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
THM



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
THM


Our Tacos de Trompo amigos, Alfonso and Raquel




Exchanges with Elder Stulce

Dodgers vs Astros

This email was sent October 30, 2107
Elder Brock Jones returned to visit our district



This week was not really anything too special. We spent a lot of time assessing those we are working with in our area and making plans to find other people.

The whole city of Houston has been pretty fired up due to the Astros playing in the World Series versus the Dodgers so our finding at nighttime hasn’t been too effective but ay vamos. It’s always a good topic of conversation with the Caucasian folk we come across because it helps them warm up to us a little more than usual.

On Friday we helped Pedro and his family move furniture into their home. It’s now finished! Also on Sunday we visited them and we managed to eat a Serrano pepper raw and talk about marriage, all within one hour! Usually playing marriage counselor with our investigators hasn’t gone super well in my experience. I ask them if they ever think about getting married and one spouse says yes and the other says no. Either way I think they’re on the right track and some day soon they’ll be ready to get married and come to church.

Also on Saturday we went to Leyla’s baptism, the 8 year old little sister of Kate, my recent convert of a few months back. Much to our surprise Kevin, Pascual’s stepson showed up with his girlfriend. Apparently she is a member but doesn’t speak Spanish. Regardless she’s doing some good work in helping him have more interest in the church. As they say, if you’re not having success as a missionary, you can always flirt to convert.

That’s all I have from my end. Hope all is well. And go Astros!

Elder Barrus
THM

AP Exchanges

This email was sent October 23, 2017

Howdy fellas! We got transfer calls last night and Elder Broschart and I will be staying together for at least another transfer. We work really well together and he’s progressing along really well. We’re excited for what these next 6 weeks hold in store in good old Oakcrest.

To start off on Wednesday we had a half day exchange with the APs. This was my first one with them and I went with Elder Hansen from Logan, Utah. It was a lot of fun and I was able to pick his brain on a few questions that I have. We even taught a lesson in my area and he had to sit there with no idea what we were saying because he’s an English missionary. Poor guy. But in the end I was able to teach him a few Spanish words and he taught me a few finding tactics. All in all, a good exchange.

Also we’ve been hitting the pavement and dirt a lot this week trying to continue to find people to teach. We weren’t met with a whole lot of success but we can feel that all this hard work is about to pay off big time. Unfortunately we didn’t have much contact with the Valles family and the Ortuño family hasn’t progressed a whole lot so there’s not much to talk about in regards to those we are working with. But this week we are going to sit down with our bishop and see what we can do to help the work move forward in this ward.

So I really don’t have much else to write... I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking!

Elder Barrus
THM



Pedro and Me


🍌Pascual's wife made us some really great empanadas de platano (banana)
Exchanges with the APs

Exchanges with the APs

Hna Fluckiger goes home this week so we decided to hold a funeral for her because she’s dying in the mission









This is the Life!

This email was sent October 16, 2017.

Somehow I figured out that I’ve got only 2 and a half months left as a missionary. I don’t think it’s hit me yet, I feel like I’ll be doing this the rest of my life. Ha ha.

This week was... a little slower than the last one. We had a hard time getting back in with some of our investigators. But the Valles family came to English class and told us their miracle story of how they came to the United States. That strengthened my testimony of the fact that God is preparing families and individuals to receive the restored Gospel. As much as some people take for granted the principles and blessings of the Lord’s church, there are always many people that are ready and willing to fully embrace the Gospel and follow in the Savior’s footsteps.

As well we had zone conference this week. Not really much to report on, just a training about Facebook and how to use it correctly and some ideas for how to use it as an effective tool. I discovered some creative tactics that Elder Broschart and I can use to stay in better communication with our investigators.

On Sunday we had Stake Conference and it was enlightening. President Call spoke about the role parents have to teach their children the Gospel in order to help them realize their divine potential. He used an analogy with acorns to prove his point. An acorn falls from a tree and is quite small compared to the relatively large parent oak tree it fell from. However, as the parent plants the acorn and helps nurture it, the acorn starts to grow, sees its progress, and realizes that it can become a big oak tree someday. It’s the same thing with our children. If we never help them understand their divine potential, they are going to grow up going to church and not fully understanding the ultimate goal to have “All the Father has.” I know that that is true. We can realize our divine potential and ultimately qualify ourselves to live forever in the kingdom of God with our families. And a couple scriptures from Doctrine and Covenants 84:

37 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;
38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.

