Happy Thanksgiving!

Mom- The address I gave you is the address of the mission office, so that address won’t change until I go to Brazil. It is still 6500 Atherton. Go ahead and send the package. I got the Thanksgiving card and the new health card. Thanks!

I love hearing from everyone! What’s new with Isaac?
Adelaide and Hyrum are getting all grown up! Lacey, I’ve really seen the value in teaching children to eat healthy from birth. It’s crazy what some people feed their children and how early it results in behavioral and dietary problems. Last transfer our companionship had spinach smoothies every morning and tried to eat healthy. It made us feel waaaaaaaay better the rest of the day and actually wasn’t expensive split between three of us.

As I guessed, Cypress is the complete opposite of Long Beach. I saw more people on the street my first day in Long Beach than I will the next transfer here. The missionary work (AND WARD) has almost a completely different culture just a few short miles away. Here in Cypress we have three investigators, all three of which are member referrals. It has really strengthened my testimony in member missionary work, which wasn’t weak before! However, in Cypress it is literally impossible to find people to teach without members. Finding is a new challenge. I went knocking for the first time on my mission, and I quickly realized why the leadership of the church doesn’t want us wasting our time with it.

My trainer, Elder Loutensock, was in this area right before he came and trained me in Long Beach. He loved it. With the awesome Ward Mission Leader (who used to be a Bishop), he built a successful ward mission. Our ward mission leader is incredible. We have Coordination and organized splits twice a week with all of the ward missionaries. All of the ward missionaries have at least been in the bishopric or relief society presidency before. Our ward seems massive compared to the ward I just came from, and everyone drives a car! It is funny how foreign it seems even though it is how I lived for most of my life.

On Sunday, the stake president spoke in our ward. He is truly consecrated as a stake president and member missionary. The stake presidency visited every ward this past Sunday and committed the entire stake to do three things:

1. Fast this Sunday for every single person in the stake to have missionary opportunities.

2. Create a Family Mission Plan tonight for FHE.

3. Accept the “Elder Ballard Challenge”: Invite at least ONE person to come unto Christ between now and Christmas.

To make the experience more powerful, the other speaker in the meeting was a kid about to leave on his mission who was introduced to the church only six years ago.

I encourage everyone reading this to accept the same challenge. THESE are the things that will focus our minds on the Work of Salvation. As we do these things, we will be happier, because we will be engaged in a good cause and we will have positive experience with our friends that will bring them closer to Christ.

The purpose of “Hastening the Work” is not to baptize thousands of people. The purpose of the 88,000+ missionaries now around the world is not for us to wander around the streets looking for more people in a smaller amount of space than before.

The purpose is to help those around us come closer to Christ. Our stake president said when his family did that, they were no longer preoccupied by the negative things in the world. The negative is still there, but it is blotted out by the potential and the positive and the overwhelming joy that comes through sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We also had a Zone Conference with Elder Packer of the Seventy. He talked to us about fundamental changes in missionary work that haven’t yet been announced to the general body of the church. While he asked us not to talk about these things to everyone, I can say that missionary work is a member activity. Full-time missionaries are called to teach and invite people to Christ…. NOT to find.

All of these experiences I am seeing and hearing here, from friends in other missions, and back home in Spokane testify to me that not only is this really The Church of Jesus Christ upon the Earth, but that ALL of us need to be anxiously engaged in this greatest of causes.

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