Thursday, August 29, 2013

2 Letters August 19th & 26th, 2013

August 19th 2013
Dear family,
This week was a lot slower than last week. We didn't have very many chances to teach which was pretty sad. This area has picked up a lot since I got here, but this week it slowed back down. We only taught 3 lessons. J is progressing decently and he came to church with A and their daughter who is like 2. She's super cute. They seemed to enjoy it and church was awesome! I loved it! The talks were about missionary work because it was A's homecoming. The W family is like the hyper-active family in this ward. He gave a great talk and it was about his mission obviously but he talked about not getting discouraged if you can't find people to teach, which is exactly what I needed to hear because it was pretty frustrating to not find people to teach. After church they had this thing called "Linger Longer" something that better be instituted in Utah before I come home. Basically the entire ward stays after church and has dinner together. Everyone brings food and you sit around and eat with the people in the ward. It's genius! Seriously it needs to be used in Utah. It's funny though how unsocial I already am. Me and Elder V kinda just sat there because we don't really know how to start normal conversation anymore. It's kinda sad but also funny. Also, a ward members friend came to Sunday School, and supposedly he is really interested in the church and felt a prompting to get more involved with our church to help out his family in a time of trial.  We weren't able to meet with him yet. Of course Elders Quorum was about how serving others help us through times of trial. It was frustrating that we let him get away and that the Spirit was telling me to get him, but we let him get away  Alright, backtracking to earlier this week. Monday we played basketball.  My skills have improved in the mission--I don't miss. Anyways, we were out teaching and these two pitbulls started chasing us. It was pretty freaky and we were pinned on these people's porch for like 5 minutes until Elder V grabbed a rock and then we ran past them to our cars. It was pretty scary.  Elder V said it was the scariest moment of his mission. We went to a place called Freddy's for dinner this week that have amazing steak burgers. Best burgers I've ever had. The food here is really good and the ward feeds us really well. You'd think that I would gain weight, but so far I'm still right below 140 pounds. Hopefully that continues. The kids here continue to be super funny. The same kid who yelled "There's poop outside!" had another awesome day. We had dinner with them again and I was in the middle of our dinner thought and he tooted super loud. It was hard not to laugh and Elder V couldn't talk. Then he said the closing prayer and burped really loud in the middle and was like, "excuse me, that was really loud." and then he was laughing once he finished. He's super funny. We had an interesting experience teaching a guy named T. He didn't agree with anything that we said and it sorta turned into a nice Bible bash. It wasn't a big argument, but it was just tossing scriptures back and forth, but he wasted a lot of our time. This area has interesting demographics. There are some parts that are just older, decent neighborhoods, and then there are really nice areas. There is also a lot of Indian people here working for Dell. There is also a trailer park and we spent some time there this week. It's interesting how much more willing the poor people are to listen since they are humble compared to the rich areas. That's usually where we just get doors slammed in our face.  We have continued to do a lot of less active work, and we have tried to visit every single person on the ward list that is less active. We have several lessons scheduled with some of them. We taught R this week, but he disappeared and wasn't really in the mood for the lesson. He left halfway through to go to HEB with his sister who was willing to drive him. I don't know if I told you what HEB is. It's like the Texas Wal-mart. Everything is produced in Texas, and it's high quality stuff and really cheap. It's where we do all our weekly shopping. We did teach a new guy named V from Vietnam. He doesn't believe in God so we started from scratch but he was really interested in what we said and we tried for like 10 minutes to get him to pray to know that there is a God, but he wouldn't. He said he'd try later though and we are going to stop by this week. Friday was Elder V's birthday and Round Rock donuts dropped off a Texas donut and a box of donuts. It was awesome. He got lots of stuff from his family and it's funny how I haven't really got anything in the mail yet and he gets something like twice a week, and the stereotype is that greenies get all the mail. It doesn't matter to me though, I just think it's funny. We also had apartment check on Friday and a senior couple came to check our apartment. We got a really good score except the tub because it has a black ring in it that I tried scrubbing out for literally 20 minutes with no success. The ward put on a Mystery Dinner. It's a mystery play and they feed you dinner throughout the play. It was pretty clever and fun to see people from