Monday, August 22, 2016

No Picture Week

The work is really starting to pick up here in Westgreen, so everything is going well.

Benito had some doubts about his baptismal date and said he wanted to be completely certain about being baptized. We gave him a practice baptismal interview to show him that baptism is the door, not the destination. Afterward he felt a lot more comfortable and sure about his baptism. If you could pray for him that would help a lot. His baptism is scheduled for this Sunday, so we are doing all we can to make sure that he feels confident in his decision.

We found some pretty solid people this week. We knocked on a lady from Honduras' door who told us that she had been looking for a church. She had gone to 3 or 4, but didn't really feel it with any of them. We ended up teaching her the restoration and it went really well. She teared up a little bit when we shared the first vision. We set up a return appointment for a few days later and came back, but she completely changed on us. She told us upfront that she already had a church she was going to and didn't want to leave that comfort zone of the church that she grew up in. It was really unexpected and hard because she seemed really solid. We tried to help her understand that when Jesus was born, the Jewish religion believed in the Law of Moses and the Old Testament. When Jesus came and established His church, many people rejected Him. They said that God's church had already been established and they weren't going to change anytime soon. She still didn't budge which was sad, but hopefully when missionaries come in the future she will be willing to make the change.

We finally were able to have a lesson with a potential investigator that the English Sister missionaries found about a month ago. When we first got the referral, we were kind of hesitant because the note they attached read:

"Jennifer is golden! She seemed so interested. She didn't speak a lot of English so it was hard to understand her, but from her expressions and body language, she seemed eager and excited to learn about the gospel."

Well, on Saturday we were able to teach Jennifer, her husband Carlos, and daughter Valentina and it went extremely well. They came from Colombia about 8 months ago and have been looking for a church. Jennifer told us about the day the sister missionaries knocked on her door and how happy she was. She didn't understand them and they didn't understand her, but she was happy to meet them. She was kind of discouraged because it is hard adjusting to a new country and Americans are more serious and show their love differently than Hispanics, but the misioneras (sister missionaries) were a ray of sunshine for her. 

The lesson was great and it was so cool to teach them about the sealing power of the priesthood. We showed them Matthew 16:18-19 which talks about the power to bind things on earth as well as in heaven, and asked them what they would like to have bound on earth as well as in heaven. She said "My family." We asked her what the pastor or bishop of her marriage said at the end. "Till death do you part" was her answer. How sad, but super neat to help them realize that they can be sealed as a family for time and all eternity if they join our church, The Restored Church of Jesus Christ.

Anyways, that's about all that happened this week. Till next time.

Elder Barrus

Repentance is a Wonderful Thing

Sister Lincona leaves for Mexico tomorrow. We are pretty sad because she
is like the Hispanic grandmother we always wished we had but never did. 
The work here in Katy is on the up and up. Benito is still doing really well, he's been keeping all his commitments and told us he feels really good when he reads in the Book of Mormon. He is definitely on track for his baptismal date on the 28th of August. The ward is really helping us out. We've at least received some names of people to go visit from members, which helps a lot. We still knock doors to show our faith, but most of our success comes from working with members.

Our other investigators from Venezuela are still progressing, but the husband left last week for Venezuela and Dubai for job training until October, so we'll still teach the 2 daughters and the less active mom, but they won't get baptized until their dad returns.

Shout out to my favorite, Franco from H3 (my first area) for accepting a baptismal date with him for August 27. He's been taught by missionaries for almost 3 years, and just last week accepted a baptismal date. I'm kind of bummed that I can't go to his big day, but I'm still super happy for him.

On Thursday we had zone conference. It was centered on The Gospel of Jesus Christ. We talked about how having a faith in Jesus Christ should lead you to repentance. President Mortensen also talked about the difference between the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and "The Convenient Messiah" that modern-day Christianity believes in. They say that all you need to do is accept Him as your Savior, and you're good, you've punched your ticket to heaven. However, in John 14:12, he Savior tells us what we should do if we believe in Him:

                   Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works
                   that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do;
                   because I go unto my Father.

Now with the increased emphasis in the missionary program to "teach repentance and baptize converts," anytime we teach, we are inviting others to repent. It's true. Repentance is a wonderful thing, and what a blessing it is that Christ performed the Atonement so we have the opportunity to repent each time we stumble. He knows what He wants us to be, and knows how to help us do that and .repentance is the way. We should be grateful each and every day that The Savior suffered for all of our sins so that we can repent of them. He knows how to help us with our faults, all we have to do is ask. 

Until next week. 

Elder Josh Barrus

This is the ward mission leader's son. He just returned
 from a mission to Ecuador and he helps us out a lot!
Service project in Katy

Splits with Elder Schloer

Monday, August 8, 2016

"Can I wear my StormTrooper costume for the picture?"

This week was superrrrrr bien. We definitely saw a lot more of the fruits of our labors this past week. Even though last week was hard and we didn't see too much success initially, it was still fun because Elder Curtis and I get along really well, so that makes a huge difference on the hard days.  

To start, we set a baptismal date for Benito for the 28th of AugustIt seemed like it would be a little too soon, but he accepted it and is willing to work towards it. He's already read 3 chapters in the Book of Mormon, and came to church yesterday and really liked it.

