Tuesday, July 21, 2015

let me tell you about John, the coolest investigator since sliced bread.

So sorry if the e-mail ends up being a bit short, I had to write kind of a long one to our hero President Miller so I'm a little short on time.

First let me tell you about John, the coolest investigator since sliced bread. I think I told you a little about him last week, we met on base and his friend from Utah referred him to us. He went to Church last week and we talked about the Gathering of Israel. Well, we were supposed to meet with him on Tuesday but he and his friend ended up getting into a car accident. Everyone was fine but, it kind of messed up the plans for the day. We rescheduled though to meet with him on Friday and it was great! He told us that he has really bad anxiety sometimes because of being overseas and so he was really worried when he got into the accident because he didn't have any medicine with him or anything. He also said that he friend (who was driving) got really mad and started getting mad a God for what happened. "How could you do this to me?!?" etc. John said "I was thinking about how we were talking about missionary work in church and to share with people, so I told my friend that she should read The Book of Mormon. I admitted that I hadn't read it yet but that I had heard a lot of really good things about it and had a good feeling about it." And then he said that after he shared that everyone started to calm down and he was fine even though he didn't have anything for his anxiety with him. What the! Who is this guy? That's actually the second time though I've had an investigator say "I just had this feeling that I should share this spiritual thing so then I did." Man, I wish I was cool enough to not only recognize but to act on promptings like that! And then he went to the YSA dance that night, the church clean up the next morning and the activity after and took off work to go to church the next day. So, here's the problem, he's moving in a month! Ah, the curse of the YSA ward. So, we'll just have to work fast right?!

This week we also had dinner with a recently reactivated member. He told us that when he left the church as an early teenager President Hinkley was still the alive. And then when he started coming back to church President Monson was the prophet. He was telling us how he kept wonder "Whatever happened to the Hinkley guy?" until finally someone told him. I don't know, it was funny when he told it, ha ha. The other crazy thing though is that we were talking about where we were from and Sister Bowen told him that she was from Nevada. He said "Oh, I know someone from Nevada, we used to work together. His name is Aaron Thomas." Ha, and I was like "His name is what?!" But, turns out that it's a different guy. So Aaron Thomas I know has a doppleganger running around Nevada somewhere.  

We had a bit of a set back with a few of our other investigators. One of them didn't understand the Word of Wisdom and then was mad that we had to move his baptism date and another one "Wants to be baptized, but isn't sure if he wants to be Mormon" but hey, set backs are just another day in the life right? Oh the up side, we had a good pass off lesson with a girl named Anna. She has a coworker who is a member of the church and when she asked him how he keeps his skin so soft he told her because he follows the word of wisdom. When she asked him what that was he said to ask the missionaries and here we are, teaching about the word of wisdom, and other things... Ha, strangest referral ever but hey, it works.

Oh, I have also learned the Souper Salads is a very disappointing place to eat. It is pretty much the salad and soup version of Pizza Pie Café. I strongly suggest avoiding it, if you get the chance. Also, Chubby's is a fantastic place to eat if you get the chance. As far as I know, it only currently exists in El Paso but, if you see it you should go.

As far as a thought for the week, something that is good and bad about a YSA ward is that it has a good number of recently returned missionaries in it. That's good because it means that people are missionary minded and are willing when they can to come out with us. It also means though that we hear a lot of "Well.. when I was on my mission, we did it this other way!" So I have been thinking recently about stewardship, revelation and the order in which Heavenly Father does things.

We had one member pull us aside after church and tell us that we were doing our job wrong (according to her) and that if people in the ward (including her) decided to be less active it would probably be our fault. Interestingly enough, that's actually the second time on my mission I've had someone say something like that to me, although for different reasons. So, maybe that means that I'm really an apostate missionary driving people away from the church, I guess that could be true, but probably what it means, is that we need to stop and think about stewardship, and who has not only the right, but also the duty to say something like that. First of all, not a random ward member, but someone who has keys to missionary work and the stewardship over this area. So, my companion, the ward mission leader, the bishop, the stake president, the district leader, the zone leader, or the mission president.

But, I think the same thought can be extended to how we view all church callings. As part of sustaining leaders that means that we also sustain and respect their stewardship. And as part of magnifying our calling, it means that we will do all that we can to help and recognize those that fall into our stewardship as well. Of course that doesn't mean that other people can't have good ideas or help, or anything like that, but it does mean that they are not entitle to revelation on how things should be done. Which means that, in the end, the decision has to come down to the person who (as long as they are living right and doing all they can) has the right and obligation to receive revelation, make corrections, and make decisions for that area.

Anyway, a long and rambling thought but hopefully it makes sense!!

