Tuesday, September 9, 2014

September 8, 2014

Hello Family!! I keep thinking that time will slow down and I'll have more to write about each day but it seems like it's the opposite. I'm losing myself in the work and that is really making a difference in how fast time goes. I made some new goals this week and will tell you about how I'm accomplishing them and putting them into my work a little later. 

Some great things happened this week, including Elder Gilson writing a poem about what happened to him this week. Here it is...

Ode to Mother Earth:
Twas the end of the day, so tired and dry
Biking downhill on exchanges am I.
Coming to a stop and thinking this day
"Why not Press my front break that way?"
Oh how I longed for her touch!
It can't hurt that much.
Flip off my bike going 20 or so
Kiss Mother Earth from my head to my toe.
Landing on hands, skin pealing back...
I've hit the concrete with a smack!
Oh how foolish and vain could I be.
Mother Earth, doth thou not like me?
A lesson I've learned from mother so dear,
Don't use the front break, instead use the rear! (I made that line up! Isn't it great?! :D)
Love is like concrete, so firm and steadfast!
Don't rush in or you'll be smitten at last!

Yes, Elder Gilson crashed his bike going downhill this week... We were on exchanges and Elder Gilson was in Thatcher. Every time he has been on exchanges over there, he has somehow lost control of his bike and fell off. His first experience was trying to make too sharp of a turn going a bit to fast and it just slid out from under him. The second time, he was going over a small bridge and hit a bump causing him to loose control and fall off of it! It was only about 3 feet high but he still fell somehow head first and cracked the helmet pretty bad. No injuries really came from that one, just a sore neck. The third time was the same as the first with the bike somehow sliding out from under him. And this last time he was going downhill and for some reason, started to freak out a little bit for going about 20 mph. He slammed on his breaks but put more pressure on the front break instead of the rear brake. He flipped over his handlebar and kissed mother earth pretty hard. The bike was fine, no damage, all because it landed on top of him... He has pretty bad road rash on his left forearm and his right hand is pretty torn up. Not to get too descriptive but there is about a half-dollar sized wound at the bottom of his palm where the skin was basically just peeled back like a cheese slicer and cheddar cheese. Also, on his right hand, on the outside of his pinky where it connects with his palm, the skin was peeled back there as well. It was a pretty bad crash but amazingly, there wasn't very much damage done. Since like 3 out of 5 people are members of the church, the car at the bottom of the hill that witnessed it all was a member. He took Elder Gilson and his companion to Walgreens and got some bandages for his along with other things needed to clean the wounds. He is doing much better now! The wound is almost scabbed over and hopefully will produce some pretty sweet scars! I decided that scars are like tattoos for Mormons. The reason that people get tattoos is sometimes because they are doing something dumb and it is a reminder for them about an experience or person from the past. Well, scars usually come from doing something dumb. And when you look at them, you can usually remember how you got it and who you were with. So as long as you don't purposefully hurt yourself and give yourself scars, I think you're okay. Isn't the human body just amazing though? In the ex-men comics and movies, Wolverine can heal himself. I always thought that would be so cool! But we can and we do! From broken bones to paper cuts and mostly anything else not too catastrophic, our bodies can heal itself! I think it's absolutely amazing and such a wonderful gift from our Heavenly Father! Sorry for that random tangent. :)

We did so much service this week!! We went on exchanges on Friday, as you can tell from the story, and the whole day was pretty much filled with service. It started off with crossfit in the morning and that KILLED me! It was great but for the past 3 days, I have been SOOOOOOO sore! My thigh's and my traps (the muscle in-between your neck and your shoulder) have been on fire! It isn't a pain like when you tear something, it is a pain of working it out so much and pushing it to it's limits and probably past that point. We then went to do some yard work for a lady in one of the Sister's ward. We were in the sun for about 4 hours weeding and weeding and weeding. I didn't think it was possible to have that many weeds but it most definitely is. She wanted them pulled, not just cut at the root. So no weed-eaters and poison to get rid of them, we pulled every one of them. Then we had to rake them all up and feed them to the goats she had. 6 missionaries x 4 hours of work each = about 24 total hours of work. It was...fun... But very rewarding. She was extremely pleased with how much we got done. Then she said, "Next week, when you guys come back, we will weed out by the fence and get the front looking just as good!" We looked outside and there were just as many weeds... When I come home, I'm gonna be a master weeder! Then we went off to Fort Thomas to do some yard work out there for an older couple. This time, it was just me, Elder George, and Sisters Lopez and Harrington. We left Elders Gilson and Cunningham to get some work done in Cunningham's area. We worked out there for about 2 hours all with constant sun hitting our faces and necks. Elder George and the sisters weeded some more and I was asked to dig up a mesquite tree. Something I was told out here is that for every foot above ground that you can see the tree, there are 3 feet of roots underneath holding it down. The tree was about 2 1/2 feet tall. So there was about 7 or 8 feet of roots going in every direction. I dug a hole about 4 feet down with a 4 foot diameter. It was a big hole. But I exposed most of the roots and we used an electric saw to cut all the roots that were showing and it just popped right out. Dumb tree had thorns too so it was just a pain all in all.

