Tuesday, August 19, 2014

3 Weeks of Letters August 4, 11 & 18th, 2014 Photos too!

August 4, 2014
Dear family,
This was a super crazy week filled with many good experiences. But, I'm also nervous right now, so prayers will be good.
Monday we taught P and M. I don't remember if I told you about them, but we taught them the Restoration and answered questions. They are mostly interested intellectually, but we have tried to focus on experiencing everything we teach. P was excited to come to T's baptism and church, but she ended up getting called into work. We had a lesson with N (we are more confident of this pronunciation) and she finally told us her real concern. She is really worried that her family will reject her. Turns out she was going to get baptized like 5 years ago, but she told her family and they freaked out. We talked her through it and she said she was going to talk to them again. Hopefully that goes well.
Tuesday was super busy. I don't even think I'm going to remember everything we needed to get done this week for Moving Elder stuff, but we were running around crazy until dinner. We had to prepare for the moves we had this weekend and bought over 100 items from Wal-Mart and over $1000. I also found out that I maxed out my allotment card for missionaries because of how many times I've had to be reimbursed which is the first time in history of the mission. Of course, the $1000 was on the mission's card. We had a lesson with T and B and B finally told us her real concerns. She has a problem with humans being involved in religion, women in the church, and exclusion (including temples), so that was awesome to get those out. We addressed them on Friday. We got a text from Sister O because they had to emergency move and she was freaking out stressed so we had to go there at like 10:00 pm to give her a blessing. We didn't get back until right after 10:30 but she's doing well and the ward was thankful we helped. 
Wednesday we had district meeting which went well. I had Sister C give a final training before she goes home and it was powerful. She talked about true conversion not just on our missions but forever. It was a great meeting, I really loved this district. We spent most of the rest of the day building the bunk-beds we picked up for the Stone Oak apartment and we had the sisters help so we could finish faster. We only got about half-way done by 6, and we proselyted the rest of the evening. We had a good lesson with P on the Word of Wisdom and she is the nicest lady. She is a much better "candidate for being a Mormon" than she thinks. We had a lesson with Brother H and he took us to dinner since we didn't have time to eat anything. He's awesome. That night I also got a call from Elder T inviting me to MLC (mission leadership conference) on Friday. I'll explain that more later.
Thursday we spent all day finishing everything with the sisters moving into the new apartment, building the bunk-beds, etc. It was quite the project. The company built one of the beds wrong and to make a really long story short, we had to go buy a saw and fix it ourselves. Needless to say, we had a long, challenging day. We had to work all day and night except a lesson we had with N. We had Sister S come too and she brought N a bunch of dresses for church. Sister S and Sister W are amazing! It was a good lesson and N really loves Sister S. They stayed and talked for like 30 minutes after our lesson. We went back and finished the last bunk-bed for the Sisters.
Friday was MLC. MLC stands for missionary leadership conference and it happens once a month. It is for all the zone leaders and Sister Training Leaders. By getting invited I knew that meant I was going to be a zone leader for this upcoming transfer. The meeting was incredible! Sister Slaughter gave an awesome training on all this cool doctrine from the story of Noah, showing us how she studies the scriptures. I was super impressed with her gospel knowledge and her ability to teach. A lot of the assistants and sister training leader leaders gave trainings that were great, and of course, President Slaughter's trainings were life-changing. One thing he said that has really stuck out to me is, "every call or assignment in the church, is a call to repentance." That is so true! I love looking at it that way. They also have all departing missionaries give a final testimony. It was really powerful. It was also really cool to hear Elder V's final testimony at MLC. I ate lunch with him and we talked a lot. I told him to visit you guys and he said he wanted to, so if he just walks in, that's who it is. It was fun to talk to a lot of the people there and they were excited to see me there. President actually called me out and thanked me for all of the things I've moved over the past few months, and that he was keeping me in San Antonio so he "could use me if they ever needed help." There were 8 new zone leaders and they told everyone where they were going. I am going to Randolph in East Zone. I'm pretty excited, but also pretty nervous. I'm one of the youngest missionaries of the current East Zone and it's going to