Love you all and talk to you soon!


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

When you're going from 93 to 103, it's really not that big of a difference.

Hello from Mexico!! Oh, I mean, El Paso, Texas! It's kind of like the same thing though, you can literally see Mexico from here and everything is in English and Spanish. Speaking of which, I am trying to learn a little bit of Spanish stat to help me out around here. Any advice bilingual friends?

 So this week has been a bit crazy. Last Tuesday I went to three transfer meetings. The first one was at 7 in the morning, when I found out that I was going south. After that we all got in a van and drove 4 hours down to Las Cruces where I went to another transfer meeting and found out I was going south again. So five our us got into a truck and drove another hour to El Paso where I went to another transfer meeting and found my new companion. I also found out that I'm back up training this transfer, which means I either did a good job last time or a bad job, ha I'm not sure which. Sister Bowen is great though, especially for only being 6 weeks out! So I think things will go well.

 We cover the UTEP University ward, which as you probably guessed is YSA. Our ward boundaries are huge! We have 2,000 miles a month! We cover three zones and two stakes. It's actually pretty similar to the boundaries of the Armar YSA ward but its crazy that two people cover that alone, one of which has only been out for 6 weeks and the other one who just got here a week ago! Our ward also covers the army base here Ft. Bliss, and so our ward is probably 40% military, 40% university students and 20% just other YSA's. It's an interesting mix but I like it. It's actually really fun to be able to work with and teach people your own age and when YSA's say that they'll do something they usually actually do it! Oh, I also use the word ward generously. We technically are but we probably have about 75 active members. And, it's even more transient than a regular YSA ward because of the school and the base but, I think that things will be good. They're also not afraid to invite or talk to their friends about the gospel. We've already had like 10 referrals since I've been here, which is more probably than we had all of last transfer! But, every ward has it's strengths and weaknesses. We don't get fed a whole lot and usually when we do it's pizza or Chipotle or something. And it's hard to get member presents because they are always studying or out doing something. But, I have a good feeling about this place.

 Also, don't listen to the crazy people that tell you it's so hot that it will melt your face down in El Paso. It's only about 10 degrees hotter and honestly, when you're going from 93 to 103, it's really not that big of a difference.

 This week we picked up two new investigators, one of whom is doing great! He was actually given to us by a friend of his in Utah, who somehow found our number and called us. After getting lost at FT. Bliss (it's fine, it's just a military base, no one looks at you weird when you're wandering around...) we had a fantastic first lesson with him. When we told him about the apostasy he said "Oh! So that's where all of the other Christian churches came from!" Yep! Didn't even have to explain that. And he even came to church on Sunday! Ha, I felt kind of bad though because our Gospel Principles lesson was on the Gathering of Israel, which can not only be kind of confusing but also is all about missionary work, and then the third hour lesson was on temples. When we asked him how he liked it after he told us "I was super confused. I thought I was in a temple this whole time but I guess not." So, bummer, but now we have more things to talk about right?

  I also really like whenever we get the chance to teach military because they totally get authority and how if you don't have that authority, it doesn't matter what you do, it's pointless.

 We also had some great contacting experiences this week. Who knew that such a thing was possible right? We went to try and contact a referral who wasn't home but we decided to talk to his neighbors instead. It took us two hours to finish the street because of how many people wanted to talk to us and we were able to pass off 5 referrals. So that was pretty cool.

 As far as a spiritual thought goes, I read something in Deuteronomy today that I have been thinking about. It's chapter 8 verses 3, 17 and 18. Which is similar to Mosiah Chapter 2 verses 21-26. It talks about how we are nothing compared to God, how He is the one that gives us everything, even our bodies and our breath. And yet the only thing that He asks of us is that we keep His commandments, which He has only given us in the first place so that we will have guidance, find happiness, and be able to become more like Him. How incredibly selfless is that! There is a quote by Elder Maxwell that says "Consecration is the only surrender that is also a victory." It comes from the talk Settle This in Your Hearts", (which I will admit that I haven't read, I saw the quote at the beginning of "The John Tanner Story" but it looks good so you should all ready it). All Heavenly Father wants for us is what's best for us. We don't always believe it but it is always true, and He promises that if we ask Him, He will confirm that to us. My goal is to always believe what He wants is what I want too, and then to act on it.

 Well, I hope you all are doing great! Talk to you soon!

 Love, April

PS the picture is a random tree we saw. Yep, this is Texas.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Today is my last day in Rio Rancho.

