New Companion, New Week, and a Lot of Love.

This week I started my 8th transfer on my mission. Crazy! At the beginning of my mission I always saw my companion’s stacks of planners and long list of letters to President Tew and felt like my mission was dauntingly and discouragingly long.

And then I worked and blinked and I’m almost halfway done. Wait, what? When did that happen?

I’m so grateful for this opportunity I have to serve a mission. I know that Tyler and I serving missions is blessing our entire family. The Lord doesn’t always bless us in the ways we expect, but he does always bless us.

My new companion is Elder Haynes. He is from Fort Worth, Texas. He is 6′ 8″. He was set to play college basketball before his mission until he had a crippling illness where he lost a lot of weight. He’s recovered now, but that experience allowed him to see what his priorities really should be. He likes to sing. He likes to draw. And he is completely honest and sincere. I love Elder Haynes. He’s just a good guy. He wants to love people. He was also trained by Elder Jacobson. I knew him when I was in Long Beach and I was ecstatic when I heard he was going to be my new companion. I am his second visa-waiter companion, although by the end of this transfer I won’t be his visa waiter companion anymore. I will either be in Brasil or I will not be waiting for a visa anymore.

Our focus this transfer is finding. He came from Huntington Beach, which the culture of the mission has taught everyone is the slowest area for work and the best area for members (which is true if you expect it to be. If you expect more work, you will find it). We have had great investigators whom I deeply love here, but I knew all of last transfer that we needed to find. And now we are.

This week we had a couple of good experiences with prayer. The biggest obstacle when we talk with people is that they do not know how to have or recognize a spiritual experience. As missionaries, if we are doing things right, we should essentially always have the spirit with us. We don’t even realize it is there. Kind of like our clothes. They protect us from harm, keep us warm, enable us to do more, but we often don’t think about the fact that they are there. However, when our clothes are gone, it is clearly evident. The spirit is the same way. If we as missionaries can teach someone to pray, promise them they will receive an answer, and wait for the spirit to speak to them, the person will almost always feel the spirit. This week we had a pretty substandard lesson with a part-member family that didn’t really seem to care. At the end, the spirit prompted us to ask the son to pray. He never had, so we taught him how. We asked him if he knew God was there. He said he didn’t. We promised God could tell him He is there. He prayed. It was a simple, unremarkable prayer. But his mother was weeping afterward. Because she had never heard her son talk to his Father. She had never seen the fruits of instilling faith in her children. And the 17-year old son was excited because now he knows that God is there. God spoke to his soul.

I love what Tyler said on Mothers Day. It is often the faith of others that works miracles in our lives. The faith of Alma and the people of the church brought an angel to Alma the Younger and the wicked Sons of Mosiah. The faithful prayers of Enoch spared a righteous part of his seed to always remain on the Earth, even after the flood. The faithful prayers of Lehi saved his wicked descendants from total destruction. Our prayers of faith allow for miracles in the lives of ourselves and others that could not happen without our faith.

I’m so sad to hear about Grandpa Koetitz. He seemed much less responsive on Sunday than even 10 short months ago when I last saw him. I will be praying for him and for Grandma. How is their living situation going to work? How far away is the care facility? Is Grandpa showing signs of improvement since last week? Does Grandma have an in-home nurse of some sort to help her?

How long are you (or were you) in Stanwood for?
Dad: Do you have any business trips coming up? Will you have to go back to Utah soon? Also, with this other basement project, how are you going to balance home, work, and more work? It seemed like you were already busy before! I was excited to find out Grandpa is in Rose Hills. I think I can just go to the office there and ask where he is in the cemetery. That’s the only way I would be able to find him.

Mom: School is almost out! Are you going to Utah for Kimmie’s delivery? Are you going to be going to visit Grandma and Grandpa this summer?
Thank you so much for sending that CD. More and more people have been asking me to give them something so I figured I should ask.

Ryan: That is so exciting that you are having opportunities to use Indonesian and participate in missionary work. It is amazing how God puts us in the right place at the right time to do his work and sometimes we don’t even realize what He has been planning the whole time.

Our family keeps moving along. We are going to be spread across every part of the globe! Chile, China, Japan, Washington, Utah, California (or maybe Brasil), Arizona, and North Carolina.

I think what I took away most from our conversation on Sunday is that nothing matters more to me than our family. It felt so natural to talk to everyone and it made me realize that’s what it will feel like when we greet each other after this life. Natural.

I love everyone! I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ that unites our family.

I took most of these pictures for Elder Jacobson since he was leaving, so a lot of them don’t even have me in them. First are zone pictures. Then Judy Albee.
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