Monday, September 29, 2014

Come, Listen To A Prophets Voice!

Helllooooo! Sounds like Bryson had a fun birthday, the new rain boots look like they were a hit. Thanks for sending all the pictures and videos! Things are moving right along in Groton, time keeps flying by. Unfortunately the less time I have left, the faster it seems to go. But I still have plenty of time out here so all is well haha.

On Tuesday we went on exchanges as always! I went over into New London and spent the day in the Spanish program with Elder Hunter. The New London elders just lost their car a few weeks ago, so they are on bikes now....which meant I had to bike all day around New London. This was actually the first time in my entire mission that I have had to ride a bike, I can't believe I made it this far. So I found out that I am pretty out of shape and that biking in proselyting clothes is pretty lame. And my behind was pretty sore by the end of the day. It was pretty fun though I will be honest. I looked like a goober, but I even wore my helmet just for you mother (and also because it is the law and a mission rule haha). We had sweet day in the spanish program and had some super good lessons and most of them were partly in English so I was able to contribute somewhat. We did have a pretty questionable dinner provided by some sweet Ecaudorian couple who are investigators. They served us some pork noodle soup, not to be confused with chicken noodle soup, and then a dish with like cabbage and hot dogs and I am not really sure what else. Then they gave us this drink that I am like 90 percent sure was tea but when we asked they promised us it wasn't tea, hopefully they are honest people! Needless to say I am grateful I didn't go to Ecuador on my mission. Not sure what it is but my 3 worst food experiences on my mission have all happened while eating at an Ecuadorians home. Great people though, bless their hearts. OH! Also, at the end of our day we were walking back to the apartment and you will never guess who pulled up in his mini van and started talking to us! It was Brother Maynard from the Waterford ward!!!! Do you guys remember the bi-polar man that threatened to kill Elder Batts and I last summer in Waterford? Well that was Brother Maynard haha. Anyways, we talked to him for a while and my life was spared once again. Nah just kidding, he was super happy to see me and we had a nice chat about the good ole days when I was serving in the Waterford Ward.

We have been teaching this 17 year old kid for the past few weeks who is progressing pretty well, we will probably be inviting him to baptism this week. His name is Talon, and he is friends with some young women in our ward. About 2 months ago they invited him to their little sisters baptism, and he came and really enjoyed it. Then about a month ago they invited him to church and the rest is history. He has been coming to church the past month, goes to seminary almost every morning, and also comes to the youth activities. He comes from a non-Christian home, so it was basically like starting from scratch. We have taught him a few times and he has expressed a desire to be baptized, we are just making sure he actually develops a testimony and isn't just doing it for fun, or for his friends.

We had a great lesson with Hannah again this week, she is progressing well towards baptism. Her mom even came to church with her again this week! I guess she just enjoyed it two weeks ago when she came to hear Hannah speak and decided she wanted to come again, so that was pretty sweet! It is still pretty tough for Hannah doing this all alone in her family, but luckily she has some great support from the ward. She is super close with a few of the YW, who have been solid fellow-shippers for Hannah and have been at every lesson we have. We brought a member named Sister Steel to our lesson this week, because Sister Steel joined the church in a very similar situation to Hannah's. She was introduced by friends as a teenager, started coming to church with them and was eventually baptized as the only member of her family. It was great to have Sister Steel there with us because Hannah can relate really well to her and they were just able to talk about the struggles that Hannah is having and how she can continue to press forward with this. The Groton ward has been amazing with Hannah though, she has sooo many connections and support networks here that it shouldn't be a problem at all. Thank goodness for the wonderful members of our ward, they just do an amazing job with the people that we teach.

Saturday the Assistants to President came and went on exchanges with us and we had a super fun/ busy day with them. Nothing too out of the ordinary happened though! Sunday was our ward primary program, and the kids just killed it as always. The primary program is always good for a few laughs. But seriously, little kids are the best missionaries. We had like 11 non members and a handful of less actives show up to come and see the little kids sing and what not. I think we definitely underestimate the power of a little kid doing missionary work. I mean who can say no to a cute little 5 year old inviting them to church? They might be our new secret weapon haha. But now it is time to start preparing for General Conference. We are super stoked about it and so is the ward which is pretty exciting. Lots of members are out inviting their non member friends and family to come watch the sessions with them, it is gonna be a party! But conference isn't just for entertainment of course. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to hear from living day prophets and apostles, and it has the chance to be a pretty powerful experience. The biggest thing we can do to make it a good experience is to actually prepare ourselves for the messages that will be shared. Think of your struggles you are having right now, questions you might have, direction you might need, and come to conference with these questions in your hearts, on your minds and in your prayers. I can promise you that something said at conference will directly answer whatever it may be that you are searching for. So give it a shot! I love ya all, have a great week and enjoy General Conference!!!!

