Tuesday, October 28, 2014

More Goodbyes

Things are going great here! I finished up all of my goodbyes in Groton Monday and Tuesday, and then Wednesday night we had our transfer meeting up in Boston. Transfer meeting was incredible as always. All of the missionaries going home get up and share their final testimony, and it is always a pretty special thing to see. A lot of the meeting seemed to be focused on overcoming our weaknesses through the Savior. There was one in particular that was sooo awesome. An Elder here that was going home has a really bad speech impediment. When he stood to bear his final testimony and began speaking, the Spirit just came pouring into the chapel. This Elder had served faithfully for his 2 years even though it is a struggle just to say a simple sentence. I realized even though we all have weakness and struggles, the Lord can utilize us in so many ways and can help us magnify our call to serve him. It was pretty cool to see.   It was pouring that night, so exchanging all of the luggage in the parking lot was a disaster. We were all soaked by the end of it. But that night I met up with my new companion Elder MacJanet and we headed to my new area, the Lynnfield Ward.

The Ward here is awesome, there are soo many great families I have already met, but I still don't know a lot of people. We are teaching quite a few people, and a few of them are making really solid progress right now. I will tell you more about the people we are teaching as I get to know them more and teach them all a little bit. On Friday our ward had our Trunk or Treat and it was a huge success. There were a ton of people there and it was a good chance for me to get to know people from the ward. We had 11 non members come to the activity, a lot of them came from a family named the Hortons. The Horton family are all non members, there is the 2 parents and then they have EIGHT kids. Wow, can you believe they aren't Mormons with that many kids? But an awesome member family has been doing great work with the Horton family and we are hoping to start teaching them soon!

On Sunday morning we had to get up early and head into Cambridge for Stake Reporting. The Stake Center there is the most expensive church meetinghouse in the world, it is huge! It even has underground parking, you should check it out on google maps or something. The address to it is 65 Binney Street in Cambridge MA. It is pretty sweet! Then on Sunday I had to give a talk in Sacrament meeting. Bishop cornered me at the Trunk or Treat and asked me if I would talk, they didn't waste any time there. It went really well though, my talk was based off of Elder Bednars talk from conference, it is called "Come and See". I loved that talk, it is the perfect thing to share with people who aren't members of our church. He explains so well why we want to share this Gospel with everybody we know.

Sunday after church we had a baptism here in the Lynnfield ward! A woman named Andrea was baptized. It has been a long journey for her, she first had contact with the church 33 years ago. She came from a strong Jewish family, and her mother would not allow her to continue studying the Mormon faith at that time. 33 years later she was back in contact with the church and everything just seemed to work out perfectly. It didn't go all that smooth at first. We started filling up the font right after Sacrament meeting, but there just wasn't any water pressure yesterday for some reason. After about an hour we realized we weren't going to have enough water, so we brought out the hoses, buckets, pots, pans and coolers and started hauling water into the font. It was quite the scene, but we managed to make it work. Even with all the struggles, the service was still great! Elder Calvert came up and baptized her so it was cool to have him here with us too.

I am excited to continue to get to know this area and the people here, and to share with you guys all of the cool things happening here! Here are a few more of the goodbyes from Groton.

