Sunday, November 24, 2013

2 Letters November 11th and 18th, 2013

November 11th, 2013

Dear family,
This was a solid week. We had a couple exchanges this week and some exciting news in the mission/zone. I had a feeling the last few weeks that the stake was getting close to splitting since the office couple for some reason can't order a ward map, so I was pretty sure that something was going on, and we found out yesterday that the stake is splitting! We don't know how much it will affect our area, and it's possible I will be out of here, but hopefully I stay since I absolutely love this area. The rumor also is that we would have enough areas and stakes for the mission to split and to get a temple in Austin. Crazy stuff although that is mostly speculation. More crazy news: Elder G and Elder W both in the zone are related to BF Johnson. It is pretty crazy! Quick funny story from last week that I forgot to tell you all. So no one told us that it was daylight savings last Sunday and I'm not sure how we were suppose to know, so we got up at 6:20 and got ready for our meetings in the morning and then at 7:20 our alarm goes off and we thought the phone was being dumb since we have the same phone I did back home so I thought it was just being stupid like it usually is, and didn't think much of it. We headed off to our meetings and pulled into an empty parking lot. We were super confused because another ward should have been just starting and hardly anyone was there. We got out and saw other missionaries getting out of a member's car and we asked them what was happening and they told us it was daylight savings! We blew our one day to sleep in an extra hour so we were pretty ticked and went back to the apartment and slept in our church clothes until it was actually time to go to the meetings. It stunk but was pretty funny. Dang oblivious missionaries.
Monday we didn't do a whole lot except we had a really fun P-Day where we played pool in our apartment office and played Monopoly deal and wrote letters, ate candy, etc. Our district is pretty sweet.
Tuesday was a great day. We had a lesson with a cool guy me and Elder V met awhile back that we haven't been able to make contact with, and I felt like we should go by and he was home and we taught him the Plan of Salvation. He is semi-interested and had some good questions. He didn't come to church and we weren't able to set-up a return appointment so hopefully we see him this week. We taught a lady named N and really tried emphasizing how church, praying, and reading the Book of Mormon will bless her family because she has had tons of missionaries teach her and she always says she is semi-interested but will never go to church and doesn't really progress. Sure enough she didn't come to church again. We had a lesson with J and it went well. A got after him I guess and told him he was doing things the wrong way and needed to forget everything else and focus only on the Book of Mormon and whether it's true or not. He says that has gone well so far which is sweet to hear.
Wednesday we had Zone Meeting and it was awesome. Our Zone Leaders are really sweet and gave great training. The sisters from R (sis. J from my MTC district) gave an awesome training on charity and missionary work. It was inspiring and the Zone is sweet. It was cool to talk with Elder S, Elder V, and Elder D again, my former companions. Other than that we just stopped by a lot of former investigators and less actives. We have almost completely knocked-out the names from the area book, so we are having to come up with other things to do.
Thursday we had another lesson with M and she is awesome. She read a little bit from the Book of Mormon. She continues to want to learn  and we are going to try and get her husband more involved too. We taught about the first half of the Plan of Salvation and she was eager to learn about the rest of it. She couldn't come to church because of her husband doesn't want her to but she is really cool. We had weekly planning and our Bible Study which was still a poor showing of only two members. It's too bad because the lessons are usually really powerful and awesome and if we could get nonmembers there it would be great. That night we started our double header of exchanges. I took Elder L to our area and Elder T went to Round Rock. Elder L is the one from Saratoga Springs and has been out for 2 transfers.  we had a fun day and it was a great experience to lead the area for the day too.
Friday we had a lesson with M and we brought Sister W She was super awesome and even brought jam for Marilyn.   We resolved every concern she had but in the end she wasn't willing to commit. We set up a bunch of lessons with less-active and part member families that the ward council gave to us so we have a pretty stacked week so far. We had dinner with the S and again I can't emphasize enough how awesome they are. I straight up told them that they are an amazing example to the ward and their families and all they are going through and a great example to me of faith and obedience, because really they do so much for us. We also had a lesson with a member family on member-missionary work. We exchanged back and hustled to get to our next exchange. I thought I was spending the day in the Spanish branch, but Elder G our Zone Leader just came here.
