Monday, September 26, 2011

August Letters

August 1

Saturday came and we got to go aroudn our zone with our mission president visiting people's apartments. One of his focus's is that we have spiritual safe havens in our homes. That they can be clean and night and well lit in order to provide a spiritual source for us during our studies and planning. It was a blast we got to go with him for like 3 and a half hours just visiting missionaries in our zone. It was cool to see him interact with missionaries and learn how he does it with so much love. What was really awesome though was the difference in my companion and i's relationship. it seriously was awesome the change and how much more we enjoyed one another's company. It has been hard with him just barely learning spanish, not knowing any of the basics or anything! But for whateever reason which was an answer to my prayer, we were laughing with one another we talked about little things that just needed to change and after that, we got along so much better. So since saturday, things have been great. he even said the prayer in spanish on sunday in sacrament meeting! I was so proud of him haha! it was so fun hearing him pracitce all the time. He said just about every prayer we had together and it was the same memorized prayer he had written down in spanish haha. I was so happy for him though. We also had to take over our english ward. It was so scary. I don't know why but i felt like a fish out of water when we were there. We knew just a handful of people who were actually soo nice to us and we were asked in sacrament meeting to stand up and share a quick talk. it was really cool though and we are just working on gaining the trust of the members. it will be hard again this week though because tomorrow we are going to eugene for zone leader council again which will be a full day out of town. It will be good for our newer missionaries to be taking charge though. And we are really excited to go to ZLC and ill get to ride up with puertas again and alderman and elder kirkham who came out with me so it as always, will be a fun reunion.

We had a cool lesson this week with rodrigo and adriana. We didn't find a ton of new people, but some potentials turned into something more solid. They are a really cool family and we are trying to get them to Family home evening tonight because they couldn't come to church yesterday. We had a fun lesson with them on sautrday where we shared a little something and then they just asked a TON of questions. We had some members with us which helped a ton and we planned this week to go to the park right by their house and go play with the kids whether its soccer or who knows what. They have a 12 year old named monserath, an 8 year old named angel and a 5 year old named sandy. They are a really cool family and as usual the kids love us haha :) We are gonna see a cool white family we are teaching too. We foudn them like a month ago but for some reason things kept falling through. We tried to refer them to the other missionaries but now we took over that area, and so we are hoping that WE were just meant to teach them haha (prideful?) and that's why it took so long to get a meeting in with them. They have the potential to be super money! She said she had a bunch of friends that were mormon and family too and she loved the family values and wants to go to church, it's her husband that she wanted us to come over and teach ahaha. She is acting like a member already! So this wednesday we are gonna go see their family with the stake president's wife who is awesome. I actually met their daughter in the mtc (kinda funny).

August 11

So the rest of the week. It has been pretty cool because we have been going back to the camachos and teaching them a little bit more now that they are settled down in their new situation...without their dad. It's really sad but he was pretty crazy. So we've been going over there and practically all the kids in the whole neighborhood come over and sit and learn with us. It has been so fun and sometimes i feel like the apostles of old or even Jesus Christ, teaching masses of people at a time. While it's only a fraction of what that must've been, it has been pretty awesome and we set two baptismal dates with an 18 yr old and 15 yr old, their names are christian and chandler. They are really into it and love learning about the book of mormon, and even the modern day prophet. The only thing though is that they are kinda flaky. For example, they didn't come to church yesterday. Mostly because the camachos didn't come. We talked to them saturday night right before they went to bed and basically all their neighbors agreed to come to church if the camachos came, but they didn't wake up nor would they answer our texts or door knocks...nothing. It was a bummer because there were literally like 8 non members that would've come with them haha. It would have been pretty awesome. But this week we will try and do something different to help get them their, i know they will come. We also went and talked to this part member family in our ne wenglish ward and they LOVEd us. It was so awesome. One of the ward missionaries told us to go visit them beacuse they need a new "perspective of missionaries" and so we went and they just loved it. We were talking about the sisters' daughter getting baptized and how that's the next big step for her. We are going to see them again tonight with the ward missionary (who is also the stake presiden'ts wife she is AWESOME). It has been such a miracle to see how much our new ward has been able to trust us in our few visits with them. They have all welcomed us so much into their homes. We did run into a speed bump with them though haha, because on sunday we didn't get the dinner calendar from the guy that fills it out for us, and then he went to utah and we never got it from him, so we had no idea who signed up for dinner this past week. The thing is, we didn't care so much about eating, but we just didn't want to stand anyone up. So we figured it out as best as we could and hopefully this week we will get it back. It was pretty funny.


August 22

We've been teaching this part member family in our jacksonville english ward. We have taught her all about baptism and all about the gospel of Jesus Christ and she seems to understand it, but just would not say yes to being baptized. Even her mom is super supportive but she just wouldn't say yes. So we have been praying and praying for her that it would click. We had a cool lesson with her on thursday night though. We went to a baptism for someone in our district, and elder alderman and i sang a song, and then we had a lesson with Kelsie (the girl in thepartmember family) and her mom dawn, at the church. We went into the chapel and elder alderman and i sang another song for her, the one we sang at zone leader council, it is "nearer my god to thee" and "i know that my redeemer lives". So we sang this song and it sounded amazing! Then the other elders left and we had a prayer right there. We had kelsie's cousin who is less active say the prayer. (she's 17). She said "dear Heavenly Father..." and just started bawling. It was really cool to see how the spirit of music had touched her heart so powerfully. We asked her afterward how she was feeling and what she was thinking and it was just amazing! She has been less active too but because she baby sits kelsie, they have been coming to church together. It was the perfect start to our lesson. Then we had a lesson about church and why we go, and how the main reason we go is to take the sacrament! It was a really cool lesson and the spirit was soo so strong. Then at the end, we had kelsie go stand up on the stand and talk into the microphone like she was giving a talk, and her mom says, "Kelsie, do you have something to ask the elders?" and she acts really shy and then says "...ummm....will you baptize me?" and she points at elder Hatton!! Ahh man it was sooo awesome and such an answer to a prayer! Not only the fact that she said she would be baptized, but that she wanted Elder Hatton to baptize her! I can't tell you how excited we were and just how amazing that night was. It was such evidence to me that the only way she could've accepted the invitation was with Heavenly Father's help. We taught her everything we could in the most simple and easy to understand way, and it was only when Kelsie and her mom, took the time to kneel down and say a prayer about whether she should be baptized or not, was when she got the confidence and the excitement to take that big step. It just completely took us out of the equation and yet made us feel good that we were able to help her reconnect with her Heavenly Father and receive that direction from Him. Super awesome.

August 29

This week was another weird one. I feel like these past few weeks have been soo strange. Just cause they are challenges that i haven't really faced in my mission yet. There were more ups and downs again this week with the work and our companionship and actually last monday started off really bad! But monday evening, we had some aweseom miracles! We were driving and i felt impressed to go see the camachos and so we saw them and had an awesome lesson with their family and even two of strella the 18 year olds friends. We taught a lesson to a 14 year old girl who found out that day that she was pregnant. Talk about a rough one. She told us and we didn't even know what to say. ahh man it was soo sad! It made me think of something katie said how when you are done being a full time missionary all of a sudden all the worries and the guilt and the stress that you feel for the people you are teaching nd searching for, goes away. And i was just thinking how that girls sadness became our sadness and how hard but amazing it is to be a part of Heavenly Father's children's lives. This week i swear we heard soo many "hard life" stories whether they were conversion stories or just people going through the hardest time. But anyway, on mondayevening, after the camachos, we decided to go bike to a less actives house that we wanted to see. We didn't have an appointment or anything but decided to go. So lately, i don't know what it is, but i have been working so scared. I konw it sounds goofy but like when we are biking on the streets i have just been so afraid to talk to people and i feel like i haven't had that problem since the beginning of my mission. I mean everyone gets a little nervous, but you overcome it and talk to everyone! But lately, i had been having this problem. So we are biking and i'm just praying while i'm biking that somehow i can get over this huge fear and just talk to the dang people in the street haha! So we passed one or two people and i'm like dang it what am i doing?! why can't i just open my mouth? And then we go onto the main road and are biking by this lady watering her grass and i stopped (YAY) and started talking to her. She keeps her hose running and occasionally turns it off to listen to us talk haha but all she does is nod or shake her head. And i'm like man what is her problem haha. So then after 30 seconds of talking to her and asking her a few questions, i realize wait, i speak spanish! And so i said "hey, where are you from" in spanish and then we started talkig hahaha! It was actually really funny and we had a good laugh together too. It broke the ice well. But we ended up talking and teaching her about the book of mormon and her mom came out too and told us to come back and they have known mormons before and even missionaries from back in mexico. So that was a pretty cool experience and we felt blessed for opening our mouths even though it'sexpected of us, it has just been especially hard for me lately. So then we bike a little farther toward the less-actives house, and there's a guy plauying with his dog and again, my mind says, "no you don't need to talk to him, he'll probably be really rude and you have somebody to see". And i kept praying and finally said hey as we were driving by. He was super nice and after a little small talk he comes and walks closer to us and asks us about mormons and says he knew a bunch of mormons when he was growing up. We asked if he had ever heard the story about Jesus Christ when he came to American and visited and taught the people here, and he was surprised and says, "wait is that in there?!" (pointing to the book of mormon). And then says, "...can i read about it?" and our eyes get big hahaha and we smile and say HECK YEAH! So we taught him more about the book of mormon and gave him 3 nephi chapter 11 to read and set up an appointment for the two days later. Unfortunatly he cancelled his appointment but we texted him later and got no response. But then he called us that night and says "hey i have a question, who are the nephites?" and he told us he was in the middle of reading but he didn't understand who the people were and so we had a littl mini lesson over the phone and he finished the reading that night hah! it was a pretty cool miracle and by the time we had taught both of those people we had talked to, we had to turn back and go home so i don't think we were even meant to see that less active that we had planned, we were supposed to meet john and angela, the people we talked to on the street.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

