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Thursday, September 26, 2013

The time sure does fly

It feels like it was yesterday that I was emailing you all, but so much has happened. It's a weird phenomenon. Time. 

So as always the week has been great. Elder Slik and I are having a blast and working hard and seeing miracles. It’s like the triforce of a good mission. 
We got to see Sister Burrup the other day which was kinda funny because Elder Slik and I were with her (what seems like) ages ago in Los Feliz. When she saw us she told us that she couldn't believe that we were companions. In the mission they hand out a leadership roster which has like all the zones and zone leaders on it and she said that when she saw us together she though the president must have gone crazy. It just confirmed for ES and me that we are like the mission joke. Everyone joked about us being companions and then it actually happened. What upppp. 

'Stewardship' is an interesting thing, as I am learning. It's been explained to me in a few ways. One is that it's my - meaning our ES and my - job to make sure each companionship is finding, teaching, and baptizing. Another is that as a leader/steward the only person that should be praying more for the zone are the mother's of each missionary. I'm not where I should be but I'm trying. Christ-like leadership leaves no room for selfishness. So I'm doing my best to kill the natural man. But as I have been in a position to influence missionaries for a while, I have noticed a trend that I really don't like. It's a phrase and an ideology that denies not only the Atonement but the fact that we are here on earth to progress. It’s the phrase "it's just what I've always done" or other similar ones like "I have just always gone with the flow" and "It's just how I was raised" and all the phrases like it. I've heard that very, very often as an excuse and I don't like it. Missionaries make mistakes. Most of the time they are smaller and often times inconsequential, but when someone says that they can’t and won’t change because they did x, y, or z thing in the past it gets on my nerves. I'm not really sure how to get my point across. Basically excuses hold us back. The whole purpose of the gospel is to say that it doesn't matter who you were, or where you came from, or what you did, you can become something better. We don't ever have to be complacent with sub-par performance. We can get better. I know you all know this but sometimes we forget and say that it's okay that we are still making the same mistake we made as children because, exactly that, we did it as a child. It's not true. We can change and overcome but it takes effort and commitment. Jesus Christ suffered through the same things that we are subject to and he overcame every temptation. He knows what it is like and he can help us find the way out. I know that we can repent and leave old habits behind. From simple bad manners to iniquity, it can all be made clean. I don't mean to preach but it is something that I feel very strongly about. We have been given agency. Neither our culture, upbringing, nor past mistakes define us. 
Prayer is so important. It is a time to align our wills with Heavenly Father's. If we are sincere and seeking, He will show us our weakness and where to start and how we can improve to better help others. I'll stop ranting, but the point of it all is that we have been sent here to put off the natural man and become a saint through the Atonement and making excuses doesn't help that.  Maybe it’s hard to hear that from people I love because I make a lot of excuses. I just want people to be happy.

Annyyyyway. 
What a good week!!! I wrote in my journal a little bit but it hasn't been sufficient. We are sooo busy. I love it, but I've got to figure out what I need to re-prioritize to make the time to keep my journal up to date. 
In order to refrain from just talking about how awesome my companion is for the entire letter I’ll just say it here - he's the absolute best.

MONDAY! We did our p-day stuff and before the end we worked on our white boards. We have one for each ward and then one for the zone. Kind of like President's transfer board. It’s pretty cool. It’s got everyone's face on it and then some notes of the things that we are working on with these missionaries. It's nice because then when we make phone calls and do stuff like that we can always be following up with the elders and sisters to see how they are doing with their commitments and goals and other things. After p-day we stopped by Sevrina to set up another appointment but she insisted that we come in and then she proceeded to make us a feast. She is so nice, so sweet and so loving and so sincere. She wants to do the "will of Heavenly Father." She is always talking about that. I wish I could speak Tagalog. Monday night we had a lesson with the T family. It was pretty good. They played/sang a song for us which was pretty cool. It was called ‘My God is Awesome.’ Elder Slik has a video of it which you all can see in 2 years. It was sweet. They are a really strong family. 

TUESDAY! We taught a few lessons which is always good. I was thinking about it the other day with ES. I am so blessed. I have had an incredible mission already in just the short time I've been out. I've been able to teach and learn and grow and talk with people, and make a difference. I really should never have anything to complain about. I don't understand why I'm so blessed to have so many of the awesome experiences that I'm having. I think about the stereotypical (or at least what I picture) missionary in some Scandinavian country just walking around his whole mission in the snow getting yelled at by the people and never really teaching anyone. I know it's not like that but ... I’m blessed. Elder Slik and I have been trying to talk to everyone and we are having such a good time. We send tons of Spanish referrals to the sisters and other nearby companionship's. It's interesting. Last transfer I was sending tons of English now it’s opposite. That night we took out a member and he loved it. He didn't speak Spanish but we talked to like tons of Hispanics and he'd have us translate his testimony. He got really excited being out with us. I love having experiences like that. Watching people commit to join in the work of salvation. We didn't invite him, he just felt the Spirit and knew that he could be doing more to help others. 

