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
So some great news to start off! I was informed this week that Neva McKnight was baptized up in Prescott Valley last weekend! I was stoked when I heard that! Caleb Moon was on date to get baptized this past Saturday and I am still waiting to hear if that went through! I hope so! Caleb is a good guy and I hope he is still as strong as he was before.
So last Monday, we got a call from a guy from Mesa, he called us because he was coming to the hospital in our area to give blessing to his nephew and he wanted us to come with him. When we met up with him at the hospital, he told us why his nephew was in. His nephew is a horse jockey and he walked behind the horse and the horse kicked back. The hoof hit him in the chest and then broke his jaw with the follow through. I felt really bad when I saw the guy, he was being fed through an IV because he could only open his mouth to get the blood cleaned out. We gave him a blessing and hurried out because his family was wanting to stay with him.
On Tuesday, we had a lesson with a recent convert in the ward and we were going down a hill. I specifically told Elder Longhurst, "let me know ahead of time before you turn because my brakes are awful." And they have been for a week or two now. Anyways, we are going pretty good speed down the street and sure enough, he cuts into a parking lot. I didn't have an option to go straight because there was a turn that only went the other way. So I slam on the brakes, keep heading for the curb and yours truly has to ditch his bike and be an athlete. I overstepped the curb like a champ only to get stood up by a cement wall just behind the curb. I hit my knee on the wall but other than that, I was good. I even stayed on my feet. You can't get caught flying through the air, I did my best haha. But everything is good haha. Also, Elder Cordero's travel papers came in on Tuesday for him to go home, it was also his companion Elder Ramos's birthday, so we hid them and then gave them as a present to Elder Ramos, it was super funny! I have began to realize that street contacting and tracting really can be incredible because that is where most good missionary stories come from. It's also how a lot of miracles start. So I have tried talking to absolutely everyone lately.
Wednesday was interesting, Elder Longhurst likes going to meeting earlier than necessary to play he piano. He loves playing which is awesome, but he is willing to give up Proselyting time to do it. He also said "we need to stay for awhile after the meeting just to let things soak in". Of course I didn't agree. I said it was wasting time and he said I am too "by the book". I didn't know what to say. It was tense for a minute. But it was good after that. We had our Bishopric 2nd Counselor (Brother Johnson) teach how to be better at contacting. He is a comedian so he is incredible at talking to people. He taught us that there IS a secret to talking to people. 1) compliment them. 2) follow up the compliment with a genuine, open-ended question about whatever you complimented them on. It was really good! Then we went to a member who had a referral for us. He took us and introduced us. We met a man named Lawrence, he is an ex Crip gang member from LA. He has his last name tattooed on the back of his head and LA tattooed on one side of his neck with Jesus's face tattooed on the other side. He came to church with us yesterday and taught me a lot. I could see how nervous he was, he mentioned being nervous of being judged for his tattoos. But he was talking to everyone and wants to come back. He mentioned to me, "a journey of 1,000 miles starts with the first step." I have heard that a lot but it was amazing to hear right then because it goes to show that ANYONE can change.
Thursday may have been the best day of my life haha. It was awesome. We had Christmas Conference. President Griffin took 1/5 of the Missionaries each day this week. We had Thursday. We went down to the Mesa Temple and toured the Visitors Center. Then we had lunch out on the temple grounds. And then we all went and did a session at the temple. Being in the Celestial room with President And Sister a griffin and the Mission presidency and other missionaries was so cool! Then President Griffin took us to dinner and then we came back at night for the Temple Christmas Lights! It was an awesome experience and very much needed. I actually had a really good one-on-one conversation with President Griffin at the temple. I know that I'm in the right mission because President Griffin is the perfect Mission President for me.
Friday and Saturday were spent trying to contact and find people to teach. We talked to a lot of strangers which I love, because 1)people are accepting to what you have to tell them, 2 they say no, or 3) something interesting happens, get yelled at or talk to someone with some interesting stories or opinions haha.
Yesterday at church was great to have Lawrence there with us. Sometimes Sunday is your most stressful day because you worry about getting people to church, reporting in Ward Council, sometimes we teach Gospel Principles which I actually like to do, but there are tons of things going on haha.
