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Monday, November 25, 2013

Yo

Well, well, well family.
We meet again. 
DREAM TEAM 2014! Elder Slik and I will be staying together for another transfer. Can you believe it? I'm like the most happy. 
DREAM TEAM 2014
It was pretty crazy. Normally the transfer information comes out Saturday morning but we didn't get it until Sunday afternoon. So for all that time we were stressing and stressing and stressing. But right before Vicki's baptism we got them! I was so relieved. It's nice that we won’t be separated for Thanksgiving or for Christmas. It's fun how close we've gotten with each other and to the members of our wards.
The zone is getting changed up quite a bit though. All the senior companions in our district (except Elder Slik of course) are getting changed. And in the Spanish District Sister Despain is going home. DANG. And Sister Fernandez is coming. Yes, the same Sister F that I served with here in Central a year ago. It's interesting.
A lot of missionaries I know are going home this week. Other than Sister Despain is Elder Fischer. I'll be sad. They were both in my first district.
BUT things are good. Life is going well. I have learned a lot. I'm a better missionary today than I was when I last wrote you. That's what it's all about.

MONDAY! After Pday we taught Tyrone with Brother F. We read the Book of Mormon together and talked about it. Brother F has a very interesting story. He was one of those people who something bad happened in his life and he turned it all around. He's now in the EQP and is one of the most devoted members we have. He serves, and visits, and ministers. He also is like the discernment master. That may sound silly but he just comes into situations and understand what role he can play in making it better. Or he really gets a feel of what people are thinking. It's hard to explain. I think he's awesome. But so we read from the Book of Mormon to help strengthen Tyrone. Then we went to go see Nick, the Romanian man, but he wasn't there. Brother F, while we drove that night explained to us his personal philosophy which is pretty good - life is a test of recognizing temptations and 'just saying no.' That’s what he puts everything in life through. It's cool to hear him talk about it because it's really helped him to change his life around and become the man that he is. Then we went that night with Brother Tobler to go see Holly. She was the woman who we helped pick up cigarette butts for. We got there at the perfect time and she was so grateful. We prayed with her to help her overcome her alcohol problem. It was a sweet experience. She felt the Spirit really strong. She's a nice woman with two small children (she very recently finished a divorce) and she recently hasn't been to work since the government shutdown, even after she still has been out. Because of all the stress she has started drinking and smoking again. She shared with how she wants to stop but it's hard. It's sad that these substances just take people's life over. I think about all the people I've met who want to change their living situations but just can’t because of addiction. It tears apart families and consumes lives. Then that night we went to see Toni as well. She said that watching Tyrone get baptized was encouragement for her own (which is on the 30th).

