Monday, June 9, 2014

Week 1- Monday June 2nd - Monday June 9th‏

 Dear Family and Friends,

I've learned on my mission and in the few days upon return thereof that even though we leave friends who we may consider family, home is where the heart is. Being the poetic representation of where my desires and where the pure love of genealogical tides rest. Those who may have been left behind for a short season weather in Vegas or in Pueblo, I know I will see them again because of their spiritual ties I found with them.

This first week home has been great. It's not as weird as I was expecting. Upon seeing my family (which took an 8a.m. flight to Salt Lake and a layover until 3:40 to fly to Colorado Springs to finally see them) I met my Mom, Dad, Sister, her husband, my niece, and another niece that I've never met before! I had to say, "who is this?"

My parents then drove me to the Stake Presidents house to be released. As we were sitting talking I was just waiting for those words "you can take off your badge". That experience was rough but I'm content with knowing that I worked hard on the mission and that I did all I was supposed to.

Since my parents moved to Firestone, North Denver, it is extremely hard to go visit people in Pueblo (being a two and a half hour drive) so my some members of the ward put together a 'ward get together' at the pueblo west chapel. It was so kind of them and so exciting to see everyone! Some say I look older but I have my doubts :)

Then the next day my brothers and sisters started to trickle in. My brother and his family, my sister and her family... to save on time all my siblings came to stay a few days. It was great to have them here and to meet my new nieces/nephews. It was very thoughtful for all of them to travel as far as they did to come down. We were able to have good time to talk and share experiences. I'm still the 'baby' but its nice to also be considered an adult haha.

Saturday morning we hit some garage sales in Firestone then we all drove down to Pueblo and went on some kiddie rides for the grand-kids.  Its so fun to see their faces light up when they get on the rides! I went on a ride with one of my sisters kids and it was a pretty rough ride for a kiddie ride. At first she was really tensed up and seemed really scared. But after the first go around she seemed to enjoy it and calm down a little (with a little help from me holding her).

Currently I'm trying to stay busy, which isn't hard because of everything I have to do. I signed up for classes at BYU-I this morning. Yesterday I was pretty stressed, making sure I got all the right classes and everything. Its great to already have an associate degree so I just have to worry about classes that deal with my real degree. That only means the classes are way more difficult, but at least I don't feel like I'm wasting time. I'm also trying to find a job; currently filling out a profile for the LDS Employment Center.
I've also changed my major to a Bachelor of Science with a Human Biology emphasis; keeping my options open. Its going to be really tough but I'm going to use my study skills and memorization skills from the mission! Time for normal life application of the things I've learned.

Well I haven't had as many spiritual experiences as I've had in previous weeks, but its all good.
Keep the Faith!
Devin John

"The acceptance of the reality that we are in the Lords loving hands is only a recognition that we have never really been anywhere else." - Neal A. Maxwell

Monday, June 2, 2014

Transfer 17, Week 6, Lakes Stake, Desert Breeze Ward‏

Dear Family,

Wow. What a busy and great week! 
So I guess I'll start with Monday. We taught Anna and Grselda. They are so cool. We read with them and they seem to be doing well. We had another lesson with them Sunday night. We did 'CPR' or "go to Church, say your Prayers, and Read your Scriptures". We did an object lesson with them where you have to suspend a heavy object (such as my scriptures) in the middle of 3 cups with knives supporting the object. Its a little difficult to figure out the first time you do it but Anna got it after a few tried! It was impressive and she was so excited! Its suppose to represent each of the principles of the lesson, and without one of them you cant support your life/heavy object.  They are excited to be baptized and Anna will be getting baptized probably in September after she gets back from Mexico. 

On Tuesday we had a great District Meeting. So before we split up in districts we had a special speaker come in. I found out who Elder Johnson's favorite Recent Convert was and it was Samuel, from his first area on his mission. So I had Samuel come in as a surprise to Elder Johnson. He was surprised and it was great to see his reaction. Samuel spoke of his conversion and where he is now. He was married in the temple and is working at Nellis Air Force Base. I hope it gave the other missionaries some hope to see what can happen with the people they work with. 
Then we split up and I went with Elder Olive's District. We talked about the whole armor of God and put on grass skirts and blew up blow up swords, made our own shields and so on. It was fun :) We then watched 'Labor of Love' and had our closing song, "God be with you till we meet again". I did pretty good with not crying until the prayer. I just sat behind the piano and cried while the prayer was going on. 

On Thursday was my departing interview with President Ahlander. It was a good experience. All of the usual things. Get an education and get married :) 
Friday was our Temple Trip. It was great to be in the temple with all the people I came out with and to see how they have changed. We went to Golden Corral after... and I was so sick! But only for that night :) 

We also stopped by Brother Eldredge. His step son, Brother Williams, died on Monday. He asked me to speak at his funeral on Saturday morning. So we got to the funeral and our Relief Society President wrapped me into playing the organ. So I played the organ, well all but the first song since i didn't know how to play it. The funeral went very well. Very upbeat and hopeful. 

Then after the funeral we set up for Katherine's Baptism. It was great! Probably one of the most spiritual baptisms I've been to. she asked me to baptize her and it was a great experience. She is a great person and I hope to see her again. 

After the baptism we moved from the Bryans to the Teshima's house. So that made us really busy. Then we had dinner at the Godfreys with Ali (a Potential investigator), Sam (a Recent Convert), Katherine, and another family in the ward the Lee's.  It was great and Katherine shared some of her amazing stories. She was asked to speak in church next week. I bet it will be great!

Sunday was very emotional. I was asked to bear my testimony and needless to say I cried a lot. I don't want to stop being a missionary but I'll have to take off the tag. I felt really bad for Elder Campbell cause everyone was coming up and saying that they will miss me... but Elder Campbell is a good sport. 
Elder Campbell and some other missionaries had a surprise for us (Elder Johnson and me)  on Tuesday after district meeting.  they made a parody song for us from the song, 'How can I be'. It was great. Elder Campbell also had a friend back home look on the mission blog and my personal blog to get pictures and create a slide show for me. It was really thoughtful! 

I love you all! thanks for the Support
Elder John 
"We can tell much by what we have already willingly discarded along the pathway of discipleship. It is the only pathway where littering is permissible, even encouraged. In the early stages, the debris left behind included the grosser sins of commission. Later debris differs; things begin to be discarded which has caused the misuse or under-use of our time and talent." Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Transfer 17, Week 5, Lakes Zone, Desert Breeze Ward‏

Dear Family,

This week was great!!!! 
I can't believe its week 5 already! This transfer has gone by super fast! 
Well this week we had an amazing start! Its always great when you can have a lesson on a Monday, since we don't have too long to proselyte. 
We met with Anna and Grselda and read the Book of Mormon with them. They seem to love it and Grselda loved church! We taught them the Plan of Salvation this week with Brother Jolley our Ward Mission Leader. They were not able to make it to church this week because of Grseldas sisters wedding. But we hope they can continue to progress and do well! We are teaching them tonight (Tuesday May 27) and we will be teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are so cool and so prepared for the Gospel! Its great to see that if you just talk to people the Lord will put people He has prepared into your path. 

We had 2 lessons with Armour this week. We showed him a mormon message, "origin" and discussed how important it is for him to ask in faith and obtain an answer. He was finally able to connect some dots by himself and he realizes that he needs to do more. He came to church and stayed for the full 3 hours. He cancelled his lesson with us this morning because he got a rough start today. We hope to meet with him this Saturday. 

We met with Catherine and she is set to be baptized this Saturday. She met with the mission president and he is excited for her to be baptized. Tonight we will be meeting with her and talking about the atonement. We will also pound out the details for the baptism. 
It was super cool at church. She sits with us every week and I help her sing the hymns (by the way, she attempts and does a really good job with every song!). After church she came up and said that she realized that this would be one of our last weeks to sit together since I leave soon. She started to cry and it was super tough! We are so happy for her to be baptized this week! She is super cool and she has a great story!!!

We met with Jarmaris this week at brother Gardiners house and he did another new member lesson with us. It was the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jarmaris has read the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and the History of the Church (included in the triple combination). He is working on the Doctrine and Covenants. And he's only been baptized a few weeks!!! 

So in less spiritual news... SWAT blocked off a few streets to catch someone... and there was a sniper on top of one of the church buildings. Pretty cool. 

Also on a less spiritual note. Which will help you get a view of the "preparation day side" of missionaries... every companion that Elder Campbell has had has done something called the 'Kool Aid Challenge'. You drink 15 'Kook Aid Bursts' in 15 minutes without throwing up. Well I got through 7... and then i didn't keep it down. Elder Campbell got down to having 3 and 1/2 left. But he didn't make it either. It was super fun but obviously a 'Memorial Day/P-Day' activity. :) 

We also went on exchanges. I went with Elder Johnson in the Young Single Adult Ward. It was a great day! We went to a less actives house and she came out and said, "I'm not going to be the Prize Heifer at the Cattle Auction". haha it was great! obviously she thinks that ysa wards are just to get you married. Which I guess is true... but I hope she still wants to go to church regardless of her circumstances :) 

This week was our last district meeting... of which I will tell you more about last week. But This last week I was thinking of something cool to do for Elder Johnson, who is going home this transfer as well. So I asked him who his favorite Recent Convert was that he was able to baptize. His name is Samuel and Elder Johnson met him at the beginning of his mission. I got his number and had Samuel come in as a surprise in district meeting for Elder Johnson. He talked about his conversion and how he is now sealed in the Temple. I wanted to surprise Johnson but also let the younger missionaries see what comes from our work that we do. 

