Monday, December 30, 2013

Transfer 14, Week 2, Lakes Zone, Desert Breeze Ward‏

 This is me next to my 'itsy bitsy teeny tiny Christmas Tree'  that mom sent me :) thanks mom!
 This is my posterity with Santa! My son. my 3 grandsons. and my great-grandson!

Dear Family,
This week was great! We had a baptism for Byron on the 26th! It went well! I think there were only 4 members of the ward there but the rest of the room was filled with family members that came to show support. It was probably the least stressful baptism that I've been a part of. We just interviewed him this past week. We show up to the baptism and do a little message while we are waiting for them to get dressed after the baptism and then it's over!

This week seemed like it would be pretty slow but it turned out to be great! We had a lesson with Savanna, who is set for the 4th! We taught the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom. Then we did a review of the Baptismal Interview Questions. The lesson went great! She had some questions about prophets and why they are needed today. It is so great when you explain a principle and then you can tell that they understand now! I really love the line, "A prophet provides and anchor of eternal truth in a world of shifting values". It really just sums up what the role of a prophet is and why we need them today!
Christmas this year was great! We spent some time with our ward mission leader, brother Jolley. Then we skyped our families at the Teshimas home. We opened presents and played some ping pong with some other missionaries. It was a great day!
A Family in the ward, the Reyes', gave us Christmas presents! They gave Elder Till a superman shirt and they gave me a 'Las Vegas' sweatshirt. They are so nice! (The family I mean) :)
We had a lesson with the Worku family. They have not been reading so we read a chapter with her. We are trying to help them understand the importance of the book of mormon and how they can find their answer. I really hope they will start coming to church on a regular basis.
Well thats it for this week! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!
Love you!
Elder John

"The cause of most of mans unhappiness is sacrificing what he wants most for what he wants now" - Gordon B. Hinckley

Monday, December 23, 2013

Transfer 14, Week 1, Lakes Stake, Desert Breeze Ward‏

Dear Family,
This week was great! We had our mission Christmas Party!!! So fun! President and Sister Ahlander talked for a little while then we had a Christmas program. Then one of the assistants, Elder Torgersen, read us his version of 'twas the night before Christmas'. Then we had lunch provided by the Red Rock Stake. It was so good!!! Finally we got to watch 'Ephraim's Rescue'! Great Movie!!! and yes I did tear up a bit!
So in the mission there is a tradition of calling the person you train your son. So according to tradition I have one son. Who trained 3 other missionaries (My grandchildren) and this last transfer one of my grandsons trained! So I'm a great-grandfather! I'll attach a pic of all of us sitting on Santas lap!
This past week has been very slow! No one can meet because of the holidays and its been tough. However we have had some rays of light. We have been tractng a lot and we have to walk a lot more becuase we are over our mileage allotment on our car. So we tract this one street and this guy answers the door and he says that he used to be a member a few years ago. He also said that a friend of his was over at his house just a few hours ago and told him that he would send missionaries to his house. So we happen to show up! The Man has an 18 year old son he wants us to teach and he said that "Gods phone calls travel a lot faster than mans phone calls. My friend 'called' God and God 'called' you to knock on my door". So great!
A Family in the ward is having their son visit from Washington. THey want him to get baptized while he is here for the holidays! He is getting baptized on the 26th of December and we are going to interview him for baptism today at 12 we are going to interview him. It should be fun!
This past Saturday my first 'new investigator' my first week in the mission was baptized! We've worked with him for a while and missionaries have been teaching him since I left my first area. I was so excited to hear that he is going to be baptized! Elder Wong (my trainer) came down from Utah to baptize him. I was also in the water to help because of his bad knees. Immediatly after he was baptized he started clapping. He then lifted Elder Wong and I up in the air. It was so great to see him so excited! The Bishop, as he was welcoming him to the ward, shared this scripture Isaiah 55:12. He said that 'you showed your joy though clapping' and the bishop made it a great experience for him!
So a few weeks ago we set Savanna for the 4th of January. She was a little hesitant but was willing to make it a goal. Spencer, her husband, sent us a text midway through this past week and said that 'Savanna is definitely getting baptized on the 4th. We were reading and I felt inspired to show her Alma 32. We had a great spiritual experience and she is excited to be baptized.'
Oh its so great! So exciting!!!
Finally, We went Caroling! We got permission from Wal-mart and our whole zone (19 missionaries) caroled for a few hours. People were taking pictures of us and they were so excited to see people singing at Wal-mart!
Well I better go!
I love you all!
Elder John
"Yes, we still wish Christmas were more deeply felt and lasted longer, but the visibly increased goodwill nevertheless reminds us, if only briefly, of what could be everlasting. For a few days, the first and second commandments are more pondered and observed."
- Neal A. Maxwell

