Monday, July 24, 2017

Another Super Good Week Here in the Heart of Texas

This email is from July 17, 2017

Hey y'all we had another super good week down here in the heart of Texas. We definitely saw the Lord's hand and were able to set 6 baptismal dates in our area for the month of August. First was with Pascual and his son Oscar. They were both really excited to accept the date of August 5th. We can definitely sense that they are changing and showing fruits of repentance. When we asked Pascual's wife what this meant for her family, she told us that she had been praying for her husband to change and a few days later we showed up knocking at their door. We are also working with 2 of their other sons, Kevin who is 18 and Francisco who is 14. They have expressed interest, it's just a matter of helping them know how to receive an answer from God.

As well we were able to set a date for August 12th with Reyna, Tatianna, Angie and Antony. We held off on officially setting one with Nelly and Horacio just because they still aren't super set on getting married. Nelly told us on Saturday that if she sees a change in Horacio, she'll marry him.

Zone Leaders at MLC
On Friday I went on an exchange with my ZL comp Elder Cammack and it was awesome! He's from Idaho and we have a lot of the same interests. We knocked doors for 3 hours in the 100 degree heat and definitely felt the heat. But this summer doesn't feel as bad as last year. Maybe I'm just used to it. People out here are usually pretty nice and offer us water bottles even if they're not interested in what we have to say.

On Saturday I went back up to Waller to attend Norberto's baptism. He's come a long way since when I taught him. He's definitely shown a lot of faith and humility, even if plenty of family opposition and challenges during it all. I already know he's going to be a great leader in this church.

And to top it all off, on Sunday we had 8 of our investigators come to church which amounted to 13 people who came if you include the children under the age of 8. It was a really rewarding sight especially after having worked so hard during the week. I'm really enjoying the mission and know that these last 6 months are going to fly by as we continue to pound the pavement and build relationships with the members in the ward.

-Elder Barrus


Monday, July 10, 2017

One of the best weeks I've had as a missionary.

Hey everyone! This week went by lightning quick! We saw some amazing miracles and can't wait for what's in store this week. Our week was one of the best I've had as a missionary. 

To start off, on Monday we had a lesson with a guy who we knocked into named Pascual. He mentioned the previous Friday on the doorstep that he was looking to grow closer to God. We came back for the return appointment on Monday to find out that his wife is already a member! She was baptized in a El Salvador but never went to church when she got to the United States. As well they have 5 boys, Kevin, Francisco, Oscar, Angel, and Eric. We taught all of them except for Kevin and they already have a special place in my heart. They fed us after our lesson with them on Wednesday and Pascual brought 3 of his sons to church on Sunday! He loved it and so did they. Next week they're planning on the whole family being able to get work off so that they can go to church. We are going to set a baptismal date with them this week. Their last name is Oropeza, so if you could keep them in your prayers I would appreciate it!

The family from Honduras that came to church the week before is doing well. They weren't able to make it to church because they worked, but they said that won't happen again because things didn't go well because it was on the Sabbath day. We are working on getting the Horacio and Nelly married. They don't want to, but we are praying and fasting that their desires can change!

As well on Thursday we met President Petersen and his wife and they were super awesome! Really great sense of humor, genuine, warm, down to earth people. I know that they were called of God to lead this mission and will do a great job.

Anyways, that's all for this week folks. Hasta pronto!

Elder Barrus

Monday, July 3, 2017

Miracle of the Year

Hey everyone, this week was super awesome and full of tender mercies from the Lord for sure! To start out, on Tuesday we had our last MLC with President and Sister Mortensen and it was really inspiring. Tears were shed as it was the last time we saw them. 

Also on Tuesday Leo was baptized by Elder Garcia. It was a beautiful service and our obispo (bishop) told a story about the first baptism he had on his mission in New Jersey. It was a 60 year old woman and he dunked her on the short side of the font, but she hit her head on the wall and let out a scream. She still got baptized.  But Leo and his mom Daniela were super happy so it was a special night. 

This week started out kinda rough after the baptism to be honest. We rolled into district meeting with 0 new investigators, 0 investigators committed to come to church, and no one with a baptismal date. But our stellar district leader Elder Hunt pumped us up and promised us specific blessings so we left that meeting determined to get back on track. 