**If you would like to listen to a living prophet, please join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints around the world on Saturday and Sunday.  Sessions start Saturday at 10 am MT and 2 pm MT as well as Sunday at 10 am MT and 2 pm MT.  You can watch or listen by following this link: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/watch?lang=eng  or lds.org


 Brother Maynard sighting!
Just looking like a nerd on my bike!
 Me and Elder Hunter.  He is a good egg I tell ya!  One of MBM's finest!
 Don't gamble kids.  It is of the devil.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Never Give Up On Others!

Yo, what up fam??? We had a NICE week in Groton this week, I mean a really NICE week. A lot of exciting things went down. Pday we went up to Norwich with that district over there and met at a members house who is a big time Disc Golf fame. I can't believe it, but I had never actually played Disc Golf in my life. There is a first for everything, but let me tell ya. The woods of CT are not the ideal place to play for the first time, the trees are a little bit thick out here. But we had a good time, I got the hang of it by about hole 5. It was a pretty decent pday! That night we had to drive up to Narragansett RI to exchange with the Elders up there for a day. I came back down to Groton and spent the day here with Elder Nelson.

Tuesday was quite the day, we were crazy busy like the entire day, we didn't even have time to eat. I was hungry...but those days are the best. We had a lesson with Bob, we went over with the ARP leaders in the area and introduced the program to Bob and talked about how it can help him finally overcome this lifelong addiction he has been battling. Bob seems super stoked about giving this a shot, he desperately wants to change and we promised him this program will finally be the thing to help him do it. Bob is super hard on himself and is really discouraged. He has screwed up pretty bad in life and has lost everything he ever had, except for his mother (her name is June, she is a saint and helps him out a lot). But we try and encourage Bob along and help him see all of the wonderful things the Lord has in store for him. A lot of us do that though, we tend to dwell on the mistakes that we have made throughout our life. When we screw up we can't just sit down and beat ourselves up, we gotta pick ourselves up and keep on going! I know it is easier said than done, but it is possible. We try and help Bob keep in mind that God doesn't see us where we are at, but rather what we can become. Bob will get things back on track, and hopefully we can help him do so!

Tuesday night Elder Nelson and I had probably one of the most amazing lessons of my mission! It was incredible. That afternoon we had this less active member call us up and tell us we could come over later that night and visit, so we set up an appointment around 730 or so. This guy that called was Adam, he grew up in the church out in Arizona with his family. When Adam was 16 he stopped going to church, and picked up some pretty nasty habits along the way. He is now like 37, single, owns a very successful business out here, and hasn't been to church in 21 years. Missionaries have met with Adam for like the past year on a consistent basis, and I have gone there at least once, sometimes twice a week to have lessons with him to try and get him to come back. For some reason he just wouldn't come to church. I would get so frustrated with this guy, I couldn't figure out what we could do to get him to come back. It didn't seem like there was anything we could do really, but we just kept going every week and praying for a miracle to happen. Anyways, Tuesday night we go there for our lesson and we watch part of a talk by Elder Holland that discusses the significance of the Atonement, and why it was necessary, how it can help us overcome our struggles. After we watched the talk we just had a very frank, open discussion with Adam and bore sincere testimonies about the Atonement. Elder Nelson said some really powerful things as he bore his testimony that just really seemed to hit home with Adam. The Spirit was there sooo strong, it was incredible. We didn't really do anything out of the ordinary, we had taught lessons on the Atonement before, but for some reason things just clicked with Adam this time. Adam opened up to us about how miserable he was in life, how badly he wanted to come back to church and get his life back in order, he was just super open with us. He finally took down his walls and we were able to see the real Adam. But anyways, we finished our lesson and then knelt in prayer, and usually we let Adam pick who prays but I knew for sure we had to invite him to say it this time. About halfway through his prayer Adam just broke down crying, and was crying all throughout the rest of his prayer. It was such a sincere prayer though, wow it was powerful! There wasn't a dry eye in the house, well except mine cuz for some reason I never cry...I guess I am heartless haha. As we were leaving Adam promised us he would be at church, and I finally actually believed him this time! We went back Thursday night and had another great lesson with his home teacher, and then just prayed like crazy the rest of the week that Adam would show up to church. Sure enough, Sunday morning Adam comes walking into church (in a really fresh looking suit). After 21 years the wait is finally over!! He was super stoked to be back in church, and we were stoked for him. After church he had us go outside and take a picture with him, he said he needed to remember the day he finally came back. It was a miracle, I still can't believe we finally got this guy to come to church. He says he is back for good, and is really looking forward to sticking around and serving in the church. So moral of the story, never give up on people. This has been 21 years in the making, and then all of a sudden one lesson on Tuesday night just changed things. Ya just never know what can happen.

