Monday, April 28, 2014

First Baby Blessing

This week flew by really fast, but a lot of great things happened. On Friday night our ward had a talent show as a fundraiser for the scout camp coming up this summer. We really didn't want to be in it, but the young men signed us up anyways and didn't leave us much of an option. Sooo we did it anyways. We decided to do a little musical number, it was actually pretty cool haha. Three of us were up at the front singing a remix version of "I Hope They Call Me on A Mission" just doing our thing, and then in the middle of it Elder Slade came up out of the crowd with a microphone and threw down a pretty sweet rap about missionary work. We just copied this song that we had heard before, I am sure you could find it on youtube. We filmed it but it is too big to send through email so you will just have to wait another year to watch it I guess. We definitely took home the MVP of the talent show though.

Sunday was a really awesome day for us. We had the baptism of JoAnn, and everything went well there. There has been some major obstacles thrown in our way and JoAnn's way with this baptism. It is crazy how hard the adversary works on these people who are about to take such a huge step in the right direction. The past two weeks it seemed like everything that could possible go wrong for JoAnn, did go wrong, but she didn't let that stop her from getting baptized. I was proud of her for how strong she was through all of the trials that came her way and she didn't even let them phase her. She is a strong lady who has been through so much pain in her life, and the Gospel is helping her find comfort and peace in dealing with all of that pain and heartache that she has been carrying around for years. She is a great lady and we are excited to see her progress in the Gospel and continue to find comfort in it.

Sunday I also gave my first ever baby blessing to a little guy named Zachary. Zachary is the son of two of our investigators, and is the little brother of the girl Elena we just baptized a few weeks ago. I am not sure why they asked me to do the baby blessing haha but I was happy to do it. Not gonna lie I was pretty nervous to do it for some reason, but it was great! His grandmother who is a member just absolutely loved it, and so did his parents. It was a really special day for them and his parents who we are both trying to baptize in the future said they really felt the Spirit at church yesterday and loved the feeling they had the rest of the day. Hopefully that will get them coming back a little more often!

Transfers are coming up pretty quickly. We will find out Friday morning at our Zone Meeting who is getting transferred and where we are going. It is likely that there will be quite a few changes in our District and Zone because a lot of us have been in our areas for quite a while, but we will see. P-day will still be on Monday though, we stopped doing the Wednesday p-day thing now. So I will talk to you all next week. Have a good week! Love ya all!

JoAnn's Baptism
 Our last district meeting together before transfers!

 Us doing our thaaang at the ward talent show!

Me and Zachary on Sunday night.  This little guy was my first ever baby blessing.  We blessed him at church this Sunday.  It was pretty sweet!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Gospel of Change

Another awesome week in Waterbury, I sure will miss this place if I get transferred next week. We have been having so much fun here, and have been blessed with so much success, it has been awesome. This week we met with a man named Danny, who we were teaching when I very first got to Waterbury, but then Danny missed his probation hearing and had to go back into jail for 4 months. Well he just got home this week, and so we went over the first day he was back, we didn't want to waste any time haha. But he seems to have sincerely began the repentance process, and he really wants to lead his family in the right direction. His entire family are members, but are struggling being active in the Gospel and he knows he needs to be the one to set the example now. We invited Danny to be baptized on June 8 and he said yes! Now we will just have to help him continue with the repentance process and to prepare for his baptism, he already knows the Gospel now he just has to live it. We are hoping and praying that he is sincere about his desire to change and to lead his family in the right direction.

On Saturday we were able to go to the Boston Temple with a lot of our ward. The entire Young Men and Young Women's group went up to do baptisms for the dead, and we also got to bring some of our Recent converts along as well. So 4 of the people I have been fortunate enough to teach and help prepare for their own baptisms were able to go to the temple and do baptisms for their own ancestors, and I was able to be a part of it. It is awesome to see them in the temple and to see how far some of them have came since we began teaching them. The Gospel truly is a Gospel of change, and I love seeing that change take place within people! The Temple was packed Saturday, and so they needed us to help out in the baptistry. Elder Morgan and I worked as the people doing the confirmations, so we probably did about 400 confirmations while we were there for a few hours. It was a great blessing to see the RC in the temple and to be able to serve in the temple a little bit as well.