July Letters

July 4
This past week we made a huge push to get members with us at our lessons. It was like pulling teeth just cause people are so dang busy! A lot of these dads are just working long days and come home exhausted. It was kind of frustrating too because we don't have the biggest branch and so when we'd get a return appointment we would literally go through the whole branch and not be able to bring somebody with us. But we ended up the week with over 50% of our lessons with members and this week we set 2 baptismal dates which was the real relief. It was so nice to finally see some fruits of our efforts. I mean it, i am soo exhausted. We get lights out by 10:30 and we are OUT! It was so funny the other night, me and elder alderman were getting ready for bed and i was like man i have so much energy, let's stay up and talk for a bit, and we got all excited but after our prayers we layed down and boom...wer'e out cold haha. That's just how it is. There's a lot to stress about with our area, new president, zone, 4th of july bbqs and just lots of stuff. So i think it's more of a mental drain than anything, but i really am just tired! It's getting super hot too haha and honestly we did a ton of finding this past week! Which i really do enjoy when we are talking to a lot of people because we've gotten really good at just teaching as we find and getting people to trust us. The only catch again, is that its scorching. But then i feel humbled when i think of my buddies in mexico or ellen or katie and how it must've been in ecuador and the d.r. We are really working diligently though. I love elder Alderman soo much. We get along so well and while he is a really good teacher and leader, he is realyl humble and is always asking how he can be better and teach better and speak better and stuff, it's pretty awesome and we are having a blast together. For real, inside of missionary work and outside, we are clicking really well, he is a really talented missionary. We saw a ton of miracles this week too.

The night before, we decided to go tracting one day. We show up at the trailer park and for some reason just didn't have a good feeling about it and so we left to do our back up plans and while we are driving, Elder Alderman says "stop". So we pull over and go knock on this random house that we were driving by. The lady opens up and is soo nice. She told us how she was really interested in mormonism because of the family values and how she wanted her husband to learn more about it and her kids. We were dumbstruck! haha it was soo awesome and so inspired, and so we are gonna go on exchanges and visit them this week when they come back from vacation. Then another day we came home at the end of the night and two guys contact us, and say they want to meet with us. haha we handed them off to the guys we are living with. Another day we did a quick tour of an apartment to move into, and as we leave i asked this lady if we could help her move things from her car, and she says "oh my goodness just my luck, i've been interested in converting and here are 4 missionaries to help me move my stuff". Once again i am struck dumb in shock haha. We handed her off to the sisters. It was cool because as we were working diligently and beginning to see success in our own area, we were able to help in little ways, the rest of the zone and it was just awesome. We felt very spirit led this week and i think it shows in the miracles we saw.

Another cool experience we had was with this kid named german. He's like 15 and way cool from guatemala. We taught him the first lesson the other day and he was pretty skeptical but at the end we talked about how if for some reason, all this really was true, wouldn't you really want to find out? And he was like yeah how could i say no. So we invited him to be baptized and he said yes and that he would read the book of mormon and pray about it. We left him a little question to answer after reading 3 nefi 11 too. So he goes out of town to work and in the middle of the week. we get a text from him saying, "hey guys i have to give your book back. My step dad found out that i accepted it from you and he got mad at me and doesn't want you to come over anymore"....My heart sank. I was soo bummed and just frustrated at how good things were going and then to see them drop. So he comes home on friday and says hey guys i'm home can you come over for a few minutes. So we went and saw him and he comes out to talk with us. we just kind of kicked it for a sec and then we asked about the book and if he had read and prayed. He said he read it all, and he answered the question we left him and he said how he loved when the Savior came down and talked to Nephi. He loved how when Nephi bent down to kiss his feet, the Savior told him to stand and spoke with him and then gave him the authority that he had to baptize and do miracles like He had done. It was soo cool how excited he was about it and how much he knew in detail and everything! Then we asked about his prayer. He said it didn't go great but then after he said amen, right away, images of his grandparents came to his mind and thye had played a huge role in what he believed before. His grandpa whispered to him "hijo mio" meaning my son, and then he said i couldn't hear what he said after that. His grandparents are past away too.But he said it couldn't have been a coincidence and that he really felt the book of mormon was the word of God. It was funny cause he was like,"yeah i would even consider it like the bible" and then he kind of surprised himself when he said that haha. But he said here, i can't have it. We declined of course to take it back and told him that that book meant more to us than anything and that it can bring him so much happiness, that it would be unfair for us to take it back. He said he would keep it and hide it, and that he would keep reading it, even if he had to read the same chapter over and over. It was soo sweet! But soo sad. Man we left there and i was soo mad and frustrated at his step dad. Man i wanted to scream and cry and throw stuff haha i felt like a little kid and yet at the same time, i felt really good inside knowing that the spirit had truly touched german and that one day, he will choose to accept the gospel. It was really reassuring and comforting and allowed us to keep working to have more experiences like that. I don't think we have used the book of mormon nearly enough in our teaching. In preach my gospel it says over and over that the Book of mormon combined with the spirit is our most powerful teaching tool. It was a really cool experience though and i hope good things happen with german even though we can't see him and he is going out of town to work till september.
July 13
We also foud a guy named gabriel who we taught and actualyl had a cool little miracle with him. We weren't sure how solid he would be but we got a chance to sit down with him and teach. It was going really well and we get to the part of joseph smith, the first vision, THE MOST SPECIAL PART!, elder alderman stops and says, "hey we'd love to leave you with a pamphlet that explains moer about all this..." and i look and go along with it, just praying that he had some spiritual impression. Well we end up leaving it right there and i'm like what the heck dude!? He says i don't know why but i really felt prompted to just stop and leave him with a pamphlet. So i said okay, i trust you. We leave and go back yesterday and talk with him. Gabriel says "oh man i'm sorry i didn't get a chance to read, my mother in law, picked it up and read about joseph smith and asked if she could take it home with her so she could learn more." We look at each other and are like haha sweet!! The spirit is smarter than we are. So we left him with another pamphlet and are going back on thursday. That was a pretty cool experience. We have some cool people to teach and are hoping to help them progress faster towards baptism by setting some dates with them. This week will be a big week.

Kind of a funny story...We got to dinner last week with the Rojas family who is awesome. We are talking with the kids who are 13, 12, and 5. The girl is 12 and she has some yogurt danimals thing in her hand. The kind that you drink. Then she shakes the top at me to pretend to be mad at me or something and the yogurt from the top flashes all over my suit in this big streak straight across my chest haha. Then a few days later we go to carlos and anahi's house and they have a little boy who has a gogurt in his hands. He keeps running up and hitting me with the gogurt thing and i already know at this point it's gonna end badly. But he holds it from the bottom and comes up and slaps it on my lap and then yogurt spills out all over my lap hahaha it was way funny and at that point i just had to laugh. It was pertty fun.