be hard to transition back into going out and proselyting so early in the day, but I'm sure it will be fine. I will be with Elder B. He's only got one transfer left and he's been a zone leader for one transfer. I've heard some really good things about him which is exciting. We talked a little bit, but I figured we will have plenty of time to talk more later. Meanwhile Elder R took another missionary to do a move up in San Marcos. I had to wait with Elder T and Elder F for them to get back. I found out a lot of interesting transfer information, and one that I found really funny, was that when Elder N left San Pedro, they nearly had Elder W replace him, but ultimately since we had just been companions, they decided to put him somewhere else. That would have been crazy to be with him again. I also found out Elder T is going to my future zone, so that's going to be awesome! Sister J is going to replace Sister C as the new Sister Training Leader Leader, which is crazy since she was in our MTC district. She will do great though. We had a really busy, but great night. We had a lesson with T and B and both were super excited for the baptism. We addressed B concerns, and she seemed to be more content with them afterwards. We also had a lesson with P and L and we taught them how to fill out a tithing slip and the importance of the sacrament. 
Saturday morning was T's baptism. It was a great baptism. Unfortunately all their family and friends we invited didn't show and neither did any of our investigators except B of course. The ward came out in pretty good support. We asked T and the ward if Brother D could baptize T since he will stay and neither of us will be here forever and Brother D was super humbled and almost didn't accept, but luckily he did. It all ran smoothly and while T was changing we had everyone write a congratulations on a 3x5 card and we hole-punched the corner and put a little ring through it and gave it to T to remember his baptism. It was pretty cool. I made the mistake of telling Brother C that I was leaving, and then suddenly everyone knew. Straight from the baptism we had to go and move Pflugerville. It was a fast move and we had Old Settlers help so I talked to Elder W for a long time. It was fun. We had a few other deliveries we had to make and we had to bring back the spare car which was pretty intense to drive separate again. We had to go to Marble Falls which is in the middle of no-where but the drive was peaceful. It was a straight-shot 80 miles south to our area so we got back around 9 at night.
Sunday was great. T's confirmation was really good and Brother S gave a great blessing. He talked a lot about B which I thought was really cool. T liked it too and B stayed for all three hours even though it was hard for her. The women in the ward were awesome to her. Brother C blessed S (P and L's baby) and it was a beautiful blessing. It hit me half-way through how amazing it was to be there for it. As I stood there with my hand under S, I realized that everything we did to help P and L really is for S. Yes, it's great we helped P and L, but where it is all going to pay-off is in their posterity, and S was the first of who knows how many people P's baptism will bless. In gospel principles P, stuttering and all, went up and congratulated T, one of the sweetest moments of my mission to watch. T announced after class that I was leaving and then P and L, Brother H, and T and B wanted to set up a "final dinner" with them. We didn't have a dinner Wednesday so we are having a final lesson and dinner with the Ks, and then we are having breakfast Wednesday with the Bs and Lunch with Brother H on Tuesday. P came up and gave me a hug and said he would miss me and Brother W and Sister S gave me really sincere good-byes too. Brother H called this morning and really thanked me too. I am really grateful for the awesome people in this area and I was so impressed with the members in this ward and their willingness to help with the missionary efforts. I feel like I did a much better job directing people back to the gospel here, but it was still nice to hear that I made an impact on a few people here. We weren't able to get much done in the evening, but I had to call in numbers for the last time. We got our official transfer call and of course I'm leaving and being a zone leader and Elder R is staying. This upcoming week is going to be absolutely mad since we have to work with the Assistants to make sure 28 missionaries get to the airport, 32 get picked up, 3 vans go where they need to along with 3 trailers, 18 air mattresses, probably like 50 bikes, and tons more. It's quite the head-ache, but I think we have it mostly figured out. I'm thankful for the experiences I've had here and everything thing I've learned, and it all points back to the gospel being true. A gospel of change, and the source of all of our joy. We have prophets on the earth today. The Book of Mormon is true. Jesus Christ is our Savior. This is His work and His glory, and it will continue to roll forth until it fills the whole earth. Thank you for all the support!
Elder Pew

