Monday, July 21, 2014

Be The Very Best We Can!

It doesn't seem like I have a whole lot of info to update you on this week, but a lot of great things happened this week! Tuesday we went up to Franklin, MA for our zone conference. Our mission has doubled in baptisms since the Packards got here, which is awesome but we could still be doing so much better. We are losing a lot of our investigators with baptismal dates. So a lot of people are agreeing to be baptized, but then we are struggling to actually get them prepared and ready to go through with the baptismal commitment. This zone conference was pretty much all day Tuesday, and we spent the majority of the time talking about what we can do to help these individuals go through with it. There were some great trainings and we have some specific things we can start doing a little better!

At the end of zone conference President Packard gave an amazing talk on the topic of pride. All throughout the scriptures we read about great people who were doing amazing things for God and helping build His kingdom, but then they let pride get in the way of things. Pride is the greatest stumbling block to Zion. President made some great points throughout his talk that really struck me. In the church we are surrounded by a lot of great people, a lot of great leaders, etc. Often times a lot of people look at those around and them and see the amazing things they are doing and the talents that they have, and then look at themselves and see all the things they struggle with. All of us in the church or whatever organizations we are apart of, each have individual talents and strengths that we can help the Lord in His service with. In the world a lot of  people have the mentality of "I just have to be better than......" People are always worried about being better than the other person out there, but that isn't the way we need to feel or live our life! All the Lord wants us to do is be the very best we can possibly be! President Packard gets an email each week comparing our mission statistics with the statistics from like 10 missions that surround ours, and throughout his entire time here he hasn't opened that email once. He just doesn't care, or doesn't even want to compare our mission to those around us. It doesn't matter, as long as we are doing everything we possibly can and serving the very best that we can.

This week we made some great progress with a few of our investigators with baptismal dates. Rob will be getting baptized this Sunday, he is working dilligently to plan out the program for his service right now. It took A LOT of prayers, fasting, and some miracles to get this to actually happen. Rob was just so hesitant to take the plunge, he has been beyond ready for a few months now but was just holding himself back, and even he admitted that. We had the interview last week and he had a really spiritual experience during the interview that helped him know this is what he needed to do. Another investigator, Lechelle,  is supposed to be baptized this coming Sunday as well but she has some major anxiety towards the baptismal interview that is holding her back. She made some pretty big mistakes in her past that make it so she needs an interview from someone in the Mission Presidency and she is just super scared to talk about it all. We are going to go there sometime in the next few days and try and resolve her fears about the interview and get things worked out. Pray for her!!!

Unforunately the past few weeks we have only found like 1 new investigator, it has been a little tough going. So we are going to spend a lot of time these next few weeks on finding new investigators. We are really going to focus on our members and the friends that they have, because then the investigators seem to always just be so much more solid. If the investigator already has a strong member connection before they even meet us, the whole process just goes soooo much smoother. There are a few really strong families that have some people they are working with, so hopefully we can get something going from there. Unforunately our ward is taking a pretty big hit in the next few weeks. Since most of our ward is here on the Navy Submarine base, it is a pretty transient ward. And this year we got hit reeeallly hard with transfers. We have about 10 solid families that are moving within the next few weeks which is going to be really tough, we will have to make it work though!

Sorry there aren't any pictures today, I forgot my camera most days this week. We did see this ginormous building that was shaped like a turtle out on the Mashantucket indian reservation that is in our area, so be looking for a picture by that in the next few weeks. Also we were at a members home for dinner earlier this week and their little 2 year old decided to use my scriptures as a tissue for his super snotty nose, so that was pretty cool! I may need some new scriptures once the mission is over, but I don't know, the snot stain adds some good character to it. Love ya guys so much, have a good week!!!

Elder Pulsipher

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Best Time of My Life!!

Hey there everybody, can I just say that life is good! Of course there are ups and downs, some good days and bad days, but overall the mission is just the greatest experience ever. I know I say that all the time, but its the truth! Our mission is working hard towards getting 70 baptisms this month, we are definitely needing a miracle, or lots and lots of miracles to get there but it will happen! Gotta have faith, right?

