Hello Family!! I am very sorry that I had to wait until Wednesday to email you guys! This week was transfers but Elder Gilson and I are staying companions and in the same area. I have mixed emotions about it. I love Elder Gilson and when we are talking about the Gospel or serving each other, there is most definitely a different Spirit around. We haven't really been fighting, but we do get into little quarrels and arguments. I have never really been good at remembering things, that what our planners are for. So if we talk about something 4 days in advance and we don't right it in our planners, I will most likely not remember. But Elder Gilson remembers everything. Well, "remembers" everything. Haha. But I'm learning that little things don't matter. It is better to be wrong than to drive away the Spirit.
The two people that sent you guys those pictures were Sister Brown and Sister Judd. Sister Brown is our bishops wife. We ate with them on Sunday. the other lady isn't even in our ward! She is in the Sister's ward! But her parents live in Pima 4th ward and we cover that one. Her mom is a less-active member but doesn't go because of her non-member husband. So we went over to Sister Judd's to set up a time that we could go eat with them and invite her parents over as well. Both of these families out here are amazing!
Just a heads up as well, this upcoming week will be different. On Monday, we have Elder Malm from the 70 coming to talk to us as a mission. He is going to talk twice so that we can split the mission in half. Unfortunately, our day to listen to him speak is going to be next Monday. This means that our P-Day is going to be on Tuesday instead of Monday.
This week was full of miracles and awesome stories! And the best part about writing in my journal is that I remember all the details from my week to make this a great email! The biggest and best thing that happened this week was I TURNED 14 months old!! I can't believe it but I am almost 14 and a half which means that I have single digits before I come back home... weird...
My mission birthday was on the 12th which was this last Tuesday. Also, Tuesday was "The Day" which means mission wide exchanges! I was with Elder Hales in the YSA wards. Elder Hales was my District Leader and it was BOMB!! We started off our day doing Crossfit. It was very much exhausting... We did a 15 minute AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) including:
- 10 Pull-ups
-100 Meter Run
5 cleans at 95 pounds (a clean means that you pick up the bar and have to bring it to your shoulder height then go with the bar in the air down into a full squat.)
- 100 Meter Run
That was 1 rep.... I did 6! :) It was extremely difficult but always feels good when you finish. Plus, I look more toned and muscular! I want to try and find a crossfit for when I come home but they are pretty expensive so we'll see. Because we were serving on the college campus and it was the YSA wards, there were teenagers and young adults everywhere! Oh it was so amazing being able to actually connect with people and be friends with people my age! Almost all of my friends in my wards have been 27 or 28, sometimes older. So talking to people my age was refreshing! I was kinda nervous cause I know how cute college girls are, but the really cool thing that I noticed was that I wasn't really attracted to any of them! I mean, sure they are cute but it wasn't like, "Oh I want to date them." It was just acknowledging they were cute and that was it! Look at who's growing up and maturing. :) Anyway, because school started this week, that meant that a lot of people were moving in from summer break. So we did a LOT of service. Actually, the very fist person that we saw needed help was an older gentleman and his daughter that were struggling to get things out of the back of the truck. So we went over and offered our help. Elder Hales jumped into the bed of the truck. I pulled the tailgate down and as I stepped up to get in and help, I heard a rip and felt a cold breeze run down my leg. I had torn my pants from the middle of the crotch in my pants to my knee on the inside seam of my leg. But instead of being super embarrassed, I just let them continue moving things and I walked over to my bag and grabbed my first aid kit. I had 2 safety pins that I used to close up the hole until I could change my pants. The gentleman felt so bad for me! He went into his wallet and pulled our $40! He said that 20 of it was for new pants and the other 20 was for lunch. He refused to take it back so we had to take it. We went and I had a change of pants at the house then we walked to lunch. As we finished ordering, I was reaching into my wallet to grab the $20 when someone grabbed my shoulder and reached past me giving their debit card to the cashier saying there were going to pay it. Of course, she was a member and was just on break. So we got $20 each for new clothes! :) Later, as we were street contacting, we were talking to this guy who was putting gas into his girlfriends car (she had run out just 3 blocks from a gas station). He was talking to his girl friend through her window to tell her that she should have enough gas to get to the gas station and so we were standing next to his truck waiting. The wind picked up and I felt some sprinkles of rain, it felt SO good! But Elder Hales said, "On no..." I looked down the street and we could see a wall of rain coming right at us... Within seconds, we were being down-poured on! The guy we were talking to got into his girl friends car and drove off. We ran under a tree but we were already both really wet. After a minute or two, Elder Hales said, "I wish this rain would stop so we could go do some work." We agreed that since we were both already wet, we could walk in the rain and be fine. Right as we stepped out from under the tree, the rain stopped instantly. We pointed out that we asked God for it to stop raining, then we put our faith in God by stepping out into the rain, and God answered our prayers right then! It was really cool to piece it all together. Nothing else really happened Tuesday and I just realized how lame those stories were but I spent like 10 minutes on them so I'm not going to get rid of it. :)
