Wednesday, November 26, 2014

He Is The Gift

On Pday last week our zone met up in Boston at the Masonic Temple, they call it the Grand Lodge, to take a tour. A few weeks ago Elder MacJanet and I received a media referral for a guy named Joe who had gone online and requested a Book of Mormon. We took the Book of Mormon to him and he invited us and we we had a nice chat with Joe. Joe told us that he practically grew up in the church in California, all of his friends were Mormons and so he did a lot with them. He attended church a lot, was the ward organist for a while, went to EFY, went to Palmyra, and all this other stuff, but he never joined the church for a few reasons. Joe also told us that he is a Free Mason, and so we talked quite a bit about that and he invited to give us a tour of the Grand Lodge in Boston, so that is what we did! It was actually pretty dang cool, Joe was our tour guide and he personalized it to us and our beliefs. It is pretty amazing how similar the Masonic rituals are to our temple endowment. It was really interesting to see what they do within their temples and how it compares to ours. Joe was a pro tour guide and even had us sing Called To Serve while he played it on the organ in middle of their temple, so that was pretty sweet. Later in the week Joe called us and told us that he just found out that in the library in Grand Lodge they have a first edition copy of the Book of Mormon, so now we have to go back and check that out! But it was a fun pday for sure!

This has definitely been a month of miracles for our mission as we have been trying to achieve our goal of 70 baptisms for the month. We are now at 62 baptisms so far, so we already broke our record of 59 baptisms!!! This weekend there are a ton more baptisms scheduled, so keep praying for us. We definitely have a lot to be thankful for with Thanksgiving coming up, because Heavenly Father is just pouring out the blessings here to us in the MBM. Great things are happening!

We were able to start teaching that former investigator that called us randomly last week, his name is Geline. He is from Haiti but moved to Mexico City and then moved here, so he has lived all over and speaks like 4 languages. Anyways, we had two lessons with Geline this week and they went really well. At first it seemed like he was just wanting to debate doctrine and trying to find fault in our beliefs, but we brought Brother Stokes from our Bishopric with us and he resolved that really quickly. Members are the best, they help soooo much in lessons it is crazy. A lesson with a member present is like a million times better than one without. Soo yeah everyone should go out with the missionaries and help them teach. But Geline is a great guy and I think he has a ton of potential. We are trying to help him develop a testimony of the Book of Mormon right now, which was a struggle when he was investigating in the past. He agreed to read the account of Christs visit to the Americas in 3 Nephi 11 and he is looking to see if the Book of Mormon helps strengthen his faith in Christ. We are just having to take it step by step, but I know that if he truly reads from the Book of Mormon then it will absolutely help him come closer to Christ and he will be able to see that this truly is a book from God. It will happen. But Geline is awesome and he pretty much wants to meet with us every single day. Once we finish our lesson he always says something like "so tomorrow night I think I am free, let me know if you are coming". He at least enjoys meeting with us, which isn't often the case haha.

We did a lot of work with less active members this week, and it seems like we made some great progress with some of them. One is a man named Brother Paolini, he has been a member of the church for quite a while now. He was born and raised in East Boston, so he has a pretty Boston accent. A lot of people around here have the accent, that was something I didn't hear a lot of down in Connecticut, but I like it! We try and be cool and talk in our Boston accents but ours are pretty week. But yeah we had a nice visit with Bro. Paolini this week and discussed the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how we can use it in our lives to help us become better. We led the discussion towards the Sacrament, and how partaking of the Sacrament weekly allows us to fully receive the blessings of the Atonement in our lives. So we invited Bro Paolini to come to church and partake of the Sacrament, and sure enough on Sunday morning he was there sitting next to us at church. I really feel like all he needed to get him there was a simple invitation. The least we can do is simply invite people, and a lot of times they will accept the invitation. It really isn't too hard. Of course we invited a lot of other people to church this week who didn't show up, but even if ya only get one of them it is still all worth it.

