Monday, December 6, 2010

Ups and Downs

Okay family this week started LAME and then became AWESOME and then yesterday it fell down again but i'm in great spirits! I like hearing about the transition of thanksgiving to christmas at home because we can see it all around here in oregon. I love seeing all the lights and the trees and just how happy everyone is. Let us remember the Savior amidst all the crazy running around schedules that you all seem to have :). Seriously though eve3ryone sounds like they are doing well and mom i did get your stamps thankyou soo much for sednding all those! i never realized how much they costed. I liked your little date with dad in the city too. Some crazy stuff happened this week that i will talk about in a bit that just made me appreciate how close mom and dad are and even katie and jimmy, and daniel and emily. I'll get to that in a little though. The city date soudned awesoem i bet it was great to see all the lights and trees and stuff up on the buildings and stuff.

Oh and brother kinney sent me a letter this week with the conversion story of Chris Lynch. It honestly was the most touching letter and i don't know why but it was so emotional for me to read about Chris. I felt a special closeness to him as i read about the process by which he came to accept the church. This was a kid that i met back in 4th grade at south school and who i knew up until graduation. I have the fonddest memories of him and i and mike kinney hanging out after school at mike's house or even sleep overs we had together. I can't tell you much it meant to me to read about what happened to Chris and to know and hear about his growing testimony. I felt pure joy as i read about his choices as he decided to be baptized and take a huge step closer to returning to his father in heaven. I just love that kid and was soo happy for him. I can't explain it in any other words really. It just made me soo happy i got so emotional reading it during a personal study. And despite the time that i haven't seen him or even hung out with him really, i still know him and have a connection with him that goes way back. It just meant so much to me to know that he had foudn the truth. To know that he had been touched by the spirit of god and had gained his testimony through the efforts of mike and brother kinney and the hand of the lord. What a blessing that was.

Anyway this week like i said started off kind of crummy. I kn ow mom says we are always our own worst enemy but seriously early last week i was just down on myself. I felt like my spanish was really poor and that for some reason it was just so easy to take a back seat to puertas. Even in just talkking to people i found it hard to get the courage to go talk to them. It honestly was just odd the way i was feeling. Then we had a slow day on thursday cause we had weekly planning and basically everyone we had planned to see, just wasn't there. Ahh soo frustrating. but friday, everything turned aroudn on friday though.

On friday morning we have district meeting. I don't know what it was about this particular one, but it was so motivating and it was just exactly what i needed at that time. It boosted my spirits, motivated me, and just inspired me to be better than i was being and to stop beating myself up. There was also a great message that i wanted to share with you that i learned from the meeting. In Mathew 26 in the bible, The Savior after he sings a hymn with his disciples (thanks mom :)) goes to gethsemane with Peter, and two of his apostles. Jesus asks his disciples to stay and stand watch while he goes and essentially takes on the sins of the world. At the most important event and time in the history of man, his apostles fall asleep. When the savior comes back he finds them sleeping and asks, "What, bcould ye not watch with me one hour?" And goes back and prays again. He comes back and finds them asleep again, and then a third time too. But this time, after he has suffered and atoned for all of our sins and feelings and experiences, and pains, he comes and speaks to his disciples again, "Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest". Even though the Savior asks us to do things, like keep his commandments, sometimes we come up short. But here we see how merciful and sweet and compassionate the Savior is as he tells them to, "sleep on, and take your rest".