Wednesday we went and did some service for some of our investigators, they are what we call eternigators, they have been investigating the church for 7 years. We went and sealed their driveway with a new coat of sealant, it was quite the task. While we were out working the wife brought us out some peanut butter cookies. Elder Minson is super allergic to nuts, especially to peanuts. It still isn't clear if he was just trying to be polite and eat it or if he didn't realize it was a peanut butter cookie, but I ate mine and looked over and saw that he had taken a bite out of one. Yikes, haha I grabbed his cookie and ate the rest of it so no one would get offended, but it was a wee bit too late. Needless to say he was down for the count for quite a while while and I finished the driveway myself. That night we had Stake Reporting with the Stake Presidency and President Packard, it went really well. Lots of exciting things going on around the Providence Stake. After the meeting we went out to eat with President Packard, which was pretty sweet. We soak up any amount of time we can get with that man!

Our investigator Hannah just killing it right now. She gave a talk in church this Sunday and she did sooo good. It was a great talk, and her non member parents were able to come and hear her speak and stay for the rest of Sacrament. It was really good for them to be able to come and see what we are all about, and get a feel for this church that their daughter is now super involved with. Hannah's talk was just basically her telling her conversion story, and the experiences she has had so far. She gave us a nice shout out over the pulpit, she refers to us as "my missionaries" haha. It is nice to see that we are actually really helping people and making an impact on their life out here. Friday we had a lesson with Hannah and we talked a lot about baptism. What it is, why we do it, the requirements to be ready for baptism etc. It was a super good lesson, and at the end we just knew we needed to invite Hannah to be baptized. She has mentioned in the past she wanted to wait a while, but she is beyond ready to be baptized. I invited her to be baptized on the 18th of October, and she jumped all over it and said YES! Then like 2 hours later she text us and said that she had just talked to both of her parents and told them about her baptism, and they were both super supportive and positive. Everything is just falling into place with her, Heavenly Father seems to be pretty good at finding a way to make things work out alright.

There was a lot more that happened, but I am going to be lazy and consider this a worthy letter home haha. I will fill ya in on other stuff next Monday. Hope ya all have a wonderful week! Fall is (almost) here by the way, it is starting to get really pretty! Byeeeee.

Our man Adam. Pretty nice suit he is rocking, right?
Playing some disc golf out in the woods of Norwich, CT.  We probably contracted Lyme's disease, but it was fun so I guess it was worth it.
Some good lookin' guy we found out in the woods!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Acting on Faith

This week was really solid, there are lots of good things happening and coming up in our area and our zone! Pday we all just met up at some soccer fields here in Groton and played soccer and ultimate frisbee for a while. It was a nice day, but things are starting to cool down out here so we are taking advantage of being outside while we can! Monday night we had a lesson with a kinda active family who has been struggling a little bit. Most of our ward is young Navy families, and the Navy doesn't produce the strongest families haha. A lot of them actually struggle with their marriages and what not, even in the church. We showed up and it was obvious the wife hadn't told the husband we were coming, so it was a little awkward at first but he let us in and we had a lesson The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Hopefully it helped a little bit, they were at least happy after we left so we will consider it a success.