Unfortunately we didn't have Joann's baptism this Sunday, but it will definitely happen this coming Sunday, the 27th. Bishop Marble had a few concerns about having the baptism earlier than scheduled, but those have been worked out now and everything is good to go for Sunday. On Easter Bishop actually invited the 4 of us missionaries over for Easter Dinner, and he invited Joann to come over as well. So we had a really nice Easter dinner with Bishop and his family, and the food was great! Joann doesn't really have any family around either, so we were all very grateful that Bishop had invited all of us into his home to spend Easter with him and his family.

Yesterday we had probably the best p-day ever, it was one I will never forget at least! Yesterday was Patriots Day here in New England, which is a really big deal out here. It is the day of the Boston Marathon, and Boston is just crazy that day. We were lucky enough to be able to go up and to experience all of it firsthand. The Red Sox always play the morning of Patriots Day, and we really wanted to go but tickets were really, really expensive. We decided to press our luck and tried to scalp some tickets. We actually found some for a pretty good deal and they were good seats, so we definitely lucked out there. The game was so much fun, we loved every second of it. The Red Sox lost by one but it was still a really close and good game. Then after that we went and saw a little bit of the Boston Marathon ending, and just hung out in Boston the rest of the day. I was even able to run into the Lewis family from back home! It was great to see some familiar faces all the way out here in Boston. Love you all!

Temple trip with all of the youth from the ward, plus a few of our recent converts!

The 4 Amigos!
 Big Papi himself!

 Standing outside Fenway Park before the game!
The Bryan Lewis Family from Paradise!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Loving Waterbury

Another awesome week went down in Waterbury, I seriously love this place...even if it is pretty ghetto. There is never a boring day here. So on Sunday we had two more baptisms in our ward, one of our investigators and then one of the Spanish Elders. The Spanish Elders baptized Ernesto, who is this awesome guy who has been coming to our ward for about a year. He became friends with this lady who is a member, she introduced him to the Gospel and then the rest is history. Elena was also baptized on Sunday. She is the little granddaughter of a member that we recently helped come back into activity of the church, and she brought her grandkids to church with her. It was a great experience for Elena and her family. Both of her parents, who are non members, came and witnessed her baptism. Originally her father was supposed to get baptized with her yesterday, but he just hasn't quite progressed the way we would have hoped. But when her father watched her go under the water he was in tears, you could tell he was definitely feeling the Spirit. So hopefully that will help him and give him some motivation to keep progressing. Elena was baptized by her Uncle Steven, who just moved back home from living in Utah. Steven just submitted his mission papers and is waiting on his call, so that is exciting news also!

We also have another investigator, Joann, who was originally supposed to be baptized on April 27. Joann was also a member referral (I'm telling you guys, members are the best missionaries). But apparently when Joann was watching Conference with her member friend she had some sort of very special experience where she received a very strong spiritual witness that this was the truth. So she called us up in the middle of the week and asked if it would be at all possible for her to be baptized on Sunday, the 13th. Unfortunately there was just no way we could make that happen, she hadn't had her interview or anything like that yet. But we did move up her baptism a week, so she will be getting baptized this Sunday if all goes well.

We invited our investigator Erica to be baptized this week, and she said yes to the date of May 25. Erica is a 16 year old girl from a family who are less active in the Gospel. She is from Cape Verde Africa, and she is a really cool girl and loves meeting with us and learning more about the Gospel. We have baptized most of our investigators, so now we have to reload and get some more baptisms lined up. Not a bad problem to have I guess.

Also, when I very first got to Waterbury we were teaching a man named Danny, and his friend Chris. Danny's entire family are members, and Chris is just a family friend. So we were teaching them both together, all was going great, and they actually had decided they both wanted to get baptized together. But there were some obstacles in their way still. Danny was heading to jail for 5 months, and Chris was heading to a rehab facility to overcome his addiction to heroin. So they both went their separate ways, but now they are both back and ready to pick up where we left off! We just met with Chris again last night for the first time, and we will be seeing Danny later this week. So hopefully we can pick up right where we left off with them, they both seem to be doing really well right now. But yeah, things are going great! Love you all!

