Saturday, January 31, 2015
We had a great week here in Sunnyslope! Big turn around from the week before! So on Tuesday, we had set up "Rescue Visits" with members from the Stake Presidency and from the ward. The person I was assigned to go with was our Elders Quorum President. We had a list of some names that he wanted to go and visit and at first it looked like we weren't going to get anything accomplished, but we had one person that we especially wanted to visit and we got to talk to him for awhile which was great, for him especially. He is a man in our ward that hasn't been to church for years. He has a 3 year old and his wife passed away two weeks ago from Stage 4 breast Cancer and Stage 3 Bone Cancer. It was an experience that was hard on the ward and everybody that knew the family. But we got to go and see him and offer our help and when we asked him if there was anything we can do for him, he broke down and told us how hard of a time he was having, I think it was good for him to have company because he has been having to not show it for his little boy. So the ward Is hard at work trying to help take care of his necessities. He came to church yesterday too and met with Bishop! I think he knows now that the ward really does care for him. It is weird to see the opposite side of it. For awhile I thought our home ward in Bountiful was annoying because they always wanted to come see us. But really, we weren't a statistic, it really is all out of love. And that is why missionary work is so great, multiple times in just this past week, I find myself sitting in a strangers small apartment having the most important conversation we could have and en letting them know that we are there to help them in any way we can. We found a new investigator to teach, her name is Kathy Erikson, she has been taught before but her husband got really sick, so she stopped taking discussions, but now he is healthier and she is meeting with us again! She has no religious background really, but she is a very humbled lady and she is super nice! She is about 60 years old and loves the church members that introduced us to her! With Lawrence we heard some crazy stuff that happened to the family and that we weren't going to be seeing him again, and I felt awful. I just stood there with the phone in my hand not knowing what to do, and that made the week seem awful, but on Saturday night, we went by to check on Angela and the boys and to see how they are doing, and we heard Lawrence and he was super excited and told us to come inside (which he had never done before) and he told us how crazy the previous week had been, and we were really glad to hear that the family is doing okay. There is still some lasting stuff that we don't know but we are heading over there tomorrow to meet with them! It was so cool to hear about his story of the guys he was sitting next to and how they all just wanted another chance, and then he related it to the Atonement of Christ. Sometimes by law, people don't get a second chance, but through Christ, everyone has new opportunities. We have been teaching Christian and Isaac, the two little boys, they love the men in the ward that look after them and their mom has really opened up to us lately so we are hoping for great things to come there! We went to a baptism with the Royal Palm Elders and I was part of the missionary presentation which I always love doing because I love teaching the Gospel of Christ lesson. It went really well and it was really cool to be apart of another Ward Baptism. We had Ward Conference yesterday and Bishop Goodwin and Stake President Hettinger spoke. Bishop shared his falling away story and talked about the road coming back. It was really cool the way he related the saying "hold to he iron rod" because "hold" is an action word. We must actively be following Christ. And iron, as we know, rusts if it is not cared for. Much like our testimonies, if we don't actively nourish our testimonies, they will be weakened. Just like iron needs to be sanded, polished and shined, we must do the same with our testimonies. We must protect them with prayer, church and scripture reading! This week has been great! I hope you guys all have a great week! I love you guys! Elder Byington.
