Thursday, March 23, 2017

Waller Ballers

So today for P-day we played soccer with a member down in Houston and that was pretty fun.

It's been a good week, a little frustrating because everyone and their dog was out of town for spring break but nonetheless full of miracles and edifying experiences.

On Monday we had an FHE with Wilson and set a baptismal date with him for April 23rd! He also said he wants to marry our recent convert Yadira so we'll see about that haha.

On Tuesday I gave a baptismal interview to the Oakcrest elders' investigator Wilson and was very impressed with his testimony and desire to be baptized and serve in the church. And then on Friday we get a text from the Oakcrest elders telling us that Wilson dropped his date because he got cold feet and a ton of opposition from his family. He said he needed more time. He ended up coming to church on Sunday and telling the elders he wanted to wait 2 weeks to get baptized so it's all good, but it made me think about what I would do if I was in a similar position. It certainly wouldn't be easy to have family members telling me they strongly disagreed with my religious views and that I was making the wrong decision, even if I knew the truth. But as well I decided it's important to have some backbone and stand up for yourself because there will always be opposition to that which is correct.

On Friday I went on an exchange with Elder Miranda from Peru and had a blast. I'm really impressed with how much better his English has gotten over the course of only about 4 months here in the States. He still struggles understanding African Americans and those with thick southern accents, but to be fair everyone has a hard time understanding those heavy accents.

On Sunday Norberto and Vanessa finally came to church! They have a lot of questions but we are hoping to set a baptismal date with them if we can get over the hurdle of "I've already been baptized." But they are a lot of fun to teach because they make jokes and they're real with us. That's the thing I've come to love about the mission, the relationships you form with people you don't know super well. As well as how much better it is to teach someone after you've gotten to know them and their situation. The more you are genuinely interested in the lives of others, the more likely they are to listen to what you have to say. Elder Blackford has taught me a lot about being homies with everyone and it's helped a lot with gaining the trust of members.

Elder Barrus


Splits in Waller

Where There Is No Vision, the People Perish

This email is from March 13, 2017

Whelp, we are already at week 5 of the transfer with no signs of time slowing down anytime soon. Elder Blackford and I are looking to stay together for another 6 weeks, but if not, it's been a good run. We've accomplished a lot and had lots of fun in the process.

To start, on Tuesday we tried to set a baptismal date with the Rivera family. They told us that they felt it was a little too quick, and that they wanted to be more sure that this was something they would commit to 100 percent before accepting a baptismal date. Fortunately we've been able to get back in with them 3 times since then and answered a lot of their questions and reassured them. Which was nice because they were very open with us. Usually it's hard to get those we're teaching to open up and express their concerns, but that hasn't been the case thus far with the Riveras. What's helped more than anything is the testimony of the members we've brought to the lessons to help reassure them. As missionaries we can try to reassure people until we're blue in the face, but nothing we say really helps until members step in and share a similar experience.

On Monday we started teaching a new guy named Wilson. He's dating a recent convert here in the branch and has now come to church the last 3 weeks. He shared with us his story about how he came to the United States 9 years ago from Guatemala, and got in with the wrong crowd. He developed some bad habits, but he's at the point where he wants to change his life so that he can live a happier life. So he's been very humble and more than willing to keep commitments, so we'll keep teaching him and maybe even set a baptismal date with him this week.

On Saturday and Sunday Elder Blackford got sick, so it was hard not being able to do as much as I wanted, but we still got out and knocked doors for a couple of hours on Sunday night.

Elder Barrus


Monday, March 6, 2017

I Can Always Feel the Spirit Confirming to Me the Truthfulness of the Message

Pues (Well)... we had yet another stellar week here in the land of many bueys (oxen). (Not to be confused with the endearing term "güey", as in "¿Que onda güey?" or "What's up, dude?). 

On Tuesday we went to MLC or Mission Leader Conference. I had heard that it's the best meeting in the mission, and that was confirmed. Super uplifting and full of inspired counsel from President Mortensen. Then, later that day we had a family home evening with the Sosa and Zacarías family and talked about the Restoration of the Gospel through the eyes of investigators. I've taught that hundreds of times thus far on my mission and it never ceases to amaze me how powerful and true the message is. I can always feel the Spirit confirming to me the truthfulness of the message.

