Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas week ... Dec. 19

This week brings us an interesting time. So they still haven’t finished our place in Tahoe, which has been tearing our plans to pieces for the last two weeks, but we’re pretty sure we should be good to go this week, so we'll probably be up there Thursday and Friday, in Gardnerville tomorrow (Tuesday) after District meetings, and then Carson the rest of the week. We had an investigator at church from Gardnerville Sunday, so we’re excited to go ask her how it was. Hopefully she felt something and enjoyed it. We’re excited for that.

Work during the holidays isn’t particularly good on one end because a lot of people are in and out of town. That makes things difficult. On the other hand, people feel much more charitable and turn more to Christ during this season, so in that way it goes up. Ends up just being a little different. Unfortunately work schedules get kinda rough too.

Christmas eve we’ll spend the evening with the A. family. Should be a really nice night. They’ll probably have a lot of family over, most of whom we know too, so we should have fun. On Christmas, we'll probably hop between a couple of families. The J., who are a great family. Only two of the daughters are members, but the whole family loves us and we love them too. Not sure if the daughters will have to work that day or not, but we'll still go over there for a bit. then We will have to go to the R. for a while. These families really quickly become family to us here; they are so great!

Things are going pretty well with the training program with Elder Baker. It’s kind of hard to understand the program, but were starting to get used to it. It seems that somehow it is way too much and way too little to study in a week at the same time. Our goal is to survive all 3 areas of training while still giving all of our investigators the time they need. Next to impossible, but we can pull it off.

It’s cold, but for exercise I do a little bike cuz we have a 1970s Flight of the Concords style bike in our apartment. It’s pretty sick. But no snow yet!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve started praying for snow! I can’t take it anymore! I think it might be snowing in Tahoe right now. There are thick clouds over the mountains, so I can only hope!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Carson preparing for Christmas

Carson City’s lights are pretty nice downtown, especially by the capitol. Gardnerville is pretty nice too, but not as sweet as Tahoe. But all of them are going to be just ok until it SNOWS! It seriously hasn’t even snowed yet! This is getting ridiculous. By this time last year they were rolling in about 6 inches here and a couple of feet in Tahoe. Everyone is assuming that a huge storm is going to hit us out of the blue one of these days to make up for it.

Yesterday we had the P. family come to church in Carson River, but we were only in that ward for about 20 mins before we headed up to Gardnerville for church there. We hadn’t been there in a while so we needed to get there and I had to give a baptismal interview right after church (number 7 in the last week and a half). We are working on developing a new system for deciding where we are going to go. Our bishop in Tahoe finally has a place for us to stay there, so we will now be doing 2 days a week in Tahoe, 2 a week in Carson, 1 a week in Gardnerville, and then Sundays and P-days will depend on what’s happening that week. It’s going to be absolutely ridiculous. I have no clue how we are going to pull it off, but that’s the goal. Anyway, the P’s have mentioned how different they feel with us and at church.

This week we taught the C. family Gardnerville for the first time, which went great! They sure felt the spirit during our lesson. Brother C. really thought hard about everything we talked about. We tried something different and instead of reciting the first vision, we fast forwarded to it on the restoration DVD and showed that, which I think was definitely more powerful. We also taught M., who isn’t going to be working on Sundays any more starting next week I think, so we should finally be able to get her to church! M. always feels the Spirit. he understands scriptures so easily compared to everyone else that its crazy! The investigators in general that feel it tend to be people that contact us and referrals. Other than that, not so much.

Sometimes the most challenging thing for someone learning about the gospel is the concept of going to church every Sunday. They know they’re supposed to, they just never have, so that’s hard to get a lot. For the most part though, there’s not a lot of difficult stuff. It’s just change that’s hard.

We’re always glad when members teach with us. Members do best when they bear testimony of the gospel in their own lives. We always really appreciate that and the investigators find it more powerful coming from them than from us.

Beyond Christmas lights and teaching? Well, we had a zone conf this last week in Reno and we got to watch "17 Miracles," which was reaaally good! SO that was fun! Today we are going bowling and cleaning. We have a guy from the missionary department coming out with us tomorrow because my comp was part of an experimental 6-week Spanish training district, so they want to see how it went.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

December 5

This week we had a few interesting things. We had to be in Reno on Friday for the “Train the Trainers with the New Missionaries” meeting, and we got back from that around 5ish. We then had dinner and a lesson with a couple of new investigators, the P. family. We also picked up a new investigator yesterday, which was good, because we need new investigators. We also got an appointment set up with the potential family we have in Gardnerville and we are going with a recent convert to contact another potential (friend of her family) tomorrow. So we might be able to pump up our teaching pool a bit. The baptisms canceled because the boyfriend’s dad found out and went nuts. He can’t get baptized until he moves out of his house, and the girl won’t get baptized without him (though she says she is still 100% sure she will be baptized). It was an interesting week. We also had our Spanish sacrament meeting on Sunday, which was very spiritual and great. It was testimony meeting, and there were members going to the front to speak the entire time.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thanksgiving and transfers

Thanksgiving was good! We had a good time. We won the inter-zone Turkey Bowl football game! As heavy underdogs too! It was pretty fun. We played for a while and then chilled with a couple of missionaries for a good chunk of the day in Reno. Elder Tipa (one of the greatest people ever) was headed home this week, so we spent some time with him before he headed back to Samoa. Hit the Reno strip and just chatted (yes the Reno strip is allowed).

Back in Carson, we went to the Schufelt family for our first typical Thanksgiving dinner (turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, etc.) and then we went to the Ayala's for some pan con palvo.

On Tuesday before Thanksgiving I got my call to train a new missionary, which meant Elder Reyes was leaving. So we spent much of our time letting Elder Reyes saying goodbye to investigators and members, but also got some lessons in too. The two people we have set for baptism bumped back to the 17th of December due to building conflicts and stuff, but they’re excited. Should be good.

So as of this Tuesday, I'm training a brand-new missionary, Elder Baker. He is from western Kentucky, close to Tennessee he tells me. He has a little bit of a Kentucky accent and is working on his Spanish, but he understands pretty well because his mom moved to the states from Juarez, Mexico when she was a kid, so he has some background. Just not so much on the speaking side of things. He's a chill guy.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Almost Thanksgiving

We spent most of the week here in Carson. On Friday I had to go to leadership training in Reno for most of the day, so my comp was on splits with some other missionaries here, and they made it to Tahoe and Gardnerville, but I only made it to Gardnerville once this week.

We had a lot of people fall into our laps this week. While on splits in Tahoe, my comp went to a member's house and 2 of their Hispanic friends were visiting who live in Carson and Gardnerville, and they wanted to learn more about the gospel, so we get to start teaching them this week. Then on Saturday we had a mini missionary (a teenager who is working with us for a bit) and we went to a recent convert’s house, and there was a guy there that asked for a Book of Mormon and if we could come by his house and start teaching his family! It was crazy! I actually thought that I misunderstood his Spanish because I was so surprised, hahaha! It was great! We also went on splits with the ZLs this week, so I was in their area for a day, but the other one and Elder Reyes taught 3 solid lessons for us. We didn’t have as much success in the ZL’s area. It’s kind of dead right now, but they’re working on it.