Elder Barrus

THM

Birthday Sneakers

Monday, October 9, 2017

Keep Going and Finish Strong

Que tranza homies? We had quite the week, let me tell ya. On Tuesday we had our Mission Leadership Council and heard lots of counsel about the purpose of our mission using Facebook and how it can be a tool to hasten the Lord’s work. 

Zone Leader Companion, Elder Cammack on exchanges 
Then I went on an exchange with my ZL companion, Elder Cammack to his area of Louetta, leaving my trainee Elder Broschart with Elder Cammack’s trainee Elder Gibby. They were a little nervous being new and all, but ended up killing it. When I asked them how the exchange went, Elder Broschart excitedly told me about a family from Venezuela who showed up to English class and asked to learn more about the church. He told me that they were golden. I kinda reserved my hopes until when we actually taught them. 

And we did on Saturday and they are really solid. They talked about how they don’t understand why there are so many churches if Jesus only established one church. They said they have visited many churches but haven’t felt what they would like to feel. As we taught them about Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the Gospel they lit up, and I saw it click in their heads. They had been searching for the truth for a long time and had wondered if God would leave them confused on their spiritual journey. They have only been in the United States for a couple of months since they moved from Venezuela but are well educated people that could be very strong members of the church. There are 5 in the family, Miguel and Maribel are the parents with 3 sons, Diego, Jose, and Miguel Jr. They came to church the next day and enjoyed it. The members of the Oakcrest ward came in clutch and welcomed them with loving arms.

As well we have been teaching Pedro and his family. His wife and kids are super smart and have lots of potential to progress. Our only obstacle with them is getting them to come to church. But I’m certain that as we involve more members in the teaching process and teach them the why, they will come.

Anyways, that’s all from good old Tomball, Texas. I can’t believe that I only have about 2 and a half months left. I just have to keep going and finish strong so that I can reflect on my mission with no regrets!

Elder Barrus

THM

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Things Are Rolling!

We definitely had a pretty good week. We went back to visit Pedro and his family and we ended up having a lesson with Pedro and he was really receptive to the message of the Gospel. He told us he felt as though the flood helped him find the balance between working and spending time with his family. He also feels as though God has been trying to wake him up and now he’s ready to make changes  in his life.

As well we went back on Saturday with some members of an English ward to help them continue repairing the house. They are almost finished so they’ll be able to focus a little bit more on the lessons and coming to church when that happens. Also for lunch Pedro’s girlfriend made some bomb food for those of us working on her house. She said that was only a preview of how good her food is. Hopefully it was only the first of many meals with her family. I’ve said this a lot and the pictures I send home reflect it, but honestly Mexican food is the best food. And not anything you can get from Taco Bell. But real Mexican food from people who know how to cook it is prime. 

As well we were able to watch General Conference and my poor companion, Elder Broschart had to watch it in Spanish. But he was able to understand a lot and I felt like the messages were speaking directly to me. It is a great time to live when the voice of God can be heard through His prophets and apostles. 

Other than that, midweek we got a referral from a member in Missouri City and were able to visit it on Sunday night. It took us 45 minutes to get there because they live in Montgomery, the northernmost part of our area, but we were able to get in and teach a guy named Angel and his nephew Lalo. They were really humble men who talked to us about their desires to be better men and grow closer to God. They are both currently attending Alcoholics Anonymous and loved that the Book of Mormon can help them resist temptation. 

Things are rolling! Que se cuiden mucho! 

Elder Barrus

THM

What????????

Exchanges with Elder Hadley


District Meeting


Monday, September 25, 2017

Lifting the Hands That Hang Down

Hey y’all what’s good in the hood? This week was an improvement from the last one. Slowly but surely we are starting to see the missionary work in Oakcrest take off again after the hurricane.

