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Monday, December 2, 2013

I'm pretty tired today.

Well hello!
The most important thing that happened this week is that Toni didn't get baptized - more on that a little later. She'll be getting baptized this week though. 
It's been a great week. I'm really, really tired but I feel good and happy. I almost feel good because I'm so tired if that makes sense. I'm trying my best and therefore I feel good. Not everything goes according to plan though. But I've slowly but surely come to better understand how to not get upset when things go awry that I don't have control over. I can't do anything about it so there is no sense in stressing about it, seems simple but the small things make the biggest difference.
So I guess I'll just move on to talking about the week!

MONDAY! Pday stuff, you know how it is. That evening we got to three pack with Elder Fagerston because Elder Montgomery was doing all the get ready to go home things. So we went and saw Tyrone and read some of the Book of Mormon with him. I like Tyrone a lot. He's such a good guy. And you're never sure what he's going to say. He's smart and watches a lot of history and discovery channel so he is always dropping some random factoid doctrine. Then we went to Toni's and helped prepare her for her baptism. It was good. I like Elder Fagerston a lot. He's a really good guy. But the really exciting stuff happens when at 9 o’clock we get a call from President. It's Elder Montgomery saying that he needed to be picked up at the mission home that night. So Mike dropped us off and we drove down there that night. We got to the mission home and that was really weird. I saw Elder Fischer and Sister Burrup and Sister Despain. EF and SD were in my first district and so that was pretty saddening to see them go. But so we did't get Elder Montgomery until like 9:45pm. So then we drove all the way back and those elders live pretty far from us so we didn't get home until 10:45. It was nuts. I know it's not that bad I shouldn't complain but I was absolutely exhausted when we got home. 

TUESDAY! They are all great days. Today was transfer day and so we sent off Elder Lilo, Elder Montgomery, Elder Reed, and Sister DeSpain. We got Elder Borden (who was in my district in Warm Springs) Elder Janke (who is a stud and Elder Gunnell's last companion) Sister Fernandez (who served in my district last year at this time) Elder Moore (Elder Slik's MTC companion's trainee) and Elder Andersen (who came out the same transfer as me). We helped out and drove missionaries around and then just as we got done someone called us telling that they left their scriptures and so we had to drive all the way back. When we got back to the mission office, some sisters were struggling with their luggage so we helped them and drove their bikes to their new apartment. Then we saw a Mexican family (daughter and dad) moving out so we helped them. While talking, it turned out that it was a part-member family and the daughter wanted her dad to join the church but he wasn't interested. She was really grateful for the help and the good example we showed to her dad. Then we were heading to a lesson in our apartment complex and we ran into a newlywed couple moving in and we jumped in and helped out. It was interesting to talk with them. They had jobs and vehicles and goals which most people that we talk with in the apartments don’t have. Our lesson flaked but we saw Jazmine which was good. She was really depressed and saying a lot of really horrible things. She was telling us that she was hungry and mad and because of that she was never going to go to her GED class again. It made no sense to me. She ran out of food stamps because she spent them frivolously and then she was mad at everyone else around her and because she was mad she was going to give up on her life and shoot herself in the foot for the rest of her life. GED classes are free till the end of the year and then after that they will be pretty expensive and so this is like her only chance. People need love and mentoring. Jazmine is a perfect example. Smart, and capable person but she had gotten into a situation that she can't bring herself out of. Others can't do it for her of course but if no one was supporting her she wouldn't have a chance. Sigh. Goals and guidance are so important in success. I could rage about that family's situation all day, so many problems that shouldn't have happened and shouldn't have to continue. Too often people underestimate their own power in helping themselves and others. After Jazmine we went to the Marx's house to talk with Vicki about her baptism. There was a marked difference in the happiness between the two. Vicki was taking strides and confronting her challenges and making changes. Man, it makes me so happy to talk to Vicki to see how happy she is. She is a very special woman. The lesson we had with her was incredible. She shared some of her spiritual experiences from her baptism and we were almost all crying. I'll briefly tell y’all about them. First was she and Brother Marx were practicing the ordinance. He was going over the prayer with her and asked her to say her full name and as she did she slipped up and said her maiden name. She said that right then she felt the Spirit really strongly and she could feel that her parents were right there with her. Vicki is a very smart, but quiet person; when she told us that she said "I know my parents were there with me." She said it was such power and conviction. A little bit of fire too. I love Vicki. She's cool. Anyway, second was that as she stepped down into the font she said that it felt like it was full. Like there were tons of unseen people packed in there. It was like all her ancestors waiting for her to be baptized to do the work for them. Then the third was when she was actually baptized. Vicki is afraid of water. She didn't tell anyone before her baptism because she wanted to just do it without making a big deal of it. But so when she got dunked under the water she said it felt like a warm blanket being wrapped around her. She said that she wanted to stay there forever because it felt so comfortable. She was sad when she had to come up. It was a powerful experience to hear her describe the feelings of making that covenant with God. She was a prepared soul. Then we went to see Dante. We read from the Book of Mormon with him. He hasn't smoked since last Saturday which is awesome. It's a huge deal for him too. He is quite strong willed. Another prepared person to receive the gospel, I just hope that we can support him enough that he can continue to change his situation and living conditions. Later we went to teach Stephanie and we had a really good lesson with her. We didn't even bring baptism up but she said that she's been thinking on it. She says that she keeps going back and forth. But we had a sweet experience with her. She shared with us that she knows Joseph Smith is a prophet. She has a strong testimony of that. I know that the Spirit has borne witness of that as she's read and prayed. But near the end of the lesson Stephanie broke down in tears about how hard things have gotten and how she needs blessings from God to help her. She's going through a rough time :/. it was great to have Sister Justice with us because she could really comfort Stephanie in a way that we couldn't. She gave her a big hug and let her cry on her shoulder. It was hard to see someone so strong as Stephanie cry like that. I'm glad to know that Elder Slik and I have been sharing something with her that has brought her strength and happiness. We went to Toni’s after and went over the baptismal interview questions. I was pretty surprised at how well she knew the answers. She's pretty funny too. Sometimes I don't get her humor but when she's playing around she's pretty funny. Toni has a strong desire to be baptized. She also opened up and shared with us a lot of her struggles with God and religion. She has gotten dealt some pretty bad hands earlier in her life which was sad to hear about. I'm so grateful for the life I've had. I've been so blessed. Abundantly. 