We will probably head up to Reno on Wednesday night and crash with some SpanAms up there. Thursday morning is the Turkey Bowl – touch football for all the missionaries in the north, so there will be somewhere around 60 of us. We will have some games as zones (were combining with Fallon zone) and then we will have games where they just split us up. Should be a good time. After that we will probably hang out for a little while with some of our friends up there until we have to be back for our first dinner down here at around 3ish. We will be going to that with the English missionaries in our ward. It will be a typical Thanksgiving dinner with a couple in the ward that we hear goes pretty big every year, so should be pretty good! After that we will go by a bunch of members’ houses that want us to go hang out and play games and stuff for a while. We'll probably hang out with the Ayala family for some games and stuff for a while. One of the kids is working on his papers for his mission and the next one is getting closer, but we're still working on him. They are all activating again after being inactive for a while (well, all the boys). It will be a fun day for us!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

First Tahoe trip, etc.

C. got baptized and confirmed this week. The talks were great and C. was super happy. Plus a couple of her non-member family members were there, which was great. We didn’t baptize or confirm. One of her uncles baptized and another confirmed her. It was great. Then yesterday we gave a blessing to C. uncle’s girlfriend (non-member who was at her baptism...K.) with her other uncle, Ernie. She has a hurt foot that makes it very difficult for her to walk, so we gave her a blessing for it, and she even started crying. E. is working hard to convince her that that is the spirit she was feeling, which is great! After the blessing Ernie felt prompted to ask if anyone else wanted one, and her mom said yes, so we gave her a blessing of comfort for the stress in her life, and she loved it too! K’'s whole family was there, and I guess her brother had promised my comp a lesson, so he told us he hadn’t forgotten about that and still wanted to take the lessons (only problem is he’s in college so not around that much), but it’s still a great opportunity to begin teaching the family. Before the blessings we taught them about priesthood authority and faith and the importance of both, and it went really well. It will be little by little though with the parents.

Yesterday we went to Tahoe for church with Ernie, who is one of our ward missionaries. Tahoe is sooooo beautiful, hahaha. The church is on the Cali side of things, so we drove past the Marriott that has a ski lift that goes right into it. It’s pretty great. The lake is incredibly blue, but we haven’t gotten a chance to go to the shore to throw some rocks yet, haha. The ward is very solid but fluctuates size like crazy. It’s packed in the summer and around Christmas from what I hear. All of the vacationing members with houses there. Even this week there were a few, and this has to be the most down time of the year for Tahoe. The ward is solid though even without those members. Not big, but solid. One of our Hispanic members was there with his son, which was great to see, but he told us he can only go about once a month because of work. The other family didn’t go, so we went to visit them, and they didn’t even let us in the house, so that’s not a good sign there. The ward is working on getting us a place there so we can do more work up there (stay a couple days there at a time). Hopefully it goes through. We told them that basically its going to be by referral only up there, so they have to do their work.

This year for Thanksgiving we again are limited to 2 dinners, but try telling that to Hispanics who put food in front of us any day of the week if we so much as stop by their houses, hahaha. We have one dinner with some English members with the English missionaries too, so that should be fun. Then we'll go by some other places and probably end up at the A's house for some games and stuff.

Oh, wait a minute. I just realized that I haven’t told you about the mission tour yet! That was this last week. Elder Yamashita came on Tuesday! He was great! And his wife was even more fantastic, hahaa! They have only been in the states for 3 months and his English is fantastic! Hers is ok, but she’s still working on it, haha. The crazy part is the he spoke in conference last month and you could understand him perfectly well then too! Can you say gift of tongues? He talked to us about a huge variety of subjects, but one of my favorite parts was when he talked about direction that comes down from president Monson that says we should work with the youth as much as possible! That’s exactly what I like to do, and it was awesome to hear more about that! He also talked about working with members in general, really broke down the gospel of Jesus Christ (lesson 3) with who over sees what step (like bishop/mission prez over baptism) and what the steps are after baptism and confirmation that make up "enduring to the end." It was pretty sweet. Really helped us understand better. But the fun moment of the week was when his wife got up on the stand for her chance to speak and then handed out papers and taught us all origami! It was siiiiick! hahaha, so much fun. We made the paper into mouths that could open and close because she was talking about "open your mouth," haha. It was great.

My biggest challenge of the week? Probably just be trying to get a grasp on this huge area while realizing my companion is probably leaving and that it is very likely I will be training. That’s pretty trying to say the least. (Rumor has it we are getting 7 spanAm greenies.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nov. 7

Sorry to have missed last week. We went to the Reno Temple, and didn’t really get a P-day. Meanwhile, it’s been interesting getting to know things better here. This weekend we made it up to Gardnerville for church because we have miles again, and now we will be going up there and to Tahoe most of the week. The Spanish elders here hadn’t been to Gardnerville Ward in a while when I got here cuz all the work was in Carson, but we are planning on expanding that now. Carson is definitely our main ward cuz we live here, but it will be getting more equal in the coming weeks. We have a bigger group in Gardnerville than we thought, and they are very strong. We had a Sunday School class of 12 adults including 5 male Melchizedek priesthood holders, which is a very big group. You need 7 Melchizedek priesthood holders to start a branch and if we combine the groups from Carson y Gardnerville we have around 10 active, not to mention less actives we could get back by having a branch in Spanish here, plus the 2 families in Tahoe that apparently used to go when there was a branch here in Carson a while ago. So our biggest goals right now are working on proving that a branch is needed and sustainable. There are a couple investigators we have that have gone to church and not liked it because its in English. Theres not much we can do with that. If they already had a testimony of the truth it wouldn’t matter. We are figuring it out.

Who are we teaching? Let’s see. First is C., a little girl who is getting baptized on Saturday. She is part of a reactivating part member family. She’s good to go. She’s been going to Primary and knows her stuff. She’s great. Her uncles, aunts, and grandma are the strongest members we've got here in Carson, so it’s good to see that her and her family are really getting back in. Then we have E. who is the little brother of 2 members whose parents are not members. He’s like 14 I think. He’s a cool kid and knows that its true already, but we have to convince him that you can still be cool and a member, hahaa. We had a member come with us last time who i think helped that some, but probably not as much as the baptism that our zone leaders had this week of one of the most popular guys in the high school who is very proud to get baptized. Apparently the kid kicked a field goal in a high school game that broke an NFL record. 64 yards and nailed it. Apparently it was all over ESPN and everything. He’s the famous guy in town right now, haha. That’s always helpful. Let’s see, then we have his cousin S. and her little brother who we are working with as well. Their mom showed up for the end of the last lesson we had with them, and we think she liked it, so that might lead to something there plus mean permission for the kids. Hopefully soon. Those are the most important ones at the moment.

Though we live in Carson, I’m actually DL of the Gardnerville district, not in Carson. So its us, Gardnerville, and Minden. I know both the Minden elders really well, so that’s nice. I lived with Elder Bowzer in Fallon and Elder Ferris was just in south zone with me. We also have South Lake Tahoe, but we haven’t done any work there yet. We had a brief visit when a member took us to dinner their for their birthday, but that’s it so far. We will be up there this week...despite the snow. It’s snowed twice, but just dustings, nothin on the road.

Carson City has Whole Foods and Trader Joes! It’s funny because they are all right next to each other and there is NOTHING else. Well, we’ve got Target, Best Buy, Trader Joe's, and all the smaller stores that come with those. But Carson is definitely smaller than Jeff. I didn’t know, but there’s really not much here. They don’t even have a mall as good as ours, hahaa.