Tuesdays are pretty much always our exchange days, so this Tuesday we switched with the Newport Elders. I went up to Newport with my boy Elder Henrie, he is a stud! We had some great conversations, and it was cool to get to know him better. Newport is just an awesome area, it is so pretty out there! But I think I told you how their Ward Mission Leader out there is an emeritus General Authority, Brother Wood. This man is amazing. We went to his home that night to coordinate some upcoming baptisms with him, then he just blew our mind with all of this amazing doctrinal knowledge that he has. Then after he taught us he asked us to teach him, haha so that was a little intimidating. So we had a pretty good lesson with them, I was able to testify about the truthfulness of the Gospel to man who was a General Authority, it was pretty cool!

Elder Jones was back in Groton with Elder Laurent that day, and they had some great experiences as well. It was Elder Jones b-day that day, so unfortunately I wasn't there for it but they had a good day anyways it sounds like. At one point in the day they were trying to visit a less active member, and as they were getting out of the car Elder Laurent felt impressed to grab a Book of Mormon out of the trunk. Then they went around the corner to knock on the LA's door and noticed a woman sitting on the porch at the home next door to the LA's house. They both looked at each other and just knew they had to talk to this lady. So one thing led to another, and we are now teaching this woman, her name is Danielle. She is from Mississippi, and just got here to Groton a few weeks ago. She is had a WILD life, she has had some big time struggles with addictions and other things in life, but she moved out here to start a new life. So this is kind of like a fresh start for her. We have had 2 amazing lessons with her this week, she just loves having us come over and discuss the Gospel. She has turned down missionaries a few times in the past she said, but now was just the right time. She is coming to church this week she said, and has just loved everything about the Gospel so far. We are so stoked to keep teaching her and see her continue to find this path that God wants her to follow.

Saturday evening we had Ethan's baptism, it was sooo sick! We went and had dinner with him at our Ward Mission Leaders home and then went to the church for the baptismal service. Elder Jones heads home in 2 weeks and so it was super cool that he was able to baptize him right before he heads home. I had to give a talk at the baptism, it went well. The entire service was just awesome actually! It has been absolutely amazing to see Ethan progress so quickly in the Gospel. He is just truly converted to the Gospel. He had a spiritual confirmation really early on that what we were teaching was the truth, and so after that he was just willing to do whatever it took to be baptized. Sunday Ethan was confirmed in sacrament meeting by Brother Lahti, our first counselor. Ethan is in the Navy and Brother Lahti is actually the commander of the Sub Base here in Groton, so it was a big honor for him to have Brother Lahti confirm him. Unfortunately, Ethan will be heading out to sea this week and be gone for a few weeks. We have him prepped to stay strong in reading the scriptures, and we have a lot of members in the Navy who are going to be emailing him while he is out at sea to keep him going strong.

Saturday night was the Sailfest fireworks here in New London. They pull a barge into the Thames river right by the pier and the Foxwoods casino here puts on a huuuuge fireworks show. It was pretty amazing. Since our festivities were cancelled on the 4th of July we were able to go and see the Sailfest show. Sooo that was pretty lucky.  I think that about sums it up, hope ya all have a good week! Love you guys!!!!
Elder Pulsipher

Ethan's baptism. At first I was blocking the Savior's face, so I scooted over.  Hopefully that explains the awkward stance. 
This is Elder Jones and I with our homie Jordan Ramos! Haha Jordan is the son of one of our investigators, Felicia.  Jordan turned 5 on Saturday and so we bought him a present of course.  They don't really have a lot, and so we wanted to make sure he had some cool presents to open.  He is a stud, we love this little kid.
The crew at the Salifest fireworks.  It was a party...we just went to the fireworkds at the end of the night and then headed home right when they were done.  There was waaay too much craziness gong on around for a bunch of missionaries to hang out haha.

Happy 4th of July!

This week was another great one, I am definitely in the happiest time of my life right now! On Tuesday I was lucky enough to go back to Waterford on exchanges again. This time I went with Elder Bradley, he is a great missionary, Waterford is lucky to have him. I can't tell you all how much fun it is to go back to my first area and see the people that I grew to love. I was able to see Sister Whitehead and Sister Liz Chase and found out they will both be going through the temple to receive their Endowment in a few weeks and I am planning on going with, which will be an awesome experience. We also were able to have a lesson with Sovong and Sabrina, and of course the Wesemans. 

