Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy New Year 2014!

This week was a little slower than most, but that was expected with Christmas and everything. So we had quite a few cancelled appointments, but we also had a lot of really good appointments as well! We are still have tons of success with less actives here which has been awesome to see! Lots of people are coming back to the church after years and years of being away. We don't have a ton of investigators, but the less actives are responding really well to our visits and that seems to be where the Lord needs us to be focusing right now.

One story for example is a guy named Rich, he was baptized almost 30 years ago here in the Lynnfield ward. He was active for many years, and then just slowly slipped away and fell far from the church. He has had made many lifestyle choices that have gotten him into a lot of trouble, and put him in some tough circumstances. We met him last week when we just dropped by his house on our way to an appointment, we had like 10 minutes to spare. We introduced ourselves and talked a little bit, and set up an appointment for Monday. We went back with Brother Spring Monday, had an awesome lesson with Rich and then had another lesson on Friday as well! Rich has a super strong desire to put his life back in order and he knows the Gospel of Jesus Christ is what is going to help him do that. He came to church this Sunday, the first time in many years. He stayed for all 3 hours and was particpating and everything. We now have weekly lessons set up and he plans on coming to church every Sunday again. He was just waiting for someone to reach out to him it seems like. He also told us about his next door neighbor who he gave a Book of Mormon to and invited her to take the missionary he is already doing missionary work again! We are pretty excited for Rich and to see him continue to progress. There are many others we have been working with and helping them come back, I will tell ya more about others next time!

On Tuesday we went on exchanges with the Chinese Elders, and then on Friday we went on exchanges with the Cambridge Spanish Elders. I always love going on exchanges, getting to know the other missionaries in the zone a little better and seeing how things are going in their areas. Tuesday I stayed in Lynnfield with Elder Anderson, he is an awesome guy! He has been out for 3 months or so and is learning Chinese out here. Then on Friday I went to Cambridge Spanish with Elder Packer. We had a super good time there and got a lot done. We stopped by a woman's house that they had contacted along the streets a few weeks earlier, and her husband answered the door and had no idea what we were talking about, but he let us in anyways! As soon as we mentioned Jesus Christ he said "Of course come in!" Man I love how humble and sincere a lot of the Spanish people are. Mostly they  just love Jesus Christ and love talking about him. So we went in and taught this man the Restoration, well I mostly just listened and was moral support because he didn't really speak English, but he just soaked it all up. We set a return appointment for Sunday, and went on our merry way. Well Elder Packer and Wharton went back there last night for the appointment, and it was just another awesome lesson they said. The whole family was there this time, the parents and their 4 kids and they taught them the Plan of Salvation. They invited the family (parents and oldest kid) to be baptized, and they said yes! This family is perfect, we are all pretty stoked about it! In our zone we actually set a goal to have 15 baptismal dates by the end of December, and right now we 9 so we are gonna need some New Years magic! 9 is the most the zone has had in a long time, but we know we can find more people who are ready!

We had a super good Christmas, we spent Christmas morning out at the Dallimar/Banks home and had a Christmas brunch with them. They live out in Swampscott, right along the coast and they have an awesome view of Boston from their home. It would be an awesome place to live! We played some sweet games of 4 square, checked out their kids presents and just enjoyed the morning together. It was awesome to Skype everyone, that was by far the best part of Christmas. The Briggs family invited us over for dinner, which was a great ending to a nice day. Christmas was great, couldn't have asked for a better day!

Saturday we had the Recent Convert temple trip for our mission, and it went super well. The temple was packed all day, and it was mostly recent converts there doing baptisms for their own ancestors. We set the goal to get 100 recent converts to the temple in December, and most of them came Saturday. Right now we have had 96 go, but there are many more scheduled to go over the next few days. We will actually be making a trip to the temple Tuesday night with a few of the new members in the Lynnfield ward, which we are really looking forward to. The temple is where we should always have our sights set, and with recent converts it is no different. It makes soooo much of a difference if our new members attend the temple to do baptisms for their ancestors shortly after their own baptism. It just solidifies their testimonies and helps them stay in the church and continue to progress. Tuesday should be an awesome day for us! Love you all, and and have a Happy New Years!!!!

