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Monday, January 6, 2014

Waking up

Well. The Dream Team is coming to a close. We got the transfer information on Saturday and Elder Slik will be going off to the Green Valley stake to be with Elder Pauni. He is getting double transferred in. We were both pretty bummed when we found out. 
It's been an amazing 18 weeks with Elder Slik. I am so grateful that I've been able to serve with him and learn from him for so long. Except for 6 weeks, he's been my leader since February. I've learned so much from his example and his dedication and maturity. I could rant about how awesome Elder Slik is all day. I love him. He has had an eternal influence on my life. I owe much of my missionary success to his guidance and leadership. 
All the matching ties! How many matches can you spot?
But! A new era has begun!
My new companion will be ELDER drumrolllllllllllllllllllllll
JORDAN KENDALL SMITH!
The Elder Smith from Warm Springs :). He's getting transferred up here tomorrow to be with me in Bonanza View and Frenchmen Hills! I was sooo excited and happy. It was a bittersweet moment to find that I wouldn't be with Elder Slik but I would be with Elder Smith.
I love Elder Smith. We grew to be really close in WS and I look up to him a lot. He's funny, clever, kind and a well rounded missionary. I'm very excited for the miracles that await us.
So that was a balm of Gilead definitely. 
My emotions are all over the place. Happy and Sad. But I'm excited. Well, excited and scared. The last four and a half months have flown by. It seems like just yesterday that I was companions with Elder Ledezma in the holy land of desert bloom....
We had 12 lessons cancel this week and most of our investigators dropped us. It's been interesting.

MONDAY! We started an exchange with the assistants. I've really come to love assistant exchanges. They are always very clear about what I can do better and they are helpful as well. I get to watch and learn from their examples, ask questions and receive their counsel. They aren't perfect, but they are good at what they do. This time I was with Elder Fuller again (he's from Michigan) but in their ward. It's the first time I've been to one of my leader’s areas since I went on an exchange with Elder Slik in Los Feliz. Ages ago. So it was nice to see how another person's area operates and what things I can apply into my own mission and my areas. But anyway. Their area is quite the opposite of ours. Demo/econom/geographically. It is a much more upscale area and it is in the middle of the desert and it is a lot of old people and young couples. It is just like way different. But because of New Years Eve we started the exchange right at 6pm. So we had some time to work that night. We taught a lesson to this young family. It was very interesting. One of the girls was wanting to get baptized but she was really struggling with her faith. She had been praying and fasting that her mom would quit doing drugs but her addictions just keep getting worse and worse. It was interesting to talk to her and try to help her to stay strong and positive. While out here I've really been exposed to so many hard family situations like that. I just feel like no young teenager should have to pray that her mother stops doing drugs. This young girl is a freshman in high school and is practically raising her two younger brothers. Then later we met with a family where the husband and the son got baptized but the mother was waiting because she didn't feel worthy; another interesting life. The family was so cool. You could tell that they all loved each other a lot which was the most important. I really loved being able to teach families. It's hard to find them.

TUESDAY! It was a great day. Elder Fuller is so good at talking with everyone. He is a finding missionary. That's what he lives to do, find interested  people and new investigators. He plans his whole day around that as soon as he leaves the apartment he is on the lookout for anyone that he can bless. I was so impressed. And if any missionary 'labors in the spirit' it is Elder Fuller. He prays with such intensity. He just wants to invite others to Christ and he begs the Lord to place people in his path to be invited. I loved being with him. I want to be more like him. It was interesting. We get denied in Central a lot and people are rude to us but we dealt with a lot of mean, mean people. Who actively tried to bring us down. That hasn’t happened in a while. Some people on the street mocked us and stuff like that. But one guy invited us in and sat us down on his couch and gave us water and talked to us about our missions. Then he just started saying horrible things to destroy our faith. He served a mission long ago but is now an atheist and he tried to convince us that God doesn't exist and that the church is ruining people's lives. It was a trap. He was so nice and inviting at first and then he just got hostile. His phrase was, "That's your opinion. I used to believe that too." Every time we spoke he said that to us. It was pretty messed up. But good things happened too! We talked to a ton of people. We taught a lesson to a part member family. The mom was so, so happy to have the missionaries in her home. You could just tell that she wanted us to stay there with her family and teach them everything. It was nice to feel so wanted. We had a good day. I look up to Elder Fuller a lot. But when the day was done, I was happy to be with Elder Slik again. That night we talked a lot and both of us reflected on the past year. I set some goals and wrote down a few of the lessons I've learned since 2012. It was incredible to think about who I was a year ago and who I am now.

JANUARY 1st 2014! We were going to see Gloria in the morning but she cancelled. We helped some other missionaries with their bikes. We had lunch with Severina which was nice. We had a neat experience there. As we pulled up we saw a man outside the house talking to Severina's son in law. We got the distinct impression that he was a prepared soul. We said to each other that we were going to invite him to take the lessons. We walk up to the guy and start talking and the first thing he tells us is that he is preparing to be baptized! We were both taken back. He was stopping by just then to invite their family to the service. His name was Tony and he was an awesome guy. He was so happy to see Elder Slik and me. He talked to us for the whole lunch about us and our missions and everything. I love that fire of new converts and investigators who are progressing to a baptismal date. It's contagious. He was referred by his boss at work. His boss has been inviting him for six years to investigate. Each time he said that he wasn't ready. Until; this last time when he was! After that we walked around trying to find new people because our other lessons fell through.  We sent a lot of referrals to the Spanish sisters. We played basketball with some kids and then they invited us to come back and pray with their family. We went back that night and prayed with them and the Spirit was really strong. They were asking us questions and then they fed us Mexican food (even though we had just eaten) and invited us to come back the next day. We had to give the referral to the sisters but we talked them up a lot. It was a cool experience to touch the life of a whole family. There were like eight people there.

