HAPPY 30th ANNIVERSARY MOM & DAD!!!!!

I love getting your emails every week. I love hearing from home. It is weird to think about Spokane getting colder when it is still 85 degrees here. Although now it gets dark by 7:30 here, and it almost rained once!

This week seemed like it was jammed packed. I know I’ve said this a million times, but the weeks really do feel like days sometime.

I didn’t get your package yet! It’s probably here, but since all of my mail gets sent to the mission office, the Zone Leaders have to bring it to us and they forgot to check the mail this week. =( I am very excited for it, though.

So, Malcolm was supposed to get baptized this weekend… but BAD NEWS. We were struggling all week with helping him stop smoking. He said he wanted to, he told his Mom so she could help him stop, he didn’t even own any cigarettes, but he always found a way to get cigarettes! He didn’t even buy them! He just asked people for them. It was kind of frustrating. To make matters worse, yesterday we tried to go teach him and he told us he didn’t want us to come by anymore. We’re not exactly sure what changed, but he has never really had to keep commitments in his life. He already struggled with motivating himself to do anything, so we’re guessing he just felt like we were asking him to do too much.

Even though Malcolm dropped us, we met two people at his apartment complex that we are super excited about. The first is a girl named Sarah. She just moved to the complex this past week from Salt Lake. She is 18, I think, and has been a member for three years. She has had a really, really tough life and she fell away from the church almost immediately after joining. Despite her trials, she wants to come back to church and told us she knows now why she moved to Long Beach… that it was so she could come back to church. She desperately wants to serve a mission. And Kimmie, get this. She went to Heritage High School. And she was in a drama class. And you were her teacher. WHAT? Crazy small world. She said you were a great teacher and everyone loved you. And she says hi. The other person we met at that apartment complex is named Gerard. He lives next door, but he is friends with Sarah. We were teaching a lesson to someone outside the apartment complex (and it was a terrible lesson. The guy we were teaching was tweaking on drugs), but Gerard walked up, listened for a while, and then said, “How can I get baptized?” I’m pretty sure nothing exists that is more exciting for missionaries. We taught him twice this week and he came to church this Sunday even though his friends that were supposed to take him told him they didn’t want to go.

We have an investigator named James who is awesome. We have been teaching him this whole transfer, but at the beginning he said he just invited us in to make fun of us and laugh. As we kept teaching him, his perspective slowly changed. At one point in his life, he was doing almost every drug imaginable, but now he teaches an addiction recovery group. He really wanted to know if everything we said was true, so he told God to give him an answer at church on Sunday so he could move forward. He really didn’t want to stop smoking, but we told him that he really had to show Heavenly Father he was willing to make sacrifices to find the truth. We watched the John Tanner movie and the message of sacrifice hit him really hard. He promised us that he would swear off cigarettes and coffee until God showed him that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. He loved church on Sunday and said he felt like everyone was speaking directly to him, so we’re extremely excited for him. He is getting baptized on September 29 and is beyond excited.

We’re also teaching a lady named Alex. I might have told you a little about her before. She is an African American model with a blue super short hair. She is awesome! She has changed so much in her life to follow God’s plan for her. She was having trouble believing that the “Norman Book” was the word of God, but she told us at our last visit she was mocking God if she expected Him to answer her questions if she wasn’t even reading and doing everything she could to find out for herself if everything is true. We brought a member to her lesson that was inactive and we had never met, but he was so powerful. He answered all of her questions perfectly and showed Alex that we can live difficult, imperfect lives and still be happy. She told us that she knew that all the members we brought were meant to teach her something specific. It is amazing to see her life change as she realizes her potential as a Daughter of God.

The last investigator I want to talk about is Kyle. I may have mentioned him before, but his story is miraculous. He grew up working his way up to the top of major Utah gangs, was in prison for 15 years, killed a man as a teenager, has done more drugs than he can count, is an extreme video game addict, and is a tattoo artist. We have been teaching his excommunicated wife at the request of the Bishopric, and he told us last week that he wants to be baptized. He wants to be the one to re-baptize his wife. He is excited to be sealed to his wife in a year. And he is getting baptized on the 5th of October. He stopped smoking and took all the pornographic posters down off his wall. His wife is kind of in shock, because when they got married he said that he would never stop believing in his Pagan Gods (which included Thor and Loki). His life is truly an example that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is for EVERYONE. If he could change his life to have the blessings of the gospel, than anyone can.

I don’t have time to respond to everyone individually. I love you Mom and Dad! Have a great 30th Anniversary. I hope Grandma and Grandpa are doing okay now that everyone is gone. It is a blessing that they have family close enough for them to help them. Grandma Mooney, I’m trying to find time to help our ward organist, but he’s pretty busy! Tyler. I kind of miss YSA activities… good thing I’ll still be single in two years. Kimmie and Dave… Gosh! Hyrum is growing up so dang fast. You should send a picture. and Dave, it’s amazing to see how technology really is here to fulfill God’s purposes.

