Monday, October 31, 2016

Week #68--October 31st

Alrighty, so I suppose I should start by just touching on an event that took place LAST transfer that I neglected to mention. I AM THE CHAMPION of a place called Apollo Burger. They have this huge eating challenge that is super difficult, basically it's an insane burger and a MOUNTAIN of fries and a large drink. Many missionaries have tried and failed. Only 2 people have ever been able to do it and their pictures are up on the wall. 


It was probably the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life, but it happened. So now my picture is up on the wall. THE THIRD IN HISTORY TO COMPLETE THE CHALLENGE!

On to the week: It was awesome! Super busy. We taught more lessons than I have my whole mission, which is 15! While that may seem like a smallish/normal number to those of you in South America, that number is flipping awesome for us in California! So I'm pretty pumped. And we got 4 people on date for baptism!! The work is moving forward brothers and sisters!

We taught Gabriel and Izeta some more. Gabriel especially really opened up and we spent all of one lesson talking about Jesus Christ, is sacrifice and his love for us. It was a really cool experience. 
We also taught Paul Paopao. Not sure what it's going to take for him to come to church and set a date, but he's really getting close. 

No one came to church, so that was a bummer, but it was still a good day, and we were able to get 3 lessons in that evening!

We met and taught a kid named EJ who asked the toughest questions I've heard my whole mission (they were all genuine tho) and he knew his bible so well! He's read it so many times. So he's pumped to read the Book of Mormon and he said. "Oh, I'll read this. And I'll tell you if it's true or not!" 

Hopefully he can get permission from his parents to investigate

Also, can I just say that the Priesthood is cool? I am so grateful that God restored the Priesthood to the earth. It was pretty cool talking to E.J. because he said "The Prophets of old and the prophets in Jesus' time had power to heal the sick and cast out devils... Do your prophets have that power?" And I had the chance to testify "Yes! That same power has been brought back!" I then reminded him that Christ never said "Go to, I have made thee whole." But that he said "Go to, THY faith hath made thee whole." And that while the Priesthood Authority has been restored, the power is conditioned on our Faith. 

That Power is open to any who seek it! We read in Elders Quorum about the talk "Where are the keys?" And it compares the Car to the gospel, but without the keys it was useless. With the Keys, the car could start, the heater would be able to warm the cold bodies of him, his wife and children. I was reminded that it doesn't matter so much who holds the keys, so long as they are there. All the family benefited from the same heater, the same engine and all partook of the blessings of transportation. So it is with the Priesthood. 

So I suppose my invitation to you all is to find a way to access the powers of Heaven more in your life. Partaking worthily of the Sacrament, sincere prayer and studies, temple attendance, and seeking Priesthood Blessings are just a few of the ways you can do that. 

Bottom line, I love you all. God Loves you all and you're all doing better than you think you are. So keep your chin up. The world's not as bad as it seems, as much as the Devil would like to tell you it is. Don't let feelings of guilt, or shame or inadequacy bring you down. 

You guys are the best!
church is true!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Week #67--October 24th

Well it's been another good week here in Barstow! We had quite a few lessons and everything is going really well. 
The best new of this week: The Bailey family came to church! That was super exciting! So it was the mom, her 2 sons (Bobby and Justice) and her Daughter (Layla) and they all loved it and the kids all want to come next week! Bobby is super excited to be baptized! Super fun. I love being a missionary. 

Also, we got a referral from a member to go see this couple named Gabriel and Izeta. May I just say that people here live in really difficult situations? I'm saddened as we drive through Barstow because of how much poverty there is. That being said, I'm lifted because I know that no matter what a person's situation is they can ALWAYS be blessed and find peace through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

So Gabriel and Izeta live in a really run down.... house thing. And they don't have any furniture but as we taught the Restoration, it changed their countenance! They had such a desire to leave their past behind and follow God to the fullest. Then Izeta asked the question "What about our family who never heard this message. Will I ever get to see them again? Or are they lost forever?" with tears streaming down her face, and we had the chance to testify of the glorious plan of salvation that all will have an equal chance to dwell with God! The spirit was so strong. We may teach lessons often, but THOSE lessons are the reason I'm on a mission. 

