Monday, August 29, 2016

Week #59--August 29, 2016

Good morning! I hope you all have had a wonderful week and now as School starts to really pick up that you all have great hopes for this school year! 

Things are still going well here in the Hesparia desert. Still dry. Still hot. Although, I hear rumors that it will begin to cool down sometime in the next weeks. 

I won't lie this week definitely brought challenges, but it turned out super good. 

We had an awesome Zone Conference with our Mission President, and may  just say that he is one amazing man. I'm used to going into meetings with the mission president quite scared and walking away feeling pretty guilty, so I wasn't exactly 'pumped' to go into Zone Conference. But when we walked in, he just said "Elders and Sisters, today I don't want to put any more rocks (or bricks, I can't remember which heavy object he used in the analogy) into your bag than are already in there. I don't want you walking out more discouraged than you were when you came, I want the opposite. I want everyone to walk out with a spring in their step!" And we sure did! He's such a calm, joyful, loving man and I admire him so much. 

So we talked about finding and talked about overcoming the fears of finding and how to use as many ideas as possible. So we have set up playing basketball with young men and having them bring non-members, the ward is putting together a Horse-shoe tournament and is super missionary minded while doing that, and inviting friends and home teaching families and all sorts of people! I love this ward and their devout missionary spirit, that's for sure!
Wednesday and Thursday brought some low points. I got really discouraged (which happens) and frustrated with a lot of things, but it got better as the days progressed.
Dan is still praying about his baptismal date. Gosh he's so close. HE IS SO CLOSE. We talked to Bishop about some of his thoughts and feelings and Bishop is going to go over and play horseshoes with him and talk to him about it. AND Dan told us he's going to call his friend from grade school who is a member and has always lovingly encouraged him to join without every being pushy. He hasn't talked to him in like 15 years, so I think it'll be a good chat. 

Also it was Dan's birthday on Friday and we had a nice celebration at his house. He's just the best. Like, if for nothing else the Ruggles (Dan and Reatha and Yvonne) have made my entire mission worth it. 
And then (this story is super cool, just fyi) Sunday morning, I was looking over past Progress records of people we've taught and I found one in February of this year, my first week in this area with Elder Wedel. We had found a lady. Named Thea who was walking her dogs. She told us she was an inactive member but really wanted to come to church. We didn't even know where the church was, just the general direction, so we wrote down loose directions, taught her a little bit and prayed and left. BUT WE FORGOT TO GET HER ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER! AGH! That had bothered me this whole time, because I felt we could have helped her more and what not... Until she showed up on Sunday at church!! How cool is that? I only got to see the blessing of that because I stayed so long. Otherwise, I would not have gotten to see the fruits of that seed we planted many months ago. And some fruits don't come for many years! I doubt Dan's original missionaries (from 45 years ago) have any idea that their seeds they planted would take so long to sprout but they would definitely sprout!! So don't get discouraged when we don't see the rewards of our efforts just yet. 

We also had a member of the Temple Presidency come and speak to us in sacrament meeting and that was cool. He talked about how when we go to the temple, our perspective changes. We see life differently. He talked about how in The Pearl of Great Price, Moses has an experience that he related to the temple, and how afterwards, when Satan shows up, Moses is able to say "Blessed be the name of my God, for his Spirit hath not altogether withdrawn from me, or else where is thy glory, for it is darkness unto me? And I can judge between thee and God" Wow! How cool! As we go to the temple, our perspective changes. While we are not in his powerful presence when we LEAVE the temple, we still have his spirit and we can better discern the difference between Light and Darkness. But in order to see that perspective, OUR perspective must change. We must have the temple in our sights constantly. We must do everything that we can to work towards that and to obtain the powerful promises of protection, knowledge, love and the companionship of the Spirit given to us as we attend and keep the covenants of the temple. 

I love you all so much! 
Church is true!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Week #58--August 22, 2016

Good morning Cubs and Shrubs, and welcome to another installment of: "Elder Brown walks around in the Desert"