I love everyone!!!

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Miracles are Real

So… sad news. Krystal decided not to get baptized. It was really frustrating because she was literally doing everything she needed to do to get baptized EXCEPT for sincerely reading and praying about the Book of Mormon. We’ve done everything we can for her. It’s really hard to see people make decisions that push them away from God when they are SO close to so many blessings.

On the upside, Malcolm is really progressing. We committed him to stop smoking cigarettes and he should be getting baptized on Sunday. As he has come closer to his Heavenly Father he has really gained purpose in his life. When we met him, he had no job and wasn’t going to school. Now he told us that he’s been applying to schools so he can start moving his life forward. We are teaching his friend/neighbor, David, as well.

I played the organ on Sunday. WOOT! It was so great to be able to play again. My goal was to wake up our congregation. Our ward is really tiny. I don’t even think we average 100 people every Sunday, and the majority of them are at least 75. The other organist struggles a bit and people have literally started laughing during the hymns at the sounds coming out of the organ. My goal was to wake everyone up, and I think it worked. I could at least hear some people singing by the third hymn. We had so many investigators at church on Sunday! It was fantastic. Our companionship brought 6 investigators to church and some of them even brought family. This past Sunday 18 out of the probably 65 people at church were non-members. Miracles are real.

We have really been working hard to improve our relationship with our Ward Mission Leader. All the missionaries in our ward met with him and the Bishop, and ever since then he has seemed to really changed his attitude. I’ve been trying to be as loving as I possibly can to him, but one of the missionaries in our ward was really mad at him and wasn’t doing anything to fix that relationship. We are also working with the Bishop to get the members more excited about missionary work. Having so many missionaries in one ward is a blessing and a curse.

Tyler- I’m jealous that your visa process is so much simpler! So far 4/12 of my MTC district members have their visas.

Grandma Mooney- We are definitely getting fed by the members! Even with seven missionaries in one small ward, we have dinner at someone’s house most nights of the week. It sounds like you are doing a great job of inviting people over as well. What is the return missionaries name?

Kimmie and David- You’re in the PTSA? That’s awesome. When I get back home I definitely want to get more involved at BYU-Idaho in volunteer/leadership clubs. I’ve definitely seen how God can lift me up while I have been out here. There are a lot of things that I didn’t know if I was capable of, but if I try my hardest and put forth my best effort, God always fills in the rest.

Lacey- Don’t worry! We have been doing everything we can to have a good relationship with the ward (and to forgive people when they do stuff that seems weird). Good luck in Arizona!

Mom and Dad- When is the last time Dad has spent more than one night in Spokane? It seems like he has been on the road since I left. It sounds like Grandma and Grandpa really have been in need of his help, though. I’m praying for Grandma and Grandpa. It doesn’t sound like Grandpa can get a break! Things just keep happening. It’s crazy that school has started back up already. Good luck at work!

I love everyone! And I love being out here. It’s really hard, but it is so worth it. It is incredible to see how God can change people’s lives if they allow it to.

P.S. I’m looking forward to the package. Since it went to the mission office, I probably won’t get it until our Zone meeting on Thursday. But I’m excited for some homemade blackberry jam!

I Love You All!

MINHA FAMILIA!!! I love all of you!

I am SO excited for you, Tyler! I was so excited when I saw that you have been called to the Japan Fukuoka Mission. I can’t even express how exciting that is. You are going to love it so much. The second I read that, it strengthened my testimony even more that missionary calls are inspired. I’m so excited that we are going to be on our missions at the same time. I can testify to you that missions are HARD, but they are so worth it. I never thought my first day in the MTC was going to end. The opportunity to watch people turn their lives towards God is indescribable. In these short two weeks in Long Beach, I have seen people give up drinking, smoking, sex, illegal drugs, and even move out of their girlfriend’s house so they could align their lives with God’s will. On the other hand, I have seen the power that Satan can have in our lives if we allow him to. One of our investigators told us that if he knew he was going to die next week, he would probably smoke twice as much because he knew it wouldn’t matter and God knows that it is obviously impossible for him to smoke. Also, Satan tries so hard to stop missionaries from being effective. Thankfully, we know that Satan will only have power over us if we allow him to.

Hmm… I’m not quite sure what to say for this week.

Krystal is getting baptized this Friday! Hallelujah. She needs to have the blessings of baptism so badly in her life. Her daughter will probably be baptized shortly afterward. I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings infinite blessings in our lives if we choose to accept and apply it.
Also, I won’t say too much about this, but our Ward Mission Leader has been a huge hindrance to Krystal being baptized (or really any missionary work). We’re working really hard to love him but sometimes it is hard when he treats us like rebellious teenagers and yells at us all the time. We’re going to try making him brownies to see if we can win him over with food.