Spiritual Thought, the root word of Disciple is Discipline, as disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to discipline ourselves as such. The cool thing about the Gospel is that it is a set of standards that we can use to govern ourselves. We don't necessarily have to listen to anybody, but we can discipline ourselves to come closer to Jesus Christ. The ways that we discipline ourselves is through thoughts, words and actions.
Sorry for the novel! Love you guys! Elder Byington
This week has been pretty good. Not the best but not the worst as far as teaching. We don't have many people to teach right now and the investigators we do have, have been flaking on us or have been a bit disappointing. John Penrose, he is the one we are trying to get to have faith in God, we were supposed to have two lessons with him this week and both times he didn't answer when we tried to confirm appointments and then we would get to his home and he wasn't there. Last we heard of him, he was doing well though. Then we have had some referrals that we went to visit and when we got there, they just wanted welfare from the church. When we told them that we couldn't help them with that but that they could come to church on Sunday and talk to Bishop, they got super upset with us haha. That seems to be how this week has gone. Some people getting upset with us, and then we went to visit less active families and some of those were pretty interesting as always.
On Thursday, we took the bus to the North side of North Mountain and we spent the whole day up there. We went to visit a family that wanted us to come over. When we got there, they were super nice and even had cookies and stuff for us, but then all they wanted to do was Bible Bash. Bible bashing really is pretty dumb haha. I had never done it until last week and then another 3 times this week. It seems like all people want to do is argue. I thought to myself, "Taylor is the one that served in Nashville." There is a church here called Christs Church of the Valley and its a huge church that everyone goes to. They have a big influence in the community but they teach Anti Mormon stuff. So everyone loves coming for us. These people we met with were from a different church and they thought they knew a ton of the Bible. they know a lot of the principles but not the actual doctrine of it. But as most bashers go, they just ask you questions and don't give you time to respond and then make it seem like you don't have an answer to give them. So after about 20 minutes of endless ranting about stuff that wasn't even applicable doctrine, i told them we had places to be, and if they weren't going to let us talk then we were going to leave so we could catch the bus back. They gave us a chance to talk and Elder Longhurst and i actually threw down pretty well haha. Everybody in my apartment has bashed quite a bit so i am learning the ropes but its not good. nothing good comes from it and the Spirit isn't there anyway. I got super upset though because the guy told us that he prayed and the Mormon church wasn't for him. Then he asked, "You guys are pretty young, you don't know everything yet anyways." And I said "Sir, do you think i am stupid enough to come out for two years doing something i don't know is true?" And he just sat there. It was tense and then Elder Longhurst left them with a verse that went against what they had said to us and we left haha. And then we had two more run ins but not quite as bad haha.
We had some great meetings this week. We learned a lot about new finding techniques which was helpful because it was a lot of stuff that i hadn't even really thought about. I am finally comfortable with talking to everyone on the streets. I had an exchange and i went into another area one day this past week and it was a good exchange. One thing that is crazy about our areas as a District is that on one street there is super ghetto apartment complexes and stuff and then five minutes away there are million dollar homes. So it is cool to work with all kinds of people. The cops here love us and they ask us what we see and they tell us what areas we should stay away from on the weekends and stuff. Some of them are even members and are way cool to us.
I knew we were the very southern edge of our mission but i didn't know that my area has two borders. To the South is the Tempe Mission and then to the East we border the Scottsdale Mission as well. We were at the corner earlier this week but i didn't have my camera, we will be back there later this week so i will get a picture! We had a Ward Christmas Party on Saturday and we were able to get some Inactive families there so that was good!
Elder Longhurst and i still have our differences and there are times when things get tense but for the most part, we get along quite a bit. It is crazy to see Elder Cordero getting close to leaving soon. He only has two weeks left and you can tell he is trying not to think about it. I am glad i have so much time ahead of me, even though i know i got a long ways to go!
Sorry my letters are short, we have been having slow work lately and not much to write about!
