Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Lord's Humor and Thanksgiving With President Felix

This week I tried to be bold and open my mouth so that God could fill it.  I surprised myself, or God surprised me with how he can work through me.

We did two power hours (where we pray with members, proselyte for an hour, and then return and report miracles).  They were something that Elder Walker brought back from MLC and we called them "power hours!"  The members LOVED them and wanted to do it again sometime.  Our numbers skyrocketed during that hour with the specific prayers and faith exercised in our behalf!  Our first door we got a new investigator.  We taught several lessons, gave out a dozen "Joy to the World" (a church video about the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ) cards, and most of all, strengthened everyone (including ourselves and the members).  We also gave a church tour this week.  The person we really wanted to come (and who needed it the most) didn't come because she forgot about it (even though we spoke with her the day before).  But, we plan on trying again this week with her.

Elder Walker is great.  He is super good at being bold and unafraid to speak.  We are getting along just fine.  He has good insight to missionary work and doctrines.  We are doing well.

My testimony of prayer was strengthened.  More specifically for asking for opportunities/experiences for growth.  I'll explain.  I had been feeling like I was not improving.  I knew I needed to be strengthened and I knew that God could do it.  (He has a sense of humor, let me tell you).  Yesterday, I prayed that I would be given an experience that would be tough and stretch me, but that I would come out of it a stronger and more consecrated missionary.  Well, that morning we went with the Ward Mission Leader to pick up one of our investigators.  When we arrived, she was not dressed because she couldn't find her skirt.  Eventually she found it and came to church.  Right before sacrament meeting, she took a handful (not joking) of pills.  She said they were for her seizures and other health problems.  During the meeting she had to use the restroom; put lotion on her hands, arms, and legs; talk to me about what people were wearing; ask for a mint, which I gave her; get a drink; and complain about how fast the speakers were talking.  She humiliated us.  I'm not upset with her.  Just sad that we thought she was progressing and she wasn't.  We will have to change her baptism date:(

Early Thanksgiving Feast in San Luis Obispo

Missionaries in San Louis Obisbo area

Monday, November 24, 2014

Exchanges and Telemarketers

This week has been crazy too.  We just haven't been able to get into a regular routine.  On Wednesday I slept at the Paso 1st Ward Elder's apartment (Elders Elkington and Parkinson) because Elder Walker was invited to MLC (Missionary Leadership Council) in Oxnard that would be all day on Thursday.  I had a good day with those two.  One of the members in the 1st ward asked if we could come help him build 750 foot of fence on his little farm!  I felt right at home.  There were dogs and horses and the house they lived in reminded me of many of the small houses that I'd been to after brandings in Wyoming.

Then on Saturday, I went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders.  I went to SLO (San Louis Obisibo) with Elder Jackson while Elder Walker stayed here with 7'3" Elder Hamson.  (I've always thought that being tall has a lot of advantages, but poor Elder Hamson.  He had a custom bike for his height, he has to duck down to shower, everyone askes how tall he is and it's awkward to give him hugs because my face is at his belly button.  No Joke!) haha  The exchange went well.  The Zone Leaders cover the YSA (Young Single Adult) ward in the college town (the college is Cal Poly)  We saw a lot younger faces than I am used to in Paso.  It was good.  A recent convert named Isabell had gone to the temple that day for the first time to do baptisms for the dead.  She loved it!  We had a lesson with her and talked about the temple and then patriarchial blessings.  We helped her understand what a patriarchial blessing was and she is excited to get hers.  She told us that she can't understand how she got through life without the gospel before.  She is awesome, solid.  So, the exchange went well.  

The experience I wrote about crossing the street was pretty funny.  I was almost sarcastic about meeting someone, but God was going to teach us a lesson.  I had to laugh and be in awe at God's myserious ways.

The two investigators that we had baptism dates for (Tiana and Teresa) are not going to happen on those dates :(  Tiana (who we are teaching with her dad) isn't making her date because of her dad's work schedule.  The next day we could meet with them is the 22nd, so we will just have to wait.  Maybe her baptism could be my birthday present? Hyrum's birthday is December 7th.  Teresa still has the shingles (or so she claims) and has not been able to attend church.  We are still trying to recognize and address her real concern.  She has met with missionaries for two years and has never gotten baptized.  We are working on finding that need and getting her to church.

