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Monday, March 31, 2014

This email is going to be short

Life is good.
I've only got a few minutes so I'll touch on one or two experiences for each day.

MONDAY! So last Sunday night we talked to a guy on the street for a good while. We pretty much taught him a lesson. Then on Monday we went by to talk to him and it was like he was a different person. He said that when we told him he was a child of God he really felt that. Then earlier that day someone else told him that and he believed it and it was like a light turned on. He said he felt so good. He basically shared his new found testimony and that was a sweet experience. We went to the Mag's. I love them.

TUESDAY! We went out with Rigdon for the last time. We ate 20inch subs. Bad idea. We had dinner a the Marx's house. They had three nonmembers there. It was a great time. Two were young men, and all I could think about was how much good they'd do as missionaries. We taught a family about the BoM. We went to the Jewitt's to say goodbye to Rigdon. I'm going to miss him a ton. 

WEDNESDAY! We saw Severina. She's moving to Washington to live with her other daughter. She is such a good example to me. She's like top three most Christ-like people that I know. She is the epitome of 3 Nephi 12:44. Because she loves God so perfectly, she loves others the same and she can sincerely pray for those that despitefully use her. 

THURSDAY! I did an exchange with Elder Jacobs here in BV. It was a good day, EJ is very humble. We answered some questions at Abby & Oscar's. It was there I realized (even more fully than I have before) how happy I am and how that happiness drives me to want to share with others. Joy is the word. I feel joy. I cried. We talked with a crazy guy who was like trying to touch us and stuff. Drugs are bad. We did splits and had some cool experiences meeting people in Frenchmen Hills that I've never gotten to visit before. 

FRIDAY! We had ZTM. It was good. We talked to a dog breeder. I learned a ton about pit bulls. I had an interview for the RA position. I think I did pretty well. Oh, we had an awesome experience. We were on our way to visit an investigator who is dying from cancer when the thought came to go to her a little later. So we moved to the next name in the plans, a referral, Thomas when the impression came to park and visit a member that we knew lived close by. So we did and before we got out I saw that we'd forgotten the list of where all the less actives lived. So we didn't know the name, or even the exact house number. So we just decided to walk down the street to Thomas' house because it wasn't that far. We'd taken no more than five steps when a car pulls up next to us and a man rolls down the window and asked if we were Mormons. We said that we were and we talked to him for a little bit. The story came out that he'd visited the temple because he was curious and he felt something while he was there and wanted to learn more. That was earlier in the week and he had been wondering how to find someone to talk to about it and we were there at the perfect time. We told him that what he felt was the Holy Ghost. When we asked him if he'd like to feel more he said, “yes” without hesitation. We were following our plans and then the Spirit directed us to be exactly in the right place at the right time. God guides. We had a saaaweet lesson with a father about how as he comes closer to God he can help his children. It was so cool. He's a good dad and as he described his desires for his family we were able to relate it to how God feels about him and he was really touched. The Spirit was really strong. We could tell that we'd been guided there. He is seeking happiness and greater spirituality and he found the missionaries.

SATURDAY! I was on an exchange here in BV with Elder Brinkerhoff. He's awesome, one of my favorite missionaries. I learned a ton from his good example. We visited an old couple that I visited 18 months ago with Elder Taetakua. Then we visited Kat. She and her husband invited us right in. She told us how her and her husband wanted to make their relationship work. We explained our purpose, to help them come to Christ, and the blessings of the gospel. They were 100% glued to us. I'd never had that happen before. Where you could just almost feel the investigator's soul begging to hear more. They might not have even blinked! So we taught them a little bit and then prayed with them and they were both crying. It was such a spiritual experience. Then we talked to some potentials. Then we visited Oscar and Abby with the Bishop. They had been talking about when they wanted to get baptized right before we came and so we set the goal for marriage and baptism on 19April. They said, "That's the perfect day!" It was cool and confirming to me to see how committed they are. They didn't just say yes to being baptized, they wanted it and were preparing for it. The Spirit was so strong and then President Neider called. I didn't want to interrupt so I ignored it. But then he called again and so I had to answer. I stepped out. I had been praying for my next companion to be someone to push me and help me to hone my missionary skills. President thanked me for my service in BV/FH and said that I'd changed the wards for the better. That made me feel good. Then he asked me if I'd take a new special assignment. My heart sank. Every time President asks me that he always gives me an assignment to help a missionary. I love those experiences because they help me to be better, but selfishly I wanted to be the one being pushed and built up. So I said yes, expecting to hear that I was going to get transferred. He said, “Elder Anderson you've done a great job and I'd like to ask you to come to the office to be one of my assistants.” I was so shocked. For so many reasons. Me? I'm not a zone leader! Is there a mistake? I inadvertently made a weird noise cause I was so surprised. He then stopped and asked me if he was speaking to Samuel Anderson. I said he was and then he asked if I'd be willing to sacrifice some proselyting time to take on this new assignment and serve in the office. I said I would. I was pretty much speechless. So many thoughts and emotions. I was happy, sad, excited, scared, honored, humbled and everything else you could think of. We talked for a little bit about the assignment and the things I'd be doing with Elder Sharp this week. It's a lot. I went back inside and I couldn't say anything. Finally after a few minutes I was able to speak. I was on the verge of tears all day Saturday and Sunday. We taught Deshon the first lesson again. That was good but I was so out of it. 