We had Zone Conference this week. It was super good! It was mostly on the Atonement. We had to host it and conduct. But it still turned out good :). I gave my departing testimony. Which was hard but good. I quoted a lot of Maxwell :) 

Well I love you all! and hope you have a great week!
Elder John 

There was a funeral that we were asked to attend this week. One of our Recent Converts nephews just died and they had the service at the church. 
"Though otherwise a “lively” attribute, hope stands quietly with us at funerals. Our tears are just as wet, but not because of despair. Rather, they are tears of heightened appreciation evoked by poignant separation. Those tears of separation change, ere long, becoming tears of glorious anticipation." - Neal A. Maxwell

Monday, May 19, 2014

Transfer 17, Week 4, Lakes Zone, Desert Breeze Ward‏

Dear Family,
So this week was amazing!!!
So we've been teaching Cathernine and we talked to President Ahlander to see if we could baptize a person that doesnt have an address. After talking for a few minutes we came to the conclusion that we could not deny someone the opportunity to be baptized if they were truly converted. She is set for te 31st of May to be baptized and she seems to be progressing very well. We taught her the Gospel of Jesus Christ along with Tithing, Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity, and the Ten commandments. This week we are probably going to show her some videos of President Monson to get her more familiar with our modern-day prophet.
We taught Armour and we watched the Restoration (20minute version) to get him more aquainted with the Joseph Smith story. We also read Alma 32 with him and he really enjoyed it. He told us he was going to make it to church and stay all three hours but he texted 10 minutes after church started and said he wouldnt be able to make it.
On a brighter note, I dont remember if I said this in my last letter, but Anna (the daughter of Grselda) is best friends with Ferrah Jolley (daughter of our Ward Mission Leader). So we set up a lesson and we all went over to teach Anna and her mom. We taught them about the Book of Mormon and how they can read it and gain help from it. We commited them to baptizm for the 14th of June, however we may have to do it earlier because Anna is going to Mexico for a few months this summer.  Brother Jolley and Ferrah seemed to love the lesson! Bro Jolley told us this Sunday in Ward Council that Ferrah said she wants to serve a mission now. So cool!
It helps so much to have members fellowship! Brother Jolley at the end of the lesson told Grselda that he would pick them up for church. She was very appreciative and guess what! She made it to church! Hurray for Fellowship!!!
We were also able to teach Sister Smith (the lady who Elder Campbell taught last week with Bishop Warnick. We took Bishop Hunt with us and he is very familiar with Sister Smith. She has been taking the lessons on and off for years and he told her that she jsut needs to get baptized. So we taught her the Restoration and commited her to baptism. She was out of town this weekend in Arizona but we hope to baptize her quickly. In the past she has seemed to be sketchy with being commited so we are hoping that she is more committed now.
We had our second new member lesson with Jarmaris this week at brother Gardiners house. He taught the lesson this time and it was on the Plan of Salvation. He is a wonderful teacher and Jarmaris just soaks everything in!!! Bro Gardiner asked me during the lesson, "what is your favorite part about being a missionary and sharing the plan of salvation with people?" I was caught off guard, almost cried (but I stopped myself), and I think it is just being able to share the truth with people that will actually accept and live it. If they will accept it they will get a greater view of themselves and their potential.
We had a great opportunity to do some service for a less active family in the ward. The Faircloths are a great family, Sister faircloth and Natalia. Natalia is 9 and was baptized a few months before I got to this area. they have not been to church since. However we have visited them almost every other week and finally they allowed us to do some service for them! We painted their wall in front of their house and we picked the worst day to do it. Saturday was over 100 degrees! But it was worth it because they came to church Sunday! The first time I have ever seen them there!!
Well I think that was it for this week! This past week our ward was really hiped up on missionary work! They are excited for the upcoming opportunities in the ward boundaries!
I love you all!
Elder John
"Redeeming Jesus also 'poured out his soul unto death'. As we on occasion 'pour' out our souls in personal pleadings, we are thus emptied, making room for more joy"- Neal A. Maxwell

Monday, May 12, 2014

Transfer 17, Week 3, Lakes Zone, Desert Breeze Ward‏

Dear Family,
Wow! Such a great week! We got 6 new investigators this week! 
So the first one was Catherine. She is the one who is living on the streets. We are working with members of the ward to get her in a place to stay so she can get baptized. 
We had 3 great lessons with her this week! We taught her the Restoration, Book of Mormon, and Plan of Salvation. During our first visit she brought up a site on her ipad. It had the top ten most bizarre things that 'mormons' believe. And we went through them all, one by one, and for the most part they were all true. and she believes in all of them as well. 

We were able to teach Dave and Diane finally. We found them while coming out of Kims house. They are christian and when we brought up baptism they said that they have already been baptized. We explained that it is essential to have the correct authority to perform baptisms. They will be a long project but hopefully they can come to church and feel the spirit. 

Elder Campbell was able to teach a former investigator Sister Smith while we were on exchanges. I'm not really sure how the lesson went, since I wasn't there, but she came to church and we have a lesson set up for Tuesday evening! 

On Tuesday night we went to an appointment which fell through. As we were leaving we saw this lady walking her dog. We asked her if she has ever met with missionaries and she said she has not. We explained a little about the restored Gospel and she agreed for us to come by on Saturday. So We stopped by on Saturday we taught her and her daughter, Anna, the first lesson. The daughter said she would pray every night this week to know if what we taught was true. Anna also accepted to be baptized when she knows its true. Greselda, the mom is going to be a little more tough. She is catholic bt she doesn't come to church because she doesn't feel the spirit. We invited her to come to church (she didn't make it this week) and we hope she decides to come soon. Anna is going to be the backbone of their conversion. She seems to really want to do what is right. 

So those were our new investigators for this week! We are so excited to have a lot of people to teach! it is still going to be really difficult to meet with them but we are just excited to have things looking up. Last week we were in the finding stage and we are so glad that the work paid off! 

So one of our potential investigators, Chris, tried to make a deal with us. He works at the pool Hard Rock Cafe (i cant think of a worse place for missionaries) and he told us that he would listen to our message if we went and visited him there. We told him that we cannot go. He then invited us to this festival (in our zone) where he would have a booth. He then made the same deal if we came there. So we decided to accept. On Thursday we went over to the festival after our temple trip in the early afternoon, to avoid crowds. As we walked up we decided not to go in. It might have been the 9 dollar entry fee mixed with our already present hesitation that made us decide not to enter :) We hope that doesnt truly effect him listening to us!

We met with Armour on Tuesday and we asked him to pray for what it means to him that the book of mormon is true. he knows its true but he just doesn't know what to do with that knowledge. He said it is going to be a huge change in his life if he gets baptized. so we told him to pray about it. He didn't make it to church this week but he better make it next week!! :) 

We had a great lesson with Jarmaris. It was his first 'new member lesson'. Brother Gardiner came with us and he is such a great teacher! Jarmaris said that he wants to serve a mission and when we told him that he will have to wait a year he said that would be perfect for his music career. We are so excited for him! We were able to ordain him a priest yesterday! So cool! 

It was so great to be able to call home and talk to my parents for Mothers day! I hope they had a mothers day too!! 

Well I think that is all for this week! 
I love ya!
Elder John 

"If we are not serving Jesus, and if he is not in our thoughts and hearts, then the things of the world will draw us instead to them! Moreover, the things of the world need not be sinister in order to be diverting and consuming." - Neal A. Maxwell

Monday, May 5, 2014

Transfer 17, Week 2, Lakes Stake, Desert Breeze Ward‏

Dear Family,
This week went by super fast! I look at my planner and say, 'Wow! Its already Thursday?'
Well this week we have been using a lot of our time contacting people. We are in the rebuilding phase of the work. As we were walking the streets we stopped to talk to this guy. He pretended he didn't understand English even though he was totally white! We had a good laugh with him and it was surprisingly one of the nicest 'rejections' I've had in a while. 

We had another experience while we were walking. We had been walking for a while and we were just super bumbed out that we hadn't been able to talk to a lot of people. The ones we had talked to were either not interested at all, not nice, or it was just a really awkward situation. So we were heading to our ward mission leaders house to have coordination and we realized that we were not going to make it on time if we didn't hurry. So we decided to start running. I thought it would be really funny to see two guys in suits running on the sidewalk. Then as we were running we saw this guy up a head. We wisely decided to stop running. As we came up to him we asked him if he had a minute that he could talk to us. He said, "I'm on my way to the groceries store and I don't have much time. But I've been thinking of Joseph Smith and I wanted to study it more." Wow! That was out of the blue! It was a great feeling to have something good happen after a few hours of rejection. 