the ward. Unfortunately we couldn't get any investigators to come but J came one night and the J family had friends come that we sat with. They seem to have some potential, so we'll see what happens. Saturday I felt really sick and my stomach killed and so did my back. Also I have a random gash on my heel that makes it hard to walk, so I was in a lot of pain. I didn't eat anything until the Mystery Dinner so I was pretty exhausted from tracting all day with no success finding people to teach. I felt pretty junky, but then we found V right before the dinner, so I was really thankful that Heavenly Father let us have that lesson and I wanted V to know so badly that he has a Heavenly Father who loves him because I know how much it will help him. He thinks his life is pretty rotten and doesn't have much going for him, so I want him to see the happiness the gospel can bring so badly. I'm taking a much more active role in lessons and contacting and everything. We pretty much split everything evenly, even planning and weekly planning. I'm glad Elder V's letting me do more so I can improve quicker. I'm still not very patient, especially with myself, and it's hard to know sometimes if I'm really doing all I can to get better. I still feel a little overwhelmed with all that I have to improve, and this week was pretty rough, but I had a much better attitude than before and Sunday made things a lot better. Having a good attitude makes such a huge difference. I'm not going to lie though, I can't wait for the changes they announced with the Work of Salvation. Tracting clearly isn't the best way to find people, especially in the morning when no one's home. We average like 5-10 contacts at most in the morning with maybe one person who actually wants to talk to us. It's pretty rough. Keep praying for me and the love and support has been huge. I know that what I'm doing is the right thing even if it's hard and I have such a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and I KNOW it can change these peoples' lives if they will just listen. I know that we can grow closer to Christ by reading it and it truly testifies of Christ. Oh, we rescheduled Ts baptism for August 31st and it sounds like we might get a third companion from our district since his companion is going home a little early for school. We'll see what happens. Keep praying for me and I know I'll make it. There's always hope in Christ. I love you all!
Elder Pew Jr.

August 26, 2013

It's crazy that school is starting for everyone, and I'm not going. School is not even in my vocabulary anymore. It feels like that is way in the future. School starts for Texas today. Alright, well this was an interesting week. So we got Elder D to join us. He covers a different ward but his companion went home early for school, and for some reason he is with us. It is difficult to cover two areas and there is literally nothing going on in Elder D's area, so we didn't get much done. We only had like one lesson, but part of that is because a few people cancelled on us and our potential investigators were never home. J is doing decent, but he didn't come to church and honestly I don't know how much he really cares. Elder V is convinced he is really progressing, so I guess we'll just keep teaching him even if he doesn't seem to care. His girlfriend does, so hopefully she gets him more excited. Thursday we had a special training meeting with President Slaughter. He is amazing! It was about Finding with Faith, exactly what we need here in this area. We have an awesome ward, but we just have a rough time finding people to teach. I thought it would be on how to talk with people better and stuff and having faith to find people, but he focused solely on working through the members to find people. We role played asking for referrals without asking, "Do you have any referrals?" And instead he taught us to ask them about their families and coworkers, and then have an environment where the spirit is really strong, and then ask if they have felt any promptings on who might be ready to receive the gospel. Unfortunately everyone after that took us out to dinner, so we didn't really get to try that yet. I  get a bit of crap for growing up in Utah because everyone here has really crappy perceptions of what Utah is like. They think that everyone is so exclusive and judgmental for people that aren't Mormon and that we are all exactly the same. It is really frustrating to hear since they have NO IDEA what it's like. I stick up for our ward every time though because I'm so glad I grew up in a place where everyone had high standards. I honestly think we are out here trying to make every community as strong as our ward back home. Not that it's perfect, but it's proven to be so successful in raising amazing people. I usually don't get bothered by people giving me crap, but this has worn me out a little. It hasn't bothered me too much, but it's still annoying. Thursday night was super awesome though. We were in Elder D's area and there is one section that has beautiful houses that are all spread out and it's the most beautiful part of Texas I've seen. Every time we've driven through we have seen at least 10 deer, no joke. You are guaranteed to see deer there, especially at