How is everyone doing? Down in Florida it has been a little rainy, more like the most rain I've ever seen in my life!!! Haha. The storm came through and luckily we're all safe. It didn't hit us straight on so that's a good thing but we did get our fair share of rain. From Sunday right after church (11:00 AM) until yesterday at 5:00 PM we were confined to our house. Luckily the day before we went to a sporting goods store and bought a little basketball hoop that we hung up in our house so that kept us occupied for most of the time. For the rest of the time I did some reading. I'm just glad that we're all safe and our investigators are all safe as well. There has been some flooding here but it's not too bad.
Well I looked at the calendar today and realized that in 6 months from today I'll be going home... I can't believe it! Don't worry though, I'm not getting trunky. I really love my mission and I'm growing so much! These past few weeks have been a big change for me but it's been making me stronger. I wish time would just slow down a little... I can't keep up! Haha. That's great to hear about Jeff. I'm glad that he's doing well and really enjoyed his mission. I'm sure Denmark is a little different than Belle Glade but the work is the same!
Congrats Sam on your first assembly! Sounds like everything went nice and smooth. Good luck with Homecoming!
So this past week as we were preparing for the wedding and baptism we got news of the storm. We didn't think it would be coming up this way but when we heard about it the Branch President told us that we wouldn't be having it... That was hard for us to grasp and also for our investigators. It was one of the hardest things for me to tell them that they need to wait because they want it so bad and were so looking forward to this past Saturday. However yesterday when we went over there they were still a little bummed and we needed something to boost up their desires. So we went to the Book of Mormon. We read in Alma 36 where Alma is talking to his son Helaman about his conversion. It was so powerful! Both of them have had such hard lives and have done things in their lives that they aren't proud of and have brought them sorrow. When we read in verse 21 where it says, "I say unto you, my son, that there could me nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other had, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy" Jay's face just lit up and he started to cry... He can't wait to be baptized! He knows he'll be forgiven of the things he's done in the past and he'll be able to start over and he can't wait for it! On Sunday at church, they announced their wedding and so many members came up to them and supported them. One of them is going to take her out to get a dress and shoes and the others are planning the food and everything. The member that called you, paid for the wedding papers and we went to the Court house (or as they call it here, the county barn) to get it last Tuesday. I love the members here and I'm happy to be serving around them.
This past week I also went to see a doctor. After waiting for about two hours they said they didn't know what was going on with me and referred me to go see a GI specialist. So no new news concerning my tummy troubles but I guess we'll see later on when I see the other doc. My comp, and I are getting along really well! He's in his third transfer and is just starting to lose himself in the work. It's a lot of fun to have such a great energetic companion. He's about at his six month mark and it feels like I was just in his spot... Turns out that was a year ago ;) We're doing really well! We went to this little Mexican store the other day and bought some Horchata mix. It's super good!!! Luckily no one else in the apartment likes it so it's all mine :D Maybe I'll send you home some Mom.
Well that's about all I've got from this end. Keep our investigators in your prayers so they can get married and baptized on Saturday. Also pray for our other investigators so they can also get baptized! I love you all and hope to hear from you soon!
I'm glad to hear that all of you are doing well and you're all happy. Sorry to hear about Sam's falling experience but I hope you start to feel better soon! I know how sprained ankles are... Not fun! Happy Birthday Marc! Sorry to hear that you caught strep throat and that you have to start school today but I hope you have a great day :)
Everything out here has been pretty good. I've still been feeling sick but I have an appointment with a doctor this Friday so hopefully we'll be making some progress to figure out what's going on. Belle Glade/South Bay is an interesting place. I love it! There are so many nice, friendly and loving people. I'm still not used to it but I'm getting there. Haha. One thing I know for sure though is that I love this branch. They are so amazing! They're small but so strong and so willing to help. We have two investigators that need to be married. They came to church yesterday for the second time and just absolutely loved it! The Branch loved them as well. After church after our investigators left we were talking to some of the members of the branch and asked us how they're doing. We told them that they need to be married and that they really don't have the means to afford the marriage application. The woman that we were talking to said, "Well, don't worry because we're going to have a wedding. I'll pay for the application (which is like $100) and we'll have a nice little wedding here at the church!" They went to the ATM right after church and gave us the money. All of the members are starting to plan what they're going to do to help. It's so great! They didn't come to church last week because the man didn't have any church clothes and didn't feel comfortable coming in gym shorts. That's about all he has. So my companion and I went to Goodwill to see what they had. Well they had a very nice gray suit that fit him perfectly and we got it for $11. I'm learning from Sam how to shop, "the thrift" :) We brought it over to them on Tuesday and he was so happy! Their date for baptism was supposed to be yesterday and it was so hard to tell them they couldn't get baptized yet because they're not married yet. He was so sad! He wants to get baptized so badly! Tomorrow we're going to the court house so they can get their marriage certificate :) I hope everything works out! Needless to say, I'm really excited for this week!
