Dear Family, HELLO!!!! This week flew by once again. And I'm sure all of you are wondering what I think of my companion, well.... He's pretty cool. :P
This was the first week in a while that I've actually planned what I'm going to do with my day. Elder Gilson is really good at helping me keep the small rules cause then it will be easier to keep the big rules. I think that is where I have been slipping up recently. I was making sure I was following the big rules like getting out by 11 and not swimming and not kissing any girls. But the small things like getting up at 6:30 and staying at appointments for an hour tops and sharing a message with Everyone we visit with, I wasn't doing bad at those things, but I wasn't staying strict either. Elder Gilson however, is strict to them. He is up by 6:00 every morning. He asks every time we are in a home if we can say some prayers and share a message. And he hates spending over an hour at a place, even dinner. I think it was Thursday, we showed up for dinner but it wasn't ready yet. We got there at 5 and started eating around 5:30. Elder Gilson wanted to eat fast, share a message, and get out of there. I talked it out with him and I could see his part entirely, but as I explained the point of view of the members, he realized that when circumstances make you change your normal routine, the Spirit of the Law comes into effect. Now that's not to say that the Spirit of the Law tells us to go against the rules or anything like that, but that it would be better for the members and the Spirit would be there stronger if we didn't try and rush things and gave them a lesson that they needed. And the Spirit was definitely strong for that lesson. I'll explain in a little bit. :)
The best part about Elder Gilson is it's like he is only 6 weeks old instead of 6 months old. And I don't mean that in a bad way. Sure he is kinda awkward and tries too hard sometimes but at the same time, he actually tries! When you first come out into the field, most missionaries have what we call "Greenie Fire". This is that super strong desire that new missionaries seem to have where they are ready to just baptize the world! Unfortunately, most missionaries seem to lose that fire and drive and get into a normal routine. They still get work done and are still successful, but it's like a job interview. Sure they have a chance to get the job working for the Lord, but if you have more drive and enthusiasm and love for the work, you are going to be more successful and get the job everyone else wants. The job can be either more investigators, more less-actives coming back to church, or even more baptisms. The stronger the drive, desire, and love you have, the more reactivations, baptisms and overall joy you will have! And Elder Gilson still has his "Greenie Fire". Elder Gilson has only had apostate companions. In the deaf branch, there is a lot of down time and so they turn to worldly things to keep themselves sane instead of working harder. Elder Gilson didn't fall into that habit and stayed true to his calling and wants to get out and do work. He couldn't in the last area he was in with the missionaries he was with. But now that he is out here in the Gila Valley, there is lots of work to be done and lots of support from the members and other obedient missionaries. So he is on cloud 9 right now! And the best part is, we aren't fighting at all.
Elder Gilson and I are doing great work together. Sure there are things that he does that kinda poke at my temper, but I have learned that there is no reason to get mad. For example, on Sunday, I set my alarm for 6 a.m. He got up at 5:45 and turned on the light and started singing to help himself wake up. I was mad admittedly but I didn't say anything. I kept my mouth closed and just help it in. As we drove to our meetings, I didn't really say much cause I didn't want my anger to get out. After 10 hours of meetings yesterday (now I know what dad felt like being in the bishop-brick!) I realized that he wasn't doing it to be mean. I let it go and we had a great night. I have realized that it is all about the little decisions that will eventually decide the total outcome. The way we react, our mindset about things, and our words will determine what we can become and what happens next. Yes Elder Gilson loves to talk during lessons and kinda takes over the lesson, but it's because he is excited to finally be teaching someone! He has insight that he likes to share and that is fine with me. I am happy that I am with Elder Gilson because I am becoming more of the missionary I want to be and gaining the attributes I see you, mom and dad, have. Now I know what it was like trying to raise me. :P
This week was great though! Giovani is progressing like it's no one's business! We have established daily nourishment with him and his parents. They have family scripture study every night and invited us to go over and read with them. So we occasionally teach him a lesson but in all reality, we ask him about points of doctrine and he tells us what that is. Every so often, we have to explain what something means or how something works in the church but he is a very smart kid and holds in a lot of information. They came to all 3 meetings of church yesterday and had a great time with it! His parents are working on their Word of Wisdom issues so they can go to the Temple. Their names are Vince and Amanda Gibbons. If you would pray for their family, including Giovani, that would be great!
