Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Time flys when...

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Les Amo
Elder Edwards

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mother's Day Next week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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