Monday, February 29, 2016

Week #33--February 29, 2016

I'm pretty pumped, not going to lie. This week was freaking awesome. 

So Elder Wedel? He's an animal. An actual animal with a white shirt and nametag. He's insane. Not just in work ethic, but in Faith. I couldn't write all the lessons I've learned this week in 100 emails, but I'll try and condense the big lessons.

First off, the area we whitewashed into had 1 investigator and no Less-actives or recent converts they were working with. That changed. The ward was kind of bugged, because (as the Bishop said) "This ward hasn't been worked by the Elder's in a few years". That changed this week. 

When we sat down to set goals for the week, we went through the goals. I was going to put down a goal for no one baptized or confirmed (because there was no baptism set up, and that's a process that takes a few weeks of prep) but he demanded that we change that to 1. He told me that it probably wouldn't change our results for the week, but it would change our faith and drive to work. If we're setting the goal for 1 baptized and confirmed each week, our mindset towards the work changes and eventually we'll get there with enough Faith. DANG!

Then in District meeting, while everyone was sharing their goals for New Investigators for the week, everyone in the district said either 3 or 4... Except for us. We said 7 (another step of faith by Elder Wedel) Everyone literally laughed. That kind of bugged my companion, and he told them they needed to have a little more faith in the Lord's ability to bless us and our goals. We didn't reach our goal, but we got pretty darn close with 6. We felt so blessed!
We've started jogging from house to house while tracting (which we've done hours of) just to get more houses knocked. We plan to tract every single street in our area. (That's a lot of streets and a lot of houses by the way)
And there were so many miracles along the way! I've learned the power of Faith and how it leads to blessings. WE had to get to the bottom of the area in a short period of time to make our pre-scheduled dinner appointment, but we had no phone and no bikes yet. So what did he suggest we do? Prayed for a ride. And then we started walking. And what happens? The Ward mission leader drives by us picks us up, and gives us a tour of the area and drops us off at dinner. 

We were far from home and really thirsty? We stopped and prayed for someone to offer us water. (we hadn't seen anyone all day because it was so hot) and not 3 minutes later we met a member who offered us water. Boom. There's more, but I don't have much time to talk. 

The Ward Mission Leader is incredible. INCREDIBLE. He takes us out all the time, schedules appointments for us, the whole bit.

The whole ward is obsessed with missionary work, and feed us every night. It's honestly such a great ward. SUCH A GREAT WARD AND AREA AND COMPANION I AM IN LOVE.

It's so awesome. 

We've also met plenty of crazies, because we're in the High Desert still. Holy cow, people here are sure obsessed with politics. One guy ( a less active) sat us down and was very mean and told us we were close minded for not believing that God was an alien and that most of the worlds phenomenons were caused by aliens. Then he started yelling and cussing at Elder Wedel for testifying of the book of mormon, haha. We told our Ward Mission Leader about him and his response was "Oh, you saw Brian? That guy's coo coo for coacoa puffs" We had a pretty good laugh about that. 

Gah, this is a novel. But in closing, I'll tell a story of a guy we met. We hit it off well with him, talking about his cars (he has a gorgeous restored mustang that took him 11 years to build.. Worth quite a bit). After a while we told him that God's done a bit of restoring himself! But not with cars. After chatting a bit, he told us the only two mormons he's ever known converted after he'd known them for a long time. After that they never talked to him again. He tried. He said he wrote letters and emails and left messages on their phones, but got nothing back. He said he liked us, and wouldn't mind listening but he didn't want to join a church where he wasn't allowed to love those who weren't of his faith. Ouch.

Luckily Elder Wedel saved it with his Farm boy charm, and told him that while the church is perfect, the people aren't. We have an appointment with him tomorrow and everything but AAAGH. It broke my heart.

Always remember that you represent something greater than yourselves. You represent someONE greater than yourselves. Love everyone. Always. No questions asked. Not in a fake way. Love them and everything about them. Get to know them. Talk to them. Serve them. Please. Some people are easy to love, and some aren't easy. Sometimes we aren't easy to love but the Savior ALWAYS loves us. There are no off-days with his love, unless we are the one's who turn from him.

