Elder Bird's Missionary Blog


Pretty RAD in ColoRADo

8/15/16

Hello again everyone!!!

This week was another awesome week! You know, felt the Spirit, taught some people the gospel...all that jazz ;)

But really, the work out here is awesome. The week started with exchanges! Basically, I went over to the other tri-panionship in our district and stayed with them for a day, while one of those Elders came over and stayed with my companions for the day. It was fun! They live in a member's house instead of an apartment, so that was a little different. Also, they just have a lot of different ways of doing things than my companions, so it was fun to see how they worked and did things. We had a very fun day. There was a lot of tracting (yayyyyy!), we met with a super crazy less active (she was really funny), and had pizza for dinner. No complaints there. At the end of the day though, I was happy to come home to my regular companions and apartment.

On Thursday night, Elder LaPerle started feeling kind of sick. We headed back to the apartment, and things got worse. He started throwing up. We told him to call it a night, and Elder Brammer and I conducted daily planning without him. It felt really weird being in a twosome. Elder Brammer said he hadn't been in a twosome for 6 weeks and it felt weird to him too. The next day, Elder LaPerle didn't feel much better. We were worried about him, but also bummed because we had some appointments that day which we were excited about and worried about missing. We ended up getting our district leader to stay with Elder LaPerle at our apartment, while Elder Brammer and I went out for the day. It was kind of different tracting and teaching as two instead of three, but I should get used to it because that is the normal way. Our appointments went well, and we had a good day. Elder LaPerle felt better by that night, and so we were able to resume our normal service the next day.

Most of the week was pretty standard. Some meetings, tracting, finding, appointments. We've made it a goal to tract for at least an hour every day (we've already found some awesome people, plus it keeps us humble). A few people are kind of mean, but that's okay. It is worth all of the nice ones we meet.

The last thing which is kind of funny/ crazy. Last night, our appointment with a less active fell through.; We decided to street contact in a park instead. As we were walking, we happened upon a crazy drunk who called himself Crazy Horse. Apparently, Elder Brammer and his old companion had helped rehabilitate him before and had gotten him back on his feet. Unfortunately, he had fallen back into his old ways and was drinking again. It was rough to see him like that, falling all over the place and crying. He was happy to see Elder Brammer. You could tell that he loved Elder Brammer for helping him, and he regretted getting back into his old slump.

There were a few times that Crazy Horse looked like he was going to punch Elder Brammer. He seemed angry about his situation and had a lot of hate. I just stood back and waited, ready to throw all 150 pounds of myself at this guy to get in between them if he swung at Elder Brammer. But he really did love Elder Brammer. We took his alcohol away from him and told him we'd meet him on Tuesday again. We hope he's a little more sober. I really hope we can get him back on his feet again. He is a nice guy, and deserves so much better.

Anyway, the work is great. Stories like the last one and helping people change their lives for the better is the best work on the planet. I know that God is up there, putting us in people's paths so that we might help them. I am so grateful to be doing so.

I hope things are well at home. I love you all!

Elder Bird

Picture 1: Me and Elder LaPerle

Picture 2: Elder LaPerle with records that a member gave him


Blessings upon Blessings upon Blessings

8/8/16

Hello everyone!! Today is my second P-day in the mile high city and everything is going fantastic!

My second week here has been amazing. This week I really strove (strived?) to become more familiar with the ward and the area (I think I'm doing okay with the ward...but the area is confusing!). Things here are awesome though!

