Monday, October 25, 2010

I had to do a "double-take" to realize this was a urinal
Trav's Halloween Costume
Hey everyone! This week has been pretty tough. We had a lot of frustrating things happen and some good things too, but for me it's so much easier to remember the bad things (it's a curse). Last p-day, during the night time when we were back teaching and stuff, we finally got to have a sit down lesson with the Ramirez family. I don't know if i told you about them but they are sick! We met them at another lady's house that they were living with, and we wouldk eep going back to this lady's house, just to see the ramirez family haha. THey said they were down to be taught but at the same time, they coudn't just invite us into a place that isn't theirs. So luckily last friday they moved and then on our last p-day we got to go over in the evening and teach them. Let me just tell you, it was INCREDIBLE! They are jehova's witnesses and had a lot of questions about eh bible and stuff like that, but the lesson went really well, cause it wasn't just question and answer. We taught the restoration but still incorporated their questions into the discussion and stuff it was awesome. We were there for a long time, they just wanted to keep talking hah. It seriously was awesome and at the beginning when we went over, the parents were not getting along very well, and then by the end of our discussion they were all close and kind to one another. it was just evidence and a testimony to me that the spirit was there and that they felt it. So that was monday night and then tuesday came around. We were teaching english classes that night and still hadn't prepared yikes! so for studies we made a lesson plan and printed some stuff out. It took longer than we expected and even had to plan during lunch. ANyway, the day wasn't very eventful, we had a lot of dropped appointments of people that just weren't home (so frustrating).

But finally came english class. We were all super excited because we handed out ab unch of free invitations and got good reactions from people. Both members and investigators all were pretty excited about it. So we go like a half hour early to the church and set everything up. We had a little classroom with a welcom thing on the board and it jsut felt cool being like a school teacher ha. So 6:30 comes and no one is there yet. We are all hopeful cause you know how spanish people are, we were expecting to start a little late. Then 6:40 comes, 45, 6:50, and NO ONE is there. We had planned for hours taht day and were so pumped to have members with their friends and investigators come to class cause it was going to be kind of gospel oriented too. We thoguht it was such a good idea and that it would help us find a ton of people, BUT it was a huge buzzkill when nobody showed up. It was just really discouraging. So the rest of that night was kind of a bummer. I'll be honest i wasn't in very good spirits and didn't react well to the situation. I should've just put it behind me and had a better attitude, but what can i do.

Wednesday didn't help either. We went into south salem where we have been doing a lot of our work lately, and to be honest with you, we didn't really have any luck. We went to a few people that we found on our big finding day a few weeks ago but didn't have much luck. My least favorite thing is when we can hear them inside or come up to the door to look through the peep hole, and then they don't open it. Or they will look through the window blinds to see who it is, andwe'll wave to them, and then they won't open the door. Ahh man it just is soo annoying. I would rather have them open the door say no thankyou, and then slam it in my face. We did talk to a few people that said we could come back but later on when we went back we didn't have much luck. It's hard too cause we cover south salem but it's like 12 minuts away so when we go out there and we get stiffed, it's pretty frustrating. That was pretty much the story of the day on wednesday, but we did finish with the ramirez family, they are so sick and are what keep me going during the days. They just are so awesome and we havebuilt an awesome relationship with them and their kids, seriously i love them so much. We set a baptismal date with them too for november 6th. They are pretty excited about it too but we still have our hands full cause there is a lot of stuff going on with them, i will tell you in a sec. Thursday, was okay. Puertas promised the ramirez family that i would write them a song so i had to borrow a member's guitar and i wrote it during studies in the morning. (i'm gonna try and send it to you but i don't know if it will work). It was pretty sweet though. i got all their names in it and it was like made specifically for them with little inside jokes and stuff, i was pretty pumped to play it for them. Before that though, we had weekly planning which actually went poorly. Everyone has been kind of on edge this week, the other wto spanish elders that we work with are having a relly hard time with the work. They are working really hard but just aren't seeing the results so their kin of down this week. Anyway, weekly planning was kind of frustrating just cause we all weren't on the same page and stuff AND, puertas and i found out that Jose ramirez, the father of the family that i love, has a court case on monday (today), that unless he gets a lawyer to appeal something, he is getting deported. UGh yaeh, so that was weighing heavily on my mind. I had been calling around the ward for lawyers and stuff andfinally found one, but he had to refer me to another guy who specialled in immigration stuff. So i was just super stressed out with this whole situation. I didnt understand why Jose hadn't tried to get this done earlier. Regardless, i still love them :) and that night we went over and sat down in their kitchen with their whole family and i got to play them their song. They loved it too and the mom almost started crying. It was way sweet for me to just see them smiling and laughing nd just enjoying something i did for them. It was such a cool experience and spiritual too. The first thing that jose junior said when i finished was "whoa can you play that again!" haha, i love that little kid. I will admit though, in the first verse i copied a melody from one of daniel's songs, it jstu suonds the same as one of them so SORRY!

