Monday, December 18, 2017

Unexpected Miracle at Whataburger

It’s pretty hard to wrap my head around the fact that I only have a few days before I hop on an airplane and say “Hasta La Vista” to Houston.(Hispanics don’t actually say hasta la vista. Except for my first day in the mission when a guy said it to us and I thought it was normal and then said it a lot until people made fun of me for saying it.)

I pretty much spent this whole week teaching Elder Gibby everything I know about being a missionary and how to convert the whole world. (Which actually never happened but either way I’m sure he’s learned something from being with me.) He’s 6’6 also and when we go knocking people are pretty intimidated by us. Especially those who are still in the process of being full American citizens. They open the door and have the look of “what did I do???” on their faces. It’s pretty great.

But to start things out on Monday we went to Whataburger with a youth in the ward who’s getting ready to go on a mission. As soon as we stepped out of the car we ran into an old friend of his named Jose who sat with us and asked a few questions about the Church while we were eating. He ended up telling us that he has been going through a hard time and has been looking for God in his life and feels that we were his answer. We set up another time to meet and he is interested in learning more about the Church. That was a cool unexpected miracle.

Also on Monday Elder and Sister De Hoyos of the 70 came and did a mission tour. They talked to us about how we can improve as missionaries and it was really spiritual. Learned a lot really.

Then on Friday we went to Perla and Sergio’s wedding. It was performed by our beloved bishop, Obispo Calderon and later when I saw him he told me “Make sure you get married in the temple so that I don’t have to do this for you.” It was one of those “Sir, yes sir” moments. We feel that this is an opportune time to teach Sergio about having an eternal family.

Anyway, my spiritual thought for the week is about how the Gospel can help us become something, rather than just to know or do something. We can be anything we want to be. We need not define ourselves with labels or stereotypes when we have the potential to be like our Heavenly Father.

Elder Barrus

Two cute little girls, Xochi and Beyonce wanted to take a picture with us.

 TJ Pogroszewski came to the mission and took us to Raising Cane’s on Friday

Monday, December 11, 2017

Which Side of the Line Do We Stand On?

Hey y’all, today has been a little crazy because today we had a mission tour with Elder De Hoyos of the Seventy so our P-day started a little later. That's why I am sending this a little late.

This week was pretty sweet though. We saw tons of miracles and worked really hard. Also, my new and final companion in the mission is Elder Gibby from Brigham City, Utah. He’s a little shy and reserved but he looks just like Bruce R. McConkie so that definitely makes up for it!

But anyway, on Monday we visited a referral we had received from some English missionaries for a guy from Colombia named Armando. He is married to a member of the Church from Texas who doesn’t speak a whole lot of Spanish. It’s kinda funny too, because he doesn’t speak a whole lot of English. But either way he is really open to learning the truth and has really insightful questions that definitely keep us on our toes. But we also invited him and his wife to come to Oakcrest’s Christmas party on Friday and it was a huge success! Not only did they come, but as well Armando’s sister’s family came too and seemed to really enjoy it. In addition to them we had at least 10 other non members come to the party as well as many less active members. So the activity was a huge success and we will be trying to work with those who came and see if they have any desire to learn more.

On Tuesday we were able to teach Perla and Sergio even though they are very busy getting ready for their wedding this coming Friday. Sergio asked us if he has to give up coffee. We asked him what for and he said “to be a part of all of this.” So we decided to teach the why of the commandments in addition to the word of wisdom to help increase his understanding of that particular commandment. He is getting close to knowing for himself that these things are true.

On Wednesday we ate dinner and taught the Restoration to the husband of another couple that we’ve been working with and it went super well. He seemed to especially like learning about how he can use the priesthood to bless his wife and son and how families can live together forever through the same power. He’s committed to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, and knows that when he receives an answer, it means that he has to keep other bigger commitments.

On Thursday, we saw a huge miracle. While driving to an appointment, we noticed a new trailer park that we’ve never seen before. We made note of it and later in the day decided to knock it. After we knocked every door on one of the streets, we headed back towards our car to grab some more Books of Mormon. 