TUESDAY! We started things off with a lesson with Randy. It was a good lesson. Elder Slik and I were very unified and we taught simply and powerfully and by the end he got it. He said "I know that you can’t be saying that your church is God's church, because you just can’t say that." But we told him that, that was exactly what we are saying. He understood and didn't get offended either because he understood the role of the Book of Mormon. It's a very bold message, the one that missionaries bear. There is one Lord, faith, baptism, and church see Ephesians 4. That's what we preach. Not to take anything away from anyone else though. It was powerful. I know that he really felt the Spirit. I love first lessons. There is so much pressure. You really feel it in there and I know that the Spirit guides us. We invited him to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it and he accepted. And then we invited him to be baptized when he got an answer. He started to say no, but then said, “I'll do whatever the Lord tells me.” It was a great lesson. I really hope that he sincerely reads and prays. Then we did some service to a woman in the other ward. The house was filled with half junk and half ancient artifacts. To me there was a clear distinction but to her the line was a little more blurry, a lot more blurry. But she had a lot of really cool Egyptian artifacts and scrolls. She lived in a giant castle with like 7 bedrooms and 5 floors. It was crazy. I really saw though the importance of maintaining order, for as big and grand as the place was, it wasn't neat and so it was kind of dreary. Then we went to the Z's apt to help them move a GIANT tv. Remember the one that we used to have? It looked a lot like that and it was stuppppid heavy as well. Dang and then a family friend came in and started screaming and yelling. It was weird. We don't usually deal with that level of irreverence. Of course I didn't like it but I thought about anger and what had pushed her to get to that point. We said a prayer with the family and the juxtaposition was almost humorous. Peace makes the biggest difference. Then as we left we talked to Jazmine about getting her GED and reading the BOM. She doesn't do anything but sit in her room and mope so she is super depressed. We encouraged her to do stuff. Do anything other than just sit around. Then we taught Vicki and we prepared her for the Baptismal Interview. She is the most golden. She was a soul who was kept only from the truth because she didn't know where to find it and then finally when she did find it all it took was the loving invitation from a friend. It didn't come on the first try but Sister Marx didn't give up. I look up to her a lot.
To anyone reading this: There is the biggest difference between those that the missionaries have contact with and can "find though their own efforts" and people referred by members.
Alma 13:24 For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory.
Moroni 7:37 ... for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain. The Lord is hastening his work. There are angels preparing your friends, and you can be one of those angels too. Please be a part of it. Take an active interest in the lives of the missionaries in your ward. Ask them what you can do to help. Pray for them by name. Pray for your own experiences. I really don't want to be preachy, but this is what our Prophet wants us to be doing. We love to talk about modern day prophets and modern day revelation but no one wants to follow this revelation given to the prophet. Do something every day to further the work, even if it's just planting seeds. Anyway. 
So Vicki is incredible. She carries such a strong spirit about her, such a hunger for righteousness. When we got there she had been planning the service and listening to hymns that she wanted. Then we went to the Banks' and they had like 500 ties that we looked through to find more matches. We got like seven new sets so we were pretty pleased about that one. It was fun to be there sorting through this massive heap of silk trying to find ties that matched. It was weird that there weren't very many. Then we went with Mike to Mama Maria's and then to La Flor de Michoacan, two Mexican places. They were his wife's favorite before she passed away. It was really good. It's right down the street from the temple and at about 6:30 that night two cops that were eating there got up cursing and ran out. We didn't think much of it until the next day. Then we visited some members to invite them to the upcoming Christmas Open house. 

WEDNESDAY! We visited some members in the afternoon to invited members to invited friends. We have such incredible people in this area, such great examples to me. The sisters especially are really inspiring to me. Sister Gammon is one of them (she's one of the members we visited. She told us about the young man who killed himself at the temple Tuesday night), but there is Sister Jewitt, Sister Tobler Sister Martinez, Sister Magdaluyo, Sister Dutson, Sister Marx and so many others. The women of the church are incredible, such devotion and leadership. I wanna be like these great women. But anyway, that night we taught Stephanie a great lesson about the Restoration. Similar to the one we taught Randy. It was powerful. She really understood deeper than before too which was good. She committed to be baptized, but she wants to keep reading to get confirmation. She's cool. The video was really powerful. It was kinda funny bc two things happened. One I had food poisoning so I missed the first 10 minutes of it because I was in the bathroom. I was sooooo sick and I was so embarrassing because I thought everyone could hear my body hating me for what I put into it. Luckily ES said that no one could hear anything. Then Andre accidentally hit the remote during the First Vision and it changed to Japanese. Every time the Spirit is building up in a lesson something happens to disrupt the First Vision. It happens allll the time. But then we went from good to better when we went with Sister Jewitt to see Norma our one non member referral from Gladys Knight. We set up the apt last week and she was there waiting for us. It was an incredible lesson. Her brother had died about 6 months ago and his birthday was on Friday so she was very sad and reminiscing on him and his life. We talked about the Plan of Salvation and how God is loving and just. He had taken his own life and she had been told by people that he was in hell or that he was gone for good. She didn't believe either of those, because she said that she could feel him prompting her. I'm sure that her brother was there listening in on that lesson. The Spirit was very strong as we testified of the Spirit World and of the Atonement. Sister Jewitt was able to relate very well to Norma as well which was powerful. We invited her to read specific parts of the Book of Mormon and I pray that she read them, but even if she didn't she and Sister Jewitt are now exercise buddies! That's fellowship! Outside Norma's house we talked to an interesting man. He said almost confrontingly that we probably didn't want to hear his take on religion. We assured him that we did and he told us that he believed in an apostasy (he didn’t use that word of course) and that he thinks the bible has been changed. We told him that we believed very similarly. Then that night we had another lesson on how the gospel helps families. That was interesting. Sometimes in retrospect I feel like we beg those whom we teach. We beg them to keep their commitments because we know how much it can bless them. Of course we don’t get on our knees or even use a pleading tone of voice but that’s what it feels like.  I wish everyone did everything that we invited them to do. Mostly just read the scriptures, pray and come to church. That happened in this lesson. They expressed how they wanted to improve family relations and center their lives on Jesus, but they weren't ready to make the changes.