SUNDAY! I bore my testimony in both wards. We visited a ton of families. But the coolest experience was with Kat and Paul. We talked with them about marriage and prayer. At the end of the lesson Paul got down on his knees and we taught him how to pray. He'd never prayed for anything except food in his whole life and that was 50 years ago. He started praying and in my head I was pleading with the Lord to let him feel the Spirit. As he prayed he said that he was grateful for his wife and he wants to be better and then he said, “I know I can't do this without you. I know I can't.” Then he paused and he broke down and said something like, "Oh God, I can't do this without your help, please help me." I peeked and saw as Kat reached out and grabbed his hand and they squeezed each other. They didn't let go until we left. All of us were crying. It was one of the sweetest experiences ever. 

I don't have the time to express my love and gratitude for the Frenchmen Hills and Bonanza View wards. 
I have grown so much over the last seven months and it is in large part because of the love I felt here.  I can't list the people that have influenced me or helped me, but there are many. I am a new, and better man than I was when I came here.

Life is good. What more can I say than that?
I love you all so much.
I don't know if my emails will be long after this. 
But no matter what I'll be happy!
:)
Love,
Sam

Monday, March 24, 2014

So we listened to this Kenney Chesney song...

So we listened to this Kenney Chesney song called Baptism.
I liked it a lot. 

I guess I turned 21 last week. It's weird to think about. I don't feel 21. It doesn’t feel like I’ve been a missionary for that long. It's odd.

But it's been a good week, full of growth. It's my opinion that anyone who says missions are easy is either confused or lying. I think they are supposed to be hard (see https://www.lds.org/ensign/2001/03/missionary-work-and-the-atonement).  I'm grateful for the difficulty though, it's made me step up to the plate and it's because of that I've grown so, so much. I'm beginning to feel what it's like to be converted and the hope, healing and happiness that comes from it. I think of the peace that I have now, and it is infinitely more than what I had two or three years ago.

MONDAY! At night our lesson fell through and as we started to go to our back-ups we were in our apartment complex and we walked close by Deshon and Sassidy's house and Promise (Sassy's four-year-old) saw us and started screaming, "The Mormons are here! The elders are here!" she ran out and grabbed our hands and pulled us into their apartment. It was super cute. We brought Sister Marx with us and we had a great lesson with Deshon and Sassy about the Word of Wisdom. Sister Marx dropped the bomb on Sassy. She just went all mom mode on her and used every technique of persuasion in the book. She was super intense but super loving. It was a perfect example of using boldness but not overbearing, after getting reproved, because it was done with love, Sassy thanked Sister Marx. That was cool. I want to be like Sister Marx, converted, committed and convincing -  plus cool. Then we went to FHE with Robert at the Mag's. He's now done with the new member lessons. That's how it's supposed to be. The lessons taught in members homes, the bishop and ward council overseeing the teaching of the new member lessons. You could just feel that this was the way that it should go with every convert. He prepared the sacrament yesterday. That was cool. I don't have any fears for Robert. He's got a deep foundation and great fellowship.

WHATUPMYBIRTHDAY! It really wasn't super exciting, just felt like every other day. We had a good district meeting in the morning, maybe the best I've ever conducted. Lots of discussion and I felt like there was real learning that took place. We went out with Rigdon for the second to last time. I'm happy he's going but I’m going to miss him a lot. We went to a woman named Kathleen's house and taught her the Restoration. It didn't go bad, but you could tell she wasn't understanding, or at least fully grasping what we were teaching her. If people aren't actively engaged in learning, the full importance of what we teach goes over their heads. We need to do all we can to prepare to teach well and teach by the Spirit, but we can't force other people to learn when they don't want to. We went to see Nick and we went over the Restoration with a pamphlet in Romanian. As we read that with him he began to understand way more clearly than when we were teaching him just in English. He speaks English but doesn’t comprehend when you speak back to him. It's like me when someone starts to speak in Spanish about something that I’m not familiar with. He wants to leave LV so bad but he doesn’t have enough money and he's trapped taking care of his dying mother-in-law. It's too big of a job for him but no one helps him. It's sad. We went to a family in the ward who is less active and talked with them. The brother in the family shared some of his experiences before and after getting baptized. He said that he's been clean for years now but he still is feeling the effects of drug use. He said that people always told him that it was dangerous but as he told us, "You've never done it before, how would you know what it's like? I feel great." Now he says that he wished he would have listened. It's sad. He's repented, and God has forgiven him, but the natural consequences of his disobedience are catching up with him. He's literally dying because of what he did to his body years and years ago. :( Then we went to Sister Lindahl's house and she made me Thai peanut chicken! It's was pretty good but nothing beats your food mom. That night we taught Isaac, not sure if I've talked about him before - he only has one arm, about the Plan of Salvation. It was a cool lesson. He had a lot of questions and as we answered them his excitement grew. We talked about a lot of things and as we taught the resurrection we told him that he could get his arm back and he was so happy. He hungered and he was filled. Then that night we started an exchange with the zone leaders. I was with Elder Johnson and we stayed up wayyy too late talking. Hahah