Hey Fam! I can't believe it's December! I wouldn't say that the time is flying by, but it is going pretty quick it seems! I hope you guys had a good Thanksgiving! I missed you guys out here but I had a great week! The beginning of this week was a bit rough. The Zone Leaders asked us to be the Family History companionship for this transfer and as missionaries, it's a job that nobody wants to do really because it's not very effective when contacting people. Only certain members are really involved in it. I had never even done it before but I knew stuff about it. But when they asked us to, Elder Longhurst put up a fight about it. He gets really stubborn about doing things someone else's way. I told them we would do it and he got all mad at me for accepting it and he ranted for awhile but eventually it passed. It doesn't even change missionary work that much though. All we do is invite people to that along with the other invitations we extend. So it's not really a big deal. On Tuesday we met with our Atheist investigator named John and he kept his commitment to pray! He feels like he hasn't gotten any answers yet and he is tricky to work with but he is praying and reading the Book of Mormon so I'm thrilled about that! Tuesday night was crazy, we got a referral and contacted her right away and she told us she needed us to come over ASAP. We had a lesson but it fell through so we went to her home and she told us that she needed a blessing on the house because she felt evil spirits. I don't know if it was because she told us and we were thinking about it or what, but the house did not have a friendly welcome and the Spirit was not there. We left a blessing on the home and left her with a Bible and so far she has said that everything is getting better. Then on Wednesday we had weekly planning and Elder Longhurst tested me again. It's tough to watch because he is so close to done but he isn't efficient with his time. We planned for hours and got close to nothing done. I just have to be that companion that always is trying to do something and sometimes be annoying about it but i don't want to waste time. Thanksgiving Day was awesome. We and the Spanish Elders we live with went to their church building and had a Turkey Cup. We call it that because it's like the World Cup. We played soccer for a couple hours and there were tons of non members! It was all Hispanics though. Some spoke English so we were able to fit in still! We had dinner with the Saulters family and they cooked up a huge meal! They also want us to meet their daughters boyfriend who is interested in the church! One thing that was way cool is when we got home from dinner it was about 4:45 and we hiked North Mountain. The view up there is incredible. I didn't realize that we are like 5 miles from the big buildings in Central Phoenix haha. But we could see Tempe, Scottsdale, Mesa was blocked by a mountain, and Glendale with the Cardinals stadium and everything! This weekend was super strange though and I street contacted an old couple who I think we're legitimately insane. It was interesting, then we talked with our Former Investigator who is involved in a gang around here haha. On Saturday I had my first Bible Bash. We went up to the Northern third of our area on the bus and we went to a name of someone we didn't know. They were friendly and invited us in and started laying down on us about all the Anti Mormonism. Then when I told them the Bible contradicts itself, they didn't like that and wouldn't let us pull up examples. They pulled up a website against Mormonism and we left. We also met a lady who has been through a lot in her life, a ex boyfriend who held her hostage, many deaths and other crazy stuff and she was still pushing on. She said she didn't want to convert but respected what we were doing. Saturday just strengthened my faith. People tried over and over to throw up objections and us and I had no doubts about our beliefs. Yesterday at church was the homecoming of a Sister named Kacey Bushong. She served in Honduras and knew Sadie even though they never served as companions or anything! And we had to teach Gospel Principles about the Second Coming, which I'm not sure why that is a principle for a class for recent converts and investigators haha. And then we taught the Relief Society and Priesthood about Missionary Work.
This week has been great and I have had lots of learning experiences! Everyday brings something new! I hope you guys had as good of a week as I had! Love, Tevin
Helaman 5:10 for he said unto him that the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins.
We cannot be redeemed while we continue to sin. The lord can help us over some our sins and imperfections. But the Lord Redeems us FROM our sins. When we have committed to obey his commandments and to forsake our sins, the Lord can the redeem us and allow us to overcome our own imperfections and weaknesses.