We passed a house that we had already knocked but no one had answered. We saw a car in the driveway, so we knocked it and got let in by a couple from Honduras. As we began to talk to them they began to tell us about their strong faith that they have in the Catholic Church and we noticed that they had a large painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe. We didn’t expect them to really show much interest in our message, but we continued to listen and eventually we asked them a question that sparked their interest: Why are there so many churches if Christ only established one? We taught them about Joseph Smith and the Restoration and they were in shock after we shared the First Vision. The wife began to cry and explained to us that this was the first time her husband had ever listened to religious missionaries and she’s been praying for a long time that he’ll show interest in learning about God. She said she felt something stronger than anything she’s felt before. She now knows that God answers prayers and she and her husband are going to read the Book of Mormon and pray to find the truth. We know that the Holy Ghost can soften hearts and work miracles, even amongst those who are hard headed and stuck in their ways of tradition and comfort.

That more than anything has been a testimony that I have gained throughout my mission. That God is real. That he does answer prayers. That through Him, miracles are wrought. That His son Jesus Christ stands at the door knocking for that moment when we are ready to open the door and receive Him into our lives. That even if we have once accepted Christ into our lives and then cast Him out, that He will always come back in if we let Him. I also know that God is perfectly just and perfectly merciful. And that if our repentance is sincere and thorough, that we can be cleansed through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 

There are those who may doubt or even mock these words. However, we must be careful to follow the words of the Lord’s prophets, regardless of how unpopular in the world’s eyes it may seem. There are countless stories in the Scriptures of times where individuals and families were saved and protected as they hearkened to the voice of the Lord and His servants. And that those who didn’t hearken didn’t have that same measure of protection, that added measure of strength and comfort. So we must always look in the mirror and evaluate ourselves as to which side of the line of we stand on: the Lord’s side or the world’s side.

Anyway. I love all of you. Stay strong.

1: Picture at transfers with my second son Elder Broschart, born in the wilderness

2: We took this on Friday after district meeting. You can barely see it, but there is snow on the rooftops behind us

Elder Barrus and Elder Broschart after Transfer Meeting

After District Meeting

Anyone have a Persian Book of Mormon?

This email was sent December 4, 2017

Wow was this a wonderful week or what? Last night I finished my second to last transfer in the mission and have officially started my final transfer as a missionary. Kinda feels surreal to me but life will always continue on. But now for the highlights of this past week.

On Monday night we stopped by a potential family and we got in. They admitted that they had seen us walking around in their neighborhood and were kinda curious as to what we did as missionaries. We talked for a bit and shared the “Light the World” video. Here’s the thing though, they searched it up on YouTube and hooked it up to their TV, and right after it was done playing an Anti-Mormon video started so we had to quickly explain that that wasn’t a church sponsored video. But we set up a return appointment and we’re excited to see where it goes from there.

On Wednesday I did an exchange with Elder Fitt and we taught Francisco and Leslie and it went super well. They had read 4 chapters in the Book of Mormon in only a matter of 3 days and said they felt good when they read it. They weren’t able to make it to church but we have high hopes for them!

On Thursday we moved apartments because our lease expired. We moved to another unit in the same complex, so the floor plan is basically the same, just updated with brand new carpet and paint. That took probably half the day because we also had to clean our old apartment but afterwards we did some visits and taught English Class.

On Friday afternoon after district meeting we got a text from a young part member couple in our ward asking if we could come over for dinner. We gladly obliged and the husband who is not a member seemed different. Before when we talked to him he was fairly closed off and serious but now he’s more relaxed and opened up. I think it has something to do with the fact that him and his wife just had a baby 4 months ago. He told us that he’s ready to start taking the lessons and praying to find out if all of this is true. If he were to get baptized he would have some pretty strong family opposition, but if God tells him what he needs to do, he’ll do it no doubt.

On Saturday we ate dinner with a couple from Iran who comes to our English Class each week and it was fun. They don’t speak a lot of English and we don’t speak Farsi or Turkish so it was hard to communicate but all in all it was fun. We are going to try to find a Book of Mormon for them in Farsi because they are Christians. Super nice people.

That’s pretty much all I’ve got. I hope that everyone is doing well. 
Nedi and Touri from English class

Elder Barrus

Thanksgiving Report

This email was sent November 27, 2017

Welcome to another edition of my weekly email featuring an exchange to one of my old areas, a national holiday, and more trouble with the city of Tomball!! You won’t want to miss it.

Where to begin? We had quite a few appointments set up at the beginning of the week that fell through. But that’s fairly common in missionary work. You find people who say they are interested but then when you come back for the next appointment they are nowhere to be found. I suppose this whole mission thing is a big lesson on persistence.

