Family and Friends,
I am having a very hard time of trying to figure out what to write because I just talked to you yesterday. We had a super good week this week. I told you about how there is a very big middle eastern influence here. Well on exchanges this week Elder Christensen and I were knocking doors in Ceres and we came across a man named Ashur. He is from Iraq and moved to Greece and now he is here the Cali. Well he told us he is from LA and said he had some Mormon friends. We got to talk to him for awhile and he gave us some dates, pastries, and orange juice. (by the way dates are pretty dang good...really rich though) Well he ended up telling me that he played basketball and that he could dunk it pretty good. It was a funny conversation he was telling me that I need to go play in the NBA. We shared a laugh. We were able to teach him about the Book of Mormon more in depth because he knew the bible and he knew some of the geography of what we were talking about. So we told him that a branch from the seed of Joseph left Jerusalem and came to the Americas then explained what the Book contained. He understood everything that we were talking about. It was so cool. Hopefully the missionaries in Ceres take care of him.
Another tracting experience I wanted to share was with a man named Hermes. He was too from the middle east. Somewhere... But we knocked on his door and said that he was Christian. We praised him for his belief in Christ and asked where he went to church at here in town. Every missionary would've loved to hear the response that we got. He said, "I don't go to church here in town because there are so many and I don't know which one is the true church." We got so excited! It was a great experience to give him a Book of Mormon and share with him that a boy in 1820 had that very same question. We explained that Joseph Smith got an answer from God and that he could too! It was wonderful. We will see what happens because we referred him to the Turlock family Elders. It should be good though!
So as I said in the skype video we were able to go out and tract on Christmas morning. I had an impression come to me as we were knocking and I knew it was from God. I thought about the Savior and His earthly ministry and a thought that just came to me now is even how he felt in the pre-existence as Lucifer and his followers were slandering His name in the war of words. I knew that that Christmas morning of having some people be a little warm, some slam their doors as they said merry Christmas, and some just blatantly slamming the door...was a time for me to ponder how the Savior felt during His mission so that I could appreciate Him more. And I do. It wasn't a typical sacred Christmas missionary experience, but it was definitely a sacred Christmas experience for me. I will never get to do that again. I keep pondering and pondering on it. I am thankful for everything that the Savior went through during His ministry and especially for what He did in Gethsemane.
We were also able to do some very fun service last week at the Catholic church. What we did was packed up some boxes of food, presents..etc. And packed them in a truck to go to surrounding cities. It was great. I think we made it in the news there in Hughson. It isn't on the internet so don't go searching, but it was awesome!
Thanks for everything this Christmas season! I love you all and hope you have a great New Year as well!
December 18, 2017
Family and Friends,
My birthday was awesome! Well...as awesome as it can get on a mission. I did get really scared when President was calling friday night. I thought Elder Stewart and I did something wrong..but he was just calling to wish me a happy birthday. We were able to go to in-n-out burger too so it was a great day! After our in-n-out these kids our age or just a little bit younger wanted to "talk about Jesus." It turned into them trying to preach to us and it went all bad from there. We shared the Restoration with them, but it didn't go anywhere. I will have to share a quote from them when I get back;)
So an update from last Monday... My basketball shoes and basketball were stolen. And what I did not realize also happened was my bike helmet and lights also got jacked. President Palmer is being very kind and letting me borrow a helmet and lights for the remainder of my mission. The helmet looks super awesome on me. Maybe you will get a picture in the next couple of weeks. We will see... We did a white elephant gift exchange at the YSA activity last Monday. It was super fun. I got a bobblehead baseball player from the MLB and some new soft socks. It was so awesome.
Recently the college has been pretty sparse of people being there because it has been finals week. So we will have to wait a few weeks for things to start back up. We did find an investigator this week from finding on the college though. His name is Anthony. We were able to teach him yesterday. He is 24 years old and does not know if he believes in Jesus Christ. It is funny because I have had a few of these on my mission and we are working with two people right now who are struggling to believe in Christ. Anthony has not read the Bible before so it was cool to introduce that and the Book of Mormon to him. We taught him of the Restoration and invited him to read and pray. He accepted. He is going to his Mom's in the bay area and will not be back until January so hopefully he reads! Pray for him. The other investigator we picked up this week is named Christian. He does not know if Jesus is the Christ either! It has been a good experience to not only testify of the Restoration, but to get to the very center of our faith...Jesus Christ. Especially during the Christmas season. They both accepted invitations to read the Book of Mormon. We promised them both that as they read they will come to find out that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer.
Oh! I wanted to tell you all about a dinner I had this week. So it's the same members that had us for Thanksgiving. Their name is the Clarks. Brother Clark is from Louisiana. Well we got to his house on Saturday night and he had the whole works! Steak, shrimp, and chicken. I was in heaven. Let me tell ya I ate A LOT of shrimp lol. It was a super good dinner and we were able to share a message out of 2 Nephi 3. We talked about how Joseph in the old testament prophesied of Joseph Smith Jun. the prophet, seer, and revelator of this dispensation. It was awesome! They had a less-active family there so it went really good.