As rough as thursday started, it ended up pretty good.Then on friday, i was still stressing about hte whole deportation situation but luckily we had a meeting with an attorney that day so i was feeling hopeful. I get a call though from jose and he says he has work so he can't go to the meeting. Instead his wife alma is going. SO we get a member to go with us and we go over to the attorney's office and they waived the 100 dollar fee since she was with us the missionaries (the guy is a member too :)). THe meeting went pretty well though. Jose and alm'as old lawyer kind of messed them up a little bit and had all the details about their case so the hardest part was getting a hold of him and getting his information over to the new lawyer. Ugh it all finally worked out, more or less. The attorney said she doesn't know what she can do but will try everything. After this meeting we were running late to another appointment. His name is chris and is friends with one of the familys in the ward. We go over there, and he is soo awesome. He knows a lot about the church already and is even dating a return missionary girl that served here ha! Oh and he set up the meeting between us, it wasn't even us. We just talked with him to see where he is at and then we set a baptismal date with him for the 13th of novermber! It will take a lot for him to feel ready but he has already told us the difference he has felt just in this past week as he has been reading every day and praying too. He used to be this big party guy and now he's like ill be honest, i never pictured my self here with you guys on my own free will but man i feel good hear and i really feel like i'm on the right track. AHh so sick to hear. Then we left there and went back over to the ramirez family house and this time brought a member family with us from the spanish branch. They totally hit it off! it was perfect and i was just playing outside with all the kids on the cul-de-sac. I even got to skateboard for a bit, kickflip first try hah! (it's not easy in my church shoes:)) But that was cool and then there was a ward halloween party that night which i will send you pictures of.

The ramirez family came to it too. We were super late but it didn't matter cause it started late anyway. There was actually a huge turn out and people were dressed up and everything, i was kind of surprised but super happy. It was soo fun too and the ramirez had an awesome time! you could just tell, their kids were running around playing with other kids and the parents were playing the games and stuff, ahh man it was so perfect! So once everything starts gonig well, something bad happens again. Natalie diaz, the sister of the girl i baptized on my first day in the field, comes running in and asks for me and puertas. So we go with her to see her mom who is outside in the parking lot just sobbing. She said that manuel, her husband, has been abusing her verbally and tonight he spit on her face and told her she was worthless. Then her older boys who arel ike 17 18, got up and were about to fight with him, (he's pretty big too), but no fight ended up happening. ALl the kids were in the car in the back crying and then bianka, the girl that i baptized, jumped out and came and told me about what happened. So while puertas was talking with rosa (the mom), i took bianka and perla the other little girl inside to see the big halloween party and so they got some candy and seemed to be happy for a little bit. Ahh so that was really a bummer, and then when everyone was leaving, We are saying goodbye to jose and alma and the ramirez family, and i ask " oh yeah, did the attorney call you back?" and she says yes, jose has to go back to mexico on monday. My gut just turns and it was literally heart breaking. They had to go so we told them we would talk about it tomorrow and they said they had one more idea that they could try but i was just soo bummed. We got in the car and i almost started crying ha i was trying not to beacuse i didn't want puertas to see ha, but man i was so, i don't even know, just sad about both things. And THEN, we were driving to one of the stake centers cause we had to do some quick family history work for a recent convert family going to the temple for baptisms for the dead, and i call vanessa one of our recent investigators and see how shes doing. She sounds totally down on the phone and i ask whats up and she tells me she is pregnant again! And the guy that abused her is the father. And to add to that, when she had her last two children, the doctors said she should think about stopping because she lost a lot of blood both times and with each kid her risk of dying is higher. She was pretty distraught and it was just sad to hear. Vanessa is so sweet too i love her and her kids they are just awesome. But for real, it was just a night full of bad news.Saturday was not easy either.

I was still thinking about everything the night before and literally i have jsut been a little sick to my stomach from saturday till today. I imagine it must be the stress but it stinks haha. Saturday we went to go bring a bed over to the ramirez family and just help them move the last few things in. So we went to pick it up at their old house and we brought a member, miguel lopez, and his ghetto truck ha. He is way aweomse thoough and pretty soon he and his wife will get to go to the temple for their endowments and to be sealed for eternity. Anyway, we get the bed all loaded in the truck and then we start it, and it is dead hah.

We just knock doors looking for someone with jumper cables and then luckily we found a mechanic that lives on that street so, we got it all fixed. When we got back from that we went on exchanges with the english elders in the area that are struggling right now. Puertas was just hoping to mix things up a little bit and get them a little more excited i guess. I went with the younger companion and we used our schedule while puertas used the other elders'. We went to visit a lot of referralls that we had gotten but out of the 5 that we had, we talked to none of them. Then when we were in those areas, we would knock a few doors too and didn't have any luck there. Then we went and visited some of our english investigators but still, nobody was there. Ah so we did that for the 2 hours of splits that we had and then switched back.

I was kind of tired cause it was a long morning but then puertas said we were going to the temple that night with two of his recent convert families. That was awesome to hear! i was so excited and so we just made the rounds really quick to those people we said we would see and then we met at the church to go the temple. I just said a prayer on the way up to portland that i could just feel the spirit really strong and that just for this evening i could stop thinking about all this stress that i had, stop thinking about me, and just stop feeling so down. I was reading scriptures on the way up and it was just soo powerful. It was like every scripture i read was there just for me to see at that time and it was just very powerful. Then we got to the temple which is gorgeous! It is covered by a bunch of trees so when you drive up, it's like BOOM there it is. It is super pretty and i'll send you some pictures. Unfortunatley i didn't get any from the front which is like the prettiest view cause it was raining and we were running late when we got there and when we got out. But we went and did baptisms for the dead and i got to go first baptizing so i did 4 of the recent converts and the little girl even was baptized for her grandmother that passed away. It was sooo awesome! Really it was just such an awesome feeling being there and literally my prayers were answere, i was smiling the whole time and just didn't think about everything that was weighing down on me. It was a great feeling and it was cool to share that experience with some of our recent converts there for the first time. I technically baptized 55 people that have passed away and puertas had like 33 so we are telling president that we had aroudn 90 baptisms this past week ;) .. It really was incredible though and the spirit was very strong and i jstu got an answer to my prayer too i just didn't have to think about anything for those few horus we were in there. Oh and saturday was my 4 month mark YIKES!!! it is going so fast already. On sunday, we were late to church because we were trying to get our recent convert tony there so he could get the preisthood but something is up with him lately, we think he is back into some old habits. But i missed the sacrament which i was bummed about but then after sacrament meeting, i saw the ramirez family walk in and i was soo stoked! man it was soo good to see them. I had to go to gospel principles with our investigator chris and he did well there. Then i went to preisthood with eddie and Jose ramirez. They loved it and as i was walking with jose showing him where the bathroom was, he was like "edwards thanks so much man, jsut for all of this. It's hard to explain but i just feel like i belong here". WHAT?! that made my day just hearing him say that.

