Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hello from....

El Paso, Texas still. Ha, ha, but I think that I told you all that I was staying here. I just moved to another part of the city. It's a bit of a bummer to not cover the whole world anymore but what can you do? It's been a little bit of an adjustment to get used to teaching families again but I like it. We have a lot of recent converts here, more than I've ever had in a ward that I've worked with before so that is kind of cool.
 Mostly what we've done this week is get ready for the baptism that we have this Saturday. Her name is Felicity and she is 16. She's really cool and like family history a lot. I'm not entirely sure how she found the church but she showed up at church one day and said that she had been reading the Book of Mormon, knew that it was true, and wanted to get baptized! That certainly doesn't happen every day! She's a really good student as well.
 Unfortunately after Felicity gets baptized though we'll be back to square one with investigators. Ha, they all got themselves baptized before I got here. So we'll have a lot of finding to do in the near future. I have a feeling though that this transfer is going to go quickly, it just seems like there is going to be a lot going on.
 My new companion like I think I told you is Sister McKendrick, Sister Bowen's first trainer. She's from Logan, Utah and lives on a legitimate ranch. Like her parents are ranchers and her dad specializes in horse shoeing. So it's pretty cool. Ha, whenever people ask about us though I'm just like  "Yeah... I study advertising. I would love to work in an office all day doing creative design and copy writing." But, hey, what can I say that's what I want to do.
 So you know how UTEP was military and students? Here it's military families. Like 90% military and 10% people from El Paso. So there's a pretty heavy influence. People say things here like "Roger" and "10/4" and "Dinner is at 17:30" so it's cool. It's interesting how the families are similar to the single military people but also different.
 So yeah, not a lot going on this week so far, sorry to be boring but I promise interesting things will hopefully come around soon. We've had some cool experiences though with being in the right place at the right time. Yesterday we were walking down the street and a couple in a truck pulled over and the guy says "Hey! Are you Mormon?" and we said yes, so he said "So and I! I just got home from Afghanistan today! Want to come to our house for dinner next week?" so that was pretty cool.
 The other family we have been working with a lot recently is an excommunicated member of our ward who is getting re-baptized next week. It's been a really cool experience actually and seeing him talk about his experiences and how badly he wants to be a member again (you have to get a lot of different approval to be re-baptized) and how excited he was when he finally got the good news had had me thinking about the joys of the gospel and the blessings of having the Holy Ghost with us. The member reminds me of the embodiment of 1 Nephi 8: 10-12. I know usually when people talk about those verses they talk about sharing, which is good and important of course, but I have been thinking about the gospel being "most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted." A lot of times, when we have a spiritual experience not only is it sweet, but it is just a taste. We want more and more of it! A few weeks ago Sister Bowen was obsessed with the Tree of Life in Nephi and The Tree of Life in Genesis and if they were the same. Well, I had never thought about it before, but we found a scripture that make it seem like that was the case. Lehi's tree of life was a representation of the literal one in Genesis. The one that allows us to live with God again. So here on earth, we have these tastes, these little experiences that help us and guide us to the literal tree of life. Exaltation, immortality and eternal life forever with God. To help us remember what we want and to one day have the happiness we feel from the Holy Ghost forever. Anyway, thinking of them together was interesting. So, I don't know if these crazy ramblings made any sense but, hopefully so!
 Anyway, I'm happy summer is almost over so it won't be in the 100's anymore and I think we all know fall is the best season anyway! Happy back to school everyone!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

This week Diana and John got baptized! Yay!!

 I was totally going to send you some pictures but I forgot to bring my camera cord, so maybe next week. The services were both very good and both of them got their temple recommends at church on Sunday so hopefully they can go do baptism's soon. John is even going to stay until next Sunday so his friend Ricky, our Elder's Quorum President, can ordain him. So that will be really cool.
 Other than that we really didn't do too much, mostly just finished teaching them the lessons that they needed and going to interviews and stuff. And most of our other appointments cancelled. We had zone training too, which was good.
 One super funny thing that did happen this week was that it was Sister Bowen's birthday! Kind of. On Wednesday we had dinner with John and Ricky at Olive Garden. It was the girl at the table next to ours birthday and so of course they announced it and sang to her. Well, then John and Ricky got the idea to tell our waiter that it was Sister Bowen's birthday too. She kept telling him that it wasn't so they didn't do anything but they mentioned it every time he came over and they even threatened to announce it themselves if Sister Bowen wouldn't let them sing to her. She took away all of their knives because they were threatening to clink them on the cups to announce it.
 That evening we had a lesson with John and Ricky and Tony and we told him about what had happened. So he suggested that we announce it over the intercom in the barracks and ask everyone to sing ha ha but that didn't happen either. John also tried to get us to take all of the ice cream in his apartment as a birthday present.
 Well, then on Friday after our meeting our zone was having lunch, and the Redd and Restler Elders came out of the kitchen with a cake and started singing happy birthday to Sister Bowen. They had also, completely unrelated what had happened on Wednesday, without even knowing about it, decided to pretend it was her birthday too! So then of course after that, every day since has been her birthday. It's been pretty funny.
 This week we also had dinner at the senior couple in our ward's apartment and we managed to find our that he used to be a mission president (we had suspicions but they never said anything directly). So they told us lots of cool stories about that and a lot of random cat stories too. So if you ever want to know any funny cat stories let me know.
 Something that I have been thinking about this week is obviously baptism but in relation to that Moroni 8: 25-26 and Moroni 7:43-47. They talk about how we have to be meek and lowly in heart in order to have the Holy Ghost. And how the Holy Ghost will give us faith and hope and that hope will give us charity, which is the pure love of Christ. But also how we can only retain that through prayer and diligence (Moroni 6:3). Anyway, I know that we always talk about enduring to the end but I just love how much of a logical process this is. We have faith and we want to repent, we repent and we want to get baptized, we get baptized and we get the Holy Ghost, in order to keep the Holy Ghost we have to be meek and lowly of heart and have determination, those characteristics lead to Charity, which is what makes us Christlike and worth or and wanting to have the Holy Ghost. I don't know, maybe that doesn't make sense but it makes sense to me and it's my spiritual thought so that's really all that matters!
 Well, I hope you all have a fantastic week! Talk to you soon!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Mexican Coke?