On Thursday morning we got together with some ward members and their friends to play some football. I didn’t do that last year, and it was really nice to run around and throw the pigskin again. I’ve definitely lost a step or two though, I might need a personal trainer when I get back to help whip me into shape. Then we cleaned up and got ready for our Thanksgiving dinner with the Flores family. I even made pumpkin pie from scratch to bring. It was about 20 minutes in the oven away from being perfect but that’s okay, it still tasted good and no one(to my knowledge) got salmonella poisoning.

After that we went out visited a few people. One of them was Pedro, someone we’ve been working with for awhile now. We had to tell him that we couldn’t continue coming by because he and his family hadn’t been reading the Book of Mormon or coming to church. It was sad because he said a couple times “You guys aren’t going to come anymore??” We’ve become really good friends with him so it was hard but I think it was for the best because I’m sure he and his family will be more ready to act sometime down the road when missionaries stop by again.

On Friday I went on exchanges to Waller with Elder Hadley after district meeting. We taught a couple of lessons and visited the Contreras family. It was really good to see them again. Apparently Hermano Contreras fell from the roof of a trailer about a month ago and hit his head on the concrete, but he’s doing a lot better now. They will definitely be a family that I’ll visit after the mission.

Then on Saturday we exchanged back and went to lunch with a good friend of mine named Aaron Moya whom I met on the mission. He was able to give me some pretty good advice for when I go home. But more than anything he told me to continue doing the small and simple things like reading the scriptures daily, praying, and going to church. As well as to take the things I’ve learned on the mission and apply them to my normal life.

On Sunday we went to ward council meeting and the whole theme was basically about missionary work. All of the members of the ward council committed to provide at least 1 referral for the missionaries to teach in 2 weeks. We are pretty excited because member referrals are infinitely easier to work with than people we knock into.

As well in Sacrament meeting Yami Oropeza, Pascual’s wife, was asked to share her testimony with the congregation about the ward’s temple trip they took to Dallas on Saturday. She and Pascual were able to do baptisms for their grandparents who have passed on. That was a special experience that brought a tear to my eye because this is what the Gospel is all about. It’s not so that we as missionaries can pad our stats or say we taught and baptized a lot of people, it’s so that families can be linked together for forever, on both sides of the veil. I know that La Familia Oropeza’s entire eternal destiny was changed the moment they decided to join the church and strive to be faithful to their covenants. It has been such a special privilege to have been involved with their conversion process. They have become family to me and I will never forget them.

To finish out, on Sunday night we stopped by some English missionaries’ apartment around 8:45 to visit Elder Sobotka and Zaugg to pick up some English Book of Mormons and pass along cards. We were only there for about 15 minutes but when we went back outside, our car was gone. We didn’t park it underneath the carport spaces and there are no spaces for visitor parking in that complex. So we thought, either our car got stolen or towed. But we had to spend the night with those missionaries because the apartment complex office didn’t open until the next day and we didn’t know which towing company had our car. But today we got it all worked out and both Elder Broschart and I now only need to split a measly fine of $210 for the amount it cost to pick up. I am now planning on writing the mayor of Tomball to complain about how I’ve been marginalized and discriminated against during my time in this city. Just kidding, I don’t have time for that. But anyways, love every single one of you and hope that tow truck companies lose their power to tow whoever they want whenever they feel like it.

Elder Barrus

Lunch with Aaron Moya

Exchanges with Elder Hadley
One of the part member families we visit just finished the Dave Ramsey
Financial Peace University course. I thought you’d like to see this, Dad. 

The Week of Turkey

This email was sent November 20, 2017

Howdy g├╝eys! This week we have Thanksgiving and fortunately we only have 1 dinner appointment. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful but having multiple dinner appointments in the same day is a real chore. Sometimes people of Spanish descent view missionaries as Tamagotchi pets that need to be fed mucho. But I can’t complain. I’d much rather eat mucho really good food than not eat.

And then this week we spent a lot of time visiting less active young single adults. It was a really good experience being able to work with those that have strayed from the church a little bit. Many of them talked about wanting to come back to church. I love finding and teaching new people as much as I enjoy rescuing the wandering sheep of the church. Yesterday at the YSA branch a member talked about how he spent a few years out of the church and how much those that reached out to him during that time helped him. More than anything it takes a lot of love to help others get from where they are to where they need to be.

As well we’ve been working with Francisco and Leslie and they told us they’d come to church. They weren’t able to make it but they have tons of potential.

