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Monday, July 29, 2013

I miss Elder Reiley

What a good week we have had.  They are all good weeks though. In the words of a priest we took out last night, “When you put the Lord first... you receive a TON of blessings.” It’s so true. As I have been trying to put God's will before my own, things really do work out. And I get a SICK TON (about 17 times the size of the British metric tonne) of blessings.  Thanks this week for your prayers. They really do make a difference. It kind of sounds silly if you haven't felt the power of prayer, personally, but it does make a difference. 


This morning I was studying a talk by Hugh B. Brown called ‘the Profile of the Prophet.’ The restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to me, is really the only thing that makes sense. Again, like it is almost every day, I find myself pondering about how perfect God's plan is. We are his children, he loves us, he wants us to be happy. All he asks is for us to be humble enough to want to feel his love. That's really the key that I've learned on my mission, if someone wants to know, they will; whether it’s a testimony of Joseph Smith, or the Divinity of Jesus Christ, or the reality of God.  I dunno. I think it’s awesome. That's all kinda of word vomit but last thing to puke up is something I think about during almost every street contact. Once we have a proper understanding of God and his character (or we are at least on the right path) everything else falls into place. Read the ‘Lectures on Faith’ for a little more info I guess. aannnnnyyyway.
It’s been a SICK WEEK!
One last thing, compliments and offers to help go a long way.

MONDAY! As I said, Ryebread [Elder Reiley] left us. He has been missed quite a bit. But that night we taught 3 back to back lessons. What a blessing. I think if I were to read back to my emails from 6 months ago there wouldn't be too much teaching, but now, I get to teach multiple lessons and people daily. It rocks. It’s something that I've taken for granted a little bit. I love every second of the work but I am here to teach, not just to try to find. I'm telling y’all. Prayer has played such a big role in our success this transfer. By begging for the miracles and doing everything I can to make them happen, they do. I definitely don’t have room to receive them. A mission (if you do it right) is a great place because miracles become something more than you read about in the scriptures; they become part of real life. The best part (other than helping bring others to Christ) was the member we brought with us. He had never been out with the missionaries before and he did so awesome. He is a shy guy but once we got to teaching he testified with power. It was so, so awesome. We dropped him off and he was beaming and ready to come out another time. It got me even more pumped. He was worried about what to say and we just told him to say what he felt, and he felt like testifying. It was so good. He felt the Spirit and he was happy. So we were happy. 
Pause. So.... please go out with the missionaries. Please make it a daily goal to share the gospel with someone, somehow.

TUESDAY! We helped out with the transfers in the morning. My district got moved around. Elder Smith (who I think is so awesome) is now in a different district. I now have Elder Andrews and Elder Beyer and Elder Borden and Elder Hilliard. I don't know much about them yet because things are so busy and DM [district meeting] isn’t till next week, but they all seem cool. I know Elder Andrews from before, but that's about it. Elder Gunnell and I got to spend part of the day together. We had a district leader training meeting that was really awesome. Elder Fischer and Clawson gave the training and I look up to them so much. But being with Elder Gunnell, that was cool; reminiscent of like 9 months ago when our companions went to the same meeting. Whacko huh? That night we contacted 3 referrals/potential investigators and got 3 return appointments. It was incredible. We had a lesson with Amelia and Leo and Gissel. It was cool because Gissel is so excited to get baptized. Her friend from high school is so surprised, but repentance is real and Gissel is changing her life.

WEDNESDAY! We had a lesson in the morning with just Gissel and her friend. It was cool because she is now set to be baptized on August 17th! So pretty soon! We talked about repentance a lot. She said she's excited but she feels like it’s a deadline. We asked what she meant and it was super cool. She said, “Well I want to do this and I want to do it right. I feel hypocritical but I want to smoke and drink a few more times before I get baptized. I feel bad saying that but it’s true.” We talked about it with her. We were careful not to tell her what to do but just to see how she felt and what she wanted to do. At the end of the lesson she said something like, “I know it’s going to be hard, but I can do this. It’s what God wants me to do. If I’m going to live it after, I should probably start now.” Boom. Dad - it was kinda like that lesson you taught to the priests. That was like the beginning of her covenant making. Later we had a cool lesson with a mother who was struggling with her son. We talked about prayer and the Book of Mormon with her. She seemed to like it but hopefully she will act upon the things we invited her to do. 

