Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Transfers are Coming!

We had one of those weeks that really tries your patience, as well as your persistence. There were a fair amount of potential investigators that we visited, who ended up flaking out, so I’m thinking of only eating Corn Flakes every day this week to celebrate!

It's pretty sad to think that so many good people who are members of other faiths are so stuck on the Bible being the only revelation that God has given to man throughout all of time. Modern day revelation is so important. Noah received revelation for his day to build an ark to prepare for the great flood, but that revelation wouldn't have been relevant in the time of Isaiah or Moses, because they received revelation for their day. Obviously we still read and cherish these stories in The Bible because there are things that we can learn from and they can help strengthen our faith in God.

Also, to go along with this rant, I would like to talk about the Pharisees and Sadducees that are so frequently referenced in the New Testament. These were men who were very knowledgeable with the Old Testament scriptures, obeyed the law of Moses with exactness, and imposed consequences for violations of it within Jewish society strictly. Well, when Jesus came to earth and told others he was the Son of God, the Pharisees and Sadducees accused him of blasphemy and sought to prosecute him to the fullest extent the law would allow.

There are many instances in which these rulers attempted to accuse Jesus of breaking a rule. But they didn't understand that those same scriptures prophesied many times of His coming, and they were reluctant to accept a living prophet and continuing revelation. 

We had a lesson with a potential investigator on Thursday that was pretty interesting. One of the first questions this guy throws at me is "So, when were you saved?" I wanted to respond that I along with all other mankind was saved when Jesus Christ performed the Atonement
back in 33 AD, but instead talked a little bit about my experience about the divine witness I have received that the Book of Mormon is true, and also how grateful I am for the Savior's atoning sacrifice and the opportunity I have to repent and strive each day to become
like Him. 

He responded with "Well we disagree on a few things there" and proceeded to list a few differences in our beliefs that caused me to think. First he said that one time he talked with a Mormon who said that one day "he would have his own universe and become like God." He told me that, there is no one higher than God, and I replied that we both agree on that. Then I asked him who he understood God to be, and he responded with the usual "The creator of the universe, a higher power, omnipotent, etc." Then I asked him if he's ever heard the phrase "We are children of God." He replied that he had not, so I shared Romans 8:16-17, which reads:

 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the
children of God:

17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with
Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also
glorified together.

He didn't really seem to understand too well and didn't seem to care too much about the message of the restoration, but it made me ponder how sad some of the modern day Christianity beliefs are. As prophesied in the Book of Deuteronomy chapter 4:27-28 when God is telling the children of Israel that they will be scattered:

27 And the Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be
left few in number among the heathen, whither the Lord shall lead you.

28 And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and
stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.

We live in these times prophesied of, where people worship a God who is "unknowable, without parts or passions." God wants us to be like Him, and because His joy is full, he too desires that we partake of that same joy ourselves. So seek Him, and you will find Him. He has promised it, and He never breaks His promises. Anyways, for those of you who are still here, you should go eat a Snickers bar or something to reward yourself for enduring this behemoth of an email.

Pina preparada
Some places here have items on their menus such as "Piña preparada" which is a pineapple that is filled with fruit and ice cream and it's glorious. The only thing that was disappointing was the fact that they smothered the thing in spicy chile chamoya sauce. (On a kind of related note, Hispanics put chile powder on everything, fruit and candy included.)

Good barbecue is definitely something I can appreciate. I've only had barbecue twice since coming here. I eat with members on an average of about 3 or 4 times a week. It's really nice, especially when they make Argentine food.It is fantastic! Also, it gives Hispanic women so much joy when missionaries or others come eat their food and lots of it, which I fully approve of (even if it's making me fat).

On another note, both Elder Heiner and I are being transferred tomorrow. We don't know where, so I'll let you know next week. 

Have a great week!

~Elder Josh Barrus

The district in black and white

Happy 7-Eleven!

There are some pretty country areas here in The Woodlands
I think there's only one 7-11 in the entire city of Houston, and I'm pretty sure it's out of our area, so we will probably miss Free Slurpee Day.

This was definitely one of those weeks that was a difficult one based off of the statistical results, but nonetheless edifying and satisfying. We did have to drop a bunch of investigators this past week because they just could not find time to meet with us, so that’s kind of sad.

Irma and Yaderi had a really hard week. The adversary has been working on them hard, and it definitely has been a trial of their faith. We just tried our best to reassure them and encourage them to read the Book of Mormon so that God can help them as they continuously show their faith.

Every Thursday morning we go up to Conroe to get some Family History training from the Stake specialist up there, so I do some indexing. Also, there’s a sister in our district who is really good at family history, so she’s been helping learn how to do it and I’m getting pretty good at it!