night. So we were driving through this beautiful scenery with awesome houses and deer all around, and we had some Mo Tab playing and off in the distance we could see lightning. The lightning here is really cool. It's really high up in the clouds, and often times you can't even see a bolt, it's just a flash of light that lights up the clouds. It was just a really cool moment and I knew that that moment was there for me to know that God loves me and is there for me. It was almost a sacred moment. So this whole week I've been praying that we could find new people to teach and to have the faith that we will. It's been hard to not be discouraged, but I thought I did a great job. Then Sunday after church a young women came up to us and asked if it would be okay if she set up an appointment with her two friends who are investigating the church so we can teach them. Heck yeah that would be alright! So we have a legit lesson set up this week as well as a few others to less active and part member families. After church we also got into a house of a less active family and their 20 year old son wanted us to teach him, but we didn't have anything prepared, so I pretty much just taught a lesson on faith using Alma 32 and Ether 12. I'm kinda glad that Elder V and Elder D just let me take the majority of the lesson because it's hard to get better when you don't teach. It went really well and we committed him to come to church again. He said he would love to and is really excited. It was awesome! Then we were on our way back to the car for the night and I saw a lady getting out of the car, so I had an entire QGC with her and set up an appointment to come teach her about the Book of Mormon which she said she is interested to learn more about. It was a super solid night and I'm super grateful that Heavenly Father blessed us for our faith to find people to teach. This week is looking really promising. Oh, that lady N that we visit occasionally is super cool. We talked to her and set up an appointment to teach her, and then she told us she has a deal to sing with Chamillionaire. I don't know who he is really, except he is a pretty famous rapper. She acts like it's nothing because she also doesn't really know who he is but I guess she is an amazing singer. Pretty cool stuff though. So R and J have both disappeared since they are both super cool, although it will be a big concern if we still can't find R this week. Well, I love you all and I know this church is true. Even though it's tough sometimes I know that everything that happens is for my benefit and will be worth it. One quote that Brother Widtfeldt shared that I love from Elder Scott goes something like this, "Essential personal growth comes as we struggle to listen to the Spirit." I've definitely seen that here and I know I've grown a ton. Thanks for the prayers, and I'm sorry these are still pretty scattered and not that funny. Also, I haven't received any packages yet and hopefully I can send some pictures today (none of them worked :()
! I love you all!
Elder Pew

Friday, August 16, 2013

Letters from August 5th and 12th

August 5, 2013
Dear family,
Much better week first off. Still went through some challenges but overall it went much better. I still have a hard time knowing how to balance everything, and being so new to living by myself, sharing the gospel, being with only one other person always, that it's been a huge adjustment. I've been working on being more positive which has worked well. I write down everything that I think of that I'm thankful for in my planner when I think of it. That thing you sent dad was awesome! I've tried applying that and it's worked well. The hardest part has become that I think I understand the importance and significance of what I'm doing, but I'm also aware of how much I need to work on and how far I need to go. I also sometimes get overwhelmed by that and how long a mission can seem here. Any tips from anyone on how to get better at that would be great! I do know that it will come with constant diligence and hard work, but then I'm not patient enough to wait for it to come. I forget I don't need to be a perfect missionary this week, and that I'm only 4 weeks removed from sleeping in my bed at home. But, I'm working super hard. I study every moment possible and I've taken a really active role in lessons and contacting. I'm getting better every day. Well, here's what happened this week:
Monday after writing we went and played basketball. My zone is really good at basketball, so that was pretty cool. We went and visited a less active guy named R. He is super cool. He's a little interesting, but a great guy. He's trying really hard to do what's right.  