Unfortunately our other investigator and her daughter didn't get baptized this past week. They went out of town for the last weekend of the summer but we're hoping they'll be baptized with the married couple this weekend! Things are doing well in the area and we're finding some really cool people :)
This past week there was also a death in the Branch. An older man died and had his funeral on Saturday. It was a very nice, small funeral. This town is so closely knit. Everyone knows each other!! It's so great! We had a potluck after the funeral and I had some amazing food! It's definitely very different being here but I'm really starting to love it :)
We also were privileged to have zone conference this past week. It was one of the best ones that I've ever had! President Anderson talked a lot about being discouraged. He talked a lot about why hard things happen to us. He talked about Paul and all of the trials and challenges he had, being beat, put in prison, whipped, almost killed many times, etc. all because he preached the gospel. It also talks about how he had some sort of health problem, in the bible it uses the word "thorn" and he asks the Lord to take it from him. However, the Lord doesn't take it away... All of us have our thorns and sometimes they aren't taken away. They are there so that we can humble ourselves before God and rely on His strength. President said, "many times we are put in situations where we begin to pray so that the Lord with change our circumstances. However, there is a better way. Pray for the strength to change your circumstances." As I've been applying that this week I've begun to see the power and how my perspective has changed to be able to handle my challenges with confidence and with the strength of God.
Thank you for all of your help and support and the love that you have for me! Things haven't been easy but I know that the Lord is strengthening me through your prayers and I'm really grateful for them :) We are getting closer to having missionaries enter Cuba. How exciting is that? Pretty cool! I also heard that they changed my release date from March 6th, 2013 to February 28th, 2013. So I'm going home a week earlier than planned. Mom you asked about applying to schools, I'm almost positive that I'm going to go to the U at least for my first year back and might take the summer semester. If you could begin to search for my records and stuff like that, it would be great :) I love you all and hope you have a great week!
Well another week has come and gone and this week was full of many changes. I was transferred up to the area South Bay which is part of the city Belle Glade. It's such a small town but I love it! Definitely different than the last area that I came from, I'll have to send some pictures (They are attached). I'm serving in a small tiny little branch. Yesterday at church there were about 25 people there. It brings me back to the beginning of my mission when I served in the Miami Beach Branch. This is an English branch but we bring whoever we teach and if they speak spanish I get to translate :) I'm serving with my new companion from St. George UT. He's been out about five months. He's a great missionary and I'm excited to work with him. We're both learning great new things :)
Well this week has been really great! There are some really great members in this branch. One of my favorite families is named the ***** Family. They are Mexican family who are so humble! It's a family of five who live in small little trailer. We went over and helped them clean out their air conditioning. I love talking with them. So humble and so giving to the missionaries. I'm very excited to be with them in the branch.
One of the recent converts in the area is named ^^^^ and her daughter is ###### . They're a Mexican family who are awesome! We went over there the other day to meet them. First we came in and talked with ^^^^ in Spanish, she doesn't know English. Then a little later ###### walked in, said hi and then went to the other room. Then about 5 minutes later she came back out, and was staring at me and asked, "What are you?" I was confused... I didn't really know what to say... Then she asked again, "What are you? Like where are you from?" I said I'm from Utah and I'm American. She said, "really? Because you don't have an accent. I don't get it! I've never met anyone who's white and doesn't have a gringo accent!" It was pretty funny. I always thought I had a bad accent but apparently not. Haha.
So I've got a really funny story! So on Friday we had a zone meeting up in Stuart which is about an hour and a half away. So we drove up there and it was such a beautiful drive just seeing all of these open fields. We had the meeting and it was good but when we came out the car we came up in had a flat tire... We had to change it and then get to a store to get it fixed. All in all it took such a long time!!! We got back around 6 o'clock but it was a good memory. Right now I'm living with other elders for the first time in my mission. They're so much fun! One of them reminds me of Stephen! We get along really well! Today we're going to be playing games in the church with some of our investigators and members. We're looking forward to it :)
We have some great investigators. We have like four families that we're working with and their going really well. One of them is named +++++ with her Daughter @@@@@. They should be getting baptized this next weekend. I'm happy to be in this area working with some great people. Well that's all I've really got to share for today. I'm so happy to be in this area and ready to learn and grow. Have an awesome week! I love you all!
Can you believe that it's already the 7th of August... I can't believe how fast time is going. I'm pretty sure I write that in every letter but I just can't believe it. We got transfer info last night and unfortunately I'm going to be transferred... Not really looking forward to it because this is my favorite area! I love Killian! My companion and I get along so well together that it's sad to leave. However I know the Lord needs me somewhere else. It doesn't feel like I've been here for a fouth of my mission. Time really does fly. So to start my next transfer who knows where I'll be...