WEDNESDAY! EJ and I had a really good day. We visited some members and some less actives. It's interesting how the less actives are usually more controversial than the nonmembers. They're the ones with a bone to pick and something to prove. We visited one family that recently moved into the ward that is big into drag racing and they showed us their cars. It was pretty cool. You can find anything here in Vegas. Even a dragster that runs on beer with paddle tires made for racing in beach sand and shallow water. OH man. We had one of the coolest experiences of my whole mission Wednesday night. Many months ago Elder Slik and I met a young man named Brian. Brian is in his mid 20's and has had a hard life and is looking to change his life. His girlfriend was then pregnant and so he was really wanting to make a change in his life. We set up an appointment to go by and when we did his dad ran us off the property. Disturbed yet unperturbed we went back a month later and again had a great talk with Brian and again set up another appointment and again his dad rejected us. This happened a few times; us talking to Brian and then his dad being super rude to us. Finally we went by one night with their neighbor and the dad yelled at us and was mean. We talked to the neighbor, Brother Faught, and he said that he'd go over sometime by himself and try to figure out what was going on. We get a call two days later from Brother Faught saying that the dad had no idea that Bro Faught was with us. He was super apologetic and invited us back. We went by and the dad, Nino, was so nice to us. Invited us in, got us water, and apologized like 10 times. We taught him and as we did he cried the whole time, like a constant trickle of tears. Then we taught him how to pray and receive strength and he prayed vocally for the first time in his life and he was just sobbing as he did so. He was so, so thankful to us. It touched me, and changed me. This man who went from someone we were convinced would let the pit bulls out on us became someone who wanted us to come back and teach him more about how he could repent. The kind of person who you would assume would not want to hear the gospel, became a golden contact. What was the difference? The influence of the member. Granted Brother Faught is an amazing example of living the gospel, but I know that every member of the church can have that kind of softening effect on their friends and neighbors. It was incredible. Member missionary work works! Then we visited Deshon and Sassidy. We talked about the Book of Mormon and the commandments with them. I love their family so much, but I don't think they fully get it. I don't know what we need to do to help them see that this is more than our church, and a great church, and the church they want to join, it's the Church of Jesus Christ and it requires a change. I guess that's the Spirit's job though. Repentance, forgiveness and conversion don't come just by talking about it.  

THURSDAY! Nothing much happened in the morning and afternoon but that night we had dinner with a member of the high council and he taught me a lot about church disciplinary councils. It was fascinating to learn about it. The Lord is very serious about commandments especially those we have covenanted to keep. Then I got to do a baptismal interview. I love doing them. It's cool to hear and feel the excitement of new converts as they prepare to be baptized. This was a woman who had been going to church for six years but hadn't been able to be baptized because of some things in her past that she had to get cleared up. That was cool. It didn't beat last week’s though. That was a chart topper. Our lessons cancelled that night so we visited members.

FRIDAY! We did service in the morning, moving boxes of paint. One thing that I don't want to do is hoard. I have tons of hoarder tendencies and I recognize that but I'm trying to get rid of them. So many people are just burdened down by the massive amounts of material goods. Almost like ... actually idk I don’t understand the level we've seen here. We'll just leave it as some people have a lot of stuff. And I thought our garage was overdoing it....We did our weekly planning. We went to Deshon's but he was out so we talked with Marcus, Sassidy's 'baby-daddy'. We had a good talk about the bible with him. Then we went to the Brown's house. They are another family that I'm really grateful for. Such good examples, such good people. Brother Brown is the new ward mission leader and I want to be like him. I know I say that about a lot of people but it's true. I wish I hadn't been so prideful before my mission, I could have learned so much from all the great examples that I grew up around. 

