Monday, December 18, 2017

Unexpected Miracle at Whataburger

It’s pretty hard to wrap my head around the fact that I only have a few days before I hop on an airplane and say “Hasta La Vista” to Houston.(Hispanics don’t actually say hasta la vista. Except for my first day in the mission when a guy said it to us and I thought it was normal and then said it a lot until people made fun of me for saying it.)

I pretty much spent this whole week teaching Elder Gibby everything I know about being a missionary and how to convert the whole world. (Which actually never happened but either way I’m sure he’s learned something from being with me.) He’s 6’6 also and when we go knocking people are pretty intimidated by us. Especially those who are still in the process of being full American citizens. They open the door and have the look of “what did I do???” on their faces. It’s pretty great.

But to start things out on Monday we went to Whataburger with a youth in the ward who’s getting ready to go on a mission. As soon as we stepped out of the car we ran into an old friend of his named Jose who sat with us and asked a few questions about the Church while we were eating. He ended up telling us that he has been going through a hard time and has been looking for God in his life and feels that we were his answer. We set up another time to meet and he is interested in learning more about the Church. That was a cool unexpected miracle.

Also on Monday Elder and Sister De Hoyos of the 70 came and did a mission tour. They talked to us about how we can improve as missionaries and it was really spiritual. Learned a lot really.

Then on Friday we went to Perla and Sergio’s wedding. It was performed by our beloved bishop, Obispo Calderon and later when I saw him he told me “Make sure you get married in the temple so that I don’t have to do this for you.” It was one of those “Sir, yes sir” moments. We feel that this is an opportune time to teach Sergio about having an eternal family.

Anyway, my spiritual thought for the week is about how the Gospel can help us become something, rather than just to know or do something. We can be anything we want to be. We need not define ourselves with labels or stereotypes when we have the potential to be like our Heavenly Father.

Elder Barrus
THM

Two cute little girls, Xochi and Beyonce wanted to take a picture with us.

 TJ Pogroszewski came to the mission and took us to Raising Cane’s on Friday

Monday, December 11, 2017

Which Side of the Line Do We Stand On?

Hey y’all, today has been a little crazy because today we had a mission tour with Elder De Hoyos of the Seventy so our P-day started a little later. That's why I am sending this a little late.

This week was pretty sweet though. We saw tons of miracles and worked really hard. Also, my new and final companion in the mission is Elder Gibby from Brigham City, Utah. He’s a little shy and reserved but he looks just like Bruce R. McConkie so that definitely makes up for it!

But anyway, on Monday we visited a referral we had received from some English missionaries for a guy from Colombia named Armando. He is married to a member of the Church from Texas who doesn’t speak a whole lot of Spanish. It’s kinda funny too, because he doesn’t speak a whole lot of English. But either way he is really open to learning the truth and has really insightful questions that definitely keep us on our toes. But we also invited him and his wife to come to Oakcrest’s Christmas party on Friday and it was a huge success! Not only did they come, but as well Armando’s sister’s family came too and seemed to really enjoy it. In addition to them we had at least 10 other non members come to the party as well as many less active members. So the activity was a huge success and we will be trying to work with those who came and see if they have any desire to learn more.

On Tuesday we were able to teach Perla and Sergio even though they are very busy getting ready for their wedding this coming Friday. Sergio asked us if he has to give up coffee. We asked him what for and he said “to be a part of all of this.” So we decided to teach the why of the commandments in addition to the word of wisdom to help increase his understanding of that particular commandment. He is getting close to knowing for himself that these things are true.

On Wednesday we ate dinner and taught the Restoration to the husband of another couple that we’ve been working with and it went super well. He seemed to especially like learning about how he can use the priesthood to bless his wife and son and how families can live together forever through the same power. He’s committed to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, and knows that when he receives an answer, it means that he has to keep other bigger commitments.

On Thursday, we saw a huge miracle. While driving to an appointment, we noticed a new trailer park that we’ve never seen before. We made note of it and later in the day decided to knock it. After we knocked every door on one of the streets, we headed back towards our car to grab some more Books of Mormon. 

