So today we got to go to the temple, which was really cool, but that means we moved our next P-day to today. So you won't be hearing from me for 2 Mondays!
It was a nice refresher to go to the temple again. It's felt like so long since I last went, so it was nice to go and feel the temple spirit and see what it was like inside the Redlands temple. It was a much smaller temple than the one's I'm used to but very pretty none-the-less!
As always, I love you all and hope you have a great week and a half!
Well this week was brutal, but that's okay. Because the Atonement is more powerful than any hard week!
So all week we did an abnormal amount of street contacting which can be difficult when people don't like you, but ah well. We did meet some really cool people and hopefully one of them will turn into a new investigator!
We went on splits with the High Priests, and I went with the HP group leader to visit some less actives around the ward and set up some appointments. That went alright, but apparently the other missionaries and a much older high priest who had gone to visit a really solid investigator... well... the lesson went into the weeds. The High Priest started spewing deep doctrine, which confused the investigator and the investigator has started meeting with his Calvary Chapel friend (Calvary Chapel is one of the churches that teaches anti-mormon classes) and he's waning. But we're meeting with him this Tuesday so we'll hopefully turn it around!
Then we visited with a Part-member family. The parents are less active but want their kids baptized. The problem is... The family is super less active, but thinks they're active. We told them we couldn't baptize their kids until they became active in church and in the home (Family Scripture study/prayer/FHE) and they got really offended. But the line was drawn! And we invited them to become active! So we'll see what happens.
Then Lisa is out of town all week, so we couldn't meet with her this last weekend, but at least she's still progressing!
And then Neil dropped us. That was hard. He told us he was praying really hard and got the answer to stay Catholic... So we're not going to be able to meet with him as much. That one stunk.
On top of all that, we've all started getting a little sick as a companionship and we lost the phone and had to retrace our steps for the day (Wand it was a long biking day) to try and find it. So needless to say, a little discouraging of a week.
Then this morning, I was reading in Alma 5 and just spent the whole hour studying that and making notes on that BEAUTIFUL sermon Alma gives. And I realized how selfish and self-centered I was being! Not in a self-deprecating way, but in a liberating way! I realized everyone has hard weeks, but it certainly can't get as bad as the Savior's last week. I realized how easy I've got it, with a family who loves and supports me, food, shelter, and a purpose every single day. And most of all, I get to spend 2 year completely immersed in the Atonement, so why on earth was I whining? I need to be singing the song of redeeming love! Rejoicing! I'm a missionary! I have the whole and completely restored gospel of The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Because of that knowledge, I can live forever, and more importantly I can live with my future spouse and family forever.
(Sigh) Yes everyone. I have heard about the BYU games. There are Mormon's down here too. Showing up to ward council with everyone wearing BYU ties and full of life at 7:30 in the morning usually means I missed something. Haha, I don't want that to sound super bitter. That's not the intention. And for those of you who did send me the info about the games, don't feel bad and I'd love to hear more of it! But needless to say the Ward was buzzing about both games. And you'll be happy to hear that even though I was offered by multiple people to watch the replay's I turned them down!
But now onto this last week. It went really well! We got our new companion, Elder Acox, and he's been a fun new dynamic. Elder Russell was big on not using any Mission Culture in our discussion, or vocabulary. Things like just calling people by their last names, or calling Investigators 'Gators'... Things like that. Elder Acox is a big fan of mission culture. I'll leave that be.
But it's been nice to have a third witness to everything we say! He adds a different dynamic to the companionship.
Neil is doing well. He is frustrating us to no end but he's doing well. He's a riot, and every time he reads the Book of Mormon he has the funniest commentary on it. "I got really happy when this Nephi guy wanted to obey the commandments and show some mercy on the drunk dude.... But then good ol' wrathful God whispers 'No, kill 'im'" Or last night when reading about the Brother of Jared: "This guy seems really important... And he doesn't even get a name? Someone must have said something and offended someone. Jared's probably the one writing this! And nobody even knows who Jared is!" Maybe that's not as funny to read as it was to live but we got a good kick out of it.
Unfortunately he's Catholic, and doesn't want to change from what's comfortable for him. He told us if he could get baptized Mormon and keep going to Mass, then that would be the ideal scenario.... It's an adventure.
But we'll keep working with him
Lisa is progressing like crazy! She's the one who works for Disney Channel and was a Jehovah's witness for 39 years but always felt empty. And she comes to church every week and keeps getting emotional about how happy it makes her, and how she's so sad that she was missing out on so much for so long. It won't be long until she get's baptized, we're sure of it.
Then we met a young couple, one's a Less active and the other isn't a member and they're super interested. They actually called the mission office and asked for missionary's to come teach them. Those are the best kinds of days.
So those are the big 3, sorry I rambled so long.