We found out why Elder Gilson was sent out here. Bishop Brown of the Pima 4th Ward has a worker named Keith Pike. Keith is deaf and knows sign language. Guess who else knows sign language.... Our ASL missionary Elder Gilson! So we drove out to Bylas this week and taught Keith about the Book of Mormon. He can't read very well so we are working on getting him some DVD's of a person signing the Book of Mormon so he can go through it. It was really cool to watch everything they did. I picked up some of what they were talking about too! I have learned to pray again in ASL so that's fun! :)
We were driving around on Wednesday and were trying to find something to do. We didn't really have any investigators when Gilson came in so we decided to work with some former investigators in the Fort Thomas ward. We were driving to one place and then both of us forgot who we were planning on going to see. Talk about a stupor of thought! So we looked at the list of former investigators and saw Terry Fisher on the list. We decided we'd try his place. We pulled up and he came out onto his porch. When he saw us, he greeted us with a loud "Elders! Hello!!" and invited us in. He told us that he had stopped taking drugs and was going to call us last week to start coming back to church but he had lost our number and couldn't call. Then we showed up. What a miracle!!! He came to Sunday School but needed to head home afterwards. It was so cool to see the Lord's hand like that in our work!
Ernest Valenzuela is someone else we are working with. He was on a major kind of Probation, I think its called supervised probation, where he had to check in almost daily and couldn't hardly go anywhere or do anything without letting his probation officer know. Well, he is off of that and has about a year left of unsupervised probation which is a lot less strict. He and his girl friend had a baby boy! He was only about 5 lbs 8 ounces though... But he's doing much better and growing strong. He asked a member in the ward to bless his baby at church in a few weeks so they he can be on the records of the church. How cool is that?! :)
This weekend is the 24th of July celebration for the Gila Valley! Imagine that all of Lehi came together at Wines Park and there was singing and dancing and Fireworks and parades and such. Well, that is the celebration down here. There will be between 4000-6000 people there on Friday night and Saturday!! It is the biggest celebration in the Gila Valley and we have basically been told that if we want to do any kind of work, it has to be done at the party cause NO ONE will be home! I'm super excited! I missed the 4th of July with Elder Wardell but get to experience something even better with Elder Gilson. The 3 towns out here, Pima, Thatcher, and Safford, all take turns on who is hosting it each year. This year is Thatcher but next year is Pima. Pima is known to throw the BEST 24th of July celebration and they are doing it next year. So in a year from now, when Im home, we are going to take a trip down here so you can see my old area, meet some great people, and party it up at the park! Ya? Ya. :)
I went on exchanges with Elder Cunningham on Saturday. He is only 5 days old and being trained by our District Leader. He came to my area so we went out to Bylas so he could experience the wild. ;) We had some success with tracting and he loved that! But we were asked by Elder George, his companion and our District Leader, to visit one of his former investigators that he was working with before that moved out to Bylas. So we drove over there and he was SMASHED (super super drunk)... After a few minutes of talking with him, he left and so we were sitting outside talked to his wife and her friend who were also super drunk as well as some other guy who was texting the whole time and didn't participate. After about 15 minutes of talking, the guy we who walked off came back and stood in front of us and said, "A few years ago, some missionaries came to my house at midnight to mess around with my wife. You guys are a lot like those other guys (referring to the missionaries in the past). Get off of my property and never come back." He was mad. Like, drunk mad. So we stood up and left. It was my first time being kicked out like that but it was for the best, the Spirit wasn't there and I didn't have a good feeling about sticking around any longer either.
But to end on a good note, HAPPY BIRTHDAY GAVIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Did you think I forgot? HA! No way! I can't believe that you are 16 now! How does it feel? Do you remember the big sweet 16 party that mom and dad threw for me? Maybe they will do the same for you. Or maybe not because I am their favorite son. ;) Don't crash the truck please and be careful with who you date. Don't spend all your money on another man's future wife. And most importantly, remember, you are going on a mission so don't get too attached to anyone. :) I hope you like the presents I sent you! I know they are kinda lame but it was what I found for a missionaries budget. :) I love you!
Thank you everyone for your emails! It was great to hear from everyone instead of just mom and dad. :) I hope that you are all having a great week and that you make the best of your summer cause you don't have a lot of time left! I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!
~Elder Kyle Harris