Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Josh your companion is literally the answer to our prayers. We pray every night that you will make it through the tough times and learn and grow in the process. Let him know how much we love and appreciate him. Don't forget how much we love and appreciate you too.
Monday, May 25, 2015
Happy Memorial Day! I'm sure no one down there has any idea what Memorial Day is. That's ok.
This has been a pretty normal week for us. About the only thing that is out of the ordinary is the weather. We have had a huge amount of rain this month. So much so that I have yet to turn on the sprinklers. Actually I think I turned them on maybe once or twice so far. A week or so ago we had a huge hail storm. Unfortunately it kind of shredded the trees including the fruit trees. It also looks like none of the fruit trees are going to produce any fruit this year. We had a warm snap in February and then a cold snap. When that happens the trees will put their buds out and then it kills them when it freezes. It's such a bummer. I was looking forward to taking care of them and getting lots of fruit this year. Not going to happen. Sometimes you have to put up with bad things happening.
We went and got Ty and Jacob some suits for Ty's wedding. That was kind of fun and terribly expensive. I remember my parents buying me stuff like that and it may cost a lot but I enjoy doing it. It's great to help the kids progress.
Jacob had a rugby tournament in Colorado this weekend. They did really well. There were 52 teams and Utah came in 4th. It was pretty exciting because we got to watch them on the internet. This has been a long year of rugby and it's been great but I'm sure everyone including all the players are really glad it's over.
Well, this is supposed to be the beginning of summer and it's still slightly chilly outside. The coming of summer is always the time when I think about the seasons changing and life changing. It's the time when the yard comes out of hibernation and has to be taken care of. I like it though because I get to ride the lawn mower again. haha.
So how are things going with you? Are you still liking your new area? How's the language coming along? Also, did you say you were going to talk to your mission president?
Take care Josh. Don't forget we love you and are praying everyday for your success in every facet of your mission. In fact, I'll tell you this. It's a lot easier to have more meaningful prayers because I'm praying for you. That's a huge blessing for me.
Hahaha no they don't celebrate memorial day here, i'm pretty sure that's an american holiday, no? I didn't even realize that it was memorial day today until you guys told me.
Ah my beloved companion Elder Flores, he's awesome! He's super nice, friendly, and he's a really good missionary. And get this! He knows english!!! Almost fluently, he told me he wants to talk to me in english whenever we're in the house. How lucky is that, to have a companion that I can communicate to 100%. He's from a place called Merida, which is right by Cancún, so you probably know where that is now. He was actually born in Mexico City, but he grew up for most of his life in Merida, Yucatan. He's been in the mission field for 9 months. When he returns, he wants to study Bio Medicine or something medical. He's thinking about coming to the United States to study, but he's still thinking. So yeah, that's my companion. He's tall too, he's as tall as I am!
This week was....interesting for us. Interesting because our numbers, the numbers of lessons we had, the people we had contacted, those sorts of things, were low. We tried to talk to a ton of people, but almost nobody answered their doors. That unmotivated me a ton, and annoyed me a bit too. One day, I was really irritated because of that, and my companion pulled me aside and talked to me to lift my spirits. He told me that, that sort of thing is going to happen, a lot in the mission, and you just have to keep pushing forward. He's a really good friend, honestly.
That same day, at around 7ish, we contacted a couple outside of their house. Before we arrived, like a long time ago, other missionaries came and taught them. They taught this couple the Restoration, the Plan of Salvation, everything. They even went to church! The reason they stopped going is because of the job that the husband had. They told us that it's possible that they could be baptized. What?????? My companion and I were amazed! We could have two baptisms really soon, it's very likely! So that day, was one interesting day.
So, let me tell you about our investigators. First, Anahi and Alma, Alma is the mother of Anahi. Alma is around 45, and Anahi is 21 and has a daughter, a toddler. We met them the day I arrived in the area. The first few times we taught them, they were going off on how Anahi's husband is lousy, and generally a bad person. The funny thing is that her husband is the one who told us about Anahi and Alma. After we visited them, inviting them to pray and to read the Book of Mormon, we saw a huge change in their character. We visit them now, and they're just so calm. They've noticed it too, and I feel like they're really close to being baptized. With enough work and helping them, they could be baptized next month.