Us with our boy Ernesto, the shorter guy, and Brother Lopez who baptized him.
 I was making fun of Brady and Jesse for the way they looked going to Priesthood session and then got to Zone Meeting that night and realized I had forgotten my shoes too!  Haha.  We had a P-day with our whole zone and then Zone Meeting right after that, and we all just changed at the church.  I brought everything except the shoes...not a bad look though right? Might do it more often.
 It was our buddy Javi's birthday on Wednesday so we showed up to mutual and gave him a birthday cupcake! He is a funny kid!  Both him and his brother Nate received the Aaronic Priesthood at church on Sunday, it was great to see them continue to progress in the Gospel.  They are doing really really well right now!
 Us with Elena and her uncle, Steven.
Me and Elena! We are pretty tight, we even have our own secret handshake.
 We do service at a soup kitchen every Tuesday morning at this Episcopal church.  After service this week we were just walking out and started talking to this guy that worked there and he offered to give us a tour of the building.  It was really cool!  There is a lot of sweet old architecture here that you definitely don't find out west!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Conference Week

Well nothing too exciting or crazy happened this week, but it was a really good week anyways! On Friday we had interviews with President Packard and some training by the AP's which were both really really good! Interviews are always such a good experience. I don't know what it is but just talking to President for just like 15 minutes or so helps sooo much. He always is so positive about everything and always has great advice and counsel. I talked a lot with him about all of our Recent Converts here in Waterbury, and what we can do to make sure they remain active. Before I could even ask him the question I wanted to, he answered it and gave me two suggestions of things we as the missionaries can do to make sure they remain active. The first was to try and get them to the temple to do baptisms for the dead for one of their own ancestors. That is something we have been working on a lot with all of them, especially the youth that we have baptized because the Young Men and Women from our ward have a temple trip on April 19th that we are going to try and get all of the new members too. The other thing that President suggested we should do is to get the Recent Converts engaged in missionary work and sharing the Gospel. This is probably something we have really overlooked and was a great reminder to me. Our Recent Converts are the best tools we have to sharing the Gospel. All of their friends, and family are usually all non members. They are all excited about this new Gospel they have discovered to be true, and so now is the perfect time for them to be sharing the Gospel. So that is something that we will definitely be doing this week to make sure these people stay active.

President did tell me in interviews that my time in Waterbury is probably short. I have been here for over 6 months now which is quite a while, and I have loved every second of it. But President said he is planning on transferring me here at the beginning of May, so I should start helping Elder Morgan get ready to take over the area. He didn't say it is for sure though, he said it would happen unless the Lord doesn't want it to happen.

General Conference weekend was great of course. We got slammed with 10 hours of spiritual direction and counsel from our Prophet and Apostles, which was pretty awesome. There were some really good talks given, with some really great counsel. Of course a few of them mentioned how Conference doesn't do us any good unless we actually do something about all this information and counsel we have been given. We have to actually decide what it was the Lord wanted us to learn from these talks, and then go out and make the necessary changes in our lives! The Gospel is all about making changes for the better. We just watched conference at the chapel and it was pretty lonely there at times haha it was usually just us missionaries and then maybe like 10 members who don't have internet or tv. But Elizabeth and Nate (Javi was at his cousins house) actually came and watched Saturday afternoon session with us as well as Sunday morning, so that made it all worth it.

