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Friday, April 29, 2016

OK...I'm out of subject lines

Ok, now that I spent fifteen minutes writing a list of things I could talk about, I'm ready to write an email haha. The funny thing is it feels like we did nothing this week, but I keep thinking of things I want to write about. So I think I'll start with some of the people we saw this week. We had quite the combination of lessons. Everything from really really good to seriously weird. Lucio is progressing and as of right now has a date set for May 28th. This week we talked with him about baptism and confirmation and what they mean, the promises we make etc. He is fun to teach because literally everything is new to him, we have to teach really really basically. He has never read the Bible, never really gone to church, never really had a religious background even though he believes in God and Jesus Christ. So when we talked about baptism we had to start with how Christ himself was baptized and how important it is for us to be baptized. The lesson went really well and we're excited to keep teaching him. He didn't come to church this Sunday, and we're not sure why. Hopefully we can get with him this week and get him to church again. We met with Sol again this week and I was equally impressed with her questions. We talked to her about the Book of Mormon. We discussed what true intent means and what it means specifically for her. She is open to everything we are teaching and I think wants to know the truth but it's scary to change the beliefs that you and your family have always had. I seriously love her already. She is so easy to talk to and is just fun. She is really interested in repentance and asks us about it every time we talk. It's awesome to see the hope of the Atonement already working in her life. She picks up on what we teach really fast, probably understands faster than anyone I've ever taught. It just clicks with her. Now we just have to get her to act on it! We had a lesson with that SDA family and talked about the family proclamation. We showed them a video about Heavenly Father and His love for us. They really liked it and the mom especially is fascinated with temples. She asks us about them every time we stop by. Our weirdest lesson of the week was with Saida. We met her at service, and she thought we were Lutheran missionaries, and then Jehovah's Witnesses and then we finally got it cleared up. We were supposed to help her make decorations for her sons birthday, but we got there and she said nope, we did them already, so we taught instead. We were talking about the Plan of Salvation and she was not listening to a word we said. At one point she was breast feeding, at one point she was literally nodding off, and at the end we invited her to be baptized again and she said "I've already been baptized, who's going to say the closing prayer?" Almost literally in the same breath. Weird. Those are the most frustrating lessons for me. Like why do we even waste our time. It's so tempting to just walk out. Ugh. It's fine. They invited us to the birthday party, so that's fun I guess. 
This week Sister Hughes and I got up a few mornings and went for a run or a bike ride. It was really nice, I want to do it more often, but the last few days have been really rainy. Minnesota is getting green. It is so pretty and the temperature has been perfect. It's so much easier to find Hispanics to talk to when its nice outside because they are all outside their trailers on nice evenings. We taught multiple lessons outside this week. I have missed that this winter. 

On Saturday we had a branch activity where Sister Cupkie taught us how to make tres leches cake. It's only one of the best cakes ever. Basically all the women stayed int he kitchen and made cake and the Elders and the guys played soccer. Typical. I'd rather play futbol any day. The cake was worth it and we got to talk to one of our friends in the branch who just got engaged. We also saw the Stacey and Jeanette Magic Show. They're a couple of girls in our branch who really remind me of Morgan. I love them and they do magic tricks. 

Sunday was a great day. Probably one of the most uplifting Sundays I've had in way too long. <<This is a cool new initiative the church is doing, check it out, they have lots of really good ideas on how to keep the Sabbath Day holy. We had way more people in Sunday School than usually, probably twice as many. They do Sunday School first, so usually people don't show up until the last hour which is sacrament meeting. But we did good this week! The lesson was about feasting on the words of Christ and baptism as the gate we enter. We talked especially about covenants and how they are the strait and narrow path that we have to stay on. In Sacrament meeting there were two talks on charity. I think the best thing to talk about at church is love. We were teaching a friend this week (she's one of the daughters of the family we live with, long story) and she mentioned how church is frustrating for her because the two greatest commandments are loving God and each other, and how no one every talks about it. I thought it was a good point, so it was refreshing to have a sacrament meeting on the love of God and Christ. After sacrament meeting I asked the Elders for a blessing. I have been struggling with this thing called I'm too stubborn and proud to ask for help. It's like this mental block that I have where I don't want to inconvenience other people and usually I'm pretty confident I can do things myself. I hate making myself vulnerable in any way. The problem is that it's gotten to the point that I think it's inhibiting how I pray and act. I've been thinking about it a ton and how I can fix it, and it became pretty apparent that I can't do it by myself. So me asking for a blessing (for the first time ever BTW...EVER.) was kind of my way of surrendering and telling Heavenly Father that I'm ready to get over myself. I'm tired of getting in my way. I want to be better. The blessing was incredible. Obviously Elder Hodgson had no idea about any of this, and he talked about having faith, asking Heavenly Father for the things we need, and support we have in our families, leaders, and other missionaries. The power of the priesthood is real, and the Spirit really speaks, sometimes through others. It was like all this heaviness and darkness just evaporated. I felt almost giddy afterward. So cool. So for anyone reading this, don't be stubborn, let God help you, don't learn the hard way.