We had a great lesson and then he sang to us some random song that he claims his dad sang. He was off rhythmically (spelling?) and his pitch wasn't the greatest, but it was straight from the heart which was cool. Then we visited N, a cool single mom who is religious but doesn't want to come to church. She has two super cute boys J and J. They run around in the front and are funny. After that we visited my favorite investigator (sorry if that's bad to say) named J. The dude is amazing! He is jobless, lost his wife, lost basically everything because of drinking, and drugs, and other naughty stuff, but now he has stopped everything but drinking (and swears a TON), and he loves us. Most of the time he is too drunk to have a lesson, so on Monday he was showing us recordings of him singing. Yeah, Monday seemed to be a singing day for some reason. He was really good when he was younger, and he sang for us there and he was still really good. Great voice. Then he wanted us to sing something for him, and luckily me and Elder V are good singers so we sang him a couple hymns. He loved it and the Spirit was there. It was really cool. He is so thankful for us to try and help him. Yesterday night I felt prompted to go visit him, so we went to his house and he was totally sober! He wanted us to teach him, so we taught him the restoration. It all made sense to him and he wanted to read the Book of Mormon. We had to run and grab it from the car and then the Spirit told me to have us write our testimonies in it. Super cool experience and he loves us a lot, but I really love him. I wish I could feel the same way for everyone because it would greatly help my effectiveness. 
We also found a lady named M and we have taught her three times. She is super smart and likes talking religion, but she isn't really into changing, but slowly she is accepting the things we are teaching her. She is going to start reading the Book of Mormon and agreed to come to church with us.
We also have our first baptism, although it's with a girl who is 12 and has just been moving a lot and for some reason the family hasn't got around to baptizing her. Strange, but she's been here like 4 months and still not baptized so we went over and reviewed the questions and she knows everything well and went to primary a lot. It will be Saturday, but she's embarrassed so no visitors will be coming. Cool anyways!
Oh yeah, the bishop here is Bishop Hyatt, Lindy's uncle. He's super cool and wants the ward to be more active in missionary work. Awesome! Also, we do a lot of less active stuff, because they are often part member families, or have good referrals and getting a lost sheep is as good as finding a sheep, so that's more of our focus.
We visited a less active family and I bore my testimony which did SO much for me. I proved to myself that I have a strong testimony, and I haven't doubted since. It was a really cool experience and one that I am now thankful for. It's crazy how much Satan can deceive people in this world and really sad. That's why we need to ALWAYS do what we are suppose to. READ AND PRAY. I can't say this enough. I bet you all of my money (not a lot) that he (the less active)  didn't read and pray that day when he came across the Anti-Mormon stuff. I know those two acts alone will keep you from going too far. I am so grateful for the Atonement and the ability to improve and become better, and also the enabling power which gives us the strength to do what's right.
Things are still tough, and still really hard, and I don't always have the best attitude, but things are getting better, and I know it's because of the Savior. Things will always get better. There truly is hope in Christ. I know definitely know this. Keep praying for me to have the right attitude and mindset. Sometimes I still question whether I'm doing enough, but I've learned that doing enough is simply trying your best and being diligent and faithful. I still need a lot of faith and patience that I need to work on, but I'm getting a taste of it.
I do wonder if I always have the right focus. Me and Elder V get along really well. We have fun talking to each other and we teach well too. I'm learning a lot from him too. He is really smart and knows a little bit about everything, so he can talk to anyone we meet. He's been out 10.5 months and is like 6'1 with blondish hair. He's a pretty funny guy, so we do have fun together. Last night we decided to go "camping" which by mission standards just means sleeping somewhere other than your bed, but you have to be in the same room as your companion, so we "camped" on the couches in the living room. To have fun we also try to save gas by putting the car in neutral down hills and rocking the car. It actually works pretty well. I hope I don't lose my sense of humor, and I think one thing that made last week rough was that I didn't know how to enjoy the work. I still don't always enjoy what I'm doing, especially tracting, but it's fine. There's definitely a better way to do things, but we'll need to be patient. I hope you guys are having fun in Disneyland. You are pretty lucky. Disneyland definitely sounds funner, but I know what I'm doing is more important. I just can't wait for the time when I can honestly say that I enjoy missionary work. Any suggestions on how to best do that will be appreciated. At this point my attitude is largely just to keep working really hard and being diligent, and those things will come. I believe that's true. Well, I know this gospel is what will truly bring us happiness and that keeping the commandments will give us that peace in our souls that I hope to feel a little more of. Sorry if I sometimes seem a little negative. I'm just saying exactly what I'm thinking, which is also why these are so scattered. Sorry. Have a good time in Disneyland!