Today is my last day in Rio Rancho. At least for the next 6+ weeks. Tomorrow is transfers and I'm getting myself shipped off to somewhere new! Ha, every time we go somewhere since we found of Saturday Sister Markus says "Last time....." like, "Last time talking to people on 2nd street..." So, we've had a lot of "Last times" in the past few days. I did keep telling people that I knew Heavenly Father was just waiting for July to send me down to El Paso but I'm hoping that that's not true! I'm kind of crossing my fingers for Santa Fe because it sounds cool but of course where ever will be great.

This week we did a lot of service. Rio Rancho has a weird weed ordinance where if a city officer notices that you have weeds in your yard you get a warning and if they aren't cleaned up by a certain amount of time (I think 2 weeks) you get fined for it. So lots of people need help weeding, especially older people. This week we did a few hours of weeding and then we helped a member in our ward lay the ground for a gazebo they are building, that was kind of fun. We were hoping too to be able to help another member to lay some tile but it didn't happen. We were able to have a really good experience with our weed pulling service though. Our Spanish Sister tracting into one of our do not contact members who accepted the offer for the 4 of us to come weed. I knew her since she had become a do not contact soon after I got here and we were able to help her and set up another time to see her again! So service does soften hearts, who knew (ha, probably everyone)!  

This week was also as I'm sure you all know Independence Day. It was a pretty regular day for us except that we went to our ward's BBQ in the afternoon and watched a few fireworks with some of our members in the evening. Most of the exciting stuff happened after we went home though since it really doesn't start getting dark until around 8:30 and we had to be home by 9. We were a little worried though that our neighbors were going to burn our apartment down since they were lanunching stuff towards the roof. Thankfully though, it didn't burn down and we are all still alive. Oh, we also went to 3 BBQ's this weekend and were invited to another one so we probably won't be eating hamburgers and hotdogs for a while. That reminds me, did I tell you that last week I had pizza 5 times? It's weird, it's like every once and a while everyone just decides that they need to make the same thing. Something in the water I guess... 

Our ward mission leader also got released this week, which I would be more bummed about if I was staying around, He was awesome and it's always sad to see a go leader go, but we met with the new one yesterday and he seems like a really good guy that is going to do really well. The only challenge for him though is that he only moved into the ward about a month ago. So Sister Markus will get to teach a new comp and a new WML all about the ward, ha she will do great though. 

Well, that's about all we did this week, a few lessons, including my first drop lesson where we dropped the investigator (usually they just ignore us until we give up) which was so much like a DTR you would have thought we were back at BYU, but that's about it. Speaking of BYU, we had our apartment inspectors come by this morning. We forgot about it until last night and them we were to buys to clean so we had to do it in the morning. It wasn't bad but especially with getting all my stuff packed up it reminded me of the end of the semester at school where you're trying to pack, do finals, finalize your storage and all of that and your landlord comes by to inspect your apartment, which you promptly forget about until the morning of. Not to worry though, it went fine. 

Well, I hope you all have a fantastic summer and continue to do awesome thing! For my thought I'm going to steal the quote and question that President Miller sent us today. “If we teach in the manner the Lord has prescribed, he can send his Spirit to edify and enlighten those whom we teach. If we do not teach His way-if we teach according to our own knowledge and according to our own intellect, and if we slavishly tie ourselves to our own preparation or to someone else’s wisdom or text-our teaching ‘is not of God.’….
If we rely on debate techniques or sales methods or group psychology, we are preaching the gospel in some other way, and it is not of God…
Intellectual things-reason and logic-can prepare the way, and they can help us in our preparation. But if we are tied to them instead of to the Spirit of the Lord, we are not teaching the gospel in the Lord’s way.
The Lord stressed that truth when he said: ‘Put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good-yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit’ (D&C 11:12)
This is the way we must teach the gospel”

My question for you, “Why is it so difficult for most of us to believe the Lord will speak through us?”

I don't know why it would be hard for us to believe, maybe because we feel like we aren't worthy, or maybe because we don't understand or recognize how or when it is happening. Maybe we are too afraid to try? Whatever it is though, I promise that the Lord will speak through us if we let Him. When I first came out and first started talking to people, I wanted to know why I didn't always know what to do or say. God says like a million times in D&C open your mouth and it will be filled, and other such similar things. And here I was with no idea what to say, I felt like my mouth was open and nothing was happening. Someone in one of our meeting though talked about prompting of the spirit though. When you think of a prompter, like in the theater, it doesn't give you every word, it only gives you a few, to get you started. Then you do the rest yourself. In the theater of course it is something that you have memorized but, the Spirit works the same way most of the time. It will get you started, but because the purpose it for us to learn and grow, it wouldn't do us any good to just be told what to do all the time! You'll get what you need and then you do the rest! 

Anyway, talk to you all soon!