Then after church we went and had another lesson with chris. I got to go over the baptismal questions with him and he knows a ton of stuff man. He is so awesome and jstu his heart is in the right place which is like the most important thing. He is trying really hard to fix all the old stuff that he's done and just start brand new, it's soo cool to see the transformation. At onep oint today, Rosa Diaz the lady that got verbally abused, called us and said manuel her husband said he was at the park. We have been looking for him so we went over there and went on like a man hunt to try and find him just so we could talk with him but no luck. then we visited them later and he was back at home but we didn't feel like we should talk to him at the time, so we jstu tried to cheer everyone up. She seemed to be in good sprits though and same with her kids. Sunday night there was a big joseph smith musical fireside. It was soo incredible. There were a bunch of non-members there and it was an aweomse performance. I sat all the way in the back and was just crying throughout the whole hting haha, it was so powerful!

Just the story of joseph smith and all that he did, and the magnificence of the restoration of the gospel of jesus christ and the priesthood, man it was just an amazing performance. There was narration and then singing and more narration and it was cool because the music never stopped there was always a piano or a cello playing, even when people were talking, it was way sweet. It was just another powerful experience that i needed to lift my spirits. We talked to abunch of the poeople there afterward and now we just hope we can get some return appointments. Oh and i forgot to tell you, alma ramirez, went after church to california to turn in some paperwork that could potentially let jose stay here for another 30 days and work on his case! She took her daughter with her and so now we are just praying that their case is passed or however you say it, and that they can all stay here and give us more time to figure the situation out. But then after the joseph smith thing, we go over to their house to check up on the boys, and they are watching movies and the soccer game and i see a beer in Jose's hands. We texetd him earlier too to not drink when he was watching the game but he didn't respond and when we walk in he's like "man, i'm sorry guys". He was pretty drunk though he wasn't totalyl himself and just kept being like ahh man i'm soo sorry i'm soo sorry. It was sad to see. I guess part of it is our fault because we told him that we dont' drink alcohol and that it's not good and he even wasl ike yeah i'm trying to get off of it cause i used to be a pretty heavy drinker, but we never actually taught him the word of wisdom. I guess that one was our bad so we gotta teach him that one pronto. But it still put a little damper on the evening and kind of brought back all of my worries and stuff. So now it's monday. Ha today i feel kind of overwhelmed and just kind of glad that p-day is here hahaha. I'm sorry this letter was such a downer.

This week has been one of the most trying weeks of my mission and i honestly just feel kind of devastated. It's so hard to stay positive and active when things aren't going your way and i even fonud that when i was down or frustrated my spanish wouldn't be as good and now i'm like shoot, if puertas leaves this next transfer, i don't know nearly as much spanish as i should and so that is kind of stressful too. I think that is the probalem the other elders are running in to, they aren't great spanish speakers. I mean that in the least offensive way and in no way am i any better than them but i have puertas who can bail me out if i don't understand or am not getting a point across. I don't know this past week was just a real faith tester and i don't even know if i'm passing the test haha. There are just little thigs i gotta do better and change and i think it will make a big difference as i do the little things. All in all, i can't complain beacuse things went soo well with the ramirez family this week and same with chris. We have good people to teach and stuff and even we are having spiritual experiences, it's just like i said in the beginning it's super hard for me to just move past the bad things and forget about them. I let them weigh me down even when i can't afford to. This week will be better though i know it will. We have zone conference too with a member of the 70 and it's halloween.

We already have pumpkings. THATS what i'm gonna do today, i'm gonna carve my pumpkin. I knew i wanted to do something, i just couldn't remember what. I hope it lasts till next sunday and doesn't just die. Anyway, again i'm sorry for being so down. This work is really rewarding and i've seen that even this week, just how good you feel when SOMETHING goes right. Also i have seen that the mission isn't just a bunch of fun and games where people just walk into the water to be baptized. This week was devastating at times but i guess it's how we react that matters right? that's what i'm working on now haha. I love you guys soo much though and i thankyou really so much for you support and encouragement. It really does make a difference to me. It was great to hear about how everybody is doing and i just love hearing that you guys are donig well. Ohyeah by the way, it is now freezing over here! it is getting to be like 40 degrees but really windy! I have started to wear my big jacket and my rain jacket too cause it's super rainy. I've been told that this is when the rainy season starts so i guess it'll be a long wet winter :) pray i don't get sick haahh!

I just want to say realy quick that i know joseph smith was a prophet of god and that he restored the one and only true church of jesus christ back on the earth. my testimony of him grew and was reconfirmed on sunday night at the musical fireside and i just wanted to share with you how much i truly know for a fact that he saw heavenly father and jesus christ face to face as he prayed to them in faith. I love you guys soo much and i am praying for you always! i hope you guys have a good week!l ove elder edwards

Monday, October 18, 2010

4 month mark

I got those two packages you sent me! Oh my goodness they were so sweet! thanks for the shoes and the scarf and all the food and the pictures. I loved the little matching game too about following Jesus Christ! ahh man i can't wait to play it with all the little kids. Haha it was so funny this morning we did a little personal study before coming to email, and the other spanish elders slept over, so while we were studying one of them looked at my bag that had the little matching game in it and was like "hey whats that?". I told him you made it for me and asked if he wanted to play haha! so this morning for the second half of our personal study we just played that matching game with all of us! I admit we could have used our time better, but it was amusing and fun. I already downed the "ensure" as well, those were finished quick :) That sounds super fun to have Jimmy around for a little bit! I imagine it was hard for him to really hang out with everyone cause he would be super stressed. I'm glad to hear that everything went well and he got to hang out with the boys for a little bit. I'm still jealous that he got to go to garden catering ahh i miss that soo much!!