On Wednesday we knocked on doors for a long time. We found a new trailer park which we had never knocked on before, but was unfortunately filled with mostly grumpy white people. On the last door before getting to our next appointment, we met this couple outside named Chris and Daisy. They mentioned that they had been going through some stuff and were looking for more hope and guidance. We were able to testify to them that that's the reason we were there. They were in tears for most of the lesson and told us that hours prior to our arrival they had been talking about how they needed to start going to a church. They took it as a sign from God that we stopped by and we are going back this week to see them.

On Thursday after weekly planning I went on exchanges with Elder Pogroszewski down to Louetta in preparation for Zone Meeting on Friday. I've always enjoyed his passion and determination to win in missionary work. He doesn't try to be diplomatic and non confrontational, but rather tries to win, to find those who are ready to be baptized. At the beginning of my mission I was always too afraid of offending people, of introducing something new like the church or the Book of Mormon, but now I realize how our role as missionaries is to teach and testify of the Restoration. If we go around to people and never talk about the Restoration, they're never going to have the opportunity to accept it. There's many that won't accept it, but we need to be bold and find those who will. There are a lot of good people who go to good churches with nice pastors, but not one of them talks about eternal families. Not one of them talks about continuing revelation to guide us in these difficult times. It's our job to help these people understand that their church and belief in Jesus Christ is good, but that there's more that God would have them receive, like an eternal family, and the ordinances of salvation.

Come Sunday, we were expecting a lot of our investigators to come to church. Every Sunday morning we go knock on the doors of those we are teaching so that they don't sleep in or anything like that. At 10 o'clock we went and knocked on the door of the Rivera family, and they were about to leave to take 2 of their daughters to Catholic classes as they're getting ready to do the 1st communion. They told us that they don't get done until 11:30, so they wouldn't be able to make it to our church at 11. We were pretty bummed about that because they don't even go to the actual Catholic Sunday services themselves, they just take their kids to classes, but they haven't been able to find anyone else who can pick their kids up from the classes. At 11:15, we get a text from them telling us to wait outside the chapel for them. They came for the first 2 hours and loved it. The branch helped them feel right at home and in Gospel principles talked about how they received answers to their prayers asking if the church was true. When the teacher asked Fabian, the father of the family if he had prayed about the message the missionaries share, he said he had, and he felt that it was true. Wow! We are sooo excited for them and are looking to set a baptismal date with them this week!

Elder Josh Barrus

Houston West North Spanish Zone Leadership

The Zone on a tractor we found
With our favorite new member (cholo), Carlos

Baptism Day

This email is from February 27, 2013

We had yet another rewarding week here in Waller. I just want to give a shoutout to my companion Elder Blackford. He works really well with the members and we teach well together and it's been an enjoyable couple of weeks being his companion.

Anyways, this week was packed full of meetings and other events that took a lot of time. On Tuesday we had new leadership training, which is  a revelatory meeting. We arrived an hour late because our GPS took us to the wrong TC Jester road. There are 2 TC Jester roads in Houston but they are pretty far apart. So that was a bummer but either way we've recovered since then and haven't gotten lost since.

On Thursday we went to the temple. It is always an awesome experience being able to attend the House of the Lord and help my ancestors receive the saving ordinances of the Gospel offered in the temple.
Missionaries in C Stat (College Station)

Exchanges with the man--Elder Wells
On Friday after district meeting we drove an hour up to College Station to give a baptismal interview because we were the closest Spanish missionaries who could give the interview. But the interview went well and afterwards we went to a phenomenal Taqueria owned by a member up there. Exceptional Mexican food and it is free for missionaries. I asked the elders serving there if they ever feel guilty about going there too often but the owner gets after them if they don't go very much throughout the week. That would be a good problem to have, I suppose.

Deseret, Enrique and Rogelio's baptism, along with the Contreras family

Baptism Day for Deseret, Rogelio, and Enrique

Enrique and Deseret on their baptism day
On Sunday Desire and Enrique finally got baptized. It was a spiritually uplifting baptism and the branch came out in big numbers to support them. The best thing about this branch is how unified and willing to help everyone is. If we ever bring investigators to an activity or church, the members always take initiative to help them feel welcome and invite them to their homes for family home evenings or other events. This week we are going to be focusing on three families who have good potential, who just have not been to church yet. That's the next step for them to help them start progressing so prayer in behalf of the Rivera, Guerra, and Flores families would be much appreciated.

