Monday, August 25, 2014

I Love To See The Temple

Tuesday was a pretty special day for me, first of all I was back in Waterford for the day on exchanges with Elder Bradley. I absolutely love going back to that place! But what made it even more special was that we were able to take a trip up to the Boston temple to witness Sister Liz Chase receive her Endowment. Sister Chase was a lady my trainer and I taught the first 2 months of my mission, and she was baptized a little over a year ago. It was so amazing to see her 1 year later in the temple. She had a great experience there and was pretty much glowing all day long. She looked really, really happy! Brother Nehila, another person that was baptized while I was serving in the Waterford ward will be going through the temple this week as well! Unfortunately I won't be able to go to that because it is the same day we have interviews with President Packard, but I was still way excited to hear that he is going. It doesn't really seem that long ago that I witnessed these individuals make their very first covenant with Heavenly Father, and now they are continuing in their journey and making more covenants. Can't ask for much more as a missionary to see one of your recent converts in the temple, it was the best!

We started teaching this new guy this week which we are pretty stoked about! This kid just joined the Navy and is here in Groton at Sub School for the next year or so. He just moved here from St George Utah! His name is Garret, and he is a super cool guy, about the same age as us. He moved to St George his senior year of high school to live with his dad and step mom, and as soon as he got there it sounds like the entire city was doing missionary work on him. He was super involved with the church there, because all of his friends were Mormons and they brought him along to church, mutual, activities etc. It even got to the point where he was meeting with the missionaries there for a while. He has a few small things that prevented him from joining the church right away, but he really loves the church and the good feeling it brings into his life. When he joined the Navy about a month ago he said he noticed a significant difference in the way he felt and he knew he needed to be involved with the church again to get those feelings back. As soon as he got here he contacted a member of our church that works in his sub school and they arranged it for us to meet him. We are really excited to keep meeting with him and to hopefully see him progress towards baptism.

Sunday was a good day for us, we only had 2 of our investigators show up to church but I guess that is better than none! Hannah came to church again, she is just golden. She told us this week she will definitely get baptized at some point, and then throughout the lesson she kept saying "when I get baptized". We are having a member of the bishopric go and talk to her parents before we set a baptismal date or anything because she is only 15 and will be the only member of her family. They seem to support her in whatever she wants to do so it should be alright. Hannah is even signed up for seminary this year which she is pretty stoked about. Pretty crazy for an investigator to be willing to wake up and go to seminary at 6 AM every morning. The other one that came to church was Devon, and this was his first time coming actually. It was great to have him there. Devon is embarrassed of his hair loss and so he wore a hat at church for the entire 3 hours which was something you don't see a whole lot but hey, at least he came! I think he was a little bored at the end because he leaned over and said "How much longer does this last, I am starting to fall asleep." Hopefully we can get him to come back though haha.

Elder Minson and I actually both had to give talks in church yesterday. I was asked to talk on the mighty change of heart. It actually went really well surprisingly haha. I used to be shaking in my boots when I had to give a talk in church, now it is just second nature. The mission life will do that to you I guess. Elder Minson spoke on the grace and mercy that comes through the Savior, and he did a great job!

This morning after our studies we went on a hike. Well it was more like a walk but out here on the East coast they don't have mountains or anything so they call it a hike even though it is pretty much flat. It was super nice though, the trail took us out to a place called Bluff Point. It is just a place with a bunch of rocks going out into the ocean, and you can see out across the water. You can even see NY from the rocks which was pretty cool. It was a nice morning to go out and get some exercise. That is about all I have for this week, I love ya all!

 Of course a few more people moved away this week again.  We helped out with 3 more moves this week and unfortunately one of them was Ethan.  Ethan is off to Arizona, chasing after the girl that introduced him to the church.  It sounds like things are pretty serious between them all of a sudden, haha so I am expecting a trip out to the Gilbert temple in about a year from now.  How was super excited to be heading out there, so we are happy for him!
Out on our "hike" and then chilling on the rocks at Bluff Point.

What are LDS temples all about? Check out this link...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Time Flies When You're Having Fun!

