Monday, January 27, 2014

A Trip To Yale!

This week was a little bit slower than last week, but we still had a solid week of missionary work. The big snowstorm, I think they called it Chester, kind of slowed us down a bit. Everyone was cancelling our appointments because they heard the snow was coming and they didn't want us out on the roads trying to come and see them. At least they were looking out for us, but it kind of sucked getting cancelled on all day Tuesday. They were expecting like a foot of snow on Tuesday here but we didn't get hit too hard with this storm. We probably only had about 5 inches in Waterbury, but all the schools and everything were shut down still. Then of course after the snow storm came the bitter cold spell for the next few days, that part was by far the worst part. But everything is back to normal now, so all is well.

Last P-Day we went to New Haven and walked around Yale University's campus. The school was established in 1701 so their campus has some pretty sweet buildings on it. You could tell that everyone on the campus was a little bit classier than us haha we felt really under dressed. Even if we would have been in our proselyting clothes we still would have been under dressed I think. Those dang Yale people are just a little bit classier than us from out West haha. But after Yale we went to lunch at a place called Frank Pepe' was voted the Number 1 pizza place in all of America last year. There is usually at least an hour and a half wait to get in to that place, but we got there right when it opened for the day and only had to wait about 30 minutes. It was some pretty prime pizza, definitely worth the wait.

We have been teaching 2 new people the past week or two. One is an 18 year old girl named Madi, she is actually the sister of Brandon who was just baptized last week. Madi has had a ROUGH childhood, she is 18 and already has 2 of her own kids. Definitely not an ideal situation, but she is trying to make the best of it. She wants to provide her kids with a good home and family to grow up in, and she realizes she needs to make some changes in her life in order to do that. She has been progressing quite a bit and we will probably be extending a baptismal date to her tomorrow. The other person is a 15 year old girl from a part member family, her name is Erica. Erica's family is from Cape Verde but has been in CT for a while now. Erica almost got baptized about a year ago but then her family went on a 2 month vacation back to Cape Verde and that kind of put a halt on things for awhile. So we met her this week for the first time and we will see what happens there!

We had an awesome day at church on Sunday! Sacrament meeting was packed again, 142 people this time. We had 8 of our investigators there and then 7 more non members also. The ward is just killing it right now with inviting their friends to church and sharing the Gospel with them. Brandon was confirmed during Sacrament, and he asked me to do it so that was a really cool opportunity! Then we also had 4 people get the Aaronic Priesthood on Sunday! Two of the Schrivers, the father and then Mike who was just baptized in December were given the Priesthood by Steven, the 17 year old son and brother. Then Brandon and another recent convert named Luis both got the Priesthood as well! Lisa and her two kids made it to church again, so the baptism for the 16th is still looking good, but keep praying for them for sure. Lisa's biggest struggle was with the Word of Wisdom still. She has been a pretty heavy alcoholic for quite some time, but she is making huge improvements. She used to be drunk pretty much every single time we would go over there, but that has changed now. Since we got back in contact with her a few weeks ago and set a new baptismal date, she has been doing really well. In the past 2 weeks she has only slipped up once and had a beer. But on Sunday she committed to go these next 3 weeks leading up to her baptism without touching any alcohol, so lets hope she can do it!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Another Baptism!

Helloo!! Things are going great in Waterbury, we have been super busy the past few weeks and this week is looking pretty busy as well. But being busy is good when you are a missionary! On Sunday we had the baptism of Brandon Morales! He is a 14 year old son of a woman who was baptized in November. He has absolutely loved coming to church for the past month or so and has fit in really well with the Young Men of our ward. One of his friends from the church, Jimmy, was able to baptize him so that was a really neat experience to see. A lot of people wonder why for most of our baptisms it isn't us, the missionaries, baptizing the people and that is because we try really hard to get them to ask someone from the ward to baptize them. We as missionaries are moved around a lot, but the members of the ward stay fairly consistent. So when we have a member baptize our investigators then even when we leave there is still that person who baptized them here in the Ward. Of course we will baptize them if they want us to, but we generally try and get them to ask a friend from the ward to do it. But on Sunday I will be able to confirm Brandon a member of the church so that should be pretty cool.

Sundays are always the most stressful day for missionaries, especially at church. We work so hard all week to get our investigators and less active members to come out to church, and then on Sunday we kind of get to see if our hard work pays off I guess you could say. Well Sunday went really, really well for us! We had 7 of our investigators at church, and then another 7 Less Active members were there. The chapel was pretty much full, our goal is to have to open up the overflow seating one of these weeks haha and we almost made it. But some of those investigators that were there was Lisa and her kids! That was the first time they had made it out to church, so we were definitely pumped when they walked in the door. And it turns out that Lisa knows 2 members of the ward because she grew up with them and went to school with both of these ladies. So she already has 2 friends in the ward! So as of right now it is looking like her and her 2 kids will make it to their baptismal date of Feb 16, so keep them in your prayers!