October 25 (Sorry -- parents have been traveling ....)

I arrived in Carson City October 19. We were parked that week: we only get to drive the car so many miles a month, and I replaced a missionary who was going home, so he didn’t care about miles, haha. Hopefully we can get some more. We cover all of Carson zone/stake. There are only 12 missionaries in the zone. We cover Carson, Gardernville, Mindon, Dayton, and South Lake Tahoe. So far we’ve pretty much only been in Carson because of miles. I’m DL (district leader) Gardnerville district. My companion is Elder Reyes and he is from California. He moved there from Mexico when he was 10. We get along pretty well. We are still learning about each other though. We have a few people with a baptism date set now. Mostly part member families, which is great. We live in a 2-story apt with 2 bedrooms upstairs and the kitchen and living room downstairs. Its 1 1/2 bath. Not new, but pretty nice, though I hear they are trying to move us. We have cool neighbors who remind me a lot of grandma and grandpa. They go to California for the winter. Pretty great though!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

October 10

By far the best experience of the week was our lesson with M. where we set her with a baptismal date. We brought Hermano V. (1st councilor in the ward’s bishopric) with us for the lesson and he testified right to her soul. M. really felt that what we were teaching about the restoration was true and was super excited when I committed her to be baptized on the 22nd. She asked, "So soon?" which is usually kind of a bad sign, but she was saying it as in, "I can get baptized so soon?!?" haha, it was incredible. She has had so major trials in her life, and the gospel has already been a major comfort for her! It’s awesome to see how much its helping her, haha! After our first visit she read through Chapter 10 of 1st Nephi. She is fantastic. The spirit was just so strong in that lesson too. She came to church this Sunday in Spanish. We will be inviting her to a family home evening we are having at a member’s house tonight, which should be great! She really wants to go to a FHE, so it should be great.

I’ve written before about you ward’s “young men’s (YM) president – the program for teenage boys). He is just extremely involved in everything the YM do. He is kind of a kid at heart, so they all love him and respect him a lot. He picks a large group of them up every morning and drives them to seminary, picks them up for firesides (like the stake missionary prep fireside), talks to them all the time about missions, etc. He is really just helping them get the testimonies they need to make the decision to go on a mission. Calling him was probably one of the best callings that has ever been made in this ward. Well, he and our new ward mission leader. Everything is changing with them. Our youth are getting much stronger (the young women’s pres was already great) and we finally have a strong missionary program starting. We are trying to set up some time to get some of the YM out with us, but it’s hard with their schedules and our schedules because they all have school and soccer.

Mom asked if I’ve tried any new Hispanic foods lately. I did try pambazo’s, which are basically large wet sandwiches they make in Mexico City. They are pretty solid.

Yep, it’s transfers next week. We'll get calls on Saturday (Oct. 15). That'll make it a nervous week. I always get nervous when I think I might be getting transferred. I have no idea if I’m going or not, but it looks pretty good that I will be moving. Check back after Tuesday!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

October 4 (sorry for the delay)

Conference weekend was pretty sick. On Saturday we spent the whole day at an investigator’s house for breakfast, then the morning session, then play some pool and eat some lunch, and then for the afternoon. That was pretty legit. The lady’s name is M. (her husband didn’t really watch but he chilled with us) and she is Peruvian and loves Pres Uchtdorf (this is her 2nd conference as an investigator...kind of an eternagator as they call them here). So she loved Saturday morning because they talked about Peru and Uchtdorf talked. The really cool part though is that most of her family in Peru used to be pretty anti-Mormon and this time 2 of her brothers and her mom watched conference and loved it! M’s on is a member who is going to University of Utah, so the grandparents wanted a feel for his religion and everything. Pretty sick, not going to lie.

Then we did priesthood session at the church, of course, which was sick...mostly because Elder Holland’s talk as always was super powerful. After priesthood session on Saturday, we went home to get some dinner because we hadn’t eaten since like 1, so we were hungry. When we got home I got this unshakeable feeling that we needed to go by the house of the family from the wedding a couple weeks ago, so me and Elder Kakau just left dinner for later. We got there, and the whole family was there and told us to come in! We had a nice chat with the father of the bride about our purpose of missionaries, and now the whole family is interested and not just the couple who were married. Unfortunately we aren’t sure when we will meet with them, because the wife will almost for sure give birth in the next couple days. We will be in contact with them though. The husband of the couple is very interested in the "other book" we have. So were excited for that too.

On Sunday we went to our Young Men’s Presidents house for both sessions with our priests who are in mission preparation class. We got to watch both sessions with all of them, which was great. Breakfast and lunch there too, and hang out with the YM in between for a bit. They are all so much more likely to serve missions now than they were before our new YM pres got here and started pushing them hard and getting us involved with them a little more. They are going to make great missionaries. A couple don’t even have super active parents, but they are doing super well now. Ya, pretty fun weekend overall.

Also, ya, its cooling down a bit. Lower 90s here aren’t bad at all, and those are our highs these days. Some days in the 80s. Not like home where 90s suck and 80s are sketchy, here 90s are decent and 80s are suuuper nice. So glad the 100s are over. They got pretty harsh some days. Of course now they’ll probably transfer me up north for the winter, haha. There is a strong chance I go to Carson City actually, but not much of other options in the north. Maybe they’ll let me stay another couple and do 9 months here. That’d be sick cuz we finally have people that are good investigators! hhaa.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sept. 26

This week our focus is going to be on teaching our new investigators and setting up times to watch conference with as many investigators as we can...preferably in member homes. We’re pretty excited about it. We will probably just do Sunday afternoon in the church so we can get to as many of our investigators as possible. Especially since nobody goes to the church anymore for conference, since they can watch on BYUTV.

This week was finding week. We picked up a great new family (the one who had the wedding) and we will be teaching them tomorrow night again. They are such a great family and will be perfect for the ward. The wife will be having her baby any day, so it’s a perfect time in their life to find the church, especially with the message of eternal families. We actually just talked to them about what we teach and a little bit of our purpose, but they are just so great that it made it a super spiritual experience.

We also got a really good referral of a lady whose super excited to meet the missionaries and has already gone to church on her own and everything. She is supposed to be calling us today! That’s exciting. We also found a pretty good area to tract in our area finally. Not fantastic, but pretty good. We picked up a couple potentials in there. We'll see what comes from that this week. We are also picking up an old investigator again named V. He’s been to church a lot, but never wanted to commit to anything, but he says he’s more ready now, so we will be teaching him tomorrow too! Should be good! We were all over the place this week. Oh ya, we are also helping a less active come back and her non-member husband is asking a lot of questions, which is fun.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sept. 19

The most exciting part of the week was Saturday. It was a super fun day. In the morning we got a call telling us that there was going to be a wedding of non-members from our area at the church, so we ran over there and the couple and several members of the wife’s family were there, so we ended up taking pictures for them outside the church and everything. They were all super fun and great people. It was such a good time. Then the Dad of the bride told us that he felt something different in the building as he was looking at all of the paintings. He kept pointing out all of the paintings of Christ in the building and in the bishop's office and they all loved them, which was super cool. The couple was unbelievably excited to be getting married, it was awesome! You could just feel something great from the family. Just fantastic people! Then after that the other missionaries in the ward had a baptism of a 9 year old girl, and the baptism went great! The spirit was super strong and there were a few investigators there (though none of them ours :( ). It was great though. It went really well. Then that night we had a ward party. It was a Noche Latina celebrating the individual heritage of the members and the independence of several of the countries. It was probably the best party we have had. Tons of people were there, tons of non-members, tons of food, tons of culture. It was so chill! I’m posting pics, so you can see some of what it was like! We had so much fun and met a lot of new people! Waaay good. Other than those, we had some good lessons this week, but I'd say the highlight was our lesson with L. We taught her about the Book of Mormon again and the importance of reading it because she didn’t get a chance to read it last week. We also read the first chapter with her and got her into the story line so that this week she can really read and feel the spirit of that Book for the next time we meet. I’m excited for her. She has a lot of support from friends and her boyfriend. Also, J. is gone. The bishop bought him a bus ticket to LA where he can go to the Argentine embassy and got organized to get back to Argentina where he has family and a small retirement. Hopefully he goes back to the church down there!