THURSDAY! We had exchanges. I was with Elder Reed in my area. We had Vicki's actual interview which went well. She and Sister Marx made us delicious cookies. We were working on a list that day from the ward and we got into like two new homes which was good. We met up with Dante again. We had dinner with a family who had just about nothing. We were eating very small portions of very watery spaghetti. It made me sad to see people living in that circumstance. I wish everyone would get and keep jobs. Then we had a really good lesson with Tyrone about the Book of Mormon again. He really got into it. Then we taught Toni and Idary about the Book of Mormon too. That night we unexchanged a little early so ES and I could give Sage a blessing. I was really thankful that they called us. I love that family and to know that they wanted us made me feel good. The blessing was strong and the next day Sage said that she felt 100% better so that was cool.

FRIDAY! MISSION TOUR WITH ELDER BRUCE CARLSON of the 70! That was awesome. We were in training from 8:30 – 4:30. I loved it. I learned so much, especially in the leadership portion. He really got real with us and gave us lots of new idea and guidance on how to better lead other missionaries and help them have success. I really was impressed and you could feel his authority when he talked. Then we had dinner with a Hispanic sister and we talked in Spanish the whole time and she loved that. So did ES and I. It was fun to use that and practice. I love Spanish! Then we gave a sister a blessing. Then we taught Dante and helped him to set a date to quit smoking. We drew him up a calendar and prayed with him. He wants to do this. Gotta speed up.

SATURDAY! We were supposed to get transfers and we didn’t. We coordinated with the Egan’s. Apparently President told them a while back that Slik and I were going to stay together but they weren’t allowed to tell us! We learned that last night. But anyway, then we had lunch with Severina. I love her so much. She is a special, special woman. Then we had a lesson with Toni and the Toblers. It was good. I really think that they are such good saints. They love each other and the Lord. That night we had another great lesson with Dante and the young mens president [ymp]. It was super good. He really committed to quit smoking in three weeks. Having the ymp there was such a good thing. He really has taken Dante under his wing to help and guide him. Then we went to the Marx’ to talk and finalize Vicki's baptism.

SUNDAY! We went to ward council in BV then I went to FH. After church we went to dinner with the Mags and then we set up for the baptism for Vicki. It was so powerful, almost everyone was crying.

Vicki's baptism
Elder Slik, Vicki, Sam 
Vicki is such an elect woman. So strong in her faith and it’s been a blessing to watch her grow and grow with her. Then after that we went to another stake meeting and counseled which was cool. I like being involved in stuff like that. Everyone is for the dream team in both our wards people were asking us all day Saturday and Sunday if we knew what was happening. So it was cool to see people excited that we were staying together for a 3rd transfer and then even at this meeting it got announced that we were staying together which made me feel good to know that the whole stake was noticing our efforts. I also really love watching Elder Slik work in these kinds of settings. He is very professional and he isn't afraid to push for what he wants. He presents what he thinks will be good and he does it in a powerful way. I can’t wait to see what he does for a living. He'll be good at it.
Life is good. I really am so happy, Dream Team for another 6 weeks and more baptisms to come. Thank you all for your letters and thoughts and prayers.
:)
I love you all so much
Sam

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