Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Gospel of Jesus Christ Changes People

This week we took a high school boy, named Trevor, with us to the last lesson with Ryan (a 16 year old who is really yearning for something spiritual in his life) and they really hit it off.  Ryan asked us what it took to be baptized on his birthday (Feb 12) in that lesson!  We are so excited for him.  Ryan then came to church!  He woke up on his own, made himself French toast, and came to church.  Durning church he followed the youth and he loved it.  He listened, he sang the songs the best he could, and he felt the spirit.  By the end of church, he was a new kid.  He lit up, he was so happy and he knew it was true.

Both Elder Campbell and I are grateful that we are not getting transferred this time.  We are excited to continue serving in this area together.  (Transfers happen every 6 weeks, but not all missionaries get moved that often.  Elder Ruby and Elder Campbell have been in Santa Maria for 6 weeks and will be there at least another 6 weeks.  Then they wait for the phone call again to see if they get transferred or not.)

I have seen how the gospel changes people.  Those who are keeping the commandments of God have a light and a confidence about them (members and non-members).  We can tell which members read the scriptures and pray every day.  We have seen changes in Ed especially as he has come to Christ and has been obeying the Word of Wisdom.  I think he can feel it too.  I am reminded of Mosiah 2:41 "And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God.  For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.  O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it."

We did 2 1/2 hours of service this week.  I am hopeful we will get some more this week.  We have some ideas in mind.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Trust in God

One evening when we didn't have the car (they share the car with another set of elders), we asked the elders to drop us off at the very northern part of our area.  We had no meal appointment and no ride home, but I knew the Lord would provide for us.  I had no doubt in my mind that we would get fed and get a ride home.

We decided to stop by the Burke family.  They were referred to us by a counselor in the bishopric.  The Burkes are a young family who aren't very active in the church. They invited us in and we got to know them well.  They have a boy who is almost 8 and a few other younger boys.  I love their home because it feels like our house and the kids are going crazy.  Anyway, we shared a message with them, and Brother Burke was headed to the batting cage, which was on the way to our place.  He offered to drive us there.  We thought about visiting some other members in his area, but this was how we were getting home!  As he drove us, we talked to him about doing missionary work.  By the end of our conversation, he had shared a special experience with us and was really happy that we could come by.  He said that usually he just has the missionaries give the message at the door.  This time he let us in and we knew that he and his wife felt the spirit in their home while we are there.  Pretty neat!

We walked the rest of the way from the batting cages, (which wasn't very far).  We met a lady named Erin on the walk home.  Our brisk pace scared her at first, but we then had a good conversation with her.  We told her the story of Joseph Smith and I knew she thought we were crazy, but she took a Book of Mormon and wants to read it.  Up until we got to the apartment, I didn't doubt that we were going to be fed.  At the moment when we were about to start to make dinner, the other elders called from their way home from dinner and said they had something for us.  Yep.  Their dinner appointment had sent them home with a box of Honey Nut Cheerios which they gave to us!  We were fed and given a ride.  We just put all our trust in God, and He gives us what we need.

God is pretty funny too.  The other day, I really wanted some granola bars.  Not for any necessary reason, but I thought they would be nice to have.  I debated buying them, but eventually bought a pack.  The next day, Elder Campbell got a package with 50 granola bars!  Then a few days later, Sister Achu sent the other elders with some granola bars which they gave to us with the Cheerios.  Also, we made spaghetti with meat and sauce.  I commented that I wanted garlic bread, but we didn't have any.  That very afternoon, or day after, we stopped at a house which happened to be throwing a barbecue party and the man who opened the door asked if we would like a plate.  Lo and behold, the plates had two slices of garlic bread on them!

I know these things are kind of silly, but they sure showed me that God knows me and He wants to bless me.  Also, this week has been amazing.  It was not shining "number-wise", but I have not been more confident and bold in my life.  I found that the confidence I need to have is in Heavenly Father and the boldness comes because I love the people.  The Atonement is real and enabling if we will just be willing to do God's will.

I am doing well.  I have felt our prayers this week more strongly.  Thank you.  Keep up the good work.  Even though you are tired and busy (everyone), continue to be a witness of Christ at all times Mosiah 18: 9, and He will give you strength that is not known among men. D&C 24:12

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Cooking Skills are a Must on a Mission!

The weather there sounds pretty miserable (we had some pretty cold temperatures last week and some wind).  I was complaining that a couple of days ago it was 80-something degrees.  How spoiled!  I don't have much to complain about except people not answering their doors even when they know that we know they are home, and when people blatantly ignore us.  How rude!  I think we are a bit intimidating.