Anyway i really liked disrtict meeting and then Elder puertas had a meeting for an hour after so i went on splits with another missionary and although we didn't see anyone that we were hoping to see, we talked to everyone body that we ran in to and i even oym'd the manager at pizza hut while we ordered ourl unch there. HA it was awesome at pizzah ut cause we ended up talking for like 15 minutes while our "pzone's" were cooking, But it was just cool to see heavenly father working in me, giving me the courage to just talk to people. Then that night, we went on splits agian. I was with Elder Alderman and Elder puertas was with Elder Wilkes. We had to be in two places at once and they offered to help us out but we were nervous to ask for their help cause the appointment that alderman and i were going to, wasn't super solid. But we go to the apartment complexes and we get out of the car, and are like oh shoot we forgot to say a prayer. So we kind of "casually lean up against the trunk of the car" so we don't look funny praying in the middle of the street. And while we're praying we here people running. And slowly it gets louder and louder adn so finally we say amen and turn around and there are two little hispanic boys that had run up to us. They were super friendly and i'm thinking wow, i've never seen these kids before they must know elder Alderman haha ( i later foudn out that he thought the same thing but with me!). So we are playing with them showing them magic tricks and stuff and they are showing us their rubber bands and silly bands and things, and then i asked them if their mom was home and if they live in these apartment complexes. He says YES excitedly and takes us to his home where we talk to his whole family and set up a lesson for sunday night. While alderman played with the kids in the street, i gave them a quick overview of the restoration lesson and left a pamphlet for them to read and pray about. HA it worked out really well. Then we leave and the little boys follow us, to the apartment where we had an appointment. We knocked their and when he doesn't answer, we are kind of bummed cause he totally flaked on us. But then i'm like wait, there were two boys and we only saw one of their families, so we go back down to where they are hiding behind bushes to scare us and when they jump out we act all scared hah. But we asked the other boy if his mom was home and he went and took us to his home where we foudn his mom, older brother, and dad all there. We ended up sitting down and teaching the whole first lesson with them too! I can't tell you how much of a miracle that was! Not only that but both elder alderman and my spanish felt soo good and both of us have really felt like our spanish understanding has increased and we just felt awesome to have been blessed with increased understanding and speaking abilities. And beyond that, those two little kids that neither of us knew, just happened to get us two new families to teach! It was such a miracle and now i know why we were supposed to set up that appointment with that guy at that time. Even though he wasn't there, Heavenly Father knew that those boys would be playing out in the street, and would find us to bring us to their families. It was soo incredible and just boosted my spirits even more than before! I felt soo happy and just soo blessed to have been guided to those families.

Saturday had some cool things happen too. We went to independence which is like 20 minutes away and did a finding hour. We call it a window of heaven. We pick a street or an area the night before when we are planning and just pray and ask heavenly father to prepare someone in that area to be ready to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. So on saturday when we went to indy, we got to the street that we had chosen and just started knocking. The first door was an english guy who quickly closed the door but luckily pointed us in the direction of the hispanics. So we knocked two more and then on the 4th, a man named jose luiz answers the door. He was such a nice guy and was telling us how much he wanted to come to chruch and stuff. We gave him an overview of the first lesson and gave him a pamphlet and asked him if he would read and pray about it. Because we don't go aroudn to convince, just to invite others to come unto christ and find out their own answers. Then after talking for about 10 minutes we knock two more doors with no luck and then come to the last door of the apartment complex. I knocked and a lady answers. She doesn't say anything other than "pasen" which means come in. HA so we look at each other smiling and are like SWEET! hah so we go in and teach her and her husband and little boy the first discussion! It was incredible and just such a blessing. I honestly don't know why she let us in. She didn't ask who we were or anything she just said come in. I think it goes to show that the lord really does prepare those who are ready to receive the gospel. Those who are ready will recognize when something comes from Him, and i truly think that in that moment, Maria (was her name), noticed or felt something good about us, and decided to let us in. She was so awesome too when we were teaching she was asking and answereing all the questions and stuff. Her husband was a little bit harder to get to, but he said just that som thigns were going wrong but didn't really tell us what was up. We have a return appointment though and are excited to go teach them again. That little series of events was such a miracle.

