Ups and Downs

Tanasha got married!!! Holy cow! That’s awesome! I was just wondering this week when that was happening. You will have to send pictures!

I can’t believe Tyler is on his mission now! I can’t wait to hear his emails in a week when he finally gets to his first P-Day in the MTC. So exciting!

I got my scripture case… but I think it might be for the large set of scriptures (like yours) not the normal size. I’m not sure what to do with it. I really appreciate it, though! Also, I do know the Coffeys. That sounds awesome.

You might have to let Whitepanther [our cat] in your room to keep her quiet! She has had someone’s room to sleep in for the past 18 years.

So I hadn’t told you yet, but two weeks ago, the bike I was borrowing from a member was stolen, along with my companion Elder Garcia’s bike. The locks were gone and everything! We were at least glad that the petty criminals were at least being safe as they rode away, since our helmets were gone as well. So, I tried paying the members back for their bike, but they wouldn’t let me because the other matching bike they had like it got stolen as well, so they were just glad they were gone. Anyway, I had to go buy a bike on Wednesday, but it has a three month return policy, so if I get my visa within the next three months, I might just return it. Or sell it to the mission office as a loaner bike.

This week has been a little rough. Us missionaries can’t even contact the Lucero family anymore. The father in the family called his home teacher and talked to him for a long time about how the missionaries have been pushing his family too hard to get baptized. His home teacher thinks that his wife was trying to get him to go to church and he wasn’t comfortable with the pressure from his family to be better. It was just frustrating because of how sensitive we have been while teaching them and how ready they are to be baptized. The primary and relief society have been trying to stay in contact with them, and we are praying that they will still be able to progress. We also had a bunch of lessons fall through, just like we did last week.

Despite all of that, we have still had a lot of faith building experiences. We taught a whole bunch of teenage girls that actually seem pretty interested. At first, they seemed like they were just interested in us (I’m not sure why), but once we began teaching them about the Book of Mormon, they became sincerely interested. We are also teaching a boy from Korea who is staying with his uncle, who lives in our ward.

I’m out of time, but I love you all!

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Pray for Rain in Sunny California!

Tyler!!! I am so excited for you to be on your mission! It is so sweet that on the majority of our missions will be served at the same time. My only suggestions: 1. Be Exactly Obedient. 2. Love the People 3. Love the Lord. Those things will bring happiness. Missionaries can goof off and joke around… but that only brings a shadow of happiness, kind of like putting a giant bow on a dollar store gift. That’s what I’ve learned for the past two transfers. Also, the times we need to work hardest as missionaries is when we have the least to do. One of Satan’s greatest tools is complacency.

This weekend, we had Stake Conference. All of it was about the Hastening of the Work, in other words… not being complacent. Essentially, the prophet has asked us to get up off our back row pews and be friendly. Make friends, talk to our friends, and share with our friends the only thing we have in our lives that will bless them eternally. It is a labor of love. At the Saturday night session, the only people that spoke other than the Stake Presidency were recent converts. One was an 18-year old girl who was involved socially in the church for 6 years before she knew it was true. One was a man whose wife had waited 38 years for him to join the church, and the last was a recent convert from our ward named Steve Grey, whom I LOVE. He was a baptist preacher for 48 years before he was baptized 5 months ago. He said, “When the missionaries looked at me, they saw a kind old man from Canada who was comfortable with his life. What they didn’t see was the man who cried himself to sleep each night because of the torment he felt in his soul. They didn’t see the man who suffered from the depression of being separated from his wife so I could earn money to support her in Canada. They didn’t see the man whose daughter was dying of cancer. But most importantly, they didn’t see the man who prayed to God each day, pleading to feel his influence again.” Brother Grey said he had reached a point in his life where he needed to know more. He could tell his congregation what they needed to do to be “saved”, but not what that meant. He could try to save marriages, but to what end? By following the spirit, the missionaries who taught him (one of which was my awesome trainer, Elder Loutensock), resolved his concerns by sharing the pure doctrine of the (in Steve Grey’s words) “Fulfilled, Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ”.

