Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas From Waterbury

Tuesday morning we had to get up wayyy to early, around 4 o clock, to make it to our Mission Christmas Conference/party in Boston. We started off the morning by all going to the Boston temple and doing a session. That was my second time in the temple here, but it had been a while! The temple is definitely the place to be, that peaceful feeling you get inside there can't be found anywhere else in the world! After our session we had a few hours to kill while the other groups of missionaries went through and did their sessions, so we went into Boston to grab a quick lunch. Our Christmas Conference took up the rest of the day after that. First we had a musical devotional which was reaaally good, there are some talented people in our mission! After the devotional we had a nice ham dinner, and then partied the rest of the night. Well partied as much as missionaries can at least. Each zone had filmed a 5 minute funny film this month, and so we all got to watch each others film. There were some pretty good laughs, I will see if I can get our zones video to send to you all. We did a Hunger Games re-enactment, it was pretty sweet. We got out of the Christmas Party at about 8 o clock, and there was about 8 inches of snow on the ground and it was still coming down hard! President and Sister Packard decided pretty quickly that they didn't want us making the drive back home that night, so they made arrangements for all of us to stay somewhere in the Boston area. Our zone ended up all staying at the mission home, so it was a pretty wild night. There was about 30 missionaries and the Packard family all chilling at the Mission Home that night. It took us like an hour and a half to make the 20 minute drive to the mission home after the party. The freeways were just at like a complete standstill, thank goodness we didn't have to make the trek home that night.

The work is still going well, the past few weeks we have had some major struggles getting our investigators to come out to church. With the snow storms and then the holiday approaching everyone seems to be "too busy". It really is pretty frustrating, so we will probably be having to push back a few of the baptismal dates that we have to try and get them to come out to church a little bit more before they are baptized. We did pick up three new investigators this week, so we were pumped about that. One is a kid named Brandon, he is 14 and is the brother of another of our investigators, Michaela, who is getting baptized pretty soon. We were teaching Michaela and he came walking in, he just barely moved back to live with his Mom and Michaela, and so I invited him to join our lesson and he said sure! The other two are a couple named James and Miriam, we met them at our service we do each Tuesday. Miriam is SUPER interested, she was just soaking everything up that we were teaching during our first lesson on Saturday. James is a little more hesitant and is going to take a lot more work than Miriam, but he is still a sweet guy and really knows his stuff. He has studied out of the Bible a ton, so now we just have to get him to start studying out of the Book of Mormon also!

We had one of the best baptisms I have ever seen in our ward yesterday. There is this family, the Castro family, who are some of the strongest members of the ward. They are a great family that moved here from the Dominican Republic a few years ago. Their entire family are members, except the father was excommunicated quite a while ago. Since they have lived in Waterbury, their father has been completely active in the church and in the Gospel. He is a great part of our ward, and last week he finally got clearance to be rebaptized into the church. His 17 year old son was able to baptize him, and after he came up out of the water they just turned and gave each other a HUGE hug! It was a pretty special moment.

We had our Christmas program at church on Sunday and Bishop asked me to share my testimony of Jesus Christ as part of it. I had been thinking about it all week, and didn't really know what to write about because there is just so much about Him to say. At the center of Jesus Christ life though, and the center of our Gospel, is the Atonement of Jesus Christ and so that is what I talked about mostly. As we celebrate the birth of our Savior this Christmas, we should remember what the point of Jesus Christ's earthly ministry was anyways, and a major part of that is the Atonement that he performed for us. In Helaman 5 there is a verse that says something like "The Lord should surely come to redeem His people, not to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins." I am forever grateful for what Jesus Christ did for me personally, and for all of us. I know what it is like to carry around the feelings of guilt and sorrow from making poor choices in life. However because of the Atonement I also know what it feels like to be freed from those burdens. I have never felt more close to the Savior than when I have been putting the Atonement to the test. The Atonement is real, I know that Jesus Christ suffered for each and every one of our sins, and because of that we can be forgiven! I am definitely grateful that Jesus Christ is my Savior, and my redeemer. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and have a lot fun this Holiday season!