Tuesday we had another lesson with Hannah, she is doing really well in Seminary and Young Womens, she is practically a part of the ward already. She is reading through the Book of Mormon by the end of the year, and so right now she just finished 1 Nephi. If a 15 year old investigator can read from the Book of Mormon every day, then us lifelong members should have no excuse haha. Anyways, we talked about the chapters that she had read already and discussed a few acts of faith that Nephi demonstrated in the early chapters of the Book of Mormon. We then related it to her and her situation right now. She wants to be baptized but both of her parents are non members and so she has been hesitant to talk to them about the whole situation. We invited her to act on her faith and talk to her parents and see if they would approve of her being baptized, she wasn't to sure about it at the end of the lesson so we weren't positive if she would actually talk to them about it or not. But then Wednesday night we got a text message from her that was in Caps lock and had like a million exclamation points and smiley faces and what not, saying she had talked to her parents about it and they were totally supportive and were really excited for her to be doing something so great. That was pretty sweet to see her act on her faith and trust that it would all work out, and it did. Sometimes we don't really know what the outcome is going to be, but if we know it is the right thing to do we take a few steps in the right direction and Heavenly Father seems to figure out how to make it work. Hannah is talking about being baptized in a few months but we will see what we can do to move that up a little bit!

Wednesday evening we had to go up to Boston for the transfer meeting where the departing missionaries share their testimony and everyone pairs up with their new companions. Neither of us were transferred and so weren't supposed to be going there, but then a missionary companionship in our zone found out they were losing their car and that it needed to be brought up to transfer meeting so another companionship could take it back to their area. We ended up being the lucky ones who had to drive the car all the way up there to drop it off, and then we hitched a ride back with the Waterford Elders. It worked out alright though because it made it possible for me to hear my man Elder Shepherd share his final testimony before he headed home. Elder Shepherd was my first ever District Leader way back at the beginning of my mission. He was an amazing missionary and example to me, definitely taught me a lot about how to be a successful missionary.

We have still been meeting with our investigator Bob, he is doing alright it has been baby steps with him. He is on probation for another year so he can't get baptized anytime soon, but we just really want to help this guy. He has struggled in life ever since coming back from the Vietnam war, and just never got his life in order. He spent a good chunk of time in prison and just got out a few months ago. He has made huge steps, but has a long ways to go still. This week we are going to start the Addiction Recovery Program and get him going on the 12 steps there. He is a pretty bad alcoholic and it has been a battle for him. But hey, if there is anything that can help someone overcome an addiction The Savior is a pretty safe bet.

Last night we finished up all of our lessons and it was like 8:30, we still had 30 minutes to fill before we went back to the apartment. Our ward and town pretty much shuts down around 8:00, haha there is like NOTHING to do after that most nights. It is a struggle to fill that last hour of the day. Last night we just decided to walk to this park and try and do some street contacting. We saw 2 people the entire 30 minute walk, but the last guy we saw was pretty cool actually! I saw this guy off in the distance with his head in the garbage can, digging for some things. We were pretty desperate (and it looked like he was too!) so we went up and started talking to him. As I walked up it smelt of alcohol SOOOO bad, I thought we were going to find some crazy drunk guy rummaging for food or something. But it turns out it was this nice, sober guy named Jim, he was searching for beer cans in the garbage can. He goes to all the parks in Groton and rummages up cans every night, and then cashes it in at the end of the week. He makes about 300 dollars a week doing this! I was pretty impressed, this guy has it figured out. We had a nice little talk with Jim and he actually lives right next door to a less active member of the church that he knows pretty well. Jim gave us his info and told us we could come by and visit with him this week. Our walk turned out to be somewhat beneficial!

That's all I have for this week.... life is chugging along out here! Hope you are all doing well and staying out of trouble! Love ya and have a good week!

Saying goodbye to Elder Shepherd!!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Ups and The Downs

We had a nice, super busy week! Lots of ups and downs, a few really hard downs haha but that is life I guess. On Monday once we got back from the temple we all met up at a place called Devil's Hopyard, it is a State Park here in CT. It is a super pretty place with some hiking trails that we checked out....and surprisingly it was a legit hike, not just a flat walking trail like everywhere else here. The Weseman's from the Waterford ward came with us and grilled us a nice lunch while we were out hiking. That couple is just incredible, they do so much for us missionaries and for the Lord. They are the perfect example of being fully consecrated to the Lord in all that they do! We had a really good time with the zone, and it was a super pretty area to go hiking. Lots and lots and lots of trees, but still really pretty! The trees here are just barely starting to change colors, next month is when it will start getting into the real deal!