Sunday night we went to Mission President's fireside in Bloomington with Leo. He is one of my favorite people. Elder Lawrence of the Seventy spoke and basically outlines the first missionary discussion, but way more eloquently than we have ever taught it haha. A few converts to the church spoke as well. It was really good, and I think Leo liked it. I saw Elder Farish there and we talked for a while. He's struggling a little with Cambodian and his companion and area. Understandably! But he's a hard worker, he'll be alright. His companion is native Cambodian, and is kind of hard to live with from what I've heard. Basically if Elder Farish doesn't learn Cambodian to the point where he can translate, then Cambodian work in Minnesota will shut down when his companion goes home in November. No pressure. A few prayers his way wouldn't hurt! He's awesome, I'm glad I got to talk to him for a bit. 

From what I've heard, Elder Lee is doing well too. He is with his companion from the MTC and having a blast as usual. He is calling his mom early, because they're going on a cruise to Mexico over Mothers Day, and he's nervous. He spoke in Stake Conference there last week, so sounds like his Spanish is good too. That's basically all I've heard recently. He is dreading going home. 

Speaking of Mother's Day! We're thinking after church here, which ends at 330 here, so that should be good for you guys right? It probably wouldn't be until after 4 here. :))) I'm excited!
Sounds like y'all have been really busy and doing fun things. Thanks for keeping me updated! I love you guys!

So many things! So many pictures!

Straight hair attempt
Spending time with Sister Warmbier

Twins game!

This is Stacey, she grilled meat for us. She's twelveish and awesome haha!
Hey family, there are so many things that happened this week. Literally every day was full and we met so many new people. We found five new investigators, which is more than double the most we've ever found here in Lakeville in one week. We just got the transfer board and we're staying put for this transfer. Our zone has 7
companionships, and five of seven will be training. Yay transfers!

I cannot believe how fast time is flying. The weather here has been gorgeous this week. The trees are turning green, the sun is warm, it's starting to get humid, my hair is freaking out, it's awesome.

So Mom sent me an email about the package from Sister Accord, and you were right, I laughed pretty hard when I opened it. Definitely the most random package ever. Obviously we had to try out the straightener, so I'll send a picture :)

We taught Lucio twice this week both times with a member. He also came to church, and committed to a baptism date! We are so excited about his progress. We met his son who is three and is adorable. The members were great at introducing themselves and everything went well. Except... Sacrament meeting was an hour and half long. We only had two speakers but with both they weren't native speakers and so they took foreverrrr. Ugh. But it was fine. It worked out ok and I think he liked it. We have another appointment with him tomorrow. After church we taught the couple I talked about last week, and our lesson went really well. They asked lots of really thoughtful
questions and really have a desire to learn more about how to follow God and where to go with their lives.

We taught a girl named Sol this week, we helped her a few weeks ago to move some of her stuff into her trailer. We went back and ended up teaching her. She's 24 with a 6 mo baby and has been thinking a lot more about God and what He wants for her and her family. She had tons of awesome questions. We talked about a little of everything. I was super impressed with how thoughtful her questions were.

We had a neat experience on Friday that kind of changed my perspective. We went out with brother Watkins, the guy I talked about last week, to talk to some of the people he has met on his paper route. We got yelled at by some young people outside. I didn't hear what they said or that they were talking to us. But bro W says Lets go
talk to them! I said You're crazy! And we still went to go talk to them. We were able to just have a nice conversation explain who we are, and what we do, and it was really nice. We ended up leaving a card and one of them seemed relatively interested. It was an experience to help me realize that there is nothing that should stop
us from sharing, and being afraid is not a good excuse for not talking to people.

Mom you'd be proud, we taught seminary on Thursday before the baseball game. They start at 545 but we didn't have to get there until 615. We taught about the beautiful feet of those who proclaim the gospel. Haha.

The baseball game was soooo fun. We took the light rail from Bloomington to the stadium all through downtown Minneapolis. I loved it. Minneapolis is so cool  and if I ever live there, I'm going for bikes and light rails. The game was fun to see everyone, the Twins lost of course, but the weather was perfect, and we got to hang with our friends. The strangest part of the baseball game was everyone asking me how long I've been out and then telling me I'm an old missionary. I don't feel old yet, but I guess time flies. I feel like I just got here, but I'm almost ten months in. Next transfer is my one year! Whaaaat. Also Mother's Day is in 3 weeks, also whaaaaat??!!