I liked hearing about all the little boys, it sounds like they are doing great! Zach's got good friends and i imagine tyler is super duper busy! I can't believe he's already trying out for travel basketball too. I'm so happy for leon and austin! I knew they were leaving soon, i just didn't know when. I'm so excited for them to be out here doing this. Thank you soo much for your letters this week and packages! seriously i got hooked up with mail :) And i loved hearing about your evening with fran coming over, seriously that made my day just hearing about that, i'm glad that it went smoothly. I owe you guys a huge thankyou for that! Especially you zach man! Okay so this past week was pretty awesome! On tuesday we did another "happy tuesday" (once a transfer) where we do an all day finding day. We had four companionships (thanks to members and another pair of missionaries), and we coverreed west salem, south salem, independenec, monmouth, and four corners. I was in indy and monmouth with elder alderman the GREENIE! haha i was soo pumped but super nervous cause this whole day was spanish finding and we are both fresh out. It literally pumped us up though cause we both knew we would have to step it up. So we had two shifts 11-4 and 6-9. We went out and literally just found apartment complexes with spanish direct tv satelites and knocked doors ha. Our first door we knocked, i did the door approach and we shared a little message on the door how we have a prohpet today just like the prophets in the bible and talked about how families can be together forever, then we asked if we could come back that night and she said yes. Her name is marina and her husbands name is victor. So we were just beaming cause our first door was a success! hahah so we kept going and literally every here we went, we found at least one spanish person that would let us come back for a return appointment. It was insane, we literally prayed everytime we got into the car, and before we got out, so we were just pouring out our hearts to the Lord cause we knew we needed his help more than anything. It was just awesome because for some reason, i was just so mch more bold than i have been in the past. Like i just had so much more confidence because i gave myself the role of "senior comp" and just tried to carry our companioship for the day, and we just worked soo hard. We seriously talked to every spanish person we saw and just ahhh it was such an awesome day. Elder Alderman was sweet too, his spanish acualyl turned out pretty good and he is just a fireball, like he always needs to be doing something so we were just in and out of the car even jsut to knock one door. We had huge succes tht day though, we ended up getting 63 new investigators between all of the companionships! Given, we still have to sift through them a little bit, we increased our teaching pool by huge numbers. It was such an awesome day, and alderman and I got 17 of those people so we felt pretty good about it.

Then the next day, we were super busy with all of our return appointments taht we made. In the evening we set up splits withthe english members too so that we could cover more appointments in the same amount of time, the only problem was that we were doing spanish work, so again, i was super nervous and just had no choice but to kneel down and pray like crazy thatn ight. We had a return appointment with Marina and Victor, the first people we found and jsut taught about joseph smith and the "first discucssion". But i was the only one that could speak spanish since the member with me was english so i taught the whole thing by myself in spanish!!! yikes it was soo crazy!, i honestly can't believe i did it. And the cool thing, was that it was interactive! It wasn't just me lecturing them, they asked qquestions and stuff too. We were there for over an hour!!I honestly walked out and just felt incredible, and so blessed hahah! I needed the help and it was given to me. The same thing happened the next night with the same family. I seriously love these guys they are so aesome. They have really ocol kids that speak english too so the member can talk with them haha! But realyl i just love how in just a few visits you can learn so much about these people. Even personal stuff that they are willing to share with you. You grow and develop a love for them because you know you have something that will help them. So on my first lesson with them, i soft committed them to baptism and they said YES!! and then on the second lesson, i tried to get a date set with them just as a goal to shoot for, but it was pretty tough. I told them it was something just to shoot for, not a final thing that they have to do if they aren't ready. But then she was like well, we have already been baptized. So then we got talking again about the authority to baptize and stuff like that. I felt bad though cause i think i might have offended her just because my spanish it still limited so at times it's hard to "cushion" things and say them in a non-offensive way, but the next night we returned they were fine so i guess there really wasn't anyting wrong. but still, we didn't set a date with them, but they really have the desire to learn. He is always excited to say the prayer to before we leave, he always offers to do it, it's so awesome see him get excited about it and she finally prayed last time too which was incredible! she always refused to haha. They said they are gonna really study in the book of mormon and pray this weekend cause that is realyl the only way they'll know if it's true. So we have high hopes for them, and we are going back tonight!

But yeah this week was just huge for me cause i felt like it realyl forced me to step up and just not be so afraid. Or rather, not to just always rely on puertas the fluent spanish speaker. it's so easy for me in a discussion to just look to him if i misssomething, and he is kind enough to save me haha. In all seriousness though, i found that i have taken a lot of his teaching techniques with me as i teach. he is a sick teacher too like he just has powerful lessons, and knows the scriptures soo well! i wanna study up more in the bible so i can just have his gospel knowledge of the bible. It was way cool though cause even with the door approaches, i found myself doing things that he did and it was just funny but it was cool too. It was seriously such a good week.