We did have some reeaaaallly crazy experiences on that exchange though. First on Tuesday morning some potential investigator named Terrell called us up and asked us to come and give him a blessing, because he was possessed by a demon he thought. Then when we got there he had his neighbor over as well, because he thought she was possessed as well. Anyways, before we start the blessing he sits us down and shows us this youtube video of some crazy guy on the streets of New York doing some wild things and acting like he is casting a demon out of someone. In the video the guy is like just screaming "In the name of Jesus I command you to depart!" and he says it probably like 20 times throughout the video, you could tell it was just something staged. Then Terrell turns to us and is like "I want you to do this to the both of us, you gotta do it just like that, you gotta engage with the evil spirit, you gotta talk with it, command it to leave in the name of Jesus" and all this wild stuff haha. I am pretty sure they weren't posessed, they had a few bad things happen to them that week and then just assumed they were possessed or something. Idk haha but we then just explained to him what the Priesthood truly is and read a few scriptures of how Jesus used His Priesthood to heal the sick and cast out devils, and let him see that it wasn't this huge, energetic ordeal, but just a simple blessing in the name of Jesus Christ would do the trick. Then we gave them each a blessing, and lets just say he wasn't satisfied haha he just REALLY wanted us to engage with the evil spirit and what not. It was pretty wild I wish we could have just recorded the whole experience haha.

Then later that day we were giving a less active woman a blessing because she was in a super deep depression and her children were going to put her in a psych ward if she didn't improve in the next two days. So we start the blessing and then like 20 seconds into it the woman just goes into full seizure mode and is just out of control, falls off the chair onto the ground and seizes there for like 2 minutes straight. Luckily Elder Bradley was there to catch her kind of so she didn't hit her head or anything. None of her family was around or anything and so it was just us there to take care of this woman. Then when she woke up the first thing she says is "Oh man I am embarrassed, I wet my pants." Yikes! So she got that taken care of and we finished the blessing and left. Apparently that was a pretty normal occurrence for her, not so much for us though haha. But hey, she was much happier after the seizure and blessing so one of them helped with the depression, hopefully it was the blessing haha.

On Wednesday we spent the entire day up in Boston at Mission Leader Council (MLC). The ZL's and STL's all meet there with President and talk about how the mission is doing and what we need to improve on, then we receive some trainings that we have to turn around and train our missionaries in our zones on the Friday after MLC. The MLC meetings was amazing though, our mission set a goal to have 70 baptisms this month which is just a crazy huge number. The record in the past 10 years for baptisms in a month is 59, so it will take a miracle to reach 70 but we really feel like we can do it! We will have a mission wide fast tomorrow to Wednesday to start us off on working towards this goal. And a few of my former companions (Elder Batts and Elder Calvert) are Zone Leaders now as well so I was able to see them and talk to them which was pretty sweet. So then on Friday which happened to be the 4th of July, we had our Zone Meeting where Elder Jones and I had to train our Zone on the things we discussed at MLC on Wednesday. I was pretty nervous for it because most of our zone has been out a lot longer than me and have a lot more experiences than me, but it went really well. Our zone is pumped up and ready to do our part in achieving the 70 baptisms this month, which was the main purpose of the meeting! The rest of the 4th of July was pretty lame because Hurricane Arthur came at us and dumped rain the entire day on Friday so all of the firework shows were cancelled. We did go to a members home for dinner and they fed us lobster, that was my first time. We tried to get a picture with the lobster before we ate it but it didn't work, so maybe next time!

Our investigators are doing well, we had 4 of them at church on Sunday which we were excited about with it being the 4th of July weekend. Zach was confirmed a member of the church by is Step-dad, we were able to stand in the circle. The next few weeks we should have some more baptisms. We have Ethan's this weekend. Ethan is just such a solid investigator, it is crazy! We have only been teaching him for a month, and he has just progressed sooo quickly. He is just completely converted and is willing to do ANYTHING to fully live the Gospel, because he just knows without a doubt it is true already. It has been sooo cool to be a part of it. He goes out to sea on his submarine next week, so we gotta get him baptized before he heads out there! So that should happen on Saturday probably! Love you all and thanks for all the love and support!
Elder Pulsipher

We went out to Newport last week for pday and chilled along the ocean.  There were these rocks that we had to kind of climb down to and then they went quite a ways out into the water.  It was pretty fun to just go chill out on the rocks and get as close to the water as we could without going in haha.