We had our Stake Reporting meeting early Sunday morning in Cambridge, but we weren't informed about it until Saturday afternoon, a little earlier notice would have been nice. So we had to scramble Saturday in between our appointments to gather the reports that we could give to the Stake President and President Packard for our meeting. We were able to get it all finished up but it made for a late night on Saturday. But the meeting Sunday went great! The Cambridge stake is a pretty tough one in terms of baptizing,it is always the lowest in the mission. The work is hastening here as well, and I don't think this stake is always going to be the lowest, there is a ton of potential here. We spent a portion of the meeting talking about the "He is the Gift" initiative that the church is sponsoring. They made this new Mormon Message that will be released the day after Thanksgiving, and it is called "He is the Gift". The church wants this video to go viral over the next few weeks leading up to Christmas. A few days before Christmas the church has bought out all of the advertising spots on youtube to advertise for this short film. They want it to be a big deal, so be sure to share it all over social media once it comes out! But the church produced a ton of pass along cards with a link to this video, and they want all of us missionaries to be handing them out to spread the word. We have a few big boxes full of them, and they are asking each companionship to give out 10 of them a day until Christmas. It is a really good little film, it will be pretty cool to see how this turns out. The church is expecting to get over 220 milion views on youtube for this film, so I guess we can help them make it happen! But first we get to celebrate Thanksgiving! Love you all, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

The first gift of Christmas was a simple gift given by a father to all his children, to us. He gave us His son, the Christ. He is the gift. This Christmas season, how will you share the gift?
Us chilling with Frankie! He loves us!
 Inside the Grand Lodge, where the masons do all of their rituals.

 The Zone with our friend Joe, who was our tour guide!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Life Is Good - Feeling Blessed

Life is good in Lynnfield, and in the MBM. I told you all about the goal of 70 baptisms for November right? Well we are making some great progress towards that! We have baptized 39 people so far this month, which is already incredible! But for the next 2 weeks we have 88 scheduled baptisms, so we are really excited about things and working hard to finally achieving this goal. It has been a month of miracles, Heavenly Father is just allowing some incredible things to happen all throughout our mission. It has been a testimony builder to see Heavenly Father grant us the blessings and miracles according to our faith this month. We haven't made it to our goal yet, but it is looking really good! But definitely keep praying for us that we can make it. We actually have Elder Holland of the 12 Apostles and Elder Lawrence from the 70 praying for us daily to achieve this goal as well, which is pretty cool right?

We really hit it hard this week in our efforts of trying to find new investigators. We were hunting down former investigators, potentials, and all sorts of other people to try and find some more people to teach! We really didn't see a whole lot of success come from those efforts, but of course the Lord still blessed us for our hard work. We do a weekly service at a farmers market in downtown Salem, and we were walking to that and saw a woman who was kind of looking at us funny. We stopped and began talking to her, and we discovered that she was actually baptized as a member of our church like 20 years ago in The Congo. She moved here and hasn't really tried to find the church here, but said she would be interested in coming back to it! We got her info and everything from her, and then she went on to tell us that she lives with a lot of her family here who are not members of the church. We asked if we could meet with them as well, and she said sure! So hopefully things work out there and we can start teaching them.

Then another night we were driving to an appointment and I was calling this long list of people who had contact with the missionaries in the past. I kept getting no after no, some people were rude, some people just hung up and it was getting pretty frustrating really. About 10 minutes later, we got a call from some random number. It was a man named Geline, who we had never met before. He told us that he met with missionaries about a year ago, and that he would be interested in doing it again! So we have an appointment set up with him for later this week. So after making all of those calls and getting rejected some random guy calls us and asks to meet. That never happens haha.

