Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fishing on P-Day!

We found some fishing poles in our apartment the other week when we were cleaning it up, and so we decided to put them to use on P-Day. There is a river that flows behind our apartment that we decided to try out. Not much luck with the fish, but it was nice to sit back and relax along the river for a while. The leaves are starting to fall off, and there sure are a lot of them. It is starting to get pretty dang cold here. It is definitely a different kind of cold than in Utah.

On Saturday we had the Ward Trunk or Treat and Halloween party that we got to attend. We threw on some pretty festive Halloween ties and handed out some candy from the back of our trunk. The ward did an awesome job of inviting their friends and family to the activity though. There were probably about 10 non members there, and so it was a great opportunity for us to talk to them and get to know them at a casual event. Ward activities really are a great missionary opportunity. It gives non members a chance to come and interact with members of the ward in a non threatening environment, and just lets them see that we are just normal people too! Because lets be honest, most people think that all of us Mormons are weirdos. Speaking of Halloween though, you all overdid it with the Halloween packages! I will probably be gaining another 15 pounds this month with all of the candy. So thank you to everyone!

We had a few really solid lessons with some of our investigators this week. So I told you a little bit about our new investigator Danny last week. Well we had our first lesson with him this week and it was AWESOME! Plus his friend Chris (the one who is going to rehab this week) happened to be there too and sat in on our lesson. We taught the Restoration and watched the full length Joseph Smith movie. Both Danny and Chris were loving the movie, they were getting pretty into it. But after the movie we were talking and Danny was just opening up big time to us. He was saying how he is just ready to get his life back on track, he is so grateful for the mercy Heavenly Father has shown towards him and he knows that now is the time to make a change. Danny then went off and bore solid testimony to his friend Chris about how Joseph Smith truly was a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon was the straight up word of God and that this was the true church on the earth. It was so sweet, he was just laying it all out on the table. Both Danny and Chris want to get baptized together. It was pretty cool to hear them saying how they have been to rehab together, been to jail together, back in rehab together and now they both realize it is time to stop messing around. They want to get their lives turned around, and they want to do it together. It was one of the most powerful lessons I have been apart of! So because of legal things that are still going on, we have to get 1st Presidency permission to baptize them, so that will be a little ways down the road. We are pretty stoked for them though.

So for the past few weeks we have been going over to the Schriver Family's home for dinner each Friday. Brother Schriver has been a member for about 15 years, but has been inactive until about two months ago. Once he was reactivated, his son Steven who is 17 decided to get baptized also. But his wife and 3 other kids are Catholic and attend that church each Sunday. We have had some really awesome discussions with them throughout the past few weeks. The only reason the rest of the family goes to the Catholic church still is because of tradition. Their extended family goes there, and they are just pretty firmly rooted there. Sister Schriver has a strong testimony in the Book of Mormon, loves everything about our church, and she has lots of issues with the Catholic beliefs, but she is just pretty stubborn to be honest haha. She even told us last week that she "wishes she would have raised her kids in the Mormon religion." The rest of the kids would definitely follow her if she ever joined our church, but she has to make the first move. So this week we are going to go in there pretty bold and just lay it all out on the table and see what is holding her back from taking the leap of faith and being baptized into our church. So we need lots and lots of prayers! The work is going great, we are staying really busy. I hope you all have a great week!

Fishing on P-Day!! We didn't have much luck, still had fun thought!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I Will Go & Do...

My first week in Waterbury has been really busy, but really good. I am starting to get situated in the area and getting a feel for everything that is going on. We have got a ton of work to do, which is exactly what we like haha. A week before I came they taught 4 total lessons throughout the week, and this past week we were able to teach 20 lessons so things are looking up.

Waterbury used to be a pretty happening place, but it has kind of fallen to shambles lately. It was known for being the "Brass City" of the world, and that was what their economy thrived off of. It was a pretty booming city, but ever since the economy tanked it has become a pretty rough place. All of the brass factories are all closed down now, and it is just a pretty ghetto place. So a lot of the people we teach are living in pretty rough situations, and come from pretty rough backgrounds. It makes things interesting for us at least! We actually have a decent amount of investigators right now.

We were teaching a guy named Chris, he is a friend of some members of the ward that we met when we were going to visit the members. He just happened to be there at the time of our lesson and he was interested in learning more! He is a heroin addict and is trying to overcome his addiction, so we were trying to help him with that. Luckily for him he got accepted into a rehab facility in Bridgeport so we won't be teaching him for a while.

