Monday, September 21, 2015

One Year!

This month marks Elder Ruby's one year in the mission field (Sept 10, 2014).  I can't believe a year has gone by!  At times it has been fast and other times not so much.  I still find myself shedding a tear here and there as I miss him so very much.  I love getting his emails and hand written letters every week.  The pictures help too.  I love it when someone asks how he is doing.  Although I don't always have a lot to tell that person, it makes me feel good that he is thought of and missed by others.  If you are reading the blog, you know he is doing really well and loving what he is learning and loving all of his teaching opportunities.  He loves to serve and help other people, which is 100% of what he is doing, both temporally and spiritually.

I look forward to start counting down the months, weeks and eventually the days until he comes home.  But I also know that he has a lot of work to do in the next year.  He wonders if he has time to do and learn all that is required of him in that short amount of time.  Bless his heart!

I want to share my testimony of our Heavenly Father's work.   I leave this blog for Hyrum's testimony, but mine is no different than his. (I did get his permission to share my testimony)  I know that the Book of Mormon was written by ancient prophets that lived in the Americas who kept records of the dealings of their people and looked forward to the coming of the Savior.  It was translated by the gift and power of God by a young man, Joseph Smith, with little formal education.  I feast on its pages every day and continually discover teachings that apply to my life.  If I would read any other novel over 15 times, I would likely know the story inside and out and could probably quote most of it.  The Book of Mormon is different.  Although I know the stories quite well, I continually learn and grow from its teachings and never tire of reading it.  There is no other book like it!  For those of you who have never read it, please don't be afraid to ask me about it.  I would love to tell you about the people of the Book of Mormon!

I am also so grateful for the Plan of Salvation that Hyrum so often refers to in his letters.  It is our Heavenly Father's plan for His children to be able to return to live with Him.  We are His spirit sons and daughters and He loves us so very much - just as you love your children with all your hearts and want to see them live happy, joyful lives.  The family is central to His plan and He has made it possible for parents and children to be sealed together forever, not just until "death due you part".  Death is not the end and through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, all people will have their spirits and bodies reunited.  It is part of His plan because He loves us.  I love talking about the gospel of Jesus Christ because it makes me so happy.  I am grateful for God's standards that give me guidance in raising my children in this immoral world.  They have confidence in His commandments and are blessed for living in accordance with His teachings.

I hope you will continue to follow Elder Ruby during his last year of his mission.  I will continue to do my best to keep you informed through the blog.  I will definitely forward any comments to him that you leave.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

One Year Mark!

Yep, this letter marks my year mark. Elder Ruby entered the MTC on September 10, 2014.

On Tuesday we had MLC (Missionary Leadership Council) in Oxnard.  Before MLC we had a breakfast at the mission home.  They made us super good waffle treat things (Eggo waffle, carmel, Eggo waffle, dulce de leche, peaches, strawberries, whipped cream) Yum!  That morning was crazy though.  We had a lot to do and we actually had to drive one of Santa Barbara's cars to the meeting so that it could get some work done on it.  Needless to say, we planned on getting up at 4:50am so that everything would run smoothly and we could get to Ventura on time.  We woke up that morning to our usual 6:17am alarm! No shower, no prayer even :( (first time in a long time that I hadn't prayed before I left the apartment or home).  We ended up making it to the breakfast right on time.  Traffic was pretty good.  I realized later that day that something was off.  Then I remembered that I forgot to pray formally.  I had some silent prayers on the way down but nothing formal.  At that moment I repented and prayed.  The day/meeting went much better after that point.  Elder King and I led a discussion on teaching the Plan of Salvation simply.  One big thing that we emphasized was teaching the doctrines found in Preach My Gospel instead of telling the story of the Plan of Salvation.  I thought it went really well.

After MLC we had exchanges with the Assistants.  I stayed in Ventura with Elder Young.  I really needed that.  We were led by the spirit to be at the right place at the right time to help a less-active lady from one of the the Ventura family wards move.  We had no idea she lived there and had we not been there, the ward/missionaries wouldn't not have been able to contact her at her new address.  She was throwing away a bunch of Mormon books.  I grabbed 2 copies of "A Marvelous Work and a Wonder" which I will be keeping in my luggage or sending home.  I forgot them in Ventura, so I will get them in a couple of weeks at Zone Conference!  I know Mom really likes that book.  I do.  It is one of my favorite books!  