This morning we got the text and I am the only one from our Zone that is getting transferred! I'm sure I will probably be on my bike down in the valley but it is winter so I am just fine with that haha. I'll let you guys know where I end up next week! Anyways, this week has been great! It has been super busy! On Tuesday I went on another exchange with a missionary that is going home at the end of December. We are different people and we worked together well but by the end of the day I was ready to change back. It was a good day though and I had a lot more opportunities to lead discussions and take control which was great! On Wednesday we taught some of our investigators and they are progressing really well. Chris Whitaker is doing well and he is trying to get his Sunday's off so that he can get to church! Caleb Moon had a great lesson. We taught some of the Articles of Faith and it was great. It's nice to have his friends be so involved in the church because they help him when he has any questions. Neva McKnight is doing well! We went over the baptismal interview questions with her and she is having her interview next Sunday! It stinks that I have to leave and that I won't be able to see Neva, Caleb and Chris be baptized but I'm glad I was able to be a part of the process! I had a great lesson with Sister Franko (her son is a senior and got baptized 8 months ago so we relate really well). She was baptized a while ago but somebody told her something dumb and now she is finding her faith again. I told her how to find the truth and she knows it's all true she just doesn't want to act on it quite yet but she has come to church for the first time in ten years, twice in the past three weeks! Then on Thursday we had Zone Meeting and Zone Conference with the Prescott Zone. We did a lot of Zone Goals and such. But then with practice teaching I was teaching with President Juchau who is in the Mission Presidency. I figured it would be good to have that pressure and get his insight after and it turned out really well! Then on Friday we went down to the valley for a trainer/trainee meeting which was pretty good. Again I ended up with President Juchau haha. But after the meeting we had a great lesson with Jan Hilton who hasn't been willing to meet with us since I have been here. She was asking a lot of questions and it was good because we had Bishop Legler there with us to help resolve her concerns. Friday was great we just went out to meet with a lot of families and we are getting member missionary work going better in the area so hopefully that helps the work! Saturday was incredible. We had to be down to Sunrise Mountain High School by 12 to practice for the Cultural Celebration. It was awesome to be there with 4,300 youth and all of the APM missionaries! We got to know other missionaries well and the kids and parents thought we were celebrities haha. We would stand there and come off the field and people still loved it. I don't get it haha. But it was great taking pictures with the youth from our wards and being able to be a part of the whole experience. President Monson, President Uchtdorf and Elder Oaks and Elder Robbins who just spoke in conference were all there. It was super quite when they got there and he whole event was really spiritual. Of course all the moms and sister missionaries were bawling haha. We didn't get back here until about 11 at night so we were all wiped out! On Sunday was the Temple Dedication which was awesome. It was cool to see something so sacred yet the Prophet and other General Authorities still showed personality and they were joking around. It was awesome and I have some cool souvenirs that we needed as part of the celebration and dedication! Yesterday was a "Working Monday" and I had a great experience, a man named Bobby who we had stopped by before was home so we decided to stop by again even though last time he wasn't in a great mood that we came over. He has had a rough outing since his teenage years and he is finally deciding to take a different path. He has been in gangs and doing all kinds of things to get into trouble and now he is turning his life around and starting a family. He told us he has started praying and God has given him the strength to endure each day. He also had a makeshift bike shop in his shed behind his house. And he said he would fix my bike for free! He is doing that right now! It's amazing to see how people can change in such a short time. I wish I was going to be able to teach him but he will be left in good hands with Unasa and whoever comes here! Things have been great in PV! I can't believe I am already done with training! I hope all is well back home! I love you guys! Have a good week! Tevin.
