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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!
Happy New Year all!

Can you believe that the year is coming to a close? It's insane how fast the time flies. Well it was a good week. I can't process that I talked to you all this week. This email is going to be short. Sorry!

One quick thing before; one of the reasons I like teaching so much is because of how much I learn in preparation for and in the presentation of lessons. I always feel like I take more out of appointments than my investigators do. 

MONDAY! It was a good day. We talked to an interesting man. He told us that the true Israelites were blacks and he had a lot of scriptures to back it up which was interesting too. We hear a lot of different religious view points out here and a lot of them contradict and most are backed up by the bible. It's interesting. It's almost universally accepted as God's word but very widely disputed as to what it actually said. We thank thee o God for a prophet. After that we went to the Mag's to teach Robert and we read 2 Nephi 2 with him and talked about agency and the Plan of Salvation. Robert is a really cool guy. He is set to be baptized on the 18th of January. We are going to do all we can to help him get there. The Magdaluyos are so supportive. I want to be more like them when I grow up. Robert knows that the Church is true. We just need to teach him the remaining lessons and help him to fully integrate into the ward.

TUESDAY! Oh man. Good day, but it was hard. In the morning we had a great District meeting about the power of the Spirit. Then we did a mail run from the mission office up to north town and all over. We had a really hard lesson with Stephanie. So Sunday night we confirmed everything with the baptism with her and got that all set up. She was excited and ready. She told us how she knew that more blessings would be coming her way. So Tuesday we are teaching her the law of tithing and she commits to pay it. But then she asks us about the Law of Chastity. She told us how she'd been thinking of having her 'old man' (the father of her children) move back in and she asked if that would be a sin. So we teach her the law of chastity and we watch her face just drop. All that excitement and energy just drained out of her. She did not want to live it. We talked about it with her but she just kept saying, "I’m going to have to decide." We invited her to pray about things and she said that she would but you could just feel that from that moment on she was closed. It was hard to compare her happiness Sunday night with her attitude right then. So we said that we'd come by tomorrow to see how she was feeling about everything. It broke my heart; that was the hard part, the rest was good. We went to the Marx' house for Christmas Eve dinner and that was a blast. I love that family so much. Well I love everyone, but it's way easier to love the people that love you a lot back. I know I know, even the publicans do that. But still! We watched an interesting music video there; it was of that song "Did you know?" about Mary. The video that went with it was clips from the bible TV show that came out earlier this year and I think it was by cee-lo green. I imagine it was really popular when it came out but,,, we're not really on the cutting edge. Then we went to the Mag's house for dinner with them as well. I could rant about these favorite families almost as much as I do about how awesome Elder Slik is. A lot. Then we went to eat with the Lawter family and we had a big Mexican Noche Buena party. The food was sooo good. And we spoke in Spanish which was fun too. I was so impressed about how many people gave us gifts. Floored actually. Lots of families gave us gifts. And pretty much everyone gave us candy. I don't need any more candy for like the rest of my life. People like us and we can't figure out why. 

CHRISTMAS! We got up real, real early to play soccer with the zone. That was fun. We were playing before the sun was even up. I'll remember that for forever; singing and playing and having a good time with friends. It was so cold too, like 40 degrees. I know, I know, it's colder in Michigan or Utah or almost anywhere else, but I thought it was cold. After sports we went to the Iverson's house and we opened some presents and had breakfast and skyped.
Christmas morning at the Iverson's in the PJs they gave them.
It's a weird sensation. I almost feel like I haven't been gone very long especially after talking to you all. But anyway. By this point we were not hungry. We were still full from the dinners the night before! But we ate at the Iversons, and it was real, real good and then we went to a members house for lunch and we tried our hardest to eat the food. He even said, "Hey elder, you're not eating your chicken very fast, do you not like it?" something like that. That day the scripture was fulfilled "that there [was] not ... room enough to receive it." We were like totally up to capacity. We went by Stephanie’s afterwards and dropped off a gift to her but she did not want to talk. She told us that she was depressed. We tried talking to her about things of the spiritual nature and she even said something like "Come on guys! You've got to give me a break!" Oh another knife to my heart. She was so excited, and so happy just days before and then her whole countenance changed. It hurt me to see her so, so sad. But we went to see Toni and Severina and that made it all okay. Toni expressed her love to us and she told us how happy she was. She explained the peace and joy she'd received from joining the church. She talked about how she feels loved and wanted. I sit and think about where she was when we started and where she is now? It's incredible. She's a completely different person. She recognizes that too which makes it that much better. Severina did the same. We are so blessed to be able to devote two full years to blessing our brothers and sisters. Coming to know and love them. Then we went to the Banks family; another awesome family that we love so much. UPDATE! Rigdon's dental papers are signed and so it's the home stretch to getting them in now! He just needs a physical and then to send them off :)) (my double chin). Then we went to see some of our other favorite families.