This week has been really good.  We have a couple of new investigators:  Phillip, who likes comic books, video games and FRIENDS.  His mother was a member of the church.  She died a month ago.  Phillip has a slight mental disability because of an accident when he was young.  He is really searching for something (the gospel) in his life.  We gave him the Children's Book of Mormon.   (We told him that it was the comic book version of the Book of Mormon) and he was already almost 100 pages into the Children's BOM when we saw him again on Sunday!  Also, a guy named Justin walked up to us on Sunday after sacrament meeting and told us he is just checking the church out.  He stayed the full 3 hours.  He told us afterwards that he used to go to the Calvary SLO, but he feels there is something missing in his life.  He said he is almost thirty and he still feels "off" or he feels like life is short and he needs to put God as a priority.  Also a friend of his recently passed away and he wants to know what happens after this life.  Justin is someone we would call. . . PREPARED!  We also learned of an investigator moving to SLO from Fresno on Wednesday.  She sounds super solid.

All in all, things are pretty good!

As for my 1st year reflection . . . I have learned so much this last year.  Like I mentioned in my first call home, the first thing I learned was how much I don't know.  I thought I knew the scriptures.  I thought I understood the Atonement.  I thought I knew how to repent.  I thought I knew how to listen to the spirit.  I thought I knew how to help people with their problems.  Well, I did know how, but I relearned those things and it humbled me.

I've run out of time to write you, but there will be more next week.  I love you all.  May the spirit be with you.

The number of missionaries now serving in the California Ventura Mission:
27 English Sisters and 26 Spanish Sisters
81 English Elders and 17 Spanish Elders
Total of 151 Missionaries

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

More Wyoming Missionaries and Gum Wall

I know of at least four missionaries from Wyoming in the mission (including me). Two of them are new missionaries in my Zone! Elder Crook from Lyman and Elder Gilpin from Evanston. The other Wyo missionary is Elder Degraw (however you spell it) from Evanston too. Pretty cool.

The area is picking up. A man named Justin came to church to "check it out!" He has many friends that he recently found who are members of the church, a friend recently passed away, and Justin is feeling like he is missing something in in his life! Does he sound prepared or what? This week when Elder King and I have just taken the time to street contact with the intent of helping people move and then teach them, we have been led by the Spirit to those who have been receptive to the gospel. I also got condemned to hell twice, but that is just part of being a missionary. :)
Yeah, last p-day, we (the District) went to the Gum Wall. It's in the middle of downtown between two buildings. It was gross! Once I got a few feet in, the gum smelled horrible.  People had written letters with the gum up high, or stuck pennies or wrappers into their piece of gum.  I accidentally stepped on a piece and it stuck to the bottom of my foot.  The wall was interesting, but one visit is enough for me. :)

I am coming to feel more each day whose work this really is. The more that I put my trust in God and humbly accept my role, the more miracles I see. I find that God leads us to people and places that we need to be for the blessing of His children. Some of the more powerful prayers that I have had involve the words " I know that this is Thy work" and then I ask how may I help instead of "give me" or "bless me." After humbling experiences, God shows us a miracle like people coming to church that we've never met, or seeing people at the gas station that we had met once before and remembering their name, or putting us in the right place at the right time to help serve someone in need. I know that God knows us.  He knows everyone.  I know that he loves us all and is working so hard for the salvation of His children.

Update on Baptisms

I thought I should give you an update on Mark and Stephanie, two young people we have taught and baptized.  Mark emailed me today and sent me pictures of him at the Oakland Temple and his view from his dorm.  He can see the Golden Gate Bridge from his place at Berkley!  Mark told me that the Young Single Adult ward up there has 130 people and 13 freshman who he is already great friends with.  He did baptisms for the dead at the temple and said he "really, really felt the spirit!"  Mark thanked us so much for teaching him.  He is recognizing the blessings of baptism and the priesthood!