SATURDAY! We did some weeding in the morning for a family in the ward that is struggling. It was interesting. Nick called us and said that the nurses had evaluated his care giving and now he is no longer allowed to accept visitors at the house and he is not allowed to leave, only to get food for the 'old lady.' It's super sad. He sounded like he was going to cry on the phone. I wish there was something we could do to help him but money doesn’t grow on trees. He's a good guy and with a little help he could be so happy but he's being duped I feel. It's pretty sketchy the whole situation. But anyway, we talked to Parole's brother who is not crazy. It's cool the guy is pretty solid; he just says he can’t meet at his house because there is no way for it to be peaceful there. So hopefully we can work with him if we just find a place to go that is closer than the chapel. We visited Alma, a potential investigator. She wasn’t really interested but we talked to her and her whole family about the gospel and she told us the story of her divorce and the horrible fallout from it. It's sad. It destroys families. It’s like the mom and dad fighting and the kids are the ones that take all the blows. We actually saw a lot of families that were struggling. I wish that all of them would come to church. It's funny how when times are hardest people pull themselves away from God the most, not all people but some. With the missionary perspective it's so clear to see how going to/being active in church would help everyone solve the problems they so desperately want to get over. We went to the Banks’ for a farewell party for Rigdon. Then we went to Oscar's house. We taught the Law of Chastity and Marriage and it went really well. Mike just laid it down nice and clear hahaha. We were about to commit Oscar to getting married early April and then his neighbor walked in. Well she didn't walk bc of her wheelchair. It was just so weird. She totally took over the lesson and started cracking jokes and telling weird stories. So we left ahaha. Then we went to Deshon's and talked to them about church and stuff. They made us dinner which was nice. They all committed to come. 

SUNDAY! 5:30 am Deshon texts us and says, "Elder we're not going to make it today because we're still out [partying]." Broke my heart. Rigdon gave his farewell talk and he did a good job. There were a ton of people there to listen to him. Oscar and Abby came to church, but we haven't had a chance to talk to them about how they liked it. I’m sure they did. I hope they did. Marcos came too. It was a pretty good day. We had dinner with the Kuhn's. I’m grateful for so many families that have really taken us in and made us feel loved.  Like you all back home :)
 
I love you all so much!
Sam

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

HAPPY 21st BIRTHDAY ELDER ANDERSON!!!


Birthday dinner at the Lindahl's


Sister Lindahl made Thai Peanut Chicken for his birthday dinner



Celebrating at the Iverson's with Brother Iverson playing the bagpipes


Monday, March 17, 2014

What a week

I think this has been the craziest and fastest week of my whole mission.
But it also seems like a month since I last emailed.
Uhoh, MTCitis again!

MONDAY! After P-day we had a lesson with a new family that just moved in from Pennsylvania. We had met them a few days before on the street and just talked and they invited us to come back. We talked about families and the Restoration and how faith carries us through trials. One of their sons was born premature and wasn't expected to make it out of the hospital, but he did. They were a cool bunch, definitely a family that the gospel could bring so much hope and happiness to. Then we went to eat dinner with ... THE SCHWENKE FAMILY! What upppp??? Because the Sunrise and Central Zones were combined now they're again part of my zone. They're actually just right north of my area. It's pretty crazy. We ate and "talk story" and it was a really good time. I don't think I'd ever seen Elder Wendt eat so much! It was a nice dose of nostalgia and then we went to the Mags for a lesson with Robert about patriarchal blessings. Patriarchal blessings are so cool. I love to read mine and see all the parts that are coming true. I've come to appreciate mine a whole lot more. It's been a huge blessing for me.