THURSDAY! This was like maybe one of the hardest days of the mission. ummmm, not really. But it was hard. I think we had 6 appointments and 6 members. All cancelled but 2 investigators and 1 member. We taught 2 new investigators about the Book of Mormon and they loved it. They asked so many questions and said that this is what they want in their life. How’d they get interested? The good example of the family of one of their friends and then the family just invited them to hear the gospel. They did because they wanted to have a family with as much happiness as the members. Good stuff.  They are awesome. The investigators are so sincere. After that we taught Andres (the 9 year old) about the Sabbath day. The member’s daughter was playing in the dog food and Andres turned and said to me, “Classic, classic.” It was so funny. 

FRIDAY! We taught another lesson to the couple we started teaching the day before. It was bomb. We testified of the power of the Book of Mormon and they both wanted it in their life really bad. They had another huge bunch of great questions. One was about the purpose of the Book of Mormon. He said, “I hear everyone connect Joseph Smith and the BofM. Is the purpose of the book to prove Joseph Smith was a prophet? Does it talk about him in the book?” It was a cool question. I’d never thought of it before. It started a really good discussion. I love discussions. Las charlas. We taught Gissel a sick lesson about the PoS [Plan of Salvation]. Such good quotes from her. Here’s one – “getting to the celestial kingdom seems hard, it’s going to be a lot of work, but I know I can do it.” That was cool. The other one was “this means I need to get ready to go to the temple.” Another sick comment. That night we taught Martha the PoS which went really well. She’s become so much more open since a few months ago. The elders before, in this area, planted some really good seeds. That night we didn't teach a lesson to Amelia and Leo so much as we just helped them cook dinner. That was pretty cool. I love their family so much. 

SATURDAY! We taught Percy which was bomb. He's the guy from Peru. It was a good lesson on the restoration. When people are open, it is so, so powerful. We did our studies on Saturday again because we had lessons on Friday. We taught a cool lesson to Amelia and Leo that night about the Atonement. 

SUNDAY! It kind of hit me as I was writing my journal entry. I have less than 11 months. That's no time at all. The Lord is hastening his work and it feels like he's doing the same with my mission. I've got to catch up. No time to lose!! Church was interesting. All the youth bore their testimonies. It’s a branch so it’s not that many but they all took like 10 minutes so we didn’t get out of sacrament meeting till like 10:50. Sunday night we were scrambling to find anyone to come out with us when we got a phone call from a priest in the ward (one of the highlights of my mission). He says, “Elder Anderson. I'm at home right now and I got to thinking, it would be way better if we members called you missionaries than if you called us. It’s our job to come help you, not your job to try to find people to help.” It was sick to hear him say that. That's the attitude I want to develop. Well that I’m working to develop; not what is not a bad choice, or even a good choice, but what the Lord would have me do. That's the kind of disciple I am trying to become- in one word, consecrated. It’s a process though. When we asked why he had that revelation (I think that's what it was) he started to quote D & C section 4 and I felt the Spirit so, so strong. He did too. It was an incredible experience.

The church is true.
Each of us are children of God with divine potential
and I love you all so much.
That's all for now folks!
Love,
Sam

Monday, July 22, 2013

IT'S ALIVE!

Last week? 11 ltms [lessons taught with members]?
This week? 18 ltms!
We taught 23 lessons this week. I was ecstatic. This is how it’s supposed to be. Finding, teaching, (and then this transfer) baptizing.
Life is so good.
I'll try to explain some questions y’all might have.
The A Family's baptism has been delayed because their kids are still in Mexico. But as soon as they get back, the family will be getting baptized!
Amelia and Leo are gonna get baptized soon. They just need to make enough money to pay for the wedding dues.
So that's that.

Transfer doctrine.
Elder Anderson: aqui [here].
Elder Ledezma: aqui.
Elder Reiley: in Mexico! He left like an hour ago. :( It was really sad. I almost cried. He's a good elder and he's gonna do great things.
Okay. I don't have too much time so here's the week!

MONDAY! It was a pretty normal day. We found out that Elder Reiley might be leaving soon but we didn't know when. It was too bad. At night we taught a few lessons. Not much to report.

