Monday, September 30, 2013

A Good Week in Waterford

Man it sure looks like Bryson got spoiled for his bday, looks like you guys had lots of fun! We had a pretty good week in Waterford also. The weather has been perfect here lately! Not too cold but not too warm either. The leaves are just starting to change colors so within the next week or two they should have some nice bright colors. I will be sure to take lots of pictures for you all.

Vickie was actually baptized on Wednesday of this past week. Her friend Morgan who introduced her to the Gospel and who baptized her was going to go out of town on Thursday, so they moved the baptism to Wednesday. All went well and she was confirmed a member this Sunday! Sovong and Sabrina were also confirmed this Sunday in Sacrament meeting. They do it a little differently back home, but out here we always try to have the baptism right after the 3 hour block, and then we wait and do the confirmation the following Sunday in Sacrament meeting. This just makes it so pretty much everyone in the Ward can be there to witness it and to support the new members who are joining the church.

We picked up a new investigator this week, his name is Tom. He is in the Coast Guard and is about 30 years old. His father passed away about 2 weeks ago, and so he was back home in Seattle last week for the funeral and to be with his family. His friend from back in Seattle who happens to be a Mormon was talking to him a few days after the funeral and they got into a conversation about the Gospel. The friend ended up teaching Tom the Plan of Salvation, and then gave him a Book of Mormon. The friend then contacted us and gave us Tom's information and then we got in touch with him once he was back in the area. So on Sunday we had our first lesson with him and it went pretty well! We didn't really get to teach very much because he had so many questions and so we kind of just answered his questions. We had our lesson at the church and then we gave him a tour of the building afterwards. But things went really well, he is looking pretty solid! He is coming to dinner with us at a members home tomorrow, and we will teach The Restoration then. He also committed to come to our Book of Mormon class that we hold each week, and then he ALSO committed to come and watch a session of General Conference with us this weekend! So we are pretty stoked for our man Tom right now! Our other investigators are plugging along, I will try and update more on them next time.

So transfer texts will be coming out this Saturday night! Everyone keeps telling me that I am gonna get transferred out of here, but I feel like I will be sticking around in Waterford longer. We have some really good things happening here and I am excited for the progress the ward is making. We will just have to wait and see what happens though. So P-day won't be until Wednesday this week, just so you all know!

You all keep asking for a tour of our apartment, so I finally took some pictures for you. Its nothing too exciting haha, but it is definitely a pretty nice apartment for missionaries. We live in a house that has been converted into 3 separate apartments. The house was actually built in the early 1700's but it was just remodeled about 2 years ago!
 Study Room
 Dining Room
The Washroom! We are lucky to have a washer and dryer in our apartment. The rest of the district comes to our place each week to do laundry to try and save money haha
Then we have this huge extra room in the apartment. We usually just use this for hanging out with the other Elders on pday.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Saints For All Seasons

Their whole family! Their grandma and mother are members, but their father is not a member. The whole family was so excited for Sovong and Sabrina, it was a really special day!

The baptism on Sunday went perfectly! Sovong and Sabrina have been fitting into the ward really well, Sovong has made friends with the other young men and Sabrina already had a few friends in primary, they seem to love coming to church now. For the past few weeks their grandma who has been inactive has been coming to church with them also. But the baptismal program was great, and they received a TON of support from the ward. The whole Relief Society room was jammed pack, standing room only. I baptized Sabrina and then Elder Batts baptized Sovong right after. It was Elder Batts' first baptism, so it was a special day all around! I am so happy for these two kids, and we are very grateful for the support that the Ward has given them throughout the past few weeks leading up to the baptism. We have taught Sovong and Sabrina for the past 3 months, and it is amazing to see how much their testimonies have grown. We asked Sabrina on Saturday why she wanted to be baptized, and she said "Well Jesus set the example for us and lived a perfect life, but He was still baptized, so that shows how much we need to be baptized. I just want to follow in Jesus footsteps." Pretty powerful answer from a 10 year old!

We have been a little worried about one of our investigators, Michael this past week. He has been M.I.A.! Haha for the past week and a half we have not been able to contact him  or find him at all! We were pretty sure he had just vanished, so we were pretty bummed about that. But then Sunday rolls around and Sacrament meeting is just about to start and our boy Michael comes walking in! Apparently his phone had ran out of minutes and so he was just going without a phone for the past week or so, and he had also been pretty sick last week. But anyways, we found Michael, so all is well!

I am definitely enjoying my mission so far. We have been making some great progress with some of the Less Actives in our ward (there is a lot of them!) It amazes me how much people open up to us missionaries. We are just these 19-20 year old guys that come walking into their home, we sit down and ask them a few questions and then all of a sudden they are pouring out their heart and souls to us. It is amazing how much people trust us, but it is great that they do! If they didn't open up like that we wouldn't be able to help them out with their struggles. But with all of the less actives we are working with, I have seen a pretty common theme. They all at some point or another had a trial placed in their life, and then things just started to snowball. Instead of remaining active in the Gospel and turning to the Lord to help them out with these trials, they ended up distancing themselves from both the Church and the Lord. So I definitely think the First Presidency message this month by Pres. Uchtdorf is applicable to us as Latter Day Saints. It is called Saints for all Seasons. In the article he talks about us remaining true and faithful to the Gospel not only in the bright summery seasons of our lives, but also in those dark gloomy seasons when our trials arise. During those trying times is when we need the Gospel the most in our lives, but for some reason that is when people tend to do the exact opposite and turn away from the Gospel. You should all check it out, its a good read! Love and miss you all! Take care!