We are really tired today. I think the whole wednesday p-day thing threw us off a little bit and while monday was good, we had a rough day yesterday. We literally had a full days worth of people to see and they all flaked. We did get to see Kelly and the camacho family which was awesome because they had been MIA forever! They were glad to see us though and hopefully we can get them back to church. I will not give up hope with them haha. Anyways, it was so good to hear frmo everybody! You all just seem soo happy! I love hearing your experiences from pageant and missionary work, it is soo amazing! We are all engaged in the same work!
July 20
on sunday morning, we had a miracle of course. We are driving to church after having talked to all our solid investigators who just didn't want in, and we get a call from an unknown number. I couldn't even understand his voice or the name he said but he told me he was waiting for us on "stewart road" which is on the way to church. I really couldn't understand him well buit i said, "okay well meet you there and you can follow us to church" and he agreed. hahah so we are liek "what the heck!@!! who is this guy?! hahah" we were laughing and at the same time feeling kind of chastized from Heavenly Father because we were such downers after nobody said they were coming to church. And then we see who it is and it is a young couple, unmarried (unfortunatly), taht we had taught on friday. We invited them to church then too and they agreed if they didn't have naything going on, they would come. We tried to remind them on saturday but couldn't get a hold of them and they weren't home so we kind of gave up hope. But when we saw them waiting for us in another church parking lot haha (ironic), our hearts filled with joy and we were so pumped! They are such an awesome couple too and live right next to some recent converts from january, the ibarra family. the couple is sweet though and we taught them about baptism on friday how it's like a ferrari. When we drive it all over town and through pot holes and unpaved roads, it gets soo dirty! So we need a car wash! Then we talked about how the holy ghost was like a little copilot that knows the streets back and forth and can help us avoid the pot holes and the muddy paths. We were laughing and enjoying it but they understoof really well. When we were teaching them, we asked them what color would their ferrari be and so now they call us "red" and "blue" cause those were the colors we chose haha. It's funny and they ended up enjoying church a lot! They have a little 2 year old boy named Abel who did really well in nursery which was a blessing because they will feel comfortable coming back and leaving him there. Please pray for miracles with them. Honestly as of right now, they are the only solid people we have. Which is kind of sad, but at the same time, it doesn't matter. We are working our tails off and trying to work by the spirit. We know we are growing spiritually and mentally and we are having fun. I love working with Elder Alderman, he is a champ! Today is his birthday and so we are going to 7-11 to get free slurpies cause it's 7/11 today :)
July 25
Last night, we had a really sad experience. We went and taught this guy named david. He is living with a member who is a senior in highschool, just had her second kid, but is active in the church. They are bf and gf and she wants him to get baptized and come to church, but he is strictly catholic. We had another "throw down" lesson where honestly i felt like i loved him but i felt so sad that he just wasn't seeing what was right, and what was wrong. He is waiting for God to open every door for him and spoon feed him spiritually. It is pretty frustrating. He won't ever read, and he rarely prays, we have been so frustrated. THis pasta week though he did pray half of the week with his family. IMPROVEMENT! We went last night and taught and invited him to be baptized. He declined and even knew that what he was saying wasn't true. We talked about all these things about how good and how many blessings he would receive even if he just TRIED to find out if this was all true, and when we asked him if he was willing to "open this door" and do what it takes to find out, he said "no". It was heartbreaking for us but what made it worst, was when we turned to his gf and said "cely, do you have anything to add?" and she looks down at her phone and says, "no....it just makes me sad". and she just started crying. She was trying so hard to hide it and David didn't even see until we asked him to pray and he looked over at cely and things just went quiet, and then he said the prayer as she hid her face behing a little pillow and couldn't look us or him in the eye. Ah man it was sooo sadd! I can't tell you how horrible and just heart broken we felt. My testimony has grown so much too of how Heavenly Father really does feel what we feel, and his emotions are even amplified because His love is perfect. I knew that he was soo sad, not only for cely who unfortunatly has made some "oops" decisions but also for His son David, who just rejected the one way that would bring him back to Heavenly Father's presence. Man we left feeling pretty down but also knowing that we had taught powerfully and even felt the spirit during David's closing prayer. He is just not opening his heart.

We had a cool luau to go to on saturday night though that was a blast! We got to help out and give service there but a ton of people came and there were a lot of spanish people there that we saw and met and it was just a cool environment and we made a splash in the community because we essentially talked to everyone there whether it was about the church or not, we got face time with everyone. It was a pretty fun thing and the guy in charge of the whole thing is a member and put on a cool little show where they danced with fire and stuff. it was fun

We went on exchanges last wednesday too and taught an awesome lesson. It was fun to teach in english for a little while and it was a unique experience because i could say things exactly how i wanted to haha. In spanish, i can teach pretty good, but certain things i don't even think about saying cause i don't know how haha so it was fun to teachi in english for a little while.

June Letters

June 13

This past week we had zone conference which was soo cool. It was our mission president's last one and was pretty epic haha. It wasn't necessarily the most "instructional" but it was very spiritually edifying and man we all left feeling soo good but also a little sad. It's kind of strange how close you feel to a mission president and his wife, how the instant you arrive in the field you respect them so much and they become a little mission mom and dad. I really love them soo much and will miss them a ton. It's gonna be weird to get used to a new president who does things differently but i guess i will get the best of both so, it's actually a blessing. It was sad though, right at the beginning of zone conference, we sang our OEM mission song and i could just see tears flowing down my president's face. It made me think, as my year mark is coming up quick, how many more times will i get to sing that song ya know? I had a horrible dream last night that i got really sick on my mission and had to get sent home, even in my dream i remember calling president checketts and talking about being released and taking off my tag. I remember just crying in my dream and then i woke up. It's weird to think how time picks up and just goes!!! It doesn't slow down man even when the area is slow, there is just so much going on and so much to worry about, it just goes. Day after day i think i get more and more gratitude for this awesome responsibility we have as missionaries.

We went on three splits last week to get those all finished up which was pretty fun. It's always a little rush to switch companions and mix things up for the day. We saw some cool miracles. There was a lady we taught last week who said she was going to move to utah but ended up staying so now we can continue teaching her. We also gave a blessing to a less active who was having a baby and they are committed to coming to church. We taught a couple that just showed up at church a few weeks ago and it looks like they will be pretty solid too. We are gonna teach them tomorrow with our branch president. And then we are still teaching Berta, Cesar, and Jaydi. They are step-family with Luis who is the active teenager and his dad who is less active. We are seeing some problems now with Cesar who didn't come to church this past week. He has been avoiding us this past week which is really frustrating but his mom is way open and same with the little sister jaydi. They both came to church along with luis and the inactive dad, Efrain. They all came and enjoyed church too. We tried to see them last night but they ended up cancelling which was a bummer. I saw a cool miracle at church though which to me was evidence of the small scale things that Heavenly Father does to bring about greater things. Efrain and his wife Berta came to church like i said, but a little background information is that Efrain was married before and they were very active, but then his wife had an affair with another member of the church and they divorced and he went inactive since then. So in church they stayed the whole time up till the end when there was about 15 minutes left. I'm thinking,"oh great theyre probably bored and don't want to stay" but they said they had to go call mexico because berta's daughter was coming from mexico the next day. So we said ok and they left. Then we go sit back down in sacrament meeting, and the speaker right away starts talking about this guy that had the affair with Efrain's ex-wife, the reason he left the church in the first place. It was just a click moment that my companion pointed out to me and i was like "OH MY GOSH!" what a blessing that was. If he had stayed i don't know what he would've thought or said, but it wou'dnt have been good! What a blessing.

Then later that day we go visit a part member family and meet with this girl alejandra. She is in her low 20's and has two kids and her husbands name is javier. We are talking and we don't know th em too well so we asked, "wait alejandra, are you a member too?" And she says "no...but i want to be" . HA Elder K and i look at each other and try our best not to freak out and go crazy cause we were so happy haha but we then look back and talked about how that's what we do is help people become members of the church. And we ended up setting baptismal date with her for the 25th of this month. It was such a miracle and kind of a "duh" moment because we have visited them a few times before and it just never was brought up. I think it was just our bad like we had lost focus or something on how importnatn or rather, essential, baptism is. So that was an amazing blessing and we are gonna work with her husband too but he is hardly ever around and its hard for him to come to church but he has been before a while ago and alejandra said that he really liked it so well see what we can do with him too. We ended up giving her little boy a blessing cause he wasn't eating anything. He would only drink water or food they blended up. It was strange but a cool opportunity for her to feel the spirit and witness the power of the preisthood. I don't know why but this weekend we gave more blessings than i think have in the whole 3 months i've been here. It was just a reminded to me that the Priesthood power of God really is on the earth, and what an awesome responsibility we have to serve others with that same priesthood power.

Things are really looking up in our area. We finally have a decent sized teaching pool and i'm glad so that Elder Alderman will get here and right away see success. Our spirits are high and we are trying to rely more on the miracles of the Lord to bless our area because we know without them, we are uncapable of truly finding His prepared children and showing them the waters of baptism as they try and make it back to their Heavenly Dad. This week was a blast and the following one will be as well. We have transfers tomorrow, then next monday we are goign to eugene for Zone leaders council AGAIN! (i can't believe i've already going to three of these things, time is moving too fast!) so my email will probably come at a different time but we'll make it all work out. That is always a fun trip and it'll be president Macdonalds last one so we know it will be incredible! I'm feeling pretty good with my spanish these days too. I know i haven't been freaking out about it as much, but i realize the greater need to rely on the Lord for my speaking and understanding. I tried so hard before to just learn it like i would in school but that is probably the least effective way i could go about it. I have been praying the I might be and instrument in the Lord's hands and say what he would have me say and understand what i need to in order to be able to teach what His children need to hear. I find that i have been blessed more with better teaching, speaking, and listening abilities. I love this work, and i love the Lord.