Boy do we stand out.  Two white boys men (haha) in white shirts and a tie, walking briskly down a poor hispanic (they call themselves brown) street with name tags and black bags.  We can only really speak to/understand half of the people we meet and 1/2 of them don't want to talk.  I can sympathize.  I'm not sure how I would react if I were in their shoes.   I would likely do what most of them do; that is: stare.  It's all good.   No problemo.  Estoy bien.

On P-days (Preparation Day) we do what we did in Paso.  Only we usually see other elders and sisters from the Zone at Walmart and the Family History Center.  We tried to go on a hike this past P-day, but couldn't find the place.  Beautiful drive though:)

The cupboards were pretty bare this past week, but Elder Campbell and I stocked up today.  We spent over $100 at Walmart in food together.  Transfers are coming up soon (January 27th), so I don't want to leave too much food behind if I get transferred.  We also forgot to bring the food calendar to church last week, so Elder Campbell and I showed off our cooking skills.  You would be proud of us.  We've made noodles, noodles w/ Alfredo, noodles w/ spaghetti sauce, noodles w/pesto . . . Just kidding!  Haha. (We eat a lot of pasta in our house) No, but we have made peach and apple cobblers, scrabbled eggs, fried veggies (like Blaine's beans), rice w/sauce, and more.  Elder Campbell can make food disappear.  One day we have a full box of cereal, or raspberries, or bottle of soda, or bag of chips and the next day they are gone!  I tease him about it, but it doesn't bother me too much :)

One last thing: the other day (the hot day) I was riding in the back seat of the car with the window rolled down and my arm out the window.  We were at an intersection in the left turn lane.  A man driving an old truck about two lanes to the right of us sneezed while driving.  Out of habit, I said, "Bless you."  He looked up and over at me and said "thanks".  I just cracked up!  I had not meant for him to hear me, but he did, and two lanes over!  And replied back!  It was so funny.  You had to be there:)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Praying for Charity

Things are going well, but the baptisms didn't work out the way that we had hoped.  Norberto did accept the invitation to be baptized, but no date yet.  We haven't got in contact this week with the girls who want to be baptized.  Ed and Sarah didn't come to church this week because their clothes were dirty and the washer had broke. (Lame excuse if you ask me:).  They are both trying to overcome their tobacco addiction, and just quit on Friday.  Elder Campbell was super excited about taking away Ed's chew.  Ed gave it right up and said that is how bad he wants to be baptized.  This Sunday was critical for them to attend.  We told them the importance of the sacrament and church, and made it very clear that we were willing to do whatever it took to get them to church - bring new clothes, wash their dirty clothes, get them a ride, anything and everything.  They said they would just study by themselves.  We were pretty bummed.  Despite those disappointments, we have been involving the ward more.  We made it a goal to visit every home in our "orange" area this week.

Elder Campbell has taught me to be bold.  He is so good at saying what he thinks (although sometimes that gets him in a pickle).  He thinks about what others need and knows exactly what he is going to do to get them that.  He loved taking Ed's chew.  He is so funny.

Here's Hyrum holding the chewing tobacco Elder Campbell took away from Ed.  I'm not sure how many times Hyrum has held a can of chew???  Maybe this is his first??  Kind of looks like it:)

This week may possibly have been the best week of the mission.  I was not afraid to speak to people or to "fail".  The days just seemed to run themselves.  I trusted in Heavenly Father to give me the words to say and show us where to go.  Elder Campbell and I were doing God's will, instead of what we thought we needed to do.  Even though we were rejected (like usual), and stared at, and ignored, and lied to, I couldn't have been happier.  During no other week have I felt more confident in God, felt more love for the people around me, been more bold.  About halfway through the week both Elder Campbell and I began to wonder why we felt so good.  We both agreed that it was our daily prayers and study of Christlike attributes and the Atonement!  I had decided to take the advice from Moroni 7:48.  This scripture is in the Book of Mormon.  Verse 47 says,"But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him."  And verse 48 says "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ. . ." Every day I prayed for charity, to see people as God sees them and love them.  The instant I did that, bold questions that came out of my mouth surprised Elder Campbell and myself.  I guess you could say that I let go of the things that I wished I could control, and only did what I could out of love for the people around us.  It was a great experience.  (Also, I am pretty sure that someone was praying pretty hard for me, but I don't know for sure who. . . )

We were able to do 2 hours of community service this week.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Not Everyone Will Like Me??