This week has been a bit of a struggle. It started off really well, but towards the end things got tough. On Tuesday I was on an exchange with our 6'8" Canadian District Leader haha. He is always great to have because instead of contacting people, they ask him about his height and then love that he is from Canada haha. But we had a good day on Tuesday. We had a lesson with Trevor, he is 22 and was raised in a Lutheran church, he is going through some hard times though because he is fighting or custody of his child and he is down on himself. So we had a great lesson about Gods love and about prayer. We really just tried to help him build a relationship with God. I love teaching about something so simple, but so hard. Because we all know what it is that we need to do, it's just a matter of doing it. And helping others realize the importance of building that relationship always helps me to realize that I too, can always work to strengthen my own relationship with God. Wednesday was by far my favorite day this week. Elder Longhurst and I had a great morning of studies and we went and visited some of our focus names in the Northern part of our area which we don't get to very often. But after our meeting at the church, Elder Longhurst and I went on splits with members. I went to teach Anthony the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We had already taught him a bit about faith and repentance so when we got there, I asked him why it is so important to him to have faith? And he said,"faith gives me a kind of identity, faith helps me to not want to make mistakes." And I thought to myself that things with Anthony are really starting to click. When we got to baptism I asked him if he has ever been baptized, he said when he was a baby but it didn't mean anything to him and then he said,"are you offering me to be baptized?" And I said yes. He said he wants to and then I told him that it was great but that there are some things we have to work on before he gets baptized. The lesson went really well and he was excited for us to come by again and for church. Later in the week, we stopped by to arrange a ride for Anthony to get to church and he wouldn't even talk to us. He said he was busy and doesn't have time. That same day, we found out that there are complications with Lawrence and his situation, and they are moving. Our two strongest investigators were gone in about 4 hours. I realized that missions do put you through some of the best times and also some of the worst. It all comes down to our reactions. There are always going to be tough times. We shouldn't pray to have these trials removed because often times, the Lord is trying to help us grow. We need to pray for stronger shoulders to carry the load. Elder Longhurst and I were just bummed out about it but I have been keeping positive and optimistic. Elder Longhurst last night let it all out. Our Ward is stressful, there are many great families, but a lot of the ward isn't super involved and Elder Longhurst goes home in 3 weeks. He hasn't baptized much on his mission and we lost our two strongest investigators. I saw it coming because he won't answer phone calls, he gives me the phone, he won't help plan much, and he has been more negative lately. He mentioned last night that he felt bad because I had to put up with his downhill spiral. So, I didn't like doing it, but we had a stern conversation about attitude and about faith. I was upset because he has 3 weeks left and he is losing hope and faith and doesn't really care. But we had a good conversation about why we decided to serve missions and what ways we have changed from being out. It was great to hear his testimony finally come out of him again. It made me realize why Elder Longhurst and I have been put together as companions. I have learned a lot from him. And the Lord needed us to be together so we could both grow as missionaries but more importantly to solidify our testimonies. This week has been a bit rough but we have lots of good things coming this upcoming week! We are working well with the ward and when the time is right, things will work out! I hope you guys have a great week! Love you! Elder Byington P.S. Big news coming out of Phoenix. They just caught a man named Bryan Miller for some crazy stuff in the 90's. They investigated his house for over 5 days and scanned everything in there for more clues. Look him up and see what you find. He lives about a half mile below our apartment and we use his street every day haha. He was a man we contacted that didn't want to talk to us much haha.
This week has been good! To start off, on Tuesday, Elder Longhurst and I went over to a recent converts house because her husband is not a member. He used to be standoffish earlier this year when Ullie (his wife) was baptized. They had us over on Christmas Eve for a German Christmas and when we were over there, he hinted towards becoming a member of the church. We decided to play it out and not bombard him the next day. But when we went over on Tuesday, he had been reading a lot about Brigham Young and Utah-Mormon History. It was pretty cool to see how much more open he is now. Then after, we had a service project to do with another Recent Convert who was a part of the Hells Angels haha. When we got done helping him clear off his patio, he took us upstairs to see his Weapons Collection. He is obsessed and he had like 5 Katanas (Japanese Swords), Throwing Knives, Throwing Starts, Nunchucks, All kinds of tactical knives and some other crazy stuff. They are a family of that gets it, but they still don't fully get it haha. That night we had a lesson with Anthony who is a chain smoker. I opened the door and literally, smoke came out. But we had our lesson and then our member dropped us off at the church. There was stuff going on at the church and members mentioned how we smelled. We talked to our Elders Quorum