TUESDAY! We had zone conference on Tuesday. It was pretty awesome. I love missionary meetings, getting together with other missionaries and learning from our leaders. It was cool there is a new sister in our mission Sister Kraus, she's serving in the Paradise stake right now. What's cool is that she was in my BYU ward two years ago. She lived like kitty corner to me and we were on the same intramural team AND she was there when I opened my mission call. And now she's here in Vegas, pretty small world. So it was cool to talk to her for a few moments. We went over a lot of the fundamentals. It's good to be reminded of the simple things we're supposed to do. I know it helps me. There were some addiction recovery missionaries that came and spoke to us about the psychology of addiction and how to best help those struggling with addictive behaviors. That was super interesting. I neglected to include a detail from my last week's email. After church we went to visit a man who stopped us on the street. Idk if I even wrote about that last time. Last Saturday we were talking to a woman on the street and a man came up to us and said, "Sorry to interrupt, but could you teach me?" We set up a time to go by and then on Sunday we taught him. He said that he'd seen us a few times and something had told him to stop us but he'd ignored it, but Saturday he couldn’t resist. His fiancée had been our server at Olive Garden with the Cotner’s a few weeks ago and she too had wanted to ask us to come by but chickened out. On Sunday we answered a lot of his questions and got to know him a little better. Elder Wendt described to him what the gift of the Holy Ghost was and he said I want that in my life. It was pretty cool. So anyway - after zone conference we went by to teach him again and we had an incredible lesson. We began by telling him that as he came to know that what we teach is true he will want to be baptized. And then he says, "Alright. When can I be baptized?" It totally threw me for a loop. I know that God prepares hearts but I wasn't expecting him to ask about being baptized. We taught him and his fiancée the Restoration and they loved it. They said it answered so many of their questions they'd had growing up in the Catholic Church. So we at the end formally invited them to be baptized and they both said yes without even a moment’s hesitation. That was cool. He shared with us a lot of stories that were just proof after proof of God's hand preparing him to receive the gospel. Like he described the group of friends he's always wanted to have - men who are trustworthy, united, committed, who want to be tools in God's hands, who love their families, and the list went on. It sounded like an elder’s quorum. It was awesome. That night we talked to a drunk woman through her screen door and she was petting it while we spoke.... it was super weird. We started an exchange with Desert Sage and I went with Elder Martinez in my area.
WEDNESDAY! We had an awesome day. Elder Martinez is a great missionary. He is probably one of the most powerful teachers I've ever met. It was awesome to serve with him all day it really set my sights higher for the kind of teacher that I want to become. I think that we really touched a lot of people. We visited Severina who got back from the Philippines’. She's doing well, a little sick, but well. She went and shared the gospel with her family and got the missionaries to start teaching them the gospel. THAT was cool to hear about. We went out with Rigdon and we talked with a few people, some of who were interested. Sharing the gospel really comes most naturally out of friendship and mutual respect. When we talk to people quickly on the street, it doesn’t always go as well, but when we have a chance (when people give us a chance) to talk with them and really get to know them it is a much better situation. They are always more receptive. We stopped in to see Tiffany and we went at the perfect time. She was really stressed and was babysitting her kids and her sister’s kids and she didn't have anyone to talk to. So we came in and she like vented to us all her problems and it was like she was deflating and all the pressure was being lifted off of her. Wooosh. She was so happy after. We talked to her about forever families bc her brother just had died like a week prior and then we prayed with her and her children. All our other appointments fell through but we had dinner at the Marx's with Vicki and a non member mother and son. It was good. Sister Marx and Vicki are like the best examples ever. I'm super grateful for them and their love. The non member woman gave me a hug after dinner, I was super taken aback. I'm sure I looked so awkward hahaha. Then we taught Deshon and Sassidy the Word of Wisdom. Surprisingly they took it well. They didn't super firmly commit, but the lesson was all over the place. Then from there we went to give a tour of the church to Oscar. It was Wednesday so the bishop was there and he gave him a picture of the Savior and a ton of other members were there because of mutual and stuff. He loved it. Then the Toblers’ took him up to the temple and gave him a tour there. It was their three year anniversary of their sealing, so that was pretty cool. He said, "I need to get out my goal book and make some changes. I want to get married here."  Then we exchanged back for 10 mins and then EW and I went up to Beverly Glen to start another exchange!

THURSDAY! I was with Elder Fagersten in his area. He's a good missionary. He's been waiting here for his visa for what seems like forever. But he is still working hard and doing his best. We had a good day talking about his mission and his plans for it. He's got a lot of potential. We prayed with a woman who broke down in tears. She was really scared for her and her husband and you could see that she was looking for something to bring them closer together. We taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a guy who fell off a ladder at around Christmas time and now is handicapped because of it. Sad. We delivered cookies to a few families. Then we taught Nadia, a 25 year old college student. We taught her the WoW and I was very impressed that she committed right then to live it. She was going to Starbucks with friends after the lesson, but she said that she wouldn't drink coffee; she'd just get a hot chocolate. We had dinner with a middle aged couple who met online and had been married for a little over a year. They were so cute together, it made me happy. We had a lesson then with a family and we met Brandon, the most spiritual 10 year old I've ever met. When we met he asked me for my testimony of reading the scriptures and praying daily. It's not a question you expect often, especially not from a 10 year old! We had a powerful lesson with him and his family. 

FRIDAY! We did some service in the morning. We helped a family move out. We taught Nick about church. We was so excited to go. He said he couldn’t wait to go (something happened with the mother-in-law and he didn’t end up being able to go.) Then we went with the bishop to teach Oscar and Abby. That went really well. Oscar committed to come to the baptism and Abby said she'd go to the RS activity Saturday.  Then we went to Jacob and Niko's baptism.
Jacob and Niko's baptism
It's such an honor to be able to perform the ordinance of baptism. Whenever I do, I more fully understand the phrase, "in the name of Jesus Christ." It's cool that he allows us to do things like baptize and bless.