I can't remember if i told you but we were teaching a couple that lives just barely in the portland mission, but they came to our spanish branch and knew the members here and stuff. So we taught them a few times at the church and one time at their house when we weree dropping off some book of mormon cds for them. We made some big progress with them though and had a date for this past weekend that just went by. BUT we talked with the branch president and he said they really arent in our boundaries and so we should give them up to the portland missionaries. I'm not gonna lie we were pretty bummed. We wanted them here and thought they would be more comfortable here anyway so we tried to convice him but he said no we realyl shouldnt. SOO we were bummed but had to give them up to the portland missionaries. The thing is, they were still getting baptized just a week later and we were just bummed we wuoldn't get to interact with them anymore. As we thought about it more, we realized that's what needed to happen. We were just thinking selfishly. It's so easy sometimes when you are reporting numbers all the time to just get cuaght up in the numbers. I always told myself i wouldn't just be shooting to have the highest numbers but that's how i was thinking at the time. I mean we really did build up a relationship with them, but they weren't ours in the first place, we just wanted to get the baptisms. I felt bad though that i was thinking that way. It's hard sometimes just because there are some people that you really do build a strong relationship with that you truly want them to have the gospel or be baptized because you love them. But then there are others that well, you like and you know the gospel will help them out, but it's easier to see those people as numbers just because they aren't as close to your heart. It's a battle i'm having right now, to just have that passion for others to see them as Heavenly Father would see them, and then to do everything to help them because i love them. I don't know, it's just my thoughts lately.

But one funny story before i go, on saturday night we went on splits with the spanish missionaries so i was with alderman again and we went out to a few appointments but everyone cancelled on us UGH! Regardless, we talked with like 5 new people and even got a return appointment. I like how sometimes heavnely father will let people cancel on us just because we need to be in that area at that time. We never would have talked to this coulpe hector and brenda if our appointment didn't cancel on us. Anyway, after the night was over we stopped off at elder Alderman's appartment cause he needed clothes for sunday (they were sleeping over). So we go in and he is grabbing stuff for him and his comp, and then i turn out of his room and look in the family room and then, "WHAT THE CAT?!"., there is a big fluffy cat just chilling in the family room looking around hahah! It was soo funny and we were like petting it and stuff and it was super nice. Then we fed it some tuna (dumb idea i know), and it got super mean ahahha! It was like hissing at us and i even tried to pet it again and it swiped and it my hand hahah! We were freaking out it was like a crazy skitzofrenic cat. Eventually though i got rid of it, while alderman was taking pictures hahah! I would send them to you now but his camera won't work on these computers so il'll just send you a hard copy later. But it was super funny and just a nice way to end the night.

Anyway, that has been my week. It was a big week for me and i feel like i grew, and learned a ton. Now we just gotta help these people that we found realize how important this gospel is for them and their families. I love you all so much and am so grateful for all you support and love and just encouragement, realyl it helps a lot. I love doing this work and honestly i wrote down the date today october 18th and cannot believe how fast this month is going! AHH i guess its' a good sign that i'm staying busy and working hard though. And when people ask me now, i know longer say oh i have only been out in the field for 6 weeks (1transfer), i say oh i have been out 4 months (including the mtc). But that just sounds like a long time, i don't know it'sweird to think it's been that long. Anyway, i love this work, sunday was awesome just because going to church felt especially good this week i don't know why. I gotta run though, keep being awesome and active and looking for missionary opportunities, the members are a huge help when they want to be :) I love you guys!
elder edwards

Monday, October 11, 2010

10-11-10 letter

Hello everyone! This week was a little different with transfers just happening and everything. Elder Mack is gone now, which in all seriousness, i'm super glad. He is so funny and we get along really well, but that's the problem, it's easy for us to just talk about anything, meaning sometimes we get less focused. So i'm glad he's gone and that distraction is eliminated. We did get a new missionary though, his name is elder Alderman! He's from thousand oaks california (no way! right where i was born). So that's pretty cool, he just came from the mtc and it's been nice for me cause i don't feel like the new guy that is less capable anymore.

It's cool to see how far i've come with spanish and just changed here in the field. I like having him aruond though, it's that renewed fire taht he brings from just getting out of the mtc. It's also the fact that now that i'm not the main focus of the "greenie hazing" as jimmy puts it hahah. I like talking to him thoguh and just trying to offer whatever advice i can from the little experience i have. he's awesome and will be soo good out here. That being said, this week was kind of slower. We had a huge transfer planning session on thursday that took soo long! ughh but it was really good, we needed to do it and now we have set up the transfer for success. Have like 7 people on date for baptisms and a few more that we are going to commit this week. It's kind of scary when we invite people to be baptized, just cause i'm always afraid they'll say no, but it always turns out good :) and it's never like we are forcing them to do it, it's just an invitation and when we set a baptismal date, it's just a goal for them to reach, and they almost always reach it :). But this coming week, we are going to start doing english lessons, and we are gonna get an AD in the newspaper. We are trying all sorts of things right now with our finding efforts. We have a number of people to teach but not all of them are gonna be as prepared to receive this gospel so we are trying to increase our teaching pool. We cover a big area too here in salem spanish so there are definitely people out there, we just have to find them. I'm soo excited though to start english classes and stuff it's going to be so exciting and when they did it here a couple months ago they saw some good success.