Where to begin? On Monday we went to visit a potential investigator, but she wasn’t home so we decided to knock on a few doors in the area. We were let in by a woman from Honduras named Marisol who lived next door. As we talked to her we found out that she met with missionaries 4 years ago closer to the city. She explained to us how she watched the Joseph Smith DVD with her 2 year old daughter and liked it a lot. She loved the peace she felt at church and the church’s emphasis on families. Her family went consistently for about 6 months before deciding to discontinue investigating the church. When I asked her if she ever thought of getting baptized, she said not really because her family was already baptized into another Christian Church. But with a few more questions we found out that she hadn’t read much of the Book of Mormon. So we were able to emphasis the importance of reading it and praying to God to know of its truthfulness, which she said she’s never done before.

Anyway, after we left Marisol’s house, we felt prompted to stop by a less active family's home in the same trailer park. When we knocked on the door, they opened it and the whole family just stared at us, looking shocked that we showed up. A woman I’d never seen before whispered something to the mother of the family about us giving her (the woman) a blessing. The she explained that the night before, she and her husband were coming home to their apartment when they were robbed by someone with a gun. The person shot her in the leg and then her husband. Her husband ended up passing away on the way to the hospital. 

She had asked her friend only minutes earlier before we arrived if she would contact a member of the church to come give her a blessing. She asked if her friend had contacted us. We said no, but she instantly understood that the Lord had sent us there to minister to her specifically and to give her a blessing. We were able to do it and she said she felt peace enter her heart after we were done. She met with the bishop and expressed the desire she had to get her life in order, return to church, and do her husband’s temple work in a year. That was a faith building experience about the role we have as servants in the Lord’s kingdom. We are called to lift up the hands that hang down.

Later in the week on Saturday morning, we received a call to help at the home of a Hispanic family close to our apartment whose house had flooded big time. The mucking had already been completed about a month ago, so we helped repair their house again. We put in flooring, insulation, and sheet rock. It was so fulfilling to see the family’s faces as we helped them repair their home so they could have somewhere to live again. They were so appreciative and even asked us where the local church building was. They plan on coming this week so we are going to stop by today and see if we can get to know them.

To cap the week off, on Sunday we had our “Why I Believe” fireside up in College Station. It’s probably my favorite event that the mission puts on. Hearing the testimonies of new converts who are so enthusiastic about the things they’ve learned and the blessings they’ve gained never gets old.

Anyway, that’s all from here. Sorry for no pictures this week. I’ll try harder next week.

Elder Barrus

THM

Monday, September 18, 2017

Fresh From the MTC

Hey everyone how are things? This week I found out that I would be training a new missionary again. Before I was to find out on Thursday, I spent a couple of days in the Houston 6 area with Elder Christensen. It's an area that's a lot like the first area I served in. Lots of low income areas that you need to avoid after dark. But it was fun. You see a lot of interesting things that you don't normally see. And then on Thursday we picked up our new missionaries. There were 24 missionaries that came in so there's been a lot of turnover in the mission.

My new companion is Elder Broschart from San Tan Valley, Arizona. He's a really good kid that is motivated to work hard and give his all to the Lord. He studied really hard in the MTC and already has pretty good Spanish. He understands a lot and is improving rapidly on speaking the language. We've put in a lot of work already in a short period of time. On his first door he knocked, we got let in by an 18 year old named Carlos from El Salvador. He was really interested in what we had to say and loved the emphasis on peace and hope.

Also on Friday we had an all mission zone conference with Elder Uceda and Elder Daniel Jones of the 70. It was really awesome. Elder Uceda had tons of energy and enthusiasm despite arriving in Houston by airplane at 1 AM Friday morning. He talked about Matthew 28:19 which reads:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

He expounded on that scripture by saying that the original translation for the word teach is a Greek word that actually means "to make disciples." So he focused on the importance of helping our investigators become true disciples of Jesus Christ rather than just teaching them.

Another missionary before me hung up a story on the wall about the process of refining silver. Very relevant to our experience here as mortals and especially as missionaries. Recently I've been listening to a lot of Elder Holland talks in the car and there's been an underlying theme in almost all of them about suffering being a part of the process of true discipleship. I hadn't really thought about that before. I thought if we did good and kept God's commandments we'd have easy carefree lives. However, it is not the case.
Elder Garcia's last day in Oakcrest with our ward mission leader, Hermano Casco and his wife

Elder Barrus
THM

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Transfers!