Also, in the war chapters so that's super cool. I get way too into the war chapters. Like, I already know what's going to happen because I've read it so many times but the War chapters get me PUMPED. Moroni is such a beast. #MyHero

Oh, other best thing about this week: It rained like crazy yesterday. I love the smell of rain in the desert!! We just sat in the car for like 10 minutes last night and enjoyed the rain. It was so peaceful to just listen to hymns and hear the rain....

Then we went inside and the flipping power went out. That was an adventure

"Elder Prestwich where'd you go?"

"Elder Brown, it's not that dark."

"I can't see anything! I think there's a monster!"

"Elder Brown I can see you and you can see me. We have flashlights"

"Ow! I think the monster is gonna eat me! I need you to save me!!"

"Elder Brown, that's not a monster, that's the pantry.... Aaaaand he's eating again."

Life is good. 

God is good. 

Church is true!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Week #66--October 17th

Well, it's been another good week. Never a boring day in barstow, that's for sure. This week we almost caught in the middle of a bomb threat, drove over a bridge and there were cops everywhere. But there was no bomb, so we're good. 

Also, we were walking in a less safe area and saw a bunch of people gathered around and found out that a hard core rumble was about to go DOWN. So we sped walked the other way. 

Also a nice jewish guy stopped us on the road and asked us to come help at a food bank he owns. He then proceeded to tell us everything he owns, and the dude literally owns half of barstow. 

We taught quite a few lessons this week. We also found 2 new investigators. Both were going through some hard stuff, so we testified of the healing power of the atonement and that peace can be found in the pages of the book of mormon. I hope they read it and can experience it themselves!

Actually, I did a smidge frustrated this week. WAY too many people here are going through hard times, and our answer is almost always the same. Read the Book of Mormon, Pray and turn it over to God! He's promised you healing and peace and comfort on conditions of your repentance and your obedience. If you do that for just 15 minutes each day, everything will change! 

And they don't do it. And then they complain that we're not able to help, and that god never helps them and that they're mad at God....

Trying to have more Christlike love for them and not get so frustrated. Especially because I know for a fact I do the exact same things. Christ offers me healing and I don't accept it through my actions. Ah, life. 

Anyway, we had an awesome lesson in Elder's Quorum about Commitment. I've been plowing through the Ensigns and I read and article about Commitment by Elder Holland and it all seemed to fit together. There's a major difference between being committed and contributing. It's very good to contribute, but we can't see our contributions as valid evidence of our commitment! 

To illustrate this, a pig and a chicken are walking down the street when they see a sign in a store window "Eggs and Bacon desperately needed!" The chicken turned to the pig and said "I'll give the eggs if you give the bacon!"
Haha, this is a humorous way of showing that while the eggs have worth to the chicken, it would have been a much greater sacrifice for the pig than the chicken. 

We watched the John Tanner story this morning as well, which is a story of a very wealthy man who lived at the time of the Early Saints. He joined the church upon reading the book of mormon side by side with the bible, and began to sacrifice EVERYTHING for the church. He owned stores, hotels, and even an Island and sold it all to travel with the saints across the country. He loaned money to the church to pay for the temple and many other things. It's estimated he was owed 50,000 dollars by the church, but before leaving on a mission he forgave all debts. He literally had nothing to his name. At points he was forced to beg for food, but lived and died a happy man who had truly stored up many treasures in Heaven. 

Now God is not asking that we do what John Tanner did, but he is asking that we're committed. Elder Holland tells of a time he was asked if he would give his life for the church. He said "I am giving my life for the church" He knew what the boy meant. He meant Would Elder Holland Die for the church. But Elder Holland said "That's the easy part". God doesn't want people who will die for the church, he just wants us to see this all through to the end. He wants us to finish what we started. We can rest when we are dead, but for now let us all press on in the glorious work of salvation. 

I love you all so much!

Church is true!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Week #65--October 10, 2016

Short one! This week was good. 