Will Ryan be home for Mother's Day?

Thanks for all the pictures, and all the updates.

Love you!

It's All About the People

Hey Family, this week's email is going to be all about the people we've met and talked to this week. This has been our best week this transfer and the best week I've had in waaaaay too long. I think it was jump-started with General Conference. Being inspired and motivated to work again I'm sure helped a ton. There is something about the words of the living prophets that inspire and uplift and make us want to be better. We had a crazy week. So to start out, on Monday night we visited a less-active lady in our ward and were talking to her about her life. She is from El Salvador and was telling us about her country. When she was young all of the schools in her area shut down because of the civil wars that were happening. They would literally watch mortars falling out of the sky and heard and saw sad scary things. She was telling us that her son tried to take her to a shooting range just for fun and she was ok for a few minutes but then once she started hearing gunshots she just started crying. She said that sound just brings up memories of being in El Salvador. We had a really good lesson with her about charity and the love Heavenly Father and Christ have for us. She said that charity is what the world really needs more of. 
Luciooooo!!! He's the guy that came to conference, we had a lesson with him this week. Omygoodness. I cant even tell you how much we needed this lesson. It was the picture perfect first lesson. We taught him about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. In the beginning he was telling us about his recent divorce and how hard that has been on him. We were able to testify of the peace and help that the gospel brings. After we told him about the First Vision, and showed him the pamphlet, he said "Do you have anything else I can read?" I kind of laughed and said, "haha actually yeah, we have an entire book for you." Haha so we gave him the Book of Mormon and he was really excited to read. He has never really been to church in his life, he has never read the Bible, but he came to Gen Conf by himself and was excited to read the BoM. But wait, there's more! When we taught him about prayer and the Holy Ghost, he said that he has never really prayed before, so we invited him to pray at the end of the lesson. and he did! I know that doesn't sound like that big of a deal, but it really really is. He also excepted the invitation to be baptized. He couldn't come to church this Sunday, but that's ok, we have another appointment set with him this week. We are so excited about him. 
We met some new people this week that were referred to us by the English sisters. Erik and Karen are a young couple (23 and 21). Erik moved here 5 or 6 months ago, and Karen has been here most of her life. We met them and showed them the Easter video, and they are really interested in going to church. They are both religious but haven't been attending a church. They really want to know more about God and how they can follow Christ more in their lives. We also have an appointment with them in the coming week. They are really cute and I'm excited to get to know them better. 
Remember the lady I told you about that we met at the place we do service? She is the one that has had tons of surgeries and asked us to come visit her in the hospital. Her name is Jacqueline. The hospital she was in is out of our area, so we sent Hna Warmbier and Hna Bryson up there to visit her. When we talked with her we also asked if she would be interested in a priesthood blessing. So we sent the Elders too. Hna Warmbier called to tell us how it went, and she said it was incredible. They sang a song for her, and the Elders gave her a blessing, and they left a Book of Mormon. Apparently she was really touched and really wanting to learn more. So she'll be taught by the English missionaries wherever she lives, but I thought that was really cool. 
There's a member in one of the English wards that does a paper route in one of the trailer parks we work in a lot. He has a crazy story too. He grew up in Ogden with a less-active mom and an alcoholic dad. He was mostly inactive growing up, and was never going to serve a mission. But when he was seventeen, he was riding a bull and got hung up. He got stepped on four times, three times on the head, and once on the back. He was in a coma for a week and the doctors told his mom he wouldn't last the night. But obviously he lived, and that turned out to be a turning point for him. He was on a mission less than two years after that. He is pumped about missionary work all the time. So this week we and the other sisters went to his place and made "Heath treats" to pass out to some of the people he has met on his paper route. On Saturday we had the SDA family fall through:( but we ran into him and the other sisters delivering these treats, and they invited us to go into this one house with them. So we met Bruce and Joann. Joann has had 13 heart attacks in her life. She has lost 92% of her heart tissue and basically runs on an external battery. Because of the tube that runs from her battery to her heart, she has no appetite and so she only weighs 60 lbs. She is probably in her late 60s. Talking to this couple was so incredible. They have insane amounts of faith in Gods plan and absolutely believe in miracles. Bruce works during the days, and so Joann is usually by herself most of the day. People have the craziest stories. 
Continuing, on Saturday we had the Stake Women's Conference which it sounds like you've already heard about. We didn't have anyone to translate for which was sad, but it was fun seeing Hna Rowland and Hna Scholl. We left early because we had a lesson with one of our recent converts who wants to start preparing for the temple. Also Saturday we had an awesome lesson with this lady we've been teaching. Her name is Esther. We havent been too impressed with her progress and we were kind of at a standstill with her. She just seemed indifferent to everything we were teaching. Last time we taught her, her son Chris, who told us he is atheist and not interested in anything we have to say, kind of came in and out of the lesson, but didn't really say anything. They also have this super obnoxious pug named Chato (which means Squished) who barks at us literally the entire time we are in their house. So Saturday we go over, and Chris comes out of the back room and sits in the living room with us. When we asked if Esther had read the Book of Mormon, she says no, but Chris says, "I actually read a whole chapter." I choked. That is literally more than any of our actual investigators have read. We testified of the Book of Mormon and felt impressed to read 3 Nephi 11 when Christ comes to the Nephites. So we did, and she started asking really good questions about what happens after we die, and how all that happens, about heaven and hell, and things like that. Her mom died when she was born, so she was really interested. She was all the sudden very interested in hearing more and reading the Book of Mormon. MIRACLE.
Wow. So that was our week in a nutshell. My all time favorite thing on my mission has been talking to people. I love it. I love hearing their stories. 
Hna Scholl dies next week. I can't believe that I've been here that long already. She was only halfway through when she trained me. At the end of this next transfer we will be in June, and then I am at one year. That's crazy.
I loved getting all the pictures from Dad this week, if you get any Track and Field pics, send them this way! 
I cant wait until I can introduce you to all my new friends. We seriously have to plan a trip. I was kind of thinking next summer:) 
Love you all! 

