Monday, April 4, 2016

"By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them"

What's up everyone? I love hearing from you all, and hope all is well back home, wherever home may be for you. 

I'm told that the Final Four started this past weekend and finishes tonight in Houston, at NRG Stadium which is about 10 minutes outside of my area, but I couldn't tell a difference. But we did visit the Houston City Jail on Wednesday, which was interesting. We visited a man named Guadalupe. His brother, Ricardo, is being taught by the missionaries in the South Mission, and wanted the missionaries there to visit his brother. They couldn't because the jail is out of their area, so they called us and we went instead. Ricardo couldn't visit him, so he told us what to tell Guadalupe and we did. Guadalupe had met with missionaries before, and he's probably going to get out in a couple weeks, so hopefully he continues to meet with missionaries. 

While waiting at the jail, we had 2 people come up to Elder Gibbs and me and asked if we could visit one of their family members who is in jail. One of these women had a grandson who is 17, who kind of got in the wrong crowd and ended up in jail, and she felt that having young people like us visit him would really help. She said she would call us, so hopefully she does so we can go back. I never knew that I would have the opportunity to teach and influence people who are in jail, but I'm really excited for it. I once heard a quote from a man who had spent many years in prison who said that he regularly felt the influence of the Savior Jesus Christ, walking the halls of the prison. I believe that with all my heart. He will never give up on any of His brothers and sisters. As we turn to Him and acknowledge our weaknesses, he will "Make weak things become strong unto them."(Ether 12:27) As we turn to Him and try our best, we will be amazed at how much His grace and mercy enable us to improve ourselves. I know I have felt this enabling power in my own life, and it comes from our Savior. 

This week was really good. I've been very happy and grateful to be here. All the missionaries in our zone are super obedient. That's super awesome to hear about Charlie. North Korea would be scary, so Thailand is probably safer.
We teach an English class for an hour every Tuesday and Thursday, but haven't been able to find many other service opportunities. We've talked to leaders from other churches, YMCA's, The Salvation Army, and local libraries. The only place that seemed semi-interested was the libraries, who are interested in us teaching family history courses and English classes, but they have yet to contact us. The Church does own a peanut butter factory down here in our zone, so we are going to go volunteer there sometime next week I think. 

They have places that have the same likeness of Rancheritos, but they're all different. Delicious breakfast burritos do not exist down here. It's mostly tacos, with meat ranging from good stuff to gross things like cow tongue and intestines. We rarely cook. We either eat at cheap taco trucks, members houses, or fast food places. We are trying to cook more though, to save some money. It is hard because we don't have that much time to go back to our apartment and cook dinner. 

I've only been in Houston for about 3 weeks now, and I've already seen countless miracles, like this one: We get a lot of Bible referrals, which is a great way to find people and give them free Bibles, but we hadn't found any Bible referrals that were very interested in our message. This past week, we visited a woman named Gracy who requested a free Bible. She has been confined to her bed for the better part of the last 3 or 4 years and her skin burns from the inside out, which has been agonizing pain to endure. Anyway, she explained that she still feels the Savior's love for her, and prays many times a day. We've started teaching her, and she's been super interested in everything she's heard. She's already been reading in the Book of Mormon, and watched some of General Conference over the weekend. She wasn't able to watch the Saturday morning or afternoon sessions, but when we told her that there would be a Priesthood Session, she wanted to watch it. We explained that it was more geared towards the men, but she still wanted to and even said "I'm going to watch with my 12 year old grandson!" We're hoping she continues to have the desire to learn more.

We watched General Conference at our local ward meetinghouse and I loved it. They aired the Spanish broadcast in the chapel, and the English broadcast in the Relief Society room. I'm just grateful I got to hear it in my native language after hearing Seth's stories about trying to listen to it in Indonesian. Conference was really awesome. I am kind of sad that I didn't really listen all that well earlier in my life, because there's so much that can be gained from it. As Elder Holland said that, I immediately thought of both you and dad, and how you'd talk about how you never wanted to leave the temple each time you go. I understand that feeling now. I was ready to leave the MTC, but I didn't like knowing that I would be going into "The lone and dreary world." The millennium sounds like such an awesome time where we get to live in a Zion-like society without crime. I'm pretty excited. I think we have to experience the Telestial world for a bit before we can truly appreciate the Celestial Kingdom!

Like all of Elder Holland's talks, I loved his, but there was one line that really stuck out to me from Elder Dallin H. Oaks. He said that there's a lot of talk about how things from the Church's early history that might shake people's faith, and lots of speculation about what Joseph Smith did or did not do, but we are reminded that, "By their fruits, ye shall know them." The Book of Mormon is one of those fruits, and it stands on its own as a witness and evidence of the divinity of the Restoration of Christ's Church. 

-Elder Barrus

Thought you might want to see what our apartment looks like

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