TUESDAY! In the morning we went with a few members to eat pupusas [a traditional Salvadoran dish, thick corn tortillas that are stuffed with cheese, beans and/or pork]. They were super good. We also had agua de ensalada [water salad], sounds gross but it is sooo good. We had a good time talking with the members and trying the new foods. Afterwards we had a lesson with a new investigator named Percy. He was a nonmember referral actually. So that was pretty neat. He was super interested. Some highlights of the lesson: “I love talking to you intelligent, educated guys. Come back soon!” that was in the middle of the lesson. Then he said, “We are going to keep meeting until you all become Catholic, or I become a Mormon” and then he said, “I'll read this book. I believe what you say. I want to know if it’s true.” That was a cool lesson. He was super open and ready to ask God about the things we taught him. That night while we were street contacting we talked to this really nice woman until she found out we were Mormon (we talked for like 10 minutes). Then she turned from nice to mean super fast, said we were a scam and that she didn't want anything to do with us. We taught Amelia and Leo that night and Presidente Rincon came with us (our branch prez) it was a really hard day for both of them and Presidente was perfect. We gave a really powerful blessing to Leo. It helped him a lot.

WEDNESDAY! Quote from the journal “they are all such good days.” We taught Gissel (the daughter of Ameila) a lesson about the LDM [Book of Mormon]. It was a good one. She said that she was gonna read and pray that night. She gave us some sandwiches (more on that later). We went over to a less active member's house to teach them a lesson. He started the lesson by asking, “Where is the archaeological evidence of the Book of Mormon?” In my head I was just like uggggh no.... but it was good. We talked about his questions and where they came from and about a few museums and stuff. We told him that the most important evidence was the witness from the Spirit that it is true. He said, “yeah, I know - the evidence doesn’t matter, I was just curious. The only thing that matters is following Jesus.” That was cool to hear. Later, we went to dinner. By this time I was feeling a little sick. We sat and the member fed us sooooo much food. We walked out to go home and I was like “elders we gotta move because I gotta go.” I opened the door and knew that there was no way I was going to make it home, so I booked it back to the house. Another quote from the journal, “I DESTROYED HER BAÑO! A DEMON WAS LET LOOSE.” I did. It was bad.  Those sandwiches were worse than the stuff I drank in the MTC. Fast forward to later in the evening. Gissel tried to drop us but it turned into a really powerful lesson and she committed to be baptized. The Spirit was super strong. We would say stuff and ask questions and she would look at us and say, “That makes sense. Okay, okay.” It was cool to watch her completely turn around. She had a doubt about 1 Nephi 4. We testified a lot and she felt the Spirit and she said, “I don’t understand it all, but I know I don’t need to.” That was cool.

THURSDAY! District meeting was pretty powerful. I was feeling really sick but the Spirit did all the work. It was about working with members. The night before we had committed Gissel to read and pray. We went and followed up and she said that she was feeling stressed and sad and she prayed for peace and she felt a calmness come over her. That was pretty cool. She also prayed for the strength to move on from her father's death and she said that she felt like she could. She opened up and shared a lot of really personal things with us. She said she wants to be baptized to wash away all the bad things she's done.
WE HAD SUCH A GOOD LESSON WITH THE As! IT WAS SO AWESOME. They shared spiritual experiences with fasting, (They wanted to fast to get a firm answer from God that this is the path He wants them on. As they got together and said a prayer, in just stating why they were going to fast, all their doubts were answered and they felt the Spirit testify that they were doing the right thing. Brother A said from that moment that he knew. He had no doubts.) prayer, and the atonement, (Brother A didn't feel like he could keep going. He was tired and sad at work and he didn't want to keep going and he didn't want to come to the lesson because he was too tired. So he decided to say a prayer and it completely changed his day. As he put it, “My tiredness was taken from my and in its place I felt happy.” he knew that it was God who gave him the strength he couldn’t find himself.) and with revelation (That day he was thinking about questions to ask us. That day we prayed to know what to teach. We answered all his questions before he even asked them. That was super cool.).  They know the church is true. They said, “As soon as our kids get back we are going to get baptized.” SICKKKKK.