This is his church and he's in charge and through revelation he authorizes people to act in his stead for the salvation of God's children. Heavenly Father has blessed me with so many cool opportunities. Elder Slik came and so I got to drive him home so it was nice to be able to talk to him about how things are going in GV.
Then we went to a baptismal interview for the elders in Los Feliz. It was an incredible experience. I got there at 8 and had three people to interview.  It was a couple and they were both super ready to be baptized and excited. They had testimonies and were converted and love the church. Then I got to interview her mom. I started the interview at about 8:45. I asked her the first question and she went off, talking and talking and talking. It took us more than 1/2 an hour to get through the first two questions. It was hot, my back hurt from sitting for so long and I was tempted to rush things because it was getting later. In retrospect the Spirit prompted me (and most definitely helped me) to stay focused and alert and charitable. I guess I gained her trust because she told me how her husband had an affair and it destroyed her and caused a lot of pain. I listen and the gift of tongues helped me understand. Again I wanted to rush things but I felt prompted to let her continue talking. As the interview went on we talked about repentance and she shared with me some serious transgressions. She told me the situation. She had been forced to do some things she didn't want to and didn't fully understand what was happening anyway. She said that she'd felt bad every day for the last 40 years. Elder Murphy told me that he'd already screened her two times, which means asked her the baptismal interview questions to make sure that there weren't any problems, but she hadn't said anything about this. By this time it was 10:15 at night and I was exhausted. You could feel that she had 40 years of pain and guilt she'd been carrying around. She'd begged Heavenly Father every day since then for forgiveness but had never told anyone and she still felt pain. So I called President Neider and he told me what to do and gave me some ideas of what I could say. I taught her about the Atonement, how it heals us from our sins but also it heals us from the effects of the sins of others. I got to tell her that she was forgiven. That was an incredibly powerful moment. Then I taught her how she could apply the Atonement and find spiritual healing after her baptism. As we talked it was as if a light was turned on behind her eyes. You could almost see new energy in her. IT was incredible. I watched as the Savior helped lighten her burden. After that I could just feel that the spirit emanating from her had changed. The rest of the interview was a breeze. I was grateful for the influence of the Spirit. If I hadn't have been guided, she might not have ever told anyone about her past and she might continue to carry that pain for who knows how long. The Spirit prompted me what to say, when to say it, and when to just sit and listen. It was definitely a life changing experience. God knows his children. He has provided a way that all that is unfair about life can be made right.

SATURDAY! Crazy, crazy day. We went to a stake Relief Society activity. We got to be waiters and then light jockeys. It was pretty cool. I loved being a waiter. Serving is heck of a ton fun. We wore bow ties.
Serving at Relief Society party
Abby came and lovvvved it. Then Elder Wendt went to a baptism in Blythe (4 hours away) so I three packed with Fagersten and Jacobs. We had a great time. We taught Jessica about the Book of Mormon and she loved it. I pray she reads it. Then we went to Martha's baptism!!!!!!!! Whattt???!!?!!?!!! :) :) :)
Martha's baptism and the missionaries that worked with her
I got to see Gissel, the Lopez family, the Murray family, Elder Johnson, Elder Campbell and tons of other friends and acquaintances. Loved it. The Desert Bloom branch has changed so much. I'm grateful to have been a part of the hastening of the work there. During Martha’s testimony after the ordinance she called up her member fellow-shipper and put her arm around her and said, "I want to thank Sister Thompson. If it wasn’t for her good example and sharing with me I wouldn’t be here." Everyone was crying it was so touching.
 


SUNDAY! I met up with Elder Wendt before church just long enough to split back up to go to church. It was good. We went to the Gammon's to wish Taylor good luck on her mission. She'll be an awesome missionary. Then we had dinner with the Iverson’s. They're so good to me.
Celebrating his birthday with the Iverson's
I feel like a part of their family and I'll be forever grateful to them for their good influence. 
That's the week!
I'm trying to get a lot done today.
I love you all so much
Sam


Monday, March 10, 2014

This week

It's been a really good week. I've learned a lot. So much has happened
It's hard to wrap my head around how much happens each week. It's hard to write about it. This email is going to be pretty weak, sorry!

MONDAY! We had a lesson with a father and son. I always love teaching families. That's what it's all about. To see a parent try to help their kid increase in their faith and have the children turn their hearts to their parents. It's touching. The lesson went well. Then we went to the Mag's house for a lesson about the commandments with Robert. As I bore testimony of my love for the commandments Sister Mag's mom told me I should write down my feelings, and how I’ve changed. It's crazy. I really can say that I've had a change of heart. Not that I was a bad person before, but my actions AND my motives are different. I've seen and felt that in myself. It's hard to describe. I've come this far and I can keep going, the Atonement does more than clean us, it can change our hearts.