THURSDAY! We had a good district meeting and then we .... surprise, surprise. I don't even remember too much. I didn't write it in my journal. :(. But what I do remember was a few visits and our lesson with Stephanie. ... We went by and one of the first things that she said to us was, "I think I'm going to stay Baptist." That was the killer. That was soooo hard to hear. She was so, so sad when she said that to us. We tried our best to understand what happened and why. She told us that she's always wanted to stay Baptist. But as bad as that lesson was for Stephanie, it was there that Andre really understood what the Restoration was. He realized the boldness of the claim that we make and we directed him to the Book of Mormon as the evidence of the claim. It was a lesson of mixed emotions. I love when people commit to read the BoM but I don't like when people tell us that they are going to "stay Baptist." But we set up a time to come back Saturday. Stephanie said that she will still keep coming to church and meeting with us but she's not going to get baptized. We'll have to see how things pan out with them. 

FRIDAY! We had a lesson with Norma first thing in the morning. It was crazy. She fed us Mexican food and we talked about death and her brother's passing and Sister Jewitt came with us and shared her experiences. Norma is grieving so much. We try, but it's almost like she's too sad to learn the things we are trying to teach her. She's scared and feels lonely. She said that we are her only friends. She's pushed everyone away and she often tells us that she tries to be happy for her children, but not for herself anymore. It's a humbling experience every time to meet with her. I don't have much life experience to share with her, I don't know what to say to a woman who has lost her brother so recently. But the Lord does. He knows and loves all of his children. Plus, when women cry, it freaks me out and I don't know what to do. Awk. We coordinated with the Bishop and with the Egans and Brother Odulio, which was good. Bishop Waite always tells us how much he loves us which makes a big difference. Even when you know you are loved, hearing someone tell you, is nice.

SATURDAY! We went to the temple. That was such a good experience. We missed our session so we went to do initiatories, but they were full so they sent us up to do sealings. Those were incredible. I'd never been in one before and it was very, very powerful. The sealer was Elder Ballard's cousin and in between families he taught us a lot of doctrine. Like almost randomly. He just started asking us questions and teaching us stuff that I’d never even heard about before. Then after a while he decided that we should go do initatories. So he sent us down and told us to tell them that Brother Ballard sent us. It worked and we did those. Then we did a session. Having done all three at once makes everything make more sense in the grand scheme of the ordinances we do in the temple. God promises us a lot of blessings. The temple is a place of worship. We learn about God's plan for us as his children. So that was good. We went out with another prospective missionary and we had a good time with him. Saturday night we had a lesson with Stephanie. We mostly talked with Andre. He read Alma 40 and really, really understood what it was saying. He had some great questions and some good insights. I am always so, so impressed with him. He is leagues ahead of most people we come in contact with. He really understands spiritual things. And he learns them quickly too.

SUNDAY! No investigators came to church in BV. Robert came to church in FH. We had a really good lesson with Suzie at the Kuhn's with Chelsea. We get to work with some cool people. Suzie is one of them: a great, great girl. We talked about the Plan of Salvation and about prayer. She is really seeking to feel God's love and presence in her life. Honorable. But her life is so busy it's hard for her to find time to read and pray which is how we feel and speak with God. We also got back in contact with Randy, which was good. 

Overall. It was an amazing week. We got to spend a lot of time with our dream team families. I love being a missionary. Life is good and things are going forward. 

I'm happy :)
I love you all so much!
Sam


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