Tuesday, February 24, 2015

We did the Sealing

So this week was craziness! We had probably more appointments fall through this week than ever before, so that was kind of disappointing, but the weekend was super awesome so that made up for it. This week we did service as a zone at Road Runner, which is a food bank. By the way, real road runners are super weird looking. We repackaged rice and sorted produce. Part of the repackaging rice process involved sealing the new bags closed. The Elders offered us the sealing job first because it was the only time we were going to be able to have "sealing power". Ha, it was fun though, not too difficult and we got a lot of rice repackaged what with all of us. It's kind of funny though because that's almost the same service project that we did when I was in the MTC on Thanksgiving. 
We had an interesting lesson with Gerard this week. We taught him the plan of salvation. Apparently he thinks that agency is like a terrible thing. He doesn't want free will and wants God to just make him do what he wants. So, that was a dynamic that didn't exactly expect to encounter. 
Thursday we had dinner with Aurora and Miguel and then took them to a baptism that the Elders were having so that they could see what it would be like for Miguel that weekend. Aurora was totally in tears during the service, it was awesome. Miguel also got his interview afterwards and it took like 45 minutes! It was kind of fun though while we were waiting we (Sister Stokes, Aurora and I) got to talk to Elder Guyman and one of their investigators who was with them. It was kind of cool for them I think to be able to talk to different missionaries and get to know more of us. Elder Guyman also apparently has a friend in the Everett mission. I don't remember her name but I think that he said that she is in Mill Creek right now.
Saturday was insanely busy but good. We got up early and went to the meeting with Elder Holland, which was legit. It was kind of funny though, we had a lesson earlier in the week where we listened to a devotional Elder Holland had given at BYU in 1999. Ha, he looks a little older than he did then! He talked a lot about how we need to become more converted and about how Preach my Gospel was designed to convert the missionary so that they would not only know what to do, but want to do what needed to be done for their investigators. He also talked about how we as missionaries (in general, not mission specific) don't teach with enough power and authority. About really thinking and realizing that God Himself has set you apart and given you the power needed to do His work. And then acting on that. He also threatened to track us down if we ever left the church and break our windows and mess with our thermostats and make our lives a living nightmare. And how of all the people who leave, while all are devastating to God, having those that have work with Him as shepherds for His sheep is even more so. Also apparently when he was shaking our hands he interviewed us by looking at us? I don't know, that's what he said. But, No one said they needed to talk to me after the meeting so I guess I'm not doing too badly!  
After the meeting we booked it over to Mathew's baptism. He is Donna's (one of our investigators, part member family) son. She was totally baling her eyes out seeing her husband baptize her son. It was awesome! Which I know is what I said about Aurora at the Winner's baptism but I don't know what else to say, it just was awesome! We are meeting with her (Donna) tomorrow so, that should be a good lesson. 
We then had two lessons, one with Daniel where we talked about families and then one with our new investigator Tom, which both went pretty well, and then came back up to the Stake center for Miguel's baptism. Aurora gave the opening prayer and we had his primary teacher and then a friend of Aurora's gave the talks and we (Sister Stokes and I) sang "Lord I would Follow Thee" and Brother Walker baptized him. It was a funny contrast because Brother Walker is like 6'6 and Miguel is like 5'2. But the service went well. Miguel also talked a little about how he met the missionaries, which I think I told you before, and just his thoughts on being baptized. He is a super spiritual little kid. I'm really just super happy and excited for him. 
We also had a dinner that night with the Smith's and their neighbor Carol who we've gotten to know a little bit. We were super pumped to teach with more power and authority and we totally did. We talked about The Book of Mormon and modern prophets and God's love. I was getting teary eyed, Brother Smith was getting teary eyed, heck she was even getting teary eyed! But... she still said no to our teaching her more. So that was disappointing but... what can you do?
Sunday we were able to take Miguel to the Living Legends devotional which was pretty cool too! 
Well, that's about all I've been up to recently. I hope things are going well with you. It's kind of crazy to think that we are almost in March! 
Talk to you next week! 


