Monday, October 9, 2017

Keep Going and Finish Strong

Que tranza homies? We had quite the week, let me tell ya. On Tuesday we had our Mission Leadership Council and heard lots of counsel about the purpose of our mission using Facebook and how it can be a tool to hasten the Lord’s work. 

Zone Leader Companion, Elder Cammack on exchanges 
Then I went on an exchange with my ZL companion, Elder Cammack to his area of Louetta, leaving my trainee Elder Broschart with Elder Cammack’s trainee Elder Gibby. They were a little nervous being new and all, but ended up killing it. When I asked them how the exchange went, Elder Broschart excitedly told me about a family from Venezuela who showed up to English class and asked to learn more about the church. He told me that they were golden. I kinda reserved my hopes until when we actually taught them. 

And we did on Saturday and they are really solid. They talked about how they don’t understand why there are so many churches if Jesus only established one church. They said they have visited many churches but haven’t felt what they would like to feel. As we taught them about Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the Gospel they lit up, and I saw it click in their heads. They had been searching for the truth for a long time and had wondered if God would leave them confused on their spiritual journey. They have only been in the United States for a couple of months since they moved from Venezuela but are well educated people that could be very strong members of the church. There are 5 in the family, Miguel and Maribel are the parents with 3 sons, Diego, Jose, and Miguel Jr. They came to church the next day and enjoyed it. The members of the Oakcrest ward came in clutch and welcomed them with loving arms.

As well we have been teaching Pedro and his family. His wife and kids are super smart and have lots of potential to progress. Our only obstacle with them is getting them to come to church. But I’m certain that as we involve more members in the teaching process and teach them the why, they will come.

Anyways, that’s all from good old Tomball, Texas. I can’t believe that I only have about 2 and a half months left. I just have to keep going and finish strong so that I can reflect on my mission with no regrets!

Elder Barrus

THM

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Things Are Rolling!

We definitely had a pretty good week. We went back to visit Pedro and his family and we ended up having a lesson with Pedro and he was really receptive to the message of the Gospel. He told us he felt as though the flood helped him find the balance between working and spending time with his family. He also feels as though God has been trying to wake him up and now he’s ready to make changes  in his life.

As well we went back on Saturday with some members of an English ward to help them continue repairing the house. They are almost finished so they’ll be able to focus a little bit more on the lessons and coming to church when that happens. Also for lunch Pedro’s girlfriend made some bomb food for those of us working on her house. She said that was only a preview of how good her food is. Hopefully it was only the first of many meals with her family. I’ve said this a lot and the pictures I send home reflect it, but honestly Mexican food is the best food. And not anything you can get from Taco Bell. But real Mexican food from people who know how to cook it is prime. 

As well we were able to watch General Conference and my poor companion, Elder Broschart had to watch it in Spanish. But he was able to understand a lot and I felt like the messages were speaking directly to me. It is a great time to live when the voice of God can be heard through His prophets and apostles. 

Other than that, midweek we got a referral from a member in Missouri City and were able to visit it on Sunday night. It took us 45 minutes to get there because they live in Montgomery, the northernmost part of our area, but we were able to get in and teach a guy named Angel and his nephew Lalo. They were really humble men who talked to us about their desires to be better men and grow closer to God. They are both currently attending Alcoholics Anonymous and loved that the Book of Mormon can help them resist temptation. 

Things are rolling! Que se cuiden mucho! 

Elder Barrus

THM

What????????

Exchanges with Elder Hadley


District Meeting


Monday, September 25, 2017

Lifting the Hands That Hang Down

Hey y’all what’s good in the hood? This week was an improvement from the last one. Slowly but surely we are starting to see the missionary work in Oakcrest take off again after the hurricane.

Where to begin? On Monday we went to visit a potential investigator, but she wasn’t home so we decided to knock on a few doors in the area. We were let in by a woman from Honduras named Marisol who lived next door. As we talked to her we found out that she met with missionaries 4 years ago closer to the city. She explained to us how she watched the Joseph Smith DVD with her 2 year old daughter and liked it a lot. She loved the peace she felt at church and the church’s emphasis on families. Her family went consistently for about 6 months before deciding to discontinue investigating the church. When I asked her if she ever thought of getting baptized, she said not really because her family was already baptized into another Christian Church. But with a few more questions we found out that she hadn’t read much of the Book of Mormon. So we were able to emphasis the importance of reading it and praying to God to know of its truthfulness, which she said she’s never done before.

Anyway, after we left Marisol’s house, we felt prompted to stop by a less active family's home in the same trailer park. When we knocked on the door, they opened it and the whole family just stared at us, looking shocked that we showed up. A woman I’d never seen before whispered something to the mother of the family about us giving her (the woman) a blessing. The she explained that the night before, she and her husband were coming home to their apartment when they were robbed by someone with a gun. The person shot her in the leg and then her husband. Her husband ended up passing away on the way to the hospital. 