Elder Pulsipher

The Boston Temple
 Merry Christmas from Waterbury!!!! This is our District with our Wal-Mart special Christmas sweaters.
 Just walking out of the Christmas party and we were pretty excited about all the snow on the ground!
Elder Hermosilla and Me
 Elder Hermosilla, Paulsen, Me, and Concha
We rode with the Southington Elders to the party, I was pretty glad I didn't have to drive in that garbage.  Rear wheel drive cars don't do too well haha.  But it is Elder Seaich driving and Elder Greene, then Elder Boone and me in the back.
Traffic was hoooorrrribbbbleeeeee!
Sleeping in the mission home, we were all just scattered throughout the house.  I lucked out and got one of the bunk beds in the basement though.
Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Cheer

Helllllloooo everybody! Hope you are all doing well. The work is still going great, we have been REALLY busy. President actually talked to us and asked us if we needed extra help in our area since we have so much happening lately. He offered to pull in other Elders from surrounding areas to come and work in our area for a day to help us out with all of the investigators, especially those with baptismal dates. We told him we should be alright though. We definitely have tons of work to do, but we should be able to handle it on our own. We didn't see a lot of progression with a lot of our investigators this week, which is pretty frustrating. Most of them seem to have just hit a roadblock where they just aren't progressing as much as they should be and as much as they could be. It is pretty disappointing when someone is progressing really well but then they just plateau out and stop progressing. They aren't going backwards or anything, but they just don't seem to be moving forward as much as we would hope. It is alright though, we just have to keep motivating them to make these changes in their life. The Gospel is not an event, it is a process. Conversion doesn't happen overnight, it is a life long process that we must go through. So definitely keep our investigators in your prayers please!

This week we had our first Webex meeting, it is a new thing our mission is doing. So usually once a month there is a meeting where all of the District Leaders and Zone Leaders all meet in Boston for a meeting. This month though they did it online, basically like a video conference call. So everyone just gets to stay in their own areas and participate in the meeting online. Since Elder Boone is the DL we were able to be a part of this first one. It saves a lot of time and a lot of money to do it this way rather than for everyone to drive all the way to Boston just for a 2 hour meeting. So now all of the leadership meetings are going to be online from now on, and also the first Tuesday of every month the entire mission will have a giant online meeting where President and Sister Packard will talk to us for an hour or so and give us trainings, we are pretty pumped about it.

We got hit pretty hard with snow in Waterbury this weekend. It snowed all night on Friday and then all day on Saturday. A lot of the wards cancelled church on Sunday, but ours didn't. We had a whopping 50 people show up to church though, so we had Sacrament meeting and then called it a day early. Not gonna lie, it was pretty nice to have 1 hour of church haha but I won't count on that happening very often. For the most part we spent most of the day Sunday out shoveling snow for some of the single sisters in the ward and then for a few of our investigators also. It was a good time, I am definitely feeling it today though.

Tomorrow is our mission's Christmas meeting, so we will be heading to Boston bright and early in the morning. We start it out by going to the temple for a session early in the morning, then we just all get together and have a giant Christmas party and devotional type thing. I don't really know what all will go down, but everyone says it is pretty fun! It should definitely be a good time!

Some random Ariel that we ran into during our day Saturday. How often do you see a giant Disney Princess just hanging out in Connecticut?
Pretty good District unity here, right? We all went to Wal-Mart and got ourselves some pretty decent Christmas sweaters and then wore them to our Zone Meeting. Just trying to spread a little holiday cheer haha
Elder Slade and I put the gingerbread kits you guys sent to use on Sunday night and continued our own family traditions on out here in the mission field. We had some struggles at first but the finished product came out pretty good.
The finished product! We had a lot more ideas but we kind of ran out of steam there at the end, it was getting pretty late. Gotta represent the MBM (Massachusetts Boston Mission) in all that we do though!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Just Stand Bold and Never Give Up!

Alright so at the beginning of this week I had a pretty cool experience with my personal studies, so I wanted to share it with you all! So Monday night Elder Boone was sick and so we had to stay in the apartment and let him rest. For some reason that night and into Tuesday morning I was just feeling pretty down and not happy. I was thinking a lot about some things that have gone wrong with investigators, how hard it is to find people to teach, etc... Really I was just thinking about how hard a mission really is, and was getting kind of discouraged. I don't really know what was going on, but sometimes that just happens out here in the field haha. So then on Tuesday morning I am just getting ready to start my studies and we get a phone call from our investigator named Jean. She is the sweetest little old lady, she is 88 years old. Her daughter is a member of the Church that lives in Utah, and had referred her mother to us a few months ago. So last week we extended a baptismal date to Jean, and she was a little hesitant and so we committed her to pray and find out if she should be baptized. Well on Tuesday when she called she said that she had prayed about it and that she had gotten her answer...For some reason though she said she felt like her answer was no, and that she should remain affiliated with her current church and that she would like to stop meeting with us. It was pretty heartbreaking haha cuz I love this little old lady and I wanted her to accept the date soo bad. So there I was on Tuesday morning even more discouraged now...