WEDNESDAY! DM was bomb. I really liked it. Elder Janke is a really good teacher. He is very composed and confident and he commands attention. It's cool. Pretty much everything cancelled on us on Wednesday which was tough. A lot of the lessons that cancelled were ones that I was sure were going to go through and be good. But we got over it. We visited Grandma and she shared with us the pain of beginning the first holiday season without her husband. I can't imagine how hard life would be without the gospel. Knowing that families can be together forever, and having God's promise of that, is such a source of comfort. We saw Stephanie and we talked a lot with her about how she's in the middle of getting baptized and going back to her Baptist church. She has a testimony but she really likes Baptist churches still. So we are doing everything we can to help her keep feeling the Spirit. We had dinner with the Iverson family, man are they the best. They are a functional family that love each other and love the Lord.

THANKSGIVING! Well it was Thanksgiving. I didn't eat nearly as much as I did last year, which was good if any of you remember how much I ate last year. We had DM in the morning. Then we had Toni's baptismal interview and she passed with flying colors. Then we went to Brother DeLeon's house to eat a feast. We had a pretty normal food except there was some random Filipino noodle dish on the table. I like Brother DeLeon. He's a good guy, quiet but with a big heart and real talent for cooking. Then after that we went to the Magdaluyo's house for dinner number two.
Sam and Elder Slik - Thanksgiving 2013 - meal #2

Thanksgiving at the Magdaluyo's
They are awesome. I really love that family and how devoted they are to the gospel. Sister Mag is so loving and funny and Brother Mag is a goofball but he really can be serious about the important things. They really make us feel like part of their family, which means a lot during Thanksgiving time. People like them have really made a big difference on me, on the kind of person that I want to be and the attitude I want to have towards life - a more Christ-like one. Then we had to go make a pit stop at the church to make room for the final dinner and there was a homeless dude chilling outside! It was pretty sad to see so we grabbed all the leftovers we had accumulated and gave them to him. He was pretty happy, which made me happy. I wish we could have done more for him though. There we were laughing and warm and enjoying time with friends and there was this guy cold and hungry. I'm thankful that we got to serve him that night. After helping a brother out, we went to the Bank's house, Rigdon's family (who comes out with us every Tuesday.) We had a great time there too. I was pretty stuffed but the food was good so I packed more in. I'm thankful to all of you, those who love and support me. I'm thankful for the Savior and for his sacrifice and his example. I'm grateful for the scriptures. I'm grateful for the chance I have to serve others.

FRIDAY! We spent the morning preparing for Toni's baptism and making the program and such and doing some of our weekly planning. We had a good lesson with Dante. He finished reading the entire Book of Mormon Stories book. He loved it and understands pretty well. It's not the BoM but his plan is to go back and read all the stories that are referenced. For a drop out he reads and comprehends really well. You'd never know he hasn't been to school in years. That was good. I really like Dante. He has a special spirit about him. I think it’s just his eagerness to learn and grow. That night we went by to see Toni but she was asleep on the couch because she didn't feel good so we didn't go in. So we went to see Stephanie with Sister Thayer. We had a great lesson. Stephanie was a little distracted because her family was in town but it went well. Sister Thayer shared her conversion story and some of her experiences and Stephanie connected really well to it. When we got out we checked our voicemail and we had one from Toni that said "Oh help, please help, SOMEBODY HELP!" It was super scary. We drove over there as fast as we could and we knocked on the door and then Idary opened the door behind us and said that his mom had a heart attack and was in the hospital. We arranged for Idary to get picked up and a blessing to be given to Toni. She had high blood pressure and chest and stomach pains and couldn't walk. So we cancelled the baptism and she didn't get released from the hospital till Sunday afternoon. That was crazy.

SATURDAY! With the change of plans and the fact that no one had really invited people to the stake Christmas open house, Elder Slik and I spent most of the day tracting. We handed out about 500. We covered an entire city block's worth of houses. It was fun, but super ineffective. After we finished we visited the Gammons. Dang. Sister Gammon and her kids Blake and Taylor are the coolest. Blake served in Australia and Taylor will be leaving in March. I think they are another one of those super awesome families. 

SUNDAY! Fast and Testimony meeting was good. Idary bore his testimony again which was cool. It was powerful in both wards. After that we spent the rest of the day preparing for the open house which went really well. Lots of people showed up but we didn't get very many referrals. It was our stake's first year doing it so hopefully next year we can fine tune things to make it a more fruitful activity. It was really a great showing of creativity and hard work from most of the stake.
Christmas Open House 
I loved being a part of the planning and set up and stuff. I really like doing that kind of stuff. It gets my blood pumping. I love doing the stuff and Elder Slik is so good at it. He is a natural leader and he really understands how to get things done. Most of the referrals we got were because of Elder Slik's good planning and ideas. He's incredible. It's a blessing to work with him and learn from his great example.

That's pretty much the week.
I loved it.
Life is good.
I'm so grateful for everything
I love you all so much.

Sam 

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