Elder Johnson, the rapper from Cleveland Ohio, and no, not Chip or Cudi. He stands 6'4" and 195lbs and is cut as freshly mowed grass. He has a smile like the Cheshire cat and not half as creepy. He's probably one of the goofiest people I've ever met, but in the best way. He always has a joke to tell and a smile. I butchered that district quote. Oh well. District 2. Episode 1. I love him so much. He works hard and has taken Elder Wirthlin's mom's quote of "Come What May and Love It" (see the awesome conference talk by the same name) to heart. It’s such a pleasure to be serving with him. 

I am in the Desert Bloom branch. It covers 3 stakes: Warm Springs, Green Valley, and Anthem. It's pretty cool and crazy big. My area is enormous. We go all the way down to California. There are not too many Hispanics in this part so we have to search extra hard, but so far I love it. The members here have a special spirit. They are few but they stick together and they are awesome missionaries. They invite friends and talk to neighbors without being asked and have a fire for the work. They've caught the wave and it's so cool to be here. My district is probably the best one in the mission if not the best one since Elder Holland and Elder Cook were companions. Elder Johnson and I are in Desert Bloom and there is a companionship of awesome Sisters too, Sisters Veazey and Parkinson. Both are great hard workers and young in the mission. The other companionship is in an English ward and its Elder Smith and Elder Sullivan. They are both super upbeat and friendly so it’s a pleasure to have them around. I really don't know why I'm so lucky!  I am the senior member of the district which is pretty weird. I guess somebody trusts me or something. 

It's so different down here in the Henderson area. Random members come up and talk to us and try to give us money and food all the time. There are also just more people and more stores and stuff. It's like a city, but in a different way. Up north it’s a city but it has a different coughghettocough feel to it. I like them both for a lot of reasons. 

It's weird here in the office. I get to listen to the office staff and see baptismal records and all the workstations of the amazing senior couples who are giving up all this time to help us missionaries to do the work of the Lord. They are all so amazing. Being a little more behind the scenes gives me a better idea of just how much work they do so we don't have to. It’s all set up so we can find, teach, and baptize and don’t have to worry about all that other stuff. What a blessing. 

So you all probably want to hear about my week.  It was "dope money fresh" as Elder Johnson says.
Monday was great. It feels like forever ago though. We did the p-day stuff. Then the Schwenke's brought us lunch at the stake park which was so nice. They are so great. Then the other members of the zone did a water balloon fight so I left. It felt odd. That night at the Schewenke's was awesome. We took pictures and told stories and ate and had a sweet, sweet time. I'll miss seeing them every week. Later we went to see Marlon and his family. I'll miss them too. He's a great guy.

Tuesday. I went to Warm Springs!!! Whattttt???? So our zone is 10 companionships and only 2 elders with cars (minus the APs). So we have had to drive people around a lot. I went to a training meeting Tuesday afternoon that was super awesome. I learned a lot and it really helped me feel more ready for my new assignment. Then we drove around to meet the awesome members. It was a good first night. 

Wednesday we did service helping a less active family move which was cool. A member bought us lunch. Then as we were making up our studies somebody knocked on our door and asked if we were the Mormon missionaries. We said we were and he asked if we could teach him. He was our neighbor so we went over to teach him and we started teaching him the Restoration and he just said over and over, “I know that, but how do I be baptized?” So we'd teach a tiny bit and he'd say, “I know that but how do I be baptized?” so we'd explain a little more and he again say, “So what do I have to do to be baptized?” It was actually pretty awesome. He bore his testimony of everything, it was cool. So we passed him on to the English elders. I’ll keep y’all posted. We also 4 packed with Elder Payne and Elder Bradley so that was cool. EP doesn’t speak English so that was tough for him. We had a bunch of lessons set up for EB's 1st day but they all flaked but we still had a good day. 

Thursday we met all the ward leadership which was cool. They're all awesome. Then we taught a sickkk lesson to an investigator that we later sent off to the English elders as well. It was about the Book of Mormon. Man, I love that book. Then later we had a great lesson about prayer with another investigator family.

Friday was good. Planning was tough because I don’t really know the area too well. It’ll get there though soon. We had a dinner with an English family. She’s a fellowshipper for one of our investigators. It was fun. Then we helped the branch set up for an activity. 

Saturday was good too. We did service in the morning to help a family move. We had to run a lot of errands. Then we had some great member visits and recent convert visits. We just taught a few different people about revelation using the scriptures. Then we went to a crazy Cinco de Mayo party at the branch. It was super fun. We helped out and our investigators came. It was incred. 

Sunday was great. We went to an amazing dinner and talked to a super prepared guy who lives in the west mission. It was so cool to talk to him and teach him. Then we visited an investigator and then some members.


That’s all. Sorry. It’s bad. No time.
I love you all so much. 
Sam