Crazy, Crazy Week

The Lord has a way of shaking things up every time we start getting comfortable. We shared the family ward with another set of missionaries: Elder Jacobson and his companion. Elder Jacobson’s companion unexpectedly had to go home because of health issues. It came pretty unexpectedly, and, as everything else has on my mission, without a lot of notice. So, Thursday morning we drove him to the airport and since then Elder Jacobson has been in our companionship. So, I’m in a trio again. Surprise, surprise! So this week we have been learning how to cover three areas with one companionship. It is an adventure. On the plus side, we are always busy. Planning is incredibly easy. Plus, I really like Elder Jacobson. He is from Sugar City, Idaho. He has been out for 21 months, in other words, a few days longer than Elder Bernard and I.

Judy is definitely getting baptized on April 26th. I’m so excited for her. She is going to be so ready. She believes the church is true, she knows of God’s existence, however we found this week that she hasn’t really been reading the Book of Mormon. I love helping people grow to love the scriptures. Because they are so incredibly profound. If I have learned anything on my mission, I have learned how to feast upon the words of Christ. I have learned that there isn’t a word in The Book of Mormon or The Bible (when translated correctly) that was put there by accident.

On your missions, or just in life in general, what ways have any of you found effective to teach people to feast upon the words of Christ? To help the word become delicious unto them? Even for some of the greatest people I have taught in the past 8 months, brilliant and intellectual people, getting them to read the scriptures is like pulling teeth. And I will be honest, Mom and Dad, that is probably how you felt about me frequently. Our Bishop in the family ward has a statistic that he loves to share: The average college graduate in the United States of America reads 10 pages of scripture per year. 10 pages. That’s it. On my mission I read at least ten pages every day.

How do we teach people to love the word of God? What ways have you found to feast upon the words of Christ? (This question is open-ended for anyone, it’s not for anyone specifically. I’m trying to find tactics to help the people we are teaching)

This is something I’ve been trying to find the answer to for a couple of months. For me, throughout my life I have enjoyed scripture at some points. I think one of the largest components is created a habit of scripture study. When I worked for Kimmel Athletic, I began listening to the audio Book of Mormon every day during work instead of the radio, and that made the biggest difference for me. I loved Seminary and Institute and Religion courses at BYU-Idaho, but those are only crutches if you haven’t found ways to truly love the scriptures.

Anyway, we met with Judy again, gave her a giant timeline of the Book of Mormon, and went to dinner with her, her daughter, and Judy’s husband. Judy’s husband has been very uncomfortable with his daughter joining the church, and Judy was afraid to tell him she was getting baptized, so going to dinner with him was awesome. He’s a good man, and he will see the blessings that come into his wife’s life because of the church. Judy asked us what she could do next to prepare for her baptism. She is going to be a steadfast member of the church. I can’t wait until she goes to the temple.

We started teaching an awesome girl named Valerie. She was introduced to us by her friend Barbara, who was baptized about a year ago and Valerie wants to be baptized already. We had a sweet restoration lesson with her and she was in tears a couple of times. She spent most of her childhood with a life-threatening illness where she actually died twice and was in rehab for eight years of her life to learn how to live a normal life. She completely believes in the power of the priesthood and knows that God answers prayers because of her experiences from living a life in the hospital. Valerie is 17.

We had a lot of good happen this week.

Even though this week was crazy it was good.

Mom and Dad: It is so true. Even being in the mission field, it isn’t as easy to feel the spirit, but it requires you to carry the spirit with you since you aren’t always immersed in environments where the spirit is naturally present. I’m glad you fed the “missionaries” rice and beans. There is nothing more classic for Brazil. Also, Peter Fullmer has been ready to be a missionary probably since he learned to speak. He is a great kid and is going to be an incredible missionary. Also, 8 inches of rain? That is ridiculous! Even for the “rainy state” that is almost unheard of. It makes me wonder how much snow they have at Hurricane Ridge. I really hope Grandma and Grandpa are staying safe. It sounds like there has been a lot of tragedy because of the rain. Also, you should send pictures when you finish Kimmie and David’s basement. I didn’t even know they were planning on remodeling it nearly so soon. Hopefully everything financially works out for them.