FRIDAY! Today rocked. In the am we dropped Elder Reiley off at the mission office to go to the consulate to get his visa. Elder Ledezma and I  taught an amazing lesson. We taught this family a lesson like 6 weeks ago and ever since then they have been reading and studying and learning everything they can. They told us about all the “coincidences” they have been seeing since the lesson. We were going to tell them that they aren’t coincidences but after they finished telling us like 5 experiences the man said, “You know what? I don’t think those are coincidences. God is telling us what He wants us to do.” They got super excited as they started to feel and recognize that God has been preparing them to accept the gospel.  We taught a few more lessons.  That night we got back with Elder Reiley and we were street contacting and we talked to a self proclaimed baby Christian. She was so happy. She was beaming as she told us about her decision to follow Jesus Christ. It was cool. It brought her so much happiness. She wasn't ready to increase it but it was still cool to talk with her. Her husband was super hard and tried to bash with us like at every turn and things we said. He wasn’t happy. He was kind of a Grinch and he was drunk. Elder Reiley and I were walking and trying to find new people and it started to MONSOON! Dry to drenched in a matter of moments. Trees blown over, streets flooded. “Horses and a guy on fire” - name that movie. Then we had a good lesson with Amelia and Leo.

SATURDAY! Sweeeeet day. This morning we taught Percy and brought a family from Peru to his house. (Percy is from Peru.) and they turned out to be friends already! They hugged and everything. That was pretty cool. So we had a bomb lesson with him and he said to Elder Reiley, “By the time you get back from Mexico, I’ll probably be baptized.”  We hadn’t even invited him yet. So that was pretty cool. We went right after to teach Amelia and Leo and instead the lesson was focused on Amelia’s son who got baptized a few years ago. He’s an atheist now, but Amelia and Leo and Gissel (3 investigators) just testified to him and it was so strong. Gissel, who used to be opposed like 2 weeks ago, said, “Kiwi (his nickname) you need to open your heart and want to know if He is there. You can’t be closed and get an answer. It won’t come all at once but you will get there. You will feel Him.” That was incredible.

SUNDAY! Elder Reiley and I taught Gospel Principles. It was pretty good. It’s way different than teaching the missionary lessons. We had a great lesson with Martha. She wants to be baptized and she’s going to do it in October when her family is coming to visit her. She was getting excited. She also gave Elder Reiley a hug, his face when she did was priceless. It was super cute. She’s like a grandma. He promised that he'd bring his kids to come see her and she almost started crying. It was adorable. Then we went to a lesson with Amelia and Leo. Leo finished reading the LDM and said, “I'm going to start over and read it again because I know that it’s one of those books that you have to read again and again and you always will get something new out of it.” It almost brought tears to my eyes. Then he also said things like, “1st marriage, then baptism, then sealing, then celestial kingdom”…. then “as long as I live a good life, and am clean from my sins, I can die happy because I know what’s going to happen after”… and then finally “Now I fully trust my Father in Heaven. I’m ready to be baptized.” It was so wonderful. Their fam made Elder Reiley a banner that was super cute. Amelia gave Elder Reiley the biggest hug ever. It was even funnier than Martha bc she wouldn’t let go.

Okay that’s all the time I have, it’s been such a good week.
I love you all so much. :)
Sam

Monday, July 15, 2013

I’m so tired. But so pumped.

I so can't wait to tell you all this till the end. 
I've always been trying to be the best I can be, working hard and trying to improve, but for one reason or another, I've never had a lot of lessons. When I got assigned to Desert Bloom 2, like 3 months ago, I was kinda sad because I knew this area had like the least Hispanics in the whole mission. At least that's what everyone had told me. They all said, “It’s great, you'll love it but you won't find a lot of people to teach or baptize.” I tried hard to not let that get me down or weaken my faith. I've been praying for miracles in this area and we see them every week. But this week it has been exceptional.

Our mission standard of excellence for lessons taught with a member present is 10. I've never got it before even when I've tried and worked so hard. This week… we got 11!!!! It was sick! We taught 17 lessons this week. I'm not a number guy, but that made me so happy. 17 is wayyyy more than I've ever had in the past. We also had more investigators at church than I ever have had or heard of - 10! 10 people at church. It was incredible. The branch noticed and there was a different feeling the whole day. SICK! And the other thing is that they are with people who are progressing too. We had 8 people that have committed to be baptized on specific dates and 2 that have committed to be baptized but not yet with a date. It’s incredible. Things are moving forward. When I got here we had no investigators really and no one wanted to get baptized. The Lord has really blessed us with the opportunity to help others come unto Christ here in these last few months. 

Word on the street is "I'm out" meaning that I’ll be getting transferred next week. I really hope I get to stay. I've worked so hard here and I really want to be here in the area for when these people get baptized. But it's not my will. 