I love you too everybody and thank you soo much for your letters and prayers and support. They mean more to me than anything i could ask for.

Elder Edwards

June 13

This past week we had zone conference which was soo cool. It was our mission president's last one and was pretty epic haha. It wasn't necessarily the most "instructional" but it was very spiritually edifying and man we all left feeling soo good but also a little sad. It's kind of strange how close you feel to a mission president and his wife, how the instant you arrive in the field you respect them so much and they become a little mission mom and dad. I really love them soo much and will miss them a ton. It's gonna be weird to get used to a new president who does things differently but i guess i will get the best of both so, it's actually a blessing. It was sad though, right at the beginning of zone conference, we sang our OEM mission song and i could just see tears flowing down my president's face. It made me think, as my year mark is coming up quick, how many more times will i get to sing that song ya know? I had a horrible dream last night that i got really sick on my mission and had to get sent home, even in my dream i remember calling president checketts and talking about being released and taking off my tag. I remember just crying in my dream and then i woke up. It's weird to think how time picks up and just goes!!! It doesn't slow down man even when the area is slow, there is just so much going on and so much to worry about, it just goes. Day after day i think i get more and more gratitude for this awesome responsibility we have as missionaries.

We went on three splits last week to get those all finished up which was pretty fun. It's always a little rush to switch companions and mix things up for the day. We saw some cool miracles. There was a lady we taught last week who said she was going to move to utah but ended up staying so now we can continue teaching her. We also gave a blessing to a less active who was having a baby and they are committed to coming to church. We taught a couple that just showed up at church a few weeks ago and it looks like they will be pretty solid too. We are gonna teach them tomorrow with our branch president. And then we are still teaching Berta, Cesar, and Jaydi. They are step-family with Luis who is the active teenager and his dad who is less active. We are seeing some problems now with Cesar who didn't come to church this past week. He has been avoiding us this past week which is really frustrating but his mom is way open and same with the little sister jaydi. They both came to church along with luis and the inactive dad, Efrain. They all came and enjoyed church too. We tried to see them last night but they ended up cancelling which was a bummer. I saw a cool miracle at church though which to me was evidence of the small scale things that Heavenly Father does to bring about greater things. Efrain and his wife Berta came to church like i said, but a little background information is that Efrain was married before and they were very active, but then his wife had an affair with another member of the church and they divorced and he went inactive since then. So in church they stayed the whole time up till the end when there was about 15 minutes left. I'm thinking,"oh great theyre probably bored and don't want to stay" but they said they had to go call mexico because berta's daughter was coming from mexico the next day. So we said ok and they left. Then we go sit back down in sacrament meeting, and the speaker right away starts talking about this guy that had the affair with Efrain's ex-wife, the reason he left the church in the first place. It was just a click moment that my companion pointed out to me and i was like "OH MY GOSH!" what a blessing that was. If he had stayed i don't know what he would've thought or said, but it wou'dnt have been good! What a blessing.

Then later that day we go visit a part member family and meet with this girl alejandra. She is in her low 20's and has two kids and her husbands name is javier. We are talking and we don't know th em too well so we asked, "wait alejandra, are you a member too?" And she says "no...but i want to be" . HA Elder K and i look at each other and try our best not to freak out and go crazy cause we were so happy haha but we then look back and talked about how that's what we do is help people become members of the church. And we ended up setting baptismal date with her for the 25th of this month. It was such a miracle and kind of a "duh" moment because we have visited them a few times before and it just never was brought up. I think it was just our bad like we had lost focus or something on how importnatn or rather, essential, baptism is. So that was an amazing blessing and we are gonna work with her husband too but he is hardly ever around and its hard for him to come to church but he has been before a while ago and alejandra said that he really liked it so well see what we can do with him too. We ended up giving her little boy a blessing cause he wasn't eating anything. He would only drink water or food they blended up. It was strange but a cool opportunity for her to feel the spirit and witness the power of the preisthood. I don't know why but this weekend we gave more blessings than i think have in the whole 3 months i've been here. It was just a reminded to me that the Priesthood power of God really is on the earth, and what an awesome responsibility we have to serve others with that same priesthood power.

Things are really looking up in our area. We finally have a decent sized teaching pool and i'm glad so that Elder Alderman will get here and right away see success. Our spirits are high and we are trying to rely more on the miracles of the Lord to bless our area because we know without them, we are uncapable of truly finding His prepared children and showing them the waters of baptism as they try and make it back to their Heavenly Dad. This week was a blast and the following one will be as well. We have transfers tomorrow, then next monday we are goign to eugene for Zone leaders council AGAIN! (i can't believe i've already going to three of these things, time is moving too fast!) so my email will probably come at a different time but we'll make it all work out. That is always a fun trip and it'll be president Macdonalds last one so we know it will be incredible! I'm feeling pretty good with my spanish these days too. I know i haven't been freaking out about it as much, but i realize the greater need to rely on the Lord for my speaking and understanding. I tried so hard before to just learn it like i would in school but that is probably the least effective way i could go about it. I have been praying the I might be and instrument in the Lord's hands and say what he would have me say and understand what i need to in order to be able to teach what His children need to hear. I find that i have been blessed more with better teaching, speaking, and listening abilities. I love this work, and i love the Lord.

I love you too everybody and thank you soo much for your letters and prayers and support. They mean more to me than anything i could ask for.

Elder Edwards

June 27

But that is the last thing on our minds. Holy smokes sometimes i feel like my head might explode! We met our new mission president last week and he is amazing! He just has the mantle upon him too. The first time we saw him, there was no doubt in my mind that he had the keys and authority to receive revelation and guide this mission. It was a pretty cool spiritual confirmation. He is truly awesome and you can really feel his love when you are around him. His wife seems to be really kind and sweet, you could tell they are both a little nervous haha but who wouldn't be?! I had butterflies before meeting him and i'm sitting somewhere comfortable haha. He is great though and there are little things here and there that are changing. The first being that we are going to eugene tomorrow early morning for zone leader council and actually driving over to klamath falls tonight which is like a 1 1/2 hour drive. We will be busy all day tomorrow and might not even have any time to proselyte in the evening cause we will have to travael about 4 hours in total one way. We are so excited and the A.P.s are really talking up the zone leader council so it should be a good one. The new president has a ton of faith and is all about hands on practicing and then applying. I think i will become a lot more "sharp" as a missionary and get out of my comfort zone haha. Well let you know next week what happens. And then wednesday, we have interviews again with him and wil be gone from 8-4 and that will be another long day away from our area but we know that Heavenly Father will help us make up for that time lost.

This past week we made a huge push to get members with us at our lessons. It was like pulling teeth just cause people are so dang busy! A lot of these dads are just working long days and come home exhausted. It was kind of frustrating too because we don't have the biggest branch and so when we'd get a return appointment we would literally go through the whole branch and not be able to bring somebody with us. But we ended up the week with over 50% of our lessons with members and this week we set 2 baptismal dates which was the real relief. It was so nice to finally see some fruits of our efforts. I mean it, i am soo exhausted. We get lights out by 10:30 and we are OUT! It was so funny the other night, me and elder alderman were getting ready for bed and i was like man i have so much energy, let's stay up and talk for a bit, and we got all excited but after our prayers we layed down and boom...wer'e out cold haha. That's just how it is. There's a lot to stress about with our area, new president, zone, 4th of july bbqs and just lots of stuff. So i think it's more of a mental drain than anything, but i really am just tired! It's getting super hot too haha and honestly we did a ton of finding this past week! Which i really do enjoy when we are talking to a lot of people because we've gotten really good at just teaching as we find and getting people to trust us. The only catch again, is that its scorching. But then i feel humbled when i think of my buddies in mexico or ellen or katie and how it must've been in ecuador and the d.r. We are really working diligently though. I love elder Alderman soo much. We get along so well and while he is a really good teacher and leader, he is realyl humble and is always asking how he can be better and teach better and speak better and stuff, it's pretty awesome and we are having a blast together. For real, inside of missionary work and outside, we are clicking really well, he is a really talented missionary. We saw a ton of miracles this week too.

The night before, we decided to go tracting one day. We show up at the trailer park and for some reason just didn't have a good feeling about it and so we left to do our back up plans and while we are driving, Elder Alderman says "stop". So we pull over and go knock on this random house that we were driving by. The lady opens up and is soo nice. She told us how she was really interested in mormonism because of the family values and how she wanted her husband to learn more about it and her kids. We were dumbstruck! haha it was soo awesome and so inspired, and so we are gonna go on exchanges and visit them this week when they come back from vacation. Then another day we came home at the end of the night and two guys contact us, and say they want to meet with us. haha we handed them off to the guys we are living with. Another day we did a quick tour of an apartment to move into, and as we leave i asked this lady if we could help her move things from her car, and she says "oh my goodness just my luck, i've been interested in converting and here are 4 missionaries to help me move my stuff". Once again i am struck dumb in shock haha. We handed her off to the sisters. It was cool because as we were working diligently and beginning to see success in our own area, we were able to help in little ways, the rest of the zone and it was just awesome. We felt very spirit led this week and i think it shows in the miracles we saw.

