Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The BEST Two Years!

Wow....it is hard to believe this is my last letter home. It still doesn't really feel real yet. This has been my life for the past two years, and this week that will all change. Kind of. Missionary work never ends of course, now it will just be in a new venue and with new people. And I won't get to do missionary work all day every day. I will have to do missionary work while working, going to school and dealing with the rest of life. I don't know what to expect really, but I am excited for this new journey. It will be hard, but it will be fun. I guess I have gotten comfortable out here, now it is time to change haha. Like the saying goes... "There is no growth in the comfort zone, and no comfort in the growth zone". It is time for me to get out of the comfort zone so I can learn and grow in new areas of life. I am excited to see all of you on Friday though, it will be great!

I am not really sure if there is one main reason why I chose to serve a mission. It was something I always just planned on doing my whole life. I didn't really do anything special to prepare myself, but things just fell into place and somehow, someway I ended up out here in Boston on a mission. God needed me as a missionary, and He found a way to get me out here. So honestly, I have never really figured out how to answer the question of why I chose to serve a mission. Things just fell into place perfectly and it was clear that Heavenly Father wanted me to serve. I do know that I chose to work hard each and every day because I loved the people I served. Love is the best motivating factor. The love that I felt for the members and non members in my areas was enough to keep me working hard day in and day out.

I can't even begin to describe the things I have learned throughout my mission. These past two years have been a training ground for the rest of my life. I have learned what it means to be a consecrated disciple of Jesus Christ. I now know how to give of myself to the Savior, and how to let the Atonement work in my life. I have learned that God loves each of His children immensely, no matter what. I have begun to understand how to receive personal revelation directly from God, as to what He would have me to do on a daily basis. I still have a lot more to figure out on that topic though. I have learned what Zion truly is, and how we can work towards building Zion in our lives. The list will just go on and on of things I have learned. I guess most importantly, I have learned of the truthfulness of this Gospel, and of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. At the beginning of my mission I believed that all of these things were true. Now I can say I know that these things are true. That is the greatest knowledge I have obtained.

At the beginning of my mission I was really worried about the mission changing me. For some reason I thought it was going to turn me into a weirdo. I was comfortable with who I was, and I thought that I was doing pretty well in life. I just didn't really want to change for some reason. I think I was probably just scared of how hard it might be to change. Well, serving as a missionary has completely changed me, and I am okay with that. I now understand the repentance process, and how beautiful it is to see individuals make positive and lasting changes, and I want to continue making those changes myself. Before serving as a misisonary I was pretty selfish. Everything was about me, and how it was going to benefit myself. For the past two years I have been able to focus solely on the needs of others, and have attempted to truly forget about myself. My focus in life has changed from "How can this bless my life?" to "How can I bless the lives of those around me?". As I have changed this focus in life, many other things have changed along with it. As I have been attempting to focus on serving others, the things that motivate me have changed. I used to be motivated by recognition, praise, or wordlly gain. These motives would push me to do good things, but for the wrong reasons. Now I serve because I love God and I love those around me. Now I only care about what God thinks of me, and how he sees my efforts. My mission experience has honestly changed me completely. I am the same person, but my desires, ambitions, hopes, dreams, etc have all changed. I am really excited to see how the Gospel will continue to mold and shape me for the rest of my life.

I honestly have no idea what Heavenly Father has in store for me in the future. The one thing I do know is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be at the center of my life, for the rest of my life. Over the past two years I have met people from all over the world, from all sorts of religions who live all sorts of different lifestyles. I have been in hundreds of different homes and talked with thousands of different people. I have gotten a little taste of a lot of what this world has to offer. The one thing I have seen over, and over again is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the ONLY way for us to find true and lasting joy. There is simply no other way. My life will be centered up living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This will be my foundation and God can add whatever else He wants upon that foundation. I have loved every second of my mission. I don't think there will be a day in the rest of my life where I don't think about my mission or use something I have learned over these past two years.