So that's all super exciting. And in other news - Idk it you guys remember that in Los Feliz we were working hard with the members, like with family mission plans and stuff.  Well apparently it took a little bit, but the work is blowing up up there! Like the members are giving referrals and coming out with the missionaries and stuff. It’s sick! I just talked to Sister Despain and she was super excited to tell me about all the cool stuff that's been happening there. The work we did there was planting the seeds but the broadcast, I guess, was the water. SICK!!!! I don't have too much time but we'll see how much of the week I'll get to talk about.
Life is bomb. I am becoming better and better each and every day. 

MONDAY! We had that super long street contact with a Muslim guy. I think I wrote about it last week though. OH! man. We had a sick experience Monday night. We sat down with a family of new investigators and they said something to the effect of, "Look I’m going to be frank with you," then talked about how he isn't very religious and stuff. We listened to what he had to say and then testified of the Restoration and the blessings it will bring to his family, which totally changed his demeanor. The Spirit was so strong and it kind of lit a light in his eyes. He then started asking questions, it was sick. At one point when the Spirit was really strong the wife said, “Wait, wait!” and we weren’t sure what was happening and she got up and turned off the TV in the other room and said, “I want to make sure I hear this.” It was incredible. I was kinda worried until I heard the reason then I was like super pumped. Later that night we taught Andres (9 yr old who wants to get baptized) and it was a bomb lesson. His cousin doesn't like me and I can’t figure out why. That night we had a lesson with Amelia and Leo and they fed us. I said to her that she didn’t need to feed us every night and she yelled at me! It was pretty funny. She said, “I HAVE TO COOK EVERY NIGHT. I’M GOING TO COOK FOR YOU! IF YOU DON'T WANT TO EAT THAT’S FINE. BUT DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!”  She was joking, mostly. 

TUESDAY! We had a giant leadership training meeting. It was kinda like a Zone conference, 8 hours of training. I learned so much. A lot was focused on commitment and attitude; things that I have been working on and learning a lot. That night we taught like 3 lessons. It was bomb. Not too much to specifically talk about. No time.

WEDNESDAY! We had another lesson with Andres. We had asked him to pray, in the last one, to know if he should be baptized. That day we asked how he felt when he prayed. He said good and so all 3 of us thought, well okay that's better than bad! but not too specific. But then after a moment he said I felt something in my chest. It was moving and it felt good. He was smiling super big and got really excited. Oh man that was awesome. It was a huge testimony builder to me to know that even little kids can feel the Spirit very strongly. Later in the lesson when we were talking about the cleansing effects of baptism he asked, “Will this feeling go away?” pointing to his chest. It was so sweet to then be able to explain that that is a feeling he can have always with the gift of the Holy Ghost. It was sickkkk. That's the highlight of the day.

THURSDAY! I was on exchanges with Elder Sullivan in his area. It was a good day. OH MAN! I ALMOST FORGOT! We had the most incredible street contact ever! An appointment fell through. We had prayed the night before to know what to do and that was one of the things we felt impressed to make sure we did. So we set it up in the am and then it got cancelled. So we decided to find out why the Lord had sent us there. So we said we'd take a walk and street contact. As we walked down the street - like 15 feet, a woman pulled into her driveway. On her super nice caddy she had an advertisement for her psychic services. Not the most likely successful contact, but we tried it anyway. She was so prepared. She started out by saying, “Wrong time – I’m not going to make a donation today.” We said, “Oh no it's not why we are here! We want to help you strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ.” She instantly opened up, talking and stuff and telling us her story. She was so happy to talk with us. She said that she wanted us to teach her children. Then she invited us in right then to have some fresh jambalaya. Sooo good. Then she told us how she knew that we were sent from God. The night before she was screaming to God and praying like never before to send her some help. And then we showed up. She said as soon as she saw us she knew we were an answer to her prayers but she couldn't believe it. It was a really cool experience. The Lord watches out for all of us. When we talked to her about the Atonement she started weeping. 

FRIDAY! We did planning. A couple apts fell through. At night I got to go on splits with a returned missionary. He taught me so much. He's one of the ones when you can just totally tell he was an incredible servant of the Lord. It was so cool to have a few hours to just learn from his example. That night we taught the Word of Wisdom to Amelia and Leo and they both committed to living it. We told Leo that next week he should try to drink only 3 beers. He said, "3? I'm only going to drink 1 and then next week None!" He was so excited, and so were we. He's changed so much. 