Anyways, I'm loving the mission and loving all of the people I've been able to meet and work with thus far.

Elder Barrus

A New Companion in Waller

This email is from February 20, 2017

New companion--Elder Blackford
I got the news this week that Elder Blackford was being transferred to Waller and that was well received by both me and the members of the Waller 2nd branch. And so far so good. He was my friend, Victor Escudero's MTC companion and I've heard nothing but good things about his charisma and ability to get things done, which has proven to be true in just one short week. 

We've hit the ground running this week though. Even though Elder Blackford is half Filipino, he looks Mexican, so more people open their doors when we go out and knock on them. Pretty much everyone we talk to is walking on pins and needles because they are afraid of getting deported. It's kinda sad but we tell them that we won't deport them if they listen to our message. 😂 Works like a charm, needless to say. 

On exchanges with ZL comp--Elder Pogroszewski
On Friday I went on an exchange with my ZL comp Elder Pogroszewski and it was a straight ball. We knocked doors for 2 hours and it was entertaining because he has no fear nor chill and argues with people about why they should listen to us. We talked to one guy who had a beer in his hand and like a grand total of 3 teeth, no joke. He told us that he knew he was going to heaven when he dies, and Podge just says "Oh yeah? Even with that Miller Lite in your hand?" 😂 Later on in the evening we stumbled across these high school kids playing basketball outside and jumped in right there and played in our proselyting clothes and everything. I've already learned a lot from being around him and am looking forward to this transfer. 
We ate crawfish with Enrique, Deseret, their dad Rogelio and their aunt and uncle.

In other news, Enrique and Deseret are all good to go for their baptism this upcoming Sunday, so pictures from that are coming your way next week. We are also still working with the Rivera Family, we had a good lesson with them on Tuesday about the blessings of reading the Book of Mormon and how they can know that it's true. They are more than willing to keep commitments. They weren't able to make it out to church yesterday, but said they would come this next Sunday. We are confident that we can help them so they can be sealed as a family in the temple for time and all eternity. 

Mission life is good out here in Tejas. Shoot me an email when you get a minute. 🤙🏼

Elder Barrus

We stumbled across a Baptist church. No one was home though when we knocked.
The new district

Happy Valentines Day!

This email is from February 13, 2017

So transfer calls came in and Elder Wells is out. It's a pretty sad thought because it's been a good 3 months. It's been cool to see the change in this area because before Waller was considered purgatory but now it's blossoming. So I'm excited about the rest of the time I'll have here.

On Tuesday we were out knocking doors in a trailer park in the middle of nowhere in Hempstead and saw a guy working on his yard. We thought he was Hispanic, so we asked him if he needed any help. He didn't speak Spanish but invited us to sit wth him on his porch. I don't even know how to spell his name, it was a pretty long one. He was from Pakistan and spoke kinda broken English but he was really nice. He shared some of his Muslim beliefs with us and it was a positive experience. He wanted to get a Book of Mormon in his native language of Urdu. I've always wanted to baptize a Muslim so maybe he'll give us a call in a couple weeks asking to learn more. I've knocked into 3 Muslims, and 2 of them have sat down with us for 20 minutes and have had pleasant conversations with us.

On Thursday we had a lesson with Ivan and Hermano Bonilla. Usually when we bring members to lessons we are the ones who teach and we ask the members to share some of their experiences. This lesson was the complete opposite of that. President Mortensen calls Hermano Bonilla "the master of persuasion" and that talent was on display. He shared a lot of his experiences growing up and how glad he is that he changed and got baptized. His life changed for the better and now he's so much happier. It was really inspiring. The Holy Spirit was felt very strongly and Ivan committed to get ready to be baptized on March 4th. Then on Saturday we stopped by him and had a really good conversation and got to know him like he was one of my best friends. He really is a good kid and expressed some of his desires to serve a mission after he gets baptized. So I'm excited to continue helping him along his path to salvation and everlasting life.

On Friday we had our branch Valentine's party, and when we walked in, La familia Rivera that we hadn't taught for a long time was sitting down at one of the tables. They seemed to have a really good time and told their fellowshipper that they want to start coming to church!

Anyways, that's all for this week I think.

Elder Barrus

Creative Picture of the District

Buc-ee's is the Costco of all gas stations