He then exhorted the congregation to “get to work”. He said, “There is an urgency in this work that cannot be denied. There are many people in the world like me, just waiting for more but blinded by the fact that they don’t want to admit they were wrong. They are your friends and your family. And they are children of God.” (If you can’t tell, I was taking notes)

After the Sunday morning session of conference, our companionship had the privilege of being part of the ordination of Steve Grey to the Melchizedek Priesthood. Tomorrow, he is leaving for Canada so he can give his dying daughter a blessing and spend a precious few moments with his wife.

On Sunday, there we had a broadcast where Linda K Burton, Neal L Anderson and President Eyring spoke. That morning in companionship study, we had prepared a lesson for members on Hastening the Work, so we could help them identify their friends and what they can do. Every single thing we planned that morning was talked about specifically in the broadcast an hour later, from the scriptures we used to the specific goals and plans we would help the members of our ward make. We went after Stake Conference and shared this message with members of our ward. It was incredibly effective, probably because they had heard apostles and prophets command them to do the same things earlier that day.

This last weekend, the Lucero family (a part member family) was supposed to be baptized. They were ready, more than ready, but their inactive husband/father doesn’t believe they are prepared, despite their testimonies to him, the spirit of our lessons with them, and all of the members that are excited and have reassured them they are more prepared than they were at their own baptisms. I understand where the father is coming from. For years, he has prayed that his family would accept the Gospel (even though he doesn’t come)… suddenly, his wife and daughter have a change of heart, they are prompted by the spirit to actually let us in, and a month later they are getting baptized. Because of his work, the Dad has only been present for two of the lessons, but whenever we can meet with the whole family, we do. They will get baptized, I’m not worried about that. But as Steve Grey told us, there are fewer things more dangerous in the world than delaying eternal blessings from those who are prepared to receive them. Stay tuned for when they actually get baptized.

Mom and Dad, you will just have to start having movie and game nights to make up for the ones that will stop when Tyler leaves! A missionary in our zone said her parents started an “Empty Nester Family Home Evening Group” that gets together every Monday night. This missionary said that is what keeps his parents sane with all of their kids gone. It sounds like you will be busy enough, though, with Lacey coming and going to Grandma and Grandpa Koetitz’s house. Hopefully you will be able to see some other family while you are there as well. Dad, I’m not sure what seafood stuffed cannelloni is, but is sounds delicious. It’s funny more I appreciate foods that I used to shy away from on my mission. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat cooked spinach or egg salad sandwiches, but almost anything else is a lot better than I would have sworn it was when I was 9 years old. I’m sorry for being so picky!

Kimmie, get some sleep! Hopefully Hyrum starts sleeping better. Your Stake Conference sounds like it was just as awesome and motivating as ours was. I feel like my notes could have turned into a novel if I wrote everything down that I loved. I wish I could have recorded it. I think the members of our stake are figuring out that the “Hastening of the Work” isn’t something they can try for a week and then forget about… that it is the way of life that the Lord is asking us to live, that we should have been living before but have the opportunity to put in place now. President Eyring also talked about the sacred nature of children in hastening the work, how parents today teach children the principles of the Gospel before they can even speak, and how children understand those principles more deeply and completely than anything else they can comprehend. President Eyring said that though toddlers may not understand the language of the scriptures, they understand the spirit they feel when it is read to them. It is so true. It reminds me of Adelaide signing “Jesus” with her hands whenever she walked past the picture of Christ in our house. So, what is your new job? I forget. Are you teaching? Tutoring?

Isaac: I understand. If we didn’t have time set aside for emailing, I don’t know what I would do. As it is, there is always more to say, read, and respond to than I have time for. I hope Maria (and you) begin feeling better! Crutches are terrible. And good luck with universities and writing and everything else. Are you still planning on going to the University of Idaho or WSU?