Probably the biggest thing that happened this week was our baptism! On Saturday, Elder Brammer baptized a faithful young man into the church. It was such an amazing thing to be apart of. It was so cool to see the smile on his face as he arose out of the water, and to see the smile stay on his face until he left. He was then confirmed and given the gift of the Holy Ghost on Sunday. We were super excited for him. However, he was late to church so we were a bit concerned. We sat all of Sacrament meeting praying and praying that he would get there. It was really important. Finally, at the end of the meeting, the 1st counselor got up and started announcing that they would do the confirmation. I was so afraid! We tried motioning to him that he wasn't here and hadn't made it, but as we were doing so, the young man walked past us and up to the stand!! He had walked in and had sat in the back, so we didn't see him. Wow, what a relief. He was confirmed and we could finally be at ease. I sat there happy for TJ to have finally made it and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Besides the baptism this week, we also had the opportunity to teach some really awesome lessons and be able to bring the Spirit to some really awesome people. I think the one that I was most excited for, was a lesson with a potential investigator who we actually found tracting (which is a miracle, because tracting hardly works here). [For those unfamiliar, tracting means knocking on doors.] Of course, it was the last door we knocked on, in the building. We knocked and he came out to talk with us. Even though he said he wasn't really interested and had his own faith, we asked if we could hold a Bible study with him. He seemed excited at that, and let us in. We talked about the Bible, and he related to us two amazing stories in his life where he had seen God's hand in his life. We were happily surprised by his faith. He is a single dad raising at least five kids, relying wholly upon his faith. It was awesome to hear his story. He told us he was pretty loyal to his church because it had helped him find God, so we invited to do a church swap with him. He seemed really excited about that idea. I'm excited to both see his church and to have him come to our church and feel the Spirit we have there. We also left him with a Book of Mormon and asked him to read it, trying to relate the journey of Lehi's family to the journey his own family is on. He said he would try. We thanked him and left, with a return appointment scheduled on Tuesday!!! It was so amazing to feel the Spirit and learn about this man's life. I am really excited to try to help him receive the knowledge of our Gospel, which I know will help and bless his family so much.

The last spiritual story was with a less active in our ward. He is a really kind man in his thirties, but unfortunately attending church is not a priority of his. We got him to attend Sacrament meeting though. Afterwards, we met with him and gave him a lesson about recognizing the blessings in his life and thanking God for them. The Spirit was palpable, and he even got a little emotional. I hope he remembers those feelings and continues to make church and the gospel a priority in his life.

Of all the things that have happened this week, what amazes me the most is how quickly I feel like I have come to love the people we are teaching. I love them already!! I desire for them to have true happiness! That is why I'm out here, and I hope I can bring that to them.

Here are some funny things that happened this week:

Okay funny thing 1: We were having dinner at a member's house this week, eating ribs, and right when we first started, a rib from my plate somehow jumped right into my lap. I got rib sauce all over me!!! Everyone laughed, and I had to go to the rest of that night's appointments looking like a big goof-ball. I had to do a lot of laundry and stain removal that night.

Funny thing 2: Elder Brammer almost did the baptism wrong!! He was accidentally facing the wrong way (This was his first time). We figured it out with the bishops help. He also had a hard time lifting the guy out of the water (the kid is a big football player). After it all, we had a good laugh about it.

One of the lessons Elder Brammer taught this week was on an Isaiah section in the Book of Mormon. Sometimes people think Isaiah is hard to understand, but they are really great scriptures and are easier to understand if you break them down one by one. So the scripture he shared is 1 Nephi 21:16. It reads:

16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.

The first thing we have to recognize is that Isaiah is talking Messianically, as if he was the Saviour. The first is that the Saviour has graven all of us upon his hands. Graven means written, so basically He has written us upon his hands. He died for us on the cross, where nails were driven into his hands, for us. The nail prints are symbolic of all of our names, written on the Saviour’s hands. The second part is that our wall's are continually before Him. The walls in our lives are the obstacles we face. So, all of the obstacles we face in our life are constantly before the Saviour as he remembers our names in his hands. How amazing is that?

As we tried to think of a commitment to give to our families to go along with this lesson we thought of washing hands. So, we asked them (and now I ask all of you) whenever you wash your hands, cleaning them from the dirt and grit that comes with living here on this Earth, please remember your Saviour. Remember that your name is Graven upon His hands and only He can cleanse us from the sins of this world.

Things are great! On Wednesday we went to the Denver Temple!!! It was really awesome. We get to go every quarter. It was nice and fun too because I got to meet so many new faces (other missionaries).

I am loving it out here. Even though it is hard and I miss home and friends and stuff a lot, I love the people. They make it all worth it. I hope I can continue to become like Christ and help others to do so also.

I love you all so much!

Elder Bird

Picture 1: Baptism

Picture 2: The bag I thought was dorky but my mom was totally right about

Picture 3 & 4: RYAN school (mascot is Hawks - another word for Bird - get it?)

Picture 5: Us at the temple


1st P-day in Colorado

8/1/16

HI!!!!

Wow! Hi everyone!! I am here in Denver, Colorado! And let me tell you, you can't say Colorado without saying "rad".

I arrived in the Denver airport around 11:30 on Thursday and tried to find my way around the airport! Once I found baggage claim, I was met by my Mission President, President Mendenhall, and his wife. They were very excited to have me here and safe, and were very kind as we waited for my bags and heard my whole story. They actually have other missionaries out here with diabetes, so they kind of understand a little of what I have to do! It was nice to chat with them as they took me to the mission office where I would meet my companions and go to my new area!