This morning we had to get up waaayyyy too early, about 4:30, to go and teach the Seminary class from the ward. I was complaining a little bit about having to wake up and teach so early, but these kids wake up every single morning this early, which is pretty impressive. Their Seminary class starts at 5:30 every morning, and some of them even come from about 30 minutes away. They are pretty dedicated that is for sure. But the Youth of our ward are pretty awesome. They are all engaged in missionary work and are sharing the Gospel, and inviting all of their friends to church and to read the Book of Mormon, etc. It is pretty cool to see all of the work they are doing. They definitely help us out with a lot of our missionary efforts too. Hope you all have a great week, take care!

Elder Boone's birthday was this week so we celebrated the best we could!
We all went out to Buffalo Wild Wings that night and had a little party for Elder Boone.
Brandon's Baptism! Me, Brandon, Jimmy Jensen, and Elder Boone.
Us with all of the youth after we had taught Seminary class. They are a great group of kids and we have a lot of fun with them.

Pictures from last P-Day.  We had our Zone P-Day where we all got together and played basketball and volleyball all day.  It was good to get out and break a sweat and have some fun with all the other missionaries.

Monday, January 13, 2014

We NEED Thee Every Hour!

This week has definitely been a lot better than last week. I am not gonna lie, I was pretty frustrated with the way things were going...but all is well now! We had a really good day at church yesterday, the chapel was packed, and 8 of the people there were non members so that was exciting. It is always a good feeling to see all the seats full in the chapel. Sunday after church we went to the Southbury ward to watch a baptism. The Southbury Elders are the other Elders in our district and their ward has really been struggling lately. This baptism was their first convert baptism in over a year, so it was a pretty big deal! They made a pretty big deal out of it, it was fun to be a part of.

We have been teaching this 14 year old kid named Brandon for a few weeks now, and things have been going really well with him, he is just killing it right now! It's like he is soaking up everything we are teaching him. He even got this nice suit to wear to church, has a nice white shirt, he is just loving the whole church experience. Last week we extended a baptismal date to him for January 26 and he got this weird look on his face and didn't really respond, so I asked him what was up? Then he went on to say that the 26th was too far away, and he asked if we could do it any sooner! Sooo he is going to be baptized this Sunday, and one of his good friends that he has made in the ward, a 16 year old is going to be baptizing him. It has been so cool to see Brandon progress. He has been coming to church for about a month now and it has been great to see him change as a person, just the way he acts, the things he says. You can really see the Gospel changing him for the good. Last time we were there he was even asking us questions about serving a mission and what its like and was saying that is something he wants to do! He did say he wasn't sure if he could leave his family behind for 2 years, but that he really wanted to serve a mission. He is legit!

We had a breakthrough with Lisa and her kids last night, we finally got back inside her home! She has been avoiding us it seems like for the past two weeks, and we had no idea why. I guess a friend of hers had told her some negative things about Mormons and all of these lies, so that is the main reason she had been avoiding us. But in these past two weeks that she has been avoiding us I guess A LOT of things have gone wrong in her life. Pretty much everything has fallen apart and she is just pretty miserable with life right now. But when we were talking to her last night she said something pretty sweet. She said, "God is definitely trying to work with me, to speak to me but I just haven't been listening. Ever since I stopped letting you guys in and talking with you guys everything has gone wrong in my life. When I was meeting with you guys and trying to make these changes in my life, things were going well. God is telling me that I NEED to keep learning from you guys, and so I need to start listening." Wow I was so stoked when she said that, because we have seen that all along and we can tell people that all we want, but when they realize for themselves that they need the Gospel, that is when the changes start taking place. The three of them were supposed to be baptized this next Sunday but we decided to move it back a little ways so that we can get things back on track and help them be as ready as possible.

It was pretty interesting though the way things worked out with Lisa. We had had pretty much zero contact with her for the past two weeks. She wouldn't answer her door, she wouldn't answer the phone, it was pretty bad. I really didn't know what else we could do, what more we could do. So I had been praying really hard for a miracle to happen with Lisa, because I felt like it was just out of our reach and there wasn't anything more we could do. When there isn't anything else we can do though, there is always more that Heavenly Father can do. So I had been praying like crazy and then Sunday I decided to fast for Lisa to have a change of heart and to get back in contact with us. Then what do ya know, we are in the middle of a lesson at a members home at about 5 on Sunday, and Lisa calls us crying and asks if we can come over and visit with her as soon as possible, I was pumped! So Heavenly Father definitely hears and listens to our prayers, and fasting truly does work. Just remember that when you are stuck at a point in life where you feel like you have done all you can do, like you can't go any further, turn it over to our Heavenly Father and see what else He can do for us. He will always deliver! Have a great week, love you all!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Happy New Year!

