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Monday, August 26, 2013

SUP CR3W!?

Man I’m pumped. 
Life is good. Like sometimes it’s nice just to have a moment of quiet to inventory your blessings. I was doing that a little bit ago. It’s cool. 
I am blessed beyond belief. 
Thank you to all of you who sent letters, emails, or prayed for me. It helps me to do what I do, and love it!
As missionaries we get to have lots of opportunities that most other people don't -some of them good, others not so much. These opportunities come from people recognizing us as different. For example we walked into a hair salon and a woman asked if we were Mormons. She said she has talked with the missionaries before and likes them, “So respectful and handsome, good people.” As I was reflecting, I thought 1) How did she know? Well because of our dress. 2) Why was she excited to see us? Because of positive experiences in the past with missionaries. Then I thought how cool it would be to be able to be recognized by others as Disciples of Christ without badges and ties, where we really can be an example of the believers and a witness to the doubtful. I dunno. It’s easy for conversations to start up about the gospel because it’s what we look and act like and think about and as I thought, it should be like that even when we are not called to serve full time. That's what I want -people to be able to recognize me as different, and as happy. Idk. I've got 2 years of training wheels (shirt and tie) before I hit the real world again.
Hope that makes some semblance of sense.

MONDAY! I don’t remember if I told you all this but an elder stole my planner on Monday and that crippled me. I've been trying to make lists of things I need to accomplish because I always forget and so I felt really bad because I didn’t get done all I needed to. But it was a good day. That evening we met at the church to do splits... but a member cancelled last minute. That was the last straw for me. Not in like giving up but like the sign that we are pushing the branch too hard and stretching them too thin. From now on we will be doing just two elders and a member. But we had three back to back lessons. First was with the A family. They are so incredible. I really have learned so much from them and they have raised my vision and faith for what this gospel can do. They are so special and the gospel was the fire that the family needed to push them to the next level. It was also interesting that Hno S. (the member we took) really connected with Sister A and was able to respond to her small concerns. Hno S. has lived a tough life, as he will tell you partially because of his circumstances and partially because of his choices. He is just recently active and able to come out with us. He talked about some of his weaknesses and she connected even though her life has been a little more calm and less violent. So that was cool. Then we went to George. We had to rush the lesson because we were late and his understanding suffered because of it. We taught the plan of salvation and he understood everything up till the kingdoms of glory. But we said we'd clear it up Tuesday. Then we ran to Gissel and Amelia and Leo. Apparently Gissel had been teaching the gospel to her sister in law all afternoon. Sierra was pretty interested and when we got there she had a lot of questions and doubts, all of them valid - my favorite was “How can I know that I'm not just convincing myself that I think it's true?” She brought up an example of a hypochondriac. A person tells themselves they are sick for so long that they actually become ill! She said how do we know it's not just like that? Bomb questions. I like it when people ask the hard questions, not because they want to stump people but because they want to find the truth and they are willing to listen and consider the opinions of others. I hope that doesn’t make me sound prideful. I don't have all the answers. But I am seeking and I know someone who does. Amelia was telling us how she and Leo are looking to make some changes. That was cool. That night we started exchanges. So real quick - we've been having nutso car problems all week. Our battery is like 100% dead so every time we turn it off we have to get a jump. A member brought us a self-jump kit that we use. It’s pretty handy. It’s definitely got its money's worth. Don’t worry tomorrow we are getting it fixed. 

TUESDAY! I went on exchanges with Elder Borden. We had a miraculous day. It was so full of cool experiences. He is such a good missionary - a good example to me of optimism, diligence, and happiness. In the morning I still didn't get my planner back. Elder Borden made me spam mosubi for lunch and we had a good talk about how to plan and how to set goals we went out and saw Arthur. He was a semi solid investigator and we made the goal of inviting him to be baptized during the lesson. With that in mind we were a little thrown off when he angrily invited us into the house. It was kind of scary to start. He had gone to church for the first time that week and he loved it but he said that he had a scary revelation last night. We sat down and he served us Gatorade and then he started yelling, “YOU JUST WANT ME FOR MY TITHING, RIGHT?” He asked that question like five different ways and he was madddd. He was quoting from the story in the BOM when Nephi breaks his bow and then his brothers are mad. He kept saying, “I'm the one with the broken bow? So you are going to cast me out? Isn't that right?” We helped him understand that in the story Nephi was the good guy and he calmed right down. Elder Borden and I had also set a goal to teach with testimony and that worked wonders. We just told him what we know to be true. It was a cool experience of the Spirit working in him and watching him resolve his own concerns. His countenance did a 180 while we were there with him. It was cool. There were doubts and questions that we couldn't answer but the Spirit did. At the end we invited him to be baptized and he committed to doing so. He was excited! So were we. That day we talked to a couple of cool people on the street and a couple not so cool people. There were two women who said they’d been looking for the missionaries ever since they went to church in Cali. That was neato. Like I said last week or two weeks ago that is our dream to hear the “We've been looking/waiting for you.” Then we knocked a door of a person on one of the lists they had gotten from the ward and a random woman opened the door and was super interested. After we had told her who we are and what we do she said, “Wow! Are you trying to make me cry or something?” She felt the Spirit and we did too. She asked for our card and number. I tried talking to someone who flipped me off and then like two minutes later to someone who threw something at me and said some bad words. Elder Borden and I talked a lot about how we can just tell that these people aren't happy. They just looked and acted angry. We just want to help. A key part of this work is optimism. There is never a reason to be sad. The adversary wants us sad. Then later we had a lesson with a scriptorian named Todd. He has like 5 different bibles and some stuff in Greek and Hebrew to check and cross check and cross cross check. His is a cool story. Kind of like the Wilford Woodruff one. He lived his life until one day he had an epiphany. His prayers were useless unless he believed what he was saying and meant it too. He wasn't acting in harmony with what he believed. So he completely changed his life. He doesn't go to church bc he can’t find one that agrees with the Bible. He says he's open and wants to learn but he can be a little bashy at times. His main issue is that he doesn't believe in prophets anymore. He thinks they stopped at Jesus.  We had a cool lesson about the Book of Mormon to an investigator they have. Funny story - the next day the investigator drops them cause he says he won’t pay tithing. He has other plans with his money. The elders fasted and prayed and then the next day the man says I prayed and realize that I need to repent. They say he wants to be baptized more than ever. Then as we went home we talked with a woman on the street. She started out scared of us but in the end she was asking where our church was and wanted to go. Good day. I love working with elders who work hard and work smart. It's a spiritual work. I gotta pick up the pace.

