Tuesday, March 29, 2011

1st week as Zone Leader

Hello family this might be a short one too! We are on our way to zone leader council in eugene which is like 3 hours from medford and we are stopped in some city that i just can't remember the name of it haha! BUT, this week was pretty dang crazy, i have got some cool stories to tell. We saw the hand of the Lord working so plainly in our work it was incredible. First and foremost thought, it was a rough one saying goodbye to Salem. I guess you could say i finished the rounds on monday night and saw nearly everybody i wanted to see really quick before i left and man the last family we saw was the Diaz Faimly. They have been having some big problems lately and last week they didn't come to church but most of the family was all together when we went to go visit them at like 9:00 on monday night. We shared a short spiritual thoguht and then let them know that i was leaving the next morning. THe little girl Bianca, (the girl i got to baptize on my first day), was pretty sad. We took some pictures with all of them, which i will have to send to you next week sorry! and then we said our little good byes. They are all the cutest little kids and we have worked a lot with their family over the months so it was weird to really say goodbye for who knows how long. THen we walked outside and they all run to the window of their house and always wave goodbye to us when we leave after visiting them and they were all waving with their little noses pressed up against the glass. We sat down in the car and i turned around and stopped at the stop sign right on the corner next to their house, and just started sobbing! It was so touching but heartbreaking to leave all these people that i really do love so much. It made me think of sacrifices we have made for these people and always the thoguht of man, what more could i have done? I honestly couldn't stop crying, after left their hosue it really hit me that i was saying good bye to salem, my home for almost 8 months. We went home though and i finished packing for the night. The next day, Alejandro had just gotten back from a trip to california over the weekend and i didn't get to say goodbye to him, so he and his sister stacy who were both baptized in december took us out to lunch. Man they are sooo awesome i can't tell you guys how great these people are. We tried everything to pay for them even but they wouldn't budge and so we got little meals from denny's before transfers happened that day. I was glad i got to see alejandro most of all, out of anyone that i have gotten to know in my time in Salem, my testimony is strongest that I was supposed to know HIM. We just clicked from the first time we sat down with him and he told me some of the nicest things that i will never forget. He even got emotional as we parted ways and i just thought of the true friend he has been and even more than that, a true convert. He has an amazing spirit that just radiates when you are around him and is so kind hearted. But at the same time, he is another one of the guys you know? that can hang out and kick it with you so he is just a blast. Man i love him. Gomez is now in salem tearing it up and will be there with elder fuller who i have heard from many sources is a stud. I can't wait to see the work that Elder Gomez and he do while they are there. It was odd saying goodbye to Gomez too, we had a lot of ups and downs but always by the end, those little experiences of struggles and joys brought us way close and it was again, a very bittersweet feeling. BUt i know that he is growing even more into an incredible missionary. He seriously is so bold and down-to-business that he will definitily leave a solid legacy of our posterity in salem ;) Then we had the long ride down to Medford. We left salem at 12:30 and got to medford at like 7:15. We had to make stops all throughout oregon on the way down to pickup and drop people off. OH AND, we stopped in Eugene when the new missionaries got there and i got to talk with Elder Camacho for like 20 minutes! I gave him that hug for you katie haha and man did he look pumped! He sounds like such a stud and he got a good welcome to Eugene cause we had a nice spanish crew at the transfer spot where he was and we always make our spanish missionaries feel welcome haha! So he was all smiles and just seemed pumped to be there man i know he will do amazing things. I know his trainer too his name is elder kirkham and he came out with me. Elder Camacho will be a huge asset in Salem where he is going. He is gonna serve in the branch that just split off from ours so you know it will be growing big time and he is gonna love it! But anyway we finally made it and the first guy i see off the van is my popps, Puertas! HAha it was a good sight man i missed the guy a ton and he looked good. It was fun talking with him and being reminded of the true friend that he is. Man i learned so much from him as my dad and now, it's like i feel like i'm on a more level playing field. It was cool to see him and actually i'm with him right now too cause they had to ride with us to Zone leader council. Even in just these past few days, i have learned a ton and have been able to share a lot that i'ive learned with him and just, the friendship never died, and if anything i feel more appreciative of him now and closer to him now that we have been split. But anyway, i met my new companion Elder Klinefelter! He is soo awesome. I have been so excited to come down and work with him ever since i found out and already we are getting along soo well! Our heads are jsut in the right place. He is a great teacher and his spanish is pretty good too. He actualyl switched to spanish at the beginning of his mission and he has got a good hang of it. We are helping each other out though and it is pushing both of us to step up cause we have no native to rely on hahah. He is super bold too and i just love the way he works. This week i wanted to tell you of a few miracles too. I got to meet this family named the Herreras. Fabian the guy is a member and so are the kids, but amber is not because they aren't married yet >:( But we are working on it and while we will need a miracle for it to happen soon, it will happen within 90 days so that is promising. But we met with them a few times this week and she told us she works for the next few sundays, we were pretty bummed that she wouldn't be able to come to church but then on saturday night we stop by cause we were in the area, and it turns out the she wasn't needed for work this past sunday and so she came with her family! Just like that! hah such a miracle and that's not even the best of them! We were out knocking some doors during a window of heaven and we stopped by someone we knew in the area. His name is carlos and he is with a girl named susana. They are not married but she is a member and he is not. So we stop by and they aren't around and then Elder K is like, man i feel like we should text him so he does and he says this "hey i was just thinking about you guys, I will see you at church tomorrow"....WHAT?! He hasn't been taught since february and we didn't even invite him, we just said what's up? and he said that. It was incredible and so inspired to text him. It was such a testimony of revelation too that Elder K had that thoguht after we had knocked on their