Highlights of this week:
  • A Huge Fire RIPS through Southern California. No damage was done to our area, but half of it was super smokey and ash would sometimes fall (but only in about half of the area. You crossed one street and the air quality changed on a dime)
  • Our investigator Jonathan is still progressing well, came to church, is reading the book of mormon, gave up substances for the Word of Wisdom in a cool way, which I'll mention later, and is just doing awesome! He's super excited for his baptism on September 3rd!
  • I took 2nd place in the ward horseshoe tournament. (Won the semi-finals in the most intense game that went into overtime because it's 'win by 2' and we just kept scoring! But I WON WITH A RINGER BABY! THE DAGGER TO THE HEART OF MATT GARZA!) I lost to Dan. (figures) 
Now, let me first calm the masses and say that it is not a SET IN STONE baptismal date, and he is still praying to make sure that he will do it. But still! We had the coolest lesson with him where we talked about Faith and how if we show our faith to the Lord by acting, he will match it and show that it's true. We talked about the potential downsides, (which there were none) and all of the people in the church that he's met who are blessed by their Faith! You can see a desire in him to go to the temple with Reatha (Although, I think my desire for them to get sealed might be bigger, but of course none of our desires compare to God's desire to have them sealed together!) and his desire to just be a good Priesthood holder!! Please pray that he'll accept this date and work towards it! 
Also, we watched the full length Joseph Smith movie with the Dan, Reatha and Yvonne, and it was SO POWERFUL! Usually Reatha and Yvonne are quite chatty ALL the time, but after the movie finished, you could see the profound impact that the spirit had had on them, testifying that he was a prophet! And while I had seen it before, (many times) the spirit reconfirmed to me the divine authenticity of this work!

Also, Jonathan... WOO! What a stud. I flipping love that man. So, we go and teach the Word of Wisdom and literally he struggles with 4 of the 5 he told us. Smoking, Alcohol, tea, coffe (no drugs though, thank heavens) and while he was willing to give up smoking and alcohol, he was not willing to give up tea and coffee. We felt prompted to share the story of Naaman, the Leper who doubted when he was asked to do something as silly as bathe in the River Jordan 7 times, but how The Lord blessed him anyway! While it stuck with him, he still wasn't willing. But he told us he would pray about it. 

Then, about an hour later when we were heading home for the night, he calls (for two reasons, actually, one being I left my Book of Mormon there like a Goon) to tell us that he prayed and felt really strong that he needed to give up tea and coffee and he would do it! Hooray! He loves the temple and looking at and listening to MOTAB and the whole shebang. He says when he looks at the temple he can feel that God is there and he wants to be where God is! Holy Cow! What a stud! I'm so pumped for his baptism. 

This week, I got to teach Priesthood and I taught on President Nelson's talk in last General Conference: The Price of Priesthood Power. (or for those in the room who didn't have the priesthood, it could similarly be compared to Spiritual Power) He compares the difference between Power and Authority to being like an organ. The organ is the authority, but whether or not it's plugged into a power source is what actually makes the music! So it's important for us as Priesthood holders to not just have the authority and treat the Priesthood like a plaque on the wall "Oh, there's my degree so I'm educated, there's the time I ran a marathon, there's the time I met the President, there's my Priesthood..." But rather, we should treat it like staying in shape! We may have run a marathon at one point and been super powerful in regards to our Priesthood, but are we still in shape? Because it doesn't matter if we were ONCE a powerful missionary, or we were ONCE in the Elders quorum presidency, or if we ONE TIME had 100% home teaching, how is our Preisthood Power RIGHT NOW? Are we still living up to the promises we made? 

He then outlines 5 ways to increase our Power. 
1)Pray to find ways to increase our Power
2)Study to find ways to increase our Power
3)Attend the Temple regularly, asking sincerely to learn about Priesthood power and authority, 
4)Serving others
5)Loving and cherishing our wives. (or family in general for those of us who are still single)

So my commitment to them is the same I give to you! Pick one of those 5 and work on that this week! I know if you do, you'll find more joy. 

I love you all so much! Church is true!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Week #57--August 15, 2016

Welp, 13 down, 11 to go! This last month went so fast, haha. It feels like yesterday that I was hitting a year, I blinked and I'm at 13. The sisters who came out with me go home in just 5 months, haha. Time flies when you're having fun!

Man this week was just... It was crazy for sure. First off, I'm staying which came out of NOWHERE, but I'm super pumped because this ward is awesome. By the end of this transfer, I will have been here for 7 and 1/2 months and as long as I was in my first 2 areas combined (that second fact is the weird one).

Also Yvonne got baptized! How sick is that? I'm pumped. I'll send pics. Elder Wedel came back and baptized her and then I got to confirm her. 

We also started teaching a man named Jonathan who will most likely get baptized September 3rd! (Which is Sam's Birthday, shout out to that crazy cat) So we've got some good work going on here in Hesparia. 

I got an ear infection this week, which stunk, but it happens. It wrecked like 2 of our proselyting days which is always the worst. On Wednesday we spent the day in Urgent Care because it got so bad. And then they put me on so many pills that I felt out of it for the rest of the week. #thehardlife

Taught some cool lessons. Taught a lesson to the 9 year old with Asperger's about The Armor of God/the story of Ammon protecting King Lamoni's flocks. We brought dress ups and props, and had some fun. I'll send pictures of that too. 