Then there's Ramón, he's 18 and lives just 4 houses down. He's the son of two active members, there's a little brother too, and he's active. Before, he never really wanted to listen to the missionaries, but he agreed to listen to us. He's progressing.....pretty well I think. He came to church yesterday, that's a really good sign. We have a goal for his baptism next month as well. He accepts what we teach, and he's keeping his commitments, like praying and reading the scriptures. We're going to see him tonight, so yeah.
And we have Roberto, and his family. His wife, Teresa, doesn't really want to listen to us, but we did talk to her recently, that's good. Roberto is really interested in the gospel and he's progressing very well. Unfortunately he couldn't come to church because of work, he did come the last Sunday though. Every time we have taught him, he pays close attention to us. For example, he keeps eye contact with us, unless his daughter comes and bothers him hahaha. He's a really good man, and I'm fairly sure he's going to be baptized soon :P
Oh man, this last wednesday, I had to go to a meeting that started fromand it ended at That was fantastic. You're probably wondering what missionaries would do for 12 hours. That's an excellent question. There was a lot of talks from missionaries, about how we could improve, and others taught doctrine and things like that. There was 2 zones there, so there was quite a few missionaries there, like 50ish if I'm not mistaken. Anyways, we practiced teaching lessons as well, a lot. At 2 we ate lunch, thankfully. We had a couple activites too. One activity was really fun. It was like an obstacle course, according to the Vision of the Tree of Life, Lehi's dream. We were blindfolded and we had to hold onto a rope until we arrived to a tree, 'the tree of life'. However, there was a lot of people shouting, trying to make us let go of the rope (the iron rod), and people trying to grab our arms and trying to lead us away. Unfortunately, I didn't make it to the tree of life. I was sad. Not really, it was fun! I learned quite a bit of things in that 12 hour long meeting.
As for my personal well-being, I'm great, honestly. I'm excited for these next few weeks, and I have an awesome companion, and there's work to do in Bella Vista, my area. I'm improving as a teacher, and my spanish is going very well. The mission president even said so! I was talking to him today, and he told me that my spanish was really good! That made me feel good haha.
So I guess that's all for now, until next week! Love you guys!
Monday, May 18, 2015
Hey family! Here I am, completing a week in my new area, which is SO nice, I love it! The area is called Bella Vista D, the D is there because we actually share the area with 3 other companionships. It's like one giant area with 4 separate companionships. Therefore, there's a ton of people here. More than I can count, probably 3 or 4 times more people here than my last area. I met the ward yesterday, church was significantly different. I went from a little branch of usually 20 to 25 people to a ward of 150 or so people. Honestly, I loved the change. There were deacons, teachers, two high priests blessed the sacrament, and I really enjoyed the difference haha.
My new companion is Elder Flores, he's from Merida, Yucatan. Merida is right by Cancun, so there's a reference for you. He's as tall as I am and fairly dark. He's hilarious and he works hard, he's been in the mission field for 9 months, and I'm good friends with his trainer, I thought that was interesting since his trainer was my last zone leader. Small missionary world I guess? It's been so great working with him thus far, and I have a good feeling that we're going to do great things in this transfer.
The food here is mainly the same, only a bit spicier. The members here are SO nice and friendly, and there's so many of them too! The chapel is really nice too, it's the same size as the chapel back home, if not a bit bigger. The only disadvantage is that church starts at 8 in the morning, so the church assistance really could be a bit bigger I feel like, it's hard to get up in the morning, I testify that to you guys :P
The area, Bella Vista, is like a giant residence area, I don't know the word for it, it's tons and tons of houses, and there's shops and stores inside. Like a community. I know there's a word for that sort of thing, I can't remember it though. Argh! I hope you know what I'm talking about haha.
This week, we have two new investigators, Anahi and Alma. Alma is the mom of Anahi, a young adult with a daughter. They're really nice, and they accept us well, although they didn't come to church yesterday. Sadness. The funny thing is that when we first visited them, and met them, they were shouting and saying all these things about the husband of Anahi (Who actually referred us to Anahi and Alma). By the end of this week, they were significantly calmer and quieter and more peaceful, because they have been keeping their commitments, such as praying and reading the Book of Mormon. It was really nice to see the effects of commitments like that, let's face it. The Church is true everybody, praise the Lord.