Wow this week was pretty wild, lots of crazy things have happened since I talked to ya last. So I am sure you have all heard about the crazy weather that has been going on around Boston this past week, and so that kind of effected the missionary work quite a bit. On Wednesday we got a text from Sister Packard saying that all of the missionaries were going to be red-dotted (meaning no one could leave the apartment) all day Thursday because of the Blizzard that was coming. So all day Thursday and up until Friday afternoon we were all stuck in the apartment, things got pretty boring that's for sure. The storm really didn't hit Waterbury all that bad, but Boston got destroyed. They had about 27 inches of snow I think. The worst part was after the snow storm had passed, it all of a sudden just got FREEZING cold. Like -12 degrees, and then a killer wind to top things off. I am telling ya, the cold here is a different kind of cold than back home. It just eats at you all the way to the bones, it is pretty rough. I am now a regular scarf wearer, I never thought I would see the day that I would wear a scarf haha.

The work in our area has really been going well lately. As of two weeks ago we had 7 investigators with baptismal dates lined up, and all of them seemed to be progressing pretty well. It seems like everything is falling apart all of a sudden though. We don't know what is happening, but nothing is working out for us. Our one investigator Brian was supposed to get baptized January 12, but the dude has just disappeared off the face of the earth for the past 3 weeks. He is M.I.A. so needless to say, he won't be getting baptized anytime soon.

Another investigator Michaela was supposed to get baptized last week. She is the daughter of a woman who was just recently baptized. Michaela was doing really well, she loved learning from us, she loved church, she had an Illustrated Book of Mormon that she would read from every night, and she was so stoked to get baptized. Everything was good to go and all we had left was the baptismal interview and then everything fell apart with her too. Her father is a minister for another church, and he was fine with her getting baptized, but then all of a sudden at the last minute he changed his mind and won't allow her to be baptized. She is pretty crushed about it, and so are we. There really is nothing we can do as of right now.

Then there is Lisa and her two kids Nate and Javi. Nate and Javi are ready to be baptized, they are sick kids. But Lisa has still be struggling with the Word of Wisdom, so we had a lesson last week with her where we were just straight up with her and set up a game plan of how she was going to be able to live the Word of Wisdom. We went through and removed all the temptations from the house, we threw away all of her iced tea haha and she was pretty bugged by that so we bought some soda to replace it. But we were finally able to help her understand that this was something she needed to do not just so she could get baptized, but so she could be the mother for her kids that they need. It was really a pretty sweet lesson. But then this past week, she just hasn't been answering her phone or texting us back. On Friday night we went over because we usually always go over on Friday nights, and so we go and knock on the door. She asks who it is, so we say "its the missionaries" she looks out the curtain, and then turns around and walks away. We just stood there on the porch not knowing what to do really. So something is going on with her that's making her avoid us. We aren't sure if someone is telling her false things about us that has gotten her worried (cuz that happened in the past with her) or maybe she is just struggling with the Word of Wisdom and is embarrassed we don't really know. So their date is for January 19 but as of right now its not looking too good.

So yeah this week was pretty rough. We had such great things happening and now it seems like all of that is falling apart. I have been pretty bummed about it, but there is only so much we can do as missionaries. There is obviously something the Lord wants us to learn from this, as there is with every situation in life. I am still trying to figure out what I am supposed to learn from this one though. Pretty tough, but hopefully you all had a better week than us! Love you all and take care!

New Year's Eve we had to be in by 7 and so we just figured we might as well all spend it together rather than sitting in our apartments alone.  So everyone came over to our place and we played some foosball and a few card games and had pizza.  Nothing too exciting really, but we made the best of it.
This week I had to say goodbye to my man Elder Hermosilla, he got transferred up to Boston.  I am sure I will see him again before he heads home in a few months, but he's one of the closest friends I have made on my mission so far.  In Waterford, my first area, Hermosilla was serving in the same ward but with the Spanish people.  Then we both got transferred to Waterbury.  So I have been serving around him for pretty much my whole mission and the past 2 transfers we have been roommates.  He is a hilarious kid, we are trying to convince him to come to Utah for college, so we will see.