This week has been pretty good! So on Monday night, we went over to a part member family house and the dad was there who isn't a member and apparently in the past has been standoffish to the church but we taught him about the Plan of Salvation and he was asking lots of questions and it seemed to go great! On Tuesday, Elder Unasa had to go down to the Valley for a Leadership Meeting and I was with Elder Lewis. He is from Seattle and he played college football at a small school in West Virginia. He has been out for about 9 months. But we had a really good day. We are a lot alike except for the fact that he sings way good haha. He made CD's with him and his friend singing Church Music and it is sweet! But we taught some good lessons and Unasa was impressed with the day we had in our area while he was gone. At dinner I gave my first blessing which was a really cool experience! Things have been going well out here. I have been having good study sessions and I just need to work on talking to random people on the street. That's where I struggle haha. On Wednesday, Elder Unasa and I got up at 5 to teach a seminary class about Missionary Work. It was really cool to talk about what we do every day and try to get them excited for missions! Then we tracked a ton that day. Which I don't like a ton because I don't know how to just strike up a conversation and work the Gospel in quite yet haha. But it's something that you get good at the more you don't and there is no special technique, doors will be slammed haha. Wednesday night was great though! Brother Huss and I went to teach a family while in splits and they had a friend over who seemed ready for the Gospel so I starting getting to know him and teaching. Brother Huss's hearing aid went out so I taught him by myself with the family watching haha. I felt like it was mediocre but they said the next night that the friend (Dillon) wants us to teach him the lessons! Thursday morning I woke up super upset. Unasa snored louder than humanly possibly and I laid awake with my ear plugs in and still couldn't sleep. I hit the wall and told him to shut up but he just went back to sleep and snored again. I realized it was when he lays on his back so I got down and woke him up and told him to lay on his side. I was expecting something other than him saying "okay". But he did. I had no sleep that night haha. I almost fell asleep at a members house but I pulled through miraculously. Then on Friday I was on another exchange with Elder Davis and we went to his area. We had their Ward Mission Leader with us all day who is a spiritual giant. But he let us just kind of take over and I let Davis do a lot of the work. That night I had my first bash. It was about Joseph Smith and I thought I did pretty good haha. It wasn't confrontational really. We also helped our members move out of their daughters house. That was a little more confrontational but we stayed out of it and just moved their stuff. I talked to a lady who is waiting for a black and white answer before she joins the church and I was straight with her. I told her that wouldn't happen. That God wants us to act on the smaller amounts of light that he gives us, then he will give us more light. Their Ward Mission Leader is from England and he said that Byington, TON used to mean town. So from the town of Bying. I don't know but it was interesting! Yesterday we had a big lunch and right as we finished, we were getting ready to o go do service and they said they were feeding us too. I was miserable when I looked at the chicken and potatoes haha. I have never been so full which is a terrible feeling. Especially knowing I can't run or do cardio to help the situation haha. We had dinner with our Ward Mission Leaders family on Saturday and his wife said something significant to me. They live out in a prairie with lots of yellow weeds. She mentioned that they are ugly, but when she was walking in the morning and saw the sunrise on them, they looked like they were on fire. This is much like Jesus Christ, we are just average people. But when we let the Light of Christ shine within us, we become a lot more and reach higher potentials. And yesterday in Elders Quorum we had a great lesson about sacrifices. Sacrifices like missions, tithing and home teaching. But are they really sacrifices? As we serve the Lord, we put off the Natural Man and allow God to expand our spiritual horizons and to fine tune the Person we become. I thought that was really cool. Things are going really well here in Prescott Valley! I can't believe I'm almost already done with training! This is my last week and then we have transfers next Wednesday! I hope all is well back home! Love you guys! Tevin
I can't believe you shattered your elbow mom! How long are you supposed to be in a cast? Is it one of the cast that goes like all the way to your shoulder? Im sorry that it makes things so tough for you but I appreciate that you still sent me a letter! I can't believe Sadie is already home! That is so crazy to me because I remember going to the farewell! And the fact that it is weird for her to do things that we take for granted every day really puts things into perspective! We have a few people that work for the Local Government in our wards and we found out some crazy things about our area. I can't disclose much information. But people here seem to be either very humble, or hard nosed and stern. On Tuesday, we went to help brother Laird Maxwell tear down a frame to a green house that he had get blown over and bent in a windstorm. He lives alone and is about mid 40's. He loves his gardening and farm work and he has a lot of good life skills! He was teaching us all kinds of things! After we helped him tear that down he fed us and then asked if one of us could climb up on the roof to glue down some loose shingles. The roofs here are flat because it barely snows. But when he asked, Elder Unasa looked up the ladder and shook his head. It was a one story house and I went up no problem haha. Brother