We are sooooo close to having baptisms.  We had four kids that we are teaching say they want to be baptized.  Ed is going to be baptized as soon as he quits chewing tobacco (which he is doing very well) and after he and Sarah get married.  We are also teaching another man named Norberto.  He is solid.  He listens and understands.  He was so excited to read the Book of Mormon after we talked to him about the Restoration of the gospel.  Soooo close on all these people!  We just need dates and firm commitments.  This week we didn't find any new investigators.  We will be visiting church members.  Hopefully, they will see the importance of making the gospel known to their friends.  Also, Elder Campbell and I are brainstorming a Preach My Gospel class or Fireside for our ward that we could do with the other elders (Harper and Gruwell), who, by the way, are such a big help and source of encouragement and hope for us.  This goal is kind of "out there", but we believe that it would help change the culture of missionary work in the ward for the better.

A Fireside is a meeting/activity, usually on a Sunday evening that is often more of a speaker and discussion with all who attend.  We try to have Youth Firesides a few times a year separate from their weekly activities.  They can be at the church or someone's house.

Like usual, I have only good things to say about Elder Campbell.  He and I are becoming more like brothers than just good friends.  We both feel good about the decisions we make.  We do our best to be obedient.  We ponder the spirit and the letter of the law and we make the choice that will require more of us.  Elder Campbell loves to study.  He has recently found a love for the Topical Guide (a complete reference to all the scriptures).  I encourage his studies.  He wants to go through a "clean" Book of Mormon and highlight all the scriptures that mention/instruct on Christlike attributes.  We can't complain.

I am coming to accept that not everyone can or will like me. :) Duh, right?  Before the mission, I thought that I didn't do a single thing that people wouldn't like about me.  I thought it possible to be liked and respected by everyone.  As doors are closed, greetings are ignored, and efforts are unappreciated, I have come to find that not everyone likes me.  I know that is a silly and childish thing to say.  Nevertheless, the rejection doesn't stop me from doing the good things that I do, nor do I put forth less effort because it will be "wasted" (because it isn't).  The mission has helped me find myself, or rather it has helped me be more comfortable with doing things that I like to do, and joke in my own kind of humor.  I care less about being judged by others, and because of that, I am less judgmental of others.  Elder Campbell is a great example of this principle.  I have learned this from him.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Ward

I am doing well.  I hope you are not all popsicles; at least you should thaw out by the time I get back:)

Ed and Sarah are going very well.  Everything we teach is familiar to Ed.  He has had a rough past, but he is really improving.  I am glad I can witness this mighty change of heart.  All we worry about is both of them getting off their addictions.  We told them to give us a call when ever they need.  Our phone has to stay on all night on loud anyway, so we are at their disposal as long as they are coming closer to Christ.

We finally had a lesson with Phoebe and Phoenix.  They are two girls who had been taking the lessons.  Their family is mostly members of the church, but inactive.  We would make appoints, but they would fall through.  This went on for 3 weeks until just yesterday.  We finally had a visit with them at their house.  They love what we teach them.

The ward here is pretty funny.  There is an old lady who gets up and bears her testimony and no one can quiet her.  She is so random.  There are some mentally "no-all-the-way-there" people.  We have the really dedicated members like our Ward Mission Leader (who is awesome!) and Bishop and really all of the auxiliary leaders; then the old guy who can't hear, but is as happy as can be; the really young families who care for their babies and the chorister who leads the music like we are in Primary (children's organization). LOL

Mom, thanks.  I find myself doing laundry like you, cooking like you, stressing like you sometimes did, organizing things like you did.  Thanks for the good habits, and just letting you know that there is a little bit of our home in my apartment:)

I'm really wondering how I do laundry, cook, stress and organize??  I hope he has only taken my best habits with him:)  I hope he is more creative, clean and organized than me.  

Monday, January 5, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Elder Ruby and Elder Campbell
On Christmas Eve, Elder Campbell and I did a lot of walking.  Like all day long!  We thought we would do some daytime caroling, but we quickly found that it is very unproductive.  So was walking, but that was all we did:)  We did meet some people we had never seen before, so that was good, but that was a very long day.  We ended it very well though.  One of the families in the ward invited us over to their house in Guadalupe.  They have an enormous pink house in the middle of town.  Can't
miss it.  They had us over, along with their family;  I felt a bit odd spending Christmas Eve with someone's big family because I thought we would be spoiling the gathering, but they made us feel welcome.  They decorated the table and hung marshmallows from the ceiling fan for snow, and they put gift labels at everyone's spot at the table.  Dinner was soup (split pea and ham or chicken tortilla).  Yum.  Dessert was great too after Elder Campbell and I did their dishes.  It was a good Christmas Eve.  That night Elder Campbell and I finished up the advent calendar Mom and Lily made.  I love it.

