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

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