Dad just sent me some pictures. Harrison looks great! So does Jenni! I love the one of them kissing out in front of the Portland temple. It's so neat. Ah man. I'm so proud of them. Harrison and Jenni are driving to Disneyland right now. He's emailing me from his Iphone, so we're kind of chatting.... not sure if that's allowed, but whatever! haha. It sounds like they are having a great time.
This week was pretty good. We worked so hard, but we didn't see a whole lot of fruit come from it. But you can't say we didn't try! We tracted for 3 hours on Monday night. Not a whole lot of success. Had a lot of people shut us down. The best one was this one: I walked up to a house and two ladies were sitting on their porch. Their black lab came running at me but I wasn't afraid because it was a lab and it was tied up. But it was barking at me and it made it hard to talk to them. They said, "Don't bother coming any closer. Our dog isn't nice." I said, "Well, is it okay if I talk loudly at you from over here?" One of the ladies yelled, "What about?" And I said, "About how God has called a prophet today to help our families be happy?" The other said, "We don't care who he's called, we want you to go away. We're busy!" I said, "Okay. Have a good night!" And walked away. haha harsh! But we did meet a really nice lady named Donnis. She is elderly and living with one of her best friends who is dying from a disease of some kind. I think Lou Gherig's disease. Anyway, she talked to us for about an hour and accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon. She said she is really open and so is her friend, and it would be fun to read to her since she can't do anything else. She invited us back in two weeks. As we were walking back to the car for the night, we met a couple. They were on a walk. We introduced ourselves and the girl said, "I know who you are! My sister joined your church in Ohio. My nephew is on a mission in Brazil!" We had a great talk, but they weren't interested. haha but they were super cool though!
Tuesday we met with a great lady in the ward named Sister Gyles. Her dad has been really sick, and so we meet with her to help her out and give her a spiritual boost. She's unable to come to church on Sundays because she has to drive to Ohio every weekend and be with her dad. So she has us over and feeds us lunch and we read scriptures. It was great. We had a great lesson with Nick after that on Faith and how to develop it. He really enjoyed it. Then we tracted for three hours. We talked to this really nice Catholic guy who said, "BOYS! GET UNDER MY PORCH, QUICKLY!" It started pouring SUPER hard. If we had been in the street, which was on a super steep hill, we probably wouldn't have been able to stand up. There was a pretty sizable current. He let us into his house and told us war stories. He wasn't interested in the church though but thanked us for spending time with him.
Tuesday night Nick and Jess took us to Olive Garden for dinner. We had a blast. Nick cracks me up. He used to be a SUPER troubled kid when he was little. He used to push girls down at recess and steal things and punch kids and all this other crazy stuff. He told us about all of the fights he got in when he was in high school. haha he has some crazy stories. My favorite was the time he came out of the stall in the bathroom and saw that this other kid had lit the garbage can contents on fire with some matches. He yelled, "WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING?!" And the other kid said, "I dunno, man! We gotta get out of here!" And they ran away haha. Man... Nick has DEFINITELY changed through the gospel. I probably told you, but now he helps the lady across the street pull weeds and bring her garbage cans in from the street. It's really cool. He's a super good person.
We had Zone Training on Wednesday from 10 AM to 3 PM. It was great. Elder Deaton and Elder Nelson trained on how to teach the apostasy well. They compared the 3 pillars of salvation (Creation, Fall, Atonement) to the apostasy. You had to know about the creation, apostasy, and restoration of the church in order for things to make sense. It was really Good. We taught a lesson on the apostasy to the Cardenas family after that. It went pretty well, though it was all in Spanish. Brother Match came with us, and he is fluent, so they didn't need me at all. Oh well! I got to teach the Book of Mormon class at the church from the institute manual that night, and it was on Abinadi and the Nephite escape from the land of Nephi, so it made up for it.
Thursday I was on exchange with Elder Jamieson in Indiana. We had a blast. We vacuumed the Jimmy Stewart Museum and I got to look at all these cool autographed movie posters and things relating to Jimmy Stewart's career. It was a lot of fun. He was born in Indiana, PA, so they make a big deal out of that there. There's a big statue down town of him, and all of the crosswalk signals have his voice. When "walk" comes up, you hear Jimmy Stewart say, "Ya know, you should probably walk from here to there!" It's super hilarious. At the museum they sell Mr. Kreuger's Christmas DVD's for 10 bucks.... us missionaries give them out for free and have cases and cases of them. haha what a rip off.
Cool thing happened Thursday night. So a year ago, Elder Nilsen and I got a media referral from a woman named Heather. She had ordered a Book of Mormon online and asked for missionaries to come teach her so she could be baptized. We were super excited, but I kept talking to Larry and Lori during an appointment and I wasn't paying attention to the time, so we got out late. Then we got stuck in traffic and had to make the trip into Indiana (which was out of our area but we didn't realize it) and we showed up an hour late. She had already left. Elder Nilsen chastised me for not being on top of things. I felt awful. We just left the Book on her porch and gave her the phone number for the Indiana elders and went home for the night. We never did get a hold of her again.