Saturday was filled with appointments that fell through which was too bad for the exchange. We helped V move out which was a little sad to see since I consider her like basically one of my baptisms since she moved in the week after she was baptized and I've done the teaching since then, but she is in a better situation now. She is so cool and nice and hopefully the ward treats her well. We also talked to some great people and set up a few lessons for this week. Elder G is a super good missionary and is really bold. Overall it was a fun exchange and I learned a lot. Also, we had dinner with the K family who moved here from Cedar Hills a few months ago. Weird huh?! They only lived there for two months and they were in the other stake. Sister K actually grew up in Cedar Hills back when it was a rock field so she didn't know anyone that we know.
Sunday was sweet! It was the Primary Program featuring the children of Brushy Creek. They did awesome! It was all focused on being a child of God and the restoration which was sweet! One girl I don't know very well got up and talked about how she gave a Book of Mormon to her teacher and talked with them about it and now is going to invite her to be taught by missionaries. We had no idea and it was awesome! Oh, we also had to sing a reverence hymn before church so we sang "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy" with a few men in the ward. I sang the baritone part which was easy. Elder T was a little nervous since there were like 300 people there and he has no choir experience, but we did well. It was combined with the Spanish branch, tons of people invited friends, and it was a Linger Longer. We met a bunch of nonmembers and unfortunately no lessons set up yet, but several ward members are going to work with those they brought to have a FHE or something with us. Bro F and the youngest four came, so E was there and they liked church and the Linger Longer. The F really love us, we just need to get the older sisters interested and the mom active again. Elder's Quorum was really fun because we played Jeopardy and my team picked me to be the spokesperson and it was a fun environment. The men were joking with each other and me and they seem to really like us missionaries which is a cool feeling. Especially Bro A, Bro S, and Bro B (C3PO). Overall it was a fun day.
Well I'm learning so much and trying to get better everyday. The Book of Mormon is so awesome and I am getting so much out of it. I also started reading it again in a small copy and marking everytime it testifies of Christ and I can firmly say that the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ. It explains better than any other book why He did what He did and why it was needed. It was written for our day and contains the fulness of the gospel. The Book of Mormon along with the restored church has everything we need to know. I've gained a greater awareness of why we need to share the gospel. People are missing 531 pages of scripture that draw us closer to God than any other book, testifies of Christ, was written for our day, is the convincing evidence that Joseph Smith is a prophet, that this is Christ's church on the earth, and that the priesthood has been restored to the earth, and that is just a portion of its divine origin and purpose. It means so much to me and my testimony of this church. I know it is true. Thanks for all the love and support!
Elder Pew
p.s. Here is a sweet quote about the Book of Mormon:
"Few men on earth, either in or out of the Church, have caught the vision of what the Book of Mormon is all about. Few are they among men who know the part it has played and will yet play in preparing the way for the coming of Him of whom it is a new witness.... The Book of Mormon shall so affect men that the whole earth and all its people will have been influenced and governed by it.... There is no greater issue ever to confront mankind in modern times than this: Is the Book of Mormon the mind and will and voice of God to all men?" -Bruce R. McConkie

November 18th, 2013
Dear family,
This was another week full of exchanges. Okay, only two, but I was out of our area for both of them. I'll talk about those later, we had a SUPER funny experience on one of them that I'll explain a little bit of, but you should ask for the whole story at Christmas. First, I want to thank all of those who have already sent birthday letters and packages! I've received so many and it's great to feel all the love and support. It's actually pretty funny since the ward loves us, but we don't actually have a dinner appointment on my birthday, but it's okay because we have a lot of lessons which is all that I really want for my birthday, and I think Elder T plotted something with the S on exchanges for this Tuesday since we are teaching A, so we will see what happens. Also, Elder Golden, from South Africa is in the mission right now and he will be training us on Wednesday, so I'm pretty pumped for that. It has been confirmed that the Stake is splitting and there is a new ward being created and we are pretty sure that it will involve some of Brushy Creek. We also know (through some reliable sources) that there will be 4 sisters moving into the same apartment as us, so we think that the new ward will have sisters and we might be doubled out (both of us leave), but we will see. Interesting stuff.