Monday, December 16, 2013

Transfer 13, Week 6, Lakes Zone, Desert Breeze Ward‏

 This is Javier in the middle and Simon on the left. They are so hilarious!!!

Dear Family,
This week was great! Today, however, is transfers and I will be staying in the Desert Breeze Ward and I will get Elder Till. He is a new ZL and he was in my last area as a district leader/trainer. He is very humble and the kindest guy you'll meet! I'm excited to have him as my new companion. I'm sad to see Elder Helin go but he will do great in Mesquite.
So sorry to spoil it by talking about what happened on Saturday first... but its the most exciting thing this week!

So we had a lesson with Spencer and Savannah at the Gardiners house. So a little back story: the Gardiners are having a baby Sunday, the next day, at 4 am. so 12 hours before their baby is due we are meeting at their house to have a lesson (they are the best!!!). So we followed up on Savannahs reading and how things are going with her and Spencer. We then watched the conference talk "The Lords Way" by Stanley G. Ellis. After that we discussed different aspects of our lives that we have to live the lords way or we will not be happy. We then committed her to baptism on the 4th of January! She was a little hesitant but she was comfortable with setting it as a goal. Then Spencer, her husband, comes in and gives such a great and powerful testimony! It is so great to see his progress, even in the short time that I've been in the area. He now can baptize her when she is ready and he is so excited for her to take this step!
Then at the end of the lesson he gave the prayer and it was one of the most heartfelt prayers I've heard! One of the lines that stuck out to me from his prayer was "We are thankful for the little things in life that make us smile, and the bigger things in life that make us happy". Even in a prayer he did so well with helping his wife understand what brings real happiness.

This week we met with the Worku family. They are doing well, however they have not been coming to church. We had a great lesson with Sable, the mom, this week though. We taught the Plan of Salvation (Elder Herlin and my last PMG lesson together) and she thought it was great! We also extended the baptismal commitment and she said that she's already been baptized. We explained the need for the correct authority and so forth... she said that she would start reading the Book of Mormon because, as she said, 'that's the only way I'll know what I should do'. YES! Right on! She also committed to praying and asking if she should be baptized or not. I'm excited!

So brother Johnston, who came to the Christmas party with his wife last week, is on his way to coming back to church regularly! His schedule has not allowed him to come to church while he has lived here in Las Vegas but since the time changes to 9am and not 1pm he will be able to come! Also sister Johnston's son is coming onto town and Brother Johnston has been cleared to baptize him! so cool!!!
We had a mission tour this last Thursday. Elder Steven E. Snow came to the mission. We had the opportunity to have a special Mission Leadership Council with him and it was great! I learned so much and I'm excited to continue to work!

On Saturday we went to a live Nativity that the Red Rock Stake puts on. It was one of the best that I've seen! It really brought to life the true meaning of Christmas and made me feel so grateful for the gift of Jesus Christ.

So just a random event that happened this week: We were visiting a less active who wasn't home. While we were driving to the exit of the apartment complex we came across this guy and his girlfriend trying to push/steer his car into a parking space. (they were having a lot of trouble with it) So we pulled around and came out and helped them push it. It was only like 30 feet but they were very appreciative and we were able to get their names to some other missionaries in our Zone to teach them. I just thought I would share how little acts of service/kindness can influence people. Christ was sent here to show the world what the father is like. We are sent into the world to show them what Christ is like.
I love you all and hope all is well at this time of year!