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 12

My dad asked about missionaries and bikes here. The 2 we live with are on bikes, but the other 2 in our district are the other spanAms, so they have a car. In all of Vegas? I don’t know. Most of the English missionaries that aren’t zone leaders are on bike in Vegas. So most of the missionaries in my zone (see the pic) are on bikes. If you’re in Vegas, watch for them and ask if they know me!

I was actually sick this week, so I didn’t really have much on the teaching front, haha. But I’m all good now, so you don’t have to worry! We did teach J. a couple more times this week. We read some of the Book of Mormon with him and we taught him lesson 2. They were good lessons, but his physical needs are greater at the moment than the spiritual, so that’s all we can really think about. The ward is working on that though.

Each week I spend an hour on I usually tweek my profile a bit (so check it out again!), watch the videos, check out the Spanish videos (not as many as in English), and look to see if there’s any new good videos on lds youth, cuz some of those are in Spanish.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sept. 6, 2011

Transfers this week, but I’m still here in Flamingo Ward, thank goodness. Probably my last 6 weeks here, though, because this will put me around 6 months in this area. It’s flown by so far. I can’t believe I’ve already been here over 4 months. Crazy. I’m still with Elder Kakau too, so it’s nice having a companion for more than one transfer again. We are happy and excited to keep going in this area, despite all of our frustrations.

We helped with two moves which took out the majority of those two days. Both recent converts, so helping them was pretty fun. I haven’t moved two people in one week since Yerington. It felt pretty good, but I was dead, haha.

One lady we are going to work with a little more is Mili who is the mom of a member in an English ward named Saul. This last week we went to visit with her and spent most of our time talking about how her son is doing (she just dropped him off at University of Utah last week for the first time) and how she’s doing. I told her Mom went through pretty much the same thing when all of us left and all of us were (maybe not Sarah) were kind of like Saul and didn’t call as much as we should have, haha. We ended up making her cry a little bit because we talked about a food that Saul loves, and I told her that she is definitely like my mom, so that must mean she’s a good mom, haha! We had a good chat and talked a little about their trip to Temple Square too. At the end of the lesson I was missing college for sure! haha, but I was happy we could help her out a bit with missing Saul. We are going over for a BBQ/lesson/Spanish lesson for us this Saturday, which should be fun. She is Peruvian and is a teacher at a dual language elementary school (she teaches the Spanish half for her kids).

We also taught a 77 yr old Argentinian man named Jorge who is actually homeless. Teaching him was pretty humbling. He is a great guy, but just can’t get a job and ran out of money. He even has his legal residency, but only has been given food stamps and a bus pass, so he can’t afford a place to live. He worked as a painter, but now has medical issues that make that an impossibility for him, and he only speaks so much English, so that hinders him from getting other jobs. It’s tough, but we are going to be helping him however we possibly can. Hopefully the members we will be bringing with us to the next lessons will be able to help him get on his feet, though his real goal is to make it back to Argentina. We'll see what we can do!

Friday, September 2, 2011

August 29, 2011

Sorry to miss last week. We went paintballing and ran out of time to write.

Today I got to go to Elder Bowe’s ward so I could hang out with him for a while before he goes home next week. We played soccer in the culture hall for a while, which was way fun, and then we went and played tennis, but it got too hot, so we couldn’t really play that much which was sad because one of the guys there got second in state doubles in Oregon when he was in high school. It was still fun though. It’s just so dry and hot that it’s next to impossible to stay on the courts for very long. In Missouri you are always worried about not drinking enough water and you can play for a long time without going to get a drink, but here you can’t play for more than 5 minutes without going and getting a drink, and you don’t even really need it that bad cuz you don’t sweat that much. It’s just so different. Weird. We had a super good time today though.

Our ward still has its English class, and it’s much bigger now. We aren’t the teachers but we assist usually both Wednesday and Thursday, but sometimes on Wednesday we go in to soccer and talk to all the non-member and less active youth there. We have an English class of around 20 and they call us whenever they have questions, so that’s going well. We're teaching the Gospel to one of the students, and it’s really nice seeing your investigators a few times during the week.

This week’s training in our district meeting was on teaching about the Atonement. There are 3 parts to it. 1. The power over death we receive because of Christ; 2. The ability we have to become clean from sin through Christ; and 3. The personal knowledge Christ has of all of us because he suffered through it . The training was pretty good. A good time

We have a new family we just started teaching. They were a referral from English-speaking elders who were park contacting, and ran into the dad (Luis) and he promised that if they got him a Book of Mormon in Spanish, he'd read it. Luis comes to our English classes as well. Cool guy. Pretty chill. We taught him this week about what the Book of Mormon is. He and his wife have 6 kids, all at home, the oldest is 18 and the youngest is 9. We've only talked to the parents so far and mostly only Luis, but I think we will be able to teach the whole family soon. At our lesson Luis told us about the commitment he had made with the other missionaries to read the Book of Mormon and told us he planned on keeping that commitment. That was way cool to hear. He is excited to learn more, and I really think he feels something that he is looking for.

Let’s see … what have I been cooking? Well, this week I made a pasta with queso fresco, that I sauteed in olive oil with some 100% organic all white meat basil pesto sausage I got from Trader Joe's a little while ago (thanks Tim). That was way solid. I also tried a dish of rice with sausage and vegetables but where I simmer it in some milk with some spices, and that turned out pretty dang good too. This month though i need to try and make papa de la huancaina. We'll see how it turns out. I learned how to take the heat down a bit, so I'll make a mild version. For breakfast Ive just made some omelets and stuff. I’ll probably make a meal for my apartment before Elder Peters goes home.
As for what we eat when we are invited to Church members’ homes … I don’t think I had talked about Mole yet. Mole negro is way good. It’s kind of a shredded chicken with a thick sauce that is a mix of chile and chocolate, It’s very solid and has given me a better appreciation for Iron Chef, if that’s possible. Now I want to learn to cook sweet with spicy. That’d be awesome. Let’s see, what else...Oh, I don’t think of talked about ceviche. It’s awesome. Mom needs to get some. She'd probably really like it, so take Mom to get some ceviche, Dad. My favorite mexican food is officially sopes, which are sooo good. I love them and am just waiting for the day I get them again.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 15, 2011

Yes, I am now a District Leader. District Leaders basically have 2 responsibilities: 1. Collect stats Sunday night and add them up. 2. Give District meetings a couple times a month. Then you have to do a couple more things that nobody else has to/wants to do. I also have to go to leadership training meetings. You can see me at one on Sister Black’s blog. My district is me and Elder Kakau, the English elders we live with (Peters and Altamirano), and the other two missionaries in our ward (Andrews and Sandoval). There are 4 districts in the zone. This district is kind of complicated for how much area it covers because 2 of the companionships are spanMs. So if you count that then we cover our whole zone, and about half of red rock. My district is bigger than my zone, hahaha.