Monday was pretty fun. We played soccer again as a Zone. That night we were planning to stop by a potential investigator who lives in a big apartment complex and while we were talking with him, another guy walked up to us and was like, "hey Elders." He was wearing a Utah Utes hat and he just barely moved in and is inactive but wants to come back so he figured he should come and talk to us. It was sweet. We set up a lesson with him and his sister-in-law and friend that he lives with. His wife will be moving out here soon. All of them are struggling right now, but all of them want to come back.
Tuesday I was on exchanges with Elder S in M. He is 6'9 . He is super nice and he has been out like 20 months. I was a little worried at the beginning that he would think that since I've only been out a few months that I wouldn't contribute anything, so the first house I made sure to be very involved and he ended up sitting back and watching me do everything. As we continued throughout the day, he just sat there and just had me do most of the work. I pretty much led everything so then I felt bad and tried to let him do a lot more but he would just sit there, so I continued to lead the whole day which was fun and I learned a lot. (FYI I know this elder's mom on facebook and she said that this elder never got to teach as a newbie in the mission so that's why he let Timo teach so much when they were together).  I like exchanges since I can be a little more bold. When we are only able to set up a lesson for another day, I just say something like, "well I likely won't be there for the lesson but I want you to know..." and just bear sincere testimony that the gospel will bless their life. We had a lesson with a part-member family and again I tried to let Elder S lead the lesson but it was like 20 minutes in and we still hadn't started teaching, so I just took lead again and we taught about the Book of Mormon, so of course I loved it. It was a fun exchange and I learned a lot.
Wednesday was freezing! It was like 40 degrees which feels like 15 degrees when you are used to 55-60 degrees. We were dying and wore our sweaters so that was awesome that I had that. Pretty much everything fell through except a lesson with A, the less active 21 year old guy who is super nice and wants to come to church. He is really nice.
Thursday was a great day. We taught N about how the gospel and Jesus Christ can fill the gaps in our lives that are missing. It was a pretty good lesson but yet again she didn't come to church. We had Bible Study again and again it was us, Z, and J. I'm not too bummed though since they go really well. The Spirit is always really strong, so all we need is some other people to start coming and they will be astounded at how awesome it is. One other note I just thought of. It is crazy how many gems I have found in the scriptures studying and what not. In Matthew 21 with the story of the wicked husbandman it is totally talking about the Jews rejecting the gospel and how it would come forth to the Gentiles, thus the restoration. Never saw that before. I have picked up so many little gems from the scriptures and it is really sweet. We had our lesson with C, the dude we found on Monday and his sister-in-law and friend that they live with. We had an AMAZING lesson with them about the parable of the laborers in the vineyard and it was a really inspired lesson. They were all near tears and the Spirit was super strong. I felt it give me so many promptings and our testimonies were really powerful.