We got transfer calls last night and surprisingly my comp, Elder Garcia is leaving the area. I thought that I would leave but I don't mind staying in the Oakcrest ward at all. They've been good to us and feed us really well. Elder Garcia is a little sad but he's going to be a superstar missionary when it's all said and done, so he'll find success anywhere he goes. Also his mother and little sister are getting baptized this Saturday so he's really excited about that. His 13 year old little brother told the missionaries he doesn't want to. It's alright though, he'll get there.

This week was good. We were able to get back to a normal missionary schedule on a few days. We went with a group of members on Saturday and Sunday to do some flood cleanup 30 minutes south of our area.  As we got out and talked to people we realized how much people had been humbled by the recent events in the world. There was one lady named Brenda who let us in because she had some questions about God in light of all the natural disasters. She admitted she wasn't super religious but the recent events definitely left her seeking some answers. It's been very intriguing to see the hand of the Lord help open the eyes of others who don't claim to be to into the whole religion thing. It reminds me of a scripture in Alma 32:13 which says:

"And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance; and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved."

 And then something else that came to me is a quote from a talk by Jeffrey R Holland titled "Borne Upon Eagles' Wings":

"I decided that if those men had to go to the penitentiary to take advantage of the gift of mercy--and if by going there, they found the gospel of Jesus Christ or the scriptures or the Atonement--then their imprisonment was worth it.

So let us go to the place of penitence--to the bishop or to the Lord or to those we have offended or to those who have offended us. We have our own little penitentiaries, I suppose, all around us. If going there is what it takes to make us truly penitent and to enable us to lay claim to the gift of mercy, then we have to do it."

So all in all I've come to realize that if we need to go through a crisis or a difficult trial in our lives in order to truly be humbled, then it is worth it. So never forget that.

Elder Barrus
THM

September birthdays
Unfortunately I only managed to come up with one picture this week but for district meeting on Friday we did a birthday bash because 5 of the 6 members of our district have birthdays in September. Elder Hunt, Elder Garcia, Hermana Fluckiger, Hermana Hurst, and I.(And Elder Garcia didn't even tell me it was his birthday on Tuesday because he doesn't like birthdays!)


This is a really great video that shows some of the work the members and missionaries are doing to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey. 


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Cleaning Up

It was nice to get out of the apartment early last week and start helping with the disaster cleanup efforts. Only one family from the Oakcrest ward had their home flood so it wasn't too bad in our area. We spent most of our time helping out various families south of our area. It was crazy. Entire neighborhoods got flooded and are filled with garbage and debris on both sides of the street. People were very grateful to receive our help though. And not even one person slammed the door in our face! So it was a good week. This week we are going to find the balance between giving service and proselyting. I'll attach some pictures below.

This past week as we helped various families clean up their homes, I reflected on the process of repairing a home that's been damaged by water. First you have to get in the house and take out everything that got wet. Mattresses, tables, chairs, dressers, bookshelves, you name it. As soon as the furniture is out, you have to start tearing out the carpet in the house and the pad underneath it. Then you tear out the sheet rock and insulation from the wall in the entire house. As soon as that's finished you must let the house dry out, which can take up to several months. 

This is what is piled up in front of every home. 
I liken this process to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Sometimes we have spiritual floods that happen in our lives which can be any type of crisis that happens in our lives. Loss of job, sickness, death of a loved one, etc. It is in those times that we usually have to look in the mirror and identify what needs to change. We start with the big stuff, the "furniture problems" like major sins we have not repented of or bad habits we may have. Bit by bit we try to remove everything we can that is not in harmony with the Lord's will, which is both challenging and an ongoing process. However, as we take those things out of our lives that have accumulated mold from all the moisture, the musty smell of wet furniture starts to diminish. After everything has been removed and is dry, you are ready to replace the carpet, sheet rock, furniture, and flooring that was damaged. This is like replacing our bad habits, thoughts, or surroundings with positive and constructive things. As painful and laborious as the process may seem, it is well worth it, because instead of living in a house festering with mold, water damage, and a horrid smell, you are living in a clean house that smells nice. So never forget that regardless of the cost or effort it may take to clean our lives up, we can do it. We just have to be patient with ourselves and with the Lord and trust that he'll help us make the transformation as long as we do our part.

Anyways that's all from here. Pray for Texas and for those affected by the flooding.