At our Christmas Eve dinner we had a Yankee Swap (White Elephant or whatever ya wanna call it) and I walked away with this gem of a back scratcher.
 Aftermath of Christmas morning.
 The church treated us really well this Christmas and hooked all of us missionaries up with brand new Teslas! Not bad right?
Juuuuust kidding...Nice car though!
 Yeah the gingerbread house didn't quite make it to Boston, better luck next year!
Christmas in Boston, right along the ocean! We didn't quite get a white Christmas like all of you in Utah.
 View of Boston from our Christmas brunch!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

So the computers here at the library are having some issues today, the internet keeps coming and going. So sorry if this is a short one! Plus I will be skyping you guys in like 3 days so I can just tell  you everything then! But anyways, this week was crazy busy and was a lot of fun. Tuesday we went on exchanges with the Revere Elders, I stayed in Lynnfield and Elder Anderson came with me. He has only been out on his mission a few weeks, but he is a solid missionary! We had a super busy day, and a lot of good things happened. We invited two of our investigators to be baptized but neither of them said yes. The first was Geline, the guy from Haiti. He told us he isn't interested in joining our church this soon but that if God manifests to him and tells him he needs to be baptized then he will do it. So he didn't say yes but he didn't totally say no.... So now we just need to help him learn how to pray and get answers and we should be golden. Then the other guy we invited was Jerry. Jerry is the boyfriend of one of our members, and she desperately wants Jerry to join the church. So she invites us over once a week to feed us and have us teach Jerry. He very politely said no because he is super Catholic and has been his entire life, and feels like he would be giving up a piece of himself if he converted. I can understand, I guess it would be like someone coming and asking me to leave the Mormon church. Jerry will come along and join us one day, he wants us to keep coming and teaching him so that is good at least.

Friday we had our Christmas Conference/party for the mission. We got up super early and went to the temple first thing in the morning to do a session. It was great to go to the temple and take some time to think and relax, gotta love the temple! Then we went and grabbed a quick lunch in Boston, and went back to the chapel next to the temple for our Christmas conference. There was an awesome musical fireside that a bunch of missionaries put on, we have some talented musicians here! It was awesome, and then President Clayton Christensen spoke to us. If you don't know who he should look him up. This guy is incredible, and he is a counselor to our mission president so we are super lucky to have him spend so much time with us. His time is verrry valuable haha people spend thousands of dollars just to talk to him for an hour, and we get it for free! He talked to us about all sorts of things, but the best part was him telling us how he became truly converted to the gospel and became consecrated to building the Kingdom of God. It was a pretty remarkable story, I wish I could share it all with you guys. After the conference then we all had a big Christmas dinner together at the chapel, and then had our little Christmas party. Each zone had to make a little film to show the rest of the mission, nothing related to Christmas just something fun to do. Elder Bradley and I had to take the lead in getting ours done and it was quite a bit of work, but it turned out pretty good. We had everyone laughing pretty good. I will try and send you guys a link.

Sunday was a busy day as always. For some reason we ended up with 3 dinner appointments yesterday, and it was pretty brutal but we managed to get through it. It was a loooot of food though. Sunday night we also went to an Episcopalian church Christmas service, which was pretty interesting haha. That was really my first time going to a legit service of another church. Our friend Joe invited us to come with him, he had a part in the program. It was pretty interesting to see how they worship and what not. There were a lot of nice people there and they were pretty welcoming and everything. They had a wine and cheese reception at the church afterwards, we didn't stick around for that haha. It was a fun experience...I think I will stick with the Mormon church though! Alright love ya all, and Merry Christmas to everyone!!!!

Oh ya know, just chillin' by our Christmas tree!
This is what our fridge looks like, just loaded with gatorade and vitamin water.  A member of the ward, Brother Spring, hooks us up with drinks allll the time.  So we definitely aren't going thirsty in Lynnfield!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Full Circle

Well things keep rolling along here.... this week was really good actually! Everyone is super busy getting ready for Christmas and what not, but we managed to stay really busy last week! This week is looking pretty full already as well. We are pretty stoked for Christmas ourselves, we still gotta hunt down a Christmas tree though.