So, let me start with the coolest news first, both John and Diana are planning on getting baptized this Saturday! So this week will involve a lot of prep work to get all of that done. John is also moving on Tuesday to Las Vegas so then I promise you all won't have to keep hearing about him. The crazy thing though is that Sister  Bowen is also from Vegas and he is going to be moving into her old YSA ward. 

This week we also visited John at the hospital and it was pretty much the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. He had some kind of nose surgery and when we arrived he was still pretty heavily sedated. The nurse told us and his other two friends who were there from the base that we had to try to get him to stay awake so that he could go home. It didn't work out too well... He would wake up, we would have a crazy conversation, and then he would fall back asleep. He kept asking us about where the grey table was that he put his important stuff in and whenever we told him that there wasn't any table he would get super mad at us. He also had us pray with him and asked me to tell him a story but he fell asleep in the middle of both. He told us about the friend that he took to the airport that morning, who was on his way to Afghanistan and every once in a while after someone would say something he would say "You have to say in the name of Jesus Christ amen!" Ha, the nurse also had us spoon feed him Jello and he kept falling asleep and then waking up and being super confused. When we taught John his second to last lesson yesterday we also had to show him what a baptism looks like by watching one on The District because there hasn't been one that he could go to so who knew, those videos are actually useful sometimes.  

This week we also had a lot of authentic Mexican food this week and even the authentic Mexican Coke. You know what's kind of a bummer though? I'm not really that crazy about it. As Sister Bowen said, "I'd rather have New Mexican food than Mexican food and Taco Bell than Taco Cabana." But... what can you do? I'm starting to be really grateful for seafood and fish though. 

We went to a suicide awareness/ prevention class this week. Now before you start freaking out, it was something one of our members was doing for a ward activity. It was a condensed version of the one that he teaches for the military. Man, that would be a rough job, to just teach suicide prevention all day every day. The class was good though and our member who taught it looks exactly like Matt Meese from Divine Comedy/ Studio C, so that was a little weird though.   

Other than that though it's just been a bit of the same old same old. We had to teach chastity twice this week... I'm convinced if you can successfully make it though a chastity lesson with a YSA investigator you can successfully manage any other conversation in life. Especially if after you talk about it one of the investigators says "Yeah... I don't believe in families. I think they're just kind of a waste of time." um... oh...  

Elder Guymon, or "Jacob" as he's now known, who I and half of the zone here served with in Albuquerque (seriously, everyone here has been to the west side) was wandering the mission this week so we all had to avoid him (we're not supposed to get together with old missionaries) and secretly look for him. Ha, ha poor Sister Bowen. Everyone we talked to was telling us "did you hear Elder Guymon is in town?!" and she was finally like "Who is this guy! Why is he so great!" And... I won a game of Monopoly last p-day, so you know, nothing new. 

Here since we usually go out to eat it can be hard to share a spiritual thought or a dinner message, so usually what we'll do is read a scripture or two and then talk about it. We like to play a game though where we share something and then we have the member share with us. When we played earlier this week a recently reactivated member told us about when he was a kid and his dad would open up to a random page and have him guess who was speaking. He talked about how he got to know the different prophets personalities and speaking styles. I thought that was a super cool idea. I mean, even though Mormon is abridging most of the book in The Book of Mormon, each prophet still has different "specialties" or things that they emphasis and there are lots of excerpts that are quotes from them. And the Bible is written by loads of different authors.  I know that a lot of times we read through the scriptures and don't really take into account that these are real people! And not only are they real, but they are different people. When we look at Nephi and compare him to Alma and compare them to Daniel, we see completely different personalities, even though all of them were prophets. Anyway, I thought that it was an awesome idea and a cool and new way to study the scriptures more. So, try out the test, have someone open to a random page and see how you do. I know that I want to practice more. 