We had a good lesson with a new investigator, Kim. She is the mom of Reece (we found him by parking our car and walking up to him near a gas station). She is a very nice lady who is looking for a church. She said that she has tried all of these other churches and that she hasn't felt the spirit in them. We promised her that she would feel the spirit in this gospel if she sincerely prayed. 
She has some trouble with comprehending a lot of what we teach but we hope that she will continue to progress well!

We had a good lesson with Armour this past Saturday. On Tuesday we met with him and he hadn't read. So we read with him. He had some good questions but the lesson just went super slow and seemed really boring. So on Saturday we came up with something we thought would be good for him. Then when we got there he didn't read since last time we came! He asked about repentance and we explained the steps. He felt really bad that he didn't read. He realized that the 'task' was easy and he hadn't been doing it. He was disappointed with himself. We gave him one of our 'missionary daily planners' so he could schedule 'read and pray' into his day. Hopefully he will read!!! 
That reminds me of a quote by Elder Maxwell! To me it tells me that we are all still gods investigators that need to keep doing the same things to learn lessons we think we already have learned. 

"Given the tremendous importance of these virtues now and in the world to come, should we be surprised if, to hasten the process, the Lord gives us, individually, the relevant and necessary clinical experiments? We do not usually seek these, however. Yet they seem to come, don't they, even when we do not remember having signed up for a particular course? Sometimes we find ourselves enrolled again in the same course. Apparently we were only auditing before; perhaps this time it can be for credit!" 
-Neal A. Maxwell

We had another good experience when we went to teach Andy. We got out of the car and waved to a woman playing with her kids across the street from our appointment. We had seen her out there a few times before but had never talked to her. When we knocked on our investigators door they said they couldn't meet. So as we were walking to the car I just thought, 'we really need to talk to her'. We did and she was really nice. She has sat down with missionaries before and she was open to going it again. She even said, "If i don't call you in a few days, give me a call." usually people just give us the 'dont call me I'll call you' scam! 
We talked to her again this past Sunday and she said her schedule is really hectic and we could probably meet Saturday! 

We had a really cool experience with a woman that some of our members found. The elders quorum went to clean the church and they found this lady who was sleeping outside the church. They asked if she wanted a Book of Mormon and she said that she already has one.  They invited her to church and she came!!! 
When she walked in you could not tell that she was homeless! She was really well kept and I guess she does it out of choice. She has a gym membership and an ipad but she just chooses to live outside. She sang all the songs we did, or at least she attempted even though they were foreign to her. Then in gospel principles, as we were explaining the Book of Mormon, she said, "I've always thought that. God doesn't only love the people in Jerusalem." 
Also our newest convert, Jarmaris, was super good with her! at the beginning of Gospel Principles Jarmaris was asked to give the opening prayer. He looked at the woman and asked her what her name was. Then he prayed. His prayer was specific to her. He didn't pray about anything else. He asked that she would have a good time in church and that she would find out of the truthfulness of the Gospel. He is going to be a great missionary!!!! 
We have an appointment with her tonight at 7:30! I'll let you know how it goes! 

well I think that's all for this week!!! 
I love ya!
Elder John 
"The Lord loves each of us too much to merely let us go on being what we now are, for he knows what we have the possibility to become! It is all part of the journey of going home. Developmentally, we are all prodigals. When we really "come to" ourselves, spiritually, we, too, will say with determination, "I will arise and go to my Father". This true celebration of the risen Lord, therefore, is one of emulation as well as of adoration for him. Since he is risen from the grave, let us not be dead as to the things of the spirit! How can we celebrate the empty tomb with empty lives? How can we celebrate his victory over death by being defeated by the world?" - Neal A. Maxwell 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Transfer 17, Week 1, Lakes Stake, Desert Breeze Ward‏

Dear Family,
Great Week mixed with a lot of stress!!! But dont worry its good stress :)
So Monday we had a great day! We taught Andy about the Book of Mormon. Things are going well with him. He has piano lessons on Sundays during church so we are trying to go get him to change lesson times with someone. He has some good friends that live close that are inviting him to church. Hopefully his mom says he can get baptized.
Tuesday, the first full day of the new transfer, I had to tell myself to be happy! So I am happy! It was a struggle to be happy on Tuesday but now its not a struggle. Things are going well!
Tuesday we walked around neighborhoods to talk to people. We met a few really good people in just an hour of walking the streets. One guy, Ishmael, is Muslim but he went to the University of Utah and is really familiar with LDS people. He talked to us for a while and we had a really good conversation. He said he would be intereseted in meeting with us. He also gave us a referral for a guy who lives on his street, who might be interested!
Thursday we had a really good day! We taught Jarmaris and prepared him for baptism. He is super solid! In the lesson he said, 'I am starting to understand the Holy Ghost more. The only way I'm happy is because of God, and its only when I feel the spirit that I am happy". He is also getting his 'reading pattern' down. He is reading for a specified time in the Book of mormon and then he reads a specified time in the Doctrine and Covenants. His mom is starting to be nicer to him and their relationship is continuing to grow.
One great thing that he said is that 'These people out there dont even know that all this (the world) isnt their home. They need to wake up and realize that we dont belong here. We are just in our days of probation.' He also said that when he is playing a game on the xbox he prays, 'I'm not happy because of this game but I'm only happy becuase of you.' He is super solid... which brings us to his baptism this saturday the 26th.
So we show up at 4:30 for his baptism at 5. It starts to get closer to the time and our members are coming in and Jarmaris isnt there yet. At 5:15 we called him 2 times and texted him a bunch. I just had this sinking feeling that he isnt going to show up. Which was weird becuase at this baptism I didnt feel as anxious as I normally do for a baptism. This one I was just calm becuase I knew how solid Jarmaris was... but then it started to worry us a lot! So it ended up that his mom, who was supposed to take him, wasnt home and he had no way of contacing us besides his moms phone. So in the end the baptism started 1 hour late and someone had to pick him up. But he got baptized and he is still really excited!
This week we had a great lesson with Ron. His wife is a member and he is not. We have been trying to get in touch with them forever! We talked to him about a month ago on his portch. He mentioned that he took the lessons about 17 years ago. I told him that the teaching style has changed and that he would love it. He told us to come by and its been month since he said that. Well we finally had a lesson with him. We came in and he made it super easy to get strait to the point. We started teaching him and we told him that if we felt inspired we would invite him to be baptiezed. As we taught we asked him how he has seen God in his life and family. He said that during times when it was difficult to find work and make ends meet he would pray for help and the next day he would get a side job. After the lesson we invited him to pray and have a moment of silence after, of which he could break, to allow the spirit to give him answers. We had the longest moment of silence ever! it was literally 2 minutes! But we invited him to be baptized and in the middle of the invite he said, 'thats something I definitely need to do'. We are meeting with him tomorrow (the 29th of april) and we hope it goes great!
So Brother Brad Wilcox came to our mission this past saturday morning and it was a great experience! He talked about how we are called to our specific missions partially becasue of our mission president. As I was thinking about that, Elder campbell pointed out that my love for Maxwell has come primarily becuase of his association to our misison president. Elder Maxwell has had a great impact on my life as I study the way he teaches. He has helped me focus my love for knowing movie quotes, in my previous life, to a love of memorizing and knowing the gospel. He has had a great impact on my new love of learning and my even greater love of the Gospel. I definitely believe that I was called to this mission because of the effect that my mission president would have on me.
Elder Campbell said the other day, "all the quotes you live have big words. If theres a difficult word in it, its an Elder John quote". Haha You've got to love Elder Maxwell!
I love you all and hope you have a great week!
Elder John
"Like goldfish in a bowl, some are mindless of who changes the water and puts in the pellets, or, like a kindergarten child whose retrieving parent seems a little late, concluding, "Man is alone in the universe." Granted, some sincerely wish for more power in order to do good, but only a few individuals are good enough to be powerful. But craving power and the spotlight sucks out the spiritual oxygen, leaving some 'past feeling'. Strangely, though desensitized, some are still able to hear the beckoning click of a TV camera at a hundred yards. Doesn't the churning over the places of mortal power remind us on the childhood game of musical chairs?... There is an underlying reason, brothers and sisters, for all this fleetingness: those who bestow the transitory things of the world are, themselves, transients. They cannot confer that which is lasting becuase they do not possess it! Some, so sensing and seeing so little, want to have it all now!" -Neal A. Maxwell

Monday, April 21, 2014

Transfer 16, Week 6, Lakes Zone, Desert Breeze Ward‏

Dear Family,
This week went great! We had 3 lessons with Jamaris this week. For the first lesson we had Ryan, a member with us. He is super chill and seems to be helping Jamaris out. He shared his experience of his mother dying when he was 11. That really hit Jamaris. he said, 'man that guy lost his mom when he was young and I fight with my mom all the time. He wishes he could just talk to her.' that's what he told us after the lesson. When we met up for the third lesson, Ryan came along. Jamaris told him how it hit him and Ryan was very happy that it helped. 
The baptism will be this Saturday at 1:30. We have a mission conference with Brad Wilcox, a Church Education System speaker. That meeting ends at 1 so hopefully we can clear the missionaries out in time to hold the baptism! 
Jamaris told us of some things that he has learned so far from meeting with us. He said that he noticed his speech needs to change. He has also realized that other people remember his name and he realized how respectful it is to remember peoples names and shake their hands. He is very excited to be baptized and to keep going! He has 25 cards that we gave him; he put our number on the cards and is passing them out. He said, "you guys work really hard and it must be difficult to get people to listen to you. I'll try to get you more people to talk to". He is super solid!!! 