Tuesday was pretty crazy, it was pouring rain the entire day! It was what they call a nore'easter storm around here...not sure what that is supposed to mean but they are usually pretty  nasty! It wasn't quite cold enough for snow, so instead we just got a ton of rain. There were floods all over the place. Luckily for us we were in leadership meetings for practically the entire day. We had to be at the Boston Stake Center by 9 AM and we didn't leave until 8 PM. It was suuuper long, but it was really good! The meetings were primarily for us to sit down and discuss as a mission where we go now. We just had this awesome month of November where all sorts of records were broken, so now what. We set a goal for the month of December to get 100 recent converts to the temple to do baptisms for the dead this month. We aren't here just to baptize people, but we are trying to build the Kingdom of God. So we want to make sure we keep all 100 of these people active, and the very best way to do that is to get them to the temple. So December 27 is our Recent Convert temple day, the temple is going to be packed that day! We also set some goals of what we are going to accomplish from January to July of 2015. President and Sister Packard will go home in July, and we want to make sure these final 6 months are just as special as November was. Our mission is already pretty legit, but I pumped to see what we can accomplish this next little bit.

Wednesday was a super solid day for us, it was one of those days where everything just falls into place perfectly. They don't happen too often, but when they do it is just incredible. We ended up teaching like 8 lessons that day, and we even had two appointments cancel on us. But when one would cancel, another would pop up. It was just an awesome day. We were supposed to have dinner with Bishops family that night, but they had to cancel because of a school concert or something. So we were wondering where to go for about an hour we had free. I remembered this house that we had knocked on the doors of a while back, and the woman and said she would be interested in hearing our message. We had tried visiting again but had no luck, but it had been about 3 weeks since we had last stopped by. We go there, and this woman, Karen, answered the door. She was friendly and all but was saying it wasn't a good time to visit, and to try again another day. We kept talking and she told us that she had just gotten out of the hospital and she was having a horrible day. I quickly told her about the Priesthood and offered her a blessing, and she jumped all over that. She opened the door and brought us into her kitchen and sat down and said "Alright give me this blessing, I need all the help I can get!" So we gave her a blessing and it was a super cool experience. After the blessing she told us about all of the struggles she has been having. She is a single mother raising 3 kids, and she had been in the hospital because of depression. She kept commenting on how much better she felt, and that we brought feelings of peace and calmness into her home right when we entered. She just loved having us there, which was pretty good to hear! We explained to her and her kids what we as missionaries do, and they agreed to meet with us and take the lessons! They seem like they have a ton of potential, and we are stoked to start teaching them!

We also started teaching another family this week. There is a woman in our ward who was baptized a long time ago, when she was like 12 years old. She stopped going to church pretty quickly after joining. She now lives in our ward with her boyfriend Rich who isn't a member, and they  have 4 primary age children. We met them earlier this week and invited them to our ward Christmas party which was on Saturday, and then set up a lesson for Friday. The lesson on Friday went awesome, and we are now going to be going to their house weekly to teach the entire family the discussions. The kids were super stoked about us coming back over, we were like their new best friends. They kept telling me I look like Justin Bieber which was kind of weird, but hey whatever it takes to get the kids on our side. Their mother expressed a desire to get back to the church and to help the kids start gaining their own testimonies of Jesus Christ. The boyrfriend Rich is a super cool guy and has actually met with the missionaries in the past, but it didn't really go anywhere. He was all for us coming back again this week, so yeah things are looking good with them as well!

One last story for this week. Friday was kind of a crappy day, and all of our plans just fell apart. Just one of those days that happen way too often haha. But anyways, we were sitting at our favorite restaurant having dinner (3 Amigos mexican restaurant, remind me to tell you about this place later) and Elder Bradley and I were just talking about our missions and all of our experiences and what not. Elder Bradley was telling me about his time in Norwich CT and then he mentioned this family that he worked with, the McClain family. So let me rewind real quick to right when I started my mission in Waterford CT. My companion and I went to go visit this LA member, but a guy answered and said they had moved and he kinda shut the door in our face. So we went back to our car and started driving away but then this lady came running out of the door and up to our car and was telling us to stop. So we stopped and talked to her, and found out that she was a member of the church and had just moved there with her family and had been wanted to get in touch with the church but couldn't find it. So we talked to her, got her number, and then went on our way. Then for like the next month we were trying to get in contact with this lady, but she just like disappeared. Then I got transferred, and I had always wondered what happened to that lady. To make a long story short, the Waterford Elders finally got in contact with that lady, Mary, and found out that she had moved to Norwich. Then Elder Bradley started meeting with this family, their 10 year old daughter was baptized, and now the whole family is active again. I couldn't believe it when Elder Bradley was telling me about all this. It was soo cool to hear this families story come full circle. So ya never know what will come out the small simple things that happen on a daily basis. A lot of times we never even do find out the results of the people we try and help, but it is always rewarding to hear the occasional story like that!