On thursday night, i had a funny thing happen thuogh. We are teaching a couple named carlos and stacy. They are like 21 i think and have two cute little girls. Anyway, they invited us to some chiropractyer thing for free pizza and soda and food i guess. So we went just because they were excited about it and wanted to maintain a good relationship with them you know? So we show up and sit down in this big room and they give us a little goodie bag and a little ticket for a drawing. We sit in on this "what to do in an accident seminar" and were like what are we doing here? but we stuck it out so we could talk with carlos and stacy when it was done. At the end though, they did a raffle drawing and picked my number hahaha! I stood up and was kind of embarrassed like uhhh i don't even want to be here but SWEET! so i won some little barbeque set with a bunch of tools and random stuff. It was wayy funny though haha. We talked with them for a little bit after and then left. In the car i was like wait what am i doing, why didn't i give this to them? I'm not gonna use it! So that night puertas and i went over and doorbell ditched it on their front porch. When we looked back to see if they got it though, one of them spotted us and so we just talked again for a while and they were really happy about it, it was sweet. They are so close to getting baptized too. We have taught them for a while it's just, they bhoth work on sunday and their boss won't change their schedule. They have had all the lsesons and want to get baptized but they told us, they don't want to get baptized and then just never come to church. As frustrating as it is, it was good to hear that because we know that they have a testimony of these things and that they take it seriously. So we are just praying for them/ looking for a new job for them hah.
Friday was sweet, we actually had an awesome district meeting. Normally right before the meetings, i'm like ugh i don't want to go, but then afterward i feel so edified and just good ha. This week's was so good and it was all about emotion in our teaching. Do we care about these people as if they were our most closest friends and family? Are we teaching them with that passion? it was a nice reflecting day for me and i wrote down a bunch of questions to reflect on during the week that will just help me adjust little things in my teaching thati'm hoping will make a big difference.

Saturday was looonnnnggg! We had to drive a ton too. We went out to willamina which is like a half hour away because puertas had to do a baptismal interview for the sisters out there (he's the district leader). A cool thing though, was that after the interview puertas had with a little 9 year old boy, he said "if jayden passed his interview i promised him that you would play and sing a song on the piano for him". I was like *gulp* and then sat down and played and sang a song hahah. It was actually pretty cool and as nervous as i get, it's always cool to see people smiling after sharing a little part of me with them. That trip was like an hour and a half maybe even longer! that was frustrating and then we came all the way back to salem to try and get people to go to a hawaiian luau party that night, then we went to independence and monmouth which is like 15 minutes away and we cover that area too. So we were all over the place and amidst our efforts we only got one investigating family to show up. It was worth it though! The family is soo awesome! They are jehova's witnesses but they are so awesome. The kids love us and just the other day we went to the park and played soccer and football with them for like an hour. So we have developed a good relationship with them and now are just trying to get them to go to church. They were all ready to come this past sunday, but then last minute they cancelled ahhh I was so mad! The luau was sick though. They had a ton of awesome food (even sushi), and they had some sweet performances. They did the slap dances and all sorts of different ones, it was way cool!

That same night we went over to a woman named shawna's house. She has 5 kids and came to church the week before general conference. But we went over there to get her to chruch agani and she was like "oh i dont know" but then all of her kids were like "please, please please mom, can we go! We can wear our new dresses and shoes and...!" ha it was so funny and she was like "uhhh well i gues we're going haha!" It was perfect, such an answer to a prayer.

Then sunday was super long too! Oh my gosh i forgot to tell you, this week the first counselor in our bishopric died and another older man in the ward. Brother morrison, the 1st counselor died of a heart attack while he was out hunting with his 13 year old and his 18 year old boys. We foudn out on friday and it was just soo sad for me. We had just eaten dinner at their house last wednesday with all of them and it was just soo sad! AH man i just thought of his wife and his little 13 year old boy. It was a "heavy sunday". Everyone got to church with and was just waiting for bishop to say something about it. It was oddly quiet and just it was an odd feeling in the meeting, i was kind of bummed out that it felt that way. There were a lot of tears and the bishop talked about the 2 people that had passed and TRIED to offer words of counsel but you could tell he was pretty affected by it since he was so close with his 1st counselor. Finally a return missionary gave his homecoming and didn't say anything about either of the two men that had passed so that was a nice break from all the sadness, and then someone from the stake presidency finished up and kept it short but uplifting. I was glad that someone finally touched more on the uplifting side of it. As sad as it was for these people to pass away, and i can't even imagine the emotions of the families affected, what a blessing it is for those taht have gone to live with their heavenly father again. I like to think of it as a calling. They were just called to serve missions in the spirit world, as they go to serve the lord even in the life after this one. As sad as it is, what a blessing it is to know that life goes on after this, that through the powers of the priesthood and special temple ordinances, we can be together FOREVER. i think sometiems we forget those things in times of difficulty or tragedy, but being a missionary helps remind me of the PERFECT plan that God has for as as we choose to follow it. There never needs to be any sadness as we realize the eternal potential that we all have, that this life is only a tiny portion of our individual books of life. Nonetheless, everyone was pretty sad on sunday. I tried to go to as many spanish meetings as possible because they didn't know about it so their meetings were normal. In spanish sacrament meeting, one of our recent converts didn't show up to give their talk, so me and elder alderman got to give mini talks/bear our testimonies in front of everyone. I was super nervous actually haha but i shared a scripture in alma 32 and then talked about it for a while. I felt really good during and after, I know that heavenly father helped me with my spanish beacuse i just felt so good up there, even if my spanish wasn't perfect i knew i got my point across and the spirit was felt which is what i was praying for. It was a sweet experience for me. After church we had a ton of meetings, which got old pretty quick but we had some investigators at church for spanish which was sweet and have a couple set up to be baptized this weekend, so let's hope that goes well. Then in the evening, we went back to Shawna's house because she didn't end up coming to church (i was super frustrated with her cause she has been super flaky!). But we go by her house when she tells us to, and what do you know, she is not there. HA but her kids were and we just were kind ofl ike "of course". But we talked to the 5 girls taht were there on the door step cause we're not allowed to go in and told them about prophets. They aer so cute ha they try so hard to answer all of our questions and stuff it's really funny. Then we had them close their eyes and think about God and prophets while we played a song. So puertas played the ukulele while i sang a song called "how can i be". It's about prophets in the book of mormon and trying to be like them, it was actually a really powerful experience. We taught there on the door step for like 25 minutes and just talked with them, got to know them better. The family is soo awesome, we are just trying to get in there with the mom home beacuse she will be the catalyst for the rest of the family. It was an awesome night.

