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Monday, February 10, 2014

In a galaxy far, far away

What up homies?
I’m really grateful for the power of conversion. I've felt it in my life. I wrote a little bit about my goals last week and this week I’ve been thinking about how my heart is little by little becoming more turned to others. Ecclesiastes 12:13 says that to fear God and keep his commandments is the whole duty of man. I'm not wholly there yet, but it's something I want more than I did last week and more than I did last year. I can feel the changes within myself. I won’t preach about how awesome I am, but It's nice to know that I am changing. It's more than just my behavior. I have undergone a change of my nature. That is the Atonement in my life; the power to change my heart.

People have said some nice things to me this week. Compliments are an amazing tool the Lord has given us to "lift up the hands which hang down" and to strengthen the feeble knees. I've felt that this week. Through us the Lord can lift others. Sometimes it seems like people know just the right thing to say to cheer you up. I have grown so much in my appreciation for sincere compliments. When they are heartfelt they can be something to lean on and push us forward. When I was a district leader in one of our trainings they talked about the importance of complimenting those in our stewardship. It came to me that the compliment wasn't then end goal, love is; for us to express it and for the missionaries to feel it. Compliments are just a means of expressing that care and respect. If you compliment insincerely then it's kinda like bearing false witness. So I decided that I knew I needed to compliment people but in order to do so I needed to develop love for the people first. Moroni 7: 48 is true. Charity is a gift from God, as we ask for it, He will give it to us. I guess that's a long way of saying that I feel good when people say nice things to me and mean it.

Life is good out here in Vegas. Things are warming up and the work is moving forward.  
RIGDON GETS HIS CALL THIS WEEK! Oh baby!
But that's enough of that. Let's get down to the nitty gritty.

MONDAY! We had a great lesson with Deshon. I can't remember if I talked about him last week. He's black and in a wheelchair. He's really smart and thinks a lot. We blessed his apartment last week and that went well and he and his family really felt the Spirit. They are some of those people that you can tell really recognize us as representatives of the Lord. We went and taught him the Restoration very simply and he grasped it very well. I think it's because of his deep knowledge of the bible and his humility. We invited him to be baptized and he said that as soon as he felt that this was true he'd be baptized. That was super exciting. We talked about authority and he asked some great questions. Anyone who reads the BoM and is humble enough to ponder it's message and ask God if it is true will come to know that it is. I know I say that frequently, but it's because it's something that I really believe. I know it's true and that God wants everyone else to know that as well. We then went to the Mag's and taught Robert about the priesthood because he'd be getting it the following Sunday. That went well too! The Magdaluyos are such great people

TUESDAY! We spent the afternoon with Rigdon. We always have such a good time with him. I'm very excited for him to get his mission call this week. He's in for an incredible experience. I'm very grateful for the good relationship we have with him and I really hope that we've been a good example to him and that our influence will help him We went in the morning to Brother Odulio's house to do some coordination and there we talked about how to help the ward "catch the wave" and he and the Egans told us some cool stories about experiences with the Book of Mormon. I like the Egans a lot. They are solid people and really good examples to me. I want to be like them when I grow older. We went to visit a family that had said we could come back but weren't there when we went by and so we were pretty sure they weren't interested. We went by with the intention of seeing whether or not they were interested in our message; we knocked and the man invited us in right then to teach them! It was crazy, I was so surprised. There I was bracing myself for rejection and I get invited in right then. We set a time for the return appointment and the mother asked if her daughter could be allowed to sit in the next lesson. We graciously accommodated her request hahaha. Then we went to Deshon's house and taught him and his whole family the Restoration in more detail. They're an awesome family. They have a lot of faith and want to grow closer to the Lord.  Deshon expressed to us that he's been seeking God and he feels that this is the path he has been looking for. We had dinner with a less active family, great, great people but it's a single mom and she's a convert of a few years and she has like 5 kids to take care of and it's hard for her to keep things going stable enough in the home to go to church. It's families like that that have shown me the importance of home and visiting teaching. She just needs a little support. All of our appointments cancelled that night. We get so many cancellations. We've been thinking a lot about it. We're being obedient and trying our hardest but we have like an average of about 25 missed appointments a week. Sometimes the investigators are smoking weed and don’t wanna hear about God, sometimes they went to jail earlier that day, sometimes they are hiding in the house and other times their family randomly showed up in town. Our area is very, very small and the majority of the people we find are those who we talk to on the street. We spend a lot of time in the apartments and the thing about them is two of the complexes are like the projects so the lifestyle of a lot of the people we meet is not very conducive to keeping appointments and feeling the Spirit. So we don't feel like it's our fault, we just have to be extra persistent. After we couldn't make anything happen we visited the Iverson’s. I like them a lot. They are like my family away form home.