So for my studies I just started reading in the Book of Mormon where I had left off, and it was in 3 Nephi 3. In this chapter Giddianhi, the Gadianton Robbers leader (the bad guys)  is writing to Lachoneus, the governer of the Nephites (the good guys) and is basically telling him to give up, to surrender and join with the Gadiantons in their evil works.

 In Chapter 3 verse 3 it says "And it seemeth a pity unto me, most noble Lachoneus, that ye should be so foolish and vain as to suppose that ye can stand against so many brave men who are at my command, who do now at this time stand in their arms, and do await with great anxiety for the word—Go down upon the Nephites and destroy them."

Then in verse 7 it says "Or in other words, yield yourselves up unto us, and unite with us and become acquainted with our secret works, and become our brethren that ye may be like unto us".

So Giddianhi is basically telling the Nephites to just surrender, to give up and quit trying. He tells them to come join with them in their evil works, because it would be a lot easier than trying to fight off the evil to remain righteous people. This is basically what the adversary was trying to tell me on Monday night and Tuesday night. That a mission is too hard, that it would just be easier to quit trying, to just give up.

But then later on in the chapter in verse 12 we see Lachoneus response to Giddianhi's threats. It says "Now behold, this Lachoneus, the governor, was a just man, and could not be frightened by the demands and the threatenings of a robber; therefore he did not hearken to the epistle of Giddianhi, the governor of the robbers, but he did cause that his people should cry unto the Lord for strength against the time that the robbers should come down against them." So Lachoneus basically just said "Yeah I hear you guys over there, but I'm not scared. I know that it we turn to God for strength and trust in him, that we will be alright." There was no way Lachoneus was going to let the Nephites join with the Gadiantons in their evil works.

Then later on in the next chapter we read all about how Lachoneus and the Nephites gather together and fight against the Gadianton's. Of course the good guys win, and the Gadianton's are completely destroyed. So of course I was never going to give up or anything like that, but Satan is always trying to tell us to give up. He is always trying to work on us and tell us that it would just be easier to stop trying to be righteous, to just start living life the easy way. To join with all of those people in the world who are living in evil, because it is just a lot easier to do than to try and always live in righteousness. But it was good to see the example of Lachoneus in the scriptures of not even being scared, not even considering to join with them in their evil works. We can all be Lachoneus and not even be phased by the Adversaries attempts to discourage us, or convince us to join with him. Just stand bold and turn to God for strength, and go to battle against Satan and his evil works. Sorry if that was just me rambling on...hope it made sense to someone out there haha.

Later on in the week we had a few AWESOME lessons with Lisa and her kids! You all know Lisa as the lady who tried to rape me haha, but let me just tell you about this lady. She is making some amazing changes in her life, and I know that it is because of her desire to accept the Gospel and live it! She realized that her drinking was affecting her and her children, and so she stopped drinking...this was before we even taught the Word of Wisdom too! So Lisa has really made some great improvements in her life...it is like a complete 180 from when we first met her. She still has a ways to go of course, but she is doing really well. The past 2 lessons we have been able to have her two sons, Nate and Javier join us. Nate is 15 and Javier is almost 12. So at the end of one of our lessons while Elder Boone was talking to the 2 kids I leaned over and was talking to Lisa and told her she should invite her two sons to be baptized with her on January 19, so she did and they both said yes! The Gospel is exactly what this family needs right now, and I am pretty pumped to see what happens with them. I just pray that they continue to recognize the blessings that are coming into their lives with the Gospel, that they stick with it and continue to make these changes. Life is good in Waterbury though! Hope you are all staying warm!

P.S. What is up with everyone getting all these new iPhones? I was always making fun of Ashlee, Grandma Pulsipher, Grandma Reeder for their old brick flip phones...now the tables have turned haha. I couldn't believe it when Dad told me Janet got an iPhone, and that Ruth is thinking about getting one now too! That is pretty sweet, I am proud of you guys haha. Now I am stuck here with an old brick phone while my grandma is chilling with an iPhone...I never thought I would see the day haha.