This was one of the goodbyes that I wish could have waited a little bit longer!  This is Rachel Phelps in the middle, and then Hannah.  Rachel is a member of our ward who has been helping us teach Hannah for the past few months.  Hannah will be getting baptized in about 2 weeks, and I really wish I could have stayed for it.  I don't think I will be able to make it back down there for her her baptism, it will be pretty tough.  She was pretty bummed I was leaving.  She told me "you can't be going around and getting people to be baptized and then leave right before the baptism!"  I am really excited for Hannah though and to see what the future has in store for her.  She promised me that she would have her sights set on one day finding a nice RM and getting married in the temple, but that is a few years away still.  She is an amazing young woman and has a lot of potential to excel in the Gospel.  I am super excited for her!
Me and my man Bob!  We have been teaching Bob for a few months here in Groton and he has been making huge progress.  Just a year ago he was in prison, now he is out and he is drug free and is working on quitting alcohol.  We are really hoping the Addiction Recovery Program will help him out, so we have started helping him go through that program.  He is such a nice guy, and has such a strong desire to come closer to Jesus Christ.  He was baptized into the reformed LDS church, but he is considering joining our church now.  He is on probation for a while longer, but I am pretty confident he will be getting baptized once he is off probation!
 Pulling some funny faces with Edward, little kids are the best.
 Goodbye Elder Minson.  I know Groton is in good hands with him and Elder Slade!
 Me saying goodbye to Felicia, she was pretty mad at me too for leaving haha.  We street contacted Felicia when I first came to Groton, and have been meeting with her pretty regularly.  At one point she was going to be baptized, but there was a certain commandment she wasn't ready to follow haha.  Let's just say she needs to get married before she gets baptized! She is hoping to be married by the end of the year, and then we will see what happens I guess!
The Perkins family, these guys are the best member missionaries that we had in Groton.  They were ALWAYS inviting people to church, young woman's, relief society and pretty much any other activity that was going on in the church.  We were currently teaching their friend Talon, and he is supposed to be getting baptized sometime in the next month.  Hopefully Elder Slade and Minson can continue to work with him and make that happen.  But the Perkins are sooo great, they were not afraid at all to invite people to learn more about the Gospel.  Awesome member missionaries!
Me with Sister Briggs and her grandson Liam.  Liam is the funniest little guy ever.  We would do a lot of service at Sister Briggs home because she is single and has a pretty big house and yard.  Liam would always be tagging along with us and hanging out while we worked.  Sister Briggs is the sweetest lady, she is so loving and kind.  She loves the missionaries so much that for the past 20 years she has let missionaries engrave their names on her kitchen table, so I added mine of course!  Leaving behind my legacy in Groton I guess! Haha!

Round two of saying goodbye to the Weseman's!  These two are seriously the best people ever.  They are in the Waterford ward so I didn't spend a whole lot of time with them while in Groton, but there was still a lot that they did for us.  They devote everything they have and own to serving the Lord and to helping out the missionaries.  Couldn't ask for nicer people!
Goodbye Groton!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Goodbye Waterford!

This week we had our mini-missionary, Isaac, here with us for the entire week. He is preparing to serve a mission of his own and I guess this was kind of a trial run to see if he could handle it. Lets just say it was an interesting week. We have enjoyed some quiet time today haha. But it was great to have him here with us and to introduce him to the mission life. He is a good kid, hopefully he will get out on a mission of his own sometime soon.

Tuesday I was up in Newport, RI on exchanges with Elder Crezee. He is a SUPER funny guy, he had me laughing all day long. We were able to go teach their investigator Angelina and help prepare her for her baptism, she was baptized on Saturday and it sounds like it went really well. Elder Crezee actually has some hidden talents that he showed us this week. At our District Meeting on Thursday he showed us this song he had written that was kind of about his testimony and experience of the Gospel. It was like a gospel rap song that he played on the piano and sang/rapped.....it sounds crazy but it was actually dang good! We were impressed, so be looking for that on youtube, it will go big someday. Anyways, we had a nice exchange and I really enjoyed spending some time on the island out there.

Wednesday we had a zone meeting that we put on to try and get our zone pumped up about extending more baptismal dates and achieving our monthly goals and what not. To save miles we did this meeting online though. We had like a little online webconference with all the missionaries in our zone. It was really different than being in person, but it actually went pretty well. I think a lot more meetings like this one will be online here in the future. Definitely saves a lot of time and money. Speaking of technology, we are finally getting our iPads, but they wont be here until January. But they are coming finally!

Sooo transfer texts came in late Friday night and I found out I am being transferred to the Lynnfield Massachusetts ward! It is a super cool area and is right outside of Boston, I am really excited. My ward covers the cities of Peabody, Lynnfield, Beverly, Reading and Salem Massachusetts. I hear that Salem (home of the witch trials) gets pretty crazy on Halloween so that should be entertaining. I will still be a Zone Leader up there, covering the Cambridge North Zone. I am actually replacing Elder Calvert, my MTC companion. My new companion is Elder MacJanet, he is from Canada and is a really cool guy! And Elder Slade, my roommate down in Waterbury for 6 months is replacing me here in Groton so at least I know this area will be in good hands! I am really looking forward to the new people and experiences that are ahead of me, it should definitely be an adventure. I will miss Groton that is for sure. Once I found out I was leaving, I realized how much I have grown to love the ward and the people here. It has been a great place to serve. I started my round of goodbyes yesterday after church, but there are still a lot more to come the next few days. Transfer meeting will be Wednesday evening up in Boston. Here are a few of the goodbyes I have already gotten over with though!