Friday was another exchange. This time I was in Round Rock with Elder W. He has been out for 7 months and he came into his area the same time I came into the field so we have become great friends. He loves sports and is a great missionary. We had an awesome day! We found a bunch of people who are interested and it sounds like one of them turned out to be really solid. We had dinner and a lesson at their ward mission leader. His name is J and he went to Lone Peak! He is only like 24 and he is awesome. He has been working with a co-worker named J who is super cool and nice. He totally has a testimony of the church. Brother B brought another friend from the ward so there were 4 members and us to teach him. I was a little nervous since there were so many people and they all knew I was "new" in the mission. We taught the Plan of Salvation to J and he understood it really well for not having any Christian background. He has read through all of Mosiah in Chinese and he says he feels something he feels no where else when he reads. Sweet! He is going to get baptized in December and unfortunately he has to move back to China in February so hopefully he stays strong. Also we were on bikes so that was really fun to get on a bike again. It was fun. Right before we were going to go home, Elder W was sending a text and I saw a couple walking toward there apartment like 200 feet away, but I felt like I should talk to them, so I zoomed off on my bike and caught them and started talking with them. They said they were just heading back to their apartment and they were moving out. Elder W arrived and we offered to help them. They said they actually could use a hand, so we dropped our bikes and followed them. They asked us who we were and what we were doing, so we said we were missionaries sharing a message about the Book of Mormon. We explained it a little to them and they were really curious. That caught us off guard and we didn't have time to teach after we were moving them since it was already 8:25 and we just met them, so we told them we'd talk after we helped them move. A bunch of their family and friends showed up to help and we met them all. They are moving to Georgetown but when we had to leave they wanted to know more about the Book of Mormon so we got their new address and sent the missionaries out there to meet them. Who knows what will happen, but that was sweet! This is also when we played a huge prank on Elder L. About him getting transferred but he wasn't.  Elder L is a good sport and it was so funny. He totally believed us!
Saturday we had a sweet lesson with E and he is doing great although he didn't come to church either. We also gave J a blessing which was sweet since he was really sick. We also had dinner and a lesson with the F Family. It was such good food! Also, they "Highs and lows of the day" and Sister F's high was that we came for dinner. Sweet! They like us! We had fried chicken and mashed potatoes, creamed corn, lemonade, garlic bread, and cake. It was delicious.We had a lesson on the Plan of Salvation and made cardboard cut-outs that were sweet and took a lot of time.It was awesome and E wants to be baptized and the other two are still hesitant.
Church was sweet on Sunday even though all of our investigators didn't come to church. We found R again which is good and he said he is going to try and get N to come to church with him which is awesome. That is all that really happened Sunday. Things are really picking up here and it is sweet to see! We are staying busy!
I know that this church is true and the Book of Mormon is the word of God. It gets me excited just talking about the Book of Mormon, because it makes me happy. Thanks for the love and support!
Elder Pew with a birthday package
Elder Pew

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November 4, 2013 and Photos

Dear family, 
As you can tell from the subject line, this was a pretty interesting week. So, we had dinner on Tuesday with a guy in the ward that just moved in a few weeks ago and his wife who is not a member. Me and Elder V had already met them before but somehow forgot to let us in on a little gem of his. We got talking and found out that he is C3PO!!! He works for Lucas Films as a side job and does the acting anytime they need someone in a C3PO suit. He has been doing it since 2006, so he wasn't in the old movies, but every picture of C3PO since then is him! It's crazy! He has been on hundreds of ads, commercials, pictures, appearances, you name it. He is good friends with George Lucas, has pictures with Barrack Obama, Johnny Depp, the original C3PO, etc. He even has the official C3PO suit in his garage, but we didn't have time to go down and look at it. Also, he is the coolest guy ever. He is divorced and re-married, and his wife isn't a member. He grew up Baptist and we brought him to a lesson with Josh already because of it. He rides a custom old-fashioned motorcycle and he is super hipster. He also bore a super powerful testimony in sacrament meeting about his conversion and the hope that is in Christ. It was sweet! And he is really nice and friendly and introduces himself to everyone and all those we bring to church. He is the best! 
Anyways, to the rest of the week.  Monday was a solid day.  for P-Day we went to a park and had a big soccer game. It was super fun to play soccer again and I scored one of our four goals. It is nice to play sports every now and then.We had a family home evening with the S's at Sister S's parent's house in the W R ward, but since A lives there and we want to help the mom be more active and get the dad interested, we did the lesson at their house. Sister S translated our lesson into Spanish for the dad since he speaks little English. It was a great lesson, but Sister S told us that it would work better for her family to have the baptism this on Saturday. If you remember, A is Sister S's younger sister, they decided that we would get to teach her since she was going to come to our ward, but they still wanted to get her family as involved as much as possible so we have done everything with that focus, so we moved the baptism to Saturday (yes two days ago). This meant that we had to meet with her a few more times that week to teach the rest of what she needed to learn and to go over the interview questions and schedule the building, invite everyone, make a program, and all that jazz.