Elder Pulsipher

Me with Barry.  In each area there is always that old person that you just go and visit sometimes to give them some company.  Barry is that guy.  He is awesome haha and has TONS of stories to tell.  Fun fact, Barry was born without a face.  He had no bones in his face...so his face is built out of plastic.  Pretty cool huh!?
 Boston Skyline with Joe!
Boston Skyline!

Me and Brother McCormick!  He is another awesome guy that just wasn't coming to church when I came to Lynnfield.  He had just fallen into one of those ruts that sometimes happens.  We started visiting and now he has been coming to church for the past 3 months and he is doing great!
 Saying goodbye to Brother Paolini. This is the guy we went to the temple with Saturday.
Temple trip with Brother Paolini.  When I first came to Lynnfield Brother Paolini was not active in the church.  He was baptized around ten years ago, was very active in the Gospel and then fell for a time.  We started meeting with him every Thursday at 4:30, and he has made a ton of progress.  He is at church faithfully every single week now.  He even gets there an hour early to set up the sacrament each week.  A few months ago we set the goal for Brother Paolini to return to the temple so that he could be baptized and confirmed for his father who passed away while Brother Paolini was not active in the church.  Just a few weeks ago he was able to get his temple recommend, but it didn't look like he would have a day free to go to the temple before I left.  Thankfully his boss called and cancelled work this Saturday, and we were able to go and do the temple work for his father.  It was a really special day and Brother Paolini loved it.  He kept saying "This is awesome" throughout the whole temple experience.  I love this guy. I always looked forward to our Thursday meetings.  He is an amazing guy and he always knows how to make me smile.  Saturday was definitely the perfect way to finish my time working with him.  It was special to see his reactivation from start to finishing there at the temple.

Harvard Library
Reading the best book in Harvard Yard! Trying to be smart and all...
 John Harvard...his golden shoe is supposed to bring good luck, or something like that.
These guys are the best.  Jen, Gary, me and Jake.  Let me start with Gary... His family converted to the church when he was a young kid, and he was raised in the church up until he was 16. Things fell apart in his family and they all kind of went their separate ways.  Fast forward 40 years and Gary has had zero interactions with the church since he was 16.  We started visiting Gary a few months ago, and things were slow at first but then all of a sudden things just fell into place.  Gary expressed an interest in coming back to church, and we said we could help with that.  Gary has been active for the past 3 months or so, and is doing really well.  He even quit smoking on his own last month after having smoked his whole life.  This guy is the most sincere, and selfless guy I know.  He does sooo much service to those around him it is unreal.  He never does anything for himself.  His main reason in wanting to return to the church is Jen.  She is 14 and is his God Daughter.  Jen lives outside of our ward boundaries during the week, but Friday - Sunday she comes and stays with Gary.  Gary wanted to give her some stability in life and help her come to know God. So he decided he needed to get back into the Gospel himself so he could introduce it into Jen's life.  Jen now comes to church with Gary every week, and she kind of likes it haha.  Jake is Gary's nephew.  This guy is a survivor.  He was born with cerebral palsy and is also autistic, and he has had cancer like 4 different times.  But he is just the happiest, loving kid ya will ever meet.  Jake has lived with Gary full time for about 10 years now.  Like I said, Gary is an amazing guy.
Me saying goodbye to Pat Nelson.  She was a member here in the ward who was in a nursing home...we tried to visit her as often as we could.  Gotta represent and visit those old ladies like President Monson always talks about!
Last Pday in Boston...Boston Public Garden.
 The Ducks...


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mothers Day to all you Mothers out there! It was great to talk to the fam last night, you guys are pretty trunky but that is okay.... I still love ya. We had a great week, as always! We actually didn't spend as much time as normal here in Lynnfield, we had quite a few meetings and things down in the Boston area that took us out of the Lynnfield area.

Last pday we went down into Boston and were planning on doing the Freedom Trail. We met up with a bunch of other missionaries and that kind of derailed the plans. It is always hard to do things with a big group. So yeah we made it like halfway through the Freedom Trail, but it was still really fun. It was a beautiful day and it was good to be down in the city of Boston.

