Monday, March 30, 2015

New Area, New Companion

The weather here in Camarillo is supposedly the 2nd best weather in the world.  It is pretty nice.  72 degrees with a cool breeze almost all the time.  The people here are pretty wealthy.  Houses are expensive.  Our apartment (2 bed, 2 bath) is about $1,900 per month!  The members are so great.  Their families remind me of ours when I was little.  They feed us almost every day!

I didn't expect adjusting to such an area would be so hard.  For the last 6 months, I have been in training and learning the rules, or I have been training and teaching.  Now, I am a junior companion to an elder who's has been out for 1 year and a month.  It's a new area with names that he knows all about and streets that he knows like the back of his hand.  I came here and now I have to "catch up".

We only have one progressing investigator.   Her name is Stephanie.  She is 16 years old.  She is doing great!  She understands and thinks about everything she's been taught.  The only problem is that her parents won't let her be baptized.  They did just say that she couldn't get baptized until November, so that is a step in the right direction.  We will just keep it up.

Everything is going well, though.  We just had dinner with the Hays who had invited the Bishop and his wife from an Oxnard ward.  They were good friends.  The neat thing about it was that the ward this bishop is from has eliminated tracting.  President Felix is "trying this out" with that ward.  The bishop told us all the miracles and activity and support that came from the missionaries having to use members.  The work bloomed so much that they now have 8 missionaries in that ward!  As he spoke about the whole idea, I felt an impression to do something called 100% Accountability.  This means that we visit every member on our directory and make sure they have Home Teachers, confirm the information we have on them, and see if we can do any service for them.  The impression/vision I had was visiting every member, asking for service opportunities, ask for people to go teach, and most important, set up a time that we can come teach their family from Preach my Gospel (the teaching manual for missionaries).  This prompting was very clear to me.  After our little lesson with them, we left (Duh. . . ).  I love it when his personality comes out in his writing.

I brought up what I thought we should do to Elder Leavitt in the car.  He, too, had received the same impression.  Both of us felt it!  Elder Leavitt said he was worried that I wouldn't be on board with what he thought we should do.  I also was hoping that Elder Leavitt wouldn't shut me down or not be motivated.  Thankfully, and divinely, we received the same witness and we are both exited about doing this with the ward.  Our only problem now is the Bishop. . . We will see what he says this week.  We are so excited, especially after reading Preach My Gospel Chapter 9 under The Importance of Members.  PMG describes exactly what we want to do.

Keep up the good work.  Combat bad/discouraging thoughts with gratitude.  Be the change you want to see in the world.  Show by your example how to be like Jesus in 2015.  Don't forget to read you scriptures and pray every day NO MATTER WHAT!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

First Impression of Camarillo

Wowser!  Down here in Camarillo is way different than what I am used to.  Just when everything starts to feel comfortable, the Lord gives us something new to help us improve.  The people up north are much more humble than here.  They are more willing to change and to listen.  We have been working with a lot of less active members.  The members are fantastic and really missionary-minded.  We have yet to tap into that deeper.  Our goal this week is to set up return appointments and to find members to come with us to every one of those appointments.  There is a lot of potential in our area to see miracles. We can't wait to be a part of them.

Elder Leavitt has a way of talking to and connecting with less actives.   One thing he has been teaching me is to not be so hard on myself.  Elder Leavitt tells me that feelings of inadequacy and discouragement are not from God.  I knew that already because I have told it to Elder Campbell, but I am thankful that he loves me enough to help me that way.

Due to high expectations of myself, and my constant failure to do all that I know to be true and needful, I have felt discouraged.  I have counseled with God about the matter and the impression to be grateful has come to me.  I was reminded of a talk by President Monson titled "The Attitude of Gratitude".  He mentions Doctrine and Covenants 59:21 which tells us that God is only upset when we disobey His commandments and when we confess not His hand in all things.  I have made a resolve to combat those destructive feelings with positive thoughts of gratitude.  These thoughts can, and will, be as simple as enjoying the beauty in the springtime, or my good health, or a prompting, dinner, a car, a testimony that the church is true, the love of my Savior, . . etc.

We did 3 hours of service this week.

Back in Santa Maria. . .

I need to go back in time a little.  I got a letter from Elder Ruby that was part while he was still in Santa Maria and part when he got transferred.

