Sorry I didn't get to write yesterday, the libraries were closed because of Columbus Day!
What an awesome week! Elder Hales and I had such a blast this week serving out here, and we experienced like a million little miracles along the way!!
Yes, snow. We did indeed have our first snow of the season yesterday! How crazy is that?? It snowed all day, and we got to enjoy it as we walked around a mall shopping on P-day! It was definitely a shock for Elder Hales [he is from Arizona], but for me it was fun to be back in the cold again. I had to break out my winter stuff and I wore some nice thick socks and some thermals to survive the day.
I don't even know where to start this week, but I guess I'll start with me catching a cold at the beginning of the week. I woke up Tuesday morning feeling exhausted and just terrible. I tried to work through the morning like normal and get out at 10am for some awesome tracting, but by 10:45am I could barely knock on the doors. I ended up calling the mission nurse (apparently we are bound to be besties) and she told me to basically take it easy and go home and nap. Elder Hales and I grabbed some medications at the store and then did just that. After a few hours of rest, I went back to work, and we found a woman named Melissa. She was outside working in her yard, and she let us inside her house (she thought we were JW's [Jehovah Witnesses]) and let us teach her about the Book of Mormon and Restoration! She told us to come back next week and seemed pretty intrigued. Anyway, we worked for the rest of the day, and I was basically fried by 8pm, so we decided to come home early and rest for the night.
Wednesday was pretty uneventful, but Thursday was chalk full of awesome happenings! We went to see and got in with a few former investigators that let Elder Hales "practice the lesson" on them. One went absolutely awesome, and we even watched Tad R. Callister's recent General Conference talk on the Book of Mormon! The other, not so great. She had lots of questions on just about every point and we didn't get to teach like we had hoped, but it was a great experience for Elder Hales!! The real blessing came that night after dinner, when a potential named Omar, let us into his home and let us teach him about the Book of Mormon! It was such a sweet lesson! He accepted a copy and even asked us if he could come to church the Sunday after this one. I feel like God blessed us twice in a row, leading us to people who actually let us come in to their homes, just like that!!
I'm running out of time, but the last miracles came Sunday night, when we had 3 sweet lessons right in a row. First, we had our 'church-a-thon' in the morning, with church from 8:30am-4:15pm [2 wards- 3 hours each, plus ward council meeting times 2]. It was testimony meeting so we bore our testimonies so that the ward members could get to know us a bit better. I bore my testimony of the Lord's love for each of us. I told them about my recent health issues and the story of getting my appendix removed and then them finding the tumor inside, and how I have felt strengthened by knowing I am loved by the Lord. He has blessed me so much! After church, we went straight to a lesson with Dahlia, a 10 year old girl wanting to get baptized. We finished teaching her the Plan of Salvation and made a plan to continue having awesome lessons with her in the future! Then, we ran to teach Maria, a member referral from Sister Torres in the Smoky Hill ward. We taught her once before about the Book of Mormon, and we got to talk a bit more about it. She told us that she feels like God is leading her to our church, but she has been a little resistant. She wants to do what God is telling her though and so wants to read the Book of Mormon! It was awesome! Right after meeting with her, we went on some splits with the ward missionaries and I got to teach Rego, an investigator that is kind of hard to catch. Rego talked a lot about where he is coming from spiritually and just kept saying that he feels God is reaching out to him and he has been holding back. We talked for a long time and at the end "committed" Rego to read in the book of Mormon every day. We promised him that if he would, God would fill His life with what he thought was missing. He committed to it and is even excited!! It was so cool!
Anyway, the work is hastening on and it feels like all we have to do is get out the door and open our mouths! I am so happy to be here and to be serving and loving these people! I know that this is God's work!!
This week just seemed to fly by!! There was some super cool things that happened though!
The week started with a zone p-day, which was super fun! We played Quidditch with the zone, kind of like what we did in Arvada! It was super fun (and super tiring). It was just good to be with everyone in the zone. We had "butter beer," a Harry Potter themed butterscotch soda. And we tried to take a picture of all of us in the air on our brooms. It was a pretty fun day!
Later that day, I had to start prepping for the colonoscopy that was going to happen the next morning. [When Elder Bird had his appendix removed and they biopsied it, they found a small tumor. So, they scheduled a colonoscopy to see if there were any more in his system.] I had to drink like 2 liters of this liquid stuff to get me ready for the procedure. It wasn't that fun for the rest of the night. Then the next morning I had to drink another 2 liters of the stuff. After drinking it all, I got a blessing from some Elders [missionaries] who came over, and then we headed out. Elder Hales and I didn't get too far though, because our truck had a very flat tire. The other missionaries gave us their car to take, while they worked on changing the tire and putting on the spare. That was so nice! We got to the hospital okay and the procedure went very well (I was out for the whole thing, so I got in a good nap). When I came to, they told me that I was all fine and that I didn't have to worry about any cancer. That was a huge relief! Elder Hales drove me home and I rested for the rest of the day. That night we had dinner at a family's house in the ward and then we had a 7pm appointment to teach an investigator.