Elder Walker and I are getting along fine.  We are both waiting for everything to get back to normal (schedule-wise) so that we can really focus on Paso Robles 2nd Ward.  The members are good.  I love coming to church and going to their homes for dinner.  

The weather sounds crazy! It's so nice here.  Sometime I might need some gloves so that I don't shake people's hands with a cold hand.

Oh! Just now we got a call by someone in Florida that told us we were randomly selected to get $800,000 and we didn't need to pay taxes on it!  Woohoo!  Guess what I said?  I said, "You know, we have something more valuable than that and that is the Book Of Mormon.  Have you heard of the Book of Mormon?"  He hung up, but I felt pretty good about it, and I didn't have to hang up on the guy.  Score! :) haha

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Obedience, Missionary Lingo and City Nicknames

From an email this week:  Our investigators have not been coming to church, but with the MLC (Missionary Leadership Council) report on that subject, we are making a change in our approach and are confident that we will be getting investigators to church!  We have had to postpone the dates for their baptisms due to work schedule and illness, but we are getting there.  Elder Walker and I continue to be persistent and are not giving up on anyone!  By the way, I loved Thursday when I got to serve with the Paso 1st Elders while Elder Walker was at the MLC.  We did a lot of service that day at a farm that made me feel right at home building fence.

Elder Walker and I are getting along.  We plan our days very well.  We do our best to be exactly obedient.  We get up at 6:15am and are exercising at 6:30.  We do our  best to make appointments last no longer than an hour, but sometimes that is hard with members and people who have a lot to say.  I admire Elder Walker's ability to recite scripture and say good things when we talk to people.  We do a good job of balancing each other out when speaking to people on the street and in lessons.

Something that strengthened my testimony of obedience to the laws of the land this week was when I was on exchanges with Elder Jackson in SLO (San Louis Obisbo).  We thought about crossing the street to get to where we needed to go, but it was not at a crosswalk.  I told Elder Jackson, almost grudgingly, that we needed to follow the laws of the land and use the stoplight because there will be someone that we need to see and we wouldn't run into them if we crossed right then.  About ten steps later, we saw a man who we had tried to contact earlier (Jonathan) who is making some big changes in his life and could really use the missionaries.  That was a testimony to me of receiving blessings because of obedience to the laws of the land.

We got 5 hours of service in our area this week.

On a P-Day the district went to a Catholic Mission.  One of Elder Parkinson's and Elder Newmyer's investigators took us on a tour and answered questions about the mission and the Catholic beliefs.

Here is a picture of a sandwich I made for lunch.  It was ginormous!
I am getting fed about 5 times a week now and that is just the right balance.  Sometimes it's nice to just be free and make my own dinner.  My cupboards are still pretty full.  It's fantastic.  I have been managing my money and I have a lot on my LDS card.  I am making a list for Christmas and birthday.  Is that bad?  haha

We have a lot of missionary lingo and city nicknames: A-town = Atascadero, AG = Arroyo Grande, Santa Babylon = Santa Barbara, TO = Thousand Oaks.  Kind of funny huh?

Here is a picture of the sunset on our way back from Oxnard (the Nard haha) last week.

This picture is when I was in the tripan (triple companion) with Elders Parkinson and Elkington.  Elder Parkinson and I are on the teeter-totter.

Spiritual Protection

 I hope you are staying warm.  I love to hear things about the family no matter what it is.

This week has been crazy.  We haven't had a lot of time to proselyte.  Monday was P-day (preparation day), then Tuesday was exchanges in Ventura (2 1/2 hours away), Wednesday was normal, Thursday we had District Meeting, Friday we had the District Leader Training (DLT) meeting in Oxnard (which took all day) and weekly planning (3 hours) on Saturday with a flat tire.  Busy, busy, busy.