President and Bishop in the Bishops office and the Bishop had to spray us with Febreeze to get rid of it. Our Elders Quorum President said something awesome, "I heard a guy talking once about smoking, and about individual sins. He mentioned how obvious it is to smell someone who smokes, everyone knows instantly. And many people are quick to judge. But think if every sin had a smell. And everybody knew our sins everywhere we went. I'm sure some of the other sins would smell much worse than a little cigarette smoke. Imagine every sin we have done, and how bad we would all smell if our sins all had their own smell." It was really cool to think about. Because it puts it into perspective that we all have problems and we all have things we need to work on. We gave Anthony a tour of the church on Wednesday and then we met with an inactive young couple. The man is a manager that needs people to work for him and we were able to get him and Lawrence in touch with each other! Lawrence has called but we don't know if he has gotten the job yet. Lawrence and Anthony came to church yesterday and they had a really good time. Lawrence is opening up a lot in Gospel Principles and he loves what he is learning. On Friday we had a Zone Conference which was pretty much about obedience. It was really good for us all to hear. There are mostly smart missionaries that do what they are supposed to, but there are some who try to push limits and do dumb stuff. So President wanted everybody to talk about obedience and how we need to govern ourselves. I think it's ridiculous that he had to have a Zone Meeting around the mission because some people don't obey simple rules. We are finally getting a bit bigger of a teaching pool but we are struggling to get some of our investigators to keep commitments. A man on the streets starting ripping into "us Mormons" and was telling us how stupid we are for the money we pay and for serving so that the leaders can sit back. He thinks we paid for the Temples and only leaders get to go in them. Elder Longhurst got upset at first and I wanted to argue but when I opened my mouth, I ended up just talking to the guy and asking him where he heard that. Of course it was a "buddy". But it made me think about what we do. Not every kid has an opportunity to represent Jesus Christ for 2 years. Nor do they get to learn the life skills we get to. Things are still going great out here! We are building our teaching pool and we are getting more people to church which is great! Elder Longhurst and I are growing closer together, he is starting to realize that he really only has like 30 days left haha. He Zone won't let him hear the end of it, neither will our Bishop! I hope you guys are doing well and have a great week! Love you! Elder Byington Sent from my iPad
Hey Family! So this week when Elder Longhurt's and my roommates left us, we thought we would be getting two new elders coming to live with us. Turns out, they didnt. We have a pretty big apartment to just ourselves, so last week we deep cleaned that thing on P-day because missionaries have been living here for over 6 years and missionaries dont treat things the best haha. But i thought it was a great gift from God because Elder Longhurst have differences. And we really do get along almost always. But somethings we are both a little stubborn about. I think this will be a great opportunity for me to learn how to more effectively work out my differences with others.
On New Years Eve, President Griffin wanted us in by 6 because of the roads. So, as missionaries looking for something fun to do, we got together with our Zone Leaders and a couple other companionship and we played Hide and Go Seek in the church. And i was talking myself up, telling everyone that they wouldnt find me forever. I completely forgot that wherever you hide, your companion has to be somewhere near you. Of course my companion is 6'3'' and ant hide ANYWHERE! I was upset haha.
Teaching wise, Elder Longhurst spent a lot of time on the streets this week. Some of our potential investigators havent turned out to be as promising as we had hoped for. So we have been trying to build up our teaching pool some more. We met with quite a bit of our Recent Converts, New Members and we actually got a referral from a family that we are pretty excited about. We met with him and he believes everything our church teaches, even the Restoration, he just thought that we worshiped Joseph Smith. So we resolved his concern there and we will be going back to teach him later this week!
One night i was on splits and i was with our Ward Mission Leader while Elder Longhurst went with our El Salvadorian Elder who was waiting to be transferred. I asked Brother Raliegh what he would like us to work on in the area. He was glad to hear that because he hasnt felt like the Elders here in the past little while have cared too much. I am excited to work together with him because he seems to have some really good ideas. He was teaching me some of his finding approaches that he used when he was serving in Chile.
On Saturday we had a horrible lesson. Our potential investigator had friends over playing video games while we were trying to teach him and he was having trouble focusing. We were pretty upset because we tried to move into other rooms and stuff but nothing was working. But then things turned around for us and we taught a really good lesson where we could feel the spirit and the person we were teaching opened up to us.
Last night, Elder Longhurst and i went to visit a inactive returned missionary who is about 60. He was nice to us but nobody ever knew why he wouldnt come to church. We finally were able to get him to open up to us and even though he said he wasnt ready to come back to church, he said that he wants to do Home Teaching! Go figure. but we are really excited because it seems that he just wanted somebody to reach out to him!