On Thursday we went on exchanges with our zone leaders, Elder Bjerga and Elder Melchin. I know both of them really well and so I was super excited. Elder Bjerga was my companion for the day, and he and I worked in our area, which he had served in previously. That made the day pretty cool! I got to meet a lot of the people that he used to teach, and he got to see them all again! It was pretty fun to go out with him.
The weekend was filled with watching General Conference. Elder Hales and I got to watch all 10 hours worth which was awesome! General conference, while on your mission, is like the Superbowl, I always look forward to it. All the talks were awesome and many of my questions were answered. We were sad to hear about Elder Robert D. Hales [an apostle of the church] passing away. I liked the thought of Elder Hales "graduating" from this earth life though, just another step in Heavenly father's plan for all of us. We were also sad that we did not get to hear from our prophet, but we could feel his love for all of us through the other Apostles. Conference was a good break from the regular rigors of missionary work and put us back on our feet spiritually and ready to help others get back on theirs!
The last cool thing that happened this week was a car swap for us. We were driving a truck and the mission office decided that all of the zone leaders in the mission needed to have the trucks [it helps with luggage for transfers]. Anyway, Elder Brown down in Parker needed one! So we swapped cars with him. . . which means. . . that is right! I am back in the mini van baby!! I feel like such a dad out here. I've got my fanny pack on, and I'm driving around in a van, with my "baby boy" [missionary lingo] next to me in the passenger seat. And, I'm helping all the missionaries in my district. I have never been more proud as a missionary :)
Anyway, I'm glad this week went well and I'm sure this next week should be awesome too! I hope it is for you as well!
Miracles are happening in the work and in my life, and I have never felt happier. I hope and pray that your lives are the same.
I love you all so much!!
Hey Howdy Hey, happy people!!
I hope everyone's week has been super awesome! Elder Hales and I had a fantastic week here in the Smoky Hill & Fox Hollow area! Lots of cool things and miracles that keep happening in the work!
Probably the coolest thing that happened this last week was having so many people to teach!! We did a lot of calling around, stopping by, and getting things set up last week, and so this week we were able to SEE a bunch of people! When we came into the area, there weren't too many people being taught, but now we are really starting to build up. We had some really good lessons! Now that we have our feet a bit planted, things are going just awesome!
Another really cool thing that happened this week was something called "Member School." This is where a lot of the zones met up (like a zone conference) and President and Sister Savage presented a really cool new member missionary work initiative to us. It is called "Invite to Ignite", and is really a great program. Members doing missionary work and inviting their friends into the gospel is the quickest, easiest, and most effective way to do missionary work. A lot of members want to help with the work and invite people, but don't really know where to start or don't have tons of time. Maybe they are afraid of hurting more than helping. The program is great because it is a lesson we can sit down and discuss with members about simply being an example in other people's lives and making small invites to church things once a month (like cub scouts or activities or just anything). It takes a lot of pressure off of the members and lets them know that missionary work is easy to do and shouldn't be something forced or scary. We love it! We have already sat down and did the discussion with one of our Ward Mission Leaders and he told us that it is his favorite member initiative he has seen! We are super excited to do it with our wards and just help them with the work.
We have already seen that member work is going to be the best thing down here. Yesterday, we met with two member referrals, a little girl and then a single mom, both in the member's home that invited them to listen to us. And just like that, with those natural invitations leading up to those conversations with us, we were able to start to teach them about the gospel. It is pretty cool stuff!
Elder Hales and I have also been doing tons of contacting and tracting this week. It has been great! We have been able to meet some super cool people and have some great conversations with them about their own journeys throughout life and how the gospel might be able to help them in the future! We have some appointments set up for next week and are super excited to keep working with them!
Last night as we were teaching, a member, Sister Torres, bore her testimony about the gospel to her friend, Maria. Sister Torres is actually a convert too, from Mexico and converted here in Aurora 15 years back. She has quite a story, and told of how much she's trusted in God and how blessed her life has been because of it. There were so many hard times in her life where she could have stopped or not lived the gospel to it's fullest, but through it all she kept the commandments and tried her hardest, and the Lord has poured out blessings for her. She had such a strong testimony of the gospel. It was so awesome to see how application of the gospel principles has literally changed someone's life. I know that the gospel is true, from my experiences, Sister Torres' and a million others. And I know as we live it, we will be blessed more than we can ever imagine.
I love you all so much!
Hi Happy people!
What a week! Oh my goodness! So much has gone on!
Let's start with the new call. I have been asked to train again and to be a district leader for the Arapahoe district! I am currently serving in the Smoky Hill/Fox Hollow wards, and am training Elder Hales! It is actually super cool, because I am currently right across the street from the Cherry Creek and Piney Creek wards, which is the second area I served in. I get to see it every single day now! How awesome is that??