I spent Tuesday on exchanges in Newport, RI and we had a really good time. Man I love that place and the ward there is amazing. Newport is just another beautiful place, it is starting to get less crazy there now that the tourist season is coming to an end, but it is still pretty busy there. I was there with Elder Henrie, he is an amazing missionary and I was able to learn a lot from him. We went out on splits with Brother Bob Wood, the former General Authority that is their Ward Mission Leader in Newport. After our lesson he took us out for lunch as well, so we had some quality time to just talk with Brother Wood about the Gospel and all sorts of different things. Brother Wood is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met, especially when it comes to the Gospel. He knows EVERYTHING about the Gospel it seems like. It is pretty entertaining to sit there and pick his brain and hear all of his stories. We also had a mission wide Webex on Tuesday, it is just like an online Web Conference for our entire mission. President Packard issued us a challenge to read the Book of Mormon throughout the next 2 transfers and to highlight all of the tender mercies from the Lord throughout the entire book. We did this a while ago and highlighted all of the references to Christ, and it was a really good experience so I imagine this one will be just as good!

Wednesday we spent the entire day up in Boston for the Mission Leadership Council. We talked a lot about what we have been doing to help our missionaries become more consecrated to the Lord and to their missionary service. It is always nice to go and talk as a council and learn from one another. Then we received some trainings from the AP's on developing more faith to find people to teach. Last month our mission found over 500 new investigators, which may not seem like a lot but it is huge for our mission. Then President trained us on how to fill in the gaps in our planners with productive things to do, which is something we desperately needed. A lot of our missionaries struggle to find productive things to do from like 10 AM to 2 PM while everyone is at work, so this training gave us lots of really good ideas. Then to end things off President sat down and read a chapter from the Book of Mormon with us, which lasted for like an hour and a half. So we didn't leave Boston until around 7 that night, it was a long but really good day! Then on Friday we had our Zone Meeting where we trained our zone on the topics that we discussed at MLC on Wednesday, we feel like the meeting went really well! The Spirit was there, and that is the most important thing! We also received our transfer texts on Friday after zone meeting, not a whole lot changed in our zone. In fact, only 1 missionary was transferred out, Elder Henrie is leaving Newport to become a Zone Leader up in the Boston Stake, so we were pretty excited for him. We also are getting 4 extra missionaries in our zone, so now our zone will have 20 missionaries serving in it.

Now on to our people we are working with, this is where a lot of the bad news comes in. I told you about that guy Devon we were teaching, he had agreed to be baptized at the end of September....well his old church/pastor that is pretty anti Mormon got to him and Devon decided he wants to just stick with his old church for now. He is still willing to meet with us but that is about it. He feels like his old church is where God wants him to be. So that was pretty disappointing. That was just the beginning of the bad news though.

Thursday night we went out teaching with the Stake President, President Hutchins. He is an incredible Stake President, just a really good guy! Well we went and visited this young man named Elyjah, who we have been working with for ages! Elyjah is 12, and his mother and grandmother are members of the ward. Elyjah comes to church pretty regularly, and is very involved with the YM program, but for some reason just hasn't been baptized. We had a really good lesson with Elyjah and he agreed to be baptized on September 28, and we were all sooo excited about it! The ward has been working with him for 3 years to try and get him baptized, and now it was finally happening! Well on Saturday we went and did some service for his grandma and she had some super depressing news for us. She informed us that Elyjah didn't want to be baptized anymore and that he wants nothing to do with the church. It turns out his dad was talking to him and changed his mind. His dad told him that all religions are BS and that God doesn't even exist, etc. etc. All of that really got to Elyjah and of course his dad is important to him so he decided to listen to his dad. Ahh man I was devestated! I love this kid, and he has so much potential, but I guess now is not the time. A father figure is sooo important for a teenage boy, and it is pretty sad his father isn't supportive of this area of Elyjah's life.