I forgot to tell you about a really cool service project we did last week too! We went over to Elder Georges' area and drove up to the house where he told us to go to. He was in the next house over with 5 other missionaries. The house they were in was deserted but in pretty nice shape. The people we were doing service for were the Curley's. The Curley's were renting a small house and wanted to add onto it to give them more room for their kids. Their 3 older kids were all sharing a room and the parents had the baby in with them in their room. They wanted to add a room but the landlord wouldn't give them any funds to do so. He said they could build on but he wouldn't pay for any of it. So they talked to the owners of the run-down house next door and were given permission to take the wall panels out and use them for their house. Using those panels and 2 x 4 planks, we built a room about 15 feet wide, 20 feet long, and 10 feet high. And I must say, it looks good!! We did the electrical work in there too (Elder George knew what he was doing and I was helping him. He has done it before, I was mostly learning but I have a small knowledge from just messing around here and there). It wasn't very hard honestly. I actually really enjoyed it! I don't know how to start but if I could figure that part out, I could build a small shed like the one we had back at the old house. Maybe not as durable but just as good. ;)

Also, we had the opportunity to go to the Temple this week! And it wasn't with the zone like it normally is. We received permission to go to the Temple and go through and Endowment Session with a family we've been working with, the Wittenbrakers. They are such an amazing family! They have come a long way from being completely inactive to full activity. This wasn't their first time going to the Temple but they called President and asked if since we helped them get back if we could go with them. It was amazing!!! I wanted to make it really personal though this time and so we received permission to do some family history work. That is why I wanted those I.D. numbers so bad from your side mom, so I could do some work on that side since most of dad's side is done pretty far back. I worked for about an hour trying to find someone but had no success. Elder Gilson said it was time to leave and I asked for just 5 more minutes. In that 5 minutes, I happened upon a gentleman by the name of Jorgan. Wehn I found him, it said that he needed more information before his work could be done. So I clicked on that and searched for duplicates and found a possible match. After checking the data, I determined it was the same person and combined the two people. I then saw a little green square with a Temple in it move from his name to a tab on the screen titled "Ordinances". I clicked on it and it said that the ordinances could be done for him! I looked at what needed to be done and somehow, all of his work had been done EXCEPT for his Temple Endowment!! I was amazed, I FOUND SOMEONE IN MY FAMILY TO GO TO THE TEMPLE FOR!!!!!!!!!!!!! I printed off the name and took it to the Temple. The interesting thing was, there was no last name. There wasn't a last name on family search and there wasn't one on the blue family-names card I received from the Temple. But I got to go through for him. :D And to top it all off, the video that was played was the one i watched when I took out my own endowments! So it was a really special Temple trip for me! :)