Kimmie: WHAT IS YOUR BABY???? I’M DYING TO KNOW!!! Also, same thing I said to Mom and Dad about your house. Ditto.

Ryan: I am looking forward to when I return home and have the opportunity to go on splits with missionaries. I have realized on my mission how missionaries and home teachers have the same responsibility, home teachers just have a more specific area and assignment. And it is just as important. Also, I discovered that online resource at LDS.org a few weeks ago. It is an inspired resource.

Michael: Happy Spring Break! Do you and Lacey ever see each other? I guess that’s what retirement and the eternities are for. =P One thing I love about California, which it sounds like is also true of Arizona is diversity. I love diversity of culture. Also, I read a fantastic article in some Ensign while I was waiting for someone at the mission office about teaching even our infants the gospel of Christ.

I love you! Fique Firme!

P.S. TYLER! You are in Japan (almost!) That is so exciting! The MTC was such a sacred experience for me. It built the foundation for my mission.

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Favorable Finding Factors

Holy cow! When is the last time someone at home wasn’t sick? It seems like everyone is sick! Hyrum, Mom, Dad… Get better! At least the weather sounds like it is cooperating now.

Mom: My socks are actually getting pretty worn out. And yes, the stake here actually is doing a similar thing with the youth really soon. And we have dinner with a member almost every single day. And then sometimes people we teach want to feed us as well, so we are very well fed in this area, which I am very grateful for. It also helps us to be able to keep ward members updated on our work and for them to update us on what they are doing as member missionaries.

This week, Judy heartily agreed to be baptized! She is going to be baptized on March 28. We first set a date for the 22, but she will be out of town because her niece is getting baptized and she is attending her baptism in another stake. Judy told us, “I wish I had this my entire life. I wish I had this while I was raising my family and during my 40 years of teaching. But now that I feel this peace, I can’t ever give it up. I have to be baptized.” It is really cool to see how the lessons we had with her built a foundation upon which our last lesson, The Plan of Salvation, could stand. We invited her to be baptized before, but she didn’t agree to it because she knew she wasn’t ready, yet she had the faith that through God she would be made ready. Our mission president repeatedly teaches about “favorable finding factors”:
1. A Prepared Inviter
2. A Prepared Invitee
3. Everyone Feels Something
Judy was clearly a prepared invitee. Even though she didn’t believe in God when we met her, she truly was ready for the gospel. And she was seeking it without knowing it. She had decided that she needed more purpose in her life and she saw that purpose as her daughter was taught the gospel.
We prepared ourselves for Judy. She is the only investigator where every single lesson we have had with her has had a prepared member, a detailed lesson plan, and has been practiced in companionship study. And it worked.
And finally, because she was prepared and we were prepared and we identified and defined the spirit, everyone felt and recognized the spirit when it was present.

We also had a great lesson with an evangelical minister whose parents were Mormon when he a very young boy but left because they were offended by something. He was intensely curious about the Book of Mormon and full of questions. He started off by saying “I bet you talk to a lot of people like me that just want to bash with you. I have a lot of questions, but I didn’t invite you here to bash with you. I honestly want to know what the church is all about.” It is cool how as the people we teach ask questions and we study for them…. our faith, our testimony, and our knowledge in the gospel expands far more than it could if I was trying to study for myself.

We had a lesson with Art as well, the father of a recently married, semi-recently returned missionary, and recent-ish convert in our ward. It was good. He has a lot of random misconceptions about the church that were really set in his mind. It took us probably a full half hour to explain that in fact Mormon and Joseph Smith did not live at the same time. And he can’t seem to understand that even though we believe Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are separate beings we still are centered in Jesus Christ. But he realized during the lesson that the only way he was going to know whether or not his son is damned or on the Lord’s path is to read the Book of Mormon and ask God if it is true. When he realized that, his questions subsided and he began to really understand what we were teaching.

I wish I had time to tell you about all of the great experiences Elder Bernard and I have had, but some of them will have to wait.

I love being a missionary. I love my family. And I love the Lord.

