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)