Conference Miracle!

Hey family! Happy Conference!
What did y'all do for for conference? Were you home by then? How was
Utah/ Idaho? I loved getting the pictures from Dad of the patio haha
classic. That will be really nice, are you doing cement stairs to the
basement too?
Our week has not been very exciting. We were basically just inviting
everyone we met to conference. Some of the highlights include
chocolate fondue with the Cupkie's and Five Crowns with the family we
live with.
We taught a family this week that are Seventh Day Adventist, and I
offered to come do a bible study with them. I don't know what I got us
into haha but I'll let you know.
Conference was the real highlight though. Saturday we watched both
sessions at the church. I loved the emphasis on temples and priesthood
power. I want to focus more on the temple and teaching others the
significance of the ordinances we do there. Like President Monson
said, if you don't know where you're going, it doesn't matter what
path you take. Without having the temple in mind, our path doesn't
lead to salvation. I want to do better at seeing myself and the people
I teach in the temple and helping them work toward those blessings. I
still don't think I understand or fully comprehend all the blessings
that come from the temple, but I have felt power and peace and
happiness there. When they announced the new temples in Quito and
Lima, the word "rejoicing" is a pretty accurate way to describe how I
felt. I was surprised at how strongly I felt. Some of my favorite
people I've met here are from Ecuador and Peru. They talked a lot
about how we should rejoice in the blessings of the temple, and that's
what I've been trying to teach to all my new Hispanic family. I love
them with my whole heart and I want those blessings for them more than
anything. I have really really needed a focus in the last couple of
transfers because I've been struggling to stay focused and hang onto
my desire to go out and work. I'm grateful for conference and the
inspiration we receive and for the answers we get.
I also loved the theme of the priesthood. It makes me so sad when
there are those who choose not to sustain the brethren. I think Elder
Rasband very appropriately and very firmly told us exactly what comes
when we follow the leaders of the church. We can choose to not sustain
the leaders, but that does not change that they have been called of
God to guide us. They warn us of danger and when we choose not to
listen, we lower the shields and make ourselves vulnerable. We only
deny ourselves blessings. The power of the priesthood is real and it
permeates EVERYTHING on the earth.
Seriously the church is true.
We had a conference miracle!! So rewind threeish weeks ago, and we saw
one of the English sisters car when we were out and about so we left
some notes and one of our pass along cards. A week later, they met a
Hispanic man that wanted to come to church, and they gave him our
card. We forgot about it, because usually not a lot happens with
contacts like that. But fast forward to Sunday afternoon, we get a
random phone call from this guy, Lucio, and he wanted to come to
church. So we explained conference and how it was a little different
than normal, and he came!! He stayed for all two hours of the last
session, we watched in Spanish with him. He really enjoyed it and we
have an appointment for Tuesday! I'm really excited about him.
So those are some of my thoughts, let me know some of yours!
I love you!