SATURDAY! In the morning we helped a family move. It was so hot. I was drenched in the next lesson with Martha. It was such a good lesson with her. She really took what we had been teaching to heart.  The Spirit really guided the lesson that we had with her. She was definitely feeling it. She was excited for the next lesson like never before. She will be getting baptized soon! We had a sick apt with our branch mission leader. It was bomb. He is so excited with all the good things that have been happening. We later had a cool lesson with a former who was super excited to see us and had no idea why the other missionaries stopped coming. Our lesson with Amelia and Leo was about forgiveness and it was awesome. I need to be better about forgiving others.

SUNDAY! 10 at church. It was sick. Excitement was almost tangible. We had bomb lesson with a 17 year old kid who is deep into gang stuff but wants to get out. His desires were so pure. It was cool. We had a cool lesson with Amelia's daughter and she said "I'm not going to get baptized" but then the whole lesson she was asking about what she has to do to be baptized. She came to church that day and it definitely made an impact on her. At the end of the lesson she said, "If I do get baptized, it will take a few months." It was sick.

It’s been like the best week ever.
I love life. I'm just so happy all the time.
I love you all so much.
:)
Sam

Monday, July 8, 2013

Maaahonday, in the office, think it was the elv'nth of July.

Sup peeps?  It's been a good week. They all are. But this has been a good week for growing.
I always have things in my head to write about before I sit down. Then I forget what.
Maybe I'll remember. Maybe not.

MONDAY! Elder Ledezma wanted to go to a store called Tokyo Discount. So we did. It was insane. It was like walking into a foreign country. Different language, different culture/music/everything. I felt super uncomfortable inside so I stood by the door with Elder Reiley. It was just full of weird Japanese toys and games and dolls and other stuff. After the regular pday things went to our lessons but they all flaked on us so we had a lot of time to try to find new people to teach. We had 2 very interesting and very different street contacts. I was on splits with a prospective Elder. First we talked to a group of black southern Baptist women. We talked with them about their church and beliefs and their "prayer dancing." We asked if they would be interested in learning more about the prophet we have on the earth today (not just like that of course, we talked more about it and his importance) they said, “no.” Then we asked if they were willing to take a chance to gain more faith in Jesus Christ and they did everything they could to deflect the question without saying straight up “no.” It was interesting to see them 'struggle' a little bit. The second stand out contact was one with a woman who had been praying all day to find more happiness in her life. At the end of the day right before going to bed she went out to take her dog for a walk. She opened the door like just as we walked by it.  She was so interested and asked so many questions. Before we took off she told us how God's timing is perfect. She knew that we were an answer to her prayers. We testified that by centering her life on Jesus Christ she could find more happiness and her eyes like bugged out. We had what she was looking for. God's timing really is perfect. Desire, faith, real intent, that's the way to receive revelation. And she did. It was cool to be a part of that. That night I started and exchange with Elder Smith.

TUESDAY! It was 115 degrees out and I was biking all day. It was hot. I sweat through my backpack, which is normal, but this time I could like wring it out. Ohhh it was gross. I think I must have drunk at least 12 liters of water. I love Elder Smith. I don’t want to be cocky but he looks up to me like I look up to Elder Slik. We didn't really have a chance to do much teaching which was too bad but it was a good day nonetheless. The highlight of the night was helping a family create their own family mission plan. They were so excited and focused and ready to bring the power and spirit of missionary work into their home. They were making plans for how to help Hasten the Work of Salvation. https://www.lds.org/training/wwlt/2013/hastening/special-broadcast?lang=eng  (Watch this if you haven't! If you have watch it again and live it! These are things that we can do, and have been asked to do that can change the course of someone's eternal life.) The spirit was so strong as we talked about goals and plans for how they can serve others. Desire Drives Destiny! OHHH! I loved it! Family mission plans are the best.

WEDNESDAY! Today was sick. I got to go on mini exchanges with Elder Martinez! The one from Mexico who used to be my district leader. He goes home this transfer and we had a great afternoon doing service in the blazing heat and talking with some incredibly prepared people. EM is so awesome. I look up to him a lot. One of the best street contacts ever today. She was so prepared. EM and I testified of the Book of Mormon and she asked for a copy right then. It was so powerful. We spoke of happiness and she wanted it so bad. It was cool. She also testified that she knew this was God's timing. She was at a low and she's seen the missionaries a lot but they never have stopped to talk to her until Wednesday. (Grr that made me a little upset. There are prepared people everywhere if we will just open our eyes and talk to them.) Her desire to learn more of the Book of Mormon was awesome. The spirit was so strong as we testified of Christ and his atoning power. I know that through the ordinances of the gospel and the keeping of the commandments she will find that happiness she has been seeking. THE A.'S CAME BACK FROM MEXICO! We taught them a lesson about prayer and they shared a sick spiritual experience with prayer. I don’t have time to explain more but basically they prayed with their family and had an amazing day and really felt the Spirit and what they described as “joy given by God.” 