I was super happy to receive the news for the changes, but a little sad to be leaving the Parker area. We were teaching and were friends with so many cool people, and I had to say goodbye to all of them. That is what we spent most of Tuesday doing, saying goodbye to everyone. I was especially sad to say goodbye to Ryan, who was just a miracle right from the start. I think he will do great and I am hoping that he will be baptized in October.
With this new assignment came another assignment, and that was to sweep! Sweeping into an area [in missionary terms] is when the two previous Elders leave an area and two new Elders are put in. It is a little tough on the two incoming Elders because you don't have any relationships built up. Normally, one Elder leaves and one Elder stays, thus keeping the contacts they have been teaching and working on, and the new Elder just continues the work with the Elder that stays. But, when both Elders leave an area, the two new Elders basically have to start from ground zero and learn about the investigators from the ward members and ward Mission Leader. There essentially is no handing off from the previous Elders because they are off to their new assignment, and we don't get to talk to them before they leave. This is my first time doing this and so it has been an interesting last couple of days. We have been calling around and trying to get a feel for what was going on with missionary work here. Also, with my new call I am now in charge of nine other missionaries as their district leader, and have been trying my hardest to help them all out as much as possible, as well. They are all super awesome and have wonderful spirits. I am just super excited to learn from each one of them.
Elder Hales is awesome! He is from Mesa, Arizona. All of the missionaries in the district are either from Arizona or California (except one from Idaho). He came right from High school and is ready to work! I can already tell he is a great teacher and has so much desire to work hard and be obedient and just be a great missionary. He was a swimmer back home in Arizona and was also a lifeguard...I think he will miss the water a bit out here. He has already expressed to me that it is way too cold here (it was 120* in Arizona this summer) and wears a sweater everywhere we go! Wait until winter! He has a super strong testimony and conviction of the gospel, and I can't wait to teach with him.
As for people we are teaching and helping, there is honestly not too much. We have asked both of our Ward Mission Leaders to help set up lessons for us with any struggling families or less active members. I want to have Elder Hales teaching the lessons and practicing, so my goal is to try and teach 20 lessons a week with people. It is going to take some some serious work and building our contacts to do that. We did have had one real lesson so far, with a guy named Rego. We saw him last night and had a great talk with him about the Book of Mormon and Restoration. It went awesome!! I walked out smiling and happy, because things had gone really well.
There are a few other people in the works that I am also super excited to meet with and become their friend. There is going to be a lot on my plate with being a trainer, district leader, and leader of this new area, but I just can't stop smiling while I am here!
I love you all so much! Have a fantastic week!
Me and Ryan with Jesus behind us!
Elder Brown and I and Rachel!
Elder Brown and I with Grace and Cameron
Elder Brown and I with the Legend, Brother Jones (the stake Ward Mission Leader)
Elder Hales and I at our first meeting!
What a great week it has been! My last week here in Parker! I learned last Wednesday that I will be training a new missionary this next transfer. I don't know where I will be going yet, but I am super excited to be training a new missionary and to be getting a fresh start somewhere else in the mission. I loved training Elder Olson, and I am super ready to do that again. [We found out later that he will be going to the Arapahoe Stake in Aurora as a district leader.]
Elder Brown will be staying here and training a new zone leader. I know they will do well together! Elder Brown is a bit nervous, but he will do great! Our investigator Ryan is doing awesome! He came to the Saturday night session of Stake conference, where I sang a duet with a sister missionary and Elder Brown played the piano. He also came to the Sunday session of Stake conference, and then to dinner with our Bishop on Sunday night. We also saw him twice last week for lessons and he is still super committed. His baptism date is set for the 23rd, and we are working with him now to prepare for that day! We are going to take him shopping today to get a white shirt and tie! I am sad to leave him. I am unsure if I will be able to come back for his baptism, but I am just so glad to have been apart of his conversion process.
I will share a small miracle from the week. On Saturday, we were on exchanges with another set of Elders. I was with Elder Ochsner, our district leader. He is a superb missionary and I love him a lot. While we were out for the day talking with people, we met a woman named Rachel just sitting on the ground with her dog. We struck up a conversation with her and got to know her a little bit. She is non-denominational Christian and actually lives in Arvada. We talked to her about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon, and I shared with her the verses in 3 Nephi 11:7-11. It was super cool, because we knew she felt the Spirit. It made her kind of open up. We asked if we could bring her by a copy of the Book of Mormon, and she wanted to let us, but just had a lot going on in her life. She and her husband are having a rough time and it is affecting their kids. She asked for our number and might let the missionaries in Arvada come by. She then asked us to pray with her. During the prayer, she cried while we asked for blessings upon her family and for greater peace and calmness from God. It was such a cool contact. I don't know if I'll ever be able to see Rachel again, but I love just being able to come into someone's life so quickly and bring the Spirit.
I love it out here and am so excited to continue on. I love you all as well and wish you well!!
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