This coming week our ward will be having two baptisms. One is a young girl that we have been teaching named Elena. Her and her siblings live with her grandma who is a member of the church. Their grandma was less active a few months ago but we have been working super hard with her and she has been making so many great changes in her life. She loves meeting with us, she actually calls us throughout the week and asks us when we are coming over. We are always the one calling people and begging to come over so it is nice to know that someone actually enjoys us coming over haha. But now that their grandmother is active the children have been coming with her every week to church, and Elena is ready to be baptized! The other baptism is the Spanish Elders investigator Ernesto. He is dating one of the Spanish members from the ward. So things are still going great, life is good! Sorry there aren't any pictures again this week.....hope everyone has a great week though! Take care!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Happy Birthday Elder Pulsipher

Not a whole lot has happened since I talked to you guys on Wednesday, but we did have a really good rest of the week! For P-day on Wednesday we went to the Yale Art Gallery. We were all complaining at first because it didn't really sound like something fun that we wanted to do, but the Sisters from the zone wanted to go so we went...and it was actually pretty cool! They had a ton of really cool art work there. They even had some Picasso pieces and what not. Not that I know a whole lot about art, but it was still pretty neat to see.

This week we were getting everything ready for our baptism that we had yesterday for Paul Canales. Paul is a 15 year old boy that has been coming to church every Sunday since August. He was living with his father in Mexico but his sister and him moved here to live with their grandparents who are members of the church. Paul and his sister started coming with them each week, and has been attending Young Mens on Wednesdays as well. He was pretty much apart of the ward. His sister that he moved here with got baptized in October, but for some reason Paul said he wasn't quite ready yet. He wouldn't really say why he wasn't ready to be baptized, but we weren't going to push him into doing anything. So the missionaries had already taught him everything by the time I got here, and then things just kind of were at a stand still for a while. But then like 2 months ago we started teaching Paul again and he helped me learn a pretty valuable lesson. Teaching Paul I finally realized how important it is for us as missionaries to teach people, not lessons. If we go and teach the same lesson the same way to each individual, we aren't going to be as successful. We have to teach the same information differently to each person based on their own needs and desires. Once we were able to finally figure out what it was that Paul wanted out of the Gospel, we were able to help him see how being baptized would provide him with that. The baptism on Sunday went great, and his Grandpa was able to baptize him. His non member mom was able to come and watch it as well, so it was a pretty neat experience for the whole family and for us to be a part of it.

I had a really nice birthday week, I shared it with Elder Slade because his was on the 25th, so that made it even better. Thank you all so much for all of the cards and gifts you all sent me, it means a lot! But my birthday was just like any other day on the mission, went out and worked pretty much all day. We did all go out to Chilis to eat at the end of our night, gotta thank Roger for that one! One bummer was that I have been sick for pretty much the whole week. There has been some nasty things going around lately, it seems like we have been giving people blessings sooo much. Every house we go to visit at least one person in the home has been sick. And so of course we all got sick as well. Luckily mine hit right before my birthday haha. But I am finally starting to feel better so all is well. 

We have been really blessed with a lot of success in Waterbury for the past little bit. We have already had 8 baptisms in our ward this year, which is a ton for a ward in New England. So the Lord has really been hastening his work and blessing us with people to teach and baptize, but now we are really worried about all of these recent converts. We don't want any of them to be someone who gets baptized and then just falls away into inactivity after a while. So we have been putting a lot of our focus on retention this past week and will be doing even more the next few weeks. Brother Alicea just got called as our new Ward Mission Leader, so he is going to be a lot of help with these things we are working on. We have been without a WML for quite a while now, so that has been tough. We are excited to make sure things keep rolling in Waterbury. 

Yale Art Gallery
Pablo Picasso Painting

It was Elder Slades birthday on the 25th and then mine on the 29th so we pretty much celebrated together throughout the week!  The Reeder's sent a cake mix and so Elder Pennington made it for us on the night of Slades Bday!
Us chowing down on some Spanish food Monday night for dinner.
Me and the roommates on my bday.  They are all holding up the wonderful gifts they got me haha.  A drawing, a pinata, a Jesus Candle and a Tide to go pen.  I was pretty spoiled!
The Longo family had the 4 of us over for dinner on Friday night for our bdays.  They have a son on a mission right now too.  They even bought us a cake and sang to us in Portuguese. They moved here from Brazil a few years ago.  Sister Longo didn't want to take a picture with us because she said she had been working and cooking all day and was dirty.  But then we convinced her to take the picture anyways!

The cake they bought for us.

And the best birthday gift I could ask for, a baptism!  Elder Morgan, Me, Paul, his mom Rosie, and his grandpa Brother Canales.