We did make it bowling last week. Actually I didn’t do too bad. I got a 136 and a 139. The 139 was a total choke though. I bowled a 3 on the last frame, hahaha. That’s ok. I think we might go again today. It’s pretty cheap and super fun. $3 for shoe rental but only $1.50 a game. Pretty legit.

Teaching, we had a pretty solid week. We made some good progress with some those we’re teaching. We figured out that Celia hasn't gotten an answer yet because she hasn't asked if the things we are teaching are true or not. We told her you can’t get an answer to a question that you don’t ask, but then she told us that God would tell her when it was the right time to ask. I thought that was pretty unlikely, so I asked her what she normally does when she has a question to ask her father in heaven....she said she asks I asked her, is this really any different? She’s planning on asking now (we think, haha) and is committed to follow the answer she gets, so we're excited for her. We talked to her about how faith is not passive waiting, its active waiting, or it requires action. Its not really faith to sit there and believe that my Father in Heaven will help me get a good grade on a test if I didn't study for it, that’s just hopeful wishing, which isn't going to get you anywhere. Now if I studied hard, I'm entitled to a little help when I ask for it. At least to cut the nerves. So we talked about some of that stuff. It was fun as it always is over there. We also taught Fabi and Humberto for the first time, which was good. Elder Kakau just killed it. He was prompted by the spirit to say some things that I never would have thought of that were fantastic and out of nowhere. Afterward I was like, “Dude, you just take a lesson any time you are going like that cuz that was sick!”

This week Maria called us out of the blue (haven't heard from or been able to contact her for a while now). She called to see if we could come by and to see how we were doing. Turns out she was pretty sick with the flu for a while, which is still a little dangerous for her because she isnt super far off from being cleared of cancer. She still has a hard time when she gets sick, but she is doing great now. She came to church on Sunday with her two little grandkids which was awesome. They got to stay all 3 hours and she really like it. Hopefully we will be setting her with a date very soon now that she’s back on track! Exciting time. I learned that sometimes you just need to keep trying with people even when you can’t get ahold of them. You never know what’s going on or how important showing them that you really do care can be.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Still catching up: August 8, 2011

This week was pretty solid overall. We had a pretty solid amount more lessons this week than we have been having over the last couple. Our district is doing pretty well right now. The English elders we live with (Altamirano and Peters) have 6 baptisms set for this month so far. We are hoping to pull off a couple, but it’s going to be tough. We had a lesson with one of the Marias last night and committed her to pray about being baptized this month specifically, so we are hoping that she will finally be baptized on the 27th after 2 years of investigating, but we'll see. Hopefully she gets her answer and listens to it. We also had a great lesson with Celia this week. We taught her about the plan of salvation because she had a lot of questions about it. It’s cool because the plan of salvation answers most questions anybody has. Everything else in reality is contained inside it.

We also got a couple of new investigators this week. A couple named Blanca and Jose Luis, who were an MTC referral, and Mari, who is a member referral. Blanca and Jose Luis are very active in their church but also very interested in learning more about ours. We are going to take a member couple around their age over to the lesson we have with them on Tuesday night. Mari used to take the lessons back in Colorado and her sister got baptized back there, but then she and her family moved here and lost touch with the missionaries. Fortunately one of her best friends has got to be one of the best member missionaries in all of Las Vegas, so we are now teaching her in her friend’s house, which is fantastic. Oh, and the house is also waaay nice. It’s in the Red Rock Country Club neighborhood, which is like a super, super nice neighborhood. There are gates inside of gates. Some of the houses are unbelievable. Hers isn’t massive, but it’s a pretty good size and its super, super nice. Plus it’s just her. Pretty weird for us. Not used to being in a place that nice. Mari is excited to be starting to take the lessons again, so we are pumped for her too. We also picked up a couple more potential investigators just by going to church Wednesday night and hanging out with the youth playing soccer a little bit. A lot of the guys have chick friends and girl friends who aren't members of our church who come and watch and hang out with some of the members, so we just went and hung and talked to a couple of them. Two are super interested and would like us to teach them. That is how youth activities can work. We just talked to them and chilled a little bit and then we started in about what we do as missionaries and then talked about the church. It was sweet. Our youth are the key to so much missionary work because they have such good programs. We already have 4 recent convert young women in the 4 months. Their all super strong too, which means they help with more missionary work. It’s legit. The girls actually want to go out and teach with the missionaries. Pretty cool. It’s good to see youth getting involved. We have a lot of guys who are around missionary age too, so the ward is starting to work on them a little harder. It’s a good time to be in this ward overall. That’s about the week overall.

We are going to go bowling today, which should be pretty dang fun. More next week!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Catching up: Message from August 2

So here's a fairly typical Sunday in Elder Layton's life -- the story of August 1:

Wake up at 6:30 and head to the living room to read Jesus the Christ a little bit (probably fell asleep for a few minutes doing that) then got some breakfast and hopped in the shower. At 8:00 I start studies (though today these involved a little falling asleep too cuz it was rainy and really hard to stay awake). I prepped a bit for a lesson we were going to have later that day. At 9:00 we were heading out the door to go over to the church for leadership meeting in the ward. We go in this ward cuz our ward mission leader works nights and has a really hard time sleeping from 6:00 am when he gets off and getting up at 9:00am when the meeting starts...understandable, obviously. After the meeting we ran home to grab some stuff quickly and got back a little while before church started at 11:00. In sacrament meeting a couple of our recent converts got to bear their testimonies (give little impromptu talks) before the final speaker, who was a missionary who just got home. It was a good meeting and hopefully was inspiring for people to do missionary work. After that we went to our gospel principals class with our investigators and our amazing teacher Hermano Quintana. The man just has a way of captivating his audience and teaching simply while actually still reading from the book. He does an incredible job. From there we had combined men and women for 5th sunday. We learned about the addiction recovery program from addiction recovery missionaries. It was interesting and really good. The program is incredible and if you put in the effort and have a desire to change, you will change. After that we grabben some lunch. I had some rice and Naan. It was pretty dang good. From lunch we rushed over to the Quintana's house to teach their granddaughter Celia. She is 19 and has been here for about 2 months from Nicaragua. Her little sister is Karen who got baptized a couple months ago now. Celia studied with the Jehovah's Witnesses for about 3 years before coming here and had some questions for us. We had a really good lesson with her (her g-pa helped a lot) and she is now very willing to pray and read the book of Mormon to know if its true. She believes that there is a true church, but just is looking for an answer to which one it is because they all say that they are. She committed to read the Book of Mormon and Pray every day this week. We will be texting and visiting to make sure she keeps up on it. That was actually a really long lesson so we ran straight to dinner (pretty late). It was really good. A chicken curry (served with pinnaple and banana) with rice, salad, and vegetables; it was way good. We rushed from there back to the church to help set up for the baptism of our Elders quorum president's little boy (the bishop had asked us if we could). We helped set everything up and then stayed for the baptism because a few people we needed to talk to (including a potential investigator) had shown up. Afterwards we set up some appointments and talked to our WML for a bit, and then it was time to go pick up the english missionaries and call it a day. Solid day overall. Pretty typical Sunday.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Today in Las Vegas

Well, it’s been an interesting week. Covering both areas in the Flamingo Ward was insane. We had basically zero time that wasn’t scheduled out and had lessons until 9:30 every night. I am so tired right now, and actually very sore (we went on a run for the first time in a long time yesterday, so my legs hurt, my knees aren’t doing great, and my back is killing me and is very close to completely going out, haha). Today, though, Elder Andrews and I both have new companions, so we’re back to our usual areas! Yeaaa! I’m with Elder Kakau, who was in the Fallon zone with me for a while. We know each other pretty well. He’s a solid missionary and a chill guy, so we're excited. He is actually full Tongan too. He lived in Utah for a couple years before the mission, but that’s it. The rest of his life he was in Tonga. So we speaks perfect Tongan and English and is getting better and better at Spanish, which is pretty sweet. We are excited to serve together.