This week really has been one of the greatest ones yet. We had a zone challenge called "Coming to Ourselves" challenge (based off of the talk by Elder Robert D. Hales from last General Conference.) It talks about the prodigal son coming home and not being forgotten by his father. We took that as zone leaders and applied it to the missionaries of coming to ourselves by finding out who we are and working with no regrets. One of the suggestions that we used was to really prepare to take the sacrament last week. I really took that to heart and studied about the Atonement every single day. As the days went on my desire to take the sacrament increased. As my desires increased my actions followed by working hard helping others to desire what I desire. By the time we got to Saturday night I was pumped to take the Sacrament the next day. This was the most special sacrament that I've had and helped me really internalize the Atonement into my life. As I prepared for this moment I wasn't going through the motions and gave time to let the Spirit help me "always remember Him." I'll forward the challenge we sent to the zone. Also, I encourage you to read that talk again.
Well this week I've got some cool stories. So on Wednesday we went to go see the ***** family with the Bishop and it went really well! They're wanting to get married and they're starting to plan everything. The father hasn't really been staying for the lessons much. However the mother loves studying and reading the Book of Mormon. We come over and she talks about what she read the night before and when we leave they always keep studying. They're so great! They love the Bishop! Well after that lesson we picked up a recent convert of ours named Brother %%%% (from Peru... weird huh?) anyways. We took him to see ******* but at first she wasn't there. We took him to see another person who also wasn't there and then we went back to ******. We saw her outside of her house in the parking lot with her husband and Brother %%%% started talking. All of them are from Peru, not cuba :) They got along really well and then he just went right into his testimony. He shared his story about when he and his wife almost got separated but they found the Gospel and it brought them together. The same thing is happening with ****** and her husband. Very powerful and a great moment.
Then we got a call from a member who wanted to give us food and wanted to meet up in the Publix parking lot. We went there and as we waited brother %%%% went inside to buy something so we waited outside... Then some woman came up to us and asked, "Will you spare 5 minutes of your time to donate blood to save the life a 2 year old girl with cancer?" We told her we were really in a rush and couldn't. At this time it was 8:50 pm. So we really couldn't. She then said, "well if you really are representatives of Jesus Christ why won't you help save a life of a baby girl? If you knocked on my door I don't think I'd listen to Hippocrates..." She got us. We got into the blood bus and donated blood... I don't think we're supposed to as missionaries but I just didn't know what to do. The 5 minutes she was talking about turned into 25 minutes... We came out and the sister giving us food gave it to bro %%%% and then he said, "she got you didn't she?! She says the same thing every time! I've never seen that 2 year old!" Haha. It was frustrating but it all worked out! Haha... So if you get letters in the mail about donating blood you know why...
So we saw ##### this week as well. It turns out that he's going to move to his house in Veil Colorado for the rest of the summer. It was sad to see him leave but he'll get baptized soon. The lesson we had with him was so good! Teaching him is so different than teaching any other investigator. He had such great questions about the sacrament and about Christ's Atonement. He also had the question about why bad things happen to good people and we asked him if he had a Preach My Gospel.... He went upstairs and grabbed his. Again, so different than teaching any other investigator. We showed him the section on how the Book of Mormon answers the questions of the soul and he loved it! He's such an amazing person who is so prepared to be baptized! I'm definitely going to stay in touch with him :)
On Saturday, A recent convert came out with us practically all day long, six hours to be exact. As we went to Harvest (knocking doors) he was having a hard time because people kept rejecting us. He said, "Let's go to another area. No one wants to hear from us. Why do you do missionary work if it's so hard?" We explained to him, and helped him recognize, the blessing that we receive from the gospel. We asked him, "How would your life be different if we never knocked on your door?" He thought about it and knew if we didn't harvest he wouldn't be a member of the church. It was so great to see him grow and increase in his desires to share the Gospel. We brought him with us to see an investigator and bore his testimony that we are representatives of Jesus Christ. He bore his testimony of Baptism and how it changed his life. It was probably the best member present lesson I've ever had. It's been such a joy to see the progress with him. I've seen if from the very beginning. He really is turning into the person the Lord wants him to be. He rode his bike to church on Sunday, which was about 4 miles away, and was so happy! He got a home teaching companion and is just thriving. I love him and leaving him is the hardest thing about leaving this area...
On Friday we had Zone Leader Council so we went up to Fort Lauderdale and saw the progress of the temple. It's really going up fast! I didn't take a picture but when I go up tomorrow i'll take one and send it home.
Well that's about all I've got! Transfers really are a time to grow and meet new people. Even though it's tough to leave what's comfortable it's worth it in the long run and I know that there are people for me to meet in my new area, wherever it may be. I love you all and I thank you for all of the support you give me! Have a wonderful week and keep me in your prayers!