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Monday, February 3, 2014

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!

What up familia?
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!
It's been a good week. 
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!

I think the biggest thing that happened was that I set a lot of goals for myself. I've been thinking a lot lately about goals. You can thank Elder Slik for that. Maybe it's because I did that job application a week ago, maybe it's because we didn't have as many appointments this week. Whatever the case I've really been counseling with the Lord about my goals for the future. It's been a great experience. 

Since I can remember my goal has been to be a father and to raise a righteous family. That was the extent of my life goals. Being out here has given me a new perspective and helped me see other things that will go into being a husband and father. The goals are simple. For example I want to be a 100 percent-er in home teaching. I never want to miss a month! I liked going with Dad, although I seldom did complain, and in college I slacked off and missed a few times. But now, being knee deep in God's work, I understand why He asks us to do it! It makes a difference into the eternities. Almost as confirmation of that goal yesterday in fast and testimony meeting a man got up and thanked his home teachers. He was less active (inactive) for 40 years. 40 YEARS. But because of the contact of his home teachers two years ago he got back into church. His grandchildren have been baptized and he changed his whole life around. He noted that they probably thought he'd never get active but they still reached out to him. Now he's in the Elders quorum presidency. That was just the most recent story. There are so many. Home Teaching is divine. 

Another goal I set is to read the Book of Mormon each year (at the very least once!) As my testimony of it has grown, and my understanding of it has deepened, I really see that it is the keystone of our religion. It is the evidence of the Restoration. If it is the word of God, then Joseph Smith was a prophet. I want to always be renewing and strengthening that testimony. 