Friday and Saturday we went on exchanges with the Revere Elders, and I went to Revere for the day. The Elders there don't have a car, so we spent the day on the T....and walking.... a lot. Of course it was like the coldest day of the year so far but what can ya do. It was a lot of fun still, especially riding the T. We always meet sooo many people on the T, and usually have a lot of great conversations. It is nice because the people riding with you are kind of stuck there, they can't really go anywhere until they get to their stop, so it at least gives us a minute or so to talk to them. We actually met this one guy Saturday. I was just talking to this guy next to me about the gospel and he was kinda crazy and it wasn't really going anywhere, but then some guy came up to me and was like hey I heard you guys talking about the gospel and I would love to hear what you have to say. I was like "sure man sit on down!" Haha so we talked a little bit and then we actually got off the T and had a lesson with this guy. We just sat down at the stop and taught the entire Restoration, and it went really well. This guy was actually a baptist preacher/school teacher...not really sure what he was but he knew A LOT about the life of Jesus Christ and the Bible, we had a nice conversation really. He agreed to meet more with the Revere Elders, so hopefully he will embrace the truthfulness of the gospel!

Our interviews were yesterday with President Packard, and they went great! Elder MacJanet and I actually had to give trainings to the missionaries the entire time while President was interviewing the zone. Interviews went from like 9 in the morning to 5 at night, so yeah that was a really long training we had to do. It was fun though! We trained on a few teaching skills from Preach My Gospel and then practiced a lot! President brought a few iPads for us, and we filmed all of the companionships teaching the Restoration, and then we would go back and watch it and critique it and see what they could improve on. It was kind of weird watching yourself teach, but it was super helpful to see and hear it ourselves. I feel like we all learned a lot and were able to identify some things that we could improve on!

But yeah, life is good. It is starting to get a little chilly here, but that is New England for ya. This work is great, I wouldn't want to be doing anything else with my life right now. Have a great week!!

Had to take this one for Uncle Stanley! We stumbled across the brand new Harley store they are building here in Boston as we were walking home one night!
 Heading to the T station in Revere.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Settling In To Lynnfield

The Lynnfield ward is super nice place to be serving, I have loved my first few weeks here, and things were a little more calm this week and so I was finally able to spend a lot of time in the area and getting to know all of our people here. The ward is a pretty big family ward, and everyone is really close to each other. They treat us great as well, everyone is watching out for us and giving us lots and lots of food. The work seems to be heading in the right direction here as well, it isn't super busy or anything right now, but I think it will be soon!

Everyone keeps asking about the people we are working with so I will tell ya little bit about some of them! Our most promising investigator is a woman named Sister Clemente...we don't know her first name haha. Sister Clemente is the mother of a member who lives in our ward boundaries. Clemente lives in Brazil but is here hanging out for a while, and has been coming to church with her son every week. She loves the church and everything about it, and we are planning on inviting her to be baptized at our lesson this week! She has expressed an interest in being baptized, so we fill pretty good about it. She is going back to Brazil in December though, so we have to act fast! So keep her in your prayers, hopefully she accepts! The thing is she doesn't speak any English at all, sooo I haven't really been able to help much in the lessons. My companion Elder MacJanet is actually a Portuguese missionary, so he does all of the teaching with her. I just sit there and eat delicious Brazilian food while they have a lesson, it is a pretty nice set up.

We are also working with a young man named Deonte, he is 13 and is from Haiti. It is a super long story of how we met Deonte, but his mom used to work for a member of our ward and yeah that is where the connection was made. Deonte's mom is Catholic and isn't really interested in the church, but Deonte loves having us over and learning more about the Gospel. He comes to mutual every Tuesday evening, but his church attendance is a little spotty. He has only came a few times, I think it is just because he is lazy. For a 13 year old though, he shows a ton of interest in the lessons and he always asks really good questions, so there is definitely some potential. He doesn't have a father figure at all, and so it is good for us to spend some time with him. Once a week we usually go over and play basketball or football for like 20 minutes with him and then have a lesson. He is a good kid, we just need to get him to church more regularly and then hopefully baptize him!