Another cool experience we had was with this kid named german. He's like 15 and way cool from guatemala. We taught him the first lesson the other day and he was pretty skeptical but at the end we talked about how if for some reason, all this really was true, wouldn't you really want to find out? And he was like yeah how could i say no. So we invited him to be baptized and he said yes and that he would read the book of mormon and pray about it. We left him a little question to answer after reading 3 nefi 11 too. So he goes out of town to work and in the middle of the week. we get a text from him saying, "hey guys i have to give your book back. My step dad found out that i accepted it from you and he got mad at me and doesn't want you to come over anymore"....My heart sank. I was soo bummed and just frustrated at how good things were going and then to see them drop. So he comes home on friday and says hey guys i'm home can you come over for a few minutes. So we went and saw him and he comes out to talk with us. we just kind of kicked it for a sec and then we asked about the book and if he had read and prayed. He said he read it all, and he answered the question we left him and he said how he loved when the Savior came down and talked to Nephi. He loved how when Nephi bent down to kiss his feet, the Savior told him to stand and spoke with him and then gave him the authority that he had to baptize and do miracles like He had done. It was soo cool how excited he was about it and how much he knew in detail and everything! Then we asked about his prayer. He said it didn't go great but then after he said amen, right away, images of his grandparents came to his mind and thye had played a huge role in what he believed before. His grandpa whispered to him "hijo mio" meaning my son, and then he said i couldn't hear what he said after that. His grandparents are past away too.But he said it couldn't have been a coincidence and that he really felt the book of mormon was the word of God. It was funny cause he was like,"yeah i would even consider it like the bible" and then he kind of surprised himself when he said that haha. But he said here, i can't have it. We declined of course to take it back and told him that that book meant more to us than anything and that it can bring him so much happiness, that it would be unfair for us to take it back. He said he would keep it and hide it, and that he would keep reading it, even if he had to read the same chapter over and over. It was soo sweet! But soo sad. Man we left there and i was soo mad and frustrated at his step dad. Man i wanted to scream and cry and throw stuff haha i felt like a little kid and yet at the same time, i felt really good inside knowing that the spirit had truly touched german and that one day, he will choose to accept the gospel. It was really reassuring and comforting and allowed us to keep working to have more experiences like that. I don't think we have used the book of mormon nearly enough in our teaching. In preach my gospel it says over and over that the Book of mormon combined with the spirit is our most powerful teaching tool. It was a really cool experience though and i hope good things happen with german even though we can't see him and he is going out of town to work till september.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Time flys when...

From this past week we had some good news too! Our teaching interviews went really well first of all. We ended up coming up with some really cool ideas about helping people understand making commitments. We did this cool little demo where we brought a bunch of ingredients for an "anti-mormon" smoothie. We put a little ketchup in because people hear we have tons of wives, we put in some lime juice because they say we worship joseph smith instead of Christ, and all these nasty ingredients for things that missionaries have heard from talking to people, all of the which are not true! But we had a nasty smoothie and while we were making it, one of the sister missionaries was outside not watching. Then we had another sister missionary leave the room and brought the first one back in. But when the first one came back in, we had a nice strawberry banana smoothie sitting right there on the table and so she thinks we just made a nice tasty smoothie which represented the misconceptions of the people we teach. (the nasty one was hidden). Then we blindfolded the second sister and brought her back in. The first sister had to invite the second one to drink the smoothie. It was soo funny because the one that had to drink it, only saw that we made a nasty one, while the inviter sister only thought we had a good one. And so it was really interesting to see the way she got her to drink it. It was cool because the one trying to get her to drink it took a sip and said "oh man this is the best thing ever etc...." and it was from her personal experience or TESTIMONY that the second sister began to believe that somehow that nasty smoothie was a good one. what helped even more was when the rest of the missionaries were like yeah it's soo goood! and that represented the testimony of members that assist us in our teaching. It was a simple little idea but actually covered missionary work pretty in depth and was pretty funny! Everyone was into it too, even those that were just watching. And in the end, of course the sister drank it and partook of the sweetness of the "gospel smoothie". it was soo much fun and the whole meeting was just a spiritual haven. Oh i meant to ask you, did you even read D and C section 135? We went over it with our whole zone and watcched part of the prophet the restoration and it wasreally touching and spiritually uplifting. If you haven't read it, please do it as a family, and you will see the sacrifices taht have been made to bring us the blessings of the gospel.

Other than that, the week went pretty good too. We taught a whole bunch this week and had members out with us almost everyday! The only problem is that nearly all of the people we are teaching, aren't progressing. It has been so hard for us to get people to church and i can't help but wonder if it is my teaching. I feeli like ive fallen a little bit into a routine and am not teaching enough by the spirit. I got to go on splits with this Return missionary that just came back 4 days ago from nicaragua and it was so much fun. his spanish was sooo bomb! haha i was a little jealous but he helped a lot and i think he helped me remember to really love these people first, before we can teach them. I would always rush into a lesson when we talked with someone but he was content in just knowing evreything about them and it really opened people up. It was pretty cool and i was so glad i got to go out on splits with him and learn from him.

We did have one major miracle this week which was soo relieving. We took a less active out with us on splits, he is 17 and his whole family is inactive. his name is ruben and he is in the family where the girlfriend doesn't want to get married but doesn't want the bf to move out either so now the bf can't get married. Yeah...so ruben comes out with us and has been loving it lately. So we went to white city and then came back after a mediocre night. I went to go OYM some people while Elder K went to go play with this kid named cesar in the parking lot with ruben. Cesar is not a member but lives with his stepbrother who is really active and is 15. the 15 year old step brother is Luis and he is soo money! but anyway. Cesar is not a member and we were just playing soccer with him for a little bit at the end of the night, and Elder K started talking to him about church and stuff and he was kind of like ehh i don't know if i want to go, this and that, and then ruben starts talking with him and says, "listen man, i haven't been to church in like 3 years...What if...what if i go, then you come with me, and we'll do this whole thing together. Like a pact that well make and well both go this sunday." And Cesar just stares at him for a second and is like, oKAY! hahah it was sooo amazing and just such a blessing/miracle whatever it was, it was awesome! But they were down and sealed it with a handshake.
hahah so on saturday we went and see these two kids ben and alex that we haven't seen in a while. They live like 20 minutes away so its kind of far too. But we saw them and they were glad to see us and everything it was cool. We talked for a bit and finally got them to commit to come to church and they got excited about it too. So we said okay guys we are gonna come at 9:30 tomorrow to get you okay? they say yeah its all cool and everything. so sunday morning, we make the trip out there to get them. we knock on their windows and their door and all we got was alex peeking up from his bed through the blinds and then going back to his pillow. We knocked there for a little bit until we got a text from their dad, who is completely inactive, "ben doesn't want to go to church. Please don't come back to our house unless he or i invites you" Oh man it nearly broke my heart. i love this ben and alex kids they are soo awesome. Theyre little skater boys and i just clicked soo good with them. I seriously was about to start crying and then we just left. It was odd and i think satan was really working on me because in the car ride i was just thinking "man i'm soo tired of this happening every week. I'm so tired of getting my hopes up and let down week after week." i felt so ineffective as a missionary. I don't just want to be a "planter" i want to be a "sower". The scriptures say the field is whiteready to harvest, not brown ready to plant, and while i knoew we can't convert everybody, sometimes i wonder why we can't convert anybody. We went on our way thoguh to get ruben and cesar. We texted them and found out that they were both ready and waiting for us, so that was a major boost and a testimony to me that Heavenly Father gives us a little dose of miracle right when we need it. They both came, the inactive kid ruben and the nonmember cesar. We were worried he wouldn't enjoy church because for the youth, all the classes are in english cause we overlap with an english ward. So he goes through and we are trying to give him a good time even in sacrament meeting but it's tough while maintaining a spiritual experience too so we were worried that at the end he would be like, yeah that was fun...LATEr! haha but it was clearly just lack of faith. At the end of church we walked him out with ruben and luis his stepbrother, and he says, "we'll see you elders next sunday..." hahah and we're like wait...next sunday?! Yess haha and so we talked to him more and he had a good timea nd we are gonna try and see him on tuesday. in the past, Elder K taught him with puertas or rather, tried to teach him and Cesar's mom wasn't really having it and didn't let them make to much progress but this time she was totally fine with him going to church and stuff. So he was the only one we had at church but it was worth it.