This week has been a roller coaster.  We found some pretty solid potential investigators, but they didn't seem to be reaching their full potential.  I was driving the other day and felt the need to stop and walk around.  We stopped and just followed the spirit. One man had his garage door open and he was just "chillin".  We said hello and asked him about religion.  He didn't speak much English, but we testified and he came right up to us.  He brought his son out to translate.  We got his name and other contact info so that we could send the Spanish Hermanas over there.  Then we ran into a lady named Melissa.  She was so excited when we told her about the Book of Mormon.  She is trying to change her life around, and the gospel is just the thing to do it.

It's been disappointing this week with asking members to come with us.  We would set appointments with investigators, call a member to go with us, and that appointment would fall through :(  That doesn't help increase our members' trust in us nor their enthusiasm for missionary work, but what can we do? Work harder.  Pray more sincerely.  Love stronger.  Trust God more often.  Live in the present.

Right now I am on my way down to Ventura for transfer meeting.  We are riding with Sister Espinosa. She is so awesome.  No one in the ward could take us even though we gave notice on Saturday.  Elder Harper and Elder Gruwell (the other missionaries who split the ward with us) ran into her yesterday and she volunteered to take us today.  This is quite a sacrifice because we had to leave at 6:30am this morning and we probably won't get back home until 3:30pm this afternoon; 9 hours; a tank of gas; and usually buying lunch for four missionaries.  I have faith that Elder Kim is who God wants me to be with for at least the next 6 weeks.  I expect to learn a lot from Elder Kim.  We know that they were only together for 6 days.

Fast forward a week:
This last week has been crazy!  Elder Kim is great.  He may be one of the most humble missionaries out there.  He and I were only companions for six short days.  He has a really good testimony even though he hasn't read the Book of Mormon cover to cover.  Elder Kim reminded me of Jeremy Shiver.  I taught him how to make scrambled eggs, taught him what a "pun" is and how to tie his shoes (my way).  He taught me how to say "thank you" in Korean (he is fluent, of course), he taught me a little patience, and he helped me look at life in a new perspective.

Elder Martineau (from Sheridan, WY) is in the same district as I am, here in Camarillo.  He is still waiting on his Visa to Brazil.  Some missionaries don't get their Visa's by the time they are ready to leave the Missionary Training Center, so they go to another area of the United States to serve as missionaries until they obtain their Visa.  Also, Elder Harper is now a Zone Leader down here (he was my past District Leader in Santa Maria), and Elder Newmyer, from my Paso District is our District Leader here in Camarillo.  So, it's just a big mission family reunion :)

I love you all.  Obey the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.  Follow the Savior's example.  Be patient with yourself as you work to improve.  I would love to hear how people's testimonies have grown lately.
Aunt Lynsey made Elder Ruby this super cool apron with tie and name tag!

Family in Santa Maria

Another family in Santa Maria

Monday, March 23, 2015

What is a Missionary?

I wanted to share with you the words of one of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Russel M. Nelson, on the work of missionaries.

Some of you may wonder about the name Mormon. It is a nickname for us. It is not our real name, though we are widely known as Mormons. The term is derived from a book of sacred scripture known as the Book of Mormon.
The true name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is the reestablished original Church of Jesus Christ. When He walked upon the earth, He organized His Church. He called Apostles, Seventies, and other leaders to whom He gave priesthood authority to act in His name.3 After Christ and His Apostles passed away, men changed the ordinances and doctrine. The original Church and the priesthood were lost. After the Dark Ages, and under the direction of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ brought back His Church. Now it lives again, restored and functioning under His divine direction.4
We follow the Lord Jesus Christ and teach of Him. We know that after His glorious triumph over death, the resurrected Lord appeared to His disciples on numerous occasions. He ate with them. He walked with them. Before His final Ascension, He commissioned them to “go … and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”5 The Apostles heeded that instruction. They also called upon others to help them fulfill the Lord’s command.

Today, under the direction of modern apostles and prophets, that same charge has been extended to missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These missionaries serve in more than 150 nations. As representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ, they strive to fulfill that divine command—renewed in our day by the Lord Himself—to take the fulness of the gospel abroad and bless the lives of people everywhere.6
Missionaries in their late teens or early 20s are young in ways of the world. But they are blessed with gifts—such as the power of the Holy Spirit, the love of God, and testimonies of the truth—that make them powerful ambassadors of the Lord. They share the good news of the gospel that will bring true joy and everlasting happiness to all who heed their message. And in many instances they do so in a country and a language foreign to them.
Missionaries strive to follow Jesus Christ in both word and deed. They preach of Jesus Christ and of His Atonement.7 They teach of the literal Restoration of Christ’s ancient Church through the Lord’s first latter-day prophet, Joseph Smith.
You may have previously encountered, or even ignored, our missionaries. My hope is that you will not fear them but learn from them. They can be a heaven-sent resource to you.  