We have a first lesson scheduled with a guy named Danny tomorrow morning. He is the husband of a member of the ward. Danny just recently got out of prison and is looking to get more involved with the Gospel to try and get his life back on track. He has been coming to church ever since he got out of prison and seems to be doing really well, we are looking forward to meeting with him tomorrow.

We picked up a new investigator this week, her name is Amie. She was excommunicated from the church quite a while ago, not sure why but that doesn't really matter anyways. The Elders had been meeting with her for quite a while here, just talking about the Gospel really, but now she has expressed pretty serious interest in joining the church again. She realizes she has made some huge mistakes in life and she now knows how important the Gospel is and the commitment that it takes to live it each and every day. She has definitely come to realize the power of the Atonement in her life, and it has been pretty cool to see that. She is facing some legal issues from the past so we kind of have to wait and see what happens with that. (Like I said, this is a pretty rough area haha).

We did have a pretty cool experience with this guy named Gene. He is like 65 years old and has stage 4 cancer, and he has been meeting with the Elders here for about 6 months now. He believes in the Book of Mormon, believes that Joseph Smith was a prophet but just wasn't willing to take that leap of faith. They had extended 3 different baptismal dates in the past, but he had declined all of them. During our first appointment with him he got up to go to the bathroom and while he was gone I leaned over and told Elder Boone I was going to throw out a baptismal date for this guy. We had been talking about Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life, and I was just like "Gene this tree is what we are all trying to get to. We all want to get on that straight and narrow path that leads to the tree, but the only way to start down the path is to take the first step and be baptized. So will you be baptized on Dec 1?" He didn't even hesitate and was like "Of course!" Haha it was pretty sweet.

Then just yesterday we were over there teaching him the Word of Wisdom and we got to the part about coffee and he was like "Oh boy..." Apparently he is a big time coffee drinker. We went through and explained why we have the Word of Wisdom and talked about the blessings that come from living it in our lives. Then right in the middle of when I was talking Gene gets up and walks into the kitchen, unplugs his coffee maker and hands it to us and says "There is a dumpster outside and to the right. Throw this away in there when you leave." We were pretty stoked about that! You only dream about that kind of thing happening.

We do have a few more investigators but I will have to tell you about them next week. Saturday the youth from the ward had a temple trip and we were able to go up with them and help out with the ordinances. Then Elder Boone and I were even able to go through and do an Endowment session. It was my first time being able to go through the Boston Temple. It was great to be able to go to the House of the Lord and feel the peace that the temple brings into our lives. I forgot to take my camera up with us so I didn't get any pictures. Sorry!

The Bradshaw's from Waterford. (The picture that I forgot to include last time!)
 This was our last night at the Waterford apartment.  Elder Batts and I along with the Spanish speaking Elders.  Elder Pope (the taller one) came out 1 transfer after I did and then his trainer Elder Ramos finished his mission last week.
 Saying goodbye to Elder Batts for now!
 Me, Elder Ramos, Elder Pope, Elder Batts
 Here is my main man Gene throwing out his coffee maker! Can ya tell how pumped I was??

Monday, October 14, 2013

Welcome To Waterbury

Waterbury is a pretty sweet place so far! It is the 3rd biggest city in Connecticut. Apparently it used to be a really nice place to live, but it has gone pretty downhill now. Waterbury itself is a pretty ghetto area. Lots and lots of drugs, especially heroin for some reason. A few of the outlying cities are pretty nice, woodsy areas though. The ward seems really good, lots of nice people so far. I am just trying to get familiar with the people and the area as fast as I can right now. I hate not knowing what is going on within the area.

The work has apparently been pretty slow in Waterbury for quite a while, but I am not sure why. I guess this ward has had quite a bit of bad luck with missionaries in the past year or so. The missionaries have not had the greatest relationship with the members, and it seems like the members haven't really trusted the missionaries. So there is a lot of repair work and damage control that we have to start working on. It really is too bad though because there is SO much potential with this ward. There are tons and tons of members who have family or friends that are ready to hear the Gospel but for some reason it just hasn't happened. So I am really excited to be serving here. There is a lot of work we have to do, but that is good! The Lord is definitely hastening his work, and He has prepared many people in this area for us as missionaries to teach. I can tell great things are going to happen in Waterbury, but it will probably take some time.

