Wednesday, October 12, 2016

It'll be a White November

Seriously had another superrrrr great week here in Westgreen. We set some baptismal dates and the work just keeps getting better and better. As well, we got transfer news last night and it was determined that both Elder Sellers and I will be staying together for at least another 6 weeks which was welcome news because we still have some unfinished business to complete!

Both MarieAntonietta and Rosa are doing well, they are progressing well and are still on track for their baptismal dates. Rosa shared a really neat experience she had when she watched General Conference. She really related to Juan Uceda's talk when he told the story of how the Holy Ghost told him not to go hiking with his other missionaries in his zone, but he ignored the prompting and did it anyway and almost fell to his death as a consequence. She talked about how she had met with missionaries about 8 months ago and felt that everything was true, she just would not act because she feared what her family might think if she got baptized into the LDS church. Well, as she looked back, she realized that she ignored God's will for her to get baptized and was not able to progress much spiritually during that time.  Now she is ready to take the leap of faith and get baptized on November 6 despite what her family might think or say because she knows it's what God would have her do. 

We were out knocking doors on Saturday morning when we happened upon an open garage door with a barber cutting his friend's hair and before we knew it, the man in the chair called his 5 kids over and we were teaching the Restoration to 7 people. They all liked it and said they would read the Book of Mormon and asked that we come back the next Saturday. The best part about it was the fact that they mostly spoke in a black southern accent with lots of slang, so it was pretty funny how Elder Sellers didn't really understand what they were saying most of the time and I had to fill him in on what words like "gucci" and "3 hunna" meant. (To be fair I'm not really sure what they mean either I just know how to use them in the correct context.) 

Anytime anyone wants to take their picture with you, it's a good day!

Saying goodbye to Elder Schloer, the Zone Leader

 On Friday we had zone meeting and said goodbye to our beloved zone leader Elder Schloer who goes home on Wednesday. Later that day, we were contacting in a trailer park and found a party of only semi-drunk Mexicans that invited us to come eat with them so we did. We ate some really good tacos and grilled pizza and had some fun talking to them about God. They also offered us beer, which I've been offered at least 5 times on my mission, which means that there's been 5 times as much temptation to break the Word of Wisdom on my mission than back home.😂 

Later that same night we were able to meet with the Cintura family. They are doing much better than when we last had taught them and had read 11 chapters in the Book of Mormon and felt great about it. We taught the first half of the Plan of Salvation and extended a baptismal date for all 3 of them and they all accepted without hesitation! The next step is helping them get work off on Sundays so they can come to church. The spirit was so strong and it was the first time in my mission where I've taught a whole family and they've all accepted the invitation to be baptized. 

We also set a baptismal date with José, so that makes for 6 baptismal dates set for these next 2 months which is very exciting. It's amazing how faith really can move mountains. When I arrived in Katy about 3 months ago, this area had zero baptismal dates and not really much was going on, missionary-work wise. But as my companions and I have worked hard, been obedient, and shown our faith in different ways we've been able to see things improve immensely over a relatively short period of time. 
On Sunday I gave my first official talk in a sacrament meeting in Spanish. Somehow I was able to talk for over 10 minutes without anyone in the audience laughing too much at my terrible accent. I still have a lot to learn and improve on, it's just frustrating because I am not as able to communicate myself as eloquently as I want to. But you know, the gift of tongues is real because I can understand about 90 percent of what is being said in Spanish. 

With that being said, on to the next one. Hope you all have a great week. 

Our favorite ward mission leader, Hermano Suarez

Westgreen Ward missionaries with Hermano Suarez and his wife

Happy Conference Weekend!

This is Josh's email from October 3, 2016.

This week was a good one only made better by the General Conference weekend and inspired messages that were shared by those who possess the spiritual keys of the kingdom of God. 

We were not able to teach many of our investigators this week due to their hectic work schedules, but 6 of them were able to watch conference on Sunday, which is a blessing because it helps set them up to receive personal revelation on their own. 

On Tuesday morning we helped the mother of Marie Antonietta and Fabiana pick up a washer and dryer and carry it up 3 flights of stairs to their apartment. It reminded me of my days working at Lightning Forge carrying really heavy things up multiple flights of stairs as well as how out of shape I am. But nonetheless we got the job done without injury or death and now they have their own washer and dryer! Later that same day we had English class with all our favorite Venezuelans and the students somehow found out it was my birthday and brought stuff to celebrate, so that was pretty nice! A picture is attached.