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Living Scriptures Rock

Well, this week I actually remembered to bring my planner so let’s see if anything interesting happened, ha ha.
Well, at our last Zone Conference our old Zone leader came to visit (last transfer he went home). It was cool but kind of funny too because we were like "Hey! Elder Taylor! Wait.. What is your name?" Turns out his real name is Justin but it was too weird to call him that so he just got called Taylor. Ha he also sent us a picture of him and President Miller at a Lobos (the local basketball team) game. Psh, President Miller, gets an I-pad, gets to go to basketball games..... ha ha. 
Something was clearly in the Taylor Ranch water this week. We had breakfast for dinner five times! I'm pretty sure every night we had a dinner scheduled we had breakfast for it! So, it's a good thing I like eggs an pancakes! I've never had something like that happen before. We really just get pretty normal food here, except that everything has green chili on it. Although I'm sure it gets weirder once you’re out of the city. Transfers are coming up soon so it will be interesting to see if I stay here or not. I'd like to though, Daniel and Rebecca are getting baptized on March 7th and I'd be mad to miss that! Speaking of which, they are awesome! They've been talking a lot to their respective parents and Daniel's mom is even considering having missionaries come by. 
We also got some crazy soup this week. One of the guys that we visit used to be someone's person chef and a lot of times when we go over he gives us some food. This week he gave us some peach puree, chicken noodle and vegetable soup. It was pretty good, you couldn't really taste the peach flavor in it but it made it sweet so it was interesting. He also gave us some Conference rolls to go with it that we accidentally turned into sour dough rolls. We sort of put them out to rise and then forgot about them over night. So they tasted like sour dough rolls. Still good but not exactly what we were planning! 
We had a lot of really good lessons this week, people are progressing really well and it's always cool to see their growth. Valentine’s Day was fun, go figure that no one wanted to meet with us since it was also a Saturday and a long weekend, but we went to dinner that night with Rebecca and Daniel and they were super awesome and brought us chocolate covered strawberries. Rebecca was telling us too about how apparently her doctor told her she wasn't allowed to exercise as much. Her resting heart rate is too low! She is super into exercising though, she goes to the gym for like 3 hours a day!  Did any of you do anything fun?
Sunday we went to visit a less active member and her daughter and granddaughter were there. She mentioned how she had these church videos up in her closet. They were called like Living Scriptures or something?? Ha, anyway we were like "Yes! Watch those! They are legit!" He granddaughter also drew me a picture of the two of us (her and I) teaching people about God together so that was actually kind of cool. 
Well, that's about all that I can think of that happened last week. This week is looking pretty good with lessons and we finally have some service to do (I keep telling people, let us do service for you, I want to wear pants but they never seem to believe me). And then we are of course having Mathew and Miguel's baptism on Saturday after our meeting so it should be pretty cool! 
Something that I have been thinking about this week has been how we are always in debt to God. I read this week Mosiah 2: 21-22. How after all that he has given us if we were to serve Him with every breath that we have we would still be unprofitable servants. And yet all He asks is that we keep His commandments, which are created to bless us and to bring us closer to Him and help us feel His spirit more anyway! Nephi somewhere in 2 Nephi talks about how everything God does is for the benefit of mankind. So not only is it His work and glory, but He doesn't even do anything else ever unless it is something that will help or bless us! Talk about love! God doesn't care that we are unprofitable servants because He loves us. It's not about getting ahead or even getting even with what He has given. It's about giving us everything that He is able. And that ability to receive it or not really depends on us. This week we have done a few little things to help us become better missionaries and better Disciples of Christ. And almost immediately we were able to see blessing and benefits from it! Every little effort we put in is rewarded! I can't even believe how much we don't deserve that! No one celebrates our righteous successes more than Heavenly Father!

Anyway, I just thought that was cool. Well, hope you all are doing awesome and being all that you can be and all that. Hope to hear from you soon. 



Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The sunsets here are pretty cool

So, bad news friends. I forgot to bring my planner with me today, which I usually write notes in of the interesting things that have happened. So this week you only get to hear the really memorable stuff I guess because all I have to go off of is my own memory! 
So we have a pretty legit looking day planned for us in the near future. Miguel is scheduled to get baptized on the 21st of the month! That's also the day that Elder Holland is coming to speak to us and our investigator Donna's son is getting baptized that day as well! So, it should be pretty awesome. 
This week I also heard a crazy story about a couple that met in our ward. They're 18 years apart! So, she was serving a mission in Chicago and he was in the area that she was serving in. Apparently they didn't super like each other but the start of the last week that she was there he thought that he should ask her to come back and date him. She told him he was crazy and he told her to pray about it. And... they got married like a month later and have been married for 30 years. It doesn't sound that crazy writing it out but when they were telling it, it was crazy. So sorry to be anticlimactic. 
This week we spent more time at the doctor for Sister Stokes so I took the opportunity to think about writing in my journal. Ha, no I did write in it but it takes soooo long to do! I'm so far behind. On Saturday though I got sick as well but, we still went to all of our appointments and followed all of the mission rules. I threw up all over the sidewalk on our way out of an appointment. It got cleaned up, I got febreezed down, and we were on our way to the next one. Although (this is a little gross so you might want to skip it) as crazy letter of the law as Sister Stokes might be, it's not everyone who would clean your puke up off of the sidewalk for you so that it doesn't dry out (it's really hot and dry in Albuquerque by the way, sometimes it creates so problems). So, that was a fun day. 
We had something super crazy happen to us yesterday, we were walking down the street and we saw a guy walking his dog. We stopped and talked to him for a bit and he looked at us and said "You know, you should really call my girlfriend, she used to be a member and has been thinking about coming back. She said that if she saw missionaries she would do it and you are the second set we've seen so I guess we better get on it." And then he gave us his number too because apparently he is thinking about getting baptized. So, that was crazy. 
I don't remember if I told you this already but the sunsets here are pretty cool. Part of it is because of the flatness, there is just a lot more sky to look at and change colors but most of it actually is because of the planes that are always around here. There are always planes flying around and the trails that they leave pick up the colors from one area and pull them into the next as they travel so the colors of the sunset are much more blended. I tried to take a picture but it didn't turn out too great. Sadly, there is only so much that you can do with a few seconds and a point and shoot and minimal skill. 