Elder Pew

August 12, 2013
Dear family,
Well I'm a little sad I missed going to Disneyland with Gwen for the first time and I missed the beach, but this was a pretty great week, but I realized I've missed some stuff I should tell you. Sorry these are so scattered and unorganized. First is a couple of things that I haven't mentioned about the uniqueness of Texas. The first thing I noticed is that there are water towers everywhere. Like seriously everywhere. That's all you can see when you are on a small hill, that and trees. The bugs here are enormous. The bees are like 2-3 inches long and gross, and me and Elder V knocked a nest down next to someone's house that wasn't home, so we had to run real fast to get away from the bees. Also, the streetlights are horizontal, not vertical here. Strange huh? I haven't confirmed why this is yet. There is a highway overpass that has several thousand bats living there, and so at night that place is crazy! No matter where in the city you are, you can see bats at night time here. The bugs and bats haven't bothered me though, so that's great. Also, I don't think I emphasized how hot it is here enough. It's like 100-105 every day and it is SO humid. We sweat profusely and it's pretty disgusting. You wipe sweat off and it evaporates in like 2 seconds. The food here is super good too. Every dinner is great and we are almost always fed by someone in the ward. We went to Mighty Fine, a famous burger place here similar but better than JCWs. They also had cool bathrooms where you can people from inside the bathroom, but it's a mirror on the other side. It kinda freaks people out to see people in the restaurant when you're going to the bathroom, until you realize it's not a window and a mirror on the other side. The ward is super cool and really strong. They are trying to start helping in the missionary efforts more which is nice. Oh, we were tracting in a really nice neighborhood, like super nice and really cool houses. There was one house with a rope hanging down in front of the door and their doorbell is a literal bell, that like 4 feet tall at the top of the porch, and you ring that for a doorbell. Pretty sweet.They are working on a main road here, the 620 and they were digging and found out there's like a 100 foot cave under the road. I guess they are taking people on tours some day before they decide what to do with it. Pretty cool though. It rained here the other day and it was beautiful. Overcast here looks amazing and the lightning is AWESOME. Also, this week I seemed to have strange luck with dogs. There were two different people we visited that had dogs and when we had a prayer they just attacked me and jumped on me and licked my face like crazy during the prayer, so I'm sitting there trying not to laugh while Elder V's praying. Pretty funny. Also, someone hit a note way off pitch and before the rest of the congregation right before the closing prayer in one of those obscure hymns no one sings, and me and Elder V lost it and were trying not to audibly laugh during the entire closing prayer. It was a disaster, especially since we were on the front row.  One thing that I've grown to love out here a lot is kids. The kids in this ward are the bomb. We went to the J family for dinner, and we were going to go outside for something, and so their 3 year old kid yells, "but there's poop outside!" Super funny. Also the kids love us and are always like, "it's the missonawies!" Yes with a "w." It's super cute. I walked past like the Valiant 4 class and they were like, its a missionawy! and so I looked inside and they were all beaming at me. It was super awesome. Also, one girl in the ward who's like 2 is obsessed with trying to make us laugh by making weird faces and stuff and it's non stop at church and at dinner. She's like "guys guys. Missionawies, missionawies!" until we look at her. Basically the kids here are super cute. Another girl has super frizzy red hair, similar to Brave and she's like 4 and her name is B. Super cool kids here. So things went pretty well this week. We had a lot of lessons including three first lessons and one scheduled for next week. We had one day where we had 27 contacts, 5 QGCs, 2 first lesson, scheduled another first lesson for next week, taught a lesson with a member present, and another lesson. It was the bomb! We taught a lady named M the restoration and she really seemed interested and wanted to read the Book of Mormon, but didn't end up coming to church like she said. When I recited the First Vision the Spirit was super