My new companion is Elder Boone, he is from Pleasant Grove. He has been out almost a year now, and he has been in Waterbury for 4 months already. He is a good guy, I am excited to be serving with him. My first day in Waterbury we picked up a new investigator named Ricky. He is a boyfriend of a member of our ward. They were thinking about getting married but she told him that he needed to have God in his life. He didn't like that idea, so they broke up. But then after a few weeks he figured out that he had made a mistake, and so he agreed to meet with us finally! He doesn't even know if God exists, and so we had to start out really basic. Our first lesson was all about God, and how Ricky can find out for himself that God truly does exist. We read in Alma where King Lamoni is questioning whether God exists himself, and that story tied in pretty nicely with Ricky's situation. So we challenged Rick to do what King Lamoni did, pray sincerely to God and ask Him if He is there and if He exists! We talked to Ricky's girlfriend and she told us Ricky did pray, and we are going over there on Wednesday to see how it went. Hopefully he got his answer that God is there! 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Last Days in Waterford

Conference weekend was probably the best weekend of my mission so far! We watched all 5 sessions at our chapel in Waterford, there was usually about 10 other members at the chapel each session with us. We were pretty pumped to hear all the talks about getting members more involved with missionary work. I dont know if you guys remember the talk given by Elder S. Gifford Nielsen or not, his was the one where he kept saying "Exclamation point!" throughout the talk. Well anyways, he his coming to tour our mission next month and is going to be speaking to all of us missionaries, so that was pretty cool to hear him speak in conference too. Our schedules on Saturday and Sunday went pretty much like this... Eat, Conference, Eat, Conference, Eat.... haha the members were stuffing us full like crazy in between sessions. Our investigator Tom even came to Priesthood session on Saturday and he seemed to really enjoy it, so that was a nice bonus!

Since I found out late Saturday that I was being transferred from Waterford to Waterbury we have just been making the rounds throughout the ward and telling everyone bye. So today I will just be sending lots of pictures of the people that we have been working with and some of the members that have been a huge part of my life for the past 4 months! I have loved every second of my time in Waterford, and the Lord has blessed us with quite a bit of success too. I will miss the area and the people, but the Lord needs me in Waterbury now!

Selfie on the beach, I am looking pretty fresh right?
This is me with Sister Liz Chase, our first baptism in Waterford! We really didn't have to do much for her though, she was beyond ready before we even met her.  She is very strong in the church and she is now the Visiting Teaching Coordinator for the Waterford Ward...and she still studies the Gospel like crazy!  She recently went to the Boston Temple and did baptisms for the dead and had an awesome experience doing temple ordinances for a few of her ancestors.  She was even able to have a young man stand in proxy for her husband and her son who passed away a few years ago.  She is an amazing woman and I am grateful I had an opportunity to be a part of her conversion story.
Just a random picture. The leaves are just starting to change colors. I guess it will still be a week or so until they will be at their brightest and best colors.
 This is the Danforths!!! Ed and Tina, haha. Two of my favorite members of the Waterford Ward.  They were baptized jut over two years ago, so they were in their 80's when they were baptized, its never too late I guess! They are the coolest people ever.  We have gone over there about once a week to do service for them around the house.  Brother Danforth has been battling lung cancer for the past two years.  He got it right after they were baptized, and they didn't think he would live much longer.  But the cancer went into remission and he and his wife were able to go to the temple and be sealed together! But now the cancer is back, and he has had to go through chemo once a week for the past few months.  He is staying strong though and goes through it all with a good attitude and keeps his sense of humor.  His reaction when I told him I was getting transferred was the best!  I told him I was leaving on Thursday, and he slammed his hands down on the table and said "DANG!" (Except he didn't say dang hahaha!)
This is Sister Whitehead! She had been inactive in the church for about 6 years due to work and some other issues.  We stopped by her house a while ago and it happened to be the day she had gotten home from the hospital after having a mini heart attack.  She kind of took that as a wake up call of sorts.  We have met with her and her kids once a week ever since then.  She is now active in the church and has been doing really well. She is one of the strongest ladies I know! She has raised all 4 of her kids on her own living in the projects of New London.  Elder Batts was definitely her favorite because he is the first black missionary that she has ever seen and so she was pretty pumped about that, but her and I were still pretty tight too.
Oh man...the Nehila family haha.  You can tell by this picture how crazy their household is.  The kids sure made it pretty tough to teach the lessons, but we somehow manged to get through it.  Luckily during the time they were investigating the church we had some members that would be willing to come along and play with the kids while we had the lessons.  The Nehila's are still doing awesome! Jason is the Elders Quorum secretary and Sandra is a Ward missionary.  The kids are starting to actually like going to church, and it is amazing how fast they are learning in Primary.  They are still planning on going to the temple and being sealed as soon as they reach the 1 year mark, so that is something we are all looking forward to still.
This is my boy Morgan Gilmour! He is the assistant ward mission leader for our ward, so we have done quite a bit together.  Morgan was baptized into the church about a year and a half ago.  He is an engineer here in New London, but he has decided he wants to be a doctor now so he is applying to med school!  He is also single, so if anyone out there is interested let us know!
This is my main girl Sister Eberly.  She was recently widowed this year when her husband David passed away.  We have tried to stop by at least once a week to just visit with her, share a quick message and then see if she needs any help around the house.  I know how hard it has been for Grandma Janet since Grandpa passed away so I figured it would be good for us to keep an eye out for her.  She is a SUPER smart lady, and has been a member of the church since she was in her early 20's.
Just preaching the good word of God to the homeless people of New London. The lady is actually an active member of our ward in Waterford. She hit some rough times this past month and is now homeless, so we see her as we are walking down the streets occasionally. The guys name is Virgil....and that is all I know about him! He was pretty sweet though.