We were able to teach the Zabala family the Restoration on Monday night and it was so good. The two daughters were naming off the books of The Book of Mormon, so the family is definitely familiar with The Gospel. We committed them to baptism when they know that this is all true and they all firmly committed. I talked to the dad yesterday at church and he said he feels good whenever he comes. He is going to Venezuela and then later to the Middle East for some job training for about a month, so that's kind of a bummer, but he said he's bringing his Book of Mormon with him so he can still read. We got his permission to still teach his two daughters, so we'll still go over to his house, but we'll probably hold off setting a baptismal date with them until the dad returns.

On Friday we were out knocking doors and it was almost time to head back to our apartment. We knocked on the door of a guy who wasn't super interested, but we saw a Star Wars calendar on his wall and asked if he liked Star Wars. He told us yeah, and to come in. So we did, and wow, this guy had hundreds of Star Wars things which included a bunch of ships, many action figures, and several costumes. He apparently made a lot of these things because he welds. I'll attach pictures below but it was pretty sick.

Alright, take it easy, wherever you are. Hope you have a great week!

Elder Josh Barrus
I'm so grateful to have a car with A.C.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

6 Months!

August 1, 2016

Jeffrey served with us this week.
I can't believe I've already been out 6 months. We had a mini-missionary with us this week named Jeffrey and he's been a lot of fun to have around. And, since he's a native Hispanic, he's been able to teach Elder Curtis and me lots of Spanish. He's 21 and currently attending college here in Texas and his family is from Guatemala. Coming into the week he wasn't really sure if he wanted to serve a mission, but he was willing to give it a try and see how he felt about it. He's had a good attitude, even when it's hot out knocking doors and no one seems to want to listen. By the end of the week he decided that he will serve a mission after the school year next spring. He will be the first missionary to serve in his family because his parents are converts. 

Jeffrey discovered that missionary work never stops...

...and wears you out.

But we had a great time!
Anyway, this week was pretty rough. We spent a lot of time knocking doors and asking members for referrals to seemingly no avail. However, on Thursday we received a member referral, and the family we visited was a part member family that just arrived from Venezuela. The mom was baptized when she was 15, but has been inactive for awhile. We didn't have a ton of time with them, but we invited them to church and they came and really liked it. We are going to have a family home evening with them tonight and talk about eternal families. We are pretty excited for them. 

On Sunday we had 5 investigators come to church, which made it nice to see some of the fruits of our hard work. Later on Sunday, one of our buddies named Benito from English Class called us up and wanted to play soccer because he was bored. We told him we can't play soccer on Sunday, but that we could teach him about what we do as missionaries. He agreed, and we ended up teaching him the restoration, and it was a super good lesson. He teared up a little bit at the end because he felt the spirit really strongly. I guess the elders have been trying to teach him for a few months but now he's finally willing to give the Gospel a try. 

It's been a very uplifting end to the week. It is amazing to see the desires people have to change their lives according to the will of God. I was reading in the Book of Alma chapter 42 this week and came across something that stuck out to me:

30 O my son, I desire that ye should deny the justice of God no more. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility.

As we accept our faults rather than justify them, we allow God to come into our lives and change our nature, rather than just our behavior. As we let Him in, He is able to show us how we can improve in order to be happy and feel peace.

The whole Santizo family

Look at these great soccer jerseys we found at the flea market!

Katy is 🔥

July 24, 2016 Email

What's going on everyone? I'm in my first week in Katy serving in the Westgreen ward after getting transferred from The Woodlands and it's been pretty rad so far.

The area is pretty wealthy, but there's tons of Hispanics still, so 
it's a good balance. A lot of the members are from Venezuela, so they definitely speak a different type of Spanish, but it's all good. My new companion is Elder Curtis from Gilbert, Arizona and he's a stud!

It's really nice. Here we have a food appointment every single night. It's interesting how some Hispanic women take much joy in people, especially missionaries, eating their food, and lots of it. 

Yeah. I have always had a car on my mission, but here we drive a 2016 Corolla that only has 2000 miles on it, a lot different than the Chevy Cruze we drove in Woodlands.  

We got some good work done this week. The APs committed us to get 40 missionary commitments (inviting other people to do missionary work) because this is an area that traditionally hasn't seen a lot of success come from knocking. So the real success will come from getting member referrals. We have meal appointments every night, so we have really focused on encouraging them to do some missionary work. What has seemed to work best is to describe how hot it is when we knock doors for hours and how we face a lot of rejection. And then to really top it off we show them some eye-popping statistics

-In the U.S. missionaries are able to baptize 1 in 1000 of the people they meet in their personal contacting.
-When the missionaries use your name to meet and teach your friends, they can baptize 80 in 1000, or 8 percent.
-When you personally introduce the missionaries to your friends and let them teach them, they can baptize 340 in 1000, or 34%.
-When you introduce the missionaries to your friends and let them teach your friends in your home, they are able to baptize 660 in 1000, or 66 percent of them.

So it just goes to show how important the members are in missionary work. If members and missionaries will work in unity great things will happen, which is the vision we are sharing with the ward right now. We've already received 3 referrals and are really excited to see the miracles that will come.

Anyways, if you're still reading this, you might as well go ahead and send me an email or mail me something because I'd love to hear from y'all! Address is below:

24949 Katy Ranch Rd. #517 
Katy, TX 77494
~Elder Josh Barrus

We visited Willian on my last night in The Woodlands, he served a mission in Honduras,
 so he decided to dress up like us for the night. He's the man though, 
anytime we visit him he teaches us because he knows a lot of deep doctrine. 

New Zone

Night sky in Texas

Night sky in Texas