Elder Barrus

THM

Hurricane Harvey Helping Hands

First house we helped with--an elderly couple.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

God Bless Texas

This is the first email we received August 28, 2017


Good morning mom and dad! I just wanted to give you an update on how things are going down here. Currently where I am at in Tomball things are fine. We have been told not to leave our apartments so I haven't seen much of what anything else looks like, but outside our apartment everything is fine. There is no flooding as far as the eye can see and we are up safely on the 3rd floor. It's getting a little boring inside the apartment but I've almost finished the New Testament.

Anyways, I hope that all is well and just know that your prayers have been felt.

Love, Josh

This is the one we received later in the day. 


Whelp this has been a weird week with an unexpected turn of events to cap it off, but I'll start with the positive. We visited Sergio and Perla, a part member couple whose parents are active in our ward. As we started to get to know them a little bit, Sergio mentioned to us that he wants to get baptized and sealed in the temple with his girlfriend. Kind of a shock to us because we had barely met him, but not unwelcome. They are going to get married on December 15th but we will teach and meet with them leading up until then.

As well, another part member family named the Morales just returned from Mexico so we met with them. They talked about how much they liked the church's focus on strengthening families and raising children in good homes. The wife Itzia talked about how she's inactive and some of her doubts and concerns. Her husband Jose talked about how much he liked going to church, but he hasn't been able to go for awhile due to work. We asked some more question and asked them what their goals are and how they expect to achieve them. They opened up about how hard it is to change their lifestyle. So we just testified about how God will help us if we make sacrifices in order to follow him. It reminded me of a scripture in The Book of Revelation 12:11 in the Bible that describes how the war in heaven was won:

"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death."

I thought about that last line in the verse and how it applies to me. It is possible to love our lives unto the death. Sometimes we can get very distracted here in this life and lose sight of the purpose of our very existence: to make it back to God's presence. Satan has done a really good job of distracting us of our ultimate divine purpose. If we wait too late to repent and become true followers of Christ, we will not be able to reach our potential as children of God.

As well, midweek we received an email from President Peterson about a tropical storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico headed for the Texas coast. Eventually it developed into a category 4 hurricane that hit the Texas coast just west and south of Houston. It has been raining ever since Friday. Apparently there is some catastrophic flooding in parts of Houston, but where we are at there isn't much. But they canceled church yesterday and we have been instructed to stay inside both yesterday and today. So I've read a good portion of the Bible and I've wiped the floor with Elder Garcia in chess. We've definitely prayed a lot and continue to pray for those impacted by the flooding in various parts of Texas. We are anxious for the storm to die down so that we can get out there and start helping with the recovery efforts.

Anyways, be safe y'all. God bless Texas.


Pretty much sums up the last few days

Barbecue with the Reyes family


Shout Out to Elder Garcia!

This email was sent August 21, 2017

Hey y'all honestly it wasn't too eventful of a week this week but a few things did happen. First and foremost I would like to give a shoutout to mi hijo amado Elder Garcia who had his 8 week follow up training on Wednesday. He did really well and it was an edifying meeting. It was interesting attending the meeting from the perspective of a trainer.

This week we focused a lot on receiving referrals. The key with gaining the trust of the members is getting to know them. So we tried to stop by whatever members were in the area whenever we were out knocking and ask for a drink of water or to share a 10 minute lesson. It worked really well. We feel like the members know us and can trust us. We got some good potentials who we are going to visit this week so I'll let you all know if we pick up some solid new gators next week. 

Elder Barrus
THM

It was a L-O-N-G Saturday

Stabio Family Farewell Party

This email is from August 14, 2017

What's up fellas? This week was kinda slow but we had a lot of fun. First off it's been very rewarding to continue to work with Pascual and his family. They are making lots of progress and there is a special feeling in their home. Pascual told us this week about some goals he's made recently. He is planning on saving money with his wife so they can buy a house and move their family out of their mobile home. He works as a welder and actually makes a lot of money, but in the past he blew a lot of it on beer. Now he's using that money to put his family in a better neighborhood. The Gospel not only helps people be happier, but also helps them achieve their goals.

As well not too much happened besides the fact that we knocked lots of doors. We didn't really find any solid people to teach but we'll keep at it and they'll come. The prepared people are out there, we just have to find them. I have learned that we can't force the issue as missionaries. If people don't want it, we move on. It's as simple as that. Find out what people want or are looking for, help them understand that the Gospel will help with that and promise specific blessings.