"Each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus"- Neal A. Maxwell

"When we are impatient, we are neither reverential nor reflective because we are too self centered. Whereas faith and patience are companions, so are selfishness and impatience... It is so easy to command others when we are not in control of ourselves" - Neal A. Maxwell

Monday, December 9, 2013

Transfer 13, Week 6, Lakes Zone, Desert Breeze Ward‏

Dear Family,
This week is transfers! we will find out on Saturday whether Elder Herlin is staying or going. I really want him to stay to show me the area a little more because I've only been here 6 weeks but I have a feeling that he will be transferred. 
This past week went pretty well, however it was not as productive as last week.
We had an investigator drop us this past Friday. Chris walks outside and tells us that he is happy where he is and he is happy with his relationship with God. It hurt so bad but it also was also pretty hilarious   because it felt like he was breaking up with us. He said "Even when you aren't here I'm still thinking about you". Which made us laugh a little bit. But it still hurt and we are really sad. 
The Worku family came to church this past week so we followed up with them on Wednesday to see how they liked it. It was so amazing to see the difference that has happened since they have come to church. They seem to understand everything so much more! When we asked them what the role of the book of mormon was in their conversion she actually tried to come up with a good answer and really thing about the question. They didn't come to church but hopefully we can meet with them this week! 
We had our Christmas party this past Friday! It was the best Christmas party I've seen all year! :)
It was 'polar express' themed and they had a train that drove all of the kids (and adults) around the parking lot. It was super fun but the best part about it was that the Johnstons came! We were not having a very productive day and we were trying to visit anyone we could. We thought of this family that usually isn't home during the day. We were desperate so we decided to go by. They were home and we invited them to the party! They came and sat with this great young couple in the ward. They sat and talked the whole night and seemed to have a lot of fun! When the Johnstons were leaving, brother Johnston came up and said "I'm very grateful that you guys stopped by and invited us to the party". Plus it turns out that the couple they sat with is his home teaching partner. So Sunday they went home teaching together!!! so great!!! 
The Christmas devotional was amazing and it really reminded me of the true meaning of Christmas!!! 
Thank you very much for all your support! 
Elder John

Monday, December 2, 2013

Transfer 13, Week 4, Lakes Zone, Desert Breeze Ward‏

Dear Family,
I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving week!!! We sure had a great one!!! Thursday we had our Turkey Bowl for the mission and it was a success! The Lakes Zone won the championship and it was a morning full of fun!
We taught a lot of lessons this week! We figured its because we know people aren't going anywhere so we can finally catch them!
We met with Sherri and invited her to a Bible Study class that the sisters missionaries in our zone put on. She seemed very excited for that and she also said that she wants to start reading the Book of Mormon.
Wednesday we went on exchanges. I was with Elder Koval in our area. Elder Koval is a new missionary this transfer and I thought it would be funny to pull a prank on him (don't worry I'm not that mean). So I called a less active that we had an appointment to see that day and told him to pretend that he was a random person that we tracted into. He said that he would love to and that when we offered to share a message with him he would just say that he wanted to play board games with us instead. So the time came and as elder Koval thought, we were tracting. We knock on his door; do the introduction, and he says, "Hey I'm from the ward". and instead of being an investigator he is just a member and says that he wants to play games with us... so ya it didn't work out like I thought but it was still a good time. And I figured that the prank wasn't that mean anyway so it turned out to be a good laugh when it fell apart :)
Thursday was Turkey Day! We ate dinner at the Browns and it was fantastic!
Friday we were able to meet with Latasi and the Worku's! People we haven't been able to meet with for a long time! But we caught them on their day off!
Saturday we taught a less active, Steven. He and his mom were baptized when he was 12 and after she died he went inactive. He said that he knows he needs to get back to church. He lives with his girlfriend and her 5 year old daughter. He said that he would ask them if they would be interested in taking the lessons. Its so great!!! things are picking up!
We also taught Savannah about obedience, attending church, reading scriptures, and praying. Her and her husband are doing so well! Her husband is a member but has been inactive for a good part of his life. I felt so bad during the lesson because I asked him how taking the sacrament each week has affected him. He said that he hasn't taken the sacrament in a long time and he really wants to. He bore his testimony of how great it would be to take it and how he needs to meet with the bishop. I was grateful that i asked that question however because near the end of the lesson, Brother Gardiner, challenged him to meet with the bishop and get things worked out. Sunday he bore his testimony in church and it was so great to see him taking steps to grow closer to God!
Sunday, the Worku's came to church! We had a great lesson in gospel principles and I really hope they enjoyed it!
I love you all and thanks for your support! hope you have a great week!
Elder John