We also had a really cool miracle this week out in Bylas. We scheduled to go out there and spend about 3 hours contacting the people we are working with. We were advised to not spend very much time in the week out there until we have some people progressing and coming to church. So we made the trip out there on Thursday about noon. Within 1 hour, we had tried to visit every single person we could think of, both active investigators, less actives, and former investigators. So we were faced with a choice to either come back into town and work with some people we knew would be home or drive further into Bylas and find someone else. Elder Gilson suggested we say a prayer. DUH! Why didn't I think of that?! So he said it for us and I don't remember very much about what was said except this phrase, "If you want us to stay out here, put a road block in our path." See where this is going? So we get to the main road and have the choice to turn right and head back into town or left and go further into Bylas. Both of us felt prompted to go left. So we are driving around and go up to where one of the less-actives we are working with lives. We take a couple of random little roads and find ourselves in a neighborhood with houses on either side of the street. As we drive down this neighborhood, a white truck in the other lane swerves into our lane and stops in front of a house. The passenger gets out to open up the gate while the truck stays idle in the middle of our lane. IN THE MIDDLE OF OUR LANE!!!! I immediately knew it was our road block. That is probably one of the most direct answers I've ever received to a prayer before. We drive past them and wave but they just stare us down... We start to drive past and a thought came into my mind, "I am a Missionary for Jesus Christ. It is my responsibility as His representative to invite EVERYONE I can to hear about the Gospel. So I turn around and say to Elder Gilson, "We tell everyone about the Gospel message and then they can choose whether or not to accept it. But by us not inviting them to learn, we are making that choice for them." We park across the street from their house and walk up to the man sitting on the porch. He greeted us with a smile and explained his story. His name is Darwin Dillon and was a member of the church. He got into some drinking habits and eventually found himself in jail. He realized while in there how different his life was from when he was an active member of the church. He asked God for forgiveness and asked Him to help him get back on the right path. He said that same prayer the entire time he was in there which was only about 2 years or so. he continued to say that prayer for about 5 days after he got out. That day we ran into him had been day number 5. We invited him to church and to turn his life around. We explained that we were sent from God to be his answer and that if he wanted to receive that forgiveness he needed to show God he was truly repentant by coming to church. He said he would and that he would bring his less-active aunt and mother as well as his non-member wife and 1 year old son. Unfortunately they didn't make it to church this week but what a testimony builder! God answered our prayer because we made the effort to show Him we were ready to work for whatever we could.
God answered our prayer almost immediately and in the exact way we had asked because it was a righteous desire and God knew we wouldn't let Him down. God answers prayers and will always answer them more quickly if we align our will with His.

Another example of this is I found my CTR ring I lost like 2 weeks ago! I told myself and the people that were looking for it that it was just a ring and could be replaced. It wasn't the ring that mattered but what it reminded me to do. I told myself and those that were looking for it that God was trying to teach me that if I lose myself in the work that all other blessings I need and even some that I want will be given to me. After losing myself in the work, I forgot about the ring and focused on how to apply the idea into my work. The place where I thought I lost my ring was at a member house in the Sister's area. Well the member over there was walking up to her door and saw my ring in the dirt. She gave it to the sisters and they gave it back to me! :)

I told you I had made some goals this week. What happened was we were at District Meeting. We were talking about faith and goals and why we set them. We then went into different rooms and prayed for an answer of a goal that we should set for ourselves. I went into the chapel and prayed next to the sacrament table. The table symbolizes an alter and I figured that if I wanted an answer from God and wanted to make a covenant with Him, what greater place to make sacrifices of what I am comfortable doing for that which I need to work on than at an alter. I had a book in my hands about missionaries. I don't remember exactly what it is called but it is a book for all missionaries but especially new ones talking about what to do in different situations. I felt impressed to look at the chapter headings. As I did so, one of the last chapters I read was titled "Going Home Early". As you can imagine, I was honestly scared about the answer I was about to receive. But just as Abraham when he was commanded to sacrifice his son, he didn't want to but knew he needed too cause the Lord had commanded it. I didn't want to look at that chapter but knew I needed to. So I did so. Here I want to say, I am not coming home early. I want to clear that up even though it ruins the suspense a little bit. I am staying on my mission and completing a full 2 years faithfully and fully. Anyway, I was reading in this chapter and it was talking about multiple reasons why a missionary would go home. There were lots of reasons: past transgressions, no desire to be out here, medical problems, and so on. But there was one that really stuck out to me. Failure to Keep the Mission Rules. I haven't been the perfect missionary and have had my weak moments as have all missionaries. And I'm not openly rebelling against any of the rules. But there are some that I can definitely do better on. So I decided this week I was going to focus on being completely obedient, 100% of the time and look for the difference it makes in my mission. As you can see from my week, it made a big difference. So I am going to apply this the best that I can to the rest of my mission so that I can come home and honestly say that I truly lost myself in the work and have given it my all.

I know this church is true. I know that God lives. I know that Jesus Christ died for me individually, suffering everything I would go though and the mistakes I would make, and then rose on the 3rd day so that someday I can be raised too. I know that President Monson is divinely called of God and that he and his apostles warn us of all of life's travails and problems. I ask you to prayerfully study and ponder the Presidency Message in September's Ensign. It is about being prepared for the future. Please read it and look at where we need to improve so we can be prepared. I know God loves me and answers prayers. I love you all so much. Thank you for your letters and emails and prayers. And I leave this letter and my testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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