Here’s a great quote by Richard L Evans I’ve been thinking about a lot lately:

     "Our Father in heaven is not an umpire who is trying to count us out.
     He is not a competitor who is trying to outsmart us. He is not a
     prosecutor who is trying to convict us. He is a loving Father who
     wants our happiness and eternal progress, and who will help us all he
     can if we will but give him in our lives an opportunity to do so.”

With so many misconceptions on the nature of God, I just wish everyone knew how loving and merciful he is. He wants us to repent and change. He wants us to be happy. We just have to let Him help us. 

Emmanuel's Baptism in H3

Emmanuel's family at his baptism

Exchanges with Elder Pogroeszewski

~Elder Josh Barrus

It's All Good in the Wood(lands)

Zone Fourth of July Picture
Hey everyone.

This week in the mission we did some missionary work. It was really rewarding and we were really blessed to only have one guy tell us to get off his porch while out knocking on doors. #TenderMercies

We actually set 2 baptismal dates for the 30th of July on Saturday night with Irma and Yaderi. They are super prepared, we are really excited for them.

We had to drop Pablo because he wasn't progressing, but he'll come around with time.

This time of year is the time of year in which a good amount of people give us water bottles throughout our day, if it weren't for them we would probably suffer from dehydration.

Have a good week!

Elder Barrus
Zone Fourth of July Picnic

Splits with Elder Oliviera from Brazil


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Church is in the Heart

Elder Barrus, Noel, Elder Heiner. Noel has an amazing conversion story!
Qué onda todos? (What's up everybody?)  If you are in a dry climate, I hope you are appreciating the dry heat instead of the humidity of a tropical rain forest (which coincidentally, is exactly what it feels like right now).

The work is on an upward climb here in the Woodlands 3rd Ward. Yesterday we had 4 investigators attend church, which was really nice because it was ward conference and we had some exceptional speakers from the stake come and light up the pulpit with the Spirit and inspiring messages.

Two of the investigators that came have some promising potential. The first is Hugo. Hugo has been an investigator for awhile and had a baptismal date about a year ago, but he and his girlfriend were not married and she didn't really want to get married, so he was dropped. He's read in the Book of Mormon all the way to Alma and has a really good understanding of the story and how he can learn and receive revelation from it.

The second is Hugo's sister Caty. She just arrived a few months ago from Guatemala and she's staying with Hugo. She already has a good understanding of the scriptures, and has committed to read the Book of Mormon, so we're excited for her. You can pray for Pablo, Irma, Yaderi, Mayela, Gerardo, Miguel, Hugo, and Caty. All of these investigators have lots of potential, so your prayers are definitely appreciated. :)

This week we are planning on setting four baptismal dates. We are going to give all of them covenant path calendars, which will help them visualize their goal of baptism and going to the temple, and what steps need to be taken in order for them to feel ready to make those sacred covenants.

In the second hour of church yesterday, a member of the Stake Presidency taught our Gospel Essentials class--three investigators and us missionaries, and it was beyond inspiring. First he got to know all of the investigators, and then he figured out that all of them came from similar backgrounds. They had all immigrated to the United States fairly recently and so they were working on adjusting to the culture and the language. Then he showed us a couple scriptures in the Book of Mormon that talk about how this land (The Americas) is a promised and chosen land, and that if those who live here strive to keep God's commandments, they will prosper.

He then proceeded to tell his story, about how he came to the United States when he was 15 from Mexico with no family, no money, no education, and he didn't speak a lick of English. He talked about his struggles, about how it took him a long time to learn English, about how he didn't do very well in school, but also how much he relied on the Lord in these difficult times. He read and pondered the scriptures every day. He prayed, and trusted that God would help him. He decided to consecrate himself and serve a mission and he had a wonderful experience. When he came home, he could see how the Lord started opening doors for him  little by little that allowed him to see the fruits of his labors. Soon, he graduated from BYU, got married, and had a nice career. Now, he is in a management in a company where he is in charge of 17 people, and he is so grateful to Heavenly Father for the experiences he's had and the blessings he's received. He is a living testament that God really can turn us into someone we never thought possible, if we will only let him. I felt the Spirit so strong, and I know that our investigators did too. 

I want to challenge y'all to share the Gospel with at least one person this week, and bear testimony as to how it has changed and blessed your life. Sometimes we have fear of man more than fear of God, but it was the fear of man that prohibited the Israelites from being able to enter the promised land for 40 years. So don't risk having to wander in the wilderness, share the Gospel with someone who needs it.

Elder Barrus

As a zone we wrote down the negative things we had heard or thought about our
areas, then buried them, symbolizing that we will bury our weapons of rebellion and
doubt and that we will 
 have the faith necessary to see miracles in our zone.