Stephanie said she, too, had been to the temple many times.  She is doing well.  Her mom is actually really interested.  Before I left, we wrote some scriptures on a note card about baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost from the Bible and Book of Mormon.  Stephanie's mom was really moved by those scriptures and has been asking Stephanie a lot of questions.  One Sunday Stephanie was in church and her mom called her and asked for Stephanie to come get her and bring her inside.  So cool for them to be learning and growing together!  Stephanie has had lots of opportunities to teach her mom.

That's all for the old updates.  Now for some new ones.  A girl named Courtney moved into our apartment complex a few weeks ago and we talked to her more this past Saturday.  She told us that her parnets came into town to visit and Courtney had told them that there were Mormon Missionaries in her complex.  Her mom said, "MORMONS!  You should hang out with them.  They are the best people!"  That was good to hear.  We taught her a little about the Plan of Salvation.  She told us that she had met lots of people who are trying to find their faith.  We forgot to invite her to church then, but we put a sticky note on her car window inviting her.  (By the way, we live across the street from the church.) 

On that same Sunday, we were inviting everyone we could to church: people on the street, people we knew. . . We walked over to an open door.  Inside were some college kids (3 girls and a guy).  They weren't wearing a lot of clothes. . . They offered us cake.  I passed on that one (college-age kids. . . hanging out. . . immodest. . . baking. . .) yeah, but we had a member with us who said sure.  That allowed us to talk longer.  We invited them to church, but they declined.  They said they were headed to Pirate's Cove: the nude beach down south between Santa Maria and Nipano.  We left our number and wished them well. 

It was after all these attempts to find someone to come to church that we were walking back to our apartment.  I received a propmting to go invite Courtney.  We knocked on her door 30 minutes before church started and invited her to come.  She said yes and thought she had missed church.  She got ready in 15 minutes and we walked her to church.  It went well.

Also, this evening we ran into a guy our age who came down here from San Fran to check out Cal Poly.  His car broke down in Morro Bay.  His friend ditched him.  He walked to SLO (12 miles!) and only had a bag that he packed for the trip.  He had no shirt, hadn't eaten in 3 days and was trying to find a place to stay the night and to find a job so that he can work enough to pay a taxi to get him home.  He knew very little about where he was and had been praying for help.  We got him some nuts, granola bars, water, socks (he had none), shirts (he had none), a jacket, jeans, and a Book of Mormon.  We gave him directions to the Salvation Army, said a prayer, and sent him on his way.  He told us that he's been searching his soul for answers and that he would come to church this next Sunday.  That's all the updates I have.  I'll send you some pictures soon!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Shout Out to My Teachers

So, a guy named Zach Powell just moved back to the ward. He just got back from a mission from Gillette, WY! He said he knew President Breinholt.  Small world.

Also, I want to give a shout out to my teachers on the blog. They prepared me for many of the experiences that I have had on the mission.  All that homework, makes the paperwork and planning that I have to do as a missionary seem like a breeze.  The diligent study habits I learned while in school have served me well as I study the words of prophets daily. The speaking skills and leadership opportunities that I was given through school activities prepared me to lead, love, and serve the missionaries in my zone. And lastly, the introspection, one-on-one conversations, and quality time strengthened my mental and emotional self and that has made a big difference.
We will be picking up two new investigators this week! We knocked on a girl's door Sunday morning about half an hour before church. She, Courtney, was so happy to see us and she met us out in front of her apartment complex about fifteen minutes later to walk to church with us.  Our Relief Society President got her number and will be inviting her to FHE tonight! Another young man, Phillip, just lost his mother. Much of his family are members, but he is not. He came to church yesterday and we have a lesson with him tonight before FHE! Cuesta College is in, and CalPoly starts on the 22nd of September. The work is beginning to pick up and I don't think it will slow down for some time.
In my studies lately the Spirit has brought to my remembrance the doctrines of our earth life. Let me explain. I have regained a testimony of the Atonement and the things we need to do to access that Atonement, namely: Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. I relearned today that this day is a day of repentance. We are on this earth for the purpose of repenting and making covenants that prepare us for Eternal Life. By "we" I mean myself and every other person on this planet. God has sent missionaries and scriptures to call all to repentance. We "call men to repentance" by helping them receive the restored gospel!