I love this work, i love you, i'm really happy, and i Love the Lord. What else matters :) Hope you have a great week!
Elder Edwards

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Perspective

hola hola this week was pretty good. It was kind of stressful coming back from eugene in the middle of last tuesday, we had our combined district meeting to teach on friday that we had to plan for and we still had to maintain our area and so it was definitely a tough balance. It was pretty aweseom though because at zone leader council we were talking abotu our baptismal goals for the mnth of may and how we were going to reach them and how many baptismal dates would need to be set and stuff like that. So in our temple zone, we had a little bit of a difference between how many people we thought we could help get baptized and the actual amount of people we alreaedy had. Basically we left saying okay, we need to find a ton of people to teach this week. So upon getting back, we pushed finding new investigators through our district leaders and we saw soo many miracles! In our zone we do what's called, a "miracle update" where anytime something awesome happens in somebodys area, they text it to the whole zone. SO this week we got like 4 or 5 texts about people setting baptismal dates and we found so many new investigators it was soo great! Even some of the misisonaries in our zone that have been having a hard time, saw some miracles and got them pumped up. That was fun to see everybody getting excited.

We were kind of having a downer week at first too which was frustrating. We ended up "benching" jessica and her little girls. It was really hard when we went over there and realized that we were gonna have to stop teaching her. Jessica's sister is so mean to her little girls and it just hurts so bad to see and hear the way they treat them. While we were talking to jessica we basically got it out of her that she wasn't ready to make this commitment to be baptized and keep the commandments. We had felt good about her in the past but then because she wouldn't come to church it always put a little damper on things. So this time we finalyl just said we'll let her go. I think "benching" people, or rather, stop teaching people, is harder to do than actually finding new people. It requires so much more faith to drop someone that you have built such a love for and a care, and it's soo frustrating when they just don't get the whole picture. Sometimes you wonder if you could've done more to help her see. As we left their home the two little girls, chela and lulu come run up to us and they would always give us little "high fives" and "pounds" and they do it all soft cause i always pretend like it hurts my hand and so they did that before we left and then said "bye edward" hah it was pretty sad but as we left her home, both elder k and i felt a reassuring confirmation from the spirit that that was what we needed to do. It was a good comforting feeling. But it still wasn't easy. We set out then to keep finding new people. We feel like tracting is extremely unaffective and are trying to work through members. one of the things we took away from zlc is this program called "collect the elect" and there is a ton of suggestions for just how to work SMARTER not just harder. I think that is the main problem in our zone that peope are doing work, it's just not the smartest. So we are doing a lot more work through members, formers, exchanges, recent converts, less actives, and just trying to seek referals from everyone. We foudn out that 70% of baptisms come from member referrals, i thought that was pretty interesting. But we started it today and are looking forward to it.

One of the bummers this week was actually our meeting that we taught on friday to our zone. We had to push this collect the elect thing, and another program called "by small and simple things" and just get everybody excited for it. Our problem i think was that we just lacked creativity. There was way too much instruction and not enough edification. It was super difficult to get people excited and i think it just reflected our preparation. We prepared a lot don't get me wrong, it was just too focused on WHAT we needed to teach instead of HOW we wanted to teach it. Maybe it was a humbling thing from Heavenly Father. Now we have to teach this wednesday again because our mission president is coming to do his LAST interviews of his mission. So they will be pretty fun but were kind of stressed again. It kind of shook my confidence teaching in front of our zone and now i'm nervous to do it again haha but i think it'll be fine and we got some better ideas this time to make it more fun. So that will be nice when it's over hahah.

Our saturday was amazing though! We were worried because with all the preparation for district meeting, we neglected our area a little bit. BUT, saturday was so bomb! We foudn 3 new investigators that day that were pretty solid and taught 5 lessons to new people in the afternoon. Then that night we went on splits with two members and taught 5 more lessons with members with us, and our new investigators seem pretty solid too. So we felt great after that night and it was a nice boost. One downer thing though was that this guy that we have a baptismal date with, he flaked on us and we didn't get to talk to him OR his girlfriend that doesn't want to get married. We texted him yesterday and he's like yea, susana (his gf) doesn't want to talk with you guys about it. So we don't know what to do. We fasted last sunday and then on friday again for him. I think i'm still struggling to align my will with Heavenly Father's beacuse this guy is super solid, and we were expecting a miracle, but clearly right now, it's just not supposed to happen.

Sunday though was awesome. We didn't have anybody we were expecting show but it actually might have turned out a little better anyway. two people showed up with a member that, one of them had come once, and the other was the first time. They are bf and gf so they aren't married, but they aren't living together either. THey also are planning on getting married in July. But we talked to them in sacrament meeting and were like "so are you members, or just visiting or what?" and they were like oh no but we are coming because that is our plan. And so elder K already started talking to them about baptism and stuff and they were like yeah, that's why we are coming now. So that was a huge miracle that was soo nice! It was such a blessing and i feel like because we are working smarter, we are being blessed for it. The only catch is that they can't meet much during the week becuase the gf works and goes to school and the guy just works a lot. We'll see whats gonna happen though. We are gonna meet with the member they came with tonight.

That's pretty much the week though. My time is getting cut a little short but i wanted to share a cool story that a recent convert told me about albert einstein but it was pretty cool and i wanted to share it. Maybe you've heard it...

There is a big classroom filled with students and the teacher asks them all, "does evil exist?" and the class says "well of course, it's all around the world" and then the teacher follows that question with another, "did God create everything on earth?" and the class replies again, "yes, he created everything." Then the teacher says, "well, if God is so loving and all powerful and perfect, why would he create evil in the world, that would make him the author of sin and bad in ithe world". The class was stumped and didn't say much for a moment. Then a student in the back of the room raises his hand, and says, "professor, may i ask a question?" The teacher responds, "certainly".

The student then asks the teacher, "does 'cold' exist?" and the teacher responds "yes". The student then responds and says, "incorrect, heat exists. Cold is just the name they give to the absence of Heat." THen he asks another question, "does darkness exist?" and the teacher replies again "yes of course". The student then shakes his head with a smile, "wrong, darkness is only the name they give to the absence of light, darkness itself does not exist." Then the student asks his last question to the teacher,"does evil exist?" and the teacher again nods and says yes. Shaking his head the student, responds, "no, evil is just the name people give to the absence of God. God is perfect and loving. Evil itself is not made by God.

I thought it was just a cool little story and kind of whitty too. It was albert einstein that said all that stuff and i probably made a few mistakes but it's what i remember. I just like the little message from it.

I learned a lot about accountability this week and had the image of standing in front of my Savior Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father, as i account for my actions, from my youth, young adulthood, as a missionary, and future father and husband, and i thought of what their reaction would be. Would it be one of smiles and love and gratitude even for me, even being imperfect, having done all that i was able to do, or would it be one of sorrow and sadness knowing that i am not worthy to receive all the blessings they have to give me. It was just a touching thought and we also have been studying the sacrifices made by the prophet joseph smith and got me thinking a ton. Our president said a cool quote that i liked, "I would love to sit in the way back in church, but that is not my lot in life". It really hit home with me. There have been so many times where i thought in my head, "man it would be so much easier to NOT do what i know i'm supposed to". Even serving a mission i have had that thought and i j ust think, regardless, we all would want to take the easier route, but we have not been given that responsibility. As members of the church we are asked to take the straight and narrow path, even if that means the path is climbing straight up a rock face. The life of a disciple of Jesus Christ is not easy but if i have learned anything from my mission, it is that it will be worth it. I am so greatful for the sacrifices of the prophet Joseph Smith. Section 135 of the Doctrine and covenants is really touching if you have time to read it and ponder over the sacredness even of a simple copy of the book or mormon. What exactly did it take, to bring that about. "it cost the best blood of the 19th century" as The prophet sealed his testimony with his death along with his Brother. That was touching to me as well that his brother Hyrum was with him even until their martyrdom in carthage jail. It made me think of Daniel, Zach, Tyler, and even Katie, or Jimmy, and Emily, as siblings and best friends, we will do what is required of us to build the Kingdom of God on the earth. While we'd prefer to sit in the back of church, that is not our lot in life :)

It's pretty cool that Heavenly Father trusts us so much with His work. I know that He loves us and that His son and our Brother Jesus Christ lives. I love you guys and miss you soo much. Last week was the best birthday present i could have asked for. Until next week!