Ryan: I have begun working on a different Christlike attribute every week. It has been effective so far, but it is definitely an infinite process.

I love everyone! Have a fantastic week! And pray for California to get some rain! The First Presidency is going to fast on February 2 along with the members in the State of California for it to rain. This is the worst drought in California in 100+ years. It has rained 3 times in the 6 months I have been here.

Finding and Blessings

Another week, and I’m feeling much better. Elder Miller, Garcia and I were pretty miserably sick Last Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. We all had slightly different illnesses, but just like Dad, I was so stuffed up and congested that I couldn’t even think and my companion was having a lot of trouble eating, but just like I said, we feel loads better.

The first half of our week was spent being sick. It was really a challenge to work effectively, but the second half of the week was much better. We have been teaching a part-member family that is awesome. They are scheduled to get baptized this Saturday, but the inactive member, their Dad, is worried that things are progressing too fast. He didn’t even take off work this Saturday, and it is really bothering his wife, because she wants his support. They might delay it for another week so he will hopefully feel more comfortable. They are fantastic.

We have also been focusing more on finding. We got a little complacent and hadn’t been contacting enough people. As we reapplied ourselves we immediately saw the blessings. We made a goal one day to contact just one more person than the previous day. As we were riding home, we were sitting at the same number of contacts as the previous day. About 50 feet before we got to our apartment, we passed a man walking down the street. We greeted him and he asked me how I was doing. I told him, “I’m doing great!” This man, named Gabriel, then asked me, “Why are you so great?” to which I replied, “I’m doing the work of the Lord.” Immediately, Gabriel’s face lit up. He then compared us to the Three Wise Men from the Bible, and told us how his entire life, he had been searching for a source of comfort and strength, but nothing he had turned to had shown any results. He said, “God must be having a slow night. I just left Taco Bell, and as I walked, I prayed to God to deliver me from my addiction. I have been clean for years, until three weeks ago when I succumbed again. You are the answer to my prayer. How can you help me?” We eagerly shared a copy of the Book of Mormon with Gabriel. He told us nothing he had ever received before had ever worked. We promised that this book would make all the difference. Then he said, “I know. This book has already answered my prayers. I’m going to read it tonight.” Because we made a goal to contact just one more person than the day before, this man’s life was blessed. Our other contacts the rest of the day were fairly average… no one was interested. But, as our mission president would say, “God works in 4th Quarter Miracles”.

I am SO excited for Tyler to leave for the MTC. I can’t believe that 9 days from now Tyler will be on his mission. Time flies, or as Jacob would says, Time passed by as if it were a dream. Adelaide and Hyrum will be old by the time Tyler and I return. As for stories, Tyler, you can use the one I just shared, or you can look through my other emails and use one I’ve already shared. Hopefully I’ve shared SOMETHING of substance in the past six months. Also, as you prepare to leave on your mission, never forget that you are about to begin the greatest, most disappointing, and by far most rewarding work of your life thus far. And Mom, I would suggest, a few general pictures of home, a few pictures of snow, pictures of family…. and whatever else you want.

Lacey: Our companionship taught Gospel Principles AND Elders Quorum last week, and both lessons were about the nature of Heavenly Father. I loved it. It’s amazing how we can learn from the simple principles of the Gospel for our entire life. Also, you sound like you are just getting busier and busier! It’s exciting that you are manager, and the interior design blog sounds awesome! Don’t get too lonely! If it makes you feel any better, I haven’t seen Adelaide in six months 😉

Mom and Dad, you better get ready to be empty nesters! It will just be you two and Grandma!

I love everyone! This week sure sounds better than last week! Fique Firme!

Fique Firme!