We had a few lessons with Armour this week as well. We brought a member from the ward, Brother Boyak. He is super good at teaching, even though he apologized because its been a while for him. Things seem to be going well with Armour. We've taught him all the lessons except for all the commandments. This past Saturday morning we read 2nd Nephi 32. When it talked about coming in by the way, he said, "this seems like a kind of baptism. Then you get the holy ghost". I was like, "YESSSSS!!!!" well in my head I was thinking that! He put the dots together! We didn't have to do anything! The spirit is the best teacher! 

We got a referral for Eric and Alma. The address is on a street with no houses so we just decided to drive over there and see if we were mistaken. Well there were no houses there, so we called them and they seemed excited. We asked for an address but they gave us the same one that the referral said. We looked at the building number and its a water store... So I will update you on what happens this Tuesday at 6! I hope we get some good water!!! 

We have some good potential investigators coming up. Our ward mission leader is working with one of his friends who works at home depot. We hope to start lessons with him soon! 
We also have a couple that seems excited to meet with us. We contacted the husband outside their house a while ago, his name is Dave. Her name is Diane and when we showed up at the time we agreed on she said, "oh dang it. once I heard the doorbell I knew it was you. Sorry we didn't call you but we will have to reschedule, we were just heading out the door." That didn't sound too nice by just reading it, but pretend it was in a 'nice' voice :) 

This past Monday we had a great Day! We only have about 3 hours to proselyte on Mondays. But we ended up teaching 3 lessons! one to a less active family we had for dinner. Another to Jamaris. and our last one was Andy. He is the grandson to the Chinese woman that we taught. She was not interested but we taught him and he said he would be baptized. So he just needs to get permission and we hope to meet with him soon! We also had an encounter with a member from one of the other wards after our lesson. We went to one of the church buildings after our lesson and as we were coming out she was outside. She said, 'What time is it?" I told her it was 9:25pm. Then she said, "So you haven't retired home yet?" I answered, "No, we were just on our way to". Then she quickly said, "so the answers no". I said have a good night and we walked to our car. I guess she didn't realize that we just came from a lesson. I love members always watching out for us :) :) 

This past Tuesday we had a 'going away district meeting' for Elder West, who goes home this afternoon (Monday the 21st). We set up the hall as a terminal and the relief society room as an airplane. We gave everyone tickets and had signs around that said 'Air Canada'. then we all sit in the 'airplane' and watch Labor of Love. Its a missionary movie that is set on a plane. Its a tradition to do something like this the last district meeting of a missionary. so it was super fun! He is a great missionary and will be missed! 

Today we hiked a part of red rock. We hiked Calico Basin. Its super rocky and basically its just climbing up a huge pile of rocks and then coming down. Coming down was pretty sketchy but we made it back with few injuries :) 

Today is transfers and Elder Campbell and I are staying! Not really a surprise but we are glad to do so! 

Well I think that's all for this week! Love you all!
Elder John 

"Redeeming Jesus also “poured out his soul unto death” (Mosiah 14:12; see also Isa. 53:12; D&C 38:4). As we on occasion “pour” out our souls in personal pleadings, we are thus emptied, making room for more joy!" -Neal A. Maxwell

Monday, April 14, 2014

Transfer 16, Week 5, Lakes Zone, Desert Breeze Ward‏

Dear Family,
This week was great mixed with a little bad :( 
So Monday started off great! We taught Jamarus the first half of the plan of salvation and on Wednesday we taught him the rest of the lesson. He is progressing so well and he is very anxious to get baptized! This past Friday our Ward Mission Leader told us that Jamarus texted him. He asked him "Will I ever get an answer? I come to church and I feel good. I read and I feel good. But whenever I stop I always feel bad again." So we got to explain more about the Gift of te Holy Ghost and the influence of the Holy Ghost. He is super excited to get the Gift of the Holy Ghost. We hope that he will continue to rub off on his family so they can believe in God too. 

We met with a less active guy this week, Gary. He said that one of his long time friends called him and as they were talking Gary related to him that he was having a rough time. His friend told him to go out and serve others. When we serve others we will receive greater happiness. Gary said that he will try and serve more throughout this difficult time in his life. He has severe health problems but he is still willing to try to help others. 

We were on exchanges this week and I was with Elder Johnson in his area. We were contacting and we talked to this guy named Greg. It was a great experience. Greg played football for Utah State and he has been around LDS people/religious people all of his life. He has chosen to distance himself from religion because of the conduct of the people that he grew up with. As we talked with him we asked him what his outlook on life was. Then we shared what ours is. We were just regular people talking with him, and that is what people need. They need what we have, but sometimes we try to give it in a way that they don't need it. If we talk to them like regular people they will open up and give us the opportunity to bring more light into their lives. As we finished the conversation he said,"I'm not interested now but things change." We hope that he will continue to have good experiences with members of the church and choose to follow Christ!!! 

This past week I realize how different I'm seeing missionary work. How different I'm seeing how people need to change, and my role in that change. I feel more effective when I'm contacting and talking to people. I think, "Its taken me this long to figure this out?" I'm so excited to be able to continue to learn and help people! We are trying hard to find more people to teach!

On that note, our training for Zone Training went really well. We did our training portion and there was a lot of good conversation regarding 'Finding'. for the last 30 minutes we broke up into groups and practiced contacting. We also had them video themselves and then they can replay and see what they need to work on. It seemed to go very well! We have a prize for the companionship that gets the most 'Contacts' in the week! 

We had a really good lesson with Armour this week. We taught him the plan of salvation and he had some really good questions. He didn't come to church this week but hopefully he will come next week :( 

So for the bad part: Saturday we had service planned for one of our potential investigators. He cancelled. So we got to help our sisters in this zone wide project. The community that makes up the Sisters Missionaries ward only allows garage sales 2 times a year. This Saturday was one of those days. So the ward offers a pickup of goods that people would like to donate. The whole zone blitzed the area and we handed out flyers that told them the info about donating their extra items after their garage sale. Well that took 3 hours, a lot longer than expected. then we had lunch and went to a birthday party for a 3 year old of one of the families in our ward. We then had to do some stuff at the office with the assistants to prepare for the upcoming transfer. Later, we were trying to visit people and no one was home! The worst part was having to talk to some missionaries about being obedient. That last part was really stressful! So that was pretty much our Saturday:) To non missionaries that doesn't sound like too bad of a day but it just seemed like we didn't get to do much work in our area. But I will be grateful!!! That night I got a letter. In the letter the last portion included a testimony. Paraphrasing it said  "choose to be happy, because this is a gospel of happiness. This work is a work of happiness and we cant do it unless we are happy. So you better be happy Elder!" 
That helped a lot! :) 

Well I think that's all for this week! I love you all! 
Elder John 

"In the agonizing atoning process, Jesus let his will be "swallowed up in the will of the Father". As sovereigns, choosing to yield to the highest Sovereign is our highest act of choice. It is the only surrender which is also a victory! The putting off of the natural man makes possible the putting on of the whole Armour of god, which would not fully fit before" - Neal A. Maxwell

Monday, April 7, 2014

Transfer 16, Week 4, Lakes Stake, Desert Breeze Ward‏

Dear Family,
This week has been great! General Conference was so amazing! Every speaker was so engaging and I'm so grateful that our investigator got so much out of it! 

Update on Jamarus! We met with him on Tuesday and introduced the Book of Mormon. We brought Brother Doxie with us and it was a great lesson! Before we started the lesson Jamarus asked what the difference is between our church and other christian churches. We said, "Priesthood". We started to explain a little more and he said, "That's all you need to say. You don't need to explain it anymore. I felt it on Sunday." 
As we were reading from the Introduction of the Book of Mormon, Elder Campbell told Jamarus that the Book of Mormon is written for our day and for our specific challenges. As he was saying that, Jamarus said, "I already know. Like, you don't even know. I already know that this is going to help me". 
So we had another lesson on Friday and we asked him how his reading was. He said that he read the first book and he apologized that he didn't read more. He said that he had to read it twice to be able to understand it. We assumed that he just read the first chapter. But the next thing he said made us realize that we were mistaken! He started to say, "Nephi and all of them were raised in a good house, a religious house. But it seems like Sam isn't really too into it. He is there, he believes. but he doesn't really do the things that Nephi does. But he still believes". 
From that we realized that he didn't just read the first chapter. We asked him if he read about them building a ship. He said, "Yeah, and his brothers said 'you cant build a ship'." Wow! He read the first book of Nephi from Tuesday to Friday!!! And he read it twice!!! 