TUESDAY! Last night we started an exchange with Freedom Park and I was with Elder Wihongi, a super cool elder from New Zealand. He's fairly new and has a lot of fire to get the work done. We went out with Rigdon and a lot of our talking was about the temple. Rigdon went on Friday and so he was worried and excited and had a lot of questions. We taught Sister Thayer's grandkids again, Jacob and Niko and we taught them the importance of receiving revelation. We of course didn’t call it that, but that was the outcome of the lesson. We always teach them super simply with object lessons. I love teaching like that because it's how I learn best too! Hahaha. It's funny to see the kids so disengaged until you let them use their hands and their minds and then they love it and want to learn more. Rigdon is such a good kid. He's taught me so much from his good example and his love for everyone we come in contact with. We taught a lesson that night in half English and half Spanish. It didn't go over so well. It was just confusing for me, E.Wihongi and both the investigators. They felt the Spirit but they didn't understand fully. We visited the Rosser’s.  We saw Sassidy and Lisa. (Deshon's sister and mom). Sassidy's daughter, Promise, had surgery and they were so happy that she's okay.

WEDNESDAY! We had to clean our apartment and do all this preparation stuff because they were fumigating our building. We had to take everything out of all the closets and cabinets. It took a heck of a long time because there is tons and tons of stuff stored in our place. We took out a priest and talked with him a lot about his goals and helped him set new ones. We talked to a lot of people and it was interesting to see how the Lord had prepared them. One woman told us that she'd been curious about our church for a long time and wanted to know more about it. Whenever I doubt if the elect are in my area I always run into people like that, usually in Spanish, but that's just because of the area. We had dinner with Sister Gammon, she's so awesome. She is consecrated and I want to be more like her.

THURSDAY! They did the spray stuff and then it took us forever to clean up the mess and everything. We visited the clan. Jasmine was in hysterics and we talked to her about her goals and her baby and she calmed down. I wish there was anything we could do to help but she needs to act for herself. We visited Sister Marx and Vicki. Total juxtaposition. We taught Jacob and Niko, and Jacob shared an experience he had at school where he was struggling on a test and he prayed and asked for help and he got 100% on it. He was so happy, he told us, "There is a God! I know there is!" It was super cool. We had dinner with a private investigator. We taught Suzie the Word of Wisdom. It was a good lesson, I love teaching that to people because it really puts their faith and testimony to the test. And it strengthens both as people live it. 

FRIDAY!  We taught Deshon. It went well, he promised us he'd read and come to church. He didn't end up coming, which made me sad. The highlight of the day was going to the temple with Rigdon. It was awesome. I've worked and prayed so hard for this young man for so long and to see him in the temple, I teared up a little bit. I'm so proud of him and the growth he's been through. It's wonderful to be a part of people's lives as they make promises to Heavenly Father. There's nothing more satisfying in life.

SATURDAY! We had ZTM, for the first time in a long while I didn't have to prepare it. It was really good. I learned a lot and had a good time. It's interesting to see the different styles of teaching and training of different missionaries. We again taught the T's. and it was a good lesson. They're sharp kids. Young and don't know everything, but they have testimonies and that's humbling. We had dinner with Sister Johnson. She told us more about her cancer, since we gave her a blessing.  It was pretty cool. She said that the doctors couldn't figure out why it stopped spreading so suddenly. They asked us to give her another one. I love giving blessings. It's the coolest. Right up there with teaching the Restoration it's like my favorite thing in the world to do. 

SUNDAY! Okay. I have no time so I'll make a list. 
Robert passed the sacrament. Awesome.
Vicki spoke in sacrament meeting. Powerful.
Sassidy and Amazing came to church. Unexpected.
Rigdon got his patriarchal blessing. He texted us and told us all about it, he was so excited.
It was a good, good day. 

Sorry this email hasn't been so great. It's been super busy over here.
But things are great. I really love life. I'm thankful to be a missionary.
I love you all so much.
Sam

Monday, March 3, 2014

Deer family = herd

It's been a good week.
Mormon Messages are like the most cool.
Not much to report.

MONDAY! We taught a man about the Book of Mormon. It went well. You could tell that he liked it and wanted to learn more but his wife was not interested at all and she like shut him down. We couldn't even pray at the end of the lesson. I've never had anything happen like that before. We planted some good seeds. We prayed with a man right after. He was crying at the end. I don't get it (but I mean I do) why people feel the Spirit and then don’t/won’t do anything about it. They don't keep their appointments or commitments. Maybe it's because they can’t see past the moment. I think that spiritual shortsightedness is super prevalent. I've been guilty of it often. We can fuel the fire, but we can’t start it for them. We went to the Tobler’s and had an FHE with Melissa. She asked a ton of random questions. It was good that she's getting her questions answered, but I feel there is more to her concerns than obscure doctrinal doubts. It seems to me she is scared of what other people will think of her. It's sad that it is holding her back. Fear. It's debilitating. Then we went and taught Robert another new member lesson. It was such juxtaposition, someone who is in a rut and someone who is taking great spiritual strides each day. He bore his testimony of the influence of the Holy Ghost. It was touching to listen to. He's a great man and a good example to me. 