Well, we had an appointment at 5 with a potential investigator named Adali but she wasn't home so we started knocking the trailers around her house. We knocked on one door where a couple of little kids answered so we asked if their parents were home. They said their mom was in the bathroom, so we left them with a pass a long card and went on our way. We knocked a couple more houses, but when we turned around we saw the same kids we gave the card to outside with their mom, who was motioning for us to come over. So we walked over to their front porch and she said "Pasenle!" which means come in. So we did, and she asked us where the local Mormon church was. 

Apparently someone had invited her to church a couple of months ago and they looked online but couldn't find the closest one. So we gave her the address to the church and taught her,(Reyna) her daughter Tatianna, niece Angie, and nephew Anthony the Restoration. They all accepted it and said they'd be baptized once they know it's true. But don't worry, it gets better. They said they'd come to church and they actually did, in addition to Reyna's sister Nelly and husband Horacio. I went up to bear my testimony and saw Nelly in tears and all of the others attentively engaged. During second hour Gospel principles class the teacher asked if there were any questions and Nelly raised her hand and said "I want to be baptized in the Mormon church, but I was already baptized in the Catholic Church, is that a problem?" They are so prepared. So that's probably the miracle of my mission. We are going back tomorrow to see them.

Pues, God is good. Thanks for your prayers and support. And remember, faith precedes the miracle. 

Leo's Baptism

Leo and his mother, Daniela

Leo and Elder Garcia

Training a Brand New Missionary

(This email was sent June 26, 2017)

Hey everyone! I was notified on Monday night that I am training a brand new missionary! He's the freaking man, his name is Elder Garcia, he's from San Diego, California, and he's pretty much training me, he's a really good elder. He is a convert of about 1 year and 4 months, is the only member in his family, and has a really strong testimony. 

His best friend growing up was a Mormon and always set a good example for him. He met with missionaries in high school but never got baptized because he wasn't ready to make the change. He went to a year at BYU-Idaho as a non-member and one week when he was reading in the Book of Mormon he decided that he needed to get baptized. So he called his friend, who in turn called the missionaries and the rest is history.

Elder Garcia is paying for his own mission, he's a really hard worker, and we've hit the pavement hard early on out here. I already know he's going to be a really good missionary!

My new companion--Elder Garcia
New missionaries with their trainers
We've gotten off to a good start out here, I spent Tuesday and Wednesday with Elder Fitt and Elder Berry in a trio down in H6 and had a lot of fun. On Tuesday night the Spanish elders going home stayed with us and it was really cool to talk to them and hear their stories. 2 of my former companions Elder Curtis and Elder Sellers were there, so it was a lot of fun. We went to the trainer-trainee meeting on Thursday and I picked up my newborn hijo and got to work. We hit the pavement and found some really cool people. First was a lady named Nancy. We saw her mowing the lawn so we asked her if we could help. She asked us if we could take apart her plastic swimming pool and so we did, and then we sat down outside and talked with her for about an hour. She's from Honduras and is looking for ways to strengthen her family, so we explained the Book of Mormon and how it can bless her family. She was really appreciative of us and we're going back this week to see her.

As well we talked to a lady named Michelle on her porch for about 30 minutes on Saturday. She's from Brooklyn and has had some rough challenges in her life but she was really open to the message we brought and said she would love to have English missionaries over! So we sent them over and they've already met her and are excited to teach her.

2 for 2! About a month ago we knocked into a lady named Amanda who seemed pretty interested and so we referred her over and now she has a baptismal date for July 8th! Now I have the faith that prepared English people do exist, I never knew because most of my mission they've straight slammed the door in my face haha.

But anyways, all is well, tomorrow we have MLC and it's probably the last time I will see President and Sister Mortensen. I'll miss them a lot but I know that President Petersen will do well. He's inheriting the Texas Houston Mission at a really good time so things are on the upward climb. Love you all! Stay out of the heat!

Elder Barrus

Dinner with the Stabios Family 

We saw a marijuana plant on someone's porch

Monday, June 19, 2017

Onward and Upward!

Transfer calls came last night and Elder Wyman has been voted off the island, so he's been packing all day today. I don't know who I'm getting so it's a waiting game until the APs let us know either tonight or tomorrow morning. 