August 11, 2014
Dear family,
This was a crazy crazy week, just you wait, but things are going well in the TSAM. Here we go!
Monday we had a lesson with T and B and taught about "truth". B seemed to like the lesson. We helped this cool family we saw moving in and they really appreciated it and hopefully are being taught now. 
Tuesday was crazy. We had to pick up the outgoing missionaries bikes and luggage and pick up the incoming missionaries bikes. We delivered 25 bikes and picked up 30. We put them away and then started getting air mattresses where they needed to go for transfer day. We spent all day getting stuff ready for transfers. That night some of the departing missionaries stayed with us. They stayed up pretty late and I was nervous about the upcoming transfer, so it was a rough night.
Wednesday we woke up at 5 and went with the Assistants to take the departing missionaries to the airport. I got to have a good talk with Elder R ( he was an AP), I'm going to miss him. We had to get the apartments set up for new areas, and trios, and we hit 6 of the 11 zones, driving who-knows how many miles. We picked up 3 mattresses, delivered 10 bed sets, and built about 10 desks. We somehow finished by about 5  and I was able to pack almost all of my stuff. We had a lesson with Brother H and I gave him my email and had a good lesson. He read 5 hours of the Book of Mormon the day before. He's awesome, I'm sad to leave him. We had dinner and a final lesson with T and B. B made me chocolate pancakes that she made earlier that she knew I loved. We basically had a testimony meeting and the Spirit was strong. It was cool to hear T and B's testimonies. When we were leaving B cried quite a bit, but I had a really good and sacred conversation with her, so that was cool. I will really miss both of them a lot, but T is already planning a trip to Salt Lake to go through the temple when we are both back which I don't think I could be any more excited for. I gave them, Brother H, the Ws, Bs, and Ss notes with my contact info, so hopefully I hear from them all. We got home in time to hear that the van and trailer we were suppose to pick up from the church from the border and take to the mission home to take the incoming missionaries to the apartment was about 4 hours late, so we were panicking and trying to call the Assistants but they weren't answering, so we decided to drive to the mission home and see if they needed the extra seats. Turns out they needed three more seats, so we helped take some of the new missionaries to the apartment. It was really fun to work with Elder T, Elder S, Sister J, and Sister C (Elder T left me a really nice note in my scriptures). We got them home around 10:30, but we still needed to get the van and trailer to the apartment for the morning, so me and Elder R had to leave at 1:15 AM to go pick it up. I guess everything went wrong on the border. I had a bizarre night. I tried going to sleep but I started getting really hot, and then my stomach started killing me, and my knees got super itchy, and my nose was running like crazy. I had no idea what was happening and it was almost like an allergic reaction or something. I went to the bathroom and that made my stomach better, but I still couldn't get to sleep from the itchiness and nose, so I was worried that it was bed bugs, so I tried sleeping on the floor, but then I decided to take a shower. After that I sat in my chair trying to sleep there and we got the call to go pick up the van. I had to throw on some random clothes because I already packed my clothes. We got back around 2 and we slept for three hours and then we had to pick up three sisters that were going home and take them to the airport at 5:30. Us and the Sister Training Leader Leaders had a really late night. After we dropped them off we went ahead and picked up the bikes for transfer meeting. I had to go to the bathroom like 4 more times and my stomach felt awful. Then we took them to the church and we were able to relax for about an hour before the meeting started. I am with Elder B of course in East Zone. We have the biggest zone in the mission and it is a great group. Elder T is one of our district leaders, as well as Elder W and Elder H if you remember those names. After the meeting we went to the apartment and dropped off my stuff and then started to work. This area has a lot to work with. I am really grateful for that because it makes transitioning from being a moving Elder much easier. Elder B is about 6'1 or 6'2 and he is in his last transfer. This is his second transfer as a zone leader. He is really positive and pretty diligent. He reminds me of Elder T in some ways. We had about 25 names of people they are working with and that is mostly what we did for the rest of the week was contact them and whoever else we found, but the more I meet some of them I think it really comes down to about 6 people. 
1. Brother W- He is married to a less-active member that they found talking to him on the street. He is super funny and was in the army. He is really dynamic and they found him last week. This week at church was his second week. He's reading from the Book of Mormon and we had a lesson with him that went really well. He really liked the Book of Mormon and he really likes the idea of eternal families. His wife was out of town in ROTC training, but he still brought his 7, 5, and 3 year-old kids that are SUPER cute. The 3 year-old is autistic, and the 7 year-old is really cute with her. We talked about August 30th for baptism but he is unsure, mostly doesn't think he can quit smoking and drinking by then.
2. Sister M- She is the 30ish year-old daughter of a recent convert and mother of two other recent converts. She just moved in and they just started teaching her. Really charismatic family. They have a lot of soul. She has also been to church twice and is reading the Book of Mormon and is pretty firm with a baptismal date we just set her with for September 6. 
3. L- she seems really interested but her husband hasn't been, but we heard he likes brownies, so we took him some and he really liked that. She was going to come and he was possibly going to come to church, but their baby daughter got really sick, so we have a lesson this week
4. V- Nice lady with 11 year old son and both are interested and want to be baptized. They have been taught in the past. I think we need to get her son Justin more involved with scouts and stuff, but they seem to want to join.
5. D family- Had a baptismal date, are good friends with members in the ward. Met them on Saturday and they let us right in but were really busy, so we set up another lesson. Really nice people, already seem like members. 
6. We have a TON of part-member and active non-members int he area. I think we can get a couple of them to investigate seriously. 
The ward is pretty cool and our area covers the Randolph Air Force base. We only go on it for meals with members that live on it, but that has already happened twice. It is a cool base, I really like the main building, it looks cool. So there is a lot of military in the area and the members seem really sweet. I'm excited to work here and I know it is the Lord's work. I am so thankful for everything He has done for me. I know this is His gospel and it has been restored in its fullness. Thank you for the prayer, I always appreciate it!
Elder Pew