Tuesday we had a lesson with a lady we met named M. She is like 30 and wanted us to come back and teach her, so we had a first lesson and talked about how we can see Christ more clearly in our lives. Elder T has a cool picture of Christ with three pieces of film paper over it so as we talk about three specific things (Church, prayer, and reading the Book of Mormon) we remove them until they can see Christ clearly (I wouldn't mind having one of my own). She told us that she has struggled with her faith recently after a death in the family and that is why she let us back because we had talked about Christ. It was cool to be the answer to a prayer. She said she would read the Book of Mormon, but her husband doesn't really want her to change churches so we weren't able to meet with her again yet and she couldn't come to church but she seemed interested. We had our Bible Study but it is still a small turnout. We had a lesson with J and A and it went well. We watched Elder Holland's testimony of the Book of Mormon which was powerful and then we bore our testimonies about the Book of Mormon. We asked him if he had any questions about the Book of Mormon and he finally started to ask us some questions he has had but they are pretty small things, like how did the prophets in the Book of Mormon know Christ's specific name in the people in the Old Testament didn't, but I found in 2 Nephi 10 that an angel revealed it to Jacob while he was praying. Other small things like that. So we told him you have to step back and look at the big picture. I felt inspired to tell J that we all still have questions in the church and that our lesson next time we can all bring a question we have had and throughout the week find scriptures to answer our questions. This helped him a lot because he feels like he is the only one with questions so he really liked the fact that we as missionaries still have questions but we need to act in faith. Hopefully it will also help him learn how to answer his questions on his own. We can also use our "question" and answer to teach him something we feel like he still needs, so this next lesson should be cool. He is a great guy. We invited him to the baptism but he didn't come since he had his son this week.
Wednesday we had district meeting and our whole day was scheduled with lessons but every single one fell through except our lesson with the Ms. It went pretty well and Brother M told us his conversion story and told us that he is trying to make it back but it is tough to get back in the swing of things. Hopefully he remembers the good feelings he had when he was baptized and has the desire to share it with his wife who isn't a member. Wednesday it was absolutely pouring rain. It was crazy hard that night and it was SO SWEET! I love the rain here in Texas. It is beautiful. We went out on our porch and watched the lightning and listened to the thunder for awhile. Elder T was a photographer so we took some cool pictures on his camera. I will see if he can email me some of them. 
Thursday morning we went and did service at the Round Rock Service Center. We pretty much packed food into bags for people who came and picked up the bags of food. It was a good experience and some hard work surprisingly. I was walking past the line of people to check something and I saw a guy with a "Trust Jesus" shirt on so I told him it was a sweet shirt, but then he was mad at me and yelled that "we don't have the same Jesus." I just didn't say anything and kept walking. I have no idea what he was talking about and it was sad to see We taught M and it went well. She had read from the Book of Mormon and she liked it fine so far. She actually let us get all the way through the Plan of Salvation because we let her know before the lesson that she wouldn't agree with everything and have questions, but if she listened with an open heart that she could know that what we teach is true. To me, I don't know how the Plan of Salvation doesn't just make sense. What else would the plan be? The way it is set up is clearly the best way for us to accomplish our Heavenly Father's purpose. She was pretty receptive to the lesson so that was great. She also came to the baptism and enjoyed it so hopefully that helps. Halloween night we had to be in by 6, so we did our weekly planning meeting then and I also convinced Elder T to skip rocks at the pond right behind our apartment. It was fun and felt like I was back at the duck pond skipping rocks. Other than that, it was a pretty uneventful Halloween. 