So, apparently she had made contact with the missionaries. She had read the Book of Mormon, gained a testimony, and had started attending church regularly. But she fell into some old ways and felt guilty and stopped coming to church. But she had tons of friends in the Branch and stayed in contact, even though she stopped meeting with missionaries. Then she moved to Texas for a while and then moved back. It's been a crazy year for her. Long story short, she showed up to church last sunday and asked the Bishop, the Elders, and the Relief Society President to come to her house on Thursday night. So we showed up and she said, "So, I've been doing a lot of thinking and praying.... and I think it's time for me to get baptized." I WAS SUPER HAPPY! She still had some things she needed to work through to prep for it, and wanted to take the discussions again, but we established a date for October. We had a super spiritual lesson and answered a lot of her questions. Afterwards I told her who I was. I said, "Heather, you probably don't remember me, but I talked to you on the phone a year ago. I dropped off the Book of Mormon on your doorstep, but I was the reason we never showed up for the appointment because I made us late. And I've felt bad about it for the last year of my life and I've been praying for you." She got a big smile on her face and laughed and then she started crying. It was a little miracle. I mean, what're the odds? Super cool. It was a blessing to be there.
Thursday night I got the stomach flu. Friday I had the stomach flu. The Match family had us over for dinner. I slept on their couch while Elder Gerratt practiced Spanish with them. I felt really embarrassed. They understood though. Saturday I had the stomach flu, but was able to work. We cleaned up this lady's yard for service in the morning from 11 to 2 and then went and showered at the church. We tracted and followed up with some people, and then Mike had us over for dinner. I didn't eat anything because I wasn't feeling good. I was really sick.
After dinner, we went to the church. My stomach hurt so bad I just laid on the pew in pain. I had to teach a lesson to the Cardenas girls while Elder Gerratt taught their parents English. I had prepared for it for the last 3 days and was super excited to teach them bible history, but I didn't know how I'd be able to do it. Elder Gerratt gave me a blessing and there was a weird sucking sound in my stomach and suddenly the pain went away. My headache went away. I felt perfect! We had an incredibly spiritual lesson and Tatiana and Estella had both read from the Book of Mormon since our last visit and were starting to understand it. Things about the apostasy finally clicked and everything wrapped up nicely. It was a fantastic last lesson to have with Tatiana, since she is headed off to college this Friday. She is going to be meeting with the Sister Missionaries there. They are helping her move in. It's really exciting. After they left and we got home, I got really sick again. haha funny how that works, eh? The Lord heals you for your specific duty and then lets you prove yourself after that. =D
Sunday was fantastic. All the talks were really good. Nick and Jess came and so did Luis and Tatiana and Estella. We had a miracle happen. Brother and Sister Whiting walked in to Gospel Principles class 2nd hour with this guy named Eric. They'd been out of town all week and so we figured they had just invited a friend to church. He stayed for Priesthood as well and sat with Brother Whiting the whole time. Brother Miracle, the Elder's Quorum president, told us his conversion story and it was super powerful. The lesson was on the purpose of member missionary work and the truth of the gospel and the effect it has on those who accept it. It was really great.
After church we found out that Brother Whiting didn't know the guy. They were running late for church, and were in the parking lot when he walked up to them and asked if he was allowed to attend. Apparently, Eric has been living in Pittsburgh for 7 years, and he'd always drive by the church and get this feeling that he was supposed to belong there. He had to go. But he always ignored it. Finally, he got up the courage to check it out, and so he just showed up, and Brother and Sister Whiting, 2 of the nicest people in the world, were waiting for him in the parking lot. He had a great time, and we will hopefully be meeting up with him in the coming weeks. Eric is a really cool guy.
Sunday night was fun. Brother Daugherty, (we call him "Doc), came out with us. He is probably the coolest guy in the world. He used to be a millionaire, got into drugs and lost everything, met the missionaries and changed his life, got baptized and has been an active member for 8 years. He wears ray bans and cool suits and always has a toothpick in his mouth and has a gruff voice and could be a character on a TV show. haha he's super funny. We had a blast with him. We also went out with Ted, a returned missionary who's just home for a few weeks from BYU. He served in the carribean. He came tracting with us and we had a great time. We were street contacting and we talked to this guy named Russ, who was pouring concrete. We got to know him a bit. He'd served 30 years in the Marines and had a wife and several children. He was a non-practicing Roman Catholic. When we asked him why he didn't attend church, he said, "I'm not really a church goer. I mean, I'm super spiritual in my relationship with God, but I don't go to church because I do things that some may find...................silly." I said, oh really? How so? He said, "........................................................................................I pray with cats."
What the heck does that mean? haha! He didn't ever elaborate on how he prays with his 11 cats, but we didn't press the issue. It was everything we could do to not bust up laughing. It probably isn't as weird as he made it sound, but just how he phrased it was hilarious. We couldn't make eye contact with each other. I just testified that animals have spirits and God created them to be good companions with man, and we moved on and told him about the restoration. He accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon. Super cool guy. Just a weird statement. haha.
Well, today I still feel awful. Still have the stomach flu. I hope I get over it soon. I have to sing this Saturday at Zone Conference.
Well, I love you guys!