WEDNESDAY! We had zone conference in the Sunrise stake. It was weird to go back to the Taco Bell chapel but cool because a member from the stake remembered me and started a conversation with me. She called me her favorite missionary which just lit up my day. She's the stake Relief Society president and I had helped her with some activity. J It makes you feel good when people remember you. There are a lot of new missionaries in the mission. Tons I don’t recognize. Elder Clawson gave a great training about finding. Elder Fischer bore his last testimony which was weird. He goes home after next transfer. As usual they asked me to give a talk. It happens like every time and every time I get all scared. It’s pretty intimidating. I feel like I have gone down a lot in my public speaking skills. I don't know if I talked about the honey doctrine before, but basically Elder Slik and I and the rest of the Los Feliz gang had a long running joke about the honey and bees and we would always find weird scriptures about them to share with each other. At dinner a member preached about honey to us (talking about scriptures too) for like 20 minutes. It was cool but it made me want to laugh the whole time because it was just like what we had all done months ago. She gave us some royal jelly to eat which was weird. It’s the stuff they feed the queen bee and it was so gross. It gave me like an instant headache and made me just feel odd. That night we had an incredible lesson. Read Elder Slik's email for a more in depth account. We taught an incredible lesson about the Book of Mormon to the T family. The Spirit was there so strongly. The women of the family were feeling it but Brother T was closed off. It was sad. He just wouldn't listen to us or take anything we had to say seriously. Elder Slik is a spiritual monster. If you haven’t, go watch the clip in Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration when JS rebukes the guards. SILENCE! SILENCE YE FIENDS FROM THE INFERNAL PIT... that part. Well Elder Slik was teaching with about the same caliber of spiritual power during that lesson. It was pretty sweet. It was a pretty sacred experience. It strengthened my testimony of the Book of Mormon as I felt the Spirit in the room. It's true. Any sincere seeker of truth will come to know it to be true through prayer and study. If everyone would just open their heart and try to figure out if it’s the word of God or not. 

THURSDAY! I gotta pick up the pace. We had a good lesson with Toni. She is so humble and sincere. She really wants to find the church where she is supposed to be to serve God. She wants to serve God so bad. That's all she talks about. It’s awesome to teach and serve someone so committed. She asks a ton of questions. But it’s okay. I love her. She has had a lot of struggles in her life but is looking for the way to overcome them. I'm really learning from her the importance of the simple things. I think I talked about this about Martha, but when our investigators keep their commitments they progress spiritually. It sounds so simple but its powerful. When Toni reads the Book of Mormon there is a notable increase in her retention and application. I wish you all could meet Toni. She is so simple. She doesn't care about anything other than her faith and family. As long as she is good with God and her family then she is happy. I want to be more like her. At night Brother DeLeon (I ate dinner at his house a year ago.... weird) invited a bunch of nonmembers over for dinner. He invited us there as well. CLUTCH! It was really super cool. Really noncommittal and we just watched a video about Jesus - such good member missionary work. He has no fear. It was awesome.  

FRIDAY! We taught a really good lesson to a PMF. Bold. I am learning a lot from Elder Slik about the importance of being bold. Just saying things as they are and not mincing words or anything. I think sometimes I am almost apologetic in my declarations. That’s no bueno. That's not my calling. I've been good about not doing that anymore. Don’t worry I’m not being close minded or offensive or even politically incorrect. I'm just being more upfront I guess you could say. Idk. We taught Toni and she hadn't read and she was kinda stressed out and wasn’t sure if we worshiped Joseph Smith or Jesus Christ. With Sevrina we taught a bomb lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the happiness and peace it brings into our lives. That night we talked to a woman who had had two brain surgeries and it was possible that she might have a third. She broke down and told us how she didn't want to and that she would rather die. It was depressing almost. As we testified of Christ and the Atonement she felt the Spirit and her countenance really changed. She was visiting family so I hope the missionaries on the other end contact her and help her. She was really nice, but suffering. You wouldn't know by looking at her either. She was only a little older than ES and I.

SATURDAY! We taught Toni and it went well. We brought the Tobler's, who have like become the most incredible missionary family in just a few weeks, and they were awesome. Toni and Sister Tobler got along pretty well. The Tobler's are so awesome. They both are so loving and committed to serving everyone. I wanna be like Brother "T-Rex" Tobler. Sevrina made us spam mosubi. SO good. I shouldn’t like eating that kind of stuff... but I can’t help it, it's delicious. That night we had a cool street contact. Again bold. It worked well too. The thing about boldness is that the Spirit has to direct. If you want to be bold, because you think that it's warranted then you are going to offend someone or hurt their feelings. But as the Spirit guides it can open people and help them to feel the Spirit.
The Spirit is real. I know it. 

SUNDAY! Church was good. We were afraid Toni didn't like it/ was bored but she said to us "it doesn't matter if it’s boring because its where God wants me to be." Toni? She gets it. We taught some other lessons too. I love the people we are teaching so much. I’ll try to talk more about actual people next week. We are always so busy. SORRY!
I love you all so much
Sam

PS. SeVRINA IS GETTING BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY! SHE'S GOLD!!! The v isn’t a typo.

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