Wow the weeks keep flying by, it is crazy! Time flies when you are having fun right? This week was pretty solid, a lot of really good things are happening. On Tuesday we went on exchanges with the New London Spanish Elders. My main man Elder Hunter came here to Groton with me. Elder Hunter is such a good guy, he is from Oregon and is proud of it. He is actually waiting for his visa, he was called to serve in Brazil. He has been here in our mission for almost a year now waiting for that dang visa, hopefully it will come soon! We had a super solid day though, lots of miracles took place. The coolest part of our day was probably meeting with this guy named Devon. Last week we got a media referral from saying this lady had requested a Bible. So we took it to her and gave her a Book of Mormon as well, but she said she wasn't interested in hearing more about our church. She mentioned her son was a religious guy but that he already had a church too. On Tuesday we were thinking of what we should do and I felt like we should go back and see if that lady's son was home and see if he would be interested in our message. Sure enough, he is home and invites us in and is super interested. We went back 2 more times this week and taught him the Restoration and then on Saturday during our lesson we invited him to be baptized on Sept. 28 and he said yes! This guy is a stud, I am really looking forward to working with him. Unfortunately his Pastor from his old church is feeding him full of garbage and telling him not to meet with us and come to our church, so we are gonna have a little struggle there but we have just told him over and over again that he can't listen to us or listen to his old pastor, but he needs to just listen to God and see what God wants him to do. We are pretty confident Heavenly Father will help Devon make the right choice haha.

It sounds like the two YM who were at scout camp this past week had a pretty good experience, we are going to be meeting with them on Tuesday and following up and inviting them to be baptized! So keep the prayers coming! But we recruited the Stake Presidents son to help us out while they were at scout camp together and he did perfect it sounds like! Speaking of the Stake President, he came to our ward yesterday and made a pretty big announcement. We got a new bishopric this past Sunday. Our new Bishop is Bishop Kitley, he is an amazing guy. Elder Jones and I were at his house like 2 weeks ago and we asked him if he was ready to be the new Bishop of Groton yet and were just joking around with him about it. Well turns out we were on to something there. We are really excited to start working with him and teaming up to help the Groton ward continue to grow. And another weird coincidence, Sister Kitley was in Utah last week visiting family and she ran into Elder Jones in some subdivision in Salt Lake and talked with him. Pretty crazy!!!

Tomorrow is going to be a pretty sweet day, I am heading up to the temple with the Waterford ward. I don't know if you guys remember Sister Liz Chase? She was the first person that I taught on my mission to be baptized, it was way back in July of last year. Well anyways, she is going to the temple tomorrow to receive her endowments!!! I am super stoked for her and to be able to be there to see her take this next step in her progression. Also, the Nehila family that we baptized in Waterford is doing super well right now too. They actually moved to the Norwich ward, which is right next to Waterford. But their little 8 year old son Dylan was baptized on Sunday and it sounds like they are working towards going to the temple and being sealed....that will be the most amazing thing ever, so hopefully it happens soon! I had the Sister missionaries in Norwich promise me they would help make it a reality so we will see! Life is good though, I am loving my time out here. This summer hasn't been too hot or anything, it has been really nice here! Love you all, enjoy going back to school and what not!

Only picture from this week, me with my man Elder Hunter after our exchange on Tuesday.  Love this kid!

Monday, August 11, 2014

"God Hath Not Given Us The Spirit Of Fear" Gordon B. Hinckley

Last pday we went to the beach in Rhode Island again with most of our zone. A few of the sisters wanted to go see Taylor Swifts house because they are huge fans. We went and saw her house and then played beach volleyball for most of the day. Missionaries really just don't fit in on the beach that well though, but I have gotten used to being the weird people that everyone stares at by now haha. We had a good time though!

This week was a little crazy, we had a lot of meetings and planning and stuff that prevented us from spending a lot of time in our own area but we still got a lot of work done! On Wednesday we had to get up bright and early to head to Boston for MLC. We were there all day receiving training from President and Sister Packard and the AP's on stuff that we had to go back and teach our zones on Friday. MLC is always a good experience though because we get to spend pretty much all day with President talking about the whole mission, share success stories and see what is going well, but also to talk about things and areas of the work that need improvement. It is always a meeting to look forward to! After MLC was over, we had to cruise on back to Groton for a Stake Reporting meeting with the Stake Presidency and President Packard. At that meeting we just report on how the missionary work in the Stake is going. We had a lot of really good reports and statistics, so the Stake President seemed really excited with how the work is going in our Stake. We have had 34 baptisms in our Stake the past 3 months, which is pretty amazing! In all of 2012 the Stake only had 62 baptisms, so the work is definitely progressing really well here.

Thursday we spent a good chunk of time planning for zone meeting and how we wanted to train our zone on the info that we received from MLC. We had our zone meeting on Friday, and we feel like it went really well! Our zone had 7 baptisms last month which is huge for our zone, and so we want to keep the ball rolling in the right direction. A big part of zone meeting we talked about fear. Fear is something that prevents a lot of us from achieving our goals, and reaching our full potential. We know fear comes from the adversary, but for some reason we allow that fear to prevent us from doing the things we know we can. So we had a nice discussion on what some of these fears are that we have and what we can do to overcome them. The Spirit was there and it was super strong, and the Spirit is the best teacher so hopefully the zone all learned something new and we can all work on overcoming any fears that we have.

