Conference was amazing. I can't wait to tell you all about it.But first, let's give a recap of the week! =)Monday, after emailing, we headed over to Justin's house. He made us Chile. It was delicious. We just ate and had a good time. We answered some of his questions but mostly just hung out as friends because it was P-Day. After that we had a great lesson with Sue about the Word of Wisdom. We had given her a pamphlet about it the last lesson, and when we got there we found out she had read it already and had gotten rid of her tea and coffee. We had a spirit-filled lesson, and I told her that she was by far one of the most impressive individuals I had ever taught on my mission. She just has solid faith and a desire to serve. When she learns a commandment, she just does it. She knows the church is true, and she changes what she needs to live in accordance with the commandments. She cried and thanked us. We just love her so much. She's really excited for her baptism. It was really funny because at the beginning of the lesson she had her tablet out and was looking at the church website. She said, "I noticed yesterday in testimony meeting that everyone was using this strange phrase... 'tender mercies.' It's a great way to describe the Lord's love, but because everyone kept using it so much I decided that I just HAD to figure out where it was coming from. So I searched for it on the lds website. And I found this incredible speech from this David Bednar guy." She absolutely loved the talk. It changed her whole perspective on life. I remember when he gave that talk shortly after being called to the apostleship. It's legendary! Anyway, it was great to be able to let her know that he was an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. She said, "I believe it. I believe it with all my heart. That man is inspired." It was cool.After that we drove 2 hours to Johnstown, where I dropped off Elder Gerratt for an exchange with Elders Remund and Platt. Then I got into the car with Elders Blake and Hale and drove another hour and a half to Clearfield. We had a great exchange on Tuesday. We served at a foodbank Tuesday morning and delivered food to different people in the community. One guy opened the door completely naked... he was a very strange man. I wrote a letter to one of my friends this week, and I talked about how weird it was that the world was passing me by. Several of my friends were married, some expecting children, others in the military, others with blossoming careers... and I'm living in Pennsylvania, delivering bread and milk to a naked man. Funny how life works out, eh?We had some really fantastic lessons. Elder Blake and Elder Hale are really funny. We spent the day listening to a reenactment of a talk Willard Richards gave of his relationship with Joseph Smith as we drove from appointment to appointment. It was really good. We had dinner and a lesson with the Hoey family. Sister Hoey made cheesesteak sandwiches. They had been invited to retake the missionary lessons to help their testimonies, so we taught them about the restoration. Everyone was visibly moved by the account of the boy Joseph in the grove of trees. It truly is a modern miracle - one that my heart can never tire of telling.We got stuck in a really bad fog around 8 o'clock that night. We couldn't see anything in front of us. We had the wipers going, but it wasn't helping. We drove 20 miles an hour for almost an hour. It took us a very long time to get home. We had a blast that night just talking to each other and telling jokes as we fell asleep. Elder Blake does a good job of trying to tell jokes.Wednesday we got up early to drive back to Johnstown. I picked up Elder Gerratt and we drove home. We didn't get back until around 11. Then we showered and studied and ate, and we were out the door by 1:00 to drive to Nick's house. We had a good lesson with him, talking about hope in times of repentance and change. He gets really down on himself. I know how he feels. It can be tough to see your own progress - but that is why fellowship is so important. It is good to have friends who are changing with you. He and Jess are stalwart examples of faith and perseverance. He has come a long way, and his life is pretty much a miracle. I wish you could hear him pray. He is so humble and full of faith, and he means every word. Nick is one of my best friends in the world, and I love him.We tried visiting some people after that and met up again with Anjie and her friend Marie. It was our first time meeting Marie, but we had met Anjie about 2 months earlier. They are our age. We had a good talk about life and the plan of salvation and happy living. Anjie invited us to come back the next day to teach her and her little sister, Patricia, who is in 6th grade. We accepted. We had another great lesson with Sue. She told us it was her goal to finish reading the Book of Mormon before her baptism. She was in the middle of 2nd Nephi when she made that goal. Now she's in Mosiah! She's reading a ton, and she's getting a lot out of it. We had a lesson on the importance of the law of tithing and fasting. I told her the story of the time dad got let go from his job and you guys decided to pay your tithing anyway, and later dad was given the job as a seminary teacher. Such a miracle. Book of Mormon class was after that, and we taught about the sons of Mosiah and their missionary experiences.Thursday we spent the morning preparing our training for Zone Leader Council. It was on weekly planning. I'll send you the powerpoint because the first 4 slides are comic genius. We made it out of the office by 2:00 and then went to go see Anjie and Patricia. They were waiting for us on the porch. We had a great lesson about the restoration, and at the end asked, "So, what does all this mean to you guys? What do you have to do?" Patricia is such a bright girl. She's only 11 but she understood everything we said. She said, "I need to read this book and ask god if it's true. If it is, then we finally have prophets again, just like in bible times. I would like that very much. The world needs guys like that." It was really cool. She offered to say the closing prayer! She did such a great job.Elder Gerratt had a great lesson with Luis and Guille after that. It was all in Spanish though, so I didn't participate much. But I did say the closing prayer in Spanish, and Guille clapped for me.We had a wonderful lesson with Nick and Jess about prayer. We learned about praying in accordance with God's will; about how we pray to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Ghost; waiting patiently for answers; and other topics from the bible dictionary. It was really good. Jess has been wanting to get better at praying publicly. She does such a good job and I don't think she's afraid anymore. When I first got here she didn't want to pray out loud. Now she does it all the time in lessons. We are so proud of them!The Eves had us over for dinner after that. Sister