The DLT meeting in Oxnard was really good.  The focus was on becoming a consecrated missionary (consecrated missionary comes from an amazing talk by Tad R. Callister). (I couldn't find the talk Hyrum mentioned, but I found another great talk by Elder D. Todd Christofferson)  A consecrated missionary lays everything he or she has on the sacrificial altar.  Elder Walker and I accepted the challenge to become one.  The assistants to the Mission President (the assistants are other missionaries) actually are going to come up to Paso Robles and go on exchanges with us! It won't be easy (to be a consecrated missionary); that's for sure, but that is what God asks of me and He gives no commandment that I can't obey 1 Nephi 3:7.  So that's my goal.

So, I want to tell you of an experience that happened on a Monday (not this Monday, but a Monday ago).  It was the day before transfers, so the whole district was together behind the church in the church courtyard slack lining (walking on a strap that is tied between two trees).  A creepy guy who was about  5'4'' tall in his 50s/60s came by and was mocking those who were trying to balance.  He had a set of scriptures in his right hand.  The Hermanas (Spanish-speaking sisters) said that they had talked with this man before and he wasn't like this.  The Elders in the district (me included) decided to escort him out.  He was saying some personal/philosophical things that were rhetorical fallacies (thank you Mrs. Blaney) that made everyone uncomfortable.  His name was Steve and he was bipolar.  He would laugh one moment and the next he was in someone's face throwing every bad word in the book.  At one point he claimed to be Joseph Smith's scribe.  We walked him slowly to his white creeper van and he wouldn't get in for the longest time.  We threatened to call the police.  He talked about demons and that tomorrow he would die of the brain tumor he had.  Finally, we got him to go in this car and drive away (very slowly).  I think any one of us Elders were about ready to put our arms to the square and command the evil spirits to leave him and command to leave the church property.  Never did I feel in danger.  I was ready to defend myself and the other Elders, but I was not afraid.  Elder Parkinson said that when Steve got right up in his face that he felt there was an angelic barrier between them.  All is well, but I thought you might want to know.  Maybe your prayer that day helped soften Steve's heart so that he wouldn't hurt us.  Anyway, that is what is new for me.

 Let me know how the Buffalo Elders are doing.  I was happy to hear that they came and did service with you.  Elders are always looking for opportunities to do service.

It's not snowy here, but people are already decorating and listening to Christmasy things.  Don't worry, I'm not homesick yet (or ever).  I love you and pray for you.  Have a good week and may the spirit be with you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Hyrum's Help

Last week the missionaries were looking for opportunities for service.  So I asked if they would like to come out to my house and rake leaves and help with my landscaping.  All 4 of them (we have two sets of elders in our area) came out and did a wonderful job.  I also planned on feeding them some lunch in appreciation for their help.

You may not know, but I get very stressed when I have people over to my house for a meal.  It is very difficult for me to do that and not an easy task.  It's probably because I feel my house is never tidy enough for company and I worry about having enough food.  So, as I was frantically making a treat before the missionaries arrived that morning, I splattered brown sugar all over the counter as I was trying to get it out of the package.  It was a big mess and I wanted to cry.  Then I heard Hyrum say in my mind, "It's okay, Mom".  I almost looked around to see if he was there.  I know it was the Holy Ghost comforting me in my time of need.  I smiled and knew my Heavenly Father loved me and that everything was going to be okay.  Spilled sugar isn't the end of the world :)

I am so grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who knows each of us personally and who cares about the things we care about.  Jesus Christ is our Savior and He has not left us comfortless.  The Holy Ghost is there to lead us to truth, answer our prayers, comfort our hearts, protect us and help us to return to live with God.  My experience that day was a tender mercy of the Lord.

Psalms 145:9 "The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works."

Monday, November 10, 2014

Doing Good!

Thank you for all the wonderful packages lately.  My cupboards are almost full and my candy drawer is overflowing!  The Morris family sent a really fun package.  It was  a "greenie" package.  It was taped up in green paper and everything inside it was green.  I loved it!  I love all mail of any kind!

There are two English speaking wards in Paso and one Spanish Branch.  A "ward" is a geographical area and all the members of the church in that area go to church at the same time.  A "branch" is the same only smaller than a ward.  Elder Peterson and I cover the 2nd Ward and Elder Newmyer and Elder Parkinson (who was in the same zone at the MTC with me) cover the 1st Ward.  We don't go on splits with anyone.   Splits are when the missionaries split up and take a member of the ward with them to appointments.  That way they can cover two appointments that might happen to be at the same time.  We don't have enough appointments to invite members to go with us.  We do a lot of finding.  We do have a lesson planned with a family for Thurs at 4:30pm. There was a youth that asked for 2 Books of Mormon for some friends who had talked to him about the church and wanted to read it.  Nothing has happened there yet.