Thursday, March 19, 2015

I Got Transferred!

Crazy Story!  Elder Kim is originally from Seoul, South Korea.  He moved to Virginia when he was 17  and received his American Citizenship.  Then he went to college at BYU.  He is now on a mission at 25 years old.  His mission call was actually to the Sydney South Australia Mission.  Currently he is waiting for his Visa.  Another Elder, named Elder Johns, from Utah, was waiting for his Visa to Brazil.  He got it last week.  Elder Johns' companion, Elder Levitt, from Blackfoot, Idaho, is his companion.  On Thursday, Elder Kim and I got a call from the assistants telling us that I was going down to Camarillo to serve with Elder Levitt and Elder Kim was going to stay in Santa Maria with the other companionship as a tri-pan.  They were going to combine the ward in Santa Maria and close down the apartment that Elder Kim and I were staying in.  So, I have been working super hard to make that all happen.  The other Elders are basically white-washing the area I have been in for three months, so I had to write a bunch of notes about investigators and potentials that I really thought they should go see.  This morning Elder and Sister Miles (senior full-time missionaries) picked me up and dropped me off here, in Camarillo.  Crazy!  Elder Johns leaves tomorrow for Brazil!  I had no idea where Camarillo was, so I looked at the atlas.  It is very near Oxnard, where the Mission Home is located.  Elder Ruby has served in the very north, middle and south parts of his mission area all in 6 months.

Here are Elder Ruby's final comments from Santa Maria:

The area in Santa Maria is doing fine.  It will be good to have some fresh blood on our side.  We had many people who we would visit, but they all started to slowly slip downward into contentment.  This past week didn't feel real productive despite all the hard work Elder Kim and I did.  We worked and worked and worked.  Lunch was only as long as it took it gulp down a sandwich.  It was sad to say good-bye to many of our investigators and to the members, but I understand that God has something for me to do here in Camarillo. :)

Elder Kim was great.  He has such a good testimony.  He has really great moments when he decides to jump in and be bold.  Elder Kim is incredibly humble.  His goal is to be the most obedient and humble missionary he can be, and he is doing a good job.  Every once in a while he needs a bit of a push.  I know exactly how he feels (and how my trainer felt).  I was much like that when I was "6 weeks old."  He taught me a lot in the six days we were together.  I like the angles he takes on subjects and situations.  Maybe it's the "Korean" way. :)  We are doing some good work here in Camarillo.  Of course, God is going to do the hastening, we just have to reap and sow.

Currently, I am trying to discern between my boldness/love/sincerity and selfishness/impatience/requests.  Elder Campbell taught me to be myself, to be bold, and to just do.   Sometimes I think that when I am being myself, I am being selfish or impatient.  Maybe myself is selfish and impatient.  Haha.  I really want to be like the Savior.  I want to denounce sin, and be humble and unhypocritical about it.  I want to be bold, and love the people at the same time.  I don't want to be afraid of what man may think.  I want to do what is pleasing to God.  One thing that I am doing in my studies is finding all the things we need to get to heaven.  I know salvation isn't a checklist, but I was curious what the scriptures say.  As I have made this list (have faith, hope, charity, be humble, clean repent. . . etc), the realization came to me that all these attributes have to happen sometime if I expect to make it.  Why not do them now?  When do I expect to become humble, or repentant? or full of love?  Now!  I am really trying.

I am grateful for my new assignment, even though it was hard to say good-bye.

Here is a picture of Elder Walker, Elder Ruby, Elder Kim and Elder Comin at transfers on March 10.  Elder Will Comin used to live in Buffalo when he was much younger.  I think I have a picture of Hyrum and Will when they were kindergarten-age.  That was about the last time they saw each other until their missions.  Pretty cool that they were sent to the same mission!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

6 Months and Staying to Train!

Sooooo. . . Elder Campbell is leaving to West Lake (the richest area in the mission) to serve with Elder Dorius, my MTC companion!  I am staying and will be follow-up training Elder Kim.  For clarification: the first 6 weeks are training, the second 6 weeks are follow-up training.  This means that I will still get that extra hour of studying every day!  It has been sooooo nice for these last 6 months to have extra time to study!  Yeah, 6 months.  Crazy!