And I love you all. You're all such great people with incredible potential for good in this world. So no matter what the situation you're in, love and know you're loved. 

Church is true!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Week 32--February 22, 2016

Well, I have been transferred unfortunately. I think it was probably for the better, considering the fact that Elder Golden and I were so close, I think it was starting to interfere with the work. 

I think the best way to sum up our entire companionship is this quote that he wrote in my signing journal. "Elder Brown, I am currently asking you to do the dishes... And your response was to take your pants off and start playing the piano. I think that sums up our entire 2 transfers together" Haha, while that might be a little crude, it's a little scary how accurate that is. 

It honestly has flown by so fast! I cannot believe that I have been in Parkview ward since October of last year! It feels like literally yesterday! But, I'm sure I'll see those members around and I'll for sure be keeping in touch with Elder Golden. 

But onto Transfer news! I'm in the Santa Fe ward in Hesparia (so not far from Victorville at all. They're neighboring cities) And my new companion is...... Elder Wedel! 

Elder Wedel and I have become really good friends at past events devotionals and so we were pumped when we found out! Let me try and describe him for you: Red head, from Idaho, thick accent, still has greenie fire (Has been out less time than me) and a complete bundle of laughs. But he's pretty well known through out the mission for taking Lucerne Valley (A pretty dead area out in the middle of nowhere) and getting a ton of work started by buying a chainsaw and chopping wood for people. He got a ton of less-actives to church, got a ton of investigators. The guys wakes up an extra 30 minutes to an hour early just to work out and study. How beast is that? 
Also we whitewashed into an area that's super dead. (Whitewash-we're both brand new to the area) and the phone is broken, so we don't have contact with anyone in the ward yet. Get pumped. 

We're excited to baptize all of Santa Fe, so we'll let you know how many times we have to fill that font, haha. 

So for my spiritual thought, Elder Golden and I came up with a bit of a parable that has caused me to ponder. It's a little simple and has flaws, but bear with me. It's about this awesome miracle medicine that's released that heals all leg pain. All sorts of people buy it and rave about the success they find! In just a few days, any and all pain they had is gone! Taken away! 

One day, an old woman walks in and buys a bottle that should last her about a week. She returns the next week, complaining that the bottle didn't help her leg pain at all, so she buys another. Week after week, the old lady buys more and more bottles and continually complains that it doesn't work. After a few years of this pattern, she passes away. When people went to clear out her house, they found a huge pile of unopened bottles of this miracle medicine. She hadn't used a single one.

Now this may seem silly to us. When you buy a bottle, you take the medicine! The relief is not found in obtaining the medicine, but in partaking of the medicine. No one would go weekly to buy medicine only to not take it!
But how often do we go to church without applying it to our week? How often do we read our scriptures without applying what we learn? How often do we pray and not take of the answer? Aren't these activities just as fruitless as purchasing medicine only to leave it unopened? 

Before we jump to the conclusion that the gospel isn't working for us, we must ask ourselves if WE'RE working for the gospel. Are we taking those steps and truly partaking of that medicine every week? Or are we letting our church attendance, study habits, and prayers sit in a pile, unused? In Pres. Uchtdorf's talk: "It works wonderfully!" He said
 "Brothers and sisters, dear friends, I pray that we will focus on “the simplicity that is in Christ” and allow His grace to lift and carry us during our journey from where we are now to our glorious destiny in our Father’s presence.
"As we do so and someone asks us, “How is being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints working for you?” we will be able to say with pride, in all humility, and with great joy, “It works wonderfully! Thank you for asking! Would you like to know more?”

I know this to be true! I can testify that it's working for me. :) 
I love you all! I hope you have a great week!
Church is true!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Week 31--February 15, 2016

Hello! Happy Valentines Day! I hope all was good and you all remembered the Lord's Law of Chastity on such an... eventful holiday.