We also received some referrals that are very promising so we will visit those this week and see if we can get some more people progressing again.

De todos modos, hope y’all spend some time being grateful for what you have!

Elder Barrus


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

MLC and Lake Conroe

This email was sent November 13, 2017

Lake Conroe

MLC November 2017
Hey everyone! I hope some of you are still reading this. If not I don’t blame you. 95 letters is a lot of reading. But let’s get to it! This week included lots of missionary meetings. On Tuesday we had MLC. It’s always an uplifting meeting that I enjoy. We learned about the role of the Holy Ghost in teaching. Obviously a big part of qualifying for the spirit as a missionary is preparation which includes thorough study and obedience. However an investigator must allow the spirit to enter his or her heart in order to be truly converted unto the Lord.

On Thursday I went on exchanges with mi hijo, Elder Garcia in Conroe. I was able to see firsthand the progress he’s made. We ate dinner with their bishop and he lives all the way in Montgomery and we arrived 10 minutes early so we found a gated community with an open gate right on Lake Conroe and took pictures. It was rather scenic.

Trio with Elder Sobotka

Trio with Elder Sobotka
And then on Friday after district meeting we picked up Elder Sobotka and were in a trio with him for a day. Him and his companion’s next door neighbor in their apartment is a chain weed smoker and the smell has permeated through the vents and now their clothes smell like marijuana. So the mission housing coordinator gave them some sort of bomb that eliminates odors. They had to be out of their apartment for 24 hours so Elder Sobotka came with us and it was a riot. He’s from American Fork and played baseball at BYU before the mission. We knocked some doors and made him talk to some Hispanic people even though he’s an English missionary. He made them laugh a lot. He taught us all about how to talk to white people. It was cool hearing some of his stories.

On Sunday night we finally got to visit with a family that was a referral from some English missionaries. They were really excited to become an eternal family and come to church in Spanish, the language they understand.

As for my spiritual thought for the week, I came across a quote from President Boyd K. Packer:

“The Church and Gospel are not on trial. We are.”

Elder Barrus

Elder Barrus and Elder Fitt

Arriba Los Astros!!!

This email was sent November 6, 2017

Hey y’all what’s going on? Here in Houston everyone is pretty happy because the Astros won the World Series. So it’s nice talking to people when they are in high spirits.

On Tuesday we had to be in our apartments by 6:30 PM because of Halloween but it was raining so people didn’t really go outside anyways. And not even one person knocked on our door. We even had candy ready. What a shame.

In other news Elder Broschart and I are chugging right along. We got some good work done this past week and hope to continue to see some miracles. On Wednesday I went on exchanges with Elder Stulce from Palmyra, Utah. He’s a really humble missionary and always works hard. We went out finding that night around 7 PM and knocked on a door and heard the game on in the background and people speaking in English. We braced ourselves for the usual colorful chastisement that inevitably comes when you knock on people’s doors during an important sporting event. However no one came to the door for a little while so we decided to walk away. Well, as we were walking away the door opened and a lady told us to come inside. They turned the TV off and started asking us some questions. Turns out that they are a part member family in which the father Randy is a member and the mother Sarah is not. They were really nice and both talked about how they needed to come back to church for their sake and for their 2 little daughters’ sakes. So we committed them to come and they said they’d come and Sarah even said she’d read the Book of Mormon and pray about it.

On Friday we visited La Familia Oropeza and found out that Oscar had a soccer game at 8:30 PM that night at the soccer complex right next to our apartment so we decided to go because he always tells us about how good he is and we wanted to see for ourselves. He’s pretty good. His team lost but it was to a team that was 2 grades older than them so it was kind of a disadvantage. But we gave out some pictures of Jesus Christ and talked to lots of Hispanic people so it was a good use of our time.

On Sunday morning the Valles family from Venezuela texted us and said they were going to come to church and wanted to talk to us afterwards. They came but left about an hour into the Regional Conference broadcast because their 14 year old son Jose has kidney stones and they had to take him somewhere in Houston. Unfortunately we were not able to talk with them and figure out if they had any questions that needed to be answered. But it was good that they came to church and we hope that they felt the Spirit.

This turned out to be a longer than expected email but just know that God loves all of you and wants to see us succeed and be happy. Houston will always have a special place in my heart along with the many marvelous people I have been privileged to associate with during my time here.

Elder Barrus

Our Tacos de Trompo amigos, Alfonso and Raquel

Exchanges with Elder Stulce