Dear Family and Friends,
To begin, I'm 90% sure I'm getting transferred this week. The APs came down and dropped a hint that I'm going to the valley. So if you plan on sending me a letter while i'm in Yuma, send it by Tuesday (tomorrow). If not by then, then send it to the mission home. The mission home's address is: 1871 East Del Rio Drive, Tempe AZ 85282. I'll know my new address on Tuesday of next week (20th or 21st) and will be able to let you know sometime after that.
Transfer calls are next Sunday night and transfers themselves are on that Tuesday or Wednesday, not entirely sure which one. This transfer will only be 5 weeks long. For all the missionaries in our mission (the world?) who are serving right now, they will go home a week early. This transfer is what makes that possible. So looks like I'll be home July 1, 2014 instead of the 8th and miss my birthday by 3 days.
There was a gun threat at two schools this week. They evacuated everyone to the Stake Center parking lot and we saw border patrol cars and cop cars swarming the place. Should have gone in, there were so many people to talk to!
These last two weeks have been full of lots of tracting. For some reason for 1.5 of those weeks I didn't carry any copies of the Book of Mormon to hand out. In all that time in all our finding techniques - not just tracting - we found 2 investigators. It was getting pretty frusterating. Then durnig personal study this week I felt prompted to throw a few copies in my backpack (something I should have had the whole time) and as we went out that day we found 2, then 4 the next day, then 5 the next day. We found 11 people since Wednesday of this week, a massive increase compared to the 2 of last week. On Wednesday, we had taught 9 lessons, all with a member present. By Sunday night, we had taught 37 lessons with the majority being with members. Whew, I learned my lesson! As soon as I made that change we found tons of success. We had 8 people with a baptismal date and everything was looking great!
And then none of them came to church and they all fell off date. That was a pretty frusterating morning, waiting for people and havnig the rides we found them tell us they wouldn't come. So after church we ran over, dropped a few of them (stopped teaching) and went out to find people. By the end of the night we had found 4 people who had accepted a baptismal date - nothing short of a miracle. It's a little sad to 'know' that you're leaving and see all this success. We're working hard for it and I want to leave it better than I found it. We have a lot of really solid people we're teaching right now and we have at least one person with a baptismal date for every Saturday in March. That's the goal: to be baptizing weekly. The trick is to stay motivated and energetic because this week was pretty exhausting.
This week my personal goal was to be more bold with people. Last night was a pretty cool experience with that. We were teaching someone - very high, very drunk - who was complaining about all his problems in life and how he wanted to change. I told him that change starts now and "invited"/strongly encouraged him to pour out his 40 oz right then and there. He said, "you know what...." and turned around and poured it all over the ground. Pretty cool to see how as we raise to our callings and qualify ourselves we can fufill our callings and teach with power. Unfortuantely he isn't in our area but I'm excited to see what he can do.
We're teaching/were teaching someone who just wasn't doing anything. Last night we had a really bold lesson with him and told him that if he doesn't put in work, we can't help him. We asked him if he was willing to put in the work to qualify himself to return to live with God again and he said, "no." We were sad for him but happy that we could have put it in words that were clear and exact. We left him the copy we gave him some weeks ago and let him know that he can call us at any time.
Our miles in our car were cut from 1,000 to 900 for the month. Subsequently, we've been biking a lot more; everyday for about 10 miles. We ran into someone walking down the street the other day and he just started throwing down on organized religion and how it judges people. He compared me to Hitler haha. He got pretty upset and we were pretty frank with him about life and what we need to be doing. He told us that he had recently given up all electronics so that he can avoid worldly things. I pointed to the iPod he was listening to and asked what he quailfied that as. Maybe that was the wrong move, maybe not, but he flipped out. Went on for 5 minutes about how judgemental I was for pointing out his flaws and how Jesus would never do that. We told him that was exactly what Jesus did to the Pharisees and Sadducees (spelling?) and biked away to him yelling at us. Probably not the best street contacting experience we've had haha but definitely memorable.
En route to one of our lessons this week we stopped to talk to two women. An intended five minute mini lesson turned into an hour lesson. For 30 minutes we tried everything we could to leave but they wouldn't let us. They went on and on about how Jesus didn't get resurrected into a body because the body was what made the atoning sacrifice work and how he's a great spirit.Everytime we would show a scripture they would say, "now show me in my bible...". Turns out they were Jehovah's Witnesses and were trying on purpose to make us miss our lesson. They succeeded. We went and knocked on her door and turns out it was the wrong door. The guy there invited us right in and accepted a baptismal date by the end of the lesson. We stopped by our intended lesson later that night and met with her as well and she also accepted a baptismal date. Tender mercies...
Haha we tracted into this guy named Adolfo Castro this week. I don't think his parents thought those names through very well.
Highlite of the week was a baptism! I mentioned last week that I would tell a little more of the story this week. I'll just talk aboutt he baptismal service itself. She was very nervous when she got there and didn't want to take the "pre-baptism picture" in the jumpsuit so we took one with her in her sunday dress instead. The baptismal service was awesome. Great talks, great spirit, great baptism. She said afterwards, "I feel...so at peace." That defines the spirit that was there pretty well. Just...peaceful. Picture attached.
We had the opportunity to teach a family this week. They were very passionate about how deathbed repentance is ok. They quoted what Christ said to the thief on the cross. We taught a little about the spirit world and what that scripture meant in relation to post-mortal life. They started to understand it a bit more at the end. This was also the first family we taught that said that prophets weren't needed anymore since we had the Bible and since prophets only prepared the way for Christ. We had a nice conversation about how Christ is perfect and so is his church and how it is unchanging, just as he is. Showed her Amos 3:7 and some other scriptures. They didn't believe us about the spirit world so Elder Valdez pulled out 1 Peter 3:18-19 and she was awe struck at that scripture. I'm excited to teach them again, it's really pushing me to learn a lot more as well as finding more scriptural refernces for what we teach.
It's easy to get caught up in a lesson and forget all about the scriptures. President Howes says that in every lesson the scriptures need to be out, in hand, and open because the spirit can flow from the pages and that we need to be using them more than we do.
On a completely different note, in Arizona it's legal to sit in a truck bed while it's driving. We went out with someone this week who didn't have enough space haha. Picture attached. It was freezing.
Last sunday (Feb 3rd), Elder Valdez and I shared out testimonies. Right after sacrament meeting we were asked to speak in Church the following week and someone else asked us to teach mission prep the following week. So yesterday, we did both of those things. Elder Valdez spoke on Christlike attributes and I spoke on the spirit with stories of following promptings and miracles I've seen. It was a lot of fun and turned out better than I expected.
Which was good since we didn't prepare at all to teach mission prep and it wasn't so good haha. Right afterwards the bishop asked us to do a fireside next week for all the youth in the ward. We'll prepare more for this one, I think.
So in the last two weeks I've had a bit of trouble with one gear on my bike, gear configuration 1-8. When I bike, the chain slips every other pedal/pump/whatever the word is but only on that gear. What can I do to fix it? I end up biking on 1-7 or 2-4 instead of 1-8 which I'd prefer to use.
Thanks for the letters Mom, Eric, Will, and Lyle!
Hope everyone has a great week!