Well this last week our main focus was on Elder Andrews' area because he has a baptism this weekend and next weekend, so we were focusing on them pretty strongly, but of course also doing other stuff. We got them prepared though, and now they are pretty good to go. We should be able to get a few investigators from my area to those baptisms this weekend, which I think will be a huge help. Oh ya, we have been working just a tiny bit with a friend of our recent converts named Crisia, but she is always in and out of town, so we never had a real strong opportunity to teach her. Well, we gave her a Book of Mormon and on her last trip out of town she read a little bit from it almost every night before she went to sleep. Then she came back and we taught part of lesson one and had her watch the restoration with our recent converts, and a few days ago we got a text saying she wants to be baptized! She came to church on Sunday and LOVED it. She said she felt such a strong feeling that she described as nervous and excited but more so indescribable; it was so cool. Unfortunately, we ran into a problem. She leaves again on Thursday for Belize for a week (for an international beauty pageant, haha, she is actually Miss Costa Rica...seriously, ya) and won’t be able to go to church, and then comes back for a week where she will be able to go, but then leaves again, so she won’t be able to get to church 3 times. She wants to be baptized so badly, but she just can't until she meets the requirements. Really this has worked exactly as member missionary work should. We just met her from visiting our recent converts, and then they talked to her about some stuff, and then we gave a Book of Mormon, they talked to her about more stuff, and then encouraged her to follow her feelings, and we are now teaching in their home. If we could get all members to work like this we would have tons of people joining the church here. This family is on fire though. I think Ive mentioned them before...Jonythan and Andriette. They told us that they are going to get every Costa Rican who ever goes to their house to get baptized, hahah! They are great and really want to share the things that have helped them out so much. Its great to have them.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

July 18, 2011

Not much this week. I switched companions temporarily; I'm with Elder Andrews, who was with me in the Missionary Training Center. We're handling both areas in the Florida Ward, so there is a lot to do. The photo, taken last week, has (from your left): Elder Andrews, me, Elder Peters, Elder Zegarra (my old comp - I'll miss him!), and Elder Altamarion.

Meanwhile, check out one of my favorite videos.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July 11: Happy Birthday to me!

Well, I’m 21!!! and in Vegas, hahaha! Pues, what do people do when they turn 21? In Vegas, hit the Strip. Toss a few bucks into roulette or blackjack. Maybe hit a 21 and over club to finish out the night...oh the feeling of showing the bouncer that you actually are 21, how nice. That’s an interesting list considering I will be doing absolutely none of it. Even off my mission I wouldn’t do any of it...well maybe get into the club just to say I did, but I mean, I don’t drink, gambling is kind of just a ridiculous waste of money, and the Strip isn't that fantastic in the end. At some point I guess we all realize that there are more important things in life. At times like this I like to think about what on earth I’m doing in Nevada for 2 years. I think about it for about two seconds and then realize that I’m doing some of the most important work of my life. Why would I want to have a crazy 21st? The craziness would last a night and the next day would suck. What I’m doing instead is enjoying life, making it better every day if I can. I get to have some true joy in my life because I get to see other people changing theirs. The reversal from misery to happiness is fantastic but it’s even better to see the change from happiness to having a feeling of fulfillment in life and expanding joy. That’s pretty sweet. A solid way to spend a 21st I would say. Of course I’ll still hang out with my friends here, but I will be back to work tomorrow...without a hangover or regrets. Life’s solid. Thanks for all the birthday wishes I’ve gotten (mom and dad sent me the posts so far from Facebook)! Much love for everyone reading my blog.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June 27, 2011

Well this week’s story was all about dinners. The members of the Flamingo Ward looooove to feed us. We almost always get food from their countries; American is rare. We have gotten a lot of milanesa de argentina (Dad’s favorite from his mission), lots of peruvian food like papa de huanguaina (see the pic), and all kinds of things. Papa de juanguaina (o algo asi) is a yellow Peruvian sauce that goes on potatoes and arroz con pollo. It’s unbelievable. Soooo goood. Its one of my favorite foods now. We had papusas ( my brother Tim’s favorite from his mission) the other day too! Anyway, the other two elders have the calender and they kind of messed up a couple of times on dinners last week, so we ended up having 2 dinners 3 days this week, hahaha. It was crazy. It would have been ok if the first ones weren’t all really, really good, but they were! Soo I wanted to eat a lot at the first ones, but then the second ones were all even better! It was nuts. I ate soooo much food this week. It’s ridiculous. I definitely need to try to work some off today. Fortunately we got to play soccer a couple times this week, so that has helped work a little off. We got to play with the youth after English class, which turned out to be really good, because we are getting a lot closer to the youth now and a lot of them bring non-member friends to play soccer every week. Then on Friday we had our missionary activity, which was supposed to be a soccer tournament with the youth against the adults, but then the Mexico vs USA game for the final of the Gold Cup got scheduled at the exact same time, so like nobody came. That was pretty bad luck, but we still played some soccer with the youth that came. Hopefully it was still good. I think it was.

This week we had another really good lesson with Maria and Tilda. We were on bike that day, so we had the other elders drop us off at an appt we had before it and then biked to their house after. That was pretty harsh. We had to bike uphill the whole way and it was well over 100. The other elders’ car said 111, they told us later. It was ridiculously hot. When we got there we knocked, and nobody came to the door. I was like, you’ve got to be kidding me. We waited and then eventually turned around to walk away when finally the door handle rattled and they opened. That air conditioning was the best thing I have ever felt! They love everything, and came to church on Sunday. So we are very happy with that right now. Other than that every single investigator canceled on us at least once. We had some good recent convert and less active lessons though and we were on the phone almost constantly setting up stuff for this week. It looks like this week is going to be really good. We already have at least 6 lessons set up and I think we will have a lesson with a really legit referral, which will be awesome.