Once at the mission office, I learned that I would be a part of a trio for a while because I had come mid-transfer. My companions are the bomb, Elders Brammer and LaPerle. They are incredibly nice and super genuine, and working with them even for this short amount of time has been awesome. I heard a trio companionship can be hard, but I find it a blessing, because I have two great teachers! They both make missionary work look easy, and I am excited to continue in my learning with them.

After I had met with my companions, I met the President's Assistants (who are also really cool Elders), and then had my first interview with President. Afterwards, my companions took me back to our area (in our car; I feel very blessed to have a car) and we started then and there on the work. We have been assigned to the Westminster Ward in Colorado, which covers a long diagonal strip just Northwest of Denver. After dropping off my luggage at the apartment, we went straight to a less active woman's house for a lesson.

My first lesson. IT WAS AWESOME!!! I had practiced over and over again lessons like this one in my head and at the MTC (in a different language, mind you), but now I finally had the opportunity to teach a real lesson to a real person as a missionary. This woman was struggling with health issues and basically couldn't leave her house at all. We had a lesson on the importance of the Sabbath and the Sacrament, and have made plans to attempt to get the Sacrament taken to her. It was awesome and I felt the Spirit very strongly.

I came out smiling and ready to take on anything!! My companions tell me I have something they call "greenie fire," where I am still excited and super happy to be doing the work. They say I should try to keep it, and I think I'll try my hardest to. Anyway, after that lesson, we tried "finding" (where we look in our area book for less actives, former or potential investigators, or recent converts who we haven't seen in a while). I think no one came to the door that day, but I was still just happy to be working.

After that we had service for a member in the ward, helping them move some stuff around, and then dinner with a nice member family. Our ward is super awesome about getting the Elders dinner, and so far there have been no problems with my diabetes, such a blessing!! After dinner, we tried finding one more time, and then went back to the apartment and planned.

The rest of the days have kind of been like that! We do mostly finding (which I described above), and a little tracting and street contacting. We have a car, which is way nice, but we only get a certain number of miles a month, so we have to budget and be careful how much we use the car. We'll walk to a lot of places that are close so that we don't use up to many miles.

Some of the highlights are we have a baptism this Saturday! There is a really nice young man named TJ who loves this gospel and can't wait to be baptized. I have tried to get to know him well before that, and am really excited for him as he progresses in this gospel.

Even though getting turned away so often here can be hard, it is all super worth it when you can sit down with a person and get a positive response from them when you teach them about something you love so much. Even though I am new here, I love to share my testimony with whoever will hear it. I know this gospel is true, and I look forward to continuing in the work.

Here are some pictures!! We found some fake moustaches in the apartment, so we decided to have some fun :)

Picture 1: "Get off my lawn, you lousy Mormon missionaries!"

Picture 2: My companions

Pictures 3: Us with moustaches

Picture 4: My companions and the APs (Assistants to the President)


The Second Time's the Charm

7/27/16

Hello everyone!!!

I bet you might be surprised to be getting my mass emails again, because I've been out for a little bit. But guess what?? I'm back!

I have been home for just a little under two months now. Home life has been good! I have really enjoyed spending time with my family again and making memories which I can keep for the next few years. During this time, I have got accustomed to dealing with diabetes. After about a month, it just became part of my life and I really feel like it is no big deal now.

With that, I knew I was ready to go back into the field and ready to be a missionary again. My doctor cleared me and I was able to resubmit my mission papers. Because it was around the 4th of July holiday, I had to wait a little bit. After a couple of weeks though, I starting to get anxious and antsy, itching to get back out. I found a new patience and meaning to the term "Waiting on the Lord."

After about three weeks of waiting, I heard some news from my Stake President. On Monday of last week, he emailed me and told me that I would be resuming my missionary service and was reassigned to serve in the Denver North, Colorado Mission!!! I was so ecstatic! I think I danced around the room with my baby niece, Sydney, for a few minutes. I was going to be a missionary again and I was so happy!!!

I waited to hear for more news, and learned that I would be flying straight to Denver the following Thursday. So this time, no MTC (Oh, I'll be speaking English this time by the way). I wasn't quite sure how to feel about not returning to the MTC. On one hand, I was really excited to go straight to the field, but on the other, I was nervous because I had received no training in English! I think I'll be okay, but I keep praying that my trainer will be very good. I also got in contact with my Mission President and talked to him a little about my condition. He seems like a very nice man, and I am excited to serve with him.