Jamarus was also able to come to our Ward mission leaders house to watch General Conference and he really liked it! He said that its so great that he is hearing this now because this is what he needs. He also said that he used to by angry all the time and his family is noticing what the Gospel is doing for him because he isn't mad all the time. 
There were a few things that stuck out to him and that he said really were true. When the speakers would talk about fame, the world and how it comes up short, how the family should be... and so on. It was cool because right before the second session on Saturday he told us that he has a hard time trusting girls because of his mom and so on... but right in the next session one of the speakers mentioned trust and that we need to trust people more. There were so many answers and so many bells going off in Jamarus' head! 

I also had some questions answered this week. I always like to write down questions that I have in the weeks before General Conference, and for the most part they are usually answered! 
One of the questions I had was "how can I distinguish peace in the world versus peace in the Gospel?" My answer came in many different talks but the one that stood out to me was in priesthood session with Elder Nelson. My answer was basically that if there is truth in the world then it is the peace of the Gospel. The two are not separate. 

Also something I forgot to include in my previous letter is an experience with our High Counselor over Missionary work in the Stake. His name is President Nielsen and he was a mission president in Poland. He is so good at talking to people about the gospel! 
So he took us out to dinner and after the waitress took his and his wife's order and right before she was going to take ours President Nielsen said, "Do you know who these guys are?" then we got into a conversation about the church and where she grew up and it ended with us getting her contact info and she agreed to meet with us! She doesn't live in our area but it was a really great experience! Remember to talk to every one about the Gospel!!! 

We had such an experience when we were eating dinner at Wendy's this past week. The guy who took our order was really nice, but the store was busy so we didn't talk to him too much. While we were eating both Elder Campbell and I felt like we needed to talk to him. We waited for him to come around to where we were sitting and we started talking about his two jobs that he works and other aspects of his life. We didn't get to talk about the Gospel yet because he had to go take someones order. As we were getting ready to leave I saw Elder Campbell waiting to go talk to him and it was super awkward. so I said I am going to use the restroom to give him more time to talk to him. As I came out they were shaking hands and the guy had a Restoration Pamphlet in his hands! 
Elder Campbell said that he came up to him and said, "Do you have any extra pamphlets? I need to get back into church". It was awesome!!! 

So we are preparing to do a training tomorrow. Its Zone Training Meeting, which happens every month. The Training is on "Finding people to teach". We are focusing on "talking with everyone" and we are trying to get missionaries to stop being so robotic and start just being themselves. A part of our training is titled "Missionaries are people too" haha. So I will update you next week on how our training went :)

On Monday we set a goal to find 2 new investigators from the start of General Conference on Saturday to the end of General Conference on Sunday. We set this goal because it is super difficult for missionaries to get out and do a lot of work in between conference sessions because of members, lunch, and just the fact that its not that much time. So we went out in between the sessions and talked to as many people as we could! The first person we talked to, Jasmine, is from Armenia and we have a return appointment to teach her this Thursday. It was a great experience because with each of the people we talked to we had a good conversation with. We were able to get to know them and then talk to them about the Gospel. Our other solid person we talked to is a guy from Ethiopia and he said he would be at church this Sunday. 
The only bad experience we had while talking to people was when we saw this gangster guy walking on the other side of a residential street and we started to walk toward him. We said something to him and he just said, "Man! you are jay walking". After he yelled that at us I kinda lost my patience with him already so I just started to walk away; I knew that anything else I said would just have been out of anger haha. So as we walked away Elder Campbell said, "Have a nice day." To which he responded, "You Jay Walking again! You're breaking the law. Mormons are crazy!" Haha it was so funny! 

We were contacting a referral and they were not home. as we were leaving we saw a woman doing some yard work. We talked with her for a while and a concern came up about the Book of Mormon. She said she couldn't believe something like that. We gave her the background and explained the Book of Mormon and she loved it! People are just misinformed and we need to tell them the truth!!! Her name is Lisa and we will be calling her next week to set up an appointment. 

We taught Armour on Tuesday and he said he doesn't want to set a date for baptism yet but he does want to work towards it. So we will see how that goes! We don't think he watched conference which is a bummer but he did say he will come to church this week! 

Well I think that's it for this week! 
I love you all!
Elder John
"Life's comparatively few ironies are much more than offset by heavens many mercies! We cannot count all our blessings every day, but we can carry over the reassuring bottom line from the last counting." -Neal A. Maxwell

Monday, March 31, 2014

Transfer 16, Week 3, Lakes Zone, Desert Breeze Ward‏

 This is a pic that Ben Manning took. (one of my former companions). This is Gospel Principles with Jamarius.

Dear Family,

Wow! Amazing week! Great experiences regarding last weeks theme of  following the spirit! 

So first off, Monday we met with Savannah and we asked her how her reading went. She said that last Saturday she felt the Holy Ghost and she feels like its true. We told her to ask her parents when we could schedule the baptism and she said she would. She seems super excited to get baptized! However... this last Friday we found out that they are getting evicted and they will be moving to a different Zone that the one we cover. So that was pretty depressing. The 2nd person that we have so close to baptism and then moves, in the last 2 weeks! So we were pretty sad about that and this morning (Monday the 31st) we helped Kevin, her dad, and Savannah move out. They will be coming to our ward for a while until they can settle in. We really hope that she continues to progress and that Kevin will want to take the lessons. 

On Tuesday we had a pretty slow day. We had District Meeting in the morning and then we had a good lesson with Armour right after our meeting. We taught him part of the 1st lesson and right after we talked about Joseph Smith he said that he was really tired and hungry since he had not eaten breakfast yet. So we said we will teach the rest of the lesson next time we meet. Teaching him is such a different experience than everyone else I've ever taught. We go over the basic points of the principle that we are teaching, he asks questions that he has, and then when he is ready (done learning about that subject) he turns the page and we move on. I really feel like we are going at his pace and he is really understanding what we are teaching. He came to church on Sunday and he seemed to enjoy it. He darted out at the end of the meeting but Sister Bryan sprinted to go and talk to him (awesome members!). Elder Campbell was able to talk to him and he said he would be back next week. 

So after our lesson with Armour we had to go to the mission office, as we do every week, and by the time that was over it was almost time for dinner. We decided to try to meet one of our potential investigators, Kim and Reese. Before we got to their house we saw this guy walking to his truck. We started talking to him and he said that he goes to another church. He kept talking to us, however, because he said that if he ignored us then we might dust our feet off at him haha. So we continued to talk and he said that he and his wife are separated becasue he has some things he needs to take care of. I smelt alchohol on his breath when we first talked to him so I just assumed that it was that. I had a prompting to tell him about the addiction recovery program and when they met but I thought it would be too awkward so I didnt. He asked us what our names were and we told him Elder was a title. So he said, "Oh well I guess I'm Elder Gomez!". so we finished talking and started to walk to our potentials house. Then I told Elder Campbell that I had a prompting to tell him about the addiction recovery program. Then I said, 'oh I have to do it now'. So we turned around and walked toward his truck (in which he was sitting at this point) and I told him that I felt that I needed to give him this info about the program. He was appreciative and we headed over to our potentials home. 

Transfer 16, Week 3, Lakes Zone, Desert Breeze Ward‏

Dear Family, 
So first off, Monday we met with Savannah and we asked her how her reading went. She said that last Saturday she felt the Holy Ghost and she feels like its true. We told her to ask her parents when we could schedule the baptism and she said she would. She seems super excited to get baptized! However... this last Friday we found out that they are getting evicted and they will be moving to a different Zone that the one we cover. So that was pretty depressing. The 2nd person that we have so close to baptism and then moves, in the last 2 weeks! So we were pretty sad about that and this morning (Monday the 31st) we helped Kevin, her dad, and Savannah move out. They will be coming to our ward for a while until they can settle in. We really hope that she continues to progress and that Kevin will want to take the lessons. 

On Tuesday we had a pretty slow day. We had District Meeting in the morning and then we had a good lesson with Armour right after our meeting. We taught him part of the 1st lesson and right after we talked about Joseph Smith he said that he was really tired and hungry since he had not eaten breakfast yet. So we said we will teach the rest of the lesson next time we meet. Teaching him is such a different experience than everyone else I've ever taught. We go over the basic points of the principle that we are teaching, he asks questions that he has, and then when he is ready (done learning about that subject) he turns the page and we move on. I really feel like we are going at his pace and he is really understanding what we are teaching. He came to church on Sunday and he seemed to enjoy it. He darted out at the end of the meeting but Sister Bryan sprinted to go and talk to him (awesome members!). Elder Campbell was able to talk to him and he said he would be back next week. 