WEDNESDAY! So in the afternoon the ZLs called and told us to go to the office and pick up my planner. So I was suuuuuper happy to have that back. I have been trying to use it more effectively in order to best fulfill my purpose and it makes a big difference. We taught a good lesson to Gissel. She is so awesome. I realized how hard it must be to be a convert for a moment. I mean I have always kinda known but this made it extra clear. Life it’s tough. Discipleship is not what people are used to. As Elder Maxwell says, “True Christian soldiers are more than weekend warriors.” She wants to do the Lords will and what is right but it’s a confusing world sometimes. That night we again took Gissel to a lesson with George.  (Forgot to say in the Tuesday part -Gissel and EL and Elder Hilliard taught the Plan of Salvation again to George and it was bomb. Gissel just told him bold what it was and what that meant he needed to do. George said, “That makes perfect sense; of course I want to go to the celestial kingdom. These fools (meaning the elders) didn't teach it very well.” So that was exciting to hear about.) So back to Wednesday - We taught about prophets, focusing on 2 Kings 5 - the story of Naaman and Elisha. Gissel was so good in the lesson. It was so cool to look at her and think about where she was when we met her and where she is now teaching others and helping them gain the happiness that she did. It was like the coolest experience of my life. It reminds me of what the Savior said to Peter (well everything reminds me of this, but you know what I mean) “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” That night we also taught Amelia and Leo the Restoration again. We need to make sure that all the gaps are filled in.

THURSDAY! Not much exciting happened until after dinner we taught the A family about the Sabbath day. Man it was cool. We really just talked about ways that they can keep their family strong. It was rein grained in my mind and heart the importance of Sabbath day observance in having close families. The family that prays together stays together. It was spiritual and made me excited to better honor the Sabbath. George bought us pizza. He is so cool. He was showing us all these videos and stuff he's been posting on his facebook page all this Mormon stuff. He makes me laugh. I hope we can keep this fire that he has burning all the way through his life. Those were the two biggest things I guess.

FRIDAY! We had a really short district meeting about planning. It was good. I know I at least learned a lot. As I was talking with some other mission leaders one pointed out to me a big lack in my training - follow up. I extend a lot of commitments but I never follow up. In the words of this inspiring elder, “It doesn’t matter how good you can train, if you don't follow up like a Chapter 11 rage train, your missionaries won’t do anything.” (Ch11 refers to PMG [Preach My Gospel].) So that's my goal for next transfer, and the end of this one. Follow up on the commitments I have extended. We did some weekly planning. Then I went with another missionary to ARJELIA'S BAPTISM!!!
Arjelia and Sam at her baptism
I was soooo excited for her. I wanted to cry. George drove us up there. In like 15 minutes. From like Henderson to North Las Vegas in 15 is absurd. He was going over 100mph. I saw Elder Chacon and Marquez and I was happy to see them. But man, Arjelia has come a long way and I am so proud of her. I gave a talk and sang in a musical number. George said, “I felt like angels were singing,” and then that night he said, “I liked it. I liked it a lot. I felt like I got touched back there.” George feels the Spirit a lot and its cooool. The A's drove all the way there too. So it was cool to talk with them. 

SATURDAY! I had another baptism for two old investigators. It was cool. I got to see some other missionaries. Both Juan and David gave great testimonies. They have cool conversion stories; another testament that the Lord's hand is in this work and He has a plan for each of his children. We did a little weekly planning and tried to find new people to teach. Not too much luck.

SUNDAY! Highlight of the day! As usual the A family. Hno and Hna were crying after church because they are so excited to get baptized. They are incredible. They told us all these things that they have been thinking and feeling. Luis keeps saying that, “I wanted to go where I could best serve the Lord, and I've found it.” He is such a spiritual man. He understands things so well and lives them. I wanna be more like him. I think he's a future branch president here. He is definitely going to do great things in his service of the Lord. Everyone who meets the family says stuff like they can feel that he is going to be a great leader. I feel it too. Call me crazy. Idc. We did mini splits that afternoon so Elder Clawson could do the interview. Elder Fischer and I went and taught two quick lessons. One was the Restoration and the highlight was when she really internalized what it meant to have a prophet on the earth today and the light came on. She got excited.

That's pretty much the week. Sorry for rambling in some places and not elaborating enough in others.
I love serving the Lord. 
I hope next week I can tell you that I have been blessed with another 6 weeks in Desert Bloom.
We'll see.
I really feel that I have matured as a missionary here. In Montebello I learned the doctrine. In Loz Feliz I learned Christ like attributes. Here I learned missionary skills. It’s been a journey.
And I love every single minute of it.
Just like
I love you all so much
Sam

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