TUESDAY! We started the day off with a doctor’s appointment in Henderson for EW. While there, Sister Martinez called and asked us if we could give her a blessing. I was so happy to. It's nice when you get a chance to serve someone you respect so much. I was super happy to help her. I guess I'd be a much more faithful servant if I loved and respected everyone that much. Hmm. I guess I should probably work on that hahaha. Not saying I don’t like serving others, I love to. But I am especially happy to help someone who does so much for others and does it so selflessly. We did comp study with Rigdon. We had a lesson with Nick and talked to him about church. He wants to come but he can’t leave the mother-in-law there by herself for that long. It's a super complex situation. We read Moroni: 6 with him and he loved it. We saw an inactive sister. That was interesting. She told us her conversion story. She went to Gladys Knight thing ten years ago and then he took the lessons for six or so weeks. She never prayed about the Book of Mormon or baptism or Joseph Smith or anything. Her missionary went inactive right after coming home. She got sick a little while later and while in her bed she started reading anti-Mormon material and then ended up being atheist. After years she has regained her faith in God but still doesn’t believe in Jesus or anything else. It was sad. She said that she wants to come back but she just doesn’t believe in anything anymore. We saw Tyrone. He's doing well but he hasn’t been coming to church recently. It's tough. No one has really fellowshipped him and his wife has cancer so he doesn’t have too much support. We saw Sassidy and Marcus. Sassy is freaking out because her daughter, Promise, is going to have surgery next week and she said that her worry is consuming her life. She can’t do anything but sit and worry. We tried to help her and give her hope but it didn’t really work. She just got frustrated at her boyfriend for not expressing as much worry as she does. Then we saw the S's. They fed us and it was awesome. Usually the disobedience of parents affects the children but in their case the crazy life their children lead has left them with a bunch of grandkids to watch that drains them of like all their life. It's keeping them from coming to church and keeping Sister S. from getting baptized. 

WEDNESDAY! We had a good DM this morning. We talked about creating an environment where the Spirit can bear witness through testimony. It's an interesting phrase that is mentioned two times in PMG [Preach My Gospel]. We discussed and practiced it. We ate a ton of pizza on Wednesday. Everywhere we went people gave us pizza. It was kinda gross haha. We talked to a guy on the street about prophets. It was cool. He was getting kinda frustrated and said, "WHY ISNT THERE A PROPHET TODAY???" Boom! We taught him about how there is one. We visited some old people in the wards. We played basketball with one of our investigators. All our lessons cancelled that night. All these people cancelling have been a huge lesson in my patience. We started an exchange that night with Desert Sage.

THURSDAY! We visited an old member in the morning and he tried to set us up with his daughter who is currently serving a mission. He kept saying things like, "She's cute!" "She has a great testimony." "Would you like to meet her?" "Would you like to be on her email list?" "She might like to hear that story too!" trying to get us to start emailing her or something, it was kinda weird. We had a lesson with Toni. She's doing well. We saw Barbara who has cancer. She found out this week that the chemo hasn’t been doing as much as they’d hoped and so now they're going to do radiation as well. She's still so positive. Her doctor told her that she should get her affairs in order in case she doesn’t make it through the treatments. It was a good day with Elder Mederios. He's a very humble missionary. It's a pleasure to serve around him and with him.

FRIDAY! We had eight appointments cancel today. We saw some huge dogs. Like HUGE dogs. Sorry I don’t have any pictures. Brother Odulio taught us about the Atonement. We started an exchange with the ZLs so I was with Elder Smith in his area. 

SATURDAY! We taught a young boy who has zero interest in the gospel and really just wanted us there to show us his parkour. He was pretty dece for a 12 year old. We taught a lesson to a family where the only son is dying of cancer, like bedridden. The Spirit was so strong in there. You could feel that God is right there sustaining and supporting this family because of their faith. In some cases when people will turn to God, as they have turned to him, they've found relief. 

SUNDAY! Jessie decided to get baptized! He's finally committed and so in two weeks we should have four baptisms, two different sets of brothers. It's pretty cool. I'm excited for that. Deshon and his family didn’t come to church. :( that was sad, but we had some good lessons on Sunday. Not too much super exciting though.

Sorry for the crappy email
Sparknotes: I'm happy, I'm being purified. Elder Wendt is awesome. We have a ton of fun.
Life is good.
I love you all so much!
Sam