Monday, June 20, 2011

June 20

Well let’s see. Monday we picked up Elder Zegarra from the office and then went to our recent converts’ house for dinner. We had a good dinner and a lesson with them. They are really fun and strong. It’s exciting to see. They will be headed to the temple this Friday night for baptisms for the dead. Tuesday we had to do email and shopping and everything for Elder Zegarra since he couldn’t on Monday because he was in the car coming down here, and then we had to take the English elders back to the office for a bike, so that was most of Tuesday day. Tuesday evening we visited with another recent convert and her husband. Wednesday we visited a less active and had some appointments fall through, but then later we had a tiny bit of success “tracting” (going door-to-door). Our area is really bad for tracting (we have the upscale side of the ward which means there are like 20 English-speaking houses to every one Hispanic) we've come to realize, so finding people to teach through that isn’t really going to work. Unfortunately our area is also really bad for working with less actives too (they all also live in the other area), so now that we have a lower investigator pool, the area is really slowing down hard. Now we have to focus on getting referrals from members. So far that’s been going decently well. We have about 5 referrals we are working on contacting, and that was most of the daytime from Thursday through Saturday. We had no success until Saturday when we contacted a referral from a member who just saw these two ladies at church and asked if they wanted to meet with the missionaries. We had a first lesson with them and it was fantastic. They were cool with absolutely everything. After we taught about the first vision one of them said, "Que bonito." At the end we asked if they had any questions and Maria said she had heard we have a lot of rules about health and stuff, so we gave a brief overview of the word of wisdom planning on talking about it more later, but they were just like ok, we don’t do any of that anyway, except a coffee every once in a while, but we can give that up. Then we committed them to read and pray and were about to ask them to come to church too when they said "pues, nos vemos a la iglesia maƱana tambien." So we have two new investigators that are super legit, which we really needed. They are great ladies too. Unfortunately it turned out they couldn’t come to church because Tilda (the other lady...Maria's mother in law…who’s about 75) fell on a walk they took that morning. We have an appointment with them on Wednesday though, so hopefully everything is ok. Sunday was good. Just church, things we had to do at church, an appt, dinner, and then we met with an investigator and another recent covert. We had a good lesson with them about prayer and obedience. It was pretty good for them, I think.

It’s been fun feeling the energy everyone in the ward has for CONCACAF right now. The Gold Cup is underway, so it’s all anybody talks about/does. It’s pretty fun. So I know everything that’s happening in that. I believe the US plays Panama Wednesday for redemption from their embarrassing loss in the beginning, so hopefully they can pull out a win there. They just beat Jamaica who was actually kind of streaking apparently, haha. Hispanics and their obsession with soccer is fun for me. The hardest part of the week was how hard a hit the area took with the loss of Elder Miller (possibly the most loved missionary here ever) and with just the natural lull. This week looks like it will be busier though...with appointments that will be a lot more solid. So that will be fun. We should have a good time. Elder Zegarra and I teach pretty well together. We both relax and just let it happen, which is how I feel teaching with the spirit should be.

Friday, June 17, 2011

June 13: Elder Zigarra -- from Peru!

This week is transfers. It is a sad day; my comp is leaving for The Mucc (Winnemucca). I get a new comp tonight. His name is Elder Zigarra and he was in Fallon while I was in Yerington, so I already know him. He is a cool guy and was the one that really kind of welcomed me into the zone there. He is getting close to finishing up...I think just 2 more transfers. Hopefully goes well! Should be fun. He’s Peruvian.

My companion as he was saying goodbye to everyone. They really love him here. There are at least 5 families that consider him family. It’s sad to see him have to leave.... It’s tough to see him go. Me and my new comp have big shoes to fill, but at least everybody is really happy to see me stay; guess I’ve made a good impression so far. They will be happy to meet my new comp and Elder Andrews's new comp this week though. Both are really cool guys. Elder Andrews's new comp is named Elder Marin and he came out with us to the field. Hopefully the 4 of us keep up the good work going in the ward.

So there are other missionaries here from Missouri: Elder Scheifferth (now in Sarah’s ward) from south St. Louis County; Elder Lane from Cape; Elder Farnsworth from St Charles; Elder Sorenson from Washington I think; Elder Josephson who is from Platte City but his family now lives in St Charles. There are some more but I don’t remember them. Missouri is represented in this mission pretty well!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

June 7, 2011

We’re driving a truck! A 2011 Chevy Colorado! It’s pretty sweet. Under 1000 miles. Driving it is pretty fun. It’s pretty high off the ground, but it’s not a huge truck.

We are teaching …

· Lizette, Nicaraguan and the Mom of Karen who got baptized last week. She loves the gospel and goes to church every Sunday. Her commitment this week is to read and pray again.

· Mariana, from Mexico but living here with her member cousin and family right now. She is still learning English, but is getting better and better. She is more than ready to get baptized, couldn’t love church more. She goes back to Mexico at the end of the month and is waiting to get baptized until she gets down there so she can prep her parents and aunt to get baptized with her. They are taking the lessons now.

· Maria, a great lady from Mexico whose twin son and daughter are members. Just waiting for her son to turn 16 so he can baptize her.

· Hermana (Sister) Medina, another great lady whose kids are all members. She works on Sundays, so she has trouble getting to church. Shouldn’t be very long before she’s baptized, though.

· Oswaldo, a really nice guy from Peru. The Gospel is something he likes, but he is the type of person to take his time with it though, so it’s coming along slowly.

· Mili, an awesome Peruvian lady whose son is a member. She really likes the church and loves missionaries.

· Victor, a really nice like 40-yr-old single guy from Mexico. He disappeared for a while but showed up at church again on Sunday, which was good to see.

Many people have a hard time understanding how the Spirit works with them. So when we teach, we talk about how that’s kind of the key pretty often...finding somebody that the spirit works with similarly to you. That is one thing the new helps do. There are all kinds of people from all walks of life. I think that people that have similar interests tend to have similar ways they understand the spirit. allows you to search for interests and age brackets to find someone who is like you. That means everyone has the chance to find somebody with similar spiritual experiences as them (even if people don’t even know they've had them yet). That is one cool thing that I learned about that website this week and I think the son of the family we were talking to will really connect with something on there.

I also have a new favorite video on there. It’s of a guy named Samuel Babin and his family. They are a tri-lingual household and he plays tennis, so naturally I love it. Its so funny. The kids get the languages all mixed together. Such a good video and great family. That entire website is just fun to play around on. If anyone really reads the testimonies of the people on there and pays attention to their feelings, they will find something there. Guaranteed.

Finally -- our mission president, President Black, always has a new joke for zone conference: His latest: "What’s the hardest thing for a missionary learning to ride a bike? The pavement." Haha. It got less funny because we (not me) had several bike accidents this week, one of which resulted in a broken hand. Ironic. He has really helped me understand loving people better. He’s kind of like dad and just loves everybody from the moment he meets them. No problem. He shows a lot of patience here, which is great. Hopefully I can gain the same kind of patience.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sarah sees Ben

Today (on "preparation day" -- hence the casual clothing).

Friday, June 3, 2011

June 2, 2011

Memorial Day was sweet! We went to a place called Desert Breeze Park and played soccer and just hung and then me and one of the elders I live with went to play tennis because he plays too. I miss playing, so it was really great to feel myself hit some good shots again. It was a super good time. I got a little bit burnt, but nothing bad, and now it’s just farmer tan. I’m used to that though. Since we are on bike this week, I’m just getting darker. So I might be back to my old tan self pretty soon, which is also good.