This week we found some pretty solid potential investigators that I look forward to visiting again.  Many of our previous investigators are not progressing and we don't know why.  We have been leaving commitments, giving them a card with the commitment on it and our next appointment, and following up, but most of the time they still don't keep them.  We must be forgetting something.  Maybe we need to work on discerning their needs better, and showing them how important these commitments are.  The ward is really supportive, and someone is usually available to come with us to appointments.  It's disappointing when we bring a member to a scheduled appointment and the lesson falls through.  It has happened more than not.

Twins! Same tie, same sweater, white shirt,
 black pants, glasses
Elder Campbell will do great with Elder Dorius in West Lake.  These last two transfers with Elder Campbell have been such a growing opportunity for me.   He has taught me to love, to be bold, to not worry about what others may think of me, and to "cut to the chase".  We have seen many miracles as a result of our faith and diligence.  Elder Campbell will not rest until the job is done, he will call people to repentance, he will not tolerate bad behavior, and he is clean.  I thank Heavenly Father and President Felix for the wonderful assignment to train him and be trained by him.

I am coming to a realization of the reality of the eternal nature of our spirits and of the need to choose to follow Christ in this life.  As I read the scriptures, I find that God is pretty "cut and dry".  He openly speaks of the consequences of sin, that is: death and hell.  We are told in our manual "Preach My Gospel" to use the words of the scriptures in the language that we speak.  Often I am too lax about the bad choices that others make.  I say to myself, "that is their choice," and I leave it at that.  However, my calling is to give others the opportunity to accept or reject the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I must let them know the consequences of the choices they are making.  This does not mean that I boss people around. At no point in time will I endeavor to force anyone to do anything; even so, I must explain the results of their current poor decisions.

We did 6 1/2 hours of service this week.  One man that we did service for definitely felt the spirit.  He expressed it in praise for us young men doing good in the world and making right choices.  We gave him a new hope for the future, and it really touched his heart.   We will be bringing the ward over soon for more service, and I hope that he will investigate more after seeing the good hearts and the faith of our ward members.  As President Monson said, "Our future is as bright as our faith."

Elder Campbell at dinner with a member.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Ryan's Baptism

The baptism this past Saturday (February 28) was amazing!  I didn't expect to feel the way I did.  maybe I just didn't know what to expect.  It all started at 12pm that afternoon.  We planned on meeting Ryan and Nick (the priest who Ryan chose to baptize him) at the church early so that we could practice and so we could get them fitted for jumpsuits.  Nick showed up at 12:20 and we taught him all the hand positions and the words.  Stephanie, Ryan's mom, called and asked if Ryan was at the church yet.  (Ryan had stayed that night at an 18 year-old girl's birthday party).  We were afraid that something bad would happen that evening.  So when his mom couldn't get a hold of him and we couldn't, I began to be nervous.  We called his mom again and had her check his dad's place.  No word from her . . . So I took Elder Campbell to another room and we were going to pray for God's help when Stephanie gives us a call saying that she's got him and they will be at the church in 15 minutes.  Ryan arrived at 12:52.  8 minutes before the baptism was scheduled to start!
Elder Ruby, Ryan, Elder Campbell

We rushed him to the bathroom, threw him his jumpsuit, and had him and Nick practice.   We began the baptism 15 minutes late, but it really wasn't a big deal because the family who we were sharing the baptism with wasn't ready much sooner than we were with Ryan.  The boy being baptized was named Aiden.  His grandfather gave a great talk on baptism and the Holy Ghost.  Ryan was baptized first.  Nick almost hit Ryan's head and about couldn't pick him back up, but he said all the words right. :)

After Ryan was baptized, I played that experience over in my head.  As I did, I couldn't help but cry a little.  I felt warm, but I had goosebumps all down my neck and back.  I desired to baptize more people.  The feeling was a bit new to me.  I have felt the spirit before, but not in the same way.  I concluded that what I was feeling was God's praise, much like when God was well-pleased with Christ when He was baptized.

At the moment, I am up past my bedtime, but I needed to get this letter done.  Today has been crazy: we did service 2 times this morning (even though we don't usually do service on Monday's), emails, cleaning, fixing my flat tire :(, Zone activity, and 3 hours of an amazing evening of knocking on doors. We now have 3 new investigators!  Just from tonight!

I love you all and wish I could write more, but it's 11:08 :(  Bad Elder Ruby!  Keep up the good work.  I'm glad to hear that so many people like the blog.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Tribute to Missionaries

I wrote a poem that is a tribute to missionaries.  I hope you like it.