So after our lesson with Armour we had to go to the mission office, as we do every week, and by the time that was over it was almost time for dinner. We decided to try to meet one of our potential investigators, Kim and Reese. Before we got to their house we saw this guy walking to his truck. We started talking to him and he said that he goes to another church. He kept talking to us, however, because he said that if he ignored us then we might dust our feet off at him haha. So we continued to talk and he said that he and his wife are separated because he has some things he needs to take care of. I smelt alcohol on his breath when we first talked to him so I just assumed that it was that. I had a prompting to tell him about the addiction recovery program and when they met but I thought it would be too awkward so I didn't. He asked us what our names were and we told him Elder was a title. So he said, "Oh well I guess I'm Elder Gomez!". so we finished talking and started to walk to our potentials house. Then I told Elder Campbell that I had a prompting to tell him about the addiction recovery program. Then I said, 'oh I have to do it now'. So we turned around and walked toward his truck (in which he was sitting at this point) and I told him that I felt that I needed to give him this info about the program. He was appreciative and we headed over to our potentials home. 
They were not home but as we walked out we saw a guy standing outside on his lawn. We waved and started to walk toward him but he went inside his house. As we were walking away we saw him come out and say, 'are you selling anything?'. We walked up and talked to him. He was joking about selling something and he was very familiar with missionaries. He said that his son goes to Spring Valley High school and that he knows a lot of mormons there. He asked for 'Literature' and we gave it to him. He said, 'So is this how I become a member of your church?'. I told him,, pretty much yes, without saying yes. I said that we like to meet with people and teach them, then they can pray and choose for themselves. He agreed and hopefully we can meet with him this week! His name is Dave and he seems very interested! 

Wednesday we did exchanges with one of the District leaders in the Zone. I had the District Leaders 'new missionary' in our area. It was a great day! We taught the Worku family and invited them out to a baptism on Saturday! They came and seemed to have a good time. the person that was getting baptized is from Africa as well so they were able to talk to each other in their native language. The Worku's didn't come to church this week so we will have to get on them about that :) 
We taught Reese and his friend Mario on Wednesday and they were very drunk... so we decided to leave. We invited them to church and they didn't make it. We will keep trying with them though. We think that the mom, Kim, has some good potential to change. 

We had a pretty good exchange but it was a little stressful and not that great of a day. When Elder Campbell and I got together we were talking about our day and just trying to find something to make it better, because our dinner cancelled and they were scheduled to feed us at 8. We 'walk the streets' and talk to people that are outside, which I think is more effective than knocking on someones door. It was getting pretty late and we didn't have any success. It was about 9:00pm and we were heading back to our house. I looked over at one of the houses and saw that the door was open with the screen door shut. I thought that we needed to knock on it but I was like, "Its 9:00, Im not knocking on a door at 9:00 just because its open". Then I looked back and saw that Elder Campbell was starting to stop and look at the door. So I said, "Fine we will knock on it" haha. We knocked and knocked again. Knocked harder and harder because we were determined to talk to this person. She came to the door and we told her who we were and what we do. She said she was not interested but invited us in and gave us water. We left her with our number and she was super nice! I'm glad we knocked on the door! "No effort is wasted!" (PMG chapter 9, I think)

Thursday we had a really good day. We weekly planned and went out to 'walk the streets' before our lesson at 2. We met this really nice lady named Shirley and she was not interested. But we decided to talk to her for a while and then she opened up. she said, "let me tell you a story...". She told us of how she lived in a small town outside of provo, inside a trailer while her husband hunted. She loved the lds people and they were always over giving her fresh fruit and produce. She told her husband that she was going to be a mormon and he said that she needed to read up on it. Well she didn't meet with missionaries and she just read on her own. She found things that she didn't agree with that were pretty deep in our doctrine. So she said that now she doesn't want to get baptized. We invited her to meet with us, she was reluctant. but we gave her our number and she said that she would see us around. 

We met with the Faircloth family, a less active family in the ward, on Thursday evening. We say the daughter Natalia, who is 9, dancing outside on their porch. She does a Michael Jackson impersonation on the Strip on the weekends. She is super good and is getting hired to do some other shows. Hopefully they can start coming to church more. The mom is closing down one of her businesses so hopefully they will have more time now. 

Friday was a terrible day, at first. So there was a sketchy guy driving by our house so we decided to park the car at the house and just walk that day. So we walked a long way on Friday! Talked to a few people but overall not the best day. Friday is when we found out that Savannah, our closest person to baptism is moving. So we were pretty mad and depressed. We decided to keep on walking and up ahead a few blocks we saw this older lady sitting outside and her middle aged son watering the grass. As we were approaching I just thought, "this is not a good day. I'm not in the mood to have to argue with someone or to have to try now. If he gives us any flack I'm just going to say, have a good day, and move on". As we approached and started to talk to him, we realized that he didn't speak very good English but just spoke Spanish. We kept on talking with him and told him that we can have Spanish speaking missionaries come by. He said that would be good because his sister is in the hospital in California. He then came up closer and whispered to us that his sister died at 3:00pm (right now it was about 6) and that he didn't want to tell his mom yet. I pulled out a 'Plan of Salvation' pamphlet and told him that it answers the questions, 'where did I come from, why am I here, and where am I going after this life'. I gave it to him and I said, 'I dont know if this will help because its in English'. to which he said, almost choked up, 'No, It will help a lot."

Saturday was amazing! We had exchanges with the Assistants and as we started the exchange we set a goal to follow all the spiritual promptings that we received. It was Elder Crapo and I.  So we went to the baptism that the Worku family was coming to and did some visits. We received a referral on Friday from the referral system. We went to our appointment that we set up. We parked in front of a random house, a few houses away from the referral. As soon as we parked an Asian woman came out of the house and looked at us. It was super awkward so we decided to just contact the referral. We met him, his name is Jamarius. We sad on one of his cars in his  drive way and we stood and talked. He has a strong belief in God and he really wants to change his life. Its funny because I talked to him in December while we were knocking doors on his street! He said, then, that he had a belief in God but things were going well. However, on Saturday he was totally different. He told us that he is a rapper and recently he has seen that he doesn't want to be involved in that anymore, its a bad environment, and he now see's who his really friends are. We taught him the first lesson and committed him to be baptized in April. He was excited and said he would come to church! 
So as we left we got in the car and I felt like we should knock on the Asian lady's door. I saw Elder Crapo looking at the door and he said, 'Should we knock on it?'. Then I said yep!!! 
We knocked and she speaks no English at all! We used hand motions to communicate and I just happened to have a Chinese Book of Mormon in the car. We gave it to her and she was super excited. She motioned that her grandson would be here later at 6. We told her we would be back at six. So we came back and he interpreted for us and we said we would be back on Sunday at 3. So we came back and sat down with them. We told her, through her grandson, about the book of mormon and asked her how she felt when she read the first page. She said she felt happy when she read it. We committed her to read the first chapter and told her that we will be back with Chinese pamphlets. We will be going over on Tuesday. 
We were also able to find someone else and set up a time to meet with them on Tuesday. Her name is Theresa and we were glad that we talked to her!
We had dinner at 5 Guys burgers and this lady that worked there asked us why her daughter cant date this lds kid at school. Her daughter asked her, 'Whats the difference between me and a mormon?"  So we got her information and told her that our message should clear that up. we will be sending missionaries to her. She lives in one of my previous areas in the Red Rock Zone.

So Sunday! Jamarius was 20 minutes early to church! Armour came! Savannah and her dad came! It was great! Oh and also Ali, the girl that we taught the first discussion to last week. We will be passing her off to some other Elders in the Zone. 
Jamarius, in Gospel Principles, was so great! He says so much and he is just looking for truth and absorbing it all! Brother Jolley, the teacher, asked him what the difference was if you had the priesthood or not and Jamarius said, "Well If I as a regular person try to share the gospel with my friends then I wont be as effective. But if I had the priesthood the message will get across to them." (paraphrased) He asked us, "Am I still scheduled to be baptized in April?" he is so excited to be baptized! 
So we were walking in an apartment complex and we met with one girl who said we could come back sometime... and then Natalia Faircloth was randomly there and said hey elders! She was over at her friends house and we were able to talk to the mom. We are going back on Thursday and the Mom, Gina, Said they would come to church. 
We are so excited! As we talk with everyone the Lord trusts us to meet the people we need to! 

Former Elder Ben Manning came to town and it was great to see him! 

Well.. I think Thats about it for this week! I look forward to a great next few weeks!!!
Elder John 
"Yes there are real costs associated with meekness. A significant down payment must be made. But it can come from our sufficient supply of pride." -Elder Neal A. Maxwell
"I find that when I get casual in my relationship with Divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no Divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and spirituality returns" -Spencer W. Kimball 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Transfer 16, Week 2, Lakes Zone, Desert Breeze Ward‏

Dear Family,
This week was great!!!!
This past Monday we taught Savannah the first lesson. It went really well. We had to try to make it very interesting for her because her previous experience with missionaries was very boring. So Elder Campbell drew some funny pictures to help reinforce all of the points of the first lesson. So after we taught with the pamphlets we showed her the pictures that Elder Campbell drew and then we asked her if she would be baptized when she knows its true. Her response was "yes... yes sir" haha it was great! She also came to youth conference this week and she had a really good time! Today we are going to be teaching her the Book of Mormon. 

Tuesday we taught Armour. The last time we met with him we committed him to read the first chapter of the Book of Mormon and when we followed up on Tuesday he had read through chapter 9. We answered some questions he had and then we brought up baptism. He said he would need to get more familiar with it and that he has already been baptized before, but he still seems very open to it. When we asked him if he has thought/prayed if the Book of Mormon is true and he said, "Oh I guess I never thought of that. I just took it for granted that it was scripture and already true."