We passed a house that we had already knocked but no one had answered. We saw a car in the driveway, so we knocked it and got let in by a couple from Honduras. As we began to talk to them they began to tell us about their strong faith that they have in the Catholic Church and we noticed that they had a large painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe. We didn’t expect them to really show much interest in our message, but we continued to listen and eventually we asked them a question that sparked their interest: Why are there so many churches if Christ only established one? We taught them about Joseph Smith and the Restoration and they were in shock after we shared the First Vision. The wife began to cry and explained to us that this was the first time her husband had ever listened to religious missionaries and she’s been praying for a long time that he’ll show interest in learning about God. She said she felt something stronger than anything she’s felt before. She now knows that God answers prayers and she and her husband are going to read the Book of Mormon and pray to find the truth. We know that the Holy Ghost can soften hearts and work miracles, even amongst those who are hard headed and stuck in their ways of tradition and comfort.

That more than anything has been a testimony that I have gained throughout my mission. That God is real. That he does answer prayers. That through Him, miracles are wrought. That His son Jesus Christ stands at the door knocking for that moment when we are ready to open the door and receive Him into our lives. That even if we have once accepted Christ into our lives and then cast Him out, that He will always come back in if we let Him. I also know that God is perfectly just and perfectly merciful. And that if our repentance is sincere and thorough, that we can be cleansed through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 

There are those who may doubt or even mock these words. However, we must be careful to follow the words of the Lord’s prophets, regardless of how unpopular in the world’s eyes it may seem. There are countless stories in the Scriptures of times where individuals and families were saved and protected as they hearkened to the voice of the Lord and His servants. And that those who didn’t hearken didn’t have that same measure of protection, that added measure of strength and comfort. So we must always look in the mirror and evaluate ourselves as to which side of the line of we stand on: the Lord’s side or the world’s side.

Anyway. I love all of you. Stay strong.

1: Picture at transfers with my second son Elder Broschart, born in the wilderness

2: We took this on Friday after district meeting. You can barely see it, but there is snow on the rooftops behind us

Elder Barrus and Elder Broschart after Transfer Meeting

After District Meeting

Anyone have a Persian Book of Mormon?

This email was sent December 4, 2017

Wow was this a wonderful week or what? Last night I finished my second to last transfer in the mission and have officially started my final transfer as a missionary. Kinda feels surreal to me but life will always continue on. But now for the highlights of this past week.

On Monday night we stopped by a potential family and we got in. They admitted that they had seen us walking around in their neighborhood and were kinda curious as to what we did as missionaries. We talked for a bit and shared the “Light the World” video. Here’s the thing though, they searched it up on YouTube and hooked it up to their TV, and right after it was done playing an Anti-Mormon video started so we had to quickly explain that that wasn’t a church sponsored video. But we set up a return appointment and we’re excited to see where it goes from there.

On Wednesday I did an exchange with Elder Fitt and we taught Francisco and Leslie and it went super well. They had read 4 chapters in the Book of Mormon in only a matter of 3 days and said they felt good when they read it. They weren’t able to make it to church but we have high hopes for them!

On Thursday we moved apartments because our lease expired. We moved to another unit in the same complex, so the floor plan is basically the same, just updated with brand new carpet and paint. That took probably half the day because we also had to clean our old apartment but afterwards we did some visits and taught English Class.

On Friday afternoon after district meeting we got a text from a young part member couple in our ward asking if we could come over for dinner. We gladly obliged and the husband who is not a member seemed different. Before when we talked to him he was fairly closed off and serious but now he’s more relaxed and opened up. I think it has something to do with the fact that him and his wife just had a baby 4 months ago. He told us that he’s ready to start taking the lessons and praying to find out if all of this is true. If he were to get baptized he would have some pretty strong family opposition, but if God tells him what he needs to do, he’ll do it no doubt.

On Saturday we ate dinner with a couple from Iran who comes to our English Class each week and it was fun. They don’t speak a lot of English and we don’t speak Farsi or Turkish so it was hard to communicate but all in all it was fun. We are going to try to find a Book of Mormon for them in Farsi because they are Christians. Super nice people.

That’s pretty much all I’ve got. I hope that everyone is doing well. 
Nedi and Touri from English class

Elder Barrus
THM

Thanksgiving Report

This email was sent November 27, 2017

Welcome to another edition of my weekly email featuring an exchange to one of my old areas, a national holiday, and more trouble with the city of Tomball!! You won’t want to miss it.

Where to begin? We had quite a few appointments set up at the beginning of the week that fell through. But that’s fairly common in missionary work. You find people who say they are interested but then when you come back for the next appointment they are nowhere to be found. I suppose this whole mission thing is a big lesson on persistence.