We've just been working, visiting, contacting like crazy, eating, and I'm learning the area. I enjoy it so much, it's really interesting for me because I came from the wilderness pretty much to the city. I honestly like the city part more, except I can feel the difference in temperature. Wooh! It's getting hot here! Some members told me that it gets up to 120 degrees here, that's going to be fun. Also, there's giant thunderstorms here, so I might need a rain jacket :P
Oh! If you want to help me out, can you send me more shirts? I don't know how, but I went from having 10 or so shirts, to 4. I have 4 shirts. I also could use some garments, like 1 or 2 pairs (half poly, half cotton if you can). Also, I could use some pants. I only have 3 pairs of pants, i could use 1 or 2 more pairs I feel like. Uhhhh, shirts 17 or 17.5 is my neckline. garments, 38. Pants, my waist is 36, length 34. I think those are my numbers? But yeah, if you could send me those things, I would really benefit from that, if you can't, I still love you guys a ton! :P
So yeah, i think that's all! Here's to another week! Bye!
Here we are again. One more week in the books.
Life is humming along here. Not a lot is happening. Maybe except for a few things.
Yesterday we went to Ashley Nichols farewell. She's from one of the families we go to the football games with. Her dad was my roommate at BYU. She is going to Lubbock Texas. Seems like have the missions in the states are in Texas. She leaves this week. It's a neat weird feeling to see your friends kids go out. It makes us feel old.
Another neat thing is Alex is officially the deacons quorum president. Kind of surprising in a way. Somehow the bishop though our shy boy was the one for the job. We set him apart yesterday with his quorum. Hopefully he'll realize how to lead. I think he will because he's got great leaders.
There's another change this week. I finally tore the fence down in the back. The white vinyl fence that ran across the middle of the yard is not gone. It was a huge pain to get them out of the ground. I had to dig down pretty far and then smash up some concrete at the bottom of each post. It's cool now because we can have a really long playing field. And it's a lot easier to mow.
Other than that, everything is normal.
So how do you like your new area? What is your new companion like? Do you have hot water? How many people are in your area now? I hope more than about 200.
As usual your mother and I really think about you a lot. It was a pretty special thing to see your companion and the local members on skype. It kind of brought them home here for a second. I have a hope that your experience there is going to be something you remember for the rest of your life. Speaking from experience, the things you remember really are the relationships you have with the people. With your companion, your mission president, the local leaders but mostly the local members and of course your investigators. The ones that really will stick out in your mind are the ones that you help. You may help them come into the church for the first time or rediscover the church and become active again. Either way, if you are a part of them "coming unto Christ" you will have a memory of it forever.
So the key is Josh. Love the people. Go out of your way to show acts of kindness and service to all the people you have contact with. That will be the key to your success.
Anyway, that's my words of wisdom for this week. Keep the faith. Remember that we love you and are praying for your success and want you to have a rich and rewarding experience.
Take care and keep working hard.
Monday, May 4, 2015
Wow dad, that was an amazing email, thanks a ton. If there's anything that i have learned out here, it would be that adversity purifies us. From your words, from my experiences, from what my companion has told me, adversity makes us pure. We realize that we can't do this alone, that's why we have repentance and the Atonement. It's beautiful what we know, what we have. A problem today, in my area, and I'm sure in other places as well, is that people believe that God is angry with them, that he stopped loving them. Like you said, it's not like that at all.
Anyways, so about my week! This week was fun, this week we planned a bunch of Family Home Evenings with some members. One thing our branch needs is more unity, and a way to be more unified is with family home evenings! We had one on monday after p day, we did an activity where we all drew what we thought heaven looked like. All of our drawings were different of course, but we taught that the path to heaven is the same, through baptism and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our main message for the family home evenings was about that, and the Plan of Salvation. We had another one on thursday, that was fun, we did the same thing, and we had another one this sunday, but it was a bit different. We went to a member's house, set up a projecter and watched a movie about a missionary who breaks the law of chastity in the field, it's called States of Grace. It's really intense, it's placed in Santa Monica, and it gets crazy, but it was really nice! I liked it :) We had refreshments afterwards.
That was the majority of this week, the main highlights I guess. We also had some great lessons with week. There were two lessons, the first one, we visited with the family of the branch president, they don't come to church that often but they're faithful and good members. Our message was that God truly loves them and for what they have done right, that God is pleased with them. The spirit was really strong there. We also visited another family and we talked about what our goals in this life should be, well that they should be towards salvation really, and the spirit was strong there too. It was really interesting to see how strong the spirit can be.
Ah as I'm counting down this last week of this transfer, it's going to be interesting, because my companion leaves this next monday, which means I'm for sure going to get a new companion! Woah!!!!!!! So yeah, that's going to be fun :)
Here we are at another week.