Here is Savong and Sabrina! I am sure you all remember them, they just got baptized at the end of September.  They are awesome kids, super smart and each have a really strong testimony.  Sovong is going to be getting the Aaronic priesthood here in the next few weeks, so I was pretty bummed I have to miss out on that.  Their grandma is active in the church again so they should keep coming regularly.  I told them I would be checking up with my sources throughout the next few months to make sure they were still going to church.
 And this is Vickie! She was the investigator who we had to hand the teaching over to some other Elders because of boundary issues.  She was baptized at the very end of September.  She can't attend the Waterford Ward because she lives outside the boundaries, but she still comes to our Book of Mormon class each Tuesday night.  She is living proof that member missionary work is effective!  She  would have never known about the Gospel if her friend wouldn't have invited her to church and talked about the Gospel with her.  So ya'll should get to work!
 This is Bishop Hanson.  He is an amazing guy and has sooooo much love for everyone within the ward.  It is crazy how much he loves and cares about each and every person within the Waterford Ward.  This guy can talk your ear off, we have had numerous hour long phone conversations that are usually him talking the entire time, but we still love him!  He is passionate about missionary work and did so much to help us out!
 Here is the Weseman's!!! They are the nicest people I have ever met in my entire life.  We call them Pops and Mom, they call us their sons, and that is just how it goes.  They have fed us at least 3 times a week every single week, usually more though.  Pops goal is to make the Elders gain weight while they are in Waterford, and he did a pretty good job with me...I have gained 15 pounds since I got here, so he is pretty proud of that.  Pops is our Ward Mission Leader, and so we spend A LOT of time together.  Sister Weseman is the Relief Society President of the ward, and she takes really good care of us missionaries too.  You won't meet more generous and giving people than these guys! Love 'em to death.
This is Harriet, but we just call her Triple H (it's a long story).  She is Sister Weseman's mother who lives with them.  She is a devout Catholic of 50 years.  She has read the Book of Mormon and I even got her to come out to our BOM study class one night, but she is pretty firm with her Catholic beliefs, but we still love her haha. I have had a lot of fun teasing her, scaring her and just messing around with her...you know how I am with old people.  She's definitely one of my favorites here in Waterford.

 Brother and Sister Austin.  Sister Austin has been a member for about 7 years, and Brother Austin was just baptized almost a year ago.  Each Sunday she would get up and ask him if he wanted to go to church and each Sunday he would say no, but persistence pays off I guess!  Bro. Austin thinks he is pretty tough as you can see in this picture, but he is just a big softy.  If you can see in the background, we are in front of a store called Cakes and Cones. This place is amazing!!  The Austins take us there every time we are over to their house.  It is an amazing ice cream shop, I will definitely miss this place.  It probably has something to do with the 15 pounds that I have gained.
This is the Bradshaws! Bro. Bradshaw is a member but has been inactive most of his life, and Sister Bradshaw has been a Catholic for her entire life. Their son Darin is an active member of our ward and so we have been trying to work with him to help get his parents out to church more often and get Sis. Bradshaw more interested in the Gospel.  We have tried everything we can to help them come to know the truthfulness of the Gospel, but we weren't able to get it done yet.  They were one family that I really, really wanted to be able to help receive the blessings that the Gospel can bring into their lives.  Can't win them all though I guess.  Hopefully Elder Batts and his new comp. can continue to make progress with them and we will see what happens!

(He forgot to add the picture but I liked the story)

And now I am off to finish packing my bags! Love you all very much.  I will talk to you on  Monday!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

1st Transfer!!

Helllooooo everybody! Hope you all enjoyed conference as much as I did. Just wanted to let you know that I am being transferred!!! I am going to Waterbury CT, I will be heading there on Thursday. My new address will be 440 Meriden Rd #322 Waterbury, CT 06705. Love you all very much! I will talk to you on Wednesday.