Oh! Also, Elder Fallabela came and visited the mission. And that was amazing! He's a member of the Seventy and had such an incredible spirit about him. I was also asked to arrange and put together the special musical number for that conference. So I guess that was cool. It only took 6 weeks before they figured out about my skill set and informed me "Yeah, you'll probably be doing most of these special musical numbers.
I'll send the audio to that when I get it. It's not great, but it's pretty good.
Anyway, Elder Fallabela. He talked a lot about the Atonement and how powerful it was. It was such an amazing experience because we walked through the process of conversion and the Atonement's hand in every phase. He had us study Alma 17-22 and Mosiah 2-5 in preparation and we discussed the points of conversion and the signs of conversion. It was cool to sit with 80 or 90 missionaries, each one with different things that stood out to them. Thing's I wouldn't have noticed at all were brought up and were so cool.
Then my favorite part was when he talked about people who know the Bible. He said (And this is not word for word, just the jist of it) "You will come across many people who know the Bible a lot better than you. They will know their references and facts a lot better than most of you ever will. And it may be discouraging when they yell and counter everything you say and believe. But you have something they don't. You know about the Atoning Sacrifice of your Savior Jesus Christ. They don't know anything about that. Ask them! Watch them stumble! And then bear Testimony. Because again, another thing you have on them is you have the knowledge of the fulness of Christ's Gospel and a very personal relationship with your Savior. And there is nothing they can say that can beat that."
Now that was cool to me. I love my Savior so much. He has done everything for me. He is everything to me. I'm grateful for this opportunity that I have to immerse myself in his teachings and his love. I encourage all of you to continue/start feasting on the words of Christ and crying to him in fervent prayer.
I am SO happy here. I honestly can't imagine what life would have been like if I would have made the decision to stay and not come out here. BYU games and dating and board games and naps and theme parks will still be there when I get home. I'm learning that a little more every day. And 2 months are already gone from my short 24, so I plan to make the most of every possible second. Even if it means I continue to be exhausted and sore and tired and sweaty everywhere I go. I encourage any of you, my friends who are considering whether or not to go on a mission, to just do it! You will realize it's hard work, and it's brutal emotionally, physically and spiritually, but it is so worth it.
Wow that was a novel. If you honestly made it through the whole thing, I owe you Ice Cream or something. I love you all, I miss you all.
Welp! I apologize for getting this out a day late, but all the library's were closed on Monday due to the Holiday. Plus it was transfer day which meant moving and meetings for hours.
So yeah! First transfer done! Each transfer is 6 weeks, and there are 17 in a mission. So 1 down, 16 to go. It really flew by so fast! Like, so fast. I'm staying in the Terra Vista ward in Rancho, and Elder Russell is staying as well but we're getting a third missionary for a tri-panionship! So that will be a fun new adventure!
His name is Elder Acox, and he looks a lot younger than both Elder Russel and I, but he's actually 25. So that's funny. He was not excited to be our companion at first, and was really kind of mad. Apparently we're known throughout the mission as being 'Pharisees' because we take the rules 'too' seriously, and we're 'too' obedient. (I'm sorry, didn't realize obedience was a bad thing. You know who else was really obedient? Jesus. True story) But after a little bit, he realized that although we like to work really hard and constantly strive to obey every rule, we're still really funny and a lot of fun to be with.
I don't have a lot of time to e-mail today, like less than an hour so I apologize if my answers to some of you are really short. I'll try and write you better one's next week.
Both Neil and Lisa (Disney Channel worker) came to church! Neil didn't like Testimony meeting very much because he felt uncomfortable... Don't know what that's about but we're working with him. And Lisa absolutely loved it! So we're planning to set a baptismal date with her this weekend. The ward loves how much work we're doing and tell us a lot. This ward hasn't seen a baptism in almost 2 years, so it would be cool to get a few before we leave.
And the community notices us too! Keep in mind our area is the biggest English ward in the City, so there are tons of people, but people always comment on how they see us everywhere. And not just missionaries, "The big one and the small one... And the big one's always a ways behind!" So they're recognizing us in particular, which is cool. People are always watching everything we do as members of the Church, and we all represent Jesus Christ in our actions. That's part of the baptismal covenant! We literally take his names upon us.
I've been thinking a lot about the power of prayer, and especially prayer with faith. I was reading in Mosiah 27, where Alma the Younger is visited by the Angel, and the Angel tells him that he has not come because of Alma's wickedness, or to protect the church like I'd always thought, but because of the prayers and faith of the people. Prayer is powerful.
And not just prayer, but fasting. We had the opportunity to fast as a mission for one purpose. "To Help us prepare to find those who are prepared to hear the message of the restored gospel". And imagine 200 or so faithful missionaries sacrificing and praying in faith for each other and for those who are ready to hear the word of the Lord. Pretty powerful image.
I love you all and miss you! And this church is true! I know it. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. It is the one true church.