On Tuesday we spent most of the day packing. We had to change how we packed this time because the weather in Colorado is a tad different than Indonesia. I was set apart on Wednesday night and now I just fly out tomorrow morning. I cannot express how excited I am to return to missionary service.

It is kind of crazy to think that all of this happened within the last two months. If I sit down and think about it, two months ago my life was very different. I have had diabetes for less than two months, and I can already head back out to the field. I know God has helped throughout this entire process, and I have been able to recognize His hand in my life now more than I ever have before. I am so grateful for all He has done for me recently and all that I know He will continue to do for me and everyone.

So there it is!! I am so excited to be serving the Lord and the people of Colorado. Even though so much craziness has happened in the last two months, I wouldn't have it any other way. Challenges come up in our lives (when we least expect them) and with the Lord's help we learn how to overcome those challenges and become stronger people. I know I have been blessed by the Lord by the many tender mercies I have had through this process.

Much Love,

Elder Bird


How The MTC Changed Me

6/10/16

Hi everyone!! I know this post is a little bit early, but I have some pretty big news!

To make a long story short, I was just diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I have come home from my mission for a little while to learn how to deal with this new thing in my life. I was released from the hospital yesterday and am currently back home in California. I will be released as a missionary with a medical release this afternoon. I know it is a big shock! I'll be the first one to say that I never in my life thought I could have diabetes. But I do now. I know that God let this obstacle happen to me for a reason, and I hope I can have enough perspective to know, truly, that He knows best on this one.

So I'm guessing some people want to hear the long story. So here goes! Remember on Tuesday when I said I was feeling really thirsty? Well I was also feeling a bit weak, and I was having to use the bathroom way more often than I should have needed to. So after emailing on Tuesday, I went to get my haircut and had a small thought afterward, that maybe I should get checked out by the doctor. I decided to follow that prompting and headed to the doctor at the MTC. So I went in at 11am.

One of the first signs that something weird was happening, was when the nurse checked my weight. When she weighed me, I weighed 10 pounds less than I did when I entered the MTC. Now I don't know if you have seen me, but most people say I don't really have ten pounds to lose. So that was surprising to me. The nurse took some blood work and told me to come back for another appointment at 1pm. I thought that was kind of a bummer, because my zone usually goes to the temple around 1pm on P-days, but I said okay.

When I returned at 1pm, the nurse looked very concerned. She sat me down in the room and I waited for the doctor to come in. I started reading an Ensign that was there in the room, and flipped open to a talk about trials in this life. I didn't really realize how applicable that talk would be in about 5 minutes. When the doctor came in, he sat me down and told me that my blood sugar was above average (by a fair amount). At first, I thought maybe I was just eating too much sweets or something. But then he explained that with the symptoms I was showing, that there was a very high possibility that I was diabetic.

“...What?” I thought as I sat there. What does that even mean? How in the world could I get diabetes? It didn't even make sense to me. I asked the doctor three times if I had done this to myself by eating too much or by having too many sweets. He told me no, that I was predisposed to this and I had no hand in causing this to myself. I still felt unsure. After he told me the news, he explained to me that because my blood sugar level was so high (around 560 to be exact) that I needed to go to the ER immediately to get it down. That was also a bit of a shocker! Then he left to call a shuttle for me. I looked at my Ensign article with a new understanding of why I had been reading that talk. All I could think was, “There has to be a reason, Ryan. Just put your trust in God.”

So I took the shuttle to the ER. They got me into a bed and hooked me up to some machines. Apparently when I arrived at the ER, my blood sugar had risen even more to about 850 (which, apparently, is very dangerous for you). After an hour in the ER, my mom called [she had been told by my home Bishop that I had been admitted to the hospital] and I told her what was happening. About 20 minutes after that call, I realized I had nothing to do as I waited for them to get my blood sugar down, so I asked for a Book of Mormon and started reading.

I will never forget the verse in the Book of Mormon that set the tone for this whole ordeal in my mind. I had just restarted the Book of Mormon the other day and was reading in 1 Nephi chapter 2. Laman and Lemuel were complaining as always, but the verse that stuck out to me was verse 12. It reads:

12 And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.

I love that verse. It seems simple, but it was so powerful to me as I sat alone in the ER. Was I going to murmur against my Heavenly Father, who had created me, because I didn't know why I got diabetes on my mission, right before I went out? Was I going to complain that it was hard, or wonder why it had to be me who got diabetes? The resounding answer in my mind was NO. God had let this happen to me for a reason. He knows what He is doing. He knows me better than anyone else. And He would be with me as I figured all this out. I am grateful for His hand in helping me find that verse and to understand that I would be okay.