door. And he ended up coming to church on sunday WITH his cousin who is a nonmember. His cousin loved the services at church and said that we could start meeting with them. Then while we were at church with carlos, after everything finishes, our branch mission leader asks him, hey are you a member? and he says "no, but i want to be" haha and so we are like well could we come over tonight and help you prepare for your baptism and stuff so that you can become a member of the church and he says yeah definitely!! What the heck?! We literally were swamped with blessings and honestly it just humbled us because we felt so much like such tools in the Lord's hands. We have been working so hard this past week and are setting huge plans for our zone to help turn aroudn our mission, but it's not us still. It really is the Lord that allows us to see such miracles, and we are just trying to be the means by which they come about. We have been talking about this in our companionship even today about how we don't understand sometimes that we literally are acting in Jesus Christ's name. We are his servants and representatives in Oregon. That entitles us to the powers of Heaven as long as we stretch our faith to that extent and back that faith up by our actions and sincere desires to fulfill the LORD'S will. We are beginning to understand the true power and authority of our callings. Another crazy miracle was that we were out just getting out of a lesson and we get a call from a family that has been inactive for years! They call us and say we need to talk to you now! So we cruise over there and talk with Carlos Camacho and Kelly. They were saying how they were doing hard drugs and their bills aren't payed and their unbaptized son was just taken away from them and they realized that all this was happening because they weren't going to church. She was like when they took my son, you guys were the first ones we thoguht to call, and we knew you could help us. It was incredible how much they have gone through, they had us tearing up with them as they were sharing their experiences through tears and sobs. So now they are committed to coming back. They are coming to family home evening this thursday where we are gonna play and sing a song too, and they are coming to chruch this next sunday. They are gonna get back on their feet and have already been clean from drugs for 2 + weeks and they will get their son back. ANd when that happens, we are gonna teach him too and he is going to be baptized. She said that she has a friend taht wants to come with her too. So we will keep you updated with that. I can't tell you how pumped we are for this transfer. Seriously we were weekly planning on thursday and i always love the first one right before the transfer starts, and we made some big plans for ourselves, for the zone, and more importantly the means by how we are going to accomplish them. Our zone morale is pretty down from what i've seen in the short time i've been here and while there are some superstars, there are some missionaries who are just trying to find their way too. We are trying to find the balance between the instruction and guidance but also the edification and love that we give. This calling truly is one of service but it is soo rewarding! Already we have been making sacrifices in order to help these missionaries in our zone and it feels great. It's like the needs of our investigators are above our own, but now 22 missionaries' needs as well. We are having some awesome spiritual experiences and are looking for some major guidance for this weeks zone district meeting that we are teaching. Our trip today and tomorrow to Eugene for our council will be really helpful and tomorrow i guess it's just 5 horus of discussion as to what the mission needs and what we can do personally as zone's, districts, and companionships. I'm really excited but the AP's sent out a text saying "get ready to play hard ball" hahah so i don't really know what that means but it freaked me out soo, we'll see tomorrow morning what happens haha. I feel like President will probably chew us out or chastise us, cause our mission is so down, but we have to remember that it is out of love. I know that everyone will have the right spirit about it and that it will motivate us and strengthen and guide us even more than we have been. Elder Klinefelter and i have just been beaming with excitement and have been really lifting each other up through ups and downs. We are doing this thing called "purification" where we make a list of 10 things to do together or stop doing together, that will help us be more spiritually in tune, more powerful missionaries, and more succesful and we fasted about them and covenanted with Heavenly Father that we would do everything in our power to keep those 10 new rules. Some of them are things like waking up at 6:00 to get in our exercise and start studies early, and we shortened our lunch time, and have just committed to doing some things differently. It's like you've said before, it's not that hard to be an ordinary missionary. We are all required to give up the 2 years, the video games, music and stuff, but what more can we give. My "grandpa" in the mission said, Edwards, you are so capable of being a super star out here that if you honestly end up as an ordinary missionary, that's pathetic! And man it was so true, it was awesome to hear and just pumped me up. It is so easy to go through the motions and just be "another missionary". But we are trying to set ourselves apart even from that and be "the highlight reel" for our zone, so that they can see that we are trying to put more on our personal alters as we offer to the Lord. Anyway, our spirit of excitement, is staying fresh and we are letting nothing get us down. It's been such a growing experince for my comp and I to get so pumped about this too, because we are constantly pulling each other out of ruts if we begin to be discouraged or down and it's just been a great support system one for the other. I love my comp so much, he is such a stud and is totally lifting me up, helping me get right into the swing of things. Unfortunatly i gotta run. Things are going great though, and i feel so good! This new calling is major stressful and sometimes i feel like my brain isn't big enough to think and worry about everything we have to worry about haha, but we have been so blessed by the Lord it's not even fair to Him. We feel undeserving of the miracles we are seeing but it only motivates us to work harder and strive to be worthy of those blessings. We are trying to be humble knowing that our calling is one of service not towering over all the missionaries. I love this work so much, i can't tell you how many times at night we were talking in bed and just saying as our heavy eye lids seal shut, that we love being missionaries. There is no greater work. Be prepared to see lots of miracles this transfer, i know it is Heavenly Father's will that his children find his gospel, there is no doubt in my mind. I love the Lord, and i love you! The church is true! We had a bomb testimony meeting by the way and there were a ton of recent converts tah bore their testimonies (SO AWESOME)! And i have a king size bed which is super sweet haha. Let's just say i sleep well :) Love you! Elder Edwards

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