You will be glad to know that I had a chance to visit Bro. Meeks this week. He was really down on his spirits and it was pretty sad to hear how bad his struggles were going.
Here's a list of his problems:
- He's trying to recover from multiple strokes he's had over the last few months.
- On top of that both his knees are in terrible shape so he needs a double knee replacement.
- He can't get that done because he has a heart problem and he's overweight.
- What he needs more than anything is exercise but he can't because of his knees.
What he is facing is genuine adversity. He has the real deal. When I look at the problems he has, it really puts my life in perspective. I realize that any problem I have pales in comparison to what he is facing. You and I can complain all we want about our adversity but I know that it isn't as big as not having your health and possibly looking at the end of our life. It reminds me of when my oldest sister was facing the end of her life.
I can't remember how much I've told you about my oldest sister Gaye Lynn. She died when she was 48 years old of multiple sclerosis. She slow lost the use of not just her legs but every part of her body. Over a 30 year period everything in her body slowly shut down. I can remember the day when she had to face the fact that she was going to lose the use of her body slowly. I was probably Alex's age so it was pretty hard for me to process seeing her face such a huge problem. I can remember that she was very inconsolable as one would expect. The reason it was probably harder for her than someone else is that the Lord blessed her with extra gifts. She was as tough as nails. I saw her do a few things that to this day puts her up there with an MMA fighter in toughness. At her birthday party she had 5 guys take her and try to throw her in the pool but they couldn't do it. It was amazing. There was something I saw her do that was far more epic than that. We were riding horses one time and I saw her fall off over the front of her horse one time. Before she hit the ground the right front hoof of the horse caught her right in the mouth. It busted all her front teeth out and broke her jaw in multiple places and gave her a concussion. Any normal person would have gone to the ground but not her. She was able to take that shot and not let go of the reins. She came off the horse but did not hit the ground. As I said, there are professional fighters that could not take the shot she did and do what she did. What's even more astounding is wasn't a week or two later that she was back on the same horse riding again. She still had her jaw completely wired shut and was still eating all her food through a straw. You can imagine how hard it would be for someone this tough to accept the fact that their body would slowly deteriorate. Fast forward about 20 years. I was facing some real tough times in my life. I was alone with Ty and Jacob. They were 2 and 4 years old and I was facing the fact that my family was falling apart. Again, it was real adversity. I called my sister during that time because I knew that she knew something about adversity. I was right. She had gone from facing even bigger adversity than I was and she had figured out how to deal with it. The advantage she had was the gospel perspective. She told me that the biggest factor in her dealing with her problem was to think about the entire plan of salvation. She found peace in realizing that she knew in the pre-existance that she would have the problem she did and in spite of knowing that she was willing to come to earth anyway. In other words, she "signed up" for this problem. I learned more about the Lords plan of happiness from her than anyone else on earth. To this day she is one of my greatest heroes for figuring that out. Fast forward another 10 years and she was facing the last stages of her life. When it was time for her to go, she went peacefully.
Back to our friend Bro. Meeks. He's facing the same kind of thing with his body. By the way, I did take our advice and I told him that story about my friend Frieda from my mission. He and Sis. Meeks really liked it. In fact, by the end of my visit with them, I could tell his spirits had lifted quite a bit. That was a great idea to tell him that story. He also told me that he really appreciated the email you sent him so good job on doing that. It wouldn't hurt to keep him in your prayers and maybe send him another email from time to time.
I wanted to tell you these things so you might think about what real adversity is. Last week mom told me what you had written her about your concern about some mistakes you made in the past. I read all that you wrote to her very carefully and it sounded like you were on the right track as far as taking care of it. I don't know how it's going to turn out for you but I do know that it won't be nearly as tough as what people like Bro. Meeks or my sister have faced. My love for you runs real deep Josh. As your father, there is nothing you could ever do that would change that. It wouldn't matter if you wound up in prison. It wouldn't change the way your mother or I would feel about you. You need to know that we love you as Heavenly Father does. Unconditionally. The best thing you can do is face your mistakes head on with FULL repentance. Be completely honest with yourself and your priesthood leaders and the Lord. Do everything that is asked of you. Not just with this but for the rest of your life. Going through this on your mission is a special thing because it puts you in the position to learn more about the Savior and His Atonement than any other you could any other way. Remember, we love you and are with you. Especially when you face tough times in your life. Don't ever forget that.