There is also a lady named Mary Norton, I guess you could call her an eternigator. She has been investigating for quite a while now. She has been a devout Catholic her entire life (she is like 70 probably) but then like a year and a half ago she met a member of our church at the YMCA swimming pool. This member is Sister Hanh, she is an incredible member missionary and practically invites everyone she meets to come to church and learn more, she is awesome. Anyways once Mary met Sister Hahn she started coming to our church every Sunday and meeting with the missionaries. Mary believes the Book of Mormon to be the word of God, she has a testimony of Joseph Smith, she absolutely loves everything about the church. She has been invited to baptism a few times but every time she just says she isn't ready to give up her Catholic beliefs. Ah man pretty frustrating. Mary got up and bore her testimony in church yesterday and I decided I need to help this woman get baptized. It is going to be a struggle, but we will see what we can do!

I just have to tell ya about Frankie. Frank was baptized about 3 months ago while Elder Calvert was serving here. Frank is like 80 years old, who just happens to love us missionaries. Franks wife and daughter passed away like 3 years ago and he is still having a tough time with that, and he is just super lonely. We visit Frank twice a week and we are pretty much the closest thing he has to a family. He calls himself Father Lehi, and then has named us missionaries a few names from Lehis family. Elder Calvert and his companion were Nephi and Sam, now Elder MacJanet and I are Laman and Lemuel (but he just calls us Double L because he can't pronounce their names). Frank is just quite the man really. We love to joke around with him, he loves to joke around with us, haha I can't even describe Frankie to you guys. He somehow embraced the Gospel and loves us missionaries and the church now. Frank is the best haha I love the man!

There are a lot of exciting things happening in our mission and in the Lynnfield ward. When Elder Calvert was here the missionaries started a basketball clinic every Tuesday night. We open up the gym and invite everyone to come and do some basketball drills and stuff with us, and it is starting to pay off. We had 6 non member kids come and play basketball with us this past Tuesday. Most of the kids came from this huuuuge family named the Hortons. I think I told you about them, it is a family of 10 non members, they came to the trunk or treat a few weeks ago. Anyways, our great member missionary Sister Hahn found this family too, and we have high hopes for them. A 16 year old girl from our ward had her sweet 16 party at the church this past Saturday, and they asked us to set up a table with free supplies like Book of Mormon, Bibles, DVDs and pamphlets and stuff. They were super stoked because after the party a decent amount of the things had been taken. One friend from the party is now going to start coming to church with them on Sundays too, so good things are happening!

Love you all, have a great week!!!

Hannah's Baptism!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Spiritual Uplift

This week was by far one of the most spiritually uplifting ones of my mission. We didn't get to spend a whole lot of time working in our area here in Lynnfield which was a bummer, but it was still a lot of fun. Tuesday we went on exchanges with the Malden Chinese Elders, and I went and spent the day in the Chinese program. Wow it is a whole different ballgame working with those Elders. There is only a really small Chinese group here in Cambridge, they usually have about 20 people in attendance every Sunday. So the Elders really don't have a whole lot of members to meet with, and they are opening up a new area so they don't have many investigators right now either. We went and did some service in Chinatown and had a pretty nice lunch down there! Then we pretty much spent the entire day out on the streets of Boston, Cambridge, Malden etc. talking to everybody we saw, especially the Asians! We talked to soooo many people, and at the end of the day we had found around 7 new potential investigators. One of the guys we met on the streets agreed to have a lesson later in the week and the Elders taught him a few days later and it sounded like it went pretty good!