strong. That same day when we were tracting a guy walked out of his apartment and he looked wrecked, and then we asked how he was doing and he responded, "well, I'm just getting ready to bomb the place." And we didn't know how to respond to that, and then he just walked back inside. It smelled pretty bad, so we figured we should probably leave just in case and then he came back out with some bug spray and his pet guinea pig. He just ran off to his car. It was hilarious, and as far as I know the place didn't blow up. We talked to a guy named J who is like 85 and Catholic but loves Mormons. He sticks up for us wherever he is. He has pretty bad health problems and he thinks it's too late to change his ways, but he is the nicest person I've met and I think he might get translated if he's not careful. He'll for sure accept the gospel in Heaven at least. He's so nice and he's taking us to Denny's next week sometime. Hopefully he's still alive. Just kidding, except for I'm kinda not. M came to church but she gave back the Book of Mormon we gave her because she doesn't want to change and says she should read the Bible first. She likes us a lot and gave us a nice card and $20 each. Too bad she won't read the Book of Mormon. J and R are doing okay. J got a job so he didn't have time to read the Book of Mormon, but we visited R because J was gone, and we taught R about the restoration and he said he wanted to read the Book of Mormon, but I'm not sure how committed either of them are, partially because I'm not sure how much they are mentally there. We taught R, a less active guy, again and he didn't sing for us this time, but he was super loud and super funny. He didn't come to church either, but he had a migraine and felt really bad. We taught another less active named J who wants to come back and is trying to quit smoking. His kids are super cute and we saw them a different day with their step-mom while we were tracting and they were like, what's going on missionawies? What are you doing? So we sat and talked with them for a little. Yeah the kids are awesome. We taught J again, but he still hasn't received an answer and he's starting to push our patience. He's been taught since April, and he's still reading the Book of Mormon, but he has a hard time coming to church and he hasn't quit smoking. We're not sure what it's going to take. Well, I am super grateful for the improvement I've made. I still can't say I always love doing the things we do, but certain people we meet and experiences are so awesome. I still have a hard time knowing if I'm focused enough, but I guess I do need to be easier on myself. I know I can't be perfect yet, but sometimes I'm like, "wow, I could do so much better than I am." I definitely need to work on my patience and humility. Thank you for the prayers and support I've received, it's been huge. More importantly though, I've learned that there is always hope in the Savior. By turning to Him, we can make it out of any situation. I know that He died for each of us so he could know how to help us. He knows what trials will make us better people, but he is also willing to help us through our trials if we turn to Him. I still have a comparatively weak understanding of the Atonement and Christ, and I have a long way to go before I have the relationship that I want with Him, but I know that He is there for us. The Book of Mormon is the greatest book ever. Reading from the Book of Mormon, Bible, and conference talks have helped me so much. Prayer has been even bigger, and the role of the Holy Ghost as a comforter and guide have helped me out. I know we can pray for anything and God will help us with our righteous desires to become better and to keep the commandments. I read like 2 chapters from the BoM everyday and it helps me so much and it really is so focused on the Savior and His Atonement. I've loved reading 4-6 Conference talks a day. It's awesome to see modern day revelation and I'm really grateful for them. Here are some scriptures that helped me these past few weeks: 2 Timothy 2:3 and Romans 5:3-5. They are the bomb. I know this church is true and there's nothing better I could be doing! Thanks again!
Elder Pew

PS . The Round Rock donuts are amazing and I highly recommend them. You will all have to try them someday. And the Round Rock the city is named after is like a 2 foot wide rock. It's pretty anti-climactic. I forgot to say it again but Aunt Julia did bring a box by our apartment which was awesome! Alright that's all! Love you all!  (this was a separate email he sent after)