Going away party for the Stabio family


On Friday we went to a going away party for the Stabio family. They are a super cool family that is going up to the University of Wisconsin so the father can get his master's degree in business. The wife didn't speak any Spanish 4 years ago, but then they decided to attend a Spanish ward and her hand was forced. So she learned and now speaks it better than a lot of the missionaries that come through here. They are good examples to me of a strong family that loves, serves, and does all they can to live a quiet, Christlike life. I want to be that type of member when I return from my mission.

That's about it from here. Ándale pues!

Elder Barrus

THM

"And he inviteth them all to come unto him..."

This email is from August 7, 2017

Que onda y'all? This week was definitely the most gratifying of my mission thus far. Pascual and his sons Oscar and Angel were baptized on Saturday and was a baptism that I will not soon forget. I had the honor of baptizing Pascual and Elder Garcia baptized his 2 sons. Pascual has come a long ways since when we first knocked on his door about a month ago but he was very prepared and progressed very rapidly. It was an especially happy day for his wife Yami who had been praying for him to change for awhile before we showed up. I already know that the Oropeza family will be a strong family in this church that will be leaders and will send their boys on missions. It was days like Saturday that made all of the sacrifice, frustration, and hard work of the mission worth it. I've been extremely blessed and fortunate to be in the position I'm currently in and to have had the
experiences I have had thus far on my mission. Just makes me want to continue to do my very best because you never know who may be on the other side of that door.



The Oropeza Family


Elder Barrus, Pascual, and Elder Garcia

The District 
Besides the baptism we've been working hard to refill the teaching pool so we can continue this wave of momentum. On Sunday we stopped by a guy we talked to about a month ago named Kevin who we gave a Book of Mormon to. He came out a little bit drunk and started going off on how everything related to Mormonism was wrong because there's a depiction of a white Jesus appearing to the ancient inhabitants of the Americas in the pictures section. He talked about racism and how we are racist and how he will grow up telling his son that Mormons are racist and not to associate with them. And then he said "Your belief in a white Jesus is ruining the future of this country!"  We honestly didn't say much to him, we both were just shocked by how bold he was. I wanted to point out a Book of Mormon verse that says:

"...And he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his
goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white,
bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and
all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile."

But ni modo, I wasn't upset, just amused at how passionate some people can be about simple things.

That's about all from here, look forward to hearing back from y'all next week!

Elder Barrus
THM

Monday, August 28, 2017

Transfer Calls--We're Both Staying!

This email is from July 31, 2017

Last night we got the transfer calls but Elder Garcia and I are staying together for one more transfer so I get to continue imparting my wisdom with him. 😀 We've got things rolling here and are excited to reap the harvest over the next 6 weeks.

To start out we finished teaching Pascual and Oscar the lessons on Friday and he understood and liked the commandments. He's been listening to the Book of Mormon every day at his job as a welder and is now in Jacob. We've seen such a change in him. His whole countenance has changed since we first met him. He came to church for the fourth week in a row and is ready to be baptized this Saturday with his son Oscar!

Also on Friday we visited a Venezuelan family that had been coming to English class and it went super good! They talked about their transition from Venezuela to here and how they had to start at square one economically and socially. But we shared 2 Nephi chapter 1 verse 6 that talks about how those who come to this country are brought by the hand of God. Neysi, the mama of the family loved that scripture and how after it talks about the Lord prospering those that keep His commandments. They committed to come to church and Neysi actually ended up coming and loving it.

That's really all the noteworthy things that happened this week but I'll try to include some better stories and stuff next week.

Elder Barrus
THM

Exchanges with Elder Hunt. I love this guy!







"Why I Believe" Fireside

This email is from July 24, 2017

Well, this week I think I officially hit 6 months til I get home. Elder Garcia's been whipping me into shape and we've been going running 2 miles every single morning for the past week. It's been rough but it's made a difference already.

This week was business as usual and Pascual is still the man. He's been telling us about the changes he's seen in himself since we started meeting with him and even his wife agreed. The wife never lies! As well we met his oldest son Kevin this week. He's really shy but he's super open to learn more and change his life. He'll come around. Pascual even referred us to his neighbor Jose though! He told us he's not much of a church person but that Pascual raved about how we were helping him change his life and be a better husband and father and he said he was down to learn more. So we'll go back this week to see what's up.