Ahh i'm feeling good this week, it's been frustrating this past week and even the week before because i feel like we just haven't been teaching as much. We have appointments but so many people have been ditching, that is the most frustrating thing. I've been better at "OYM"s or opening your mouth". I have been praying for a little extra courage in talking to people and i found this week that the lord was helping me so much. I just had a different mind set about talking to people, trying to see them as children of god. I was trying to picture them in white on the day of their baptism, just thinking of them with the eternal potential that they have. It helped me to open my mouth and talk to them cause i knew that maybe it was MY testimony that would change their life forever. I don't want to let a person go by without having at the least, the opportunity to accept or reject this gospel. If only everyone could feel the blessings that come from this wonderful gospel of Jesus Christ. Ahh man this is gonna be a good transfer, i know it will be. We are all re committed to giving it our all and we are just more focused than last transfer. I am so greatful for all of your prayers and for all of your support and just the love that i feel from you guys. Don't forget to be greatful for things, i loved president Monson's talk about gratitude and he put it into action at the end of conference as he thanked everyone for all that they did. What a blessing it is to be led by a living prophet on the earth today. I love this wonderful gospel of Jesus Christ and i know that he lives. I know that it is through the development of a personal relationship with him that we will be happiest in this life. I KNOW that's true. I love you guys so much and thankyou

Monday, October 4, 2010

1 transfer down

So as most of you know, my first transfer here is up! WOW when i think back to it, it feelsl ike forever but then again, i feel like i had my first day here, jsut yesterday. So tomorrow, elder mack is egtting transferred. I'm bummed to see him go cause we got pretty close and he is way funny, but he is also kind of distracting and has been a lot of the reason for some hard times this past transfer. SO i'm looking forward to see how this next transfer goes, I'm really feeling good about it. I was glad too that i wasn't getting transferred, i really like salem.

This week was pretty good, actually really frustrating too hah. SO during the week was fine, i really wanted to tell you about this weekend UGH! it was sooo frustrating. Things have been going well, but unfortunatly all 6 of our baptisms this week fell through. A lady and her daughter that were supposed to get baptized, seriously wouldn't let us in, we know they are home and still they wouldn't open the door? it was soo weird but we finally got in and straightened things out with her (sort of). THen another 3 of the baptisms moved and we couldn't get a hold of them, they wouldn't tell us their new address. The thing is, it all seems kind of fishy, but we've been working with them for a long time too, like even before i got here, so it's not just like they are trying to ditch us i don't think. And then Vanessa, she is soo difficult. She is trying to move and we had appointments with her thursday, friday, and saturday, but she ditched them all! SHe was with her mom trying to find places to go, but we would set up appoitnments and then she would be like okay, see you at 7, and then not show up. And then she said she wouldn't come to morning conference on sunday, but the afternoon one. SHe ditched that too. ANyway, i'll start with friday.

So we go over to our recent converts house. THey are incredible! they give us a ton of refferals and are just so into it all! We were talking about them going to the temple and doing baptisms for the dead since you can do that once you are baptized. (i always thoguht there was a waiting time for that but there isnt). Anyway, we are teaching them about baptisms for the dead and they are excited and had a ton of questions and just were eating it up. We felt great coming out of there. But as we left, we just walked out of their fence and lorena comes running over to us and said wait! We are like what's up? Then she goes on telling us that her son cristofer had homecoming the other weekend, and that he and his girlfriend well, "got into trouble". SHe was so bummed and was just like, "we've tried to talk to him, but it's hard for him to hear us, he needs you guys ilke a friend to talk to him and explain to him whats up". So we are like okay we'll totally do that for you and then we get in the car and are just like "NOOO!" we just had an awesome lesson with all of the family about going to the temple, and now because he did this stuff, he wouldn't be able to go with them. We were soo bummed man! Cristofer is such a good kid too and literally is such a stud, but he just messed up and now he's just trying to fix everything up. We talked to him though and he's doing well. Everything is getting sorted out. SO that was a little salt in the wound, but they are still gonna go to the tempkle and since we get to go this transfer, we might get to go with them :) i hope so!

Then on saturday, we had conference! Oh man it was soo incredible! For some reason, this conference really stuck out to me. It was always cool to hear the prophet and his apostles, but this time it really hit me, that we just heard THE PROPHET of God, and his apostles. That just seems so crazy to me now, that we got such an awesome opportunity. It was like, "oh, this is who i am testifying about all the time", like we just heard exactly what heavenely father wanted us to hear. I don't know, it just was soo awesome and strengthened my testimony taht we have a prophet of GOd on the earth today. Anyway, we get to the church for conference and i get a call from cindy, the lady that was baptized with jose (the thug) last week? But she called and soudned way down. SO i asked her what was up and she was like nothing i'm just not doing well. So i was like okay we'll come over. So we head over there cause it sounded bad, and then she shared with us some terrible news, that Jose, the guy we just helped her marry and baptized, got arrested! NOO are you kidding me! My heart just sank and i seriously was just shocked (sort of). I mean we checked whether he was on parole or anything, but apparently he was still on parole and couldn't leave california so they finally foudn him up here. The thing is, their housing and stuff did background checks and same with the school that they go to so we don't know how it got overlooked but i guess it is legit cause he is in jail now and they are taking him back to california this week. Cindy was pretty bummed but ticked too. Cause she didn't know and is pregnant and due in december and then she has another 18 month old to take care of. SHe does have family in the area but still, it's gonna be rough. Jose is supposed to serve 5-9 months in jail but then he'll have parole for a long time and so she probably won't see him for so long. AHh it was sooo sad! We literally didn't even know what to do. IT was a rough morning. We felt bad too that we baptized him. I was pretty distraught in the car back to th church, just cause i felt like we had done something really wrong. But puertas said we did everything we were supposed to. We can't help it if he lied or "didn't know?" we did our part and now it's just kind of up to God. So it was kind of reassuring but i still felt bad. I still don't know exactly how i feel about the whole situation, like i feel like we kind of messed up a little. Conference was great though. We missed elder hollands talk though ( i was soo mad), but we saw the other ones. There was so many good talks but i wanted to share something that i though of haha when one of the speakers was talking about the sons of mosiah, i thought of all of us. I thuoght of daniel, and katie, who have served missions, and brought so many unto this gospel, and then i thought of me who is here now, and then zach and tyler who will serve in not too long. We will all bring so many unto this wonderful and essential gospel, just liek the sons of mosiah and we will rejoice with one another and i don't know, it was just a cool image in my head while i was watching conference. So zach and tyler, i can't remember which son of mosiah you guys wanted to be like, but i was just reading about them in my scriptures over the past few days and thuoght of you guys who will be studs just like them.