On a brighter note, Hannah is progressing super quickly! She is now attending seminary full time and is loving it, she is super active in the class and participates. Hannah was online and found this Book of Mormon challenge thing, which helps people finish the Book of Mormon by the end of the year, and so Hannah decided to do it. But that wasn't enough, she decided to recruit her seminary class and also the rest of the Young Women to do it with her. So our investigator is going to seminary and is already doing missionary work. We are going to ask Hannah to speak with her parents this week and see how they feel about her being baptized and the church at large, and then hopefully we can set a baptismal date pretty soon. That is all for this week, love you guys! Have a good week!

Our hike up through Devil's Hopyard last pday.

 Most of our zone!

 Rob's trip to the temple last week.
Kayd knows how much I love covered bridges, so when he came across this bridge he snapped a quick picture for me :)

Schriver's Visit Utah

Dave and Debbie Schriver, a family from Elder Pulsipher's mission, took their son, Steven, out to BYU this last weekend.  They met up with one of Elder P's companions, Elder Boone, and his family as well as Colette, Roger and Aleisha.  It was fun for them all to meet and have dinner and talk about what a great missionary Elder Pulsipher is.  The Schriver's are a really great family!

Brother and Sister Schriver, Steven, Roger, Colette, Aleisha, Brother and Sister Boone

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Life Is Good

Hey we didn't get to email yesterday because the libraries were shut down for the holiday, and I don't have much time today so this will be quick! Life is good in Groton though, the work is picking up quite a bit the past few weeks.

We started teaching a few new people this week. One is a guy named Bob, we have been trying to catch this guy for ages. He is the nephew of a member of our ward who lives here in Groton at this members home. Bob was actually baptized into the Reformed LDS church way  back in the day, don't hear of that too often! But we have had some pretty good visits with Bob in passing and he has shown some interest in meeting with us but we could never catch him and have a legit lesson. Well it finally happened this week and he is a pretty cool guy. He has been through quite a bit in life, battled alcoholism, drug addictions, etc. for pretty much his whole life. He is a Vietnam veteran, lots of cool stories and what not. Bob has made some pretty big changes in his life in the past year or two, and he really just wants to strengthen his relationship with Christ because he knows that is the only way he can stay strong and stay out of trouble...so we told him we could help with that. We had a nice lesson on humbly coming to the Savior and recognizing our dependence upon Him, and Bob was loving it. He asked us for some chapters from the Book of Mormon to read, and we are going backtonight to follow up and see what he learned.

The other lady we started teaching is named Joann. Joann is like a 70 year old woman who lives by herself and is pretty lonely. About 3 months ago we were visiting a member of our ward who was like "Hey I have this friend named Joann, you guys should stop by and see how she is doing, try teaching her a lesson or two."  So we got the address and have tried stopping by this ladies house at least 10 times, and we have had zero luck. We gave it another shot this week and Joann was finally home! It was pretty funny actually haha I knocked on her door and it wasn't shut all the way so it went flying open and Joann was standing there and looked pretty startled! It was a little awkward, so I panicked and said sorry and pulled the door shut, which made it even more awkward haha. Anyways, she came and opened the door and said "come in, come in!" and all was well. We had a good get to know you visit and she said she would love to have us come back and teach her about our church. She grew up in Blackfoot Idaho and knew a lot of Mormons, and she was always impressed with how kind all of us are. We are pretty stoked to be teaching a little old lady, they are always pretty entertaining. 

On Saturday we had interviews with President Packard, we all look forward to interviews. President sits down with us and lets us ask any questions that we want, and we just have a nice chat. While President does interviews the Assistants to President give us a training, this time it was on how to have effective lessons with members and help them in their missionary work. Good stuff.

Monday morning we had to get up super early to take a trip to the temple up in Boston. It was a pretty special day where all Recent Converts in the entire mission were invited to come and do baptisms for the dead. We were able to take Rob to the temple for his very first time, and he had a great experience. He was baptized for his grandfather, and he said it was a pretty amazing feeling when he came up out of the water. On the ride home we were talking about his experience and he said "That was just a sample, I can't wait until I can come back in a year and get my endowment." It was a great experience for him and for many other recent converts from the mission. Gotta go, love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Pulsipher