On to how this week turned out though. On Wednesday we taught a sweet Venezuelan lady who we first thought was just being nice to us because she already went to the Baptist Church, but at the end when we asked her if she'd be baptized when she knew the Book of Mormon was true she said yes! As well she said she was excited to read the Book of Mormon because the introduction said it will help her gain peace and eternal salvation. She said her husband travels a lot but he is someone that would be interested. So we are excited about that. As well she told her Venezuelan friend who lives down the street about us and she wants to listen too! 

On Thursday we had our last zone conference with President and Sister Mortensen. President's training he gave was so amazing, once again. He talked about the growing problem of permissiveness in both society and in the church. He gave the example of parents who say "It's my child's decision as to whether or not he gets baptized", but they haven't taught the child so that the child understands the necessity of baptism. He then walked us through a couple of scriptures in 2 Nefi 2:14 and 16: 

And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.

Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.

And then went on to say that the world and the media do enough of the evil enticing, but that sometimes parents drop the ball on providing righteous enticement for their children. If our kids never understand the positive consequences and blessings of choosing God, they don't have enough information to make an informed decision. 

I was able to connect with Maria and Richard Smith this week (family friends). We had dinner with them. I had forgotten that Richard had served a Spanish speaking mission in Salt Lake, so it was fun talking about serving a Spanish speaking mission in the states. 

As well we were able to teach Leo and he came to church on Sunday so we're pretty pumped about that. Pues, de todos modos, until next week. 

Elder Barrus


With Elder Wells and Kate's Dad, Omar

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

"Salvation is Not a Cheap Experience"

Mission Leadership Council June 2017

Houston West North Zone Leaders
We went pretty hard in the paint this week. We spent most of our time knocking doors and visiting the members. We found a couple of young adults named Jose and Carlos from El Salvador that were pretty receptive and let us come inside. They said they'd come to church and didn't, but we will continue working with them. I'm still working on trying to baptize someone from knocking doors. It hasn't been easy but faith precedes the miracle!

On Friday we were out knocking in Magnolia, the northern part of our area that we almost never go to, and we saw a plethora of tow trucks and police cars next to an SUV upside down in a ditch. Then we talked to these little kids that said "My cousin flipped his truck over and the cops found drugs on him!" They were pretty casual about it but it wasn't something you see every day.

And then on Saturday, we were out knocking when we stumbled across a group of drunk Mexicans who called out to us "Oye, quieren tequila?" (Do you guys want some tequila?) I've been offered a lot of alcohol thus far in my mission but every time I've politely declined. 

On Sunday we were pretty certain that we would find a lot of families but instead we ended up knocking this one neighborhood that was 100 percent caucasian. We didn't get so much as 5 words out of our mouths before they would say "Not interested" and close the door. One lady threatened to call the police and another asked if we'd like to learn more about the Methodist church before slamming the door. It was pretty rough but it caused me to reflect on the Savior's call to "Take up your cross and follow me." That cross wasn't meant to be light nor easy to bear. In fact, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland mentioned something about this in a talk I read recently called "Missionary Work and the Atonement:

I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary."

But all in all, great things are going on here in Oakcrest. Leo will be baptized at the end of this month and we have a mom named Sofia and her son Benny who we might set a date with this week.

Half Horse Half Zebra

(This email was sent June 5, 2017.)

!EpalĂ©! ¿Que pasa calabazas? I'm just loving Oakcrest the longer I'm here. The members are super awesome about coming out with us to lessons and fellowshipping our investigators. So shoutout to them for making the difference.

We've been working a lot these past few weeks on refilling our teaching pool and getting to know all of the members. We found a super awesome family of 3 that is really excited to guide their family in a way that will help them be happy. The husband isn't very interested but the mother and 2 kids are super on board.

As well we visited a part member family that had 2 super adorable little girls that already want to get baptized. It made me reflect on that family and how right now they're not on the path that will help them in the long run, but if they make some changes they will be on the path to be an eternal family. There's a fine line but I know that with some support we can help change that family's eternity. Working with families is the thing that has brought me the greatest joy as a missionary. And what a blessing it is that families can be together forever through the Priesthood of God.

Anyways, Daniela's son Leo told us that he wants to be baptized so we put him on date for June 24th. Things are on the upward climb.

Elder Barrus
Half horse half zebra
Exchanges with Elder Blackford and the Uribe Family

Selfies with Elder Blackford and ward mission leader, Hermano Casco

Hermana Fuenmayor and Andres came to the fireside last Sunday