This is a throwback picture, might need to wait until Thursday to post it for #tbt haha no just kidding.  I was in Waterford 1 day this week and Pops was showing me this picture, this was from my first month in the mission!
Pretty much our whole zone after zone meeting on Friday...there were a few that didn't stick around for the picture though.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Miracles Happening Every Single Day!

Heeeeey fam! We are running short on time, but I will try and make this a good one. We had an amazing week, miracles happening every single day! So on Monday for p-day we went to Watch Hill Beach in Rhode is a really wealthy beach area. It is a super nice area, really pretty! We went to the beach, played some soccer and daydreamed about going for a swim or riding the jet skis like everyone else. But we still had fun haha!

This week we got everything ready to go for our boy Zach's baptism, and it went great!!! I really have no idea what took this kid so long to get baptized, but I am grateful I was able to be a part of it. He has been meeting with the missionaries for 3 years now! It is cool that he took the time and waiting until he was ready to do it. He definitely was doing it because he wanted to, which was cool. It was a great experience for him and his family, Zach got dunked and then came up and gave us 2 thumbs up. Then when he stepped out of the font he gave is step dad a big hug and said "Thank you, thank you!" Haha he is such a stud, I love that kid. Unfortunately.....they are going to be moving :( His step dad is in the Coast Guard and just got transferred to Texas. They leave at the beginning of August, so we still have a few more weeks. Zach is 12 now so hopefully we can get a trip up to the temple organized before they move.

Wednesday night we had Stake Reporting again, we had to go up to Warwick RI to meet with President Packard and the Stake Presidency to discuss how the missionary efforts are going throughout the stake. The meeting went really well, everyone is just really excited about how things are going right now. And then on Saturday we went on splits with President Hutchins (the Stake President) and his son Kevin. I went with President Hutchins and before we even went out and made our visits we tracted his neighborhood and invited them all to a fireside that we had on Sunday night. Not many Stake Presidents would go out knocking on doors in the neighborhood, but President Hutchins is awesome. He is a great example of a member missionary, definitely leading the charge for our stake.

 A lot of our time this week also went towards this fireside that our mission was putting on. It was a fireside called "What the World Knows because of Joseph Smith." President Packard was asleep one night and woke up suddenly and basically had this vision and was up for like hours and hours just writing down what he was seeing in this vision. It was all about Jospeh Smith and the revelations that he received and whatnot. Haha I really don't know how to explain it, but this fireside was President Packard teaching us what he learned form this vision. Pretty amazing really! There were a few musical numbers scattered throughout and my companion is a master on the guitar so he performed in a few of them. We heldon Friday night in Warwick, and then another here in Groton Sunday night. It was a super spiritual meeting both times, President was amazing as always. We had 2 of our potentials that came and had an awesome experience. They have been associated with the church for years, but had struggles gaining a testimony of Joseph Smith, and so this fireside was PERFECT for them. The wife came up and said 'I have been waiting 7 years to hear this message that we heard tonight." We were stoked about that, so we will see what happens there.

We should have a few baptisms coming up in the next few weeks, we will be working our butts of to make sure they actually happen. Hope you are all having a good summer! Love ya guys!!!

Elder Pulsipher

My main man Zach's baptism! He made me do this first pose...haha anything for that kid. 

The other 2 missionaries in this picture are ones who used to serve here in Groton and worked with Zach. They were able to swing by for the baptism which was pretty cool!
And this is the one and only Taylor Swifts beach house! It had like 12 security guards surrounding it and we stopped and talked to one...they have 24/7 security guards there. He told us that she was there this past weekend, she left a few hours before we got there. Maybe next time. (he said she wouldn't be interested in the Gospel either haha). This is the sign outside her door, for some of you old people out there this is a reference to one of her songs. Elder Bradley is a HUGE T-Swift fan, so he was pretty stoked to get a picture in her driveway by this sign.

Most of the zone at Watch Hill Beach in RI. We went and hung out on the beach and played some soccer!