She had asked her friend only minutes earlier before we arrived if she would contact a member of the church to come give her a blessing. She asked if her friend had contacted us. We said no, but she instantly understood that the Lord had sent us there to minister to her specifically and to give her a blessing. We were able to do it and she said she felt peace enter her heart after we were done. She met with the bishop and expressed the desire she had to get her life in order, return to church, and do her husband’s temple work in a year. That was a faith building experience about the role we have as servants in the Lord’s kingdom. We are called to lift up the hands that hang down.

Later in the week on Saturday morning, we received a call to help at the home of a Hispanic family close to our apartment whose house had flooded big time. The mucking had already been completed about a month ago, so we helped repair their house again. We put in flooring, insulation, and sheet rock. It was so fulfilling to see the family’s faces as we helped them repair their home so they could have somewhere to live again. They were so appreciative and even asked us where the local church building was. They plan on coming this week so we are going to stop by today and see if we can get to know them.

To cap the week off, on Sunday we had our “Why I Believe” fireside up in College Station. It’s probably my favorite event that the mission puts on. Hearing the testimonies of new converts who are so enthusiastic about the things they’ve learned and the blessings they’ve gained never gets old.

Anyway, that’s all from here. Sorry for no pictures this week. I’ll try harder next week.

Elder Barrus

THM

Monday, September 18, 2017

Fresh From the MTC

Hey everyone how are things? This week I found out that I would be training a new missionary again. Before I was to find out on Thursday, I spent a couple of days in the Houston 6 area with Elder Christensen. It's an area that's a lot like the first area I served in. Lots of low income areas that you need to avoid after dark. But it was fun. You see a lot of interesting things that you don't normally see. And then on Thursday we picked up our new missionaries. There were 24 missionaries that came in so there's been a lot of turnover in the mission.

My new companion is Elder Broschart from San Tan Valley, Arizona. He's a really good kid that is motivated to work hard and give his all to the Lord. He studied really hard in the MTC and already has pretty good Spanish. He understands a lot and is improving rapidly on speaking the language. We've put in a lot of work already in a short period of time. On his first door he knocked, we got let in by an 18 year old named Carlos from El Salvador. He was really interested in what we had to say and loved the emphasis on peace and hope.

Also on Friday we had an all mission zone conference with Elder Uceda and Elder Daniel Jones of the 70. It was really awesome. Elder Uceda had tons of energy and enthusiasm despite arriving in Houston by airplane at 1 AM Friday morning. He talked about Matthew 28:19 which reads:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

He expounded on that scripture by saying that the original translation for the word teach is a Greek word that actually means "to make disciples." So he focused on the importance of helping our investigators become true disciples of Jesus Christ rather than just teaching them.

Another missionary before me hung up a story on the wall about the process of refining silver. Very relevant to our experience here as mortals and especially as missionaries. Recently I've been listening to a lot of Elder Holland talks in the car and there's been an underlying theme in almost all of them about suffering being a part of the process of true discipleship. I hadn't really thought about that before. I thought if we did good and kept God's commandments we'd have easy carefree lives. However, it is not the case.
Elder Garcia's last day in Oakcrest with our ward mission leader, Hermano Casco and his wife

Elder Barrus
THM

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Transfers!

We got transfer calls last night and surprisingly my comp, Elder Garcia is leaving the area. I thought that I would leave but I don't mind staying in the Oakcrest ward at all. They've been good to us and feed us really well. Elder Garcia is a little sad but he's going to be a superstar missionary when it's all said and done, so he'll find success anywhere he goes. Also his mother and little sister are getting baptized this Saturday so he's really excited about that. His 13 year old little brother told the missionaries he doesn't want to. It's alright though, he'll get there.

This week was good. We were able to get back to a normal missionary schedule on a few days. We went with a group of members on Saturday and Sunday to do some flood cleanup 30 minutes south of our area.  As we got out and talked to people we realized how much people had been humbled by the recent events in the world. There was one lady named Brenda who let us in because she had some questions about God in light of all the natural disasters. She admitted she wasn't super religious but the recent events definitely left her seeking some answers. It's been very intriguing to see the hand of the Lord help open the eyes of others who don't claim to be to into the whole religion thing. It reminds me of a scripture in Alma 32:13 which says:

"And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance; and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved."

 And then something else that came to me is a quote from a talk by Jeffrey R Holland titled "Borne Upon Eagles' Wings":

"I decided that if those men had to go to the penitentiary to take advantage of the gift of mercy--and if by going there, they found the gospel of Jesus Christ or the scriptures or the Atonement--then their imprisonment was worth it.

So let us go to the place of penitence--to the bishop or to the Lord or to those we have offended or to those who have offended us. We have our own little penitentiaries, I suppose, all around us. If going there is what it takes to make us truly penitent and to enable us to lay claim to the gift of mercy, then we have to do it."

So all in all I've come to realize that if we need to go through a crisis or a difficult trial in our lives in order to truly be humbled, then it is worth it. So never forget that.

Elder Barrus
THM

September birthdays
Unfortunately I only managed to come up with one picture this week but for district meeting on Friday we did a birthday bash because 5 of the 6 members of our district have birthdays in September. Elder Hunt, Elder Garcia, Hermana Fluckiger, Hermana Hurst, and I.(And Elder Garcia didn't even tell me it was his birthday on Tuesday because he doesn't like birthdays!)