August 18, 2014
Dear family,
This might be a short letter, because we have a lesson at noon and need to pick up a third companion! We know his name is Elder W, and if I remember from being a moving Elder, he went home for medical reasons, and I guess is coming back out now. Pretty exciting, although a little bummed we don't get to play basketball, but that's okay. I'm going to go through by investigator because I can't remember what happened when, it's all a blur.
1. Sister Ml is doing well. We had two lessons with her and helped her understand the importance the of the Book of Mormon and the Word of Wisdom. She has a minor smoking problem, and coffee and tea, but she committed to live it. She was out of town on the weekend and couldn't come to church. Still fairly set for September 6 baptism. 
2. Brother W- He is the coolest person ever! I absolutely love him and his family. He is hilarious and really outgoing. He reminds me of an army, version of Brother S, and I think those two would get along really well. We were suppose to have FHE with them, but they got news on Monday that their daughter A has a condition worse than they expected and her life expectancy dropped quite a bit. They were really bummed about that, so we didn't come back until Friday. We watched "Mountains to Climb" with them and his parents (they live across the street) and it seemed to really help them. I almost cried watching the video and thinking about their situation. We found several people willing to help with A at church so they can enjoy the second and third hour with a break from her. Unfortunately, something happened Sunday morning and they couldn't come. We had another lesson on Saturday about the importance of the Sacrament and read from Moroni 6 to get them into the Book of Mormon more. We left the story of Alma and his people from Mosiah 23 and 24. They gave us chocolate ice cream and Elder B accidentally spilled it on his white shirt. We walked out and their neighbors are members and they were fixing a leak in their yard, and we ran home and changed and came back to help. It was pretty fun and we got super muddy. Plus, I actually knew what to do since it was the exact thing T helped us with a couple weeks ago. Brother W also saw us out there and he has a bad back so he couldn't help, but we got to talk to him longer. He's wanting to get baptized on the 13th of September. Awesome family.
3. V and J- taught them once, but they don't seem like they are really that committed. Didn't come to church
4. L- Also doesn't seem super interested, but did come to sacrament meeting and then left really quickly but they seem to have good potential.
5. We started teaching a convert's sister K who is 15. Her parents are deployed so she's kinda on her own. She's a good young women, but also seems pretty content with the church she currently attends. We invited her to read the Book of Mormon of course, so that will be key.
6. A family- part-members. Wife is willing to learn, but they also aren't too interested in changing, but we'll see.
7. G family- part-members too. Wife supposedly was baptized, daughter of an active member. Can't find the daughter's records, so she might not be baptized. Had a good lesson and committed them to baptism, but we have had a hard time meeting again and they didn't come to church.
8. T- Boyfriend of a teenager in the ward. He's graduated and not working or going to school, so that's kinda concerning. He was at dinner, we taught the Restoration and invited him to learn more. He says he wants to learn, but I'm not sure how sincere he is.
9. Ton of other people who are nice, but I don't think are really interested in us teaching them right now. 
Church was pretty good other than the fact that only T (because he got to spend more time with his girlfriend) and L came. I think we need to move on with faith on some of these people if we don't see any progression soon. 
We also went on exchanges on Wednesday, and I went with Elder S in Universal City. He is a really good missionary. I really liked him. Super solid junior companion. It is a biking area, so that was kinda fun being on a bike again for the day. We taught this part-member family that has 4 unbaptized kids that are super awesome, but unfortunately the divorced mother is totally against them getting baptized, so it's just a matter of time with them. I still feel like there is no reason for me to be over these missionaries that are older than me. It's also hard because I'm starting to think I have been doing missionary work much different than a lot of missionaries. I'd rather focus on the few investigators we have progressing and staying in contact with these others, but focusing more on finding those that are ready. I'm just trying to be patient and hang in there until everything works out. It's still the start of the transfer and we are still figuring things out in the area and what we want to do. I'm still really pleased with the few solid people we have, especially Sister M and Brother W, they are incredible! I know that the Lord knows us and watches over us, and he gives us experiences to help us learn. I know that is true and that when we have faith, everything works out in the end. It's amazing to see how the gospel truly blesses families that are willing to live its teachings. I'm thankful to have grown up in such a family and to have the testimony that I do, it's one of the most precious things to me. Thanks for all the love and support!
Elder Pew

Moving mattresses

Taking care of missionary bikes

His Texas bathroom