Those are just two of my goals. I won't bore you with the rest of them. I recognize that I might sound crazy/ or like a diehard, but these things are important to me.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM! MONDAY! Monday night I started a new journal. That was a new experience. I really felt accomplished flipping through the pages of the journal and looking at and thinking about all the experiences I've had over this last little while. Just imagine what the next two years of my mission will bring!.. I just hope that someone will be able to decipher my chicken scratch. Before starting a new journal we had FHE with the Magdaluyos and Robert. We read Enos 1:1-15 and talked about prayer and progression. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM! TUESDAY! It was pretty funny I made all these commitments to write in my journal every night... but then life got crazy and I couldn't get around to it. It's funny how that works out. Just when you decide to go on a diet, someone makes you cookies. That's what it felt like. But anyway, it was a good day. We had district meeting and that went well. I really see the blessings of role-playing. It's how we learn as missionaries. I'm grateful for the inspired training model that we have that helps our meetings and studies to focus around role-playing. It's made me such a better missionary. I wish I would have role played more at the beginning of my mission. We went out with Rigdon afterward and had a great time. --UPDATE!!-- RIGDON'S PAPERS ARE IN. He had his interview on Tuesday night with President Jarvis and then sent them in on Wednesday. So he should be finding out pretty soon what the deal is. I was so happy I almost squealed when he told me. Rigdon is a great kid and serving a mission is going to be so good for him. We didn't teach any lessons that afternoon but we had a woman reprimand us for not tracting. NOT tracting. She said that we were taking a risk on missing people. She said that in our efforts to be effective we might miss or pass by those who need our help the most. It was interesting. Then we saw Norma. I like Norma a lot. She's super cool. It's tough though because of the circumstances we have more of a friend relationship than a teaching relationship. Like when we go over she expects us to just talk and joke and eat and have a good time. Of course that wasn't the intention but because we didn't establish firm expectations the first time it's hard to get on track with her. She needs the gospel real bad, she needs to find healing, but right now we have to change things up to help her to make commitments. That's another thing I've learned a lot of, expectations. How important it is to be on the same page; as your companion, as your investigator, as your member. Unity. We had dinner with the Marx family. They're awesome. Sister Marx is a real good example to me of commitment to the Lord. We visited a few members. We went to one part member family's house and they had a huge tarantula. As soon as I saw I just knew that I had to hold it. So I spent like five minutes working up the courage... and then I did. I held a big, fat, hairy spider. I was surprised how heavy it was. I wish I would have taken a picture. It felt good to conquer one of my fears like that. That night we started an exchange with Freedom Park. Which is the English ward that covers the same boundaries as Montebello West. I was with Elder Brinkerhoff. He's a real good missionary. He's been out for long time and he really gets it. He works hard, and he is a master of the basics. I learned a lot from him.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM! WEDNESDAY! We biked so much, back and forth and back and forth. I am so out of shape. But it was good. I enjoyed all the exercise. We probably talked to 100 people. We gave out like 25 referrals to the Spanish missionaries and Elder Brinkerhoff filled up three pages in his planner of new potential investigators. It was awesome. We talked to one guy who flipped out and yelled at me. He asked me to read something from 'that book' and so I read Helaman 5:12. He jumped up off the bench and got about 3 inches from my face and just screamed. I was just grateful he didn't shank me. Then he asked me if I was ready to get in the box for that book. I can’t remember how he put it but he was referring to a coffin. It was pretty scary. We got out of there pretty fast. We taught a lesson in the Las Vegas Library to a guy named Lucky. It was super powerful. He said that hearing about the Restoration made him feel full of the Spirit. He lived a tough life and has changed a lot. He's been looking for "the real deal church" and last week he came to one of our chapels. He said that he felt the Spirit there and knew it was God's church and he wanted to join. I'm really grateful that I've been able to meet so many prepared souls. People who are ready to hear God's voice and respond. It's such strength to my testimony. Alma13: 24 is a reality today. Some people on the street that we talk to yell at us and disrespect us and others say that they've been waiting for us. This work is more than just numbers and another religion. It's the work of the Lord and I'm grateful to be a part of it.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM! THURSDAY! Elder Smith and I reflected about how different our lives were before we became missionaries. It's crazy. We took out Brother Odulio the WML [ward mission leader] in BV for a while in the afternoon and he expressed to us a lot of his frustration. He is an incredible man, with a vast knowledge of the scriptures and the organization of the church but he is being underutilized. He feels like he has no support from the ward council and there is no enthusiasm to council and coordinate. He showed us a cool video that was shown in last summer's worldwide broadcast http://bcove.me/fxedfdyr I'm always amazed about how perfect the organization of the church is. We just fall short in applying the principles. We blessed the home of a family and they asked us to come back. That has happened a lot in the last little while we just can’t seem to make contact with these people again. We had dinner with a big bunch of members and that was really fun. The member reprimanded us for being late in front of everyone and that was hard. It wasn't our fault what happened but all we could do was sit there and take a public beating. BUT! We got to teach Suzie right after and that all made up for it. We get into the lesson and she is super excited to tell us something and then she says this (I’ll paraphrase her own words. -- "So I went to the institute building today (she is a student at UNLV) to get some peace and quite while I read the Book of Mormon. Just as I started reading a young (cute returned missionary) man came up and invited me to come to institute class with him. I did. We watched a movie and I had goose bumps the whole time. I really felt like I was connected to God."  My jaw like hit the floor. She's absolutely incredible. She told us how it helped strengthen her testimony of the Savior and after the class she felt like she could say that she knew that Jesus died for her. I was so happy. It's not everyday that you get to hear an investigator say something like that. I think I smiled all the rest of the night. Chelsea was there and she was awesome. She is converted to the gospel and she and Suzie have such a good connection. It was pure revelation to bring her into the lessons.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM! FRIDAY! We did some weekly planning. It's hard to do WP when you don't have many investigators. When you have a lot it's cool because you can plan pretty specifically what you will do the next week. But without lots of investigators it’s more like weekly goal setting and brainstorming which is good. We went out with Brother Faught. He's a young man, probably like 35 with six kids, his own company, a house, and he's on the high council. He's not super rich, but he works hard and loves the Lord and I wanna be like him. We went to bless the home of a young man, and to be honest I didn't have a lot of faith in his real intent but we get in there and he was so excited to meet with us. He is really open and he said like three things (not all at once that blew my mind) one was that God loves us and I can’t see him wanting to send anyone to hell. I think that everyone will go to heaven but there will be like different levels depending on what we did and our opportunities. Then he said that a lot of people in the world pray but that is only half the equation, we have to take time to ponder and listen for God's answer. He said something else but it escapes me; another person who seems so prepared from the Lord. We visited the Jewitt and the Martinez families - more of just my favorite people, my role models. That night we went out with a returned missionary and suffered through the cccccold. it was like 50 degrees and I was dying!!! :)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM! SATURDAY! We went on exchange with the Desert Sage ward. I was there with Elder Martinez, great, great elder; humble and so positive. We had a long day of biking and talking to people. We found a ton of people who were ready to hear the gospel. We had one weird experience. We were biking past a man who was sitting on the side of the road and we stopped to talk to him. As we talked about prayer he looked us straight in the eyes and said, will you pray with me right now? He was kinda challenging us, almost saying, right here in the street will you pray with a homeless man who looks crazy??? You wouldn’t do that! But we did. We got down on our knees right then and held hands and blessed this man. He was shocked and in tears. He apologized and said that he needed that and then told us his story. He was a smart guy, but he thinks he's smarter than everyone else and that's why he's on the street because his pride lost him everything. That's what he told us. Interesting dude. A lot of wasted potential in that man. We had dinner and I got so, so sick. I think there was some cat hair in the soup because as soon as I ate it I got suuuuper sick. Coughing and wheezing and dizzy. We had to end the exchange early and as I biked back to the chapel I was puking everywhere. Just like the time I puked on the dog.  Bike a lil bit, stop, vomit, rinse, repeat. Sister Stevens brought me some oils and I felt way better in the morning but it was a hard, hard night. I coughed so much that I could barely sleep. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM! FOR REAL THOUGH! :) SUNDAY! We had church, which went well. I love being loved. None of our investigators came to church so that was a tough blow, but it wasn’t the first time that'd happened. We had a ton of appointments fall through but it was still good. Overall throughout the week we had like 30 appointments flake. But it's all good. Nothing can bring us down!

I love you all so much
Sam

P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!

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