I know this email is random, but I really don’t know what else to say. I still love the work and I love the Lord with all my heart. Every day I am increasingly grateful for the blessings of family. It was easy to forget at home how blessed we really are and how incredible our parents have been. The majority of the world can’t claim that same blessing.

Grandma- I love reading your emails every week! I’ve really gained a new appreciation for family history since I have been out here. Some parts of your family tree seem like they never end. It is a real eye-opener to how much work there is to be done for everyone in the world. How does Peggy feel about being called as Stake Relief Society President? I love you! Have a wonderful week!

Tyler- I already kind of responded to you above. Haha. But I like what you said about fighting against Satan to use technology for good. It’s amazing to see how quickly the world is changing and how quickly the church is responding to a changing world. Again, I’m SO excited for you.

Isaac- I miss you and Maria! We are battling an ant infestation in our apartment right now. There was a constant stream of ants from our Kitchen all the way out through our living room door. We had to bomb the entire house.

Kimmie and Dave- I actually saw a glimpse of that game (and then I looked away of course). One of our investigators was watching it and was pretty pumped up about it.Spencer Horner is the Elder’s Quorum President in our ward. He’s doing a great job and I love him. It’s a little weird to call him Brother Horner. We went to dinner at his house on Sunday. It definitely is a small world. Thank you again, Dave, for writing to me in Portuguese. I promise when I get to Brazil and I can change the language on the computer I will respond in Portuguese. It is so true that personal growth comes from humility. It is only by being humbled that I have seen myself grow on my mission so far. Fique Firme!

Lacey- God works in mysterious ways! You sound like you are in the crazy middle stages of moving. Good luck with everything. It’s great that you only have to work two days per week. Your testimony that God works through others is definitely something I’ve seen evidence of out here, but it is so frustrating sometimes when people exercise their agencies and God has to use his back-up plan. God really does want to pour out his blessings upon us. We just have to trust that he will and do everything we can to work towards that.

Mom- It would be kind of nice to have that organ book. My address (for packages and letters) is
6500 E Atherton
Long Beach, CA 90815
That is the address of the mission office, but it is safer to send everything there than our apartment. You should have someone post that on my Facebook as well. There is one Spanish speaking missionary who is fluent in five languages, including Portuguese, but I don’t see him very often. I just hope my Portuguese doesn’t get mixed up with all of this Spanish I have to speak everyday.

Dad- Your trip to Port Angeles sound so great and so terrible at the same time! It is sad how awful people in the world are today. I’m glad you were able to find your wallet and that all of the most important things were still intact. I’m also glad you made it there safely. I guess the Porsche hasn’t really been driven in a long time. Even though the end of the trip was pretty miserable, it sounds like the rest was great! Has Josh gone into the MTC yet? I don’t really remember what mission he is going to. I can’t believe Bishop Bingham got released! Are they moving out of the ward/stake? They better be there when I get back! I miss being in priest’s quorum with the Bishop and Brother Starr and Brother Young. And tell Bishop Starr congratulations and Good Luck for me. He will do great. Say hello to Grandma and Grandpa Koetitz for me. It sounds like they had a rough week too. I love you!

I’ll try to send pictures next week! I should have some pictures from a baptism!

Minha familia e amigos!!! Ma homies!

I’m trying to use both of my mission languages, Portuguese and ghetto-speak. I’m pretty sure I’ll be fluent in at least ghetto speak by the time I get home.

 
My P-day is on Monday, but we couldn’t email since it was Labor Day and all the libraries were closed. And then we couldn’t email Tuesday because we ran out of time. Que droga!
 
I was reassigned to the Long Beach, California Mission, and guess what, I LOVE IT. Eu gosto de Long Beach muito. That being said, I will never live in Long Beach. Ever. In my entire life. I have two companions, Elder Coen and Elder Loutensock, and our area is the downtown area of Long Beach. The actual downtown is nice, but the rest of Long Beach is pretty sketchy. Our apartment is wedged between the downtown and the ghetto, so we go running downtown (almost to the ocean, I still haven’t seen the ocean) but the rest of the day we are usually surrounded by cockroaches, tattoos, and weed.
 
For the first time in my life, I am a minority. Not only a racial minority, but a social minority. As missionaries, we stand out from a mile away, with our white shirts and helmets and all 32 teeth (32, right?). It’s strange, but it is really good. It’s funny, because everyone respects the missionaries. We met the leader of a gang on the street, but he said he would always protect us if we needed it because he loves God. Sister missionaries aren’t allowed in our area because of the craziness, but I haven’t had a single situation yet where I haven’t felt completely safe.
 