Sorry, that was probably inappropriate, but Chastity jokes are PRIME. And actually, fun Rancho Cucamonga chastity fact. Last year an investigator was found and baptized because two Elders thought it would be funny to go door to door sharing a message of Chastity. 

Also, today marks my 7 month mark! In someways it goes fast, and in others it is a long time, but I'm happy to be serving and love this work a lot!

This week went well! 

Fun story: We were visiting a Recent-Convert (who was baptized in another ward even though they live in our boundaries because sometimes missionaries break rules to make other missionaries mad) who lived out in the middle of the desert. It was late at night and super dark, and this crazy lad jumps out of nowhere and starts asking for us to give us a ride and stuff. We politely said no, (we were with a member, that's why we were in a car) and she wasn't happy and said some colorful things, but we drove off. Then there were all these shady characters moving around from house to house, the whole air smelled a lot like Marijuana (not uncommon) and the house we were stopping at looked super run down and sketchy. As we started knocking on the door, we heard (from the neighboring yard) someone shouting "Who's there? What do you want?" We couldn't see him, because he was hidden behind this bush thing and it was really dark, so Brother Laursen and Elder Golden started to move towards the car to leave. me, being not incredibly intelligent, moved towards the man and started saying "Hello!". 

As I got nearer, I realized this man was on the phone in one hand and pointing a gun at me in the other! I thought for sure I was going to die! Plot Spoiler: He didn't shoot, turned out he was an inactive member that no missionaries had been able to contact since Elder Wilcox in 2008 and he invited us back after a good chat. So a very happy ending to a super adventure packed story! How cool is that? 

We also tracted into a young man named Clayton who started investigating. He thought we were the police at first, and got really nervous. But we were able to teach him and he's super excited to investigate! 

This looks like it'll probably be my last week with Elder Golden, which definitely makes us both sad, and it'll most likely be my last week in this ward which makes ME really sad, but I guess that's just how it goes!

The Church really is true guys. I can't express that enough. If the gospel doesn't seem to be working for you, then you're missing a step. It sounds blunt and forward, but at it's true! It really is such a big deal. Don't take any part of it lightly. If it's not working for you, then you need to change something because this is literally Eternity we're talking about. I don't want any of you to miss out on the happiness this gospel brings, because it is such a wonderful joy. And it's so simple! Read the book or mormon, pray, go to church and partake of the sacrament worthily and apply what you learn from those 3 sources! Easy as that. I love you all so much, and it breaks my heart to see people turn away this light. It's like turning down tickets to Disneyland! Who does that? (Still 100% missing Disneyland. That place makes me an A+ trunky mess, haha)

Well I miss you and love you all!

Church is true!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Week #30--February 8, 2016

Well, I realize that I said I'd only send one out every few weeks, but this week was for sure a super cool week! And it's number 30! That's a landmark I just couldn't pass up!

So this week was busy, and that's super good. We were able to teach a lot more people than usual, and that's always such a great blessing! 

First off, there's this family in the ward who has been less active for a while, became active again to get their 9 year old son baptized and then once again stopped coming. But we've gotten really close with them, especially the Dad as we go over and teach the new member lessons. He's super cool and friendly and we have such great conversations about the Gospel, about Charity and especially the role of faith. The love that you gain for people only seeing them once a week for 45 minutes to an hour is unreal. It blows me away. 

We also were finally able to have a real meeting with Delores and her family. We met her the week before Christmas and have not been able to catch her since. Some of the times she was clearly home as well, and so we were worried that she wasn't actually interested. (She was a referral from the Arizona Temple Christmas Lights show) But thanks to a prompting Elder Golden had to visit her before going home, we were able to meet and set up a real appointment! We met with her, her husband and her 12 year old daughter. Delores is currently trying to find the right church for her, and is visiting a few and taking the classes to see which one is right. Her husband was born and raised in the slums of long beach. (And I mean the slums. You should hear the stories, haha) He was raised Christian but saw a lot of problems and hypocrisy in Christianity so considers himself spiritual, not religious. But what we said about Joseph smith and the Book of Mormon really touched him. He hated how many times the Bible had been changed and translated, but said: "Well, if what you're saying is true... Then this book is the most perfect book on the earth... And God really did call another prophet." BOOM! The Gospel.