Well, that's really all that I can remember that happened. I'm sure something else super legit went down and as soon as I send this and leave I'll remember but, I guess that's what I get for forgetting my planner! Ha, all of the days blend together; I can't always even keep track of what day of the week it is. 
Did any of you read Elder Holland's The First Great Commandment talk? If you didn't you should read it, it is awesome! What I have been reading about this week again and again is the idea that Christ talked about when he said "They draw near to me with their lips but their hearts are far from me" While he was talking about the teachings of other denominations and practices, I have been thinking about how we live in our own personal lives. It's easy to recognize that something is good and right and that we need to do it and to tell that to other people and to even tell that to ourselves, but to actually do it, is another thing. To actually become as Christ like as we can and continue to do and be all that we can is something much harder and much different. And it requires a lot of work and a lot of humility. President Uchdorf's "Lord is it I" talk is one of my favorites, and it is all about that. 
Anyway, hope you all have a good and exciting week, a fun Valentine’s day and that you had a good and fun Austria day and New Zealand day! 


Sunday, February 8, 2015

We got two new investigators this week, yay!!!!

Every week I feel like a million things have happened, but whenever I come to write to you about them I forget! So, let's see... 
We got two new investigators this week, yay!!!! One is Sister Ritter, her husband is less active but is interested in coming back and his wife is interested in learning more. The lesson we have with her went really well. I have a feeling she (or they? not sure) may have a hard time stopping smoking, but the stop smoking program worked really well with Aurora and you know, with God all things are possible and all that so I have confidence but I know it will be a struggle for sure.

Speaking of Aurora, we saw here last night a set a new date for Miguel. She wants some more time but recognized that he is ready and really wants to be baptized so she is willing to let him be. Honestly, that kid is the coolest kid ever. He is going to be like a spiritual giant someday. I don't remember if I told you or not but he actually came up to the missionaries and was like "what are you doing? I want to you teach me and my mom." He reminds me of one of the awesome young people from scriptures. Mormon was what, 10 when he was called as a prophet and Joseph Smith was only 14 when he had the first vision. Sometimes I think that we discredit our youth because they don't have all of the world experience that we do. But, God's wisdom isn't the wisdom of the world is it? ha ha
Oh, something else funny that happened this week, I got to give a talk in a meeting with President Miller. Every week at district meeting someone gives a 5 minute talk on some topic that the District Leader assigns. Anyway, this week I was asked to speak on my purpose as a missionary as if talking to a nonmember. And apparently President Miller randomly decided to come to our district meeting. So, that was weird but don't worry, it went relatively fine. My companion got to do a role play where she had to teach him about the law of chastity so you know, could have been worse! 
This week we have had a lot of random things come up so we have been doing a lot of those. We had to go to the doctor for a while for Sister Stokes, we had interviews with President Miller and all kinds of fun stuff like that. Also, the people that we have met with have been super chatty!
A few days ago we met with a less active member who told us that she was moving to soon assuming she passed the bar exam in the other state ( I want to say Tennessee). Well, I made the mistake of asking her what kind of law she practiced. The short answer is criminal law as a prosecuting attorney. But, and I am totally serious, that one question lead into three very depressing hours of explanation as to what she did and what she had seen and experienced. 
Oh also, totally random but if you are ever in Albuquerque on a Saturday night, apparently all the LDS people hang out at Dion’s. We went there and there was like 10 different families. By the way, Dion’s is good but not as amazing as people say. Kind of like the pizza version of Sonic. Also this week we had dinner with a family and the husband dubbed the Rhodes rolls "Conference rolls". He thought it was super funny when I told him I'd been calling them that for forever and that we call that juice from the cannery "Mormon drink/juice". Oh, last Sunday we were also trapped inside. You know how missionaries aren't allowed to be out and about during big holiday things like Marti Gras and whatnot? Well, we weren’t allowed to be out and about from 4:30 to the rest of the night because of the super bowl. How weird is that? 

Hmmm well, what sort of spiritual thought can I leave you with for today? How about this, read and ponder on these. 2 Timothy 3: 14-17, 1 Timothy 4: 12-16 and Elder Holland's talk "The First Great Commandment" and let me know what you think!

Love you all,