I miss Portuguese!!! I practice it as much as I can, and my companions always makes fun of me for speaking in tongues, but it has actually come in handy! Since at least 50% of the people we run into on the street only speak Spanish, I’ve been forced to take the limited Portuguese I know and turn it into Spanish that I definitely don’t know. It is good though. I’m always amazed when I understand what they say, especially when it’s a drunken old man speaking a language I’ve never studied.
 
We are teaching a young woman named Alex. She is a model and a mother of three. I don’t think her kids live with her, though. She has had some serious problems in her life before, but she is SO loving. She went to church on Sunday for the first time, and offered to make dinner for this woman from another ward who is getting cataract surgery. So tonight we are helping her make tacos, teaching a lesson, and bringing those tacos over to the lady from the other ward. Alex has nothing, but she is always focusing on what she can do to help others.
 
We are also teaching a woman named Krystal. She has three children, but is raising them mostly on her own, since her husband works in LA. She has trouble understanding the language of the scriptures, but she has come to church twice and is really starting to get excited about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her sister lives with her (but only speaks Spanish), and she asked if we had Spanish missionaries we could send over. Of course we said yes and her sister has already had the first lesson in Spanish.
 
Third, one of my companions, Elder Coen, and I, were walking down the street to an appointment. As we walked down this busy street in the dark, we heard a woman yelling from across the street. She definitely did not look like the type of person we wanted to approach on a dark street, so we kept riding. This woman, named Aleasha, then sprinted across the street, dodging through traffic, and yelled, “Elders! Wait up!” Aleasha just moved into an apartment in Long Beach and it is the first time she has had an address in 30+ years. She is a recovering alcoholic and had met missionaries in the parking lot where she lived before in Orange County. It was a miracle that she had seen us, because the other missionaries didn’t know she had moved and she didn’t have a phone or any other contact information. Aleasha met the missionaries about three weeks ago, and in our conversation, she told us that she would rather have the Book of Mormon than a $100 bill (which for a woman who has been homeless all her life might as well be $1,000,000).
 
The last investigator I want to talk about is Malcolm. We actually just met him on Monday night, after P-Day. We were on the way home and it was 8:59 PM, so we were pretty eager to get to our apartment. We stopped at a light and started talking to people, just like we normally do. The light changed back to green, but I noticed this guy standing behind everyone else on the street corner. I went over and introduced myself and the other missionaries. He had just moved from LA that day, and we were the first people he had met beside his roommate. We taught him about God’s plan for us on that street corner and we set up a return appointment. Then on Tuesday we taught him about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon and today we taught him all about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His baptismal date is for September 21st and he told us today that he didn’t know why he had moved to Long Beach, but he knew he needed a change, but when he was talking to us, he realized that he moved to Long Beach to talk to us. I’m so excited for him.
 
Dad- I’m a little jealous that you got to go to Port Angeles. I feel like I haven’t seen everyone there in ages! Also, where did you get blackberries? I’m sure the jam will be gone long before I get home, but it sounds delicious. It’s been pretty hot here in Long Beach (everyone here says the can’t remember the last time it was this hot and humid) and a homemade blackberry milkshake sounds amazing. Thank you so much for the scriptures you send every week. They help to strengthen my testimony while I am out here. Also, thank you for not ever moving our family to Southern California.
 
Mom- Good luck with the song for primary! I’m one of the ward organists in Long Beach 4th Ward now. I told the Bishop I could play the organ when I got to church. The current organist started playing the closing song and I couldn’t even recognize it! I felt bad because everyone stopped singing after the first verse and a lot of people (including the bishopbric) couldn’t help but laugh. I’m sure the Lord blesses that organist for his effort, but I’m grateful I’ll have the opportunity to play the organ. I played the piano at the mission office for a while, too, which was fantastic. I hope Grandma and Grandpa continue getting better. I love them and miss them. Also, I know how Isaac feels. California has bugs EVERYWHERE. I’ve seen more flies in the past week then my whole life combined, and we saw a cockroach this morning in our apartment. We’d kept them out until then. I’m so glad everything is going so well for Lacey and Michael. The Lord definitely had a plan all along!
 
I’m running out of time, so I’m sorry if I don’t respond.
 
Dave- Thank you so much for writing me in Portuguese, and thank you for your words of encouragement and strength. I know the Lord is watching over me and I’m so grateful to be a part of his divine work. I would respond in Portuguese, but I can’t change this keyboard to Portuguese.
 

Fique Firme!

 

 

I love everyone! I know that our Savior Jesus Christ lives and that God loves all of his children. It is up to us to turn to Christ so God can pour out his blessings upon us.