WEDNESDAY! MLC was today from 8:45 – 4:30. It was a long meeting. All the DLs went to this one so it was a totally different feel. I enjoyed it and learned a lot. I always come out of those meetings with a renewed desire to be better and a clear vision of the many things I need to improve. I got to talk to Elder Slik which was nice. We sat by ourselves and talked about our areas and things. I'm grateful for his love and good example to me. Then we taught Joey. We've taught him three lessons. Like one a month for the past little while. He lives in Arizona and when he visits his girlfriend in our ward we teach him a lesson. We taught the Restoration and he committed to be baptized. It's always exciting to invite people to be baptized. Even now after doing it so much it's still a big deal. I've grown a lot in my confidence in it. Now I worry more about the members being surprised and offended than being rejected by investigators. We watched the Restoration movie with Deshon and his family and that was awesome. They all felt the Spirit as we sat and talked about the Savior together. They really like us a lot. It feels good to be respected and loved. They ask us a lot of questions about the Bible expecting that we know all the answers. They told us even before we invited them that they wanted to come to church. That night I got to do a baptismal interview. The man was so prepared. He probably knew more of the gospel than I did. He had read Jesus the Christ, The Miracle of Forgiveness, The Teachings of Thomas S. Monson and other church books, including the cannon of the scriptures. There are so many elect people in the world. It was crazy that in God's plan, I was the one who we assigned to interview this man. I felt like the roles should have been reversed. 

THURSDAY! Our six lessons flaked today. It could have been way worse though. It was still a good day. I'm very thankful for all the tougher many opportunities the Lord has given me. I've learned and grown so much. I'm learning to be patiently faithful and faithfully patient. I need to consistently do all I can and then trust in God that what happens is his will. Whenever a lesson or something falls through, other things almost always happen. We talk to someone new, or we get to help someone. Maybe the cancels are just us being redirected to the people who need us most!  In the morning we went to a member's home and they showed us a presentation about the Joseph Smith monument and how it was made. It was pretty cool. They had some really old pictures and a cool story about moving the 40 ton piece of granite to the site. Pretty neat stuff. Church history, both modern and ancient, fascinating to me. We used a lot of time to plan for our ZTM. That night we started an exchange with the APs. I went to the Bermuda ward with Elder Fuller.

FRIDAY! We got things started off with watching Green Valley's ZTM. I got to see Elder Slik again. He is such a good trainer. I've now sat in on eight of his zone training meetings. He's a good, good missionary. Elder Fuller and I had a great day. We talked to a ton of people and he gave me a lot of good suggestions for me and for my area. I'm grateful that people love us enough to guide us. The coolest part of the day was in the evening when we read the Book of Mormon with one of their investigators. The Spirit was there very strongly and she is one of those people that has been guided by God to be in the right place at the right time to hear the gospel. She was praying to find the path she wanted for her and that day as she was walking her dogs she met the missionaries in a part of their area that they didn’t usually go to, but because they had felt impressed to be there just then they met. It was a cool story. Seeking for truth and willing to listen and prepared to act. After the exchange ES and I stayed up till like 1am planning our ZTM.

SAUTRDAY! ZTM went okay. I've given better trainings. Then we taught Suzie and talked with her about baptism. She's doing really well but she's still not sure if she should be baptized. I've been praying a lot for her that we can see miracles like we saw with Vicki. We saw Deshon and had a good lesson with them. They said they wouldn't come to church that week because they all want to come together. Which is pretty cool I guess. Deshon asked us who is going to baptize him, which was pretty cool because he's been thinking a lot about it. It was a good lesson. We read the sacrament prayers and he and his mom were super into it.

SUNDAY! Church was good. Robert got the priesthood. Suzie came to church. We had a good afternoon even though all our lessons fell through. We talked to Melissa whose son's bike had just gotten stolen. She was totally ticked. We had dinner with the Martinez family. That was great. They are such good examples to me. I wanna be like Brother and Sister Martinez. We visited some people at night and set up quite a few lessons for the week. We also went to a stake missionary meeting, which was pretty cool. I like feeling important.

It was a great week overall. We got to teach which was good but not as much as we wanted to.  I am learning and growing. Life is really good. I hope that things aren't too cold back there. I find out about transfers this week. Saturday will be an interesting one. I think there is a chance that I could stay another transfer (which means I'll have spent a year in the central stake) and there is a chance I could leave. It's like 50/50. I feel good about the work we've done in the area. If I left I would feel confident that the Lord is proud of all the work I've done here and that I completed all He sent me here to do. It's a peaceful feeling to know that the Lord is proud of you; nothing else matters.
I love you all so much.
Hasta la vista
Sam

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