Wednesday, we got more fresh milk from Sister Squires! After district meeting, we went out to lunch at the Golf Course. We had all you can eat wings for just $4! Talk about a deal!! Of course, I took advantage of that and stuffed myself full. The only problem was that it was about 3 o clock when we left. We had to be in Fort Thomas for a lesson by 5:30 so our dinner asked us to come over at 4... When we showed up, I wasn't hungry at all.... They made steak with potatoes and fresh corn from their corn field in the back yard. I actually ate everything on my plate! Elder Gilson asked for a to-go container cause he was full. He didn't even touch his steak and very little of everything else. I was kinda mad cause I felt like it was disrespectful to hardly touch what was given to us. But, they were just fine with it! So we drove up to our appointment in Fort Thomas and as we walked in, Terry Fisher (our investigator we are working with in Fort Thomas Ward) said, "I hope you boys are hungry! I made steaks and potatoes for you guys! My stomach was already hurting eating so much, the last thing I wanted to do was eat more. But we did. It was great steak though! And I, once again, ate everything on my plate. I could hardly hold it down but I did it. Elder Gilson once again asked for a to go box cause he was so full! I totally won today in who could eat the most! Speaking of which, my appetite has been going down the drain since I've been on my mission. I used-ta-could eat a whole subway sandwich and now, I can only eat a 6 inch. I used-ta-could eat a whole burrito from Cafe Rio and now, I eat half of a burrito and I'm stuffed. I'm losing weight but it's not from fasting, it's from not being able to eat as much. It's weird for me but saving money so I'm not complaining! :)
Thursday we ate with the Reed family. Dad, you know that trick where you have a coin or ring in your hand and you tell the kid you are doing the trick to that you are going to count to 3 and then they need to grab it but you put it on your head instead? Well, I have really been working on that one. And I have done it with a lot of kids out here. And all of them love it! Well, that is, except the Reed kids. They saw it once and all of them at the same time said, "That's not magic. You just put it on your head." Talk about a tough crowd... But the dad went to the Cook islands and taught me a new word in whatever language they speak over there: Aka'tomukamuka means cloudy or overcast. It has been aka'tomukamuka here recently and it's been fantastic! :) Later that night, we went over to a less-active members house called the Hines. The father buys and sells antiques like grandpa Harris! He had some pretty cool things too. The newest cool thing he has was a sword from the civil war! He let us hold it and take pictures with it! The rumors say that if you ever get to see one in person, let alone hold one, then it will bring you good luck for the rest of your life! I like those odds. :)
Friday we went on exchanges again. Elder George, my district Leader, came to my area with me. We were up till past 1 a.m. talking then up at 5:30 for crossfit. That day, we did:
- 30 Double-unders (you have to jump rope but instead of just going under you once, it has to go under you twice for each jump. Or you could do 60 normal jumps.)
- 15 power cleans (You have 55-75 lbs [or more] and you have to lift from the ground up and over your head in one fluid motion.)
It was just those 2 things but it was another AMRAP for 6 minutes. I did 4 reps plus 30 double-unders and 5 power cleans making 4 +35. Afterwards, we helped the sister tract. We went out into the boonies of Pima and knocked out there. In an hour, we only knocked 4 houses cause we were having so much success! The first was a girl named Angelica. She was 15 but looked 20. She and her family are catholic but she has lots of Mormon friends. In fact, her best friend had taken her to girls camp for the last 3 or 4 years! And she loved it! She said that when they read from the Book of Mormon up there and talked about Christ, she would always feel a drive to do better when she came home. We gave her her own copy of the Book of Mormon and she could hardly believe that we were just giving it to her! The sisters were supposed to go over on Saturday but I don't know if they did, I will have to ask for next time! The next door we got rejected but the sisters will try back again on Saturday too. The 3rd house was very damaged and looked completely abandoned. No one answered but we met a guy on the street on our way to house number 4 who lived in that broken down home. His name is Ray Delgado. He had just gotten out of jail that day and came home to his house broken into and vandalized and everything stolen. This was his story: 6 months ago his wife passed away... He couldn't handle it and the only way to push those memories and thoughts of her out of his head was to drink them away. Well one day about a month after her passing, he walked into someones yard looking for his friend. The lady that owned the house was very scared cause she was a widow and someone had broken into her house a few nights ago and so she sicked her dog on him. For self protection, he grabbed a shovel and hit the dog. The lady bent down to grab the dog by the leash and somehow scratched herself. When the police showed up, she said that he was trespassing, abusing her dog, and hit her. He was arrested and put in jail for 5 months. He tried to kill