We met with a less-active family in the ward, Prestons, and in our previous spiritual thoughts they just kinda think its good but never really feel anything. However this time we shared a Mormon message on the atonement and then I shared a quote from Elder Maxwell, "Do not let yesterday take tomorrow hostage". Then we told them that they can always get better. She teared up a bit and really appreciated our message. They came to church this week and we hope that this is the start of something good. 

We had a recent convert move in to the ward a few weeks ago and he was been in a car accident a few months ago. He is very clingy and we just happen to live a few streets away from him... so we tried to keep it a secret... but an awesome member took him to a dr appointment and then they came to our place to talk to us, while we were at lunch. Cliff said 'Oh I didn't know you lived so close'. Our cover was blown! But I think it will be ok :) 

So it was very sad... Tuesday night we stopped by Konrad's and they were packing up to move to Sacramento the next day! They have had some financial trouble and they are going to live with some friends and family. They said we can send missionaries in a few weeks. We hope that Konrad can have a good experience and meet some great people! 

We had Leadership Training this past Friday and Interviews this past Thursday. Leadership Training was awesome! We received some great training and I'm looking forward to using some of the new things I've learned to help other missionaries and our investigators. 

One of the highlights of this week happened on Saturday night during dinner. We went over to this family's house for dinner and they had a friend there. Her name is Ali. So we ate dinner and everything and I was thinking, "We need to teach her the Restoration. but I don't want it to be awkward." So I thought that we would just say, to everyone, that we have a new teaching style when we teach people. Then we would just show them by teaching The Restoration. So we did. During the lesson we asked her if she had a belief in Christ and she said yes. Her member friend that was sitting next to her said, "You do? I didn't know that" Then Ali said, "ya my family doesn't but I do". So we finished the lesson and I asked her if she knew how to pray. She said she didn't. We went over the basic steps and then I asked her if she would pray about the message we've shared. (I intended for her to just pray on her own later, since there was 8 people at the table) but she said, "Ya I've never prayed before but I'll give it a shot". So she did! It was awesome! She came to church the next day and stayed for all three hours. She lives in another ward in the Stake and we will pass her off to those missionaries soon. 
So after dinner Elder Campbell said that he had the same impression to teach the restoration but he didn't know how we could do it. It was awesome that we both had the same impression. 

Then! Later that day we went to see a former investigator and Elder Campbell asked if he would like to meet with us. He said that he was born a Roman Catholic and he will die one. While he was talking I was thinking, 'That isn't the smartest thing, you need to at least pray about this'. So I tried to come up with a nicer way of telling him that. I told him, "Chris, I care about you and it would seem to me like I was not caring for you like I should if I didn't ask you to do this. Will you at least pray about meeting with us?" He said he would and that he really respects us. 
If we invite out of love then they cant get offended! 
So after those experiences Elder Campbell and I agreed that we would follow every prompting we recieved from the Holy Ghost no matter how stupid we thought it would be. So after we saw Chris we felt like to should see a particular potential investigator and they ended up not being home. So now it was about 8:50... and while we were at the door step and car pulled in to one of the neighbors houses. Elder Campbell said, "Well we know they're home" So we knocked on their door. We knocked about 4 times and they didn't answer. We didn't have "success" from following the Spirit, but now God knows we are listening. 

So one of the recent converts in the ward had her birthday on Sunday. and on Saturday she told us that she wanted flowers for her birthday... Well as Saturday rolled on we forgot to buy her flowers... So Sunday we made flowers out of napkins! and we gave her a card! So now she has flowers that will never die! She really liked them! 

Well I think that's it for this week! 
Love you, 
Elder John 

"Time, that aged nurse, rocked me to patience" - Jon Bartlett
"We are not always the already tempered and helpful hammer which is shaping and pounding another. Sometimes we are merely the anvil." -Neal A. Maxwell

Monday, March 17, 2014

Transfer 16, Week 1, Lakes Zone, Desert Breeze Ward‏

Dear Family,
This week has been great! 
Monday was a little tough. Elder Gonzales had the flu so we spent a few hours at the quick care to see if he could get some medicine. We were able to barely make it home to clean up and get to transfers, but it all worked out in the end. I am excited to work with Elder Campbell!

This past week we have been able to have a lot of success with meeting with people! We were able to see Savannah, Sister Corn's daughter. When we drove by the house the car was not there so we kept of driving. Then we both agreed that we should try just in case. Well we did and she said she would like to meet with us and start the lessons. The mom is out of town for work for a few months and so the Ward has really stepped up and is doing a really good job with letting her feel welcome. She came to church this week! We are having the Laurel class president and a young women s adviser come with us to our lesson tonight. We are called our study session this morning "Operation: Make Restoration fun and exciting", because her mom told us to make it fun for her :)

We received a referral this week for a newly baptized member that moved into our ward. He was baptized in the Las Vegas Mission a few months ago and was recently involved in a moped accident. He is living with his friends mom, currently, and is having a hard time. His name is Cliff and he has a broken wrist and his jaw is wired shut because he broke it in two places. He is needing a lot of fellowship and help because he is just home all day. He was not able to come to church Sunday because he is having trouble with the pain medication.  

This week we taught Bryan. He will not be able to make his baptism date because he is still living with his girlfriend and this time we taught him it was kinda awkward... because the first time we taught him about moving out or getting married he didn't really get it, I guess. So we just had to straight up tell him. We hope he still wants to meet with us, we haven't heard anything from him since Monday. 

We stopped by Steve and Kristi's this past week and planned on making it a short visit, just to invite them to church and see when a good time would be for us to visit. We ended up staying for a while and talked about finding happiness through being selfless. The came to church Sunday and we asked the Reyes family to sit by them. We hope they enjoyed the talks. The youth talk was very well done. It was on agency. The High Council speaker, Brother Manning (he is over missionary housing in the Stake), talked about President Monsons talk this past General Conference. It was a great topic for Steve and Kristi; How we can receive Gods help through trials. We are meeting with them this Wednesday and the Reyes family is coming with us. 

We have some potential investigators that live very close to us. We have not been able to get in touch with them in a while and we noticed that their rock landscape in the front of their house has a bunch of weeds in it. We went over in our 'regular' clothes and started picking weeds. We thought no one was home but after a few hours she opened the door and was so surprised! She said that she called her husband and told him what we were doing and he was very appreciative. She talked to us for a while, more than she has ever talked, and said that she will make us lunch (by this time its about 2:30) so we were like, 'ok'. well we kept picking weeds and then after about an hour and a half she came out and gave us these awesome burritos, home made cookies, and rolls. Obviously not what we were expecting! (by the way, our dinner cancelled in the mean time, so we were provided for!) During this whole experience, us just picking weeds outside, her whole street came out and talked to us. Her next door neighbor came and sat down and talked to us for like 20 minutes! Her neighbor on the other side said, 'can you do mine?' then she drove away. So Saturday we went over and started on hers. We will finish it sometime this week and hopefully we can talk to her more! It was such a great finding tool! We explained to all of her neighbors that we are doing it for free and we explained who we were! 

We had a great lesson with Konrad this week! We met with him earlier in the week and had a good lesson but this past Friday was the best lesson I've had with him! We brought the Gospel Art Book and showed him a picture of the Vision of the Tree of Life. We explained that that is how we receive the greatest happiness. We then invited him to be baptized and he said he would need to talk to his dad. Right then his dad was walking down the stairs and Konrad asked him to sit down. We talked about baptism and Konrad said he would pray about it and take it more seriously. They were not able to come to church because they were talking together until 5:45 in the morning. They might be moving because of some financial issues but we hope to see them again before they leave. 

So a highlight of this past week, my favorite part of it, was when Elder Campbell and I saw these 3 gangster looking guys walking. elder Campbell said, 'Lets talk to them!'. So we parked the car at a gas station a little ways away and started walking towards them. One stopped and talked to us, Reese. He said he would want to meet with us and we set up a time for the next day, Saturday. We came by and he was chillin in his garage with some of his friends. He was very kind but seemed pretty busy. His mom came out and said 'what are you guys doing here?'. Reese said, "I'm going to do a bible study with them". She said, "Oh not with the Mormons, your aren't." So she told us a few misconceptions she has had concerning the LDS faith and went in and grabbed her Book of Mormon. We explained that it is a record of Gods dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the American Continent. Then when I opened up my scriptures and showed he the King James Bible and said ok. We talked with her for a while and she agreed to set up a time to meet. One of Reese's friends was nearby and said, from the background, "You guys mormons? Kim (the moms name), they are good guys". He also agreed to meet with us. Soooo.... fast forward to Sunday! We had 13 lessons by Sunday afternoon and we wanted to exceed our previous week of 14 lessons. It was 8:30 and usually that's 'dead time'. we couldn't think of anyone else to see so we decided to see our Ward Mission Leader and update him. He wasn't home so we decided to drive to our place and plan for the next day. We say a guy sitting on one of the walls of the street and we both decided to park the car a ways off and talk to him. we said, "It worked last time". So we walked up and started talking to him. and guess what! It was Reese! His friend, Mario came out and started talking with us too. Their language needs some help but they are sincere guys. They were both talking about different things so Elder Campbell and I split up and talked to each of them. They committed to meet with us, when we saw Kim, and they said they would come to church. It was kinda sketchy, standing on the side of the road at 9:15pm but it was awesome! 