Eve made toquitos. She has the recipe for the Cafe Rio sauces! SO DELICIOUS.We stopped by Dave and Lori's house after that. Dave was just finishing a session in his weight room with one of his clients. He's a personal trainer and body builder. After he was done he said, "Okay, you guys can teach me the scriptures as long as you're lifting weights." So we taught him about the gospel as Elder Gerratt bench pressed 225 pounds. He's such a beast. It was a lot of fun.Justin had us over afterwards. He said he finally gained a testimony of the law of chastity. That was one that he told us he'd have a hard time with. But after reading Elder Holland's talk, "Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments," he said it just made sense. Everything clicked. And so he broke up with his girlfriend and moved on. He said, "You guys. I'm going to live this commandment. I'm in. Completely. Teach me a new commandment. Whatever I need to do to be baptized, I'll do." So we taught him the law of tithing.For the 2nd time in a week I retold that story of how you and dad paid tithing even though it was hard. Then it suddenly hit me that everything good that I have in my life came from your decision to do that. Because those events led dad to getting his job as a seminary teacher, that brought the Spirit into our home. He had a vast wealth of gospel knowledge, and anytime I needed an answer I could go to him. The only Family Home Evening I remember specifically was dad re-teaching us an important lesson about Joseph and Potiphar's wife that he taught in seminary. How CTR doesn't always mean "Choose the Right." Sometimes it means "Choose to Run." Because of that Family Home Evening lesson, that phrase came to mind in key instances during high school when I was tempted to do something that wasn't right. So I chose to run and get myself out of the situation. If I had not made those decisions, I wouldn't be serving a mission, and all the wonderful, miraculous things I've experienced in my life for the past year would never have happened.Because you paid your tithing that one time, the windows of heaven were truly opened, and blessings have been poured out insomuch that I don't know what to do with them. I am so grateful for you, mom and dad. Your righteous decisions mean everything to me, and I recognize that now.Friday morning we had Zone Leader Council. Our training went really well. President had us all listen to a talk by Jeffrey R. Holland about the Godhead. SO. AWESOME. There is so much love in our council right now. We are all best friends. Elder Walker and Elder Richards are going to be the drummer and the guitarist in my band at BYU. haha!Guille had us and the Match family over for dinner. It was delicious. Everyone was speaking Spanish, so I just ate and then played with the cat and Brother Match's son Allan. Allan is 5, and he calls himself "Allan-cat" because he wants to be a cat when he grows up. I always say, "What's up, Allan-cat?" And he says, "Nothing much, Elder-Cat!" Too funny. We had a good time. It has been such a great experience inviting everyone to conference! Seriously. I'm so glad that we have a living prophet. People always go, "So. Who is 'the prophet today?'" in a somewhat mocking way. And we can say, "His name is Thomas S. Monson, and he is speaking tomorrow at 12:00." haha! So awesome.WE had another lesson with Justin after that. He pretty much just teaches us now. We read some talks with him. He's cruising through the Book of Mormon. It's fantastic. He knew he wanted to be baptized, but he didn't know when. He was afraid of making a covenant or a promise with God that he couldn't keep. He didn't understand why we make covenants. So we had a great lesson on the doctrine of christ and on baptism. It resolved all of his questions. He decided that he'd be baptized a week from that day. We were all super excited! As usual, the lesson was awesome and it went over time, so we had to run to our car after the prayer and drive home as fast as we could. He called us as we were driving and told us how excited he was.Justin came to conference Saturday morning at the church. It was funny because after the first session he said, "This is really good and all, but it's not what I expected it to be. I expected the prophet to start glowing or floating or something!" Super funny. He loved the talks. He said, "Everything seems to be directed at me." In between sessions the Betteridges had us, Justin, Sue, and several other ward families over for a BBQ. We all played football. I had an interesting conversation with the little Betteridge boy, who is five. I asked him what he thought about conference and if he liked the prophet (meaning Thomas S. Monson). He said, "I love Joseph Smith!" I laughed and said, "Why is that?" he said, "Because he saw Jesus. I want to find Joseph Smith's body." That was a bizarre addition to the conversation. I asked why. He said, "So I can dig it up!" I asked him what the purpose of that was. He said, "So I can look in his skeleton and see what's inside. I know a spirit isn't in there. So after I get his body, I'll have to find his spirit, and then put it back in there. Then I will have my own real life Joseph Smith!" I was laughing hysterically. Definitely the weirdest conversation ever. I said, "Okay, so when are you planning on doing this?" He said, "Ummm..... let's do it..... next month. Okay missionary?" I said okay. So apparently I'm hunting for and resurrecting Joseph Smith next month with a five year old.It was a cool experience at the BBQ. Justin has a neighbor whose daughter has stage 4 cancer and is about to die. She is going to have to raise her 4 and 5 year old grand children after her daughter passes. Justin kept feeling like we needed to do something for her all morning. So we asked the relief society sisters what to do. Immediately everyone stopped everything and gathered together and we made a game plan. Sue, who is a breast cancer survivor, was able to tell us exactly what type of food to prepare. The sisters agreed to make a meal and have it ready by the next night. We agreed to go buy some rice and gatorade and crackers and applesauce and take it over that night before Priesthood. It's so amazing to see what the members of this church do consistently. The gospel truly makes you love everyone.We watched the second session in the Match's home with Guille, Jose, and Esthella. Allan-cat had the little neighbor girl over. They are both 5. He kept trying to kiss her during conference. Super funny. We all had pizza afterwards and it was great. Justin drove us to the store after that and we got the stuff to deliver to his neighbor. We showed up that night with bags of groceries. She was so grateful and hugged all of us and cried. Her son was delivering some bunk beds for her grandkids and we were able to help carry them in. It was a great feeling.Priesthood session was amazing!
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
October 8, 2012