himself and so they released him after that 5 months to go to a mental hospital. But he realized that while he was in jail, he got over his addictions for drugs, alcohol and came closer to God! He then said, "I know me being in jail was a blessing for me." That day he got out, he went right to that lady's house and apologized to her and forgave her for everything. He told us that he knew God loved him and that the Bible was true but he could tell it was missing some things. So we talked to him about the Book of Mormon and about the Plan of Salvation for him and his wife. The sisters are going to be meeting with him too and helping him get over his depression and come closer to God and Jesus Christ! The last house we got chased off by dogs. Like, a 100 meter dash to stay away from the dogs! It was kinda scary but kinda funny cause neither of us was expecting it! That night we went to a family named the Buckmister's. Sheran, the wife, is a non-member. She had just gone through a very dangerous and extensive surgery. She had cancer in her mouth which basically ate away the bone in her jaw. So she had her Tibia taken our of her left leg and that's what they used to reconstruct her jaw. She was going to have to go through another surgery soon too to finish taking out the cancer or something like that. We offered to give her a blessing to which she happily responded. In the blessing, she was told that she would heal fully and there would be little pain. She was told about God's love for her and that if she continued to pray and come closer to God, she would have little pain and that her next surgery would go well too. She was crying at the end of it, as was her husband, John. John was born in the church but fell away after marrying her. Since then, his family has been non-stop praying for them to come back to the church and he said that this was an answer to their prayers. I felt like I was on cloud 9! The Spirit was so strong in that house. I love missionary work!!!
Saturday was transfer calls. Of course, we know that I am staying and so is Elder Gilson. So we spent a lot of time Saturday night talked with other missionaries about what is happened with them for transfers. My son, Elder Flake, is still training out in Silver City, NM. This is his second son which means that I have 2 grandsons! And my first grandson, Elder Cunningham, is training too which means that I am a great-grandfather at only 14 months old! 3 transfers ago, Elder Flake, Elder Cunningham and I all got together and had a 3 generation picture. This upcoming Monday though, for the half mission conference with Elder Malm, there will be Elder Hickenlooper (my dad), me, Elder Flake, Elder Cunningham, Elder Flakes new son, and Elder Cunninghams new son! We Will have a 5 Generation Picture!!! I know this isn't all that big for you guys but it is so fun out here to have a family since you guys are all so far away! Plus, we have Momma Despain who takes care of us out here. Saturday night she needed some help with her computer. I tried for an hour and a half but we can't get her administrative password for her windows 7 desktop computer to work. I tried like 10 different things but to no avail. I have one more idea but I can't try it till later this week when I have the right program downloaded onto my thumb-drive.
Sunday we went out to Bylas after Fort Thomas ward. We tried to visit a lot of people but no one was really home. That's when we remembered 2 referrals we had received earlier in the week. The first was named Niki Way. Niki's older brother just got baptized last week and she walked up to the missionaries in his ward and asked what she needed to do to get baptized too. She is 22 and has 2 kids: a 5 year old and a 2 year old. We went over and taught her the Restoration of the Gospel. Honestly, it was a very rocky lesson... Neither Elder Gilson nor I were working off of each other and we were jumping around everywhere and she had a lot of questions that should have been covered if we had worked together better. But she felt the Spirit and accepted a baptism date for the 20th of September! :) The other referral is named something Dwayne. I think Rachel or Samantha or Rebecka or something like that... :) Anyway, she was too busy right then so we will go back later this week and see her then! I guess missionaries had met with her in the past and she liked them coming over so we are going to get started with her this week!
Monday was kinda a slow day. We didn't have a dinner cause we usually don't have dinners on p-days which is usually on Mondays. So grandma Despain invited us over and we stayed over there for like 2 and a half hours talking and laughing and such. We made a cake for the Lansings (another part member family we are working with) and brought it over Monday night. They invited us in and we just talked and laughed and built up our friendship with them. All in all, Monday was kinda a laid back day but it's okay cause we killed it last week. :)
Yesterday was Elder Gilsons Birthday. He turned 19! Whoopee! We threw him a surprise party with cake and ice cream and then we played volleyball for like 45 minutes. But with it being transfers and there only being like 5 cars in all of the Gila Valley, we had to leave sports to go help out with people needed to go to the transfer sight and people needed to come back from the sight. That's why we were so busy yesterday. Also, we got 3 cakes from members for Elder Gilsons birthday. They are all sitting in our fridge and I have no idea what we are going to do with them! I love cake but not that much cake... :P
How is school going? Any problem kids yet? Gavin and Connor: You guys aren't beating up on anyone right? Good :) I love you all so much! Thank you for your emails and prayers! I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
~Elder Kyle Harris