THURSDAY! We had MLC which was awesome. It was exactly what I needed. I received answers to my prayers and have a better idea of what I need to do to find more success here. We drove up with the Sunrise Zone leaders. It's interesting. I don't have a lot of zone leader friends. It’s very cliquey at MLC. There are like groups of missionaries that hang out together. It’s hard to explain. But basically its’ like the clique high school lunch room experience that I never had, very distinct groups and you know if you're not a part. But it’s okay because Elder Slik and I are tight and then we are close with the Sunrise ZLs too. It’s funny. I’ll be able to better explain it in two years. After we taught a lesson to a member’s boyfriend. It was an interesting lesson, all about the Plan of Salvation. Then we taught a random dude in the street. He kept telling us that God is love and that because he has love he is like God. It was interesting and we tried to set up a return appointment but he wanted us to teach him and pray with him right then. Then we got a flat tire. Our luck ran quite short hahaha And we had to do a baptismal interview in my old area. So we walked. The other missionaries couldn’t give us a ride for whatever reason. So we walked like two miles in the cold. I'm spoiled okay??? But it was a good one. The woman was very prepared and I was grateful for the opportunity to feel her spirit and talk with her about her conversion. I left her with an interesting promise. That if she read the Book of Mormon every day with her family they would get baptized and her sons would serve missions. I pray that she reads with them. 

FRIDAY! We spent a lot of time planning for our ZTM. We visited a ton of people trying our hardest to find new people but no one was home. We stopped in to see Melissa and the Egans were already there. So we taught a lesson with them which went really well. I like the Egans a lot. It's tough sharing a small, small ward, but they're awesome. We talked to an interesting man in the afternoon. We were walking through an apartment complex and this giant fat creature ran at me. It looked like an ROUS but white and spotted. It made the same sounds and had the same uneven gait. Ugly. And it’s coming towards me and I'm all petrified (Buttercup status) because I have no idea what is happening and then this really tall one armed black man walks out from behind a wall and starts yelling at the dog monster creature. It stopped and then ran away. I thanked the guy and noticed that he didn’t have an arm, nor a shoulder, from his neck down it was just straight. On his other hip he had this enormous (like comically big) matte black revolver. We started talking to him and he has a really gruff voice. We talk a little bit about the hard times and then he asks us where our church was and how he could pay his tithes. I was so surprised. Call me a Pharisee. I deserve it. But that was cool. A gentle rebuke of judging a book by its cover. We took out a priest named Spencer who is super cool. He is so prepared, like so solid and mature and well versed in the scriptures. We took out Brother Martinez who is awesome as well. So many members that I look up to so much. We met some new people.

SATURDAY! So to this point so many things had fallen through. But we were excited because we had like five appointments set up for Saturday. We started our ZTM which went really well. We talked about effective planning and preparing our investigators to have spiritual experiences at church. Then after we got out of the meeting everyone had cancelled their appointments. Sigh. That was tough. But it was okay because we got to talk to a lot of cool people that we wouldn't have been able to if we'd have been inside. We got the transfer doctrine and delivered it to the other missionaries. We visited some members. I love the members here. I wish I could just instantly adopt so many of the great qualities of the members here. I'd get translated in no time!

SUNDAY! It was a powerful Sunday in both wards. Elder Slik bore his testimony and so many members bore theirs after his thanking the both of us for all the work we've done. It feels like we're both leaving! It's odd. But it was sweet to hear and feel the love from so many great people. Our appointments on Sunday fell through too. So we ended the transfer with no one at church and no one with a baptismal date. It'll be ground zero for when Elder Smith gets here. But it'll be good. I'm excited to build up this area with him. We burned a shirt and pants with the Iverson’s. That was weird for so many reasons: one, because it was a shirt and pants (the symbols of 12 and 18 months) and because Elder Slik is leaving.
Some shirts and pants we burned at the Iverson's to remember our year and 18 month mark which we hit together.
I love that family and so many others so, so much. I'm grateful for people loving me and bringing me into their families. Then we visited the Banks. Then we had a great lesson with Suzie. She's so, so cool. We talked about the Sabbath day. We might have to pass her to the YSA [Young Single Adult] ward though so she can make more friends and be better fellowshipped. It's hard to get close because she a single girl, our age. Sister missionaries might have a better time helping her.

That's the spark notes of the week. It's been good, the grind, but good. I love life. 
Things will be very different without Elder Slik being here. I've grown to feel like we are a package deal. I hope the members will accept the dream team 2.0!!!!!! I know they will. Things can only go up from here.
I'm excited to tell you all about the new miracles of this coming week! 
I love you all so much.
Sam

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