On Christmas, we had a District meeting and then drove to Brother Larsen's to call home!  Boy was that good.  I wish we could do that more often!  I didn't feel homesick and still have not felt that way.  That has been a great blessing.

We then went to the Espinosa family's dinner.  They, too, have a big family, but they were so happy to have us over.  They fed us Hawaiian haystacks.  After giving a little lesson on the candy cane, we left with a prayer and blessing on their home.  Sister Espinosa was teary-eyed as we finished.  They left us with two boxes of cereal and a gallon of apple juice, and said to stop by for dinner anytime at 6:30!  Good day!  It was sunny and 65 degrees.  Yep, I didn't miss the cold, just the snow and feeling of Christmas.

So, I told you about one of the miracles that happened last week, but this week was miracle after miracle.  On Friday, we had made an appointment with some investigators.  They didn't answer.  I turned my back around toward the street, and this lady asked if we were the missionaries.  We said yes, and she said she had been looking for us.  Sarah and her soon-to-be husband, Ed, had had a series of unfortunate events.  Five deaths of people they knew on Christmas Eve/Day!  She is a recent convert of about 2 years.  He is not, but he wants to be sealed to her and be baptized!  At the moment, they are homeless, but trying to find a job.  We walked with them to the nearby park and listened to their crazy/awful story and then shared some scriptures from the Book of Mormon.  They wanted to come to church, so we found them a ride and they came.  Unlike many stories that I hear, I actually believe this one, and I think we will be having a baptism soon, as soon as Ed can give up his chewing tobacco.  She has to/wants to give up smoking.  They are going to do it together. Sarah was teaching Ed the gospel right in front of us, so she is pretty solid.  We are going to help these two get in contact with the ward employment specialist and get them back on their feet and merrily (or marrily, haha) in the temple.

God works in mysterious ways.  We happened to be at the right place at the right time.  No doubt, the spirit led us to make that appointment, and for some reason, the appointment fell through.

Here's a few pictures of our apartment.  I love the bags under the bike tires:)  Smart men!  I think he sent the pictures before they were fully loaded.  Clean, tidy apartment.  I wouldn't expect Hyrum to live any other way:)

This is the Lord's Work

I'm sorry it has taken me so long to post a letter from Elder Ruby.  We have had two weeks off of school and I enjoyed spending time with my children.  But, hopefully, I am back on track with the start of 2015!

We have seen so many miracles this past week!  We have been working hard to do the right things, to be obedient, and to really think about what investigators/less-actives need.  We have three new investigators.  One of them just fell into our hands.  It is a long story, but we were in the right place at the right time.  That actually happened a lot this week.  It sure has been a blessing.

Elder Campbell is just as great as ever.  He is beginning to see what missionary work is really like.  He still has high hopes (and I encourage them), but he now has a little bit more of an understanding of reality.  He can see that these people are real people, with real lives and real circumstances, and sometimes all we see is the surface of their concerns and problems.  I am trying to teach him, and learn myself, that there are deeper concerns and desires than they let us know.  He is a hard worker and obedient.  We work well together and compliment one another's teaching and thinking styles.

We had an experience this week that strengthened my testimony in listening to the spirit and that it is the Lord who is hastening His work.  Elder Campbell and I were on our way to try out a "power hour" in Santa Maria.  As we walked out of the door to the apartment, we both had a strong feeling that we were forgetting something.  We went back into the apartment and listed everything we thought we needed.  We picked up more pass-along cards, brought our coats, looked at everything in the apartment, and stood there thinking of what we had forgotten.  Nothing popped out as "that's it".  Eventually the feeling left, we left the house, and we chose to visit a less-active member before our "power hour".

We paused to think of the message we would share and then walked across the street.  A Hispanic man and his son were walking and stopped us.  With the little Spanish we knew, and the little English he knew, we tried to speak with him.  His son translated for us.  He asked about Christ and about death.  We told him that there were Spanish missionaries that we could send to him.  He gave us his address.  Then he gave us his number without us asking for it and he asked where the church was and when it started.  He was asking all the questions we, as missionaries, were supposed to ask!  We found this man and his son (or they found us) because of promptings that we both received.  I really want to know this man's side of the story, but we sent the referral on to the Spanish Elders.  We were definitely led by the spirit as we found and taught that day.  The testimony is that nothing we did was from our own intelligence or planning.  That was all God.  He is hastening his work and we just happened to be the instruments that He used to do that!


Happy new year