Oh my goodness! This past week sounds like it has been a test of patience for everyone! I received the pictures and letters, Mom. Thank you so much. Also, thank you so much for sending the scripture case. It will help loads. I will let you know when I get it. My companion, Elder Miller and I, have been sick this week. Don’t worry, we just have colds, but we have been struggling to stay awake and focus. I bore my testimony on Sunday and forgot halfway through what principle of the gospel comes after baptism. I have a pretty stuffy head, but if this is as sick as I ever get on my mission I will have nothing to complain about.

Tyler, the list they give you is pretty decent. I did have to buy a couple of things, but I can’t really remember what I got. A pair of cheap headphones would be good for when you are searching for videos during mormon.org time. That’s one thing I didn’t think I would need. Um…. I’m not really sure what else. A few lined notebooks, maybe an empty one or two inch binder for either a study binder or a reduced area book. That’s about all I can think of. My brain is a little foggy right now from being sick, so if I think of anything else I will let you know.

This trip you had sounds like an adventure. Hopefully fixing the car doesn’t cost too much. Didn’t something happen to Mom’s car a while ago too? Hopefully everything gets worked out with our car and Kimmie and Dave’s car and Michael’s parents car.

This week was pretty good. We set a baptismal date with our part member family that is investigating the church for January 18th. They were super excited. Before we even set the date, they shared with us that they had already told their very devout grandparents of another faith that they are “becoming Mormon” and endured the wrath of their grandparents. The family consists of Dad (inactive member because of work), Mom, Cassandra (11 year old daughter) and Matthew (5 year old son). We asked Cassandra if she read the chapter we left, 2 Nephi 2, and she told us she did, but the first time was confusing. She said she was at her grandparent’s house and hid in the bathroom so they wouldn’t know she was reading the Book of Mormon, read for 20 minutes, didn’t understand anything, prayed for understanding, and understood everything. She loved the chapter so much that she read it three times. She told us it answered all of her questions about Adam and Eve and the atonement of Jesus Christ. She is probably the smartest 11 year old I have ever met. The questions she asks are astounding and thought provoking. We are ecstatic for their baptism in two weeks.

We also had a great lesson with our 17 year old investigator, Bryan. He and Fernando had dropped a couple appointments recently and we were having trouble meeting with them. Fernando left for the weekend, but Bryan was home (and bored) so we invited him to do service with us. We went and did service, which he loved, and then he asked afterwards if we could do anything else with him. He has a slight learning disability and his foster Mom said he had a super short attention span for movies, but we watched the Testaments with him and he liked it so much that he asked where he could buy it (and we promptly gave him the copy we brought). And then, he came to church on Sunday. Again, his foster Mom said there was no way we were going to get him to sit quietly through three hours of church, but he enjoyed the whole thing. His foster mom told us about all of the things he was having problems with, which honestly come down to not having any direction in life and having too much time on his hands.

I feel like many people in the world assume that even a slight learning or physical disability renders someone useless or unaccountable, but I’ve found just the opposite. The people I have met with disabilities are among the most humble and teachable people I have ever met. They love the gospel because it brings so much joy, something which is hard to find for a 17 year old kids with no parents who is often treated as second class.

On Sunday at church, we had more investigators at church than this area has had in over 6 months. It was exciting and motivating, and we were able to teach all of them except one that same day.

I love you all! Keep the faith! Fique Firme!

I know sometimes life can be discouraging and it seems like everything is going wrong, but if we can be happy in those circumstances than nothing in life can defeat us.

This week I have thought a lot about a quote in Preach My Gospel that goes something like this: “The miracle of this church is activity.” I believe it is by Gordon B. Hinckley. As I pondered that, I realized how much it really means. Everything about the Gospel of Jesus Christ is dependent upon action. The first principle of the Gospel, “Faith in Jesus Christ”, cannot be gained without study and prayer, which leads to repentance, a principle of action. And it doesn’t stop. When we grow in the Gospel, we receive callings, which prompt us to act in order to help each other and strengthen our faith. I love it. The Gospel is so good.