As we were hopping on the T, to head back to their apartment I sat down on a bench next to this lady and just started making some small talk, and she was just not too happy about talking to me. She instantly snapped and said "I already know anything and everything about all religions and I don't want to hear anything that you have to say!" I thought that was a pretty bold statement haha but I told her I wasn't going to preach anything to her I just wanted to know how her day was. She snapped on me again and said "I don't want to hear you preaching to me." I just laughed and said alright but then I just kept talking to her about her day and what not anyways. We actually ended up having a decent conversation, and I found out that this woman was a department head at the Harvard Divinity School. Those darn Harvard people are too smart for their own good, but what can ya do! We had a pretty rough ending to our night though. Elder MacJanet and the other Chinese Elder came back to the apartment to switch back around 9. We had a quick exchange inventory, then Elder MacJanet and I went out to go home and our car was gone. In the 30 minutes that we were inside our car had been towed because we didn't have a parking permit for their apartment complex. So we didn't get home that night until 1130 and down $130. Ouch!

Wednesday we had a Mission Leadership Council with Elder Larry Lawrence, a member of the 70. He actually spent pretty much the entire week here with us. On Wednesday at the start of the meeting he asked us to just list some of the biggest things that we think are holding our mission back. We gathered a pretty big list, and then for the rest of the day he led a discussion of what we as leaders could do to help our mission overcome these things. It was a super productive discussion and I feel like I got a lot of ideas of what I can do to help the missionaries in our zone. After the council meeting Elder Lawrence interviewed each of us Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders. We thought it was going to be some super intense interview but it was actually really relaxed and pretty enjoyable. He actually just let us ask any question that we wanted and that was pretty much all the interview consisted of. So I was able to just go in and shoot the breeze with him for about 20 minutes and call it good!

Thursday we had a Zone Conference, with Elder and Sister Lawrence again. Sister Lawrence gave us this pretty sweet discourse on the 12 Tribes of Israel. She is a super smart woman and I really learned a lot from her. The rest of the Zone Conference was pretty much a big pump up session for our mission. We have kind of been at a standstill for the past few months it seems like. The highest number of people our mission has ever baptized is 59 in a month, and we did that about 6 months ago. But the past few months we have been averaging around 45-50 and can't seem to get over the hump. For the month of November we are putting everything on the table and set a mission goal to get 70 baptisms this month. Elder Lawrence and President Packard kind of led the charge at the Zone Conference and got us all pumped up to go out and work hard this month. We are going to be doing a lot of extra things this month in order to reach our goal. We will need a lot of prayers too, so feel free to offer some prayers in our behalf!

Friday was Halloween, so we had strict orders to stay out of Salem for the day. We hear it gets pretty dang crazy there on Halloween. We actually had ANOTHER meeting that morning, a zone meeting which we were in charge of the training's for that. Lots and lots of meetings this week. Friday night we went to dinner at our Bishops home, and there was a bunch of other people from the ward their as well. We made some delicious apple cider donuts with them, ate waayyy too many and then had to head for home. Once 6 PM hit we had to head for home as soon as our appointments were over.

Saturday we had another exchange with the Cambridge Potruguese Elders. I stayed in Lynnfield and worked with Elder Lopes for the day. We had a great day and were able to meet with a lot of members throughout the day, less actives, recent converts and all that good stuff. Saturday and Sunday was actually our Stake Conference here in the Cambridge stake, and you will never guess who was presiding at the conference!? Yeah....more of Elder Larry Lawrence haha. He is a cool guy so I wasn't sick of him or anything, but it seemed like we were with him for the whole week! We pretty much were though! Sunday we actually got hit with our first snow storm of the year, it snowed for about 4 hours but not a lot stuck to the ground. Holy cow it was freezing though. It is going to be a fun winter.

Sorry I still haven't been able to meet all of our investigators due to all the meetings and conferences, but I will this week for sure! Then I will be able to tell you guys more about the people we are teaching. But I do have some good news for you guys! Hannah was baptized in the Groton ward on Saturday morning!!!! I really wanted to go but it was just way too many miles for us to drive there. It sounds like it went really well, so I am super happy for Hannah! I love ya all, have a great week!

Brazilian Grill for Pday lunch!!