We are the publishers of peace
Our love and faith in Christ increase 
As we help others come to Him
and overcome the bonds of sin

We are the chosen few of God
Our feet we plant in Gospel sod
We know the truth within our hearts
To us, God's spirit He imparts

We are disciples of Him above
Our message to the world is love
Christ's representatives we'll be
We're called to testify of He

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Good Week

This week was pretty good.  We didn't notice as many miracles as we have in the past, but we still were busy.  On Thursday we had exchanges with the District Leader (Elder Harper) and his companion (Elder Gruwell).  I went into their area with Elder Gruwell and Elder Harper came into our area with Elder Campbell.  That was interesting.  I am not used to teaching/tracting with anyone but Elder Campbell.  We have a pretty good system.  Being put with Elder Gruwell made me have to be a bit more "pushy" because he isn't as bold and fearless as I am used to.

We (Elder Gruwell and I) gave a church tour to an exptrememly less-active lady named, Barb and her daughter, Diamond.  That went really well.  When we entered the chapel, it was so silent and peaceful. I sure felt the spirit.  We sang "Do What is Right" to her there in the chapel.  Barb is returning to activity and she has been through a lot.  She calls the missionaries "her boys".  The rest of the day with Elder Gruwell was a bit uneventful.  Perhaps the biggest thing I learned was how much I really like working with Elder Campbell.

On Friday, Haven's 17th birthday, we had a Zone Conference.  All the missionaries from Paso, Atascadero, San Louis Obispo, Morro Bay, Santa Maria, Arroyo Grande, and Pismo Beach came.  There were probably 40 of us.  Sister Felix taught us some etiquette, we received a new Christlike attribute to focus on: Faith Ether 12:18.  President Felix chose an elder and a sister to speak on The Living Christ, then he had us listen to a poem written by Bruce R. McConkie's son, who happens to be a really good friend of the Felix's!  It was about believing in Christ because he believes in you.  Then we watched some of Boyd K Packer's General Conference talk about receiving a witness of Christ.  I couldn't find that specific talk, but here is one about finding the true church on the earth.   We saw a few other powerful testimonies of Apostles and prophets.  We ended with the last few minutes of Bruce R. McConkie's talk "The Purifying Power of Gethsemane".  Wow!  The spirit in the room was so strong.  I was reminded of my commission to share God's love and to testify of Christ.

President Felix also taught us/reminded us about the importance of following up with the commitments that we extend.  Following up helps them (investigators) exercise faith in Jesus Christ and it demonstrates love.

We had a tie exchange at the end.  I didn't bring any ties to exchange, but I ended up with two extras.  See photos on previous blog page.  I got a tie from someone, then I traded it and then another Elder gave me a tie to trade and I got another tie that way.

Also, we sang "Happy Birthday" to all the missionaries who were going to have their birthdays before June.  I sang to Haven instead :)

President and Sister Felix came to our Stake Conference.  We have a great Stake President, President Hulstine.  They spoke very well and made sure that the members knew our purpose as missionaries.

Elder Campbell and I are doing fantastic.  Ryan is going to be baptized on Sunday! (March 1 - details will follow in another post) A priest in the ward is going to baptize him.  A priest is a boy ages 16-18.  This boy has become good friends with Ryan.  We are pretty excited for him.  He is moving to Louisiana in a couple of months.  It will be great for him to have some "instant family" when he gets there.

We are struggling a bit with those kids.  Last Sunday, Stake Conference, they left to go the bathroom and to look for paper to draw on and to go play on the stage!  We were not happy with them.  They have become a bit attached to us because we do our best to discipline our lessons, but they have felt like we are parnets to them.   There is not much parental supervision/love/discipline in that home.  We have them reading a chapter in the Book of Mormon before we will meet with them, and we will be asking questions and staying on task.

Life and weather is good. Sorry about all the bad weather you are getting.

Ed and Sarah have not been to church in a month.  Not Good!  Sarah is back to smoking.  We are pretty sure Ed started back on chewing tobacco.  Things are not going real well for them.  Hmm. . . I wonder why? (That's sarcastic and I shouldn't be, but I am just a bit upset)  If they would just obey God's commandments, they would be happy (Mosiah 2:41).

We have several people who are really solid potential investigators.  There is even a man who believes in the Restored Gospel of the Primative Church of Christ.  He was trying to convert us.  They sound very much like us.  Their church began in Mexico by a man who was "called of God" by the stars and given a new name.  Just wait until he reads the Book of Mormon :)

The work is progressing.
I may sound depressing,
but I feel the blessings
not the distressings