Even with all of the meeting and what not we made some great progress in Groton. We have two non member young men who actively attend church that we have been working with a lot. They are both considering baptism, but we want them to do it for themselves not just because everyone is telling them they need to do it. So they are going to scout camp tomorrow for the whole week, and they are both praying and deciding there if they should be baptized. We taught them both lessons on how they can pray and ask God questions and receive answers to their prayers. We are pretty confident they will have a spiritual experience at scout camp and get their confirmation that they need to be baptized. They both lack a male influence at home that encourages them to come to church and live the Gospel, and so we think this will be a great time for their scout leaders to be that role model for them and lead them in the right direction. So pray that these boys have a spiritual experience at scout camp!!!

We also picked up a new investigator this week, and she is completely golden. Her name is Hannah, she is a 15 year old girl. She is friends with a few of the youth from our ward, and they have been sharing the Gospel with her over the past year. She has attended a youth conference, mutual, church a few times, and two weeks ago she went to girls camp and had an amazing experience there that really catapulted her interest in learning more about the Gospel. Since girls camp she has been a regular at church and at YW each week, and on Saturday night we went to her friends house and taught her the Restoration. The Spirit was thick, especially when we recounted Joseph Smiths first vision, it even brought tears to her eyes! I love when that happens haha. But she is a super spiritual young lady, she had some great insight and questions throughout the lesson, and she is already talking about baptism. Since she is only 15 and her parents aren't really interested in the church, we have to work things out with her family and make sure all is well before we set a date for baptism or anything like that. She is pretty amazing though, we are excited to keep teaching her and see her progress!

Sunday at church our friend Hunter Mason gave his farewell talk, he left today to go to the MTC. This kid is amazing, he invited like everyone he knows to come to church to see his farewell talk. We ended up having 28 nonmembers at church yesterday and pretty much all of them came to hear Hunter. Holy cow!!! That was a lot of non members to try and introduce ourselves to. We will definitely have to do a lot of follow up work with his family! Life is good though, we can't complain. I love ya all, have a  great week!

Another pday with the zone at Watch Hill Beach
Everyone continues to leave us in Groton haha. This is the Casey's, they are two of the coolest members here in the ward. They are great people and have been wonderful missionaries here and have shared the gospel with a lot of people! The other one is Hunter Mason, he is heading out on his mission today actually! He is serving in Salt Lake City Spanish speaking. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Goodbye Elder Jones

Wednesday I had to say goodbye to my man Elder Jones! His 2 years was up, and it was time for him to go back to Utah. We had a good run together and he really taught me a lot. Elder Jones had been a zone leader for over a year, and so he really helped me learn how to be a true leader in the mission field and in life overall. He is a great guy and I really got pretty close to him over the past 3 months...but all good things come to an end right? When companions get split up we usually do a tie swap, and Elder Jones hooked me up with a pretty snazzy purple tie. There is this company called Stacy Adams, they make some beautiful ties and I have bought quite a few of them out here, and so he hooked me up with this purple one. Like I said, he is a good man haha. So if any of you are looking for ideas for packages....Stacy Adams ties are always a good idea haha just kidding! I have plenty already. So Wednesday was our transfer meeting up in Boston where all the missionaries going home share their departing testimonies and then we swap companions and head on our way back to our areas. So my new companion is Elder Minson, he is from Salem Utah. He has been out on his mission for like 18 months now, and this is his first go around at being a ZL.

This week we spent a lot of time working with members of our ward and helping them in their efforts in sharing the gospel. We generally go to their homes and talk about the people they are working with and brainstorm ideas of what they can do next to help their friends and family come closer to the Gospel. Of course the end goal of these meetings is to find us more people to teach, but we take it one step at a time with the members and let them be a part of the missionary work too. Without the members doing this the work would be pretty slow out here! We definitely rely upon our members for a lot, but luckily we are blessed with some great members. We had a little 8 year old girl get baptized Saturday and her family invited quite a few non members and one entire non member family came to the baptism and really enjoyed it. They have also brought these friends to firesides, primary activites, and RS activities, which is perfect because they have now had a lot of exposure to our church and the people here. Hopefully that family will soon be ready to investigate the church.

In our ward we have two 13 year old young men who come to church almost every week, and go to scouts every week, who aren't baptized. No one is really sure why either of them haven't been baptized yet, they are just your typical pathetic teenagers who only care about video games haha. But we are trying to work with both of them right now. Their names are Elijah and Dallin, and they are super close to each other and good friends. So if one of them goes ahead and gets baptized, I am sure the other will follow. They are both going to scout camp this coming week, and so we are trying to prepare them to have a spiritual experience at scout camp to help them want to be baptized. So we are trying to prep their leaders and the other scouts to make that happen. We went over and had a great lesson with Elijah this weekend and talked about baptism and how he can know if it is something he should do or not through asking Heavenly Father. So Elijah is going to be praying and pondering about getting baptized on Sept. 7 throughout scout camp and is going to give us an answer when he gets back. So pray that he has a spiritual experience!