I have some good news! So Tyler our investigator that kind of dropped off for a little bit scheduled 2 appointments with us...one of them was just Elder Stewart because we were on an exchange. But we were able to resolve his concerns and he has a baptismal date set for January 6th! We hope so badly that he can get cleared and make that covenant. He is working on gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon. We know if he puts in the effort he will gain that testimony! Please pray for him. His conversion process has been a roller-coaster ride.
Update on family history! So we are having a lot of indirect success through family history. I will tell you why it is indirect. We have had a lot of our prospective elders and recent converts come in to do family history. We even have an investigator that likes to do family history more than taking the lessons;) haha. But two individuals one being a prospective elder and the other a recent convert have come and found a lot of names for baptism. Well, both of their non-member mothers are interested and have created accounts. Sister Van Allen (Josh's non-member mom) and Monte's Mom (not a member) both want to come to the family history center! Josh's mom came last week and one of the consultants had a blast helping her! It was awesome.
I love the work and hope you all have a great week.
P.S. Preperation day will be next Tuesday. So I will skype on Monday and email on Tuesday.
December 11, 2017
Family and Friends,
This week was a good one! I have officially decided that I need to start losing some of this unnecessary missionary chub weight. So Elder Stewart and I are now going out every morning and running. I almost died the first morning let me tell ya. My lungs were on fire. Like I am very afraid for when I get back up to the Utah altitude I might pass out walking up a flight of stairs. I am over exaggerating, but seriously this SUCKS. haha. We have also decided to stop getting beverages every week. (Beverages or bevs is the soda that we buy at the store each week haha) So I am definitely starting to make better choices with the things I am eating. I even got wheat thins this week!
Something funny that happened this week...well two things that happened this week that were funny. We were doing weekly planning and at the end we wanted to call President Palmer to get some counsel from him so we call and we are talking to him...all is going good then at the end he ROASTED us because we forgot it was his date night and we called him about something that was not even close to an emergency. I felt so dumb. I thought my life was over. But hey I am still alive and President Palmer still loves us so it's all good. It just reminded me of how much we would call Mom and Dad over the stupidest things during their date night. So I am very sorry for that. I had to learn the hard way through a Mission President. lol. Another precious memory occurred this past week while we were tracting in Ceres. It was Saturday morning...and you already know on Saturday mornings the Jehovah's Witnesses are out. So I cracked some jokes and we started knocking. Well we came to a house and the man said he was a Jehovah's Witness. Then... his daughter came up and she was finishing her proselyting duties. And she offered us a Bible pamphlet. I was not about to take it so I said we believed in the KJV version of the Bible. They proceeded to show us scriptures that proved their religion right and all we did was bear testimony. They continued to try and bash us and we were just spittin game. Because you already know Joseph Smith was a prophet. But legit we were just testifying and they brought up the 144,000...I was frustrated at this point and just asked them how they could believe that. (It wasn't as bad as it sounds...). But we testified that God wants all of his children to live with him. Then we left. It was awesome. Not really, but I love the true Church of Jesus Christ.(: A testimony can never be compromised by someone else...unless you let it.
An update on Branden Green. So we had our lesson this week. It went okay. We were able to teach the Restoration and when we got to the part about Joseph Smith we decided to watch the Restoration video. Branden said it was interesting after we watched it and we invited him to read and to pray about the Book of Mormon. He agreed after some hesitancy. But we have a return appointment with him next week so that should be good. Juan Lopez joined us in the lesson and he did so good testifying and being there as a member. Juan is like the BEST recent convert haha. Always willing to come out with us...he is going to BYU Idaho as soon as he is able to and I think he will be serving a mission soon. I am so excited for him.
We were able to do family history with two people this week. One was a prospective elder and the other was a recent convert from Merced. Kyle, our prospective elder, told us that most of his work was done and there wasn't really anything to do. Well we hopped on and found 6 names right off the bat. He had so much stuff to do! It was crazy. So he will be working with us and he has been coming to church. Hopefully we can get him to the Temple. Monte, the recent convert, came and he had this whole pamphlet thing filled out with names. He walked out of the family history center with 7 names to take to the temple. I thought it was so cool and he could see how excited I was and he got excited. Monte is sick. He is one of those dudes that I would chill with after the mission. haha. He was talking to me and he asked how he could explain what he was doing to his family. I thought of something that would be super cool. I thought that maybe he could tell them that it satisfies his beliefs because he is taking them to the temple to be baptized and it is fair because they get to choose to accept it or not. So we will see how that goes. He has like 20 other names that he could do once there is more research done.
I was reading in 3 Nephi 26 and a few impressions came to me as I read. One of the questions I had was: How long was Jesus in the Americas? And how many things did he teach them that we don't have? If you look at some of the verses it makes you wonder. For example verse 13: "Therefore, I would that ye should behold that the Lord truly did teach the people, for the space of three days; and after that he did show himself unto them oft, and did break bread oft, and bless it, and give it unto them." So he visited them "oft." I thought that was interesting. And in verse 6 Mormon says, "And now there cannot be written in this book even a hundredth part of the things which Jesus did truly teach unto the people;" He goes on to say:
9 And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them.
10 And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation.
We need to cherish the scriptures and then the Lord will give us more. I cannot wait for the day when we have all of the teachings that Jesus Christ gave to the Nephites. This chapter of scripture really made me think.11 Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi, but the Lord forbade it, saying: I will try the faith of my people.