Hermosilla is from Chile...and he loves his country haha. So in his honor we all got by the Chilean flag, put on his Chilean soccer jerseys and took a picture of it.  He was in heaven.  He had been asking us to do this for the past few months, so we finally did it his last night here.
With the snow storm coming and then the freezing weather, we decided to get some new beanies to stay warm.  The new guy on the left is Elder Pennington, he is replacing Elder Hermosilla.  He is coming straight from the MTC!  He is originally from Oregon.  My beanie is a Hartford Whalers one, it's Connecticut's old hockey team that no longer exists...I was pretty pumped with my purchase.

Christmas 2013

Wow I hope you all had as good as a Christmas as I did. I can't say how great it was to see and talk to all of you during the Skype session, definitely the best part of Christmas. On Christmas Eve we were invited to go over to the Schriver's home for dinner. Sister Schriver comes from a big Italian family, and they were nice enough to invite us over there to be a part of their party for the night. Dang those Italians sure know how to cook. We had sooo much food, and it was all sooo good. They had Stromboli, Spaghetti with meatballs and sausage, shrimp cocktail, fried shrimp, baked shrimp, crab, stuffed crab, lobster, calamari and there is probably even more stuff that I am forgetting. It was a feast. I am very grateful for the people out here who include us into their families while we are serving far away from our own families.

Even though we are all out here away from our families, we tried to make the best of it with our mission family! On Christmas Eve after all of our dinner appointments our District got together at our place and did a gift exchange, we had drawn names a few weeks earlier. We had put a pretty low price limit on the gifts since we are all living like poor kids out here (haha jk we are fine) but we all still received some pretty sweet gifts. It was perfect. Our District this transfer has been awesome, we are all so close to one another and get along so well. But we just found out Saturday that our District is going to be shaken up a bit. Elder Paulson and Elder Hermosilla are both getting transferred. Elder Boone and I are staying together for another transfer in Waterbury. It is pretty crazy because Elder Boone will have been in Waterbury for over 9 months by the end of this transfer!

Christmas day we got up early and headed over to some members, The Aliceas, and watched their little 3 year old open his presents, and then they made us a nice pancake breakfast. Then we went around and made a few visits to some other members homes that had asked us to come over, and then went back to the Aliceas to Skype home. Like I said, definitely the best part of Christmas.

On Saturday we were asked to help out with a service project in New Milford CT. After the Hurricane Sandy, there were tons and tons of people homeless that were placed all throughout New England. Well a lot of them were placed in New Milford CT and were given permission to live in these drag on trailers for a year to help them get back on their feet. Well that year is up and now all of these people have to move out of these trailers. So we were asked to go and help them pack up their stuff and move it to their new locations. It was a pretty humbling experience to hear the stories about these people losing everything they owned and almost losing their lives to Sandy. I have been so blessed throughout my life, and I often forget that not everyone has been as fortunate as me.

Sunday we had the baptism of Matt Manger and it went perfect! Matt is a 15 year old that was adopted by a family in the ward about a year ago. The family didn't want to force him into joining the church or anything, and they let him take it at his own pace. He has been coming to church every week, goes to seminary every day...he is a champ. His dad was able to baptize him and it was pretty cool to see how happy his family was to see Matt make this choice. Matt's main motive behind getting baptized was that he wanted to be sealed to his family for eternity, and so a year from now they will be going through the temple and have Matt sealed to them! We should have at least a few more baptisms coming up in January, we are doing everything we can to make sure they actually happen. Have a Happy New Years!!!

A new blanket that I got in a package from the whole Reeder clan! Thank you guys so much, it is nice and cozy.  I took it and put it right on my bed once I opened it haha.
The District with all of our new presents from the exchange.  Don't mind the mess in the apartment..the Holidays were rough.  We got it cleaned up now though so it is all good!
My man Elder Slade drew my name for the gift exchange ad got me this filthy hoodie for Christmas.  It was a great find...I am not sure if it would get my mothers approval for style, but I like it!
I had drawn Elder Hermosilla's name, and if there is one thing you should know about him it is that he LOVES soda.  He is always saying how he just needs a glass of soda.  So I got him a Bulls hat and then loaded him up with some of his favorite sodas.  He was a happy camper.
Me with the one and only Matt.  He is a pretty sick kid, always is cracking jokes and what not.

Repping the Mormon Helping Hands service shirts while we were helping those people move.

Our last district picture before the transfers come.  Love all these guys and the friendships we have made.  We went for the very professional  and serious pose, didn't work out too well haha.  Elder Slade, Boone, Concha on back row.  Front row Elder Hermosilla, Me and Elder Paulson.