Finally Wet in California!

It finally rained. I mean…. really rained. In fact, in some parts of LA County it rained 4 inches this weekend. 4 inches… of rain. It dumped rain on us alllllll weekend long and it was wonderful. We were teaching a lesson on someone’s front porch and we had to yell because the sound of the rain was deafening. We even had thunder and lightning… which apparently never happens in California.

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Our member’s backyard had water all the way up to the back door of the house, but luckily it stayed outside.

It was nice to have some weather for once.
Plus this week we don’t have to wash our car on p-day (Woohoo!)
Of course, today and for the foreseeable future, it is sunny again.

Also, no one in California has rain gutters (why would they? It never rains), which means that in order to get in to someone’s home you have to walk through a sheet of water pouring off of their roof. Although I don’t think I have much room to complain. I’m in a mission that probably has the best weather in the world for missionary work. Sunny, not too hot, not too humid, never windy, and never cold. The rain was a nice relief.

Good luck in the snow, Mom! Hopefully it doesn’t snow anymore this week. Thank you so much for sending my FBI paperwork. That’s funny that Kyle Starr got his the same weekend. Yes, I am still practicing Portuguese. And I feel like I have also learned a decent amount of Spanish or something that resembles Spanish as I have talked to all the people who don’t speak English here. It helps me practice my Portuguese because I have to think of how I would talk to them in portuguse and then spanishfy it.

Also, good luck Dad on your trip this week. Hopefully the weather cooperates. It is interesting to see how missionary works changes to adapt to a changing world. And how it progresses. More is able to be done as we as members do our part. When we are examples and talk to our friends, colleagues, coworkers, people at the store, etc about the gospel, and pray to see missionary experiences, we change the dynamics of missionary work, as President Tew, our mission president would say.

Kimmie: Thanks for the email! I understand… life gets busy. When is your due date? I can’t remember how long ago you found out you were pregnant. Also, I figure God sees the beginning from the end. If He knew I was going to be in Long Beach, California than that is where I need to be. It doesn’t matter if I am in California or Brazil or Australia or Spokane , WA… I’m still called to be a missionary to preach his gospel.

On Saturday this week, we went by some random name that we found in our area book. We had no idea who it was. We knocked on the door and began talking to a man who told us his son, recently married, was in our ward and had served a mission in Chile. We were surprised, but we figured out that the name had been written down in our area book extremely incorrectly and in reality we knew his son very well. As we talked to this this man, Art, we could sense that he hasn’t forgiven his son for “becoming Mormon” when he was in high school.
From his perspective, his son went behind his family’s back, left the faith of his fathers, chased after a girl, and wasted his time and money trying to convert other people to his wacky church. But he had gotten past all of that. His true concern is that his son is not going to be with him in Heaven.

When I realized that, I stopped seeing Art as a prideful and close-minded man who wouldn’t let himself see the blessings of the gospel in his son’s life and began to see him as a father concerned for the welfare of his son’s soul. Much like the concern Alma had for his son, Alma they Younger as he went about persecuting the church. Or like the concern and despair the father of the prodigal son felt before his son’s return. Or like the concern many fathers and mothers in the church feel for their wayward children.

Never before on my mission have I felt such a deep commitment to help someone I have known for such a short period of time. Of course I have loved the people I have taught. Of course, in time, I have become more and more committed to helping them. But we haven’t even had a lesson with this man yet.
Our goal here isn’t to be baptized. Our goal here isn’t to have him read and pray about The Book of Mormon. Our goal is to help a father and son repair their relationship which has been torn apart by pride, miscommunication, and disbelief. Because ultimately the family is most central in God’s plan.
However, does that mean we won’t invite this man to church? Does that mean we won’t invite him to read The Book of Mormon and pray before God to ask of it’s truth? Of course we will invite him to do those things. Because if he can humble himself and do those things he will realize his son isn’t damned because he is a member of the church. In fact, he will see just the opposite.

I know that family truly is central to God’s plan. I’m so eternally grateful for righteous parents who made constant sacrifices to raise their children to have their own faith in Jesus Christ.

And I know and can never deny that faith.