Our ward had a huge 5 de mayo party at the beginning of the month that was super sweet. We all had a good time at that and a lot of investigators were there which was cool. Our ward has a volleyball season that just ended. They would practice every Wednesday evening and had games on Thursday nights. This stake I guess has a pretty active sports schedule; they even have somebody called as a stake sports coordinator. They have a track meet between all of the wards in October and the missionaries have their own team in it, so I hope I stay here at least until then, haha. That would be super fun. Let’s see, Oh, the Elders quorum got a new president so we had a carne asada. The turnout wasn’t fantastic, but apparently after the first 2 hours a bunch of people showed up. We were just there for the first hour. The carne was incredible! Oh my goodness, it was soooooo good. I was eating just to have the flavor in my mouth, hahaha. I also tried it in a piece of cactus and that was even better, so good. I think we are getting some more tonight too, so I’m excited.

The man who teaches the Principios del Evangelio class in Sunday School is the best teacher ever. His name is Hermano Quintana and his granddaughter Karen is who we baptized on Saturday. He used to be a stake president in Nicaragua, and now he is our gospel principles teacher. All the investigators look forward to his class. It’s like their favorite part of Sundays in general. It’s so cool. He is funny, personable, explains things perfectly, and he is really good at getting people to participate. He is a major reason this ward does so well on baptisms.

Karen's baptism was really great! She has a lot of family that are members and they all showed up to support her. The talks were both really good and I think everyone enjoyed them. Her mom and sister aren't members yet, so it was really good for them to see it. Their cousin, Jason, just got back from his mission in Montreal and he is really working with them. He is super cool and a big help to us. The guy can speak English, Spanish, and French very, very well. Perfect English and almost perfect in the other two. I need to get my Spanish better, but it’s super hard. Well, kind of, it’s always getting better and better, but it takes so long when everybody is constantly going back and forth between English and Spanish. Back to the baptism. Karen was super happy and I think it had a great affect on everyone there. She got confirmed the next day and is just a super solid girl in the gospel now.

We had a great lesson last week with a girl named Mariana who is here temporarily living here with family, but goes back to Mexico soon. We had already taught her the first 3 lessons and she just loved it all. She loves church and everything too, especially in Spanish (she went a few times in English, but she doesn’t speak that much English yet), but she was concerned about tithing. So we went through the 10 commandments with her and talked about tithing when we got to “thou shalt not steal.” Then we went to Malachi where it talks about “will a man rob God?” and says “ye have robbed me” in your tithes and offerings. The scripture then promises that the heavens will be opened unto you if you obey this commandment. She really liked that. Then her aunt shared a really good personal testimony about tithing and also talked about it being 10%. In Spanish the word for tithing is diezmo...signifying the tenth, which is also cool. It was a really good lesson and now she is excited to pay tithing after she gets baptized and to obey all of the commandments. She is now finished with the lessons and just waiting to go back home so she can get baptized with her mom who is also taking the lessons in Mexico. So cool that they can be learning the same thing in different countries.

Ties are doin well. I’ve increased my stash through a couple of good buys and trades. By the way, I’m not asking for them, but if anyone ever tells you that they are going to buy me a tie, tell them to get it from Kohls, a skinny tie that isn’t striped, but has a different pattern. They have a lot like that there and they are all awesome.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May 23, 2011

Well there are obvious differences between Las Vegas and Fallon: stoplights, traffic, people, buildings, places to shop, etc. Hahaha. Other than that the biggest difference between Fallon and here is switching to a ward from a branch. You don’t get nearly as close to members in a ward like here as you do in a branch like in Fallon, but there are so many more legit investigators here. People here are a lot more educated. In Fallon, there weren't many people that could read aloud in Spanish better than me, but here everyone can. We actually go to houses instead of trailers, even pretty nice houses. Almost everyone here has a base in English. People are more active here too. The people I work with are still Hispanic, so they are super nice, but they aren’t quite as hospitable over all as they were in the small towns. They still are, just not to the extreme like in Fallon. However, the people here also have more personality, which is fun. Joking around in Spanish is a good time. I’m not really good enough to initiate much of it, but I can hang with it and play my part pretty decently. It’s fun. I like it up here.

We don’t work as tightly with the ward here as we did with the branch in Fallon. Part of that is that there are actually some home teachers, but we don’t do much less active work anyway because we don’t have time. On the other hand, families here get us to work with their families like crazy, which is great! It’s also weird being around so many people who are bilingual. They come from Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Argentina, El Salvador, and a couple other countries, I think, but those ones for sure.

This Sunday, Andriette asked me to confirm her. I was super scared, because it was obviously going to be in Spanish in front of the whole ward and I’ve never even done that in English. I prayed a lot for help and repeated the beginning over and over in my head. I guess I did what I was supposed to because she was super happy and I was told I did a good job. I didn't really know what to say, so I just talked. Fortunately you don’t speak your words when confirming somebody a member, you are speaking whatever the Spirit has you speak, so I just trusted that whatever was coming out of my mouth would work, and it did. It felt really good to know that the Lord was there to help me with that. That was just one of the 4 confirmations we had yesterday, which is fun for the ward to see. It was a pretty spiritual 20-30 minutes. They had to cancel the last speaker because they had so many. He is our Gospel Principles (Sunday School class) teacher and a super funny guy. He is incredible. Used to be in a couple stake presidencies back in Nicaragua. They passed him the note that said they wouldn't have time for him to speak, he read it, smiled, gave a fist pump, and got up and walked off the stand with a huge smile on his face. It was super funny. His granddaughter and daughter are 2 of our investigators. His granddaughter Karen is getting baptized this Saturday. I’m sure he will speak at it, so it will be good. The spirit was also super strong at all of the baptisms this weekend.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

May 18, 2011

Well, we went to the temple this morning, so I jumped the mission boundaries! hahaha. We didn’t know we had this trip until like Sunday. People forgot to tell us. So that was all morning and now we are emailing and then we will shop a little and that’s about all the time we will have. It’s a busy day. The Vegas temple is really pretty. All of the palm trees and flowers around it make it look really cool.

I was riding bikes all week last week. It was a good time despite how saddle sore I was the first few days. Fortunately it cooled down a lot for us. No, no close calls with cars, haha. While I was out riding, I saw Jason (Sarah’s husband) :) Hahaha, yep. That was fun. I laughed. He came out of nowhere and we had actually just been talking to another member who pulled over to talk to us right before that. Pretty funny day.

This week we set another girl with a date for baptism. She will be baptized June 4th and confirmed on Sarah’s birthday. Last night, we also taught the one who will be baptized Friday. She is super excited, but she is making me sing with my comp at her baptism, so I’m not happy with her right now, haha. Let’s see. Oh, so I don’t think I’ve written since Daniela's baptism because of the p-day change (temple trip)! So it was pretty much the biggest baptism ever. There were over 60 people there! There wasn't even room in the primary room for all of the people so people were out in the hall with the doors open so that they could see too. It was crazy. Between the 2 companionships we had 8-9 investigators there, and after being there most of them are about ready to get baptized too. It was pretty sweet. President Black was there too because he had to give an interview right before. It was super good. Hopefully we can get half that for the rest of our baptisms coming up. Daniela was all smiles after. She was super excited. She and another girl were both confirmed on church Sunday and they were both so happy. It was cool to see. This ward is going to have to get used to a lot of confirmations in Sacrament meeting because there are more coming. This Sunday there will be 3, next Sunday I think 2, and the Sunday after I think 3 again. It’s pretty fun. We are having a good time with it all. The members here are pretty personable. A lot of really funny people, which makes our lives a good time, especially since my comp is really good at Spanish and can keep up with them.

Do we have our car back? Yes, thank goodness, I was done with that bike. I hugged our little Corrolla when we got it back.