This is a really great video that shows some of the work the members and missionaries are doing to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey. 


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Cleaning Up

It was nice to get out of the apartment early last week and start helping with the disaster cleanup efforts. Only one family from the Oakcrest ward had their home flood so it wasn't too bad in our area. We spent most of our time helping out various families south of our area. It was crazy. Entire neighborhoods got flooded and are filled with garbage and debris on both sides of the street. People were very grateful to receive our help though. And not even one person slammed the door in our face! So it was a good week. This week we are going to find the balance between giving service and proselyting. I'll attach some pictures below.

This past week as we helped various families clean up their homes, I reflected on the process of repairing a home that's been damaged by water. First you have to get in the house and take out everything that got wet. Mattresses, tables, chairs, dressers, bookshelves, you name it. As soon as the furniture is out, you have to start tearing out the carpet in the house and the pad underneath it. Then you tear out the sheet rock and insulation from the wall in the entire house. As soon as that's finished you must let the house dry out, which can take up to several months. 

This is what is piled up in front of every home. 
I liken this process to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Sometimes we have spiritual floods that happen in our lives which can be any type of crisis that happens in our lives. Loss of job, sickness, death of a loved one, etc. It is in those times that we usually have to look in the mirror and identify what needs to change. We start with the big stuff, the "furniture problems" like major sins we have not repented of or bad habits we may have. Bit by bit we try to remove everything we can that is not in harmony with the Lord's will, which is both challenging and an ongoing process. However, as we take those things out of our lives that have accumulated mold from all the moisture, the musty smell of wet furniture starts to diminish. After everything has been removed and is dry, you are ready to replace the carpet, sheet rock, furniture, and flooring that was damaged. This is like replacing our bad habits, thoughts, or surroundings with positive and constructive things. As painful and laborious as the process may seem, it is well worth it, because instead of living in a house festering with mold, water damage, and a horrid smell, you are living in a clean house that smells nice. So never forget that regardless of the cost or effort it may take to clean our lives up, we can do it. We just have to be patient with ourselves and with the Lord and trust that he'll help us make the transformation as long as we do our part.

Anyways that's all from here. Pray for Texas and for those affected by the flooding.

Elder Barrus

THM

Hurricane Harvey Helping Hands

First house we helped with--an elderly couple.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

God Bless Texas

This is the first email we received August 28, 2017


Good morning mom and dad! I just wanted to give you an update on how things are going down here. Currently where I am at in Tomball things are fine. We have been told not to leave our apartments so I haven't seen much of what anything else looks like, but outside our apartment everything is fine. There is no flooding as far as the eye can see and we are up safely on the 3rd floor. It's getting a little boring inside the apartment but I've almost finished the New Testament.

Anyways, I hope that all is well and just know that your prayers have been felt.

Love, Josh

This is the one we received later in the day. 


Whelp this has been a weird week with an unexpected turn of events to cap it off, but I'll start with the positive. We visited Sergio and Perla, a part member couple whose parents are active in our ward. As we started to get to know them a little bit, Sergio mentioned to us that he wants to get baptized and sealed in the temple with his girlfriend. Kind of a shock to us because we had barely met him, but not unwelcome. They are going to get married on December 15th but we will teach and meet with them leading up until then.

As well, another part member family named the Morales just returned from Mexico so we met with them. They talked about how much they liked the church's focus on strengthening families and raising children in good homes. The wife Itzia talked about how she's inactive and some of her doubts and concerns. Her husband Jose talked about how much he liked going to church, but he hasn't been able to go for awhile due to work. We asked some more question and asked them what their goals are and how they expect to achieve them. They opened up about how hard it is to change their lifestyle. So we just testified about how God will help us if we make sacrifices in order to follow him. It reminded me of a scripture in The Book of Revelation 12:11 in the Bible that describes how the war in heaven was won:

"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death."

I thought about that last line in the verse and how it applies to me. It is possible to love our lives unto the death. Sometimes we can get very distracted here in this life and lose sight of the purpose of our very existence: to make it back to God's presence. Satan has done a really good job of distracting us of our ultimate divine purpose. If we wait too late to repent and become true followers of Christ, we will not be able to reach our potential as children of God.

As well, midweek we received an email from President Peterson about a tropical storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico headed for the Texas coast. Eventually it developed into a category 4 hurricane that hit the Texas coast just west and south of Houston. It has been raining ever since Friday. Apparently there is some catastrophic flooding in parts of Houston, but where we are at there isn't much. But they canceled church yesterday and we have been instructed to stay inside both yesterday and today. So I've read a good portion of the Bible and I've wiped the floor with Elder Garcia in chess. We've definitely prayed a lot and continue to pray for those impacted by the flooding in various parts of Texas. We are anxious for the storm to die down so that we can get out there and start helping with the recovery efforts.

Anyways, be safe y'all. God bless Texas.


Pretty much sums up the last few days

Barbecue with the Reyes family