Well, I hope you all are doing great and have an amazing week! 



Sunday, August 2, 2015

we have a problem with Slurpees.

This week Sister Bowen and I learned that we have a problem with Slurpees. In the three weeks that we have been together, we have gotten them three times. Always we blame the heat and often we use the excuse that we can talk to the people inside (which we do, don't worry!) but, we have recently made a decree that it is getting out of hand and have banned slurpees for at least the foreseeable future. As you might have guessed, this is what I have been reduced to talking about because it seems like not a lot has happened this week.
 This week we had a lesson with our investigator Karen who is obsessed with the second coming. She is afraid of / excited for all of the fire and brimstone and all of that. She also love The Book of Mormon but, thinks that if she just believes it in her heart that is good enough and she doesn't need to go to church, get baptized, make and keep covenants etc. So, it's a work in process. It's crazy how many people don't' seem to believe that we have to actually do things here in this life. That if we really did believe it in our hearts that our actions would follow. I guess I never really realized  before I started understanding more of what other Christians believe how unique the idea is that Heavenly Father put us here for a purpose, to learn and become better. Not to suffer and grovel for his forgiveness so maybe we can make it back to heaven. Not that forgiveness isn't a part of it, but it's an entirely different mindset, which makes a big difference.
 This week we also had exchanges, Our STL's are Spanish speaking again but luckily I got to stay in our "English" area. We had a lesson with one girl who can understand English but can't speak it. So she couldn't talk to me and I couldn't really talk to her because I didn't know what she was saying. So.. she and Hermana Espinoza had a lesson... We also had a lesson with Diana. I don't remember if I've talked about her before but she and her sister are dating members, one of whom is in Brazil on a mission. She has a date for the 8th and so far things are going well. We were able to teach the word of wisdom which in my opinion is the trickies lesson because so many people have trouble with it and she really doesn't have many concerns, and she said that she is excited to get baptized, so that is good. Hopefully her sister will come more too. I have a slight concern that she's doing it more for the boyfriend than for God but hopefully I'm wrong.
 Oh, I also had shawarma this week. It tasted exactly like a gyro. I honestly don't even know what the difference is. So it was good but I was a little disappointed that it wasn't more, I don't know, different. There are a lot of interesting places to eat around here and I think I told you that we go out to eat a lot so hopefully I'll get the chance to try some more interesting food. I also went to Texas Roadhouse for the first time. I told Sister Bowen that I was just waiting to go because I knew subconsciously that someday I would be in Texas and that's where you have to have it.
 John continues to be super cool. We had a lesson with him on Thrusday and were planning to put him on date for the 14th of August. He told us though that he got his discharge papers that morning and would be going back to Las Vegas on the 3rd, after his surgery the next Thursday. We were kind of bummed but he said that he wanted to continue to meet with missionaries when he got home so that was good news at least. About an hour later though on his way home he sent us a text and asked if it were possible for him to get baptized on the 1st before he left. And that his friend Adam who referred him to the church wanted to fly in for the service. Ha, ha so we said yes of course but then started freaking out when we realized how soon that was and how much more we had to teach. So we may or may not have texted him the Word of Wisdom (because in order to get baptized you have to be living it for a certain period of time) but don't worry, we actually taught it on Sunday and because He's awesome he was fine with it all. He found out yesterday though that he actually doesn't have to leave until the 12th so naturally his new date is the 11th. Probably the best FHE activity every right?!
 We did a few hours of service this week helping a recent covert and her daughter Raven helping them get ready to move They are moving into seriously the middle of nowhere. It takes almost 2 hours for us to get to their new property.
 We also had interviews with President Miller this week. When we told him that we had 16 investigators he asked what our secrets were. Ha, an area the size of Canada? Too bad too a good number of them aren't progressing. He also told me to read the mission library so I've started that. I only have two of the books but they're the long ones and I'm sure it won't be hard to find the other two.
 This week I gave a talk in sacrament about finding happiness in the gospel so that's what I've been thinking about recently. There's a cool scripture in psalms 126:3 that basically says "The Lord has done good things for us, and we are glad". I talked about how we need to remember the happiness that we've felt before, focus on gratitude, recommit to consecration, and become brand loyal to the gospel  (that's how you work consecration and missionary work into a talk secretly). It really has had me thinking though, Heavenly Father wants us to be happy, that's his goal for us. All we have to do is look for it and act on what we need to bring it to us.
 Anyway, I hope you all are doing well and have lots of fun summer plans. Happy soon to be August!
 oh also, attached is a picture of our church building. It's not a great picture, I just took it real quick to show you what it looks like so I'll have to take a better one later. I guess it's actually the first LDS building in Texas. It kind of reminds me of a cathedral.