THURSDAY! 4th of July. It was the first time that I could really remember that I was a missionary a year ago. It goes too fast. I can talk more about memories in 2 years... Okay. I think you all know this already but, I love street contacting. Talking to people in the street is one of my favorite things to do. I love talking to everyone I can and seeing the different types of people there are in this world and getting to know them. It’s bomb. It’s also one of the things that I'm best at as well, I think. Today we jumped a guy's car. He was sooo grateful. WOah. Then we had another interesting experience. We were walking towards the car when a woman came up to talk to us. She was very flustered and upset. She had been praying all day for help with her son. She saw us and knew we could help. We said a prayer with her and read from the Book of Mormon too. We tried to go visit her son, but he slammed the door harder than almost anyone else I've ever seen. Like he did a wind up just to make sure we knew that he didn't - insert expletives here - care. But we were able to comfort his mom. We had a good lesson with Amelia and Leo. We read “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” with their family and talked about it. It was a cool lesson. Leo is progressing so, soo fast. Like Sunday at church, he was making comments and asking questions. It’s incredible to be teaching a man who is ready and willing to make so many changes. AHH it’s sick. 

FRIDAY! We had Zone Training Meeting. Elder Slik is so bomb. I look up to him like crazy. More on this later. 

Just in case I don’t get to finish. I’m gonna try to come back.
I love you all so much
Sam


PART 2
We had a lesson with Martha. She's been sad lately bc all her friends have gone out of town and she misses her husband who passed away. At dinner our member talked a lot about missionary work. It was cool. 

SATURDAY! Today was a special day. We got to help out President Foote [former member of the Las Vegas mission presidency] move and get ready for his mission in Germany. That was super cool to talk with him and hear his thoughts about missionary work and all the things he learned. We did our planning today. At night we had a funny visit with a less active member where we just sat in the dark talking. He doesn’t'  like the lights...

SUNDAY! Church was bomb. We tried to teach 5 lessons but we fell short. But it was fun trying. At night Amelia and Leo made us serviche. 
That's the week!
Part 2 is kinda weak but no big.

okie dokie. 
I love you all 
Sam 

Monday, July 1, 2013

I'm melting in Vegas, baby.

It's pretty hot here. Like... really hot. It's been 115ish this last weekend around where I've been. It’s kind of crazy. I've never felt anything like this. Plus the other day we had to bike and that was craziness.
Plus. I hit my year mark. That's weird. And sad. Some people say it’s the downhill slope from here on out, but that's not it for me. I've still got a year to become the missionary the Lord wants me to be. Hitting a year is just kinda of like the wakeup call that I've got to get the truck in a higher gear. It feels like I've been a missionary all my life but it also feels like I just started. 
Anyway. This has been a good, good week. We set high goals and worked hard to reach them and we even passed some of them. It was sick.
The Desert Bloom district has been tearing it up these last 3 weeks. It's not a numbers game but the ZLs let me know that we have been leading the zone (and we are the smallest and youngest district.) Woot woot! Anyway. We have a lot of room for improvement but we are working hard.
I took a little time on the evening of the 27th to reflect on the last 12 months. It’s crazy how much I've grown and improved and matured. I think of who I was when they put my ELDER ANDERSON tag on me in the MTC gym and I think of me now. It’s embarrassing. The kind of missionary I was when I got in the field is completely different that the one I am  now. I can actually say now that I'm proud of myself. I don't feel like I have to make excuses. Not that I was bad, but I just didn't even realize that I could be so much more. And I still can be.
So enough of my bragging. 

DA WEEK!
MONDAY! I got a sick package with a bunch of candy and some sick talks! That was cool. I love sharing candy with other people. We had a cool lesson with a new family, 3 little kids and a grandmother. It was interesting because 2 said they would be baptized and 2 others said no. We asked a little more about why and stuff and they said, “We know the Book of Mormon is true, we can feel it. But we can’t leave the Catholic Church. It’s where our family is.” We hear that a lot, people who just won’t leave the Catholic Church. Even some who say that they know it's not true and that it's not Christ's church but they just won’t leave. It kinda gets on my nerves. Oh well. I'm here for the elect. 