Today we got a text from the Honduran family telling us that they didn't feel ready to be baptized and are going to discontinue receiving the discussions and coming to church. They didn't really tell us why but we'll try to stop by this week to get the story.

Lunch with this cool family--the Arredondos

Boris at the "Why I Believe" Fireside
Also on Sunday we went to an English "Why I believe" fireside that was pretty darn cool. At the end I noticed a Venezuelan guy from the audience that looked kind of familiar and he came up to me and said he remembered me! His name was Boris and way back when I was in Katy, Elder Sellers and I visited him once and then could never get back in because he was super busy. Come to find out that he's going to be baptized this Saturday. I guess you'll never know the impact of your missionary service until later sometimes. That taught me how critical it is to know our role and be true disciples day in and day out, regardless of the numbers or immediate results.

Elder Barrus
THM

Bowling with the District

Monday, July 24, 2017

Another Super Good Week Here in the Heart of Texas

This email is from July 17, 2017

Hey y'all we had another super good week down here in the heart of Texas. We definitely saw the Lord's hand and were able to set 6 baptismal dates in our area for the month of August. First was with Pascual and his son Oscar. They were both really excited to accept the date of August 5th. We can definitely sense that they are changing and showing fruits of repentance. When we asked Pascual's wife what this meant for her family, she told us that she had been praying for her husband to change and a few days later we showed up knocking at their door. We are also working with 2 of their other sons, Kevin who is 18 and Francisco who is 14. They have expressed interest, it's just a matter of helping them know how to receive an answer from God.

As well we were able to set a date for August 12th with Reyna, Tatianna, Angie and Antony. We held off on officially setting one with Nelly and Horacio just because they still aren't super set on getting married. Nelly told us on Saturday that if she sees a change in Horacio, she'll marry him.

Zone Leaders at MLC
On Friday I went on an exchange with my ZL comp Elder Cammack and it was awesome! He's from Idaho and we have a lot of the same interests. We knocked doors for 3 hours in the 100 degree heat and definitely felt the heat. But this summer doesn't feel as bad as last year. Maybe I'm just used to it. People out here are usually pretty nice and offer us water bottles even if they're not interested in what we have to say.


Norberto
On Saturday I went back up to Waller to attend Norberto's baptism. He's come a long way since when I taught him. He's definitely shown a lot of faith and humility, even if plenty of family opposition and challenges during it all. I already know he's going to be a great leader in this church.

And to top it all off, on Sunday we had 8 of our investigators come to church which amounted to 13 people who came if you include the children under the age of 8. It was a really rewarding sight especially after having worked so hard during the week. I'm really enjoying the mission and know that these last 6 months are going to fly by as we continue to pound the pavement and build relationships with the members in the ward.

-Elder Barrus

THM!

Monday, July 10, 2017

One of the best weeks I've had as a missionary.

Hey everyone! This week went by lightning quick! We saw some amazing miracles and can't wait for what's in store this week. Our week was one of the best I've had as a missionary. 

To start off, on Monday we had a lesson with a guy who we knocked into named Pascual. He mentioned the previous Friday on the doorstep that he was looking to grow closer to God. We came back for the return appointment on Monday to find out that his wife is already a member! She was baptized in a El Salvador but never went to church when she got to the United States. As well they have 5 boys, Kevin, Francisco, Oscar, Angel, and Eric. We taught all of them except for Kevin and they already have a special place in my heart. They fed us after our lesson with them on Wednesday and Pascual brought 3 of his sons to church on Sunday! He loved it and so did they. Next week they're planning on the whole family being able to get work off so that they can go to church. We are going to set a baptismal date with them this week. Their last name is Oropeza, so if you could keep them in your prayers I would appreciate it!

The family from Honduras that came to church the week before is doing well. They weren't able to make it to church because they worked, but they said that won't happen again because things didn't go well because it was on the Sabbath day. We are working on getting the Horacio and Nelly married. They don't want to, but we are praying and fasting that their desires can change!

As well on Thursday we met President Petersen and his wife and they were super awesome! Really great sense of humor, genuine, warm, down to earth people. I know that they were called of God to lead this mission and will do a great job.

Anyways, that's all for this week folks. Hasta pronto!

Elder Barrus
THM