Yvonne's baptism was hectic, because I'm super bad at planning so naturally we forgot like 2 things (including her baptismal suit, haha. I'm such a dingleberry) but it happened and went smoothly and a lot of ward members came and showed support!

We met a super cool Potential named Yasenia (it's phonetic) and so hopefully she will continue to investigate and want to learn more! 
I've literally tracted every street in the area, so we're re-tracting it haha. The joys of being somewhere this long

Spiritual thought: "God can't steer a parked car." And that's the truth! I think there's a lot to it. Just like how as missionaries change doesn't REALLY start happening until you leave the apartment and start working, as followers of God change/growth/progression doesn't start until WE start acting. I've been really studying the New Testaments the last few week and I'm in the middle of the Gospel of Mark, and it's amazing to see how many times ACTION precedes the miracle. Even if that action is simple like the woman with the issue of blood touching the hem of the Savior's clothes. It would have been easy for her to sit in the back of the crowd and pray that the Savior would come to her and heal her. We do that all the time! And there are times when those prayers are answered, but often we have to reach out for the Savior. That's why in 3 Nephi 9:13-14 The Savior says "will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me."

We must come to him to be healed. 

Love you all! Church is true!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Week #56--August 8, 2016

This one will be short, I promise. I don't have much time and I'll explain why/

Now if this week was to have a title, it would probably "Brotherhood of the fiery stretchy pants" or something charming like that. Mostly that explanation will be at the end. 
So this week was another long hard one. I went on exchanges on Wednesday and we worked a little too hard and my companion for the day got a bad case of heat exhaustion and is not allowed to be in the sun for a few more days. 


But essentially this week was a lot of tracting and a lot of nothing. 

We did have one of the coolest lessons with dan I've ever had with him. We were reading the Book of Mormon and talking about it with him, and the spirit enlightened him in a lot of cool ways as we did, and he mentioned (and got emotional, but don't tell him I told you) that it was his Mother's birthday that day. He said she always let him take these missionary lessons when he was a kid, and never complained. And then he said:  "And it's just cool to think that she's probably hearing the same thing on the other side right now." 

Dang. That was a cool moment. 

Also IDK if you guys have heard about the big wild fires in Cali, but one got really close to us. So close we had to evacuate! That was sick. Sick doggy. At it's worst it was only about 3 miles from our area. Pretty gnarly stuff. 
So that meant we had to have a giant sleep over with 8 elders in an apartment. I will admit... Me and a few others went a little too crazy. But the festivities ended at around 2, so we're all good. Just mostly a lot of hearts were played, and fun was had. 

Then this morning when we got the all clear to go back to our apartment, the stove had been turned on by something (my companion thinks we were targeted by someone in the complex because we left the door unlocked and things were moved and shifted, I'm pretty sure my hips are just too wide and wreaked bumped it while packing for the evacuation, lol

So we had to get ready at some other Elders apartments where we found the true classic: SUPER SKINNY PANTS THAT WERE TOO SKINNY FOR THIS SUPER SKINNY ELDER.
I'm currently wearing them proudly. That's right folks, I'm in pants LITERALLY 11 sizes too small. It's a dream come true, haha. 

Well that's pretty much been our week. 

Remember that I love you all so much, and I am so grateful for everything you have done for me in the past and everything you continue to do for me. 

Church is true!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Week #55--August 1, 2016

I know I don't usually title my E-mails, but if this e-mail was to have a title, I think it would be:

"Standing in the Refiners Fire... Literally"

I'm not going to lie, there were definitely good parts of this week, highlights, good memories, good laughs, but this week was rough! The past few I've been struggling with quite a few things. But that happens!

We went to lunch with Brother Laursen, (from Parkview Ward) and that was great. It was so much fun to see him and Lex again. We had a great time. 

It still felt like a bazillion degrees outside this week. And we still tracted a ton. And still nothing came of it. But I know the Lord will consecrate my efforts if I give him my whole heart. 

Yvonne (Reatha's Sister) is getting baptized on the 13th!!! Only 2 days before I (most likely) get transferred! So we're pumped. We've just got to get her to quit smoking before then. 

This week I read an interesting talk called "Time-Out" by one of my favorite speakers in General Conference History, Paul H. Dunn. He talked about in sports we don't just ask for help from the coach at the beginning of the game and get feedback at the end. Rather we take multiple time-outs to seek help from the coach. Why should it be any different in our lives? When the guy in front of us cuts us off, when the amount of tasks is overwhelming, when we feel we don't have the strength to keep going, why don't we take a Time-Out? Why don't we ask the greatest Coach for what to do. He's played the game a few times, and he knows how to win. Learn from him. 
I love you all! I hope you have a great week!

Church is true!