After about 3 hours in the ER, I was moved up to the second floor to a unit that was a step down from the ICU, and that was where I would spend my first night in the hospital. When I got up there, I continued to wait and read the Book of Mormon. My mom called again and told me that she had decided to fly out that night to be with me and make sure that I was going to be okay. Every so often, I would check the clock and figure out what my district was doing. I wondered how the Devotional was going and who was saying the opening prayer for Elder Bednar now that I wasn't there. I was disappointed that I couldn't do it. At around 9:15, my Branch President and his wife showed up at my room. They were both very sweet to me, asking if I needed anything and telling me that I was in my zone's prayers. I was appreciative of that, and let them know that I was fine. I really did feel fine, and I told them to tell everyone not to worry. They left and then I tried to get some sleep, which was hard because the nurses kept coming in to check my blood sugar and vitals every 2 hours.

The next day finally came. My blood sugar was down to normal now, so they let me take a shower and told me that later I would be moving to another room. This was a good sign they said, it meant that I was graduating out of that unit to a normal floor. After my shower, my mom and sister, Melanie, arrived. It was such a blessing to see them again. We talked about what was happening and everything and they helped me to feel less lonely. My teacher from the MTC also came by and brought me some letters from everyone in my district. It meant a lot to me as I read each one.

The rest of my time in the hospital was spent with them (showing off with my new Indonesian skills) and trying to get educated on how to deal with diabetes. The hospital diabetes specialists trained me in taking my blood sugar, giving myself insulin, and in calculating how much insulin I would need for meals. The educators were very kind, and I knew I was in good hands. That night my mom stayed with me at the hospital.

Thursday morning was busy with more education from the specialists and also the dietitian. Finally at around 2:30pm, I was released from the hospital and was on my own now in figuring out the diabetic thing. I have to say, it was a little intimidating.

I went back to the MTC to pack up all my stuff. While there, I was able to reconnected with my companion and saw most of the guys in my district. It was hard knowing that I was not going to be heading to Indonesia with them. I was so looking forward to it. After I got packed, I was able to officially say goodbye to my district and my zone. I am not kidding when I say they are the best district and zone in the MTC. They are all amazing missionaries. I know their prayers and thoughts were helping me in the hospital. Before I left, I made sure to get everyone's emails and told them to write. Then we said goodbye for a while.

My mom and I caught a flight home late last night. I went to see my doctor today and also an endocrinologist (diabetic specialist). I am figuring things out, trying to learn and count how many carbohydrates I am eating and then giving myself the right amount of insulin each time. I am glad to be back home with family. I'm not sure how long it will take, but am hoping for a short time with this learning process. And then I will be ready to get back out there, probably in the states somewhere. Whatever the Lord wants is where I'll go. Anyway, it has been quite an adventure.

So that is what happened!! I know its a lot (I know, I lived it). But again, I know that this is happening to me for a reason. Because I know that, I am okay. I can do this. Through God, I can do anything. Someone in my district reminded me that God said, “I never said it would be easy, I only said that it would be worth it” or something to that effect. I like that. I know that it will be worth it as I continually try to come unto the Lord and serve Him in whatever way that I can.

The title of this post was a little bit of a joke. The MTC actually did change my life (I got diabetes there, and my life will forever be different). But there is so much more than that joke. My one month mission in the MTC changed me as a person: how I view and teach the Gospel, my relationship with God and Jesus Christ, my entire person. It gave me new perspectives that will stay with me. I can add my testimony to thousands of other missionaries (even though I only served a month so far) that a mission does change your life. I absolutely loved it, and look forward to getting back out there soon, wherever that may be. I love this church with all my heart, and I know with every fiber of my being that it is true and that God and Jesus Christ are there and that they are watching and listening to your every move, just waiting to bless you. I am so grateful for that knowledge, and I love my God with all my heart.

I guess the next post will be in a few months. Until then, “God be with you till we meet again.”

I love you all.

Elder Bird

Picture 1: Me in the hospital

Picture 2: I felt like a robot with all the wires on me

Picture 3: Wearing my missionary tag on my hospital gown


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Elder Ryan Bird
Colorado Denver North Mission

Contact Information

E-mail Address:
ryan.bird@myldsmail.net

Mailing Address:
Elder Ryan Bird
1250 Main Street
Broomfield, CO 80020