On Thursday we taught a less-active who has been going through a difficult time in his life. When we first started talking he was really down on himself and his situation and was in tears. However, as we listened and shared the Mormon message "Mountains to Climb" he started to brighten up and feel a lot better. It's experiences like that one that make my mission a fulfilling one. To be able to bring joy, light, and hope daily into the lives of others who don't have much hope or happiness is a blessing. 

We were able to watch all of General Conference, mostly in English. We did watch one session in Spanish, and I found I could understand about 90% of it. When they told stories, they threw in a few words I didn't know, so I got a little lost. It was SOOOOO good. J Devn Cornish was one of my favorites, for sure.

I loved all of the talks from conference, but the one that stuck out to me was Elder Lynn G. Robbins's talk about sacrifice. He said something to the effect of "Our unwillingness to make relatively small sacrifices in our lives mocks Christ's greater, more difficult sacrifice." Jesus' gospel is one that requires sacrifice as well as our whole heart, might, mind, and strength. We cannot hold anything back because then God is not able to shape us into who we ultimately want to be. And no trial or hardship that we may go through will ever come close to the trials and difficulties the Savior experienced while He went through His mortal ministry. I am eternally grateful for Jesus and all He did for me and I only want to serve Him to the best of my abilities so I can help others feel of His divine love that inspires us to change.
The Venezuelan squad: Marie Antonietta, her mother Yadira, Daniela, Flore, and Gabriela and her kids 

Happy Birthday!

This is Josh's email from September 26, 2016. (His 20th birthday.)

Thank you for the birthday package and birthday wishes! We are planning to go to Top Golf and then I'm not sure. Maybe a restaurant that sells good barbecue. :) 

It was a very fruitful week here in Katy. We found three new investigators and even set another baptismal date! So let's get to it: 

On Tuesday we were able to set a date with one of our investigators who we will say is named Rosa, even though that's not her real name. She is a young adult who has met with missionaries in the past and felt that she already knew that the Book of Mormon and this church was true. She just got scared because her entire family is Catholic and they were very against her changing religions. But lately she had been going through a difficult time, so when we texted her and asked if we could teach her a couple of weeks ago, she agreed. So we taught her the Restoration and the Spirit was very powerful. The next week we taught the first part of the Plan of Salvation, and really emphasized that Christ makes it possible for all of us to overcome sin and death, and all he asks of us is that we repent and get baptized. She agreed, so we scheduled the date for November 6th as a goal to work towards. She is still really worried about what her mother might say, but at the end of the day, she recognizes that Christ requires us to do hard things in order to do the right thing. But she has made a goal to read at least one chapter in The Book of Mormon every day, so I am confident that she will be able to experience the joy of true conversion for herself as she continues exercising her faith. 

On Sunday we were finally able to meet with the Cintura family after having not seen them for over a month. They've been going through some difficult stuff these past few weeks that is just gut-wrenching for me to hear. They have only been here for about 8 months and so the adjustment has been hard, especially considering that this family was very well off when they lived in Colombia. However, both Elder Sellers and I promised them that if they sincerely read in the Book of Mormon for 10-15 minutes each day and prayed to know if it is true, that they would be able to find better jobs. So we are praying that they sincerely act on our invitation so that they can experience the blessings that the Lord has promised for those who try their best to exercise faith in Him. 

On Friday we were graced by the presence of Elder Larry J. Echohawk of the 70 as he hosted a mission tour in the THM.  Both he and his wife are converts to the church and expressed their heart-felt gratitude for the missionaries who sacrificed 2 years of their lives to bring them the Restored Gospel.  

President Mortensen also spoke about the role of The Book of Mormon in conversion. In this mission, as a requirement to get baptized, investigators need to have read at least the first 15 chapters of the Book of Mormon. He talked about how we need to exhaust every effort available in order to make sure they are reading. Even though it may just seem like just a book, it was written by ancient Prophets in the Americas who in vision saw our day, and included the things that they knew would be helpful for those of us facing the challenges of today. In it contains the words of Christ and God that will nourish the spiritual parts of us and guide us to safety in this increasingly-dangerous and wicked world. In it is found the power to conquer powerful addictions, find answers to prayer, feel peace in times of despair, as well as avoid temptation and deception, which will help us achieve our ultimate goal of returning to the safety of God's presence. I know that it is a true book that comes from God. All that we must do is read it with the intent to act, as well as ask God with faith, and we will know of its truthfulness. 

I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to serve a mission and to serve amongst Spanish speakers, they are genuinely my favorite people.