This is the Boykin family.  Justin is not a member of the church, and we had tons of lessons here over the 6 months her in Groton.  He attends church with us every week and fulfills his calling in scouts faithfully, he is pretty much a Mormon but just hasn't been baptized.  He will for sure someday though, just gotta give it time. These guys are hilarious, we loved going over to their home.  They had us over for dinner many times which I was very grateful for.  They are from Texas and proud of it, so of course we had to take the picture by the Texas sign.
 Brother and Sister Adams are two of the sweetest people I know.  Holy cow these two are truly saints.  They do so much to help out those around them.  They have both had very difficult lives, it hasn't been easy for them.  They both have extraordinary conversion stories, it is just incredible the steps they have taken to have the Gospel in their lives.  They are just the best.  And to top things off Sister Adams is an absolutely amazing cook, wow she can throw it down in the kitchen!  And Brother Adams is an expert bread maker and has been making us a loaf of home made bread each week for the past little while.  I was able to have one final meal at their home last night, and it was delicious as always.  Like I said, these two are saints!
 Ethan!!! It was pretty much a miracle, but Ethan came back to Groton to visit this weekend, and it just happened to be my last weekend here.  Pretty good timing! It was soo good to see Ethan and hear about how he has been doing.  He is living out in the Phoenix area and is loving it out there.  He is dating the girl that introduced him to the church, and they are already thinking about getting married some day. He made it sound like there may be a wedding happening next summer if all goes as planned.  That would definitely be a road trip I would have to take.  He is loving the church out there, he is in a YSA ward and is loving being a member of the church.  It was a nice surprise to have him here this weekend!
 And our mini missionary Isaac right before his mother came to pick him up.  Good kid.
 Goodbye to half of our zone, the Narragansett District.
 Sorry the lighting is horrible in this picture, didn't realize it was that bad until we had left.  This is good old Rob Adams, he was baptized here back in July.  He is doing fantastic right now!  He has gotten adjusted to the member life and being a part of the ward so well.  It seems like he has been a member for a LOT longer than 3 months.  He is meeting with Bishop Kitley right now to help prepare him to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood sometime in the near future.  He is really looking forward to going to the temple next summer and receiving his endowments.  Rob is an awesome guy, and I know he will continue to progress spiritually and achieve many great things.
 And here are the Savea's.  Bro Savea is our Ward Mission Leader, so we have spent lots and lots of time together.  Many correlation meetings at their home, and of course Sister Savea always fed us wonderful Filipino food after our meetings.  Brother Savea came out teaching with us a lot also.  Their two cute little kids are lots of fun, they love for us to play with them while dinner is cooking.  Just another wonderful family who sacrifices so much for the sake of the Church and the gospel.
 Goodbye to the other district in Waterford!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tender Mercies

This week was another solid one. No big, exciting news, but we definitely saw little tender mercies every single day. Just as we always do. Our mission is reading through the Book of Mormon right now and highlighting the tender mercies of the Lord that are mentioned, and it has really helped me be more aware of the little miracles that happen in my life and in the work each and ever day. Last pday we all met up at the church and had a giant dodge ball tournament. It had been a long time since I had played dodge ball, it was super fun though. Took me back to the days of PE in Ms. Ryan's class. We were all super sore the next few days, who knew dodge ball could be such a workout. Monday night we had dinner at the Janne's home, they recently moved into the ward. Bro. Janne is not a member but comes faithfully every week with his family. He just really isn't interested in joining the church though. They are an awesome family and have the cutest kids ever. Their 3 year old son Lucas just got a toy chainsaw and that thing is his pride and joy. I never knew I could have a 10 minute conversation about chainsaws with a 3 year old. It is the simple things in life right? Then that night we went up to Norwich to meet with the Sister Training Leaders to plan an online web conference that we will be doing next Wednesday. It was a pretty long day.

Tuesday we went on exchanges with the Westerly Elders, I stayed in Groton with Elder Rogers. He was in my district when I was a brand new missionary, so it is cool to have him back in my district again. We had a lesson with Hannah that night and taught the 3 big commandments: Law of Chastity, Word of Wisdom, and Tithing. She already knew about the commandments, so it wasn't anything new to her but we have to cover them before she has her interview. She is pretty heartbroken about having to give up sweet tea. She grew up in North Carolina and so sweet tea is like a lifeline for her family. She is sad about it,  but she is totally fine with giving it up. Her baptismal interview will be tomorrow!