Also, he's a music producer on the side so even though he was super quiet at first, as soon as we started talking music and studio work he opened up really well and we hit it off great. The Lord knows his missionaries and where they belong! I can testify of that! 

We also are struggling, because with Former Investigators in the area missionaries would just go over and hang out (a very common epidemic in California) and so we'll meet people and they'll be surprised when we try to teach a lesson, which is funny. 

Also! We met with J.J. again. He prayed for us at the end, and Elder Golden and I almost started crying. I want to give you just an excerpt of some of the things he said: "Dear Lord, PLEASE bless these boys! Protect them from women! Women cause nothing but problems Lord! Always shaking their backsides! They Leeches! And let these boys enjoy their lunch! Make it a delicious lunch Lord!"

He's really funny, haha. Hopefully we can get him a fellow shipper and get him to church.
I've gained a strong testimony of repentance and the feeling of relief that comes from truly apologizing and asking for forgiveness. I love my Savior so much because he has truly changed me. I thought it was so silly in the scriptures when it described the Savior being risen with 'healing in his wings'. Now I see that he truly heals us because of his sacrifice and Resurrection. What an incredible blessing.
I love you all so much. 
Church is true!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Week #29--February 1, 2016

Hello everyone! I did want to send out this quick E-mail to let you know what's going on. 

Everything is still going well here in Victorville. I had no idea that you could grow so close to a ward. Even in Terra Vista down in Rancho it was different. I feel so much love for the people in this ward.I feel like it's my ward! Almost as if when I get transferred, after my mission is done I'm going to come home to this ward and live here in California, haha. 

And Elder Golden and I are still doing well. We get along really well and it is so much fun to get up and work with such a close friend each day. 

The work is slow, that's for sure but I've been blessed by my Father in Heaven. I also have received a lot of help as District Leader, because I certainly don't know what I'm doing, haha. 

This last week we had a couple of fun lessons. One was with our new investigator J.J.! He is super funny. He has had a few strokes so communication is a little slower, but he still is a very bright guy! 

In our lesson with him, he was wearing some whitey tideys and a wife beater (Yay California missions) and he stood up in the middle of Elder Golden's sentence and said "Smells like something's burning!" And walked out into his front yard for like 20 minutes. So that was funny. And then he prayed for us at the end and it was pretty awesome.

Then we taught a cool lesson to our Primary President's husband who is not a member. She had us over for dinner and we taught about real intent. He was super cool, and is a very Christ-like man, but doesn't believe in organized religion... So we'll work with him. He has a crazy work schedule because he works full time in Vegas, so it's rare that we can meet with him but every few weeks we can have a lesson and hopefully get him to come to church. 
Speaking of Church, we got to speak in church yesterday (Elder Golden and I). Elder Golden went first and talked about the Book of Mormon, and talked for about 30 minutes, so I didn't have a ton of time but I shared some things about the Holy Ghost I really liked. The quote that stood out to me the most was this:

Elder Neil L. Anderson:
"As evil increases in the world, there is a compensatory spiritual power for the righteous. As the world slides from its spiritual moorings, the Lord prepares the way for those who seek Him, offering them greater assurance, greater confirmation, and greater confidence in the spiritual direction they are traveling. The gift of the Holy Ghost becomes a brighter light in the emerging twilight.
To understand better, think of these comparisons: If the world were growing more physically dark, He could give us enhanced night vision. If loud noises were constantly in our ears, He could give us a filtering mechanism to block the unwanted sound. If the race we were running was extended, He could give us increased lung and muscle capacity."

So a great week for sure! I do want to let you know that I probably won't be sending out a mass email each week, but rather every couple of weeks. That being said, I do want to keep in touch with all of you, so I would love to hear from you! Even if it's just a couple of words about your week, I would love that! I'll also probably be writing some of you randomly to see how you're doing and just to keep in touch. 

I love you all! 
Church is true!