Elder Pulsipher

I got the Christmas package on Saturday, that was nice of you guys! Thanks a bunch! We had been wanting to get some Christmas decorations for the apartment, but you guys took care of that haha. We threw up the lights in our study room to liven it up a bit. I know they were probably for the tree...but as you can see the tree is pretty sad looking. We didn't want to waste the lights by putting them on the tree haha. So instead we threw a mink fur that was laying around on the tree to spruce it up a bit. Looks pretty good right? Haha nah it is a pretty rough looking tree, but we like it!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

We had a REAL good Thanksgiving here in Waterbury....lots of good people and lots of good food. We had lunch out at the Ward family's home. They are an older couple who have been in the ward for a looong time! Brother Ward was actually the first Branch President of the Waterbury Branch. Their son Nathan has a band that he goes on tour with each year, and so after we ate he gave us a sweet little private concert down in the basement. Then we hit up the Lopez house for some pie, and then for dinner we went to Sister DaSilva's home. Each year she always invites the missionaries over and then other people from the ward. She is a single lady, so she likes to invite people over. She is Brazilian...and man does she know how to cook. It was sooo good. I couldn't even force down desert at her house, I was just too full.

Saturday night we were able to go and help out with this little town's Christmas celebration. So the Schriver family that I have told you all about, they live in this little town of Thomaston. Each year on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving Thomaston shuts down Main Street and throws a party to kick of Christmas. Well the Schrivers help out with a few things at the festivities and needed some volunteers, and so they asked us! We had a pretty good time and it was just a fun night.

Sunday was Mike Schrivers baptism! About 10 years ago the entire Schriver family decided to start coming to the Mormon church, and came for about 3 months before they decided to go back to the Catholic church...and Mike was the main reason they went back. He HATED being at the Mormon church, and would always just go and hide during Sunday School and the other classes. He would always just say "No, I am Catholic!" Haha but now the tables have turned and him and his younger brother are the ones trying to get the rest of his family to join our church. It was a pretty awesome experience because his younger brother Steven, was the one who baptized him. Steven was baptized himself just a few months ago, and now he has already baptized his brother. So now their father, and the two oldest sons are members...we are still working on the mother and the two younger kids :)

Soooo we had a crazy turn of events this week. You all remember my friend Lisa...the one who we had that very memorable experience with? She accepted a baptismal date for January 19! Haha we were on exchanges with the Zone Leaders on Tuesday and we had an appointment with an investigator named Maria first thing in the morning. We had a recently returned missionary with us as our chaperone, and then Maria wasn't home when we got there. We were close to Lisa's home, and had to fill the time with something and so we decided to go see Lisa! Well she was sober this time and the lesson went awesome!!! We were teaching the Restoration again and were talking a lot about the Priesthood. She has been attending a Catholic church, and she really wanted her sons to be altar boys or something? We said something to the effect of "Ya altar boys are great and everything, but in our church your sons can hold the same Priesthood that Jesus Christ healed the sick, raised the dead with, etc. They can use that Priesthood to bless others, administer the Sacrament and baptize"....once she heard that it was game over haha. We still have A LOT of work to do with Lisa and her boys (mainly Lisa) but she really does want to follow Jesus Christ example and does want to make changes in her life. But we definitely have our work cut out for us! Love you all and have a good week!

Thanksgiving with the Ward family! Brother Ward, his son Nathan, and then Sister Ward's sister who lives in Bridgeport CT. Sister Ward refused to get in the picture, she hasn't let anyone take a picture of her for like the past 15 years! She says she is too old and wrinkly. She is still a beautiful woman...and a really good cook too!
Thanksgiving Dinner number 2! This was at Sister DaSilva's house, and man was it good. So it was us 4 Waterbury Elders, Sister DaSilva, and then the entire Manger family. The Manger's are members of the ward, but their one son Matt is one of our investigators who is getting baptized at the end of December, on the 29th. He was just adopted into their family about a year ago.

We were happy campers after eating at Sister DaSilva's.  Elder Slade, Hermosilla and me.
It is a bad picture but this is me with Matt Manger!
Mike's baptism on Sunday! We were trying to go for the serious look in the first one...just couldn't quite be serious for that long. Elder Boone, Steven Schriver, Mike Schriver, and me.