Tuesday we had some more exchanges, this time with the Cambridge 3 Elders. I stayed in Lynnfield with Elder Pope. We actually will be finishing our missions together and flying home together next week. We started our missions together in the same District down in New London CT, and now we are ending our missions together in the Cambridge North Zone. Elder Pope is an awesome guy and he has taught me so much. We had a solid day together. We had a lesson with Matt and he is progressing really well. We went over the baptismal interview questions and he is solid, like super solid. He is ready to be baptized, but his mom just wants him to wait a little bit to show he is truly committed to this. Hopefully by the end of June he will be ready....maybe when I come back to visit in June I will see his baptism :) Then we had a nice dinner at Joe's house that night..Joe is the man as always.

Wednesday we had MLC all dayyy long pretty much. It was my last MLC meeting, which is sad to think about. These meetings have been like one of the highlights of my mission. I have been serving as a Zone Leader for over a year now, so I have been to plenty of these MLC meetings, and they are always just soooo good. It is just where all of the zone leaders and sister training leaders meet together with President and Sister Packard and discuss the state of the mission and council together on what we need to do to improve. It is always a super spiritual meeting, you just feel drained at the end. They always have the departing missionaries share their final testimony at their last MLC meeting, so this was my turn. It was weird... I always would hear the other missionaries sharing their final testimony, now it is me doing it. You just never really think your mission will end....and then it does haha. Wednesday night we had dinner at the Troxels, a member family. They made us some Cafe Rio style burrito/salad and man it was good. The closest Cafe Rio is in Maryland...so yeah it will be nice to have some Cafe Rio back home.

Thursday we spent a large portion of the day planning our zone meeting, which we had on Friday at the mission home. Zone meeting this month was focused solely on how us as missionaries can become a "fabric of the ward" in which we serve. Our main goal is for us and the members/leaders to be ministering to the same people together. In the past it has been the members work with their LA's and families who are struggling, and then the missionaries work with their investigators. We want us all to be ministering together to everyone. So the zone meeting was all about how we could better build our relationships with ward leaders and how to work more effectively with them. It went pretty well! We had zone meeting at the mission home because we also had interviews with President Packard that day. I will be having my exit interview next week, so I didn't have much of an interview this week. Friday was a great day though, it was nice to spend some quality time with the Packards! They are pretty great.

The weekend was super busy but super good as well. Saturday we went out to eat with Brother Spring for breakfast, the Bouchards for lunch and Joe and Frank for dinner...so we are probably getting pretty fat now. Everyone is feeding us one last time before I leave so that could be a problem. It was super nice though. We also had a primary activity on Saturday that the ward asked us to help out with. We organized a "Day in the Life of a Missionary Relay" for the kids to do. It was super crazy and the kids were out of control, but they loved the relay that we did. A few of my white shirts got ruined in the process because we had them dress up in missionary clothes while they did the relay, but that's okay I won't need the shirts for much longer haha. Then Sunday was just a super good day all the way around. It was a great week. Love ya all....have a great week!!!!

Just walking around the city of Boston! Not really sure what this is...but we thought it was cool haha!
The round of goodbyes has started in Lynnfield...this is me with Candida and her daughter Danielle.  Candida was baptized 20 or so years ago in this ward, but then moved away and lost contact with the church.  Through a few small miracles we were able to meet Candida one night about 6 months ago, and she is now fully active in the ward again.  Danielle is her 12 year old daughter and we taught her quite a bit of the Gospel.  Danielle was preparing for baptism, but that has slowed down a little bit.  They are both at church together every week and they are just an awesome family!  Candida started crying right after this picture, we have gotten pretty close with her and her family!
 We had to take a break on the Freedom Trail and wait for the Sisters to catch up.
Dinner at Harringtons with Joe and Frank.  Had to say goodbye to Frank because he will be down in Providence from now until I leave.