Maxwell was asking me how I was comfortable on the roof walking around and I told him about the times I did it on slanted roofs in the snow haha. He was appalled. It was funny. Then on Tuesday we finally got to go to the temple open house! We took our investigator (Caleb). Well actually, his friends own a huge farm here that is really well known, and he works for them, (The Mortimers) and their whole family, and Caleb and us and two other investigators from their ward plus some friends all went down! It was awesome! The temple is really small compared to Bountiful. Everyone says that they are all tiny compared to Utah temples. But the temple was amazing! The baptismal font is my favorite because it is so different from Bountiful! The Celestial room is different because most temples have huge chandeliers or something and this one is a stained glass skylight ceiling! Caleb was asking us questions about all of the paintings and the different things in the temple which was cool because he was interested so we were way excited! Then on our way home, he met up with his girlfriends family and went through with them again! We are meeting with him on Wednesday to ask him about the experience! Then on Thursday we just had another day of weekly planning which is just what you make of it. It can either be super boring if you aren't invested or it can fly by when you pay attention to the needs of the people you are teaching. We found out that The restaurant that we eat at every Thursday for lunch is closing at the end of this month. We feel bad because our member put so much effort into it. Then on Friday we did a lot of practice teaching on contacting in the streets and on the doors. We had a chili cook off for Mingus Foothills that night and it was cool because a lot of the less active families we invited showed up! Then after the ward party, Unasa and I went to contact more families in the area. We stopped by a part member family and the husband (non member) answered the door. When we asked for his wife he was super rude and yelled "they found you!" And we laughed and I said "if you don't want people to come around anymore, all you have to do is let us know and we will take you off the contacting list." He slammed the door. Then the next house a guy told us to tell Bishop Duke where he can go. The thing with that is that he blamed Bishop Duke for no reason and his dad is the Stake President haha. Our Ward directories aren't updated lately so some people have moved so we knock on the door and people get super upset. We got to go down to the temple again on Saturday with the Bernardo family! That was a cool experience because Andrea the mom was asking if she can be sealed to her kids even though she is divorced. So she was very interested as well! There was an Anti Mormon guy standing outside of the temple yelling stuff about our beliefs which was fine. But he started yelling things about what goes on in the temple. Everybody was upset about it but none of us can go say anything so all the volunteers and members just had to put up with him. We met a family down there that used to live in Bountiful and their niece is Stacy Sumbot who is in Nashville serving her mission! Taylor knows her! And then yesterday after church we had the opportunity to teach Sister Wei Kong again! She barely speaks English and she has a heavy Chinese accent. We got her scriptures in Chinese. But yesterday we were able to teach her from square one. It is cool because she had no idea who God was or that there was only God because in China, they believe in many Gods. So we taught her about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and Satan. And I thought about my little kid movies, and in one of them (Emporer's New Groove) where he has an angel on one shoulder and satan on the other. So I drew a person on the chalk board and put an angel on one shoulder and satan on the other. Then I put "good" and "bad". It was a really basic lesson but it was amazing to see the light bulb go off in her head. In a lesson that simple, the spirit was as strong as I have felt it in any lesson since I have been out here. Wei mentioned that other churches down here also believe in Christ and wanted to know our difference, we told her we would get into that, but that they don't have the same beliefs about our individual and eternal salvation (her friend recently had a husband pass away.) when we told her that we can all live together as a family with our Father in Heaven is when the spirit came in the strongest. And it was good, not only for her, but for me as well. It was reassuring that everything we are teaching people is real. And knowing that makes the opportunity to Preach The Gospel the most important calling anyone can have. It was a very humbling but exciting experience. Then we taught 90 year old Neva McKnight who lives with her two sisters who are like grandmas to me out here. And she went to church for 20 years and never was baptized. Her husband has passed on and his temple work has been done and her sisters are members. We extended the invitation to be baptized and she said she wants to but it worried about her age and physically being able to do that. We told her that there are ways to do it and she said she wants to be baptized! It was another great experience! People are taking good care of us! Members feed us every day and bake us bread and everything! Great hospitality! I thought about how Taylor said he was homesick for Nashville and I know when I get transferred I will be homesick for PV. Let alone Coming home from Arizona. I love it down here! I hope all is well! We are doing two exchanges this week and I am taking over our area both times! We are meeting with a lady Wednesday morning who graduated from BYU and was heavily Mormon but left the church. She is telling us why and said she has only told a few people every. She is about 65-70. So hopefully we can resolve the concerns that she has. I love you guys and I hope you guys have a good week! Tevin.