Wednesday wasn't too eventful, we spent the majority of our day up in Narragansett Rhode Island with the Elders there. We just went up to try and help them a little bit with their area, it has been struggling lately. We had a brainstorming session with them and talked about a lot of things they could do to get things rolling again. That night we were back in Groton though and had dinner with the Lane's. They are a young couple that just moved here about a month ago from California. Sister Lane was actually just baptized in July, right before she moved here. So we have been going over about once a week and teaching her the new member lessons, and then today we actually spent our morning up at the Boston Temple with her. She was able to go and do baptisms for the dead for the first time. It was awesome to be able to be a part of it, she seemed to really enjoy it.

Thursday we had an all day long zone conference up in Foxboro, Mass. We arrived there at 8 in the morning and then left 8 that night. It was quite the day and I definitely had a head ache by the time it was over, but it was well worth it. Zone Conference was amazing, we basically were trained on every topic that President Packard has focused on his whole time as mission president. They called it the vision of our mission. A lot of it was focused on building Zion in our companionship's, and mission, and then also on consecration. Those are 2 of President's favorite topics. I was definitely inspired and came up with a lot of things that I can do a little bit better on. At the end. we were actually lucky enough to watch Meet the Mormons! I don't know how we got our hands on a copy, but we watched it there in the chapel. It was really good! Well being the first movie I have seen in over a year it didn't have much competition, but I enjoyed it! There is only 1 theater it is playing at near Groton, and our Stake actually rented it out Saturday and invited all of the members to come and watch which was pretty cool. We didn't attend that though. After our Zone Conference we stopped at Gillette Stadium, home of the Patriots because they have a bunch of restaurants on the outside of the stadium. We were heading to 5 Guys and then all of a sudden some guy says "Hey it is the Elders!" and stops and talks to us. It turns out it was a Stake President from Arizona who was here on a very big business trip. He gave us a few very generous dollar bills for our dinner, and then sat and talked with us while we ate. It is always nice to run into people like that and to be able to talk to them, especially when they are as nice as this guy was! Tender mercies that is for sure!

The rest of the week was kind of uneventful. Saturday we went on exchanges with the Waterford Elders and I stayed in Groton again. Sunday we got stuck teaching the Elders Quorum at the last minute, as always! And then Sunday night we actually received a mini missionary. I don't know if this is a thing that goes on all over, but here we allow those who are preparing or considering serving a misison to come be a missionary for a week or so to give it a trial run. Our mini missionary is a kid named Isaac, from Hamden CT. He is 20 and is working on his mission papers right now. Hopefully we can give him some great experiences this week. Today for pday we have been up in Boston at the temple and then around the city. It was a great pday! Love you all, have a great week!

 Gillette Stadium

 Riding the T into Boston!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I Have Given You An Example

At the beginning of this week I went up to Norwich on exchanges. Elders were just barely put into the Norwich ward a few weeks ago, and it is Elder Sutherland training a brand new missionary Elder Ching. I spent the exchange there in Norwich with Elder Ching! If there is one thing you should know about Ching, it is that he is Hawaiian! Haha I absolutely love this kid, he is your typical laid back, chill Islander who just loves everyone. We had a ton of fun together, but we worked our butts off all day. Our day together was filled with A LOT of rejections, like an unusual amount of very upset people haha but we had a few little tender mercies throughout the day where we were led to individuals who were interested in our message. We tried hunting down a former investigator who lived in a 4 Plex, but we didn't know which apartment she was in. We started with the 1st one and then worked our way down, and the 3rd one some guy answered and told us that the lady we were looking for had moved, and that he definitely wasn't interested in our message. We started walking back to the car, but then Elder Ching said "Hey we didn't knock on that last apartment", so we gave it a shot. A super sweet young mother answered the door with her 2 little kids, we explained to her what we do and she told us she would love to hear our message and to stop by anytime. The sister missionaries went back a few days later and had a great lesson with her. The greenie was definitely listening to the Spirit that led us there, so that was pretty cool. But yeah we had a great day together, you can always count on a Hawaiian for a good time.

