Tuesday, January 17, 2017

It's Just the Rain "Es Que... La Lluvia" ⛈☔️

So this week we had a lot of good stuff happen. To start, Karla, Carlos, and Yadira all passed their interviews so they are good to go for their baptisms on Wednesday! As well on Tuesday we had our Spanish Leadership Council and President dropped some fuego on us as a Spanish program. He showed us a chart that portrayed the baptisms in the Spanish program since 2014, and there has been about a 12 percent increase since then. It has grown, but he shared with us his feelings about how we are not where we should be. So we talked about showing more faith to find and being more unified across the board. It was a pretty remarkable meeting to be a part of. President has this fire and passion that is kinda scary but at the same time builds so much faith. I don't even know how to explain it but I am grateful to be a missionary in the THM at this time because of the great things happening here.

As well, on Thursday we were eating with an English family that referred us to their Hispanic neighbors, so we stopped by and they let us right in and fed us. Then they told us that they wanted their kids to start coming to church and mutual, and wanted us to share a message with them. We didn't have time but we are going back there tonight with a member so we are excited!

As well, on Saturday we stopped by another family that let us in and gave us food also. During all of this they were asking a ton of questions which is always good. So it's nice to have that happen for a change instead of a plethora of excuses as to why they can't listen to us.

But all in all things are so good. I'm so grateful to be a missionary.

Elder Barrus

Exchanges with Elder Tidwell

The Fruits of Repentance

This email is from January 9, 2017

Finally got around to posting a picture with the great Christmas tree the ward sent. Tell them thanks!
We had a double baptism on Sunday, so that was pretty cool. Francisco and Elizabeth came through in the clutch and passed their interviews in time so they could both be baptized in the same service. Great things are happening here in Waller and I am so grateful to be a part of them.

Double baptism:  Francisco and Elizabeth. Elder Marquez came up from Cypress to do the baptism.

Elizabeth's baptism

The Coll family came up from Katy for the baptism
Anyways, highlights from the past week:

On Tuesday we had a lesson with Elizabeth and she let us take her coffee and tea from her kitchen so it wouldn't be a temptation for her. As I think of an investigator that is sincerely showing the fruits of repentance, I think of her. She kept every single one of the commitments that we gave her. No hesitations, no complaints, no justifications, just pure faith and determination to do what the Lord would have her do. It has made me think of my personal discipleship, and how dedicated I am in doing everything the Lord would have me do. As well, she's already doing missionary work, which is such a blessing. We'll probably have her go knock doors for us and teach the people she finds. Next up are her 4 kids. They are a little rebellious, but one of them came to the baptism and I think we can reach all of them, it will just take a little bit of time and patience.

Francisco has been meeting with missionaries off and on for a little over 2 years. At times he has been a little bit difficult to work with because he has some personal beliefs that have been hard for him to change, but over time the Spirit has softened his heart enough to get baptized. But we can't really take credit for his baptism, nor any other baptism because it's the Lord that's doing His work in accordance with His timing. As well the members of the branch have been instrumental in working with him. Last Sunday, after our branch mission leader Hermano Alvarenga took him home from church, Francisco told him he wanted to be baptized on Sunday, January 8th. So we asked him what had changed, set up an interview, he passed, and was baptized on Sunday. Really truly a miracle.

That's about all that happened this week. Y'all should send an email my way when you get a minute, It'd be cool to hear something about the outside world that isn't related to politics or religion. 😅

Elder Barrus

The famous Weller baked potato. I promise there's a potato under there somewhere.

P-day with my old district who I will miss dearly.

This is His Work

Note to everyone: Josh's snail mail address is Elder Josh Barrus, PO Box 1113, Waller, TX 77484  

Also, this email is from January 2, 2017

Tuvimos una semana muy buena porque muchas buenas cosas están sucediendo aquí en Waller pero desafortunadamente pocos pueden entender esto. (We had a very good week because many good things are happening here in Waller but unfortunately few can understand this.) But anyway, we got the transfer news and Elder Wells and I are going to be staying together for another transfer! Really pumped because we work well together and we'll be able to see the fruits of our labors in the next few weeks. But here's an update on those with baptismal dates:

Elder Wells and I in Waller
Elizabeth is doing really well. Last week she told us she wanted to change her baptismal date to the 8th of January instead of the 24th so we kicked it into high gear and taught her 5 times. Teaching the plan of salvation to her was kind of weird because she's already been to the Spirit world once before in her life so she was able to teach us what it was like. Pretty cool. She is definitely showing the fruits of repentance and has the desire to keep all of the commandments in order to have a closer relationship with Christ. As well she's been sharing her testimony of the Book of Mormon with people who are going through a rough time about how it brings peace and joy to her life as she reads it.