TUESDAY! We did some service in the morning which was cool. We carried a giant sewing machine for an older woman. Then we sang some hymns for her. It was sweet. Later we went to the baptism of Jennifer, the one I got to interview on Sunday. That evening we were walking around an apartment complex street contacting and I ran into a guy who I had talked to a few weeks ago. He was super interested back then and I sent the referral off, and kinda forgot (I talk to a lot of people on the street). But I saw him and remembered and started talking to him and he said that no one had gone by his house and no one had called him! It made me kinda sad because he was so cool and interested. I talked to the missionaries in his area but I guess they just forgot. But it was cool that he was still interested and still wanted the missionaries to go to his house. Hopefully they get over there soon. It made me stop and think about the hundreds of people I've referred in my time here in Vegas and how many of them are still waiting for the missionaries to go over. I hope I don’t sound bitter bc I’m not. It just taught me how important that referrals are. I don't remember why I wrote this but in my journal I wrote – “Life without the gospel can be tough because Satan is trying too hard to destroy families.” I don’t remember why, but it’s true. 

WEDNESDAY! We had 2 good lessons. One was with Martha who brought up a concern about the temple. She was upset bc one of her brother- in- law’s sister couldn't go into the temple to see her two sons get sealed. Martha said that's cruel and she didn't like it. We helped her to understand better why the temple is like that and then left a little later. When we got out, the priest that was with us said this - (and he's a super, humble, quiet guy) "I wanted to say to her the whole time 'My Sister and Mother won't be able to go see me get married in the temple, but you don't see me crying about it! It's not about anyone else but you and your wife and the Lord. That's all that matters. Get over it." It was so unexpected and we laughed so hard. I've never heard him be so bold ever. Luckily he didn't say that because Martha probably would have gotten offended. We did some street contacting later and then had a meeting with Presidente Rincon about how to improve missionary work in the branch. He gave us some suggestions and we've been trying to implement them. 

THURSDAY! 1year. Weird. District Meeting was good. It was a good one about the importance of prayer with missionaries and investigators. We had to bike Thursday because we were low on miles and it was soooooooo hot.  But we went out and worked hard. Then when we were walking and trying to talk with everyone a woman ran out at us screaming 'hermanos, hermanos!' She was only half dressed and it was kinda weird but then she said - I want to get baptized! It was super cool. She told us her story and everything how she lost contact with the missionaries and everything. SICK! So we set up a time to come back and teach her right then. We had some really good street contacts and then we visited two less active families who both love us. One of them really likes me in particular a lot. I don't even know why but he thinks I’m the cat’s pajamas - o los payamas del gato. From the journal - "it's been a good year :)"

FRIDAY! Temple tripppp!!! We got to go the temple with all the new missionaries which was cool. I got to see President and Sister Rogers which was cool bc they were in the Morning Sun ward and they were super awesome. They gave us so much food when I was serving there. They are super nice. So we got back from the temple all spiritually pumped and went to that lesson with that woman and we set her and her husband for baptism for July! Well actually they set themselves which was cool. I love sincere investigators. Those who want to learn and grow closer to God, will. Those who want to be skeptical and try to bash, won’t. Simple. Desire, real intent, and faith, that’s all you need - see Moroni 10:3-5. Then we did some service for a family that was moving in. We also talked to a few people on the street including an inactive member who got offended by a missionary who swore at her. Sigh... Teenagers.

SATURDAY! Martha made us lunch. It was soooo good. It was flautas. Flautas and carne asada fries are my new favorite foods, so bad for you but so good. We did our planning today bc Friday we were in the temple. We went back to that new couple we started teaching and had another super powerful lesson. Twas sick. They committed themselves to coming to church. That was the highlight of the day.

SUNDAY! Good day. 5th Sunday about missionary work. Had a few lessons, one was sick. We brought a young men’s leader to a 16 year old investigator we have and we talked about the priesthood. His mom sat in and got super pumped. Highlight of the lesson, "with your righteousness you will be able to use the power of God to lead your family into happiness." It was pretty sick. 

That's all the time I've got. 
It was, like all weeks, a week of growth and learning.
A happy week. I miss you peeps.
I love you all so much
Sam