Well thats about it for this week! Love ya!
Elder John 

"If for a while the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart. So it has been with the best people who ever lived" - Elder Holland (Matt 27:46)

"Patience is a willingness, in a sense, to watch the unfolding purposes of God with a sense of wonder and awe, rather than pacing up and down within the cell of our circumstance. Put another way, too much anxious opening of the oven door and the cake falls instead of rising. So it is with us. If we are always selfishly taking our temperature to see if we are happy, we will not be." - Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Monday, March 10, 2014

Transfer 15, Week 6, Lakes Zone, Desert Breeze Ward

 This is my tag in Jello! Someone got a hold of my tag and put it in jello! 

Dear Family,
Well the last week of the transfer went great! We taught 14 lessons and met with with 8 families and discussed Family Mission Plans with them. We have been sick since Tuesday but other than that its been a Great Week!

Elder Gonzales and Elder Till are going to be transferred so its sad... Elder Till will be transferred to Tule Springs and Elder Gonzales will be staying in the Zone in the Palmyra ward. I will be getting a new Zone Leader, Elder Campbell. I'm very excited to be getting him! He is full of energy and is super hilarious! 

The other day we didn't have a dinner so we stopped at Wendy's to grab something real quick. The kid at the register said that we looked like FBI agents. Then after looking a little closer he said, "Oh Jesus Christ, ok". We told him who we were and talked for quite a while. He said he would be interested in meeting with us and might want to come to church soon. His name is Leroy and he seemed to be pretty interested! 

We had a pretty good lesson with a part member family this week. We went over for dinner and in the past its been a little awkward because they argue and fight all the time. Well, after dinner we shared the Mormon Message, Reclaimed, and then asked what they thought about it. He doesn't really have a belief in religion or anything like that and he asked us some questions. It was a little bit hostile at first and I was just sitting there listening to his wife try to explain it and them just arguing. After a while I just told him how god loves him and that I know that God loves me and that's why he's given me religion and church. Of course there was a lot more that we discussed but the basic message was that God loves him. Elder Gonzales shared some thoughts and committed him to pray. I don't know how much we were able to 'help' him but I do know that the lesson ended a lot better than it started :) 

This is just a random thought but I see myself turning into my dad so much more than I was before. In the way that I laugh and also in the way that I act in serious situations. I used to always think, 'aw why does he always have to be so serious when...' and now I see myself turning into that, while talking to investigators but more especially in talking with missionaries about serious things. Its Great! Now I understand Dad! :) 

So we had a wonderful Zone Training Meeting this week! The Theme of the month is 'The Living Christ'. So we decided to get everybody a framed "Living Christ" (dollar stores are amazing!) We talked of how the apostles fulfill their responsibility to be special witnesses of christ and watched a movie where Elder Holland is talking to a returned sister missionary and tells here that the only difference between his service and her service is that her service only lasted 18 months and his continues. He also touched on the fact that missionaries are Apostles with a little 'a'. So we talked about what it means to us to be apostles who, as the word means, are 'sent forth' to preach the gospel and be witnesses of Christ. We had them write their own missionary commission and then at the end we had them take 'The Living Christ' out of the frame and sign their name under the Fist Presidency. Hopefully some of it made an impact and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary and have all my efforts focused on Christ! 

We had a lesson with the Worku family the other day and it was probably the best lesson we have ever had with them! We had the 2 Worku kids, the mom, and 2 little cousins there. We went over the ten commandments and showed them hand signals they can use to remember all of them. They were all very engaged and they loved it! We decided that we are going to get a Primary manual and start teaching out of that! 

There's a less active in the ward that we were able to meet with this week as well. She is having a hard time financially so she is going to leave to work somewhere else for a few months. Her daughter is not a member and the mom was very worried about her being alone. They came to church and met a bunch of good people! Hopefully everyone will continue to reach out to them and show them love! They are a great family! 

We had a lesson with Bryan this week and made a Baptismal Calendar for him. We also gave him a blank teaching record to show him what we still need to teach. We are teaching him tonight after transfers and then again on Wednesday. the only thing that could keep him back from baptism is coming to church since he works most Sundays. 

So yesterday was one of the best Sundays of my mission! We had 6 Investigators there! Savannah, the Workus, Simon, Konrad and his dad. it was great! There were some interesting things that happened during church ie boring speakers, friends of scouting during sacrament meeting and some other stuff, but overall it was great! I am so proud/appreciative of the youth in the ward! They did a really good job with accepting Konrad and helping him feel welcome! I think he will come next week! Yay for awesome fellowshipers! 

Well I think thats it for this week! I love you all and hope all is well! 
Elder John 

"If we become too efficient at pushing, shoving, and shouting, then we are too adapted to this world- too busy polishing skills which will ere-long become obsolete." -Neal A. Maxwell

Monday, March 3, 2014

Transfer 15, Week 5, Lakes Zone, Desert Breeze Ward‏

Dear Family,
First week with Elder Till and Gonzales! This week went super well! People opened that have never opened in the past! We have knocked on these doors at least 15 times and they have finally opened! 
We biked around our area this week, trying to give us more opportunities to talk to people. Its been going very well and we need to find more time to do things like that. 
We finally were able to teach Bryan. He was set with a baptismal date a while ago but we have not been able to meet with him since we set him. We met with him and talked about setting a new date and having him be more committed to it. He didn't come to church this week, which is a bummer, but hopefully we can meet with him again and list out all the things we need to teach/things he needs to do to prepare for baptism. we committed him to be baptized on the 22nd of March. 
We also had the opportunity to meet with Konrad. Konrad is 19 years old and has not graduated high school. He sits at home and plays video games. His dad is worried about him. This last lesson we focused on making him feel accepted by us and helping him see that God loves him. He committed to coming to church but he didn't make it. I think he slept in. We will meet with him this week and see if we can get a fellow-shipper to help him feel accepted. After we left the lesson he said, 'thanks for coming over'. Hopefully he can feel accepted and start to progress! 
We stopped by Tommy, a former investigator, this week. In the past he has said, 'Its not a matter of if I get baptized its a matter of when.' We have worked with him for so long to try to just get an appointment set up. This time he finally said that he was going to make it to church. Well he came and guess what! He bore his testimony! There was one of those super long pauses between testimonies and I was just thinking, 'I hope Tommy gets up'. And he did a great job! He said that he knows Joseph Smith is a prophet. Now all we need to do is to funnel that and help him realize what that means for his progression in the Gospel. 

We also had the opportunity to meet with Steve and Kristi. We told them that we want to start the lessons and we will hopefully be meeting with them tonight. They got sick Saturday night so hopefully they have recovered. 

Sunday afternoon we were able to go to Zions Youth. A production that the youth in the valley put on. The production was called The Lamb of God. We invited the Langstons and the Worku's. The Worku's showed up and we think the Langstons came too. We also invited a less active in the ward who really wants to come back (Sis. Corn), but she got very sick Saturday night. It was great to have people come and hopefully it can help the Workus progress! Sister Stevens, our Relief Society President stopped by this past week and met with sister Worku. I think it really helped. Oh and those of you in Pueblo will be happy to know that we ran into Sister Swerdfiger at the performance. The location is on our side of the mission but it is really close to the Las Vegas mission so their mission president lets them come over. It was great to see her and she was very surprised that we were able to be companions! 

This Sunday was great! We had a Lady come to church with her member friend. She said that she will be back on Sunday and we hope to start teaching her. Tommy came to church. It was just a great day! After church we also taught the Worku's and committed them to read 'The Family: The Proclamation to the World'. 

We have been doing Family Mission Plans with the ward and we have hit most of the members of the Ward Council. In a few weeks we will hopefully have some referrals! or people will start talking with people and preparing people. One visit we made this week went very well! We met with The Young Mens President and his wife. He said that this has been weighing on his mind ever since Stake Conference. He has been worried about how to do it. But he knows that it is part of the plan and that the work is hastening. He said, "Things are supposed to be happening, why else would there be 90,000 of you guys?" 

So this is kinda embarrassing but this past week we were standing at a door and after I knocked on it I said, "This is really girly but I'm about to cry". Then I started to tear up a bit... I think its because I've realized how much more time I have to serve the Lord all day every day. I'm going to make good use of it. 

Great week! I love you all and hope you can continue to share the Gospel! Be BOLD because of LOVE. 

Elder John,
"Some of us have been momentarily wrenched by the sound of a train whistle spilling into the night air, and we have been inexplicably subdued by the mix of feelings that this evokes, or perhaps we have been beckoned by a lighted cottage across a snow-covered meadow at dust. Or we have heard the warm and drawing laughter of children at a nearby playground. Or we have been tugged at buy the strains of congregational singing from a nearby chorus. Or we have encountered a particular fragrance which has awakened memories deep within us of things which once were. In such memories, we have felt a deep yearning, as if we were temporarily outside of something which we actually belonged and of which we so much wanted again to be a part... There are spiritual equivalents of these moments. Such seem to occur most often when time touches eternity" - Neal A. Maxwell