Right now I am in the process of creating a Restoration puzzle that shows the elements of Christ's church with multiple scriptures to back it up from the New Testament.  Then on the back of the "pieces" are scriptures of these elements in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants showing these things exist in the restored church.  My vision with this is to go to member's homes and share this with them.  It should strengthen their faith in the restoration, give them confidence in the missionaries, and get them excited to share the gospel.  We'll see.

I had an interview with President Felix.  It went well.  He just wanted to know how we are doing.  We had our interviews when we saw Meet the Mormons movie.

Elder Peterson and I have given sooooo many blessings in the last 2 weeks.  Seven to be exact.  That is one every other day!  Five of them were for healing!  Also, I counted six different times when we moved someone this transfer.  It's all good stuff.  I need a break from trying doors and walking the streets.

Nothing much new, but by the time you get this letter, I will be with my follow-up trainer.  I was just getting to know Elder Peterson :(  This transfer will be good though because I am the one who knows the area the best.  I can take the lead more confidently.  I'll let you know more about Elder Walker soon.

Let me know what's rockin' in Buffalo.  I love you all!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Big Transfer!

The transfer this week was really big.  About 2/3 of the missionaries in the mission were being transferred.  Check out the California Ventura Mission blog for pictures of what a transfer looks like and the beautiful place Hyrum is in.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find Elder Ruby in any of the pictures. Super cute sister missionaries though :)

New Trainer

Sorry for the delay of this post.  When I finally got time to post Elder Ruby's letter, our internet was down at the tower.  Then, when it finally got going, Blogger had lots of trouble.  No one using that application could access their dashboard.  So, finally, this morning everything was going really good.  I hope you enjoy the pictures and letter.

We have been given a bunch of blessings to members in the ward and moving a lot of people.  Halloween went well.  We lost contact with one of our investigators because their phone got dropped in the toilet and their car got impounded.  We did stop by and made an appointment for this week on Thursday, so that is good.

Elder Peterson will be transferred to Simi Valley.  (Transfers were on Tuesday).  I am sad to see him
leave, but I look forward to a new trainer.  I have 6 more weeks of training.  I know the area, so I can take the lead in planning better.

Here is a picture of Elder Parkinson (who came out with me as a new missionary) and his trainer Elder Newmyer.  We just wanted a picture at our district meeting on Friday because we had a feeling that some of the district would be leaving. We are losing exactly half of the district members. :(

Elder Peterson, Hermana Brown, Hermana Costilla and Me
This icture also includes Hermana Jeronimo and Hermana Player with Dallin (an amazing kid who always bears his testimony) and his brother, Levi.

Here is how transfers go:  We will head to Ventura at 6am (or earlier).  It will take 3-3 1/2 hours to get there.  Transfer meeting is at 10am.  I guess I will find my new companion there.  The new missionaries will come in and be assigned trainers and the missionaries leaving will give their "dying" testimony.  Then we drive all the way beach up to Paso and get to proselyting (and we go shopping for the new companion).

So far, I am still on a bike 24/7.  I like it though.  I have sooooooooooooo much candy.  Even though I bike every day and work out in the morning, I still don't eat too much.  I am doing well.

We thought about buying super hero t-shirts and wearing them underneath our white shirts for the Halloween party, but we also didn't want to seem immature, so we just went as missionaries.

I learned this week to be myself.  I need to love people as I love myself.  Love doesn't always mean tolerate all behavior.  It means that I say things and invite others to do things for their benefit.  I am pretty hard on myself, and take it too easy on others.  That is something that I learned that I need and have seen the fruits of my doing so this past week.  I have grown closer to all those that I have been a bit more bold with and we both have grown closer to God because of it.

We got 9 hours of service this week.  We spent it at the Food Bank, moving people and setting up and taking down at the Halloween party.