Okay now the hard part. Yesterday, church went great. We had some investigators at church and i wnt up with one of our recent converts in the spanish branch who is 12 and we both bore our testimony. The kid is such a stud! His whole family was baptized but right now, he is the only one that is coming. What an incredible testimony he has at only 12 years old. Unfortunatly we didn't see the Ramirez family at church and they said they needed a break from us visiting just for a few days while Jose finds a new job ( he got let go from his job en los pinos). So we hadn't seen them for like 5 days and their phones weren't working so we go there after lunch at like 3:30. We get there and it's just jose, the dad, sitting in the living room trying to fix his speakers, with a beer on the table, and he was trying to play wii. it felt eerie when we got there and the family wasn't any where to be seen. We asked him what was up and he would just say "nothin, what's up with you guys" he was friendly but acting off. Then i went back to say hi to the kids and the mom, alma, and they seemed to be doing okay but alma the mom, said they were all in trouble and had to be in their rooms. So we go back out and talk with Jose and he doesn't say much but he does say, "I need a new life, or a new wife. And if i want a new life, i need a new wife". So we are just like Oh great man, and it just felt sketchy to be there. We asked jose if he would take a walk with us but he refused over and over. We had been there for like an hour just trying to get him to talk with us and tell us what was going on. He was talking but not telling us the situation. And he jsut kept pounding beers too. So we are in the kitchen talking with the kids and he gets the keys and goes into the garage. I'm like no way man he is way buzzed so we run out there before he can leave and just ask "where are you going man". He says just around the corner but that's just waht you say when you are gonna leave and come back in a couple days. We tried to talk with him in there but didn't get much again. When we were running into the garage, alma says that he has been super abusive lately too. So we are now, just want to stay so that he doesn't hit any of his kids or Alma. He starts getting mad at us saying , "i feel like you guys are baby sitting me and i don't like it". We took the keys out of the car too and gave them to alma. So he goes back in his room and shaves his head and his facial hair off. He then asks us to come back to talk. So we go and don't find much out, but he is seriously just acting like a 6 year old and being so frustrating. He was trippy man. Finally we get him in the kitchen and he starts talking. He tells us that he did "something" and that alma just keeps yelling at him to do this and do that. He says she brings up stuf that happened in the past and rubs it in his face and that he can't take her anymore. We takled to him and were like well your first problem is the beer in your hand. There were beers everywhere and he wouldn't stop. He's like well it makes me happy! He tells us al ittle more of the story and then alma comes home with some groceries and more beer. I'm thinking what is she doing?? But they start talking and alma starts to tell a little bit of the story and then jose just starts swearing at her and cussing her out saying if you are gnona tell the story, " you better tell it right", with a few expletives in there. Then she just says no and stops talking. then jose leaves the room and we are like alma what is going on, she just says "i did something wrong by telling jose to do something and i regret it but he won't let it go and it's just all my fault". then jose swears at her again telling her to "shut her mouth". Then he asks her to give him the keys. She says no and he starts eylling at her again to do give him the keys. She just starts crying as she says no but he yells louder and louder until she finally goes into the other room and he just starts screaming at her and swearing and she is like "i'm sorry i'll go to my room i'm sorry" and just ahhh it was sooo aweful. finally we got up and said goodbye to alma and she said please leave or it'll get worse. and then we said goodbye to jose. We said some forceful words to him but i just wish i had stood up and said them when he was yelling. I felt like i should but i just didn't get up and say anything. I feel like it just didn't have the same effect and honsetly that was my biggest regret of the whole night that i didn't get up and stand up for alma. Man it was such an aweful night. We were there for like 3 horus too and jsut trying to help Jose not do anything stupid. It honestly was sooo sad, we got in the car and i just wanted to cry! This family was doing incredible and all of a sudden they start going down hill. It was soo sad i can't even describe it. We just said a prayer and prayed so hard that Heavenly Father would protect each person in that family. We couldn't do anything really. Luckily he didn't hit anybody but it was just super tense! I feel like we did eveything we could though, i just hope Jose quits his drinking cause that's what turns him into this crazy person. It was aweful.

We learned a lot though. the importance of marriage and living the commandments. it really was a learning experience, but i was still soo mad, puertas and i were just shaking we were so mad. Thankfully though we went to dinner with an old man who had taped the christmas fireside so we got to watch a President monson and presidnet Eyring. That was all we had time for but it really calmed our spirits and gave us a renewed hope which was such a blessing. We'll see what happens in the future with this.

Anyways i'm feeling way better today and it was nice to feel close to Heavenly father last night when we were watching teh christmas devotional and then when we had a sleep over with the other spanish missionaries. It was good to have a lot of company and just talk last night, i know everything will work out alright.

So taht was the really crazy stuff taht happened this week. This next week will be interesting to see what experiecnes come. I really am in good spirits though, and am more aware now than ever, that Heavenly Father is mindful of each us individually. Thankfully the Savior has suffered every pain and affliction that we might go through which allows to be healed through him. I know that he lives and that through Jesus Christ we will come to know our Heavenly Father better and return to his presence one day. In the words of President Eyring, "the most meaningful gift i have to give, is my testimony of Jesus Christ".

I love you all soo much and jsut can't wait to hear from you next week already. You mean the world to me and am so greatful for you at this time. Thankyou for you support and your love and your sacrifice for me and others. I love you so much!
love elder edwards

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