Saturday passed and sunday came, This day had its turns and twists too. We go to the first session which again was incredible. I told vanessa that since she wasn't coming to the first one, she needed to come to the second. She said yeah i'm in, and i was like don't make plans please from 1 to 3. So i call her at noon, and she says her grandma just got into town and they haven't seen each other in a long time. I literally talked to her for like 10 minutes on the phone, seeing if there was anything we could do to get her there but nothing was working. I was soo mad! Ahh not necessarily at vanessa (a little bit), but just at the situation. Every sunday she has an excuse not to come and it's just hard when we know how bad she needs this! The thing is, that she is way tight, like so funny and we always have a really fun time when we go teach her, but it's also powerful. We have built a nice trust, but still she is being difficult. She hasn't been keeping commitments very well either so we are seriously considering dropping her. As much as i don't want to, we learned that dropping someone, or "benching" cause we'll come back, is a huge act of faith. I thought about it, and the only way it makes sense to me is that we are putting complete trust in the Lord by saying here, we are trying all that we can and it's not working. So we are putting vanessa in His hands until she is a little more prepared for us, and then we will come back and help her out. We don't know though, we will decide this week, i really don't want to drop her but we might need to.

So then second session starts and it's going great, its really powerful and i'm just eating everything up, and then i look to my left and see Richard, a kid that we've been teaching for a while, that has to wait to get baptized. I think i talked about him in another letter, the one who had been getting opposition from his family and is kind of socially awkward. Anyway he shows up and i was shocked cause we haven't had much interaction with him, he's been super busy and doesn't have a phone anymore. So he says he needs to talk to us. (uh-oh). So we walk into the foyer and talk and he said "basiacally i'm just coming by to say i can't do this anymore and that i'm sorry for wasting your guys' time". Uhhh what?! We were like tell us whats up dude. He basically said he knows these things are good, but he just needs a break from it all (the reading, the praying, the going to church). He said it's too hard and his foster parents are really coming down on him to get a job and a car. He said he can't do all these things at once so he just needed to take a break. We just shared with him the importance of doing these things, that he will get a better job if he sticks with this. We just emphasized how important doing those 3 things are. you even heard it in conference, how important those things are to combat the temptations we will get every day. We talked with him for like 15 minutes and he was still pretty hard to get to. So he said he will try to come to church still but can't promise anything. We just told him to pray again, and keep praying, if this really is the true church of God. He knows it is, but needs that reaffirmation i think. He is just getting confused with his grandparents telling him one thing, his friends another, and then his foster parents, and us all telling him something different. The poor kid is just overwhelmed. I know he will make it through this though, i'm praying that he does.

Ahh so that was my crazy frustrating weekend. I'll be honest, i could use this p-day right now haha. We are going to the coast today too since it is elder mack's last day with us. Oh and his companion elder wilkes, who is staying here, is getting a baby boy (someone to train), so i will not be the newest one anymore haha. That'll be fun to work with them too cause we do a lot of spanish work together.

Umm, i can't quite think of naything else, any other stories. I'm doing really well though. Despite all that happened this weekend i'm feeling okay right now. I was bummed yesterday not cause i don't like what i'm doing, but now i feel like i'm really into it all and i really know the people that we are teaching and so when they don't come to church, or they don't read, it's heart breaking cause i know that no matter what their problems are, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the absolute best thing, the best remedy for them. It's just hard to help them realize that. I'm glad i had these experience this weekend hthuogh, i think it was a good learning experience. I'm trying to do what the prophet said ( i think it was him), about gratitude. Just how important it is to look everyday for all that we have. Then we will never have to reflect and say, ahh man i took such and such for granted. We will have a more positive attitude and w will be able to uplift others around us, as we will be more worthy of the spirit. I seriosuly loved conference though, i can't wait to look back over all of my notes and thoughts.

My time is pretty much up though, I just want to say that i know that we have a prophet onthe earth today that talks with God and gives us direction, directly according to what Heavenly Father wants for us. That's why it is soo important to follow the prophet. And how blessed are we that we have that resource on the earth, it is another example of how much Heavenly Father loves each of us. I know that we have the same church on the earth today that Jesus Christ established when he was on the earth. That's so awesome :)

I love you guys soo much! I love the letters, the prayers, the thoughts, anything! I love you guys soo much and pray for you literally every chance i get. You guys mean everything to me and i am so happy to hear that things are going well! I hope katie and jimmy are getting more dental school apps, and i would love to hear from daniel and emily, just a short email would be awesome ( i can't remember it's my turn to write them back, if it is, i apologize). But yeah, keep me informed on what up! Again, i love you guys so much and know that Heavenly Father is watching out for you.