Found 4 new investigators. All agreed to be baptized, so lets see if they can keep commitments and follow through!
Barstow is FULL of crazy people. You don't even know, lol. It's kind of sad but also really cool to see such diversity in personalities. 

I got super sick on Thursday. Still no feeling better. Hoping that changes. 

Quick spiritual thought: STAY WITH YOUR COMPANION! I read that in the missionary rules this week and I thought of it's spiritual significance. We all have companions that we need to stay near, even if not physically. Spouses, parents, children. We must be aware of these people and be near them emotionally and we must be on their side! 

The Holy Ghost is another companion that we must stay near, in a much more literal sense. Talk about a companion that can protect you from danger! 

And finally our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Are we standing by them with our actions? 

These companions can act as beacons of hope in our life. Elder Manes once said "You must become the Rock the river cannot wash away." And where will you find most rocks in a river? Near other rocks. Lone rocks can easily be moved and carried away by an increase of speed in the tide, or be human meddling. So stand with your companions that the Lord has blessed you with! Be the kind of companion that people want to stay near! Avoid fault finding in those who the Lord has blessed you with to live around. Find joy in serving your companions, especially your Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ. Just as a missionary without his companion feels uncomfortable, scared and alone, so too we will feel as we distance ourselves from those who truly care. 

I love you all! Church is true!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Week #64--October 3, 2016

Today Elder Brown didn't send a mass email, but here is a bit from his letter to me and some pics:

Recap of this week:

Monday: Spent the day in Chino. That was a lot of fun. It was really cool to spend the day with 2 other great missionaries, and we got a long super well and had a good time. 

Tuesday: Picked up Elder Prestwich. Learned a lot of valuable lessons at the trainer meeting. I think my favorite quote was from a missionary with just a few months left (who ad only been out about 4 1/2 months when I came out, but that just goes to show how long I've been on a mission, haha) "If you get comfortable with being uncomfortable then the Lord really can work with you. He can help you." I thought that was a great description of missionary work. And this area has made me uncomfortable, haha. 

Then we made the LONG drive back to Barstow. It actually wasn't too bad, but longer than any drive on my mission so far. We got settled in, I taught him about the Daily planner and we actually live in a super nice Town-home! 2 stories, 2 bedroom, 1 bath and a half, washer and dryer... It's the life! So much better than the SHACK I was living in in Santa Fe, haha. 

Wednesday: First day with the new missionary! Decided to bike. Bad idea. I've spent 14 months on bike and I was not prepared for the excruciating misery that is biking through Barstow. We taught a part member family that afternoon and they have lived in Barstow for YEARS. But essentially it's just a bunch of HUGE hills. So we'll avoid biking and stick to driving/walking. It's nice having a car.

Thursday:  We taught a really cool 13 year old recent convert and her less active dad. They live in a small house in the middle of the desert. They were super cool. But that night we got super lost. SUPER lost. We also set a baptismal date with an investigator couple who were being taught. 

Friday: We spent like 6 hours doing weekly planning we made a big list of formers, organized them by area and made plans to contact them and revisit them. Because everyone is so poor here, and because no one works there's a lot of work to do. But the problem is finding people who are willing to actually commit and follow through. I don't remember who we taught exactly. Had dinner with the senior couple in the ward. (Barstow is divided into 3 sections, but only one ward. So 2 sets of Elders and one senior couple) They're very nice, and serve in the same position that Umma and Poppy served in (building and strengthening the church/ward) so that's cool. They are very nice. 

Saturday: MUCH NEEDED CONFERENCE. Like, holy cow. It was so good. I don't know how to begin talking about it, but there were for sure a few cool miracles and prayers answered. We also tried the original Del Taco (fun fact it was started in Barstow) and it was aight. 

Sunday: Between 3 hours of studies (we have to do an extra hour when training) and Conference, we didn't have time for much else. We saw that Part member family that night, and also met these two cool Less-actives. 

Monday: Elder Wedel (who is in the same zone now) insisted that we go on a hike in wrightwood. Left at 5 and got back at 2. Long day. 

His new companion is the Elder 2 to the left of him wearing the sunglasses!