Love ya all!!!

Riding with Frank to the Christmas party!
Sister Packard is putting together a film for our Christmas party with each missionary holding a sign saying something to the effect of "My mission has changed my..." or "My mission is successful because..." Apparantly this is something a lot of missionaries have been doing all across the world? Not sure, just doing what people ask. Haha.  So here was ours.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Spirit All Year Long

This week was super busy, we had a lot going on every day it seemed like. Lots of work getting done and lots of fun being had! Monday our zone went into Boston for our last pday together before a few of us got transferred around. We all met at the Boston Aquarium and spent most of the day there. We actually all got in for free, thanks to this guy named Jack. Jack is a detective for the Boston Police department, and is like the missionaries best friend. He isn't a member of the church, but he really likes what we as missionaries do. So he is always hooking missionaries in Boston up with free tickets to stuff, groceries, dinner, anything we need really. He is a super nice guy and would give us the shirt off his back if we needed it. So he took us all to the Boston Aquarium and then showed us around Boston a little bit as well. The aquarium was pretty sweet, they had a petting tank with stingrays and sharks inside, so that was pretty sweet petting a shark! Then Jack took us to some local mexican restaurant in Boston and got us some delicious empenadas, I have no idea how to spell that though. It was a really fun pday, shout out to Jack for hooking us up! That guy is a stud!

Tuesday and Wednesday we made the rounds to the ward and Elder MacJanet said all of his goodbyes. Our friend Joe took us to this Irish Pub for dinner that was pretty darn good! Joe is a really cool guy, we like hanging out with Joe! Last night Joe came with us to a members home and watched the Christmas Devotional with us. The Devotional was great, definitely inspired me to be a little better and offer Christlike service whenever I get the chance this Christmas season. But also to try and carry the Christmas spirit all throughout the year. We should always be looking for ways to serve and sacrifice to benefit those around us. But it is always nice during the Christmas season when everyone is a little nicer and a little more giving. We have been spreading the He is the Gift message like crazy the past few weeks. It has gone super well and everyone seems to really like it! We have gotten rejected quite a few times on the streets with these cards though. We go to hand it to people and say Merry Christmas and they look at us and say "no" or ignore us and a few have said "I don't want that crap". They didn't say crap though...haha but hey that is fine. They can be scrooges by themselves this Christmas.

Wednesday night we went to the Boston Stake Center for our transfer meeting. Holy cow there was 35 missionaries going home, and they all shared their final testimonies in the mission. Most of the people going home were the Sisters that came out with Elder Calvert and me. It was pretty weird to see them heading home already. Transfer meeting was super good though and I even got to see the Schriver family there which was pretty cool. Elder Boone was finishing his mission as well so they came to see his final testimony and say goodbye. But it was a nice meeting, and Elder Bradley and I headed back to Lynnfield at the end of the night ready to start our new journey together!

The rest of the week was super good. We had a lesson with this investigator named Chris, it didn't go so hot. We had planned on inviting her to be baptized, and so we had this awesome lesson planned to do it and we were ready to go. But then we sit down for the lesson and it was like she knew it was coming because we hadn't mentioned anything and she just went off on this huge rant about how she will probably never join the Mormon church and that there are all these things she disagrees with and that she enjoys our visits but that is probably as far as it is going to go. I was like "dang"....but I figured we had nothing to lose at this point and so we went ahead with the lesson and invited her to be baptized anyways. She said no...pretty quickly haha. But I was convinced that was the lesson Heavenly Father wanted us to have and so maybe He was just testing us to see if we were willing to put ourselves out there and follow the Spirit even if it isn't something we want to do. I'm not sure, it was a long shot anyways haha.