I found out some history on Sunnyslope. It started out as a refuge for Tuberculosis patients. They would send them here (which was out of the city then) because the sun just beats down on North Mountain and TB patients needs that. But anyhow, that is why it is so impoverished now. That was many years ago and now all those homes are old and broken down, that is why this place has really nice area on either end, but for a couple miles in the middle, it changes. I was really interested because i always wondered why some of the really nice areas were just a few streets away from some sketchier neighborhoods.
Sorry for the short email! Nothing stood out too much this week! Ill send pictures here in a minute! Love you guys! Elder Byington
Hey Family! It was good to see you guys this week! This week has been great! I wish I wouldn't have forgotten my camera back at the apartment, I had some really good pictures I wanted to send you guys! To start off, on Christmas Eve, we had interviews with President Griffin first thing in the morning. He and I had a really good interview together and he gave me some good advice. We picked up our packages and I felt bad because everyone in my apartment only got a few things and I had 3 big packages and tons of letters from the home ward and President Peters. So I tried not to open them all when they were around, I felt bad. Thank you for the gifts! I still haven't opened all of them, but the stuff I have is awesome! I love the tie! I haven't been able to use the protein powder because with the Christmas Holiday food, I am doing more cardio every morning haha. The night of Christmas Eve, Elder Longhurst and I went over to a German recent converts house with her family. She fed us and let us experience the "German Christmas" it was really fun! Her husband wants to be baptized and he can actually come to church now because we have it at 9 in the morning!
On Christmas Day, we woke up and went to our Sunday School Presidents house for Belgian Waffles. We were there with another convert of about 5 years. His name is James Hall. He was an amateur MMA fighter and went to prison because he uppercut a man and killed him... He is really cool but hard to bring around investigators because he thinks we worship Joseph Smith. We tried to stop that but it hasn't worked haha. I loved getting to see you guys! It sounds like you guys are doing well! I can't believe that dad and I live right down the street from each other. I felt bad that I didn't get to ask more questions about you guys! Right after I got off I thought of all the questions I had! After Skyping, we went and played soccer with the Monte Vista Spanish ward for like 3 hours haha. It was a really good Christmas!
Friday was a turn. It wasn't very productive. Studies went pretty good but our District Meeting, everybody was messing around and couldn't focus very much. I think the Holiday break was what caused it. It wasn't very focused but I was still able to take something away from it. The fastest way to get someone trust is to listen to them. That is something I have been working on. Not worrying about what I will say next, but listening to their needs and concerns.
We found a new investigator named Anthony hat we contacted on the streets. We had a good lesson with him on Saturday and then I went with a member yesterday to teach him again. He has had a rough past but he said he is looking for something more in his life. He questions whether God exists or not but wants to believe. It was awesome to see the light go off in his head when we talked about how God manifests himself. If he came to us each in person, it would defeat the purpose of us being in the earth. So he gives us ways that require us to show our faith, following prophets, reading scriptures, prayer. He opened up a lot to that idea!
Elder Longhurst and I gave talks in church on Sunday. We were asked to speak on "He Is The Gift" so I did and then talked about all of the opportunities everyone has to share the gospel, especially in Phoenix. We had the Temple Open House, Meet The Mormons, He Is The Gift. I felt like Sunday at church went really well.
Last night we had a sad experience. We were called by the mission office and there had been a request for us to give a blessing at the hospital. We didn't know the circumstances going into the situation but we realized when we got there that she was in the ICU and has limited time. The whole family was there. And I felt horrible.
Other than that, this week has been great! One thing during studies that stuck out to me is that Faith and Fear cannot coexist. It's either we trust the Lord or we don't have the confidence we need to. In any situation we are faced with, we need to be confident and faithful, if you think you can't, you can't. Trust the Lord and let him guide your path!
Sorry it's a Tuesday P-Day! Transfers are tomorrow. Elder Longhurst and I are staying here! Love you guys! I hope all is well! Love, Elder Byington