Les Amo
Elder Edwards

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mother's Day Next week

Just some updates for our zone, we have transfers on this tuesday and wednesday. Luckily my companion and i will be staying together but next transfer president told elder K that he will be released from being a zone leader. So i already know that in 6 weeks i will be getting a new companion. But we don't' think aboout that now :) We do have some changes in our zone and we are gonna have 3 district leaders that are either brand new DL's or have only been it for 1 transfer. So we will have to do some major training with those guys to make sure they are on top of things and we are also getting two greenies in our zone and i don't know why but i'm just super excited to have some more greenie fire in our zone. I think we need it. They aren't even my greenies and yet i feel like they are coming into our temple zone family it's fun! Sothat will all happen on tuesday. Then next week, we are going to Zone leader council in eugene again and i will get to see puertas and hopefully Elder Gomez too. I found out he's getting transferred to Springfield in the Eugene zone so next monday i think we are all gonna go up and do some spanish work with them, that will be so fun.

Ok, now for this week. We had some big surprises that i wish were good things haha. Jessica does have a baptismal date now for the 14th of may and she was pretty excited about it, but she needs to quit smoking. She committed to it, but slipped and so now we are just working with her. I think we are gonna try and give up something with her so she feels like we are going through something similar. She is awesome and i still think her girls are the sweetest things ever haha. There was sooo much drama this week though holy smokes. I don't even know if i can explain it all.

Oh but even before that. Friday, at our zone conference, my teaching went great. It was soo fun to teach with elder nelson, who by the way, is now going to be a zone leader which is pretty cool for him. It's a bummer that we are losing him from our zone because he tears it up big time. But we taught really well, everybody had good things to say about it and we felt really happy afterward. We had a big plan and a fun activity that really could have gone either way, so we were greatful that it went well instead of downhill haha! We taught well, and the musical performance we did was awesome too! I wish i could send you the song. It's a song taht one of the missionaries wrote here and it's about missionary work and the OEM (oregon eugene mission) and it's soo awesome. Me and Elder Fiatoa sang and then we had another elder Kaumaitotoya do a little fijian part where he talked in fijian and we sang behind him. It was great! The spirit was really stong too as we sang ,we couldn't help but smile :)
Now for the drama...

So bubba camacho was baptized last weekend and was supposed to get confirmed this weekend. His dad was out of town working, and surprised eveyone by coming home on friday night. But this was actually the problem. He used to b an alcoholic and hadn't drunk for two months. He was doing really good and i honestly love the man. BUT, he drank that night with his worker buddies. He came home and freaked out at Kelly his wife, and Jessica and MOnica, the ones with the little girls. He accused them of going out and partying and stuff and thye were all just sitting at home and then Carlos starts screaming at kelly and all this crazy stuff. Then Carlos tried to do some things with Monica that were inappropriate but luckily they didn't do anything and he called the police on them and told the police that monica and jessica had drugs in their home with their litle girls and so the police went and checked and found nothing and then monica told the police that carlos was illegal and in their police computers he had two names that he was going by but the same picture and all this stuff. Then the police go over to the camachos and kelly answers the door and this is at 3:00 am mind you, and she says that he's not there! Even though he was, she didn't want to put him in jail. He has done a lot of horrible things in the past specifically when he has been drinking to kelly and so for her, it's just reliving all of these horrible memories so she was crying and just didn't know what to do. If the child service people came by and carlos was drunk, her son would get taken away againtoo so there was so much going into it that carlos was putting in jeopardy. Such a crazy time. This lasted all throughout saturday night. So on sunday morning we finally get a hold of kelly who, the poor thing, is so just distraught. She says everything is good to come to church and that they will be a fw minutes late. When we talked to her sunday morning, we didn't know anything about what had happened the night before either. But she ends up not coming at all because her daughter went to a party the night before that got raided by the cops and she was stuck in detox on sunday morning so kelly had to go pick her up and deal wth that situation and wasn't able to make it to church, niether could her son bubba who was supposed to be confirmed. AHH i was so frustrated with everyone! And then because there was all this drama with kelly and her husband carlos, jessica and monica were mad at carlos and kind of at kelly too so thye didn't end up coming to church just because of their late night and who knows what other excuse. Then the other 4 people we were supposed to have at church didn't end up coming either becuase of one thing or another. It was a super depressing morning and the only light really shed on it was when we got to play "love is spoken here" for the primary kids on the ukulele. It was really pretty and invited at least a little bit of the spirit back into our lives. We were trying so hard to keep happy and so we bore our testimonies too. Man it was a super rough one though. Then later after church, we went and had a bbq with a recent convert family who is trying to move out of their apartment because it is full of black mold! The family is so sweet and innocent but they don't speak much english so the owners of the complex are really not treating them fairly and are making them pay all this rent for their unsafe apartment, that they can barely afford and now thye gave them a 60 day notice as well. We have to go talk with them to figure out what is really going on. and if they really have to pay all this stuff. Other people have gone to court for this stuff and gotten a new place for free, so we don't want the Ibarrah family to get tricked or taken advantage of. But we had an awesome bbq and we brought the meat, (5pounds of carne asada for like 8 or 9 people). We ate so much and we had horchata and rice with egg in it and these yummy beans and pico de gallo. Man it was quite a meal for a fast sunady ahah. That put us in good spirits though.

After ward we stopped by kelly's to see if everything was okay from last night and the morning. And we find them all outside lounging in the sun. And carlos was out there too talking with one of his friends. We see kelly reading her gospel principles book which was pretty cool hah. We went and said hey to carlos. Ths was the first time we had seen him too and he was kind of em barrased to see us. But we just said hi and then talked to kelly for a while. Man i cannot tell you how much stuff this lady has gone through. It broke my heart, to hear the life that she has lead and then to know how strong she is in the church right now. Even though she oculdn't make it to church she is out in the middle of the day studying her gospel principles book and things she doesn't understand. She has been through so much though from abuse, to drug addictions, to rape, to going to jail for stabbing one of the guys that did stuff to her. It was some of the most horrible things i've ever heard and yet i felt so close and desirous to help her. She is amazing man, i wish you knew her. I can't believe the stuff she has put up with from Carlos too, he has done horrible things to her and she has forgiven him. She has a huge heart. But we talked to her about everything that had happened and wht's the plan i guess and she is all for the church, at this point she was like, it is all i have right now to keep going. She is like the mom of the whole neighborhood ha, worries about all the needs of everyone like jessica and monica, and her own family and she has just got so much on her plate. So she says she is just focusing on getting through her recovery and keeping her son. She said that she is gonna let carlos stay at their home but as of right now doesn't want much of a relationship with him so she said she will see if that changes over time. Thatnight we got her and bubba out of the house thoguh and went to a cool firside for recent converts and investigators. It was an informal meeting and mostly all the recnt converts talked and it was cool to hear their testimonies and questions that they had. It was good.

It was such a crazy weekend and full of soo much emotion. We saw jessica and monica too who don't want much interaction with carlos and in turn it kind of includes kelly so we are struggling to figure out what we do with thm cause theyre coming to the same branch ya know? It will take a lot of prayer and figuring thins out. It's hard cause we cannot pick sides and so we just play neutral with everyone. Oh and we talked to carlos last night too and just said hey man we love you and are here to help, but first you gotta want to help yourself. He was down to start working and said he really has been praying every day to have the strength and desire to not drink again. He realized he is crazy when is drinkng and so i guess that's a start. We will see what happens this week.

ahhh, i'm really tired. I Just want to go play dodgeball and get this all out hahah. (we are playing today as a zone :)) We are doing good though. This situation will be fixed and we know that Heavenly Father's will, will be done as long as we are working close with the spirit so, i guess for right now that's all we can do.

Our other problem is finding. We still are down on people to teach. We found a cool couple on saturday and are hoping for some potencial with them. They didn't come to church but at the same time we are feeling really hopeful just because when we talked with them and taught them, He had kind of like a Q and A and We answered a lot of questions and promised him blessings as he learned more about the church and then he had to split so we didn't really get a chance to share the restoration but he read the plan of salvation pamphlet and he was asking us a ton of questions about it. The coolest part was that he was like, there were two lady missionaries here the other day that talked to me and gave me this pamphlet and then you guys show up too. I figure God is trying to tell me something. And we were like...YEAH HE IS! The sisters too are missionaries in our zone that gave Jose to us as a referral. So this week we are looking forward to seeing him and his wife and little boy.

This is the last week of the transfer and i think i'll be a long one haha. We have to do a lot of finding this week to get our teaching pool up for the beginning of next transfer. Thanks for your prayers and thoughts and letters. They mean so much to me really. Oh and for my b-day package this week. I almos feel bad asking for anything but, there are these scripture cases that if somehow, you can get a hold of, i would go crazy! The only place i KNOW that they sell themis in the mtc, but they are little cases for your triple and bible. They just fit right in, and the ones in the MTC had little mexican designs on them that looked almost knitted i guess you could say. But they are for spanish scriptures so they are a little bit bigger than my normal quad sized english ones. If anyone has any connections to someone in the mtc, i will pay for the cases, the shipping, and whatever else there is hahah.