Yesterday we had 8 investigators come to church and it is very possible that 7 of those will be baptized by the end of January. We are still working as hard as possible so we can help build the kingdom of God in this area as we help the Spanish branch become a ward. I actually gave a talk in the Spanish branch yesterday and it lasted 20 minutes. The gift of tongues and the Spirit is real because I never talk that long in front of people. Not historically at least but I guess that has changed.

One thing that I really enjoy about each new area I arrive in is the opportunity I get to ask the members about their conversion stories. Our branch president told me his last week and it's pretty remarkable to see how far he's come because he got baptized only 6 years ago. He told us about how missionaries came to his door when only his wife was home and she told him about it and he wanted to listen because he always listened to people talk about God. He worked a lot so he canceled a lot of appointments but the missionaries were persistent and kept trying to invite him to various activities. He always told them that he would go to church, but was always drinking on Saturday night, and Sunday was his only day to go shopping and spend time with the family, so he almost never went. Eventually they invited him to a baptism and he went and really felt the Spirit strongly. He eventually agreed to be baptized, but didn't really have a testimony of the Church, Book of Mormon, nor Joseph Smith. But he had a testimony of the Spirit the missionaries brought, so that was enough to lead him to the waters of baptism. 

Eventually he gained his own testimony but talked about the challenge new converts face, especially those who are Hispanics just because of the different lifestyle they lead in this country, which is mostly focused on working, partying, and sending home money to their families in other countries. But I continue to be amazed at how God truly is bringing to pass "a marvelous work and a wonder" in these the latter days. Seeing lives change as sons and daughters of God make necessary sacrifices in their lives in order to follow the Savior is something that has changed me. I know with all of my heart that this is His work and that Jesus is at the head of this Church.

Elder Barrus

This is pretty typical of our area.

Our Zone

King of Kings (Rey de Reyes)

This email is from December 26, 2016

Honestly had a superrrr great week out here in Waller. A lot of great things happened and we saw some Christmas milagros (miracles).

The District with Christmas Tree

On Wednesday we had our mission Christmas conference and it was a blast. President Mortensen gave an inspired training on shepherds that blew my mind. He walked us through the story of the nativity in the Bible and had us call out the attributes of the shepherds. There were a lot, but mostly talked about how we are like shepherds and shepherds lead sheep to water. So helping people progress towards baptism is symbolic of shepherding. He also shared a diagram that I will attach below that shows how critical it is to help people understand the covenants that they have made or are planning to make with God. He also showed us how we finished the year with 550 baptisms as a mission, which was 50 short of our goal but still a huge improvement compared to the last few years. But other than that we watched The Nativity, ate good food, and played some fun games.

The Mission at Christmas Conference

Christmas Conference games

New socks for Christmas!
Thursday we got a text from the Benedicts, a senior missionary couple serving in the branch saying that they set a baptismal date with the 3 Hernandez kids for January 18th! So that puts us at 4 heading into January with potential to set 2 more with Enrique and Deseret. Some really great things are happening in Waller.

On Saturday we visited a lot of people and ate Christmas Eve dinner with the Contreras family.

Sunday, I was able to talk to my family and it was good to see them. We visited a lot of people and got fed barbecue by a really nice couple when we were out knocking doors. All in all it was a good Christmas and I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ full time for 2 years. I hit 11 months tomorrow and I am striving to give my all every single day so that I can look back on these 2 years with no regrets.

Merry Christmas!
Elder Josh Barrus

A Savior is Born

This email is from December 19, 2016

This Texas December weather has me confused. Saturday was really hot, and then on Sunday it was like 36 degrees. But all is well here in the land of Waller, Texas.

It was cold

But anyway, we had a huge miracle happen this past week. We received a referral from a member in Pasadena and she was as golden as the calf the children of Israel worshipped while Moses received the 10 Commandments. We taught her on Wednesday, and she told us of her experience she had while she went to church in Pasadena. She felt the Spirit very strongly when she took the Sacrament and felt a peace come over her that she had only felt once before, when she had an out of body experience. She wanted us to teach her kids so we did on Saturday and they were receptive. She came to church on Sunday and had been reading in the Book of Mormon, so we gave her a baptismal date for January 24th! We are hoping to be able to baptize all 4 of her kids with her as well but we'll see.

Francisco texted us on Tuesday and said that he didn't feel ready for his baptism because he didn't want to receive financial help from anyone else. So we kept trying to help him see that it's a faith issue rather than a money issue but he's still pretty set on his way. So we will keep working with him and hope that he softens up and something gets worked out.

Other than that, not really too much happened besides the usual stuff but things are going really well and I am so grateful to be sharing the message of the Savior's Atonement this Christmas season.

-Elder Barrus

We got a new Toyota Tacoma truck.