Friday pretty awesome. We had a lesson with B, the kid who came to the trunk-or-treat at the D's house. It went really well and he is a super nice kid. He is Shrek in the musical they are doing and his member friend (G) is Fiona. They are both really good singers. He said that he would read the Book of Mormon. He came to church too, but I'll talk about that in a second. We also had a lesson with the Fs. I love that family. I want the three girls to get baptized so badly and to have the gospel. It will make their family so much happier. We played "the flour game" with them.  It is a fun game and we had a blast. I am going to try to get Sister F to send you a picture since she was bribing her kids to make sure the starburst would fall on one of us. Of course once it fell on me they buried the starburst in the flour and so I got flour everywhere getting it out. Anyways, it does tie into the gospel. We read Helaman 5:12 and asked them what would happen if the starburst was on a rock instead of flour. We told them that we have to build a foundation on the rock, who is Jesus Christ. We had each person say something they could do to build their foundation on Christ better. The three kids are warming up so much and the youngest unbaptized girl E is catching fire. She wants to read the scriptures and come to church. Unfortunately the oldest two and Sister F care more about their soccer that is always on Sunday, so they can't make it to church. Soccer ends pretty soon so hopefully they can start all coming soon. The oldest, H, is already being scouted by colleges and she is 13 and on a boys team. She is supposedly really good even though I beat her in a juggling contest. She said they never juggle to train.  We are really pushing to get them to church this week for the primary program and the linger longer. It would be nice for them to make some friends in the ward. 
Elder T and Elder Pew with the girl they taught
Saturday was the baptism. A was also interviewed on Saturday but she passed so no problems there. We had to set up everything and then we waited for people to show up. I called and invited every family in the ward with a 9 year old, but only one or two families were able to show up. It was a good baptism. We waited for A's dad who isn't a member to come before we started. The Ss did a great job of inviting lots of people and both Bro and Sis S's family were there and none of them are members, or they are inactive. The S are sweet. Since most of the family doesn't speak English Bro S's mom translated everything being said which is interesting since she is Catholic and was bearing other people's testimonies in Spanish. She was crying during the baptism.  It was a great baptism. J called and asked if we could come by so we had a lesson with him and his two kids. They are so awesome and they love us. It's sweet! The S invited us over for dinner at Sis S's parent's house so we went at like 8 and finally ate some food and dessert. We talked with all of their families who aren't members and the one who translated loved it. We talked with her for a while, but she isn't interested in switching religions. The Ss are so awesome. Church was way sweet! The testimony meeting was really powerful. G got up and bore her testimony right at B and said she wanted him to know that she knew the church was true. The Spirit was really strong. B did pull us aside and he was beyond grateful that we have been so kind to him, but he said his mom isn't comfortable with us teaching him. He has been reading from the Book of Mormon and he is definitely interested, but his mom doesn't want him to continue, so we are going to try and meet her this week. Hopefully things can be resolved since he is coming to dinner with the Ds this Wednesday with us so we can continue teaching him. He was super super grateful for all we have done and we told him no matter what happens he is a great kid and doing a great job. We told him to keep reading the Book of Mormon and that it will continue to help him. He is so nice. Sister L also invited us to come in to her Gospel Essentials class and tell the ward how they can support the full-time missionaries. We told them the best way to support us is to bring people to church and it makes us happy just to hear that they are sharing the gospel. We also shared the invitation to come and ask us who are investigators are so they can pray for them by name and how powerful it would be to have an entire ward praying for the investigators and we promised them that we would see miracles in this ward if they would do that. It was a cool experience to tell the ward how they can help us. This ward is way sweet. It was cool to see A become a member of the church this week and I know it will bless her life forever. I know she joined the church of Jesus Christ that has been restored
Elder Pew & Elder V at the birthday of B ( few weeks ago)
She wanted them to be her special guests for her dinner!

and that we have the fullness of the gospel. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that will bring us so much peace and happiness if we read it and abide by its teachings. Thanks for all the support from back home!
Elder Pew