Anyways, yeah if you can't find them, don't worry about it at all, i can do wit hjust sticking htem in my backpack. But again, i can't wait to talk to you soon! I can't believe in just one week i will get to hear your voices and see your faces! I love you all so much and pray every day for you!
Love Elder Edwards

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Easter

So this week had a lot of downs but had a happy ending! :) Last monday we went on splits and it was a blast! Ready for this...it was my first day in my whole mission that i was on a bike all day! Haa i feel like such a sheltered missionary! It was such a blast though. I had to get used to the extremely uncomfortable seat that by the end of the day felt like i was sitting on a pointy rock, but we talked with sooo many people and just had so much fun. We just went into down town in the morning and literally there were people everywhere! I felt like prophets and missionaries of old going around preaching to groups of people hahah, calling them unto repentance. We were outside some little coffee shop and there were like 7 people smoking, we went and talked to EACH one and they were all sitting right next to each other. By the time we got to the last person they had heard what we do as missionaries about...7 times and still we got a return appointment with one of them haha it was pretty funny. My goal was to make everyone i talked to laugh or smile, and it ended up working out pretty good. Even when someone rudely rejected, i know my intentions were good and that they are missing something really special.



The next few days were pretty rough though. Talk about missed appointments and flakey people left and right! We had jessica who has a baptismal date, and she was sick all week! We get so nervous because she never tells us what's going on so we can't tell if she's ignoring us or there's something up. Then we found out that a lot of the time, she can't meet with us because her sister, who she lives with, is kind of crazy and is a drug addict :( So while jessica is doing pretty good at staying away from the drugs sometimes, she can't do stuff with us because her sister monica who is paying for their house is just tripping out on something and she is creepy when she is using. I feel so sad for jessica's two little girls. But we tried to see her all week and had nothing. Then on friday we find carlos jr. or Bubba is what we call him, outside on his front porch eating taco bell. He is 10 and he is the son of a recently activated family who had a date for this past weekend. We see him (finally, it took us all week), and we go kick it with him on his porch and we talked about spongebob and he tells us about his halo game for a little while haha and then we talked to him about his baptism and it was sooo awesome because just talking about those little things in the beginning helped him open up a ton to us. And he got excited for his baptism too. So that was a huge blessiong and then we ended up seeing his mom and dad later too which was another huge blessing because it had been all week! We then planned a bbq for saturday with them and they said they would invite jessica. So all the happened, we get to the bbq and jessica and monica cAME! it was great, we brought the meat and had a carne asada bbq. It was sooo good! We talked to jessica too and she said she was sleeping over at kelly's (the recently activated member), so that she could go church in the morning (THANKYOU HEAVENLY FATHER!). So that ended up great. The week itself was prett slow. We are running around looking for spanish people still, man it's tough! We had hardly any new investigators this week which was kind of sad. It's almost next transfer too so i might be getting a new companion, i don't think i will but you nevver know. We are trying to plan ahead though so that next transfer we still have people to teach when it starts.


So last week, i found out that i was teaching at zone conference this friday the 29th. I'm super excited for it and me and elder Nelson, the missionary i'm teaching with, planned it all out this morning for studies and it went great! At the same time we are kind of nervous. Then on saturday, the branch president gives me a call and asks me to give a talk in sacrament meeting. So that was a little nerve wracking! And wihle i still had a day in advance to write it, it was more to think about. Also the AP's called and asked if me and two other elders would do a musical number at zone conference so we have started to practice that too hahah! There is so much going on, this will be a crazy week. It'll be cool too cause we will have the AP's come down and they are going on splits with us and another companionship for a day. They are pretty cool elders and i want to learn something from them.


So my talk went well yesterday, it was on service and well i'm a missionary so it wasn't tooo hard thinking of something to talk about. It was kind of sad though that the whole easter thing wasn't that emphasized in sacrament meeting. We just had one talk about Jesus Christ and then mine about service, so i tried to tie it in as best i could. We did have an awesome bbq afterward though and everybody, well almost everybody we were expecting came to church! WE had bubba and his family, jessica, and her sister monica came! Because bubba had his baptism planned for easter sunday. So they all came and brought their kids too who actually did pretty good i was impressed! They all came though and really enjoyed themselves. Monica was talking about how for some reason she felt like getting emotional, the whole time she was in church. We talked about how the holy ghost talks to us and how what she was feeling was a good thing, in fact, it was heavenly Father telling her it was the right thing, her being in church. So it was a good turn out and the bbq afterward was super fun. It was nice we had a lot of the branch members and it was good for the camachos becasue they are just getting back into things, and told us at the beginning that they wanted to make friends in the church so they could ditch some of their old ones that were bad influences. And jessica and monica met some new people too, it worked great all around!

Then afterward we had to go get ready for bubb'as baptism! Everything workied out how we had hoped and planned and it was just all coming together! wE HAVE been working hard all transfer and were seeing the benefits not in our own lives, but the lives of someone else. He was excited for his baptism too and so was his whole family. Oh i forgot to say too, when we got to their house on sunday morning to make sure everyone was ready for church, they all came out with brand new church clothes! it was awesome, they had new ties and white shirts with slacks and shoes. They looked soo good! But we got the baptism all set up and it was awesome to see their family so happy. You can see in the picture just how happy they were and jessica and monica came too and they loved it. By the end they were talking about how they wanted to be baptized next and it was awesome. We have a lot of work to do with them and one of them, monica, doesn't quite understand why we are baptized. She just wants to get dunked and then move on, so we got some work to do with her but we are looking forward to it and jessica was feeling really goood about it. I just remember looking up from the font though standing in the cold water with bubba in his white jumpsuit and seeing kelly and carlos, his mom and dad sitting there staring at their son with tears int heir eyes, soo happy! We just completed the family and so now their next goal can be the temple. It is soo cool beacuse the building where the font is, is right next to the temple and so we had a long talk about it afterward. So that's the next step for them!!! How awesome is that. It was the best easter sunday of all and bubba was pretty excited to be able to remember his baptism was on easter. Afterward we went over to their place and had a little easter egg hunt and then we left. We didn't have anyone signed up up for dinner so we just decided to work all day and then take dinner at 8:00 or 8:30ish to end the night. We were exhausted! It was such a crazy weekend and we had a spiritual high going all day yesterday hah. We meant to color eggs on saturday night but didn't have time with our nightly planning and working on some stuff for our zone, and then we were gonna do it sunday during lunch, dinner, or after dinner, but we ended up eating and just kickin it until we fell asleep haha. We were so drained!

This week is gonna be really good. We are hoping to see Jessica get baptized in the next 2 weeks and monica hopefully will follow. We also have another guy named carlos morales who is the most amazing guy ever. He is just living with his girlfriend who is an inactive member! It is the most frustrating thing to see when a non-member is more committed to living the gospel than a member of the church. His girlfriend drives us crazy and you can tell he gets frustrated with her. He basically has all the lessons memorized he knows them so well, and we left him some homework last week and he recapped everything in depth and told us how important it is that we get baptized just like Jesus Christ was. He wants it soo bad but just as before, his girlfriend doesn't want to get married. They have a kid together and Carlos is ready to tie the knot but she isn't doing it. We were having an awesome lesson with him on saturday, after we sang them a church song and played it on the ukulele. We talked abotu sacrifices we make for the blessings of the gospel and how abraham was gonna sacrifice his own son, and lehi and his family left their home, money, and precious things, all because the lord asked them too. Or job how he lost his family and essentially everything he had, but later they were all rewarded and their losses were made up for. Carlos was getting way into it and asked for all the scripture references so he could study them during the week when he goes to work in california (bummer). Then his gf gets home with her mom and just ruined the spirit there. We asked them, hey are you coming to church with carlos tomorrow and susanna, his gf, laughs and says "ha he says he'll come but last second something will come up and he won't make it". It was so frustrating for me i was going crazy. i wanted to scream. This girl who knows the church is true, is hurting her should be spouse, and is so discouraging. You could tell he was feeling awkward too and so we decided it would be best if we just said a prayer and left before we said anything innapropriate to her. She was just such a downer on everything and she is holding him back from so many blessings. Not to mention she's living in sin. Man sorry, but this carlos guy is amazing. I wish you could hear him speak and hear his testimony. He was talking about how his whole family is catholic and the sacrifices he has made for the gospel he was like well i was catholic, and then when i got my answer, i figured if God really told me, i better follow it, and so i told my family and they don't like it at all. The poor guy puts up with so much and yet his testimony is soo strong. Pretty soon, if nothing changes, we are just gonna hit him with a spiritual train, and invite him to move out. I love that guy.

I gotta run though the lady is leaving pretty soon. But man i loved hearing from you guys! It means everything to me that you write me every week and it really does make my day. Thanks again for the easter box, i think i've already eaten all the pringles, the mac cheese, and the little dehydrated fruit stuff (sooo good!). haha but i love you so much! have a good week this week and i can't wait to hear from you and tell you about how zone conference goes :)
Love Elder Edwards