On Sunday Rob was confirmed a member of the church, and now next week he will be receiving the Aaronic Priesthood. He is super stoked about that and all of the opportunities that it will give him to serve others. That is one huge thing Rob is excited about, is being able to administer the sacrament, be a home teacher, have a calling etc. He really wants to serve and help out in the church, which is perfect! Ethan is still doing great, we are trying to prepare him to get to the temple and receive his patriarchal blessing before he moves out to Arizona. He is getting out of the Navy at the end of this month and then he is heading straight to Arizona, so we only have a few weeks left with him. He was able to pass the sacrament for the first time this Sunday which was pretty cool to see. Unfortunately my main man Zach Spicer moves to Texas tomorrow, so yesterday we had to say our goodbyes. I love that kid to death and will miss him as well. It seems like everyone that I have gotten close to here in Groton is moving away haha but oh well, time to create some new close friends I guess! Love you all, have a great week!

RIP Jonesy

Rob's Baptism!

This week was pretty sweet.... Rob finally was baptized! This dude has been coming to church for like 8 months now, and was practically a Mormon when he started coming, but he just never would get baptized. He was really just holding himself back from taking this step, it is about time he did it haha. He was introduced to the church through a friend of his from school, he is a member missionary success! Rob is a really cool guy, it has been cool to get to know him and help him in this journey. If there is one thing that I have learned from teaching Rob, it is that God loves each and every one of his children unconditionally. Before the mission I was always judging people, thinking I was better than others and stuff like that. But that has just completely changed that. I have been able to feel of God's love for Rob since the first day I met him, and it has been really cool to see that love throughout these past few months. Rob is just stoked to have finally done this, and is excited to begin this new journey. He shared his testimony at the baptism and talked about how this is just the beginning of something great, and is just looking forward to the great things that lay ahead of him.

On Tuesday we went on exchanges with the Waterford Elders. I stuck around in Groton this time since every other time I have managed to get myself back in Waterford haha so it was only fair that I stayed here this time. Elder Jones went into Waterford with Elder Bradley, who he actually trained a long long time ago. So it was fun for them to be back together for a day. Then on Wednesday we went on another exchange with the Narragansett Elders. I went to Narragansett with Elder Nelson and had a great time. We got a call from a member who said they were in Narragansett on vacation and wanted to feed us dinner. So we said sure we would love that, and got their address to the place they were renting along the ocean. We show up, and it turns out it was a family that I knew from Waterbury that was up here on vacation. They were stoked to see me which was pretty cool, what a coincidence that it happened the one day I was in Narragansett. I love going on all of these exchanges though because it gives me a chance to learn from so many different missionaries. I get to see how they work in their areas and with their companions, it has really helped me grow a lot. It is difficult at times because they expect us to come in and give lots and lots of advice and direction since we are their zone leaders, and sometimes I feel like I don't have all of the answers, but I give it my best shot haha. It has been a great experience though!

Friday was transfer text day!!! My new companion will be Elder Minson, and that is about all I know. He was just called as a new zone leader for his last few months on his mission, he goes home at the end of this year. Our zone was changed a ton this transfer. Every companionship except one will be different this next transfer. It is tough to see all of them go, but it sounds like we have a great group coming in. Our zone had a really really good month in July, we finished the month with 7 baptisms. Our goal was for 8 so we were one short, but not too shabby. Elder Jones will be heading home on Friday morning, so if you happen to be around the SLC airport around 11 AM go tell him hello for me! Friday night we went up to North Brookfield, MA for a fireside. Elder Jones was playing the guitar one last time at a fireside, so it was fun to go up there and see the fireside put on by President Packard again.

A few of our investigators are progressing super well, but have just one major hang up....the law of chastity! I don't know what is in the air out here lately, but we have a few women who are totally ready to be baptized except they just flat out told us this week they can't live the law of chastity. Women and their hormones these days... They just don't think it is possible for them to do it, like not a chance at all. It is sooo frustrating because they are so close, but I guess we just have to keep working and help them become so converted to the Gospel that they don't even wanna do that stuff anymore! Pray for us on this one!

Sorry if my emails are getting lame, haha it seems like I am slowly running out of things to say the longer out on my mission I get. Maybe it is just me getting lazy, I'm not sure what it is. I am trying though, so hopefully they aren't too boring. I love ya guys, have a fantastic week!

Rob's Baptism!