Another great week! This one started off a bit interesting and stayed that way haha. So on Tuesday Elder Unasa and I went with Brother Harrop (our Elders Quorum President from Agua Fria) to finish doing yard work for Sister Vickers and Brother Starnes. It was miserable because we were having dinner with them later that night and Sister Vickers had already started cooking at 10:30! So we were out there, mouth watering and miserable haha. But the work went well and I got to know Brother Harrop really well! Then we had our Ward correlation with Mingus Foothills and we went around to deliver more invitations for the temple open house. We were out knocking on some less active members and we saw the relief society president drive by. She stopped and we talked for a minute and she drove off. When she did we saw a lady standing outside on her porch so we decided to go talk to her. As I approached her driveway she started yelling at me for my "Shady Actions." She was head of neighborhood watch and was super upset that we had two cars in the street while we talked with the relief society. She assumed we were planning a break in or something. Then I said, "look lady, if I was going to break in to a house, do you think I'm dumb enough to wear white, with my name on my shirt?" She was super upset for the way I addressed her so I just said "I'm really sorry for trying to invite you to something, I apologize" but Unasa was pretty upset haha. Then on Wednesday I went on an exchange with Elder Davis, he is the other new missionary that I live with and he is hard to deal with sometimes just because he won't focus. But I took over our area with him and it was cool because I had to step up and not be shell shocked anymore haha. It felt good to see that I actually can take the lead in discussions. On Thursday we had Zone Conference with was a spiritual overload! We had Elder Westlund and Sister Walker going home so they gave their departing testimonies. It was really cool to hear from them because they were so torn up about having to go home. So it was spiritual from the start. But what we didn't know was that we were getting to see "Meet The Mormons" as an early release! It is SO good! And the end of the movie is really strong! I want you guys to take the chance to see it while it is in theaters because it is awesome! Then later that night Elder Unasa and I and Brother Dobson (Mingus Foothill WML) taught the relief society how to contact people and how to smoothly invite them to the temple open house. After that we taught our new investigator family and the dad came up and hugged me when we were walking out the door and said thank you. It was really cool to see how the message effected him. On Friday we finished our weekly planning and went to Prickly Pear Cafe where we usually go every Thursday. We eat there once a week because a member own it and feeds us for free! Then that night we went over to the Sullivan's and brother Sullivan has a talk that is in the March 2012 Ensign called "Latter Day Saint Voices" getting to know them was cool.
Conference, conference was awesome! I don't know if it is because I'm a missionary and everything seems to apply to me or one of our investigators, or if it is because we watched it at the chapel and I was a lot more focused, but the talks were all really good! My favorites were Elder Holland talking about helping the needy and the less fortunate, because in the sight of God, all of us are needing of his blessing. My question for conference was "How can I become more converted, and how can I help others do the same?" And the obvious answer from this conference was to love everyone. I think all of the talks had something to do with loving our neighbors the way we love ourselves and our Heavenly Father. Which is cool because when you think about it, conference talks all came down to the very fundamentals of our beliefs. And I liked when Elder Bednar got up at the end and just called out to everyone who aren't members. It was cool because we had an investigator sitting there with us and after she said she loved it. It makes more sense when it gets put the way Bednar did it. Between his talk and Meet The Mormons, it shows how Mormons aren't trying to force beliefs, but we all want to share the blessings the Gospel has brought us in our lives.
President Griffin opened a neighborhood in our are that was closed for a long time. About 8 months ago a guy was shot and killed. It's a sketchier neighborhood but I wouldn't call it ghetto. But we went in there and everything was going totally fine. One man told us to be careful on a certain street and of course it was the street we had already parked on haha. It was late and we were walking back and out of nowhere a glass bottle shattered like 15 feet away from us. These guys were saying something in Spanish and they seemed pretty upset haha. We decided we would only go there during the day haha.
Just for a thought, Lynn G. Robbins talked about Gods standards. We need to live to that standard because the standards of the world are continually dropping. We need to hold ourselves accountable and step up higher than what many people see as normal.
Things are going great here! I am loving the work! Love you guys! Tevin.