 Me and my boy Luis Rodriguez!!! This guy is one of a kind.  Luis was baptized quite awhile ago, like around 20 years ago as well. He was never fully converted to the Gospel.  Then about 2 years ago his son started preparing to serve a mission.  This gave Luis the motivation to make the changes necessary in his life.  His son is serving a mission now and Luis is completely active in the Gospel.  He just received his own Endowment last summer.  Luis is a reeeaaally good cook.  For Mother's Day he had us over for his famous chicken quesadilla's one last time before I leave.
 Waiting for the T last pday!  (The T is the Subway for all you non-Bostonian speakers)
 Zone Meeting at the mission home!  We bought this apron and decorated/signed it for Sister Packard for Mother's Day.  Well the Sisters mostly did all of the work and we signed it.  It was nice though!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Quick Hello

We had a few things not go our way this week, but that is life I guess! We are still doing a lot of digital mission work and talking with people from all over the world. We were using Google + to meet and talk to people the past few weeks, but it wasn't working out so we are back to our original website called Interpals. This place is a goldmine, there are tons of people that are willing to talk to us. We Skype with people in Hong Kong, Russia, Brazil and Turkey this week and taught individuals about the Gospel. It is pretty amazing what ya can do with technology. It is awesome to see the good things that you can do with it. So often we just hear about all the bad things that come from the internet. But God allowed us to have this invention, and there are obviously a lot of good things can come from it. We are able to find people through the internet and teach them about the Gospel, and it is usually people who would likely not come in contact with missionaries in the outside world. A lot of the people that we talk to are people who are constantly on their computers, so we are tapping into a finding pool that hasn't really been used yet. It is pretty exciting to see how the Lord is using this trial digital mission work to move the work forward. I can't wait to see what comes out of this.

This week we had a special opportunity to attend a lecture at the Harvard School of Business. It was designed as a youth activity for one of the Boston wards, and it is kind of a long story as to why we were invited, but it was really cool! Professor DeLong teaches there at HBS, and is also a member of the church locally. He taught us how to basically be successful and happy at the same time. He basically showed how he teaches his students to be Christlike in the business world, but without teaching about Jesus Christ and preaching his religion. I don't really know how to explain it, but it was really good! So see, I always told you guys I was gonna attend school at Harvard.

We had a mini missionary come spend the weekend with us, his name was Eric and he came down from Nashua, NH. He is 16 and is a Junior in high school up there. We had a solid weekend together, there wasn't a second of free time really. We were hoping to get him out on the streets tracting for a while but we just didn't have any time to do that. I think he was pretty happy that we didn't do any tracting haha. We did do a little bit of street contacting walking to and from appointments to try and show him what it is like to talk to everyone and invite everyone to learn more. We got some pretty harsh rejections haha so that was good for him to see. I was walking out in front of the group and there was this one lady standing out on her porch that I smiled and waved at and said hello. She responded with a "No". So that was pretty rude and then I said "Oh don't worry ma'am I was just saying hello to you, that's all". Then she said "No, I don't want your hello." I thought that was pretty rude haha so I said "Wow...well alright then!" and kept walking. I am not sure how someone can turn down a hello, but she somehow was determined to not accept my hello. So yeah, Eric had some great mission experiences throughout the weekend haha.

So we met with Matt a few times this week, and finished up teaching the commandments. He came to church again this week, and we talked a lot about his upcoming baptism which is scheduled for Saturday. But then Sunday after church he went home to invite his parents to his baptism, which we were all pretty nervous for haha. They aren't too sure about the whole Mormon thing. So he talked to his mom, and she was actually fine with his decision to be baptized. But...she wants him to hold off a little bit longer. I am sure she just wants to make sure he is actually committed to this. We think it will be best to honor his mom's wish and push the baptism back a month or two. So unfortunately Matt won't be baptized while I am still here. I was a little bummed at first but it is fine. The mission has definitely taught me that everything happens according the the Lord's time. There are things that are just out of our control. We can do our very best to serve and help people, but there are always factors that God controls and we just have to be patient and willing to do whatever God sees fit. He has wise purposes for everything, which we don't often see or understand. So, it will all work out! We are going to do the Freedom Trail today, so I gotta go! Love ya all!!!!

Frankie, Coco and Buttons
Ya can't see too well, but this is me standing at the top of the steps to one of the buildings at the Harvard School of Business.
Us with our mini missionary, Eric.