We spent the entire day on Wednesday up in Boston for the mission leadership council. We don't have zone meetings this month, which is usually the main discussion of MLC, so instead this time we were trained a lot on leadership principles and how we can better lead our missionaries. I learned a bunch about how I can be a better leader to the missionaries in our zone. When trying to help people become better we first have to love them for who they are, and for what they have to offer. We have to take people where they are at, and then be willing to try and help them be a little better. We also can't be asking the individuals that we lead to do something that we aren't already doing or willing to do ourselves. Just a few things that stood out to me. At the meeting we also discussed an event that is happening later this month. Elder Lawrence, a member of the Seventy, is coming to tour our mission and to train us. Apparently his first day here he wants to have a meeting with all of the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders, to train us a little more I guess, we don't really know what to expect. But then after that meeting he is going to interview each of us leaders individually. Sooo I have to be interviewed by a General Authority here at the end of the month, yikes haha.

I told you guys last week about Talon, a 17 year old boy we have been teaching the past few weeks. Well on Tuesday we had a lesson with him at the Perkins home and taught him about baptism, what it means, the covenant that we make, and invited him to be baptized on November 1st and he was all over it and accepted it right away. Now we just have a lot of work to do to prepare this young man to be baptized. He is already saying he wants to go on a mission once he graduates high school, which is great to hear but he has a LONG ways to go. We are focusing right now on helping him develop his own testimony. Just a few weeks ago this kid didn't even believe in Christ, and so it is all happening really fast. He has already progressed a lot, but there is still a lot more that needs to happen for him to be ready to make this covenant with God.

Saturday morning before conference began we had a lesson with a less active member, and her non member husband named Arrell. The less active member has had a desire to come back to church recently, and she wants her family to come with her of course! He grew up Christian, but hasn't really been affiliated with any church for a while. The husbands family has been very anti Mormon ever since their son married a Mormon, and so Arrell has heard a lot of false claims about our religion. He has wanted nothing to do with our church, but finally things worked out where he was willing to meet with us (thanks to persistence from his wife). We had a great visit where we basically just answered the questions that he has about our religion. We thought it was going to be kind of a bashing session, but it wasn't like that at all. It went really well actually. At the end of the visit we invited Arrell to take the lessons and he agreed, so we will be going back there Wednesday to teach the Restoration. A little side note, Arrells wife has been having some pretty serious health problems lately. She was in a lot of pain and her lymph nodes were super swollen. She had an MRI and Ultrasound but the doctor's hadn't really figured anything out, so she called us and asked for a blessing last Monday. We administered the blessing, and then when we went back on Saturday for our lesson she told us that the pain was completely gone, and the lymph nodes were no longer swollen, and that it was like nothing had ever happened. When she called the doctors they were super confused I guess. That was a pretty neat experience and hopefully that helps soften the heart of her husband.

Sunday night we arranged to have a meeting with President Hutchins (our Stake President) and Hannah and her parents here at the chapel. Hannah's baptism is approaching and we felt it would be appropriate to meet with her parents and talk about everything and answer any questions that they might have regarding our church. We gave them a tour of the chapel and explained what goes on during a typical Sunday service and Tuesday night activities, and it also gave us an opportunity to share a lot of our beliefs along the way. It turns out it was a great idea to meet with them, because Hannah's mother had tried to do some research on the church on her own and had gotten plastered with anti Mormon stuff from all over the internet. We were able to resolve a lot of her concerns, and it was a really great evening. Hannah's mom has already came to church twice, but now she says she would like to start attending regularly with Hannah which is super exciting. We are going to have to move Hannah's baptism back one week, to the 26th of October, because her grandpa in NC is having some major health issues and so Hannah's mom is flying out there this week to be with him. All is well though, and both parents are supportive of her joining the church.

General conference was amazing as always. There were a lot of talks that addressed exactly what I was hoping to hear, so that was great. Hopefully you all were able to go to conference with your own questions in mind and have them answered through the Lord's prophet and apostles. I kept noticing in a lot of talks that the brethren seem to be fed up with all of our excuses for not doing things haha. There were a few times they told us to stop making excuses and to go out and do the things we know we need to. Like family prayer, family scripture study, FHE, attending the temple, doing family history work etc. So often we have a ton of things going on in life that we just don't feel like we have time to do all these things, and then our scripture study or FHE gets pushed to the side. Well Elder Scott told us it is about time we rethink our priorities in life and find time to do what is actually important. I agree completely, I really liked Richard G Scotts talk, if ya missed it go back and read or watch it in the next few days! But anyways, I love ya all and have a great week.

Elder Ching and me, I had to throw up the Haka in honor of him.  Just look at that kids smile, isn't he great!?

"I Have Given You An Example" Richard G. Scott