P.S. Sister Weseman, the RS president helped me out big time and was able to get pretty much all of the ink out of them. She was pretty determined to get them out. She told me she would either get the ink out or end up burning a hole through the shirts with all the products she tried using. Luckily the ink came out haha!

My man "Joe" has left the building. This week we were pretty shocked to find out that he is gone! Last Monday he got on a flight and went back to where all of his family lives. We have talked to him a few times and he seems to be doing really well. He went back and is living with his brother right now, and is going to try and slowly repair everything that he ruined when he walked out on all of his family. I was pretty bummed that we didn't get a chance to say bye to him or anything, but its all good.

Saints for All Seasons, President Uchtdorf

Monday, September 16, 2013

Withstanding The Adversary

On Saturday Bishop Hanson and us met with Sabrina and Savong at their home and made some really good progress with them. As I had told you all we have had some issues getting them out to church each Sunday and so we were planning on pushing their baptism back a week or so. But on Saturday we sat down and talked about the importance of attending church each week to partake of the Sacrament and renew our covenants with our Heavenly Father. I don't think they quite understood the importance of the Sacrament before Saturday. But we got everything squared away and kind of just told them that if they wanted to get baptized (which they REALLY want to do) then they needed to make it to church each week. So sure enough, they showed up to church yesterday. They both already have friends at church, and so they really enjoyed it. After having a good talk with Bishop Hanson, we decided to keep their baptism scheduled for this Sunday the 22nd. So hopefully everything goes according to plans!

Last week I told you about the experience we had of giving Vickie a blessing to help her withstand Satan's attempts to prevent her from getting baptized. Well thank goodness she asked for that blessing, because Satan has been throwing everything he has at her to try and stop her from being baptized. This past week her life pretty much fell apart. First her husband decided to leave her. He just didn't like it here in CT and wasn't happy with life so he moved away to Tennessee for some reason. Also she has had temporary custody of her niece for the past 6 months or so and has been raising her, and due to some legal situations her temporary custody of the girl was up and so now the niece is back into the situation she was in before Vickie was taking care of her. So she has had these two awful things happen to her directly after she made the decision to get baptized. We see this happen with a lot of investigators. As soon as they make the decision to be baptized, the Adversary is going to do everything he possibly can to make them change their mind. He can see that  great thing is about to happen in their life, so he wants to stop it.

We saw the same thing happen when Joseph Smith went to the grove of trees on the day of the First Vision. Before God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph, he tells of an experience of where Satan was trying to work upon him. He says in Joseph Smith History, "I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction." Fortunately Joseph was able to withstand Satan's attempt to stop the great thing which was about to happen with Joseph. Thankfully Vickie is also handling her situation very well, she is a really strong lady. She will still be getting baptized a week from Saturday on Sept. 28.

We had interviews with Pres. Packard this week and it was great to be able to sit down and talk with him for a while. Things are going so well in our mission, and we have some really exciting things happening. For the month of September we had 92 scheduled baptismal dates which is pretty crazy. The most baptisms our mission has ever done in a month is 53, which was just two months ago. So that's pretty exciting. We also got word that within the next two months we will begin working with the digital mission. Our mission has been working hand in hand with Harvard and MIT in creating a website that we can use to share the Gospel. During the slower hours of the day we will start working online where we find the people who are searching for the questions such as "Who is God?" or "Where do we go after this life?" and things like that. Once we find those people, we will send them a message online and give them a link to our website that will have the answers that the Gospel provides to those questions. It is something really exciting, and we are pretty pumped to start working on it here shortly. They have had a few trial runs with the website and have experienced quite a bit of success. Just with the trial mode there were 3 people that were found online, ended up meeting with the missionaries and then being baptized. It is a pretty great time to be a missionary, definitely a lot of exciting things happening! Have a great week, love you all!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Lessons Learned in Laundry

I guess I will start off with the bad news...we are going to have to push back Sabrina and Savong's baptismal date. We are having a struggle getting them out to church. They are reading their Book of Mormon everyday, we have taught them all of the lessons, and they REALLY want to get baptized, but they don't come to church. They are only 12 and 10, and they don't have a whole lot of support from home regarding their upcoming baptism, and so it makes it pretty difficult. Definitely makes me grateful that I had parents who would drag me to church each and every week! We sat down with the Ward Council on Sunday and came up with some ideas of things we can do this week to try and get them out to church. There is only so much we as missionaries can do to get them to come....Their church attendance is the only thing thats holding them back from being baptized, so hopefully we can get that straightened out and won't have to push their date back too far.