Friday night our zone went Christmas caroling out in Salem. A member of our ward is in charge of this event called "Christmas in Salem". It is pretty much like a home show where they select a certain number of the really old historic homes in Salem that have been preserved, and then they decorate them to look like they did back in the day. Anyways, we were asked to go caroling to those who were walking up and down the street from house to house, and those waiting in line. We probably sounded awful, but it was still a lot of fun. Tons of people were stopping and talking to us and asking us questions. We gave out a ton of He is the Gift cards there that night! And we even got free tickets to the home tour and we were able to go through the houses at the end of the night. We finished off the night like a classic New Englander and headed to Dunkin Donuts. Except we all got hot chocolate, but hey we are just trying to fit in out here. We do our best. This week is going to be another super busy one! Love you all and be sure to remember to #ShareTheGift

Giant Christmas tree in Boston, right outside of Quincy Market.

Christmas caroling in historic downtown Salem.
Dueces to Elder MacJanet...our time together was too short!
 Joe took us out to dinner one last time before MacJanet left.  Joe is the man!  "Coolest non-Mormon north of Boston!"
 Little penguin action at the Boston Aquarium.
 Petting stingrays and a few sharks...cross that one off the bucket list!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

November to Remember

This week flew by, and so did this transfer! I can't believe I have already spent an entire transfer in the Lynnfield ward. So transfer texts came in Saturday night and unfortunately Elder MacJanet is leaving Lynnfield to go down to the Southcoast ward. Our 6 weeks together flew by, but I definitely enjoyed our time together! Lots of good memories and he has helped me get my lazy butt to the gym in the mornings so that has been a nice bonus this transfer haha. But my new companion is Elder Bradley, he is a super cool guy and I know him pretty well already. He was in my zone while I was in Groton and we spent a lot of time together. He only has 12 weeks left in the mission, but I am really looking forward to serving with him! Transfer meeting will be Wednesday night in Boston. Quite a few transfers took place in our zone also, we are losing all of our sisters. Our zone will be all Elders this transfer which is pretty crazy! The next few days will be pretty busy with Elder MacJanet saying his goodbyes to everyone!

Like I have been telling you guys, our mission set a goal to get 70 baptisms in the month of November. Well we finished the month with exactly 100 baptisms! We hit triple digits! Holy cow it is definitely nothing short of a miracle that we were able to baptize 100 people this past month. It is a super exciting time in our mission and we are hoping to keep this ball rolling. The Lord has just been waiting on us this entire time. We were always capable of seeing this type of success in our mission, but we didn't really believe we could do it. This month was pretty special, throughout our entire mission each missionary made a personal sacrifice to show the Lord how badly we wanted to achieve our goal. I decided to sacrifice sleep and was waking up at 6 every morning to have extra time to study from the Book of Mormon. Heavenly Father recognized all of our sacrifices and blessed us immensely. I saw a lot of personal blessings through this sacrifice as well. My testimony of the Book of Mormon has actually grown a lot as I have spent the extra time reading it each morning. It has just been a great month all around. We definitely have a lot to be thankful for during this special month of November. We have been using the hashtag #NovembertoRemember in all of our texts about the goal and stuff, and it definitely is a month we all will remember.

We had a great Thanksgiving in Lynnfield. We got hit pretty hard with a snow/ice storm the night before Thanksgiving, so it was looking like it was going to be pretty nasty. But it cleared up during the night and it was a pretty decent day for Thanksgiving. Elder MacJanet and I got up and went to our ward's annual Turkey Bowl. Every Thanksgiving the men from the ward get together at a local high school and play football for a few hours. The field was covered in snow, so that made for a pretty interesting game of football. We were slipping and sliding all over the place. It was super fun though and it was a great way to start Thanksgiving! Dang we were sure sore in the morning though. For Thanksgiving the Robertson family invited us over to their family Thanksgiving celebrations. They invited us, as well as Frank and Andrea, the two newest members of the Lynnfield Ward. Sister Robertson prepared a wonderful meal for us, with lots of great pies as well. It was super kind of them to allow us to be a part of their family celebration.

We are hitting up the Boston Aquarium today for pday so we have to get heading out now. Sorry for the short email, but I love you guys and have a great week!!!!

Zone and District right before transfer texts came in!

 Cruising to Thanksgiving dinner with Father Lehi.