On Thursday morning we got together with some ward members and their friends to play some football. I didn’t do that last year, and it was really nice to run around and throw the pigskin again. I’ve definitely lost a step or two though, I might need a personal trainer when I get back to help whip me into shape. Then we cleaned up and got ready for our Thanksgiving dinner with the Flores family. I even made pumpkin pie from scratch to bring. It was about 20 minutes in the oven away from being perfect but that’s okay, it still tasted good and no one(to my knowledge) got salmonella poisoning.

After that we went out visited a few people. One of them was Pedro, someone we’ve been working with for awhile now. We had to tell him that we couldn’t continue coming by because he and his family hadn’t been reading the Book of Mormon or coming to church. It was sad because he said a couple times “You guys aren’t going to come anymore??” We’ve become really good friends with him so it was hard but I think it was for the best because I’m sure he and his family will be more ready to act sometime down the road when missionaries stop by again.

On Friday I went on exchanges to Waller with Elder Hadley after district meeting. We taught a couple of lessons and visited the Contreras family. It was really good to see them again. Apparently Hermano Contreras fell from the roof of a trailer about a month ago and hit his head on the concrete, but he’s doing a lot better now. They will definitely be a family that I’ll visit after the mission.

Then on Saturday we exchanged back and went to lunch with a good friend of mine named Aaron Moya whom I met on the mission. He was able to give me some pretty good advice for when I go home. But more than anything he told me to continue doing the small and simple things like reading the scriptures daily, praying, and going to church. As well as to take the things I’ve learned on the mission and apply them to my normal life.

On Sunday we went to ward council meeting and the whole theme was basically about missionary work. All of the members of the ward council committed to provide at least 1 referral for the missionaries to teach in 2 weeks. We are pretty excited because member referrals are infinitely easier to work with than people we knock into.

As well in Sacrament meeting Yami Oropeza, Pascual’s wife, was asked to share her testimony with the congregation about the ward’s temple trip they took to Dallas on Saturday. She and Pascual were able to do baptisms for their grandparents who have passed on. That was a special experience that brought a tear to my eye because this is what the Gospel is all about. It’s not so that we as missionaries can pad our stats or say we taught and baptized a lot of people, it’s so that families can be linked together for forever, on both sides of the veil. I know that La Familia Oropeza’s entire eternal destiny was changed the moment they decided to join the church and strive to be faithful to their covenants. It has been such a special privilege to have been involved with their conversion process. They have become family to me and I will never forget them.

To finish out, on Sunday night we stopped by some English missionaries’ apartment around 8:45 to visit Elder Sobotka and Zaugg to pick up some English Book of Mormons and pass along cards. We were only there for about 15 minutes but when we went back outside, our car was gone. We didn’t park it underneath the carport spaces and there are no spaces for visitor parking in that complex. So we thought, either our car got stolen or towed. But we had to spend the night with those missionaries because the apartment complex office didn’t open until the next day and we didn’t know which towing company had our car. But today we got it all worked out and both Elder Broschart and I now only need to split a measly fine of $210 for the amount it cost to pick up. I am now planning on writing the mayor of Tomball to complain about how I’ve been marginalized and discriminated against during my time in this city. Just kidding, I don’t have time for that. But anyways, love every single one of you and hope that tow truck companies lose their power to tow whoever they want whenever they feel like it.

Elder Barrus
THM


Lunch with Aaron Moya

Exchanges with Elder Hadley
One of the part member families we visit just finished the Dave Ramsey
Financial Peace University course. I thought you’d like to see this, Dad. 

The Week of Turkey

This email was sent November 20, 2017

Howdy güeys! This week we have Thanksgiving and fortunately we only have 1 dinner appointment. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful but having multiple dinner appointments in the same day is a real chore. Sometimes people of Spanish descent view missionaries as Tamagotchi pets that need to be fed mucho. But I can’t complain. I’d much rather eat mucho really good food than not eat.

And then this week we spent a lot of time visiting less active young single adults. It was a really good experience being able to work with those that have strayed from the church a little bit. Many of them talked about wanting to come back to church. I love finding and teaching new people as much as I enjoy rescuing the wandering sheep of the church. Yesterday at the YSA branch a member talked about how he spent a few years out of the church and how much those that reached out to him during that time helped him. More than anything it takes a lot of love to help others get from where they are to where they need to be.

As well we’ve been working with Francisco and Leslie and they told us they’d come to church. They weren’t able to make it but they have tons of potential.

We also received some referrals that are very promising so we will visit those this week and see if we can get some more people progressing again.

De todos modos, hope y’all spend some time being grateful for what you have!

Elder Barrus

THM

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