I was on exchanges with the Groton Elders and had an opportunity to teach Vickie again! Our main focus during the lesson was on the fact that we have a living prophet on the earth today, because thats something she hasn't been able to develop a testimony of so far. The lesson went really well! At one point we had to stop talking for a minute because Vickie was crying and couldn't even respond to us. The Spirit was that strong! Pretty cool stuff. After the lesson Vickie was talking about how she feels like Satan is starting to work on her really hard and is trying to prevent her from getting baptized, and then she asked me to give her a Priesthood blessing to help her withstand The Adversaries attempts to prevent her upcoming baptism. It was so cool that she was able to recognize by herself that it was Satan working on her without us having to point it out, and then also to see her faith in the power of the priesthood to ask for a blessing to help her through these roadblocks Satan has put in her way. At first we were pretty disappointed when we learned that we were going to have to turn Vickie's teachings over to the Groton Elders because we had already developed such a good relationship with her. But both us and the Groton Elders have been working together with Vickie and have all been helping her with her ongoing conversion. And Vickie still comes to our Book of Mormon class every Tuesday, so it is more of a joint teaching effort between the 2 companionships. So she is still on track to be baptized in two weeks!

Our other investigator Michael is doing great, he has came to church the past two weeks and has loved it. At first he felt a little out of place but we asked the ward to step it up and try and make him feel a little more welcome so hopefully they will all continue to fellowship him and make him feel like a part of the ward. This week is looking pretty promising, we have appointments with 3 potential investigators that we have been trying to meet with for a while, so hopefully those all go well and we can pick up a few more investigators.

I had some really bad luck with my clothes this week that helped me realize how much my lovely mother did for me back home haha. I had two pairs of slacks get ripped and left me with some major sewing projects. I got them stitched up with my handy little sewing kit. The repair jobs don't look great, but they will have to work. THEN when I was doing laundy this week I put my load of whites in and somehow managed to leave a brand new pen in one of my pockets of my white shirts. Yikes... that made quite the mess haha. Oh well, I guess you live and ya learn right? Have a great week, love you all!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Into The Woods!

Last P-Day we were able to get out and do quite a bit. Here in Groton there is a Submarine Museum that everyone has been telling us to check out. So we finally made it around to it and it was pretty cool! We even got to take a tour of a decomissioned submarine, the Nautilus. After that we headed up to a memorial that was built on the site of the Battle of Fort Griswold. There are all sorts of historical sites around this part of the country, this is just one of many in the area. I tried to take lots of pictures for you all back home!

This week we picked up a new investigator named Sean. He is in his mid 20's and lives here in Waterford. He met once with the missionaries about 3 years ago, but unfortunately they didn't really teach him much. He said they just came over and hung out haha. He is super open to learning more about our religion and seemed excited when we stopped by. So on Sunday we met with him and taught him about the Restoration and it went pretty well! He agreed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, and also wanted to meet again this week. So that was pretty exciting!

We had a little change of plans with out investigator Vickie. Because of some boundary issues and what not, she had to get transferred over to a neighboring ward. So the Groton Elders will now be handling teaching her. She took the transition very well and is still going to be baptized on Sept. 22 so everything ended up working out alright!

I just wanted to tell you all about a story that has been going on with some other Elders from our district. So for the past month or so the Norwich Elders have been teaching this guy named Brian. Brian moved to Norwich two months ago because he had this really good job lined up through a friend of his. Well he got here and the job just didn't work out, so he was stuck here with no job, no house and no income. He got down to his last few dollars and he either had to choose to pay for a hotel room for 1 more night or buy some camping gear and live out in the woods. Well he ended up choosing the second option and set up a camp in the woods where he has been living for two months already! About a week after he got here he called the Elders and asked to meet with them. He had met with some missionaries before he moved here and he was still interested in learning more. Well this past Sunday Brian was baptized! It has been pretty cool to be following along with his journey to the Gospel. We like to say that "We have people coming out of the woods to hear the Gospel here in Connecticut." It really isn't like that though haha in all reality we pretty much have to go into the woods to find people to teach.

Anyways, hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend! Thank you so much for all the love and support you all give to me each week. Love you all!

The Nautilus Submarine
 Touring the Nautilus Submarine

 Manning the gunner of the old submarine!
 Elder Ramos volunteered to be the practice dummy - haha!
This is a granite obelisk that they built in Groton in memorial of the lives lost at the Battle of Fort Griswold. The battle took place here in Groton.  We were able to climb to the top of it and look out across the country!
 View of the actual battle field of Fort Griswold.
 Made it to the top!
 View of the bridge from the top.
Oh another little side note from this week!
I was able to spend a day on exchange with the New London Spanish Elders this week which was pretty sweet. On Friday night we had a lesson and a dinner at members home who is from the Dominican Republic. I have no idea what we had for dinner, but man was it good! The member didn't speak any English so I wasn't able to contribute much to the lesson though haha my two years of Spanish in high school didn't help me out much. Then on Saturday morning we helped the Spanish Branch President load up his families stuff into a moving van, and afterwards they fed us some Colombian dish, which was even better. Man do those people know how to cook. Makes me a little jealous of my friends serving in South American countries, but I think I will still stick with Boston...