Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16, 2013, Passaic

Nooooooooooo tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimmmmmmmmmeeeee.

1. Church was cancelled because we got about 6 inches of snow on Friday and Saturday morning. Wusses, if you ask me. We went to church in Paterson, because it was held later on in the day, as the snow was starting the melt. Got my sacrament!
2. Invited Alfonso and Mari to be baptized on January 12. They said if they read and pray and feel ready by then, they will. !
3. Directed the entire Christmas program yesterday. I felt like Mr. Larsen, from Timpview High School. It went really well, actually, only a few minor slipups that were on my part. We sang 5 songs, 2 from the Hymn book, 2 from the Primary hymn book, and 1 other: This is the Christ. I conducted with TONS of energy, so much that people probably thought I was having a seizure while leading the music, as I was swaying and whipping my arms around, telling people when to come in and when to pause and cut-off. I felt HUGE, probably because I was standing on a 2 foot tall wooden stool and my music stand was on a chair in front of me. The Giant of Jersey rose again.
4. We had Jingle with the Jeppsons, which is where we go to the Mission Home, sing hymns, play hand-bells, eat a HUGE delicious, American breakfast (AMERICA!), have a spiritual discussion and reading of the Christmas story, and picture taking at the fireplace. I felt the Spirit really strong as we sat together as a zone and played a quick game, and then as we moved into the spiritual part. I felt HOME, as if the missionaries were family. I was surrounded by wonderful people, in a warm house, after eating good food. I think that's what part of heaven will be like.
5. We walked all day on Friday because of the snow (Pres asked us not to drive). My feet got wet. Dad, is there any chance you could put some money on my card so I could buy a pair of snow boots to use? I'll put them to good use. Thanks.
6. Giovanny Rosero, our favorite 19-year-old, Mormon Ecuadorian kid is starting his papers NOW. He was originally going to wait until next summer to start but he was praying earnestly the other day and he felt that he should start ASAP. Love him to death, he's going to be the most incredible missionary ever.
7. That's all folks. JESUS LIVES. I realized that yet again as I went to the temple on Friday and did a session. What an amazing chance we have to be a part of the kingdom of God. It requires pain and work and sacrifice but it's worth it.
“… The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls; Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” (Matt. 13:45–46.)


December 9, 2013, Passaic

                                                              Half of Zone 3

Snow and rain the past two days. Only light snow but cold rain that followed which made everything icy.

Jazmin got baptized yesterday in cold water. We didn't realize the heater takes a horrendously long time to kick in if it's bitter cold outside so the water was around 55 degrees. Poor Jazmin. Just like when I baptized John Michael last October (first baptism!) she came up and let out a big breath letting everyone know how cold the water was. As she came down the back steps of the font, Vicky, who was holding her towel for her, started busting up laughing because she was shivering and exclaiming how cold it was. Jazmin's daughter, Andrea, didn't want to get baptized because she's a little afraid of the water. But after seeing her Mom get baptized, she now wants to. So we'll have another baptism in 2 weeks. Hermano Bello came up to me right before the baptism and hugged me (as I was wearing white) and said "This is why you stayed man!" Jazmin would have got baptized anyway because of her open heart and how well prepared she was, but it was a huge blessing to be able to baptize her and continue to bless the Garcia family and all their extended family. That family is doing their fair share of missionary work and it's really cool to see how many people are coming unto Christ because of Hermano and Hermana Garcia's willingness to open their mouths and tell everyone about what's made them happier than anything else in their lives.

I got nasty sick on Friday morning, the same morning I was supposed to give a training in Short Hills on "effective exchanges" to all the new District and Zone Leaders in the mission. I woke up at 5:45 feeling ok but then walked to the bathroom and hurled my guts out for the next 3 hours. Blasted Thanksgiving leftovers. I shouldn't have trusted that ham and potato salad. I still TRIED to get ready so I could give the training, but in the middle of a conversation with Elder Nielsen saying "Maybe you should give the training for me..." I booked it to the bathroom and destroyed the tub with some projectile vomit. It was orange that time, because I drank a little Sunny-D to try to get the barf-taste out of my mouth (I hope you're all picturing this by now..). So I stayed home and Elder Nielsen gave the training for me. Elder Dahl and Murray came over from Paterson and stayed the day with me. I just slept and threw up more, slept and threw up. I don't think I ate anything for about 48 hours and I lost 6-7 pounds.

Funny story: on Thursday, Elder Nielsen was DETERMINED to memorize Helaman 5:12 (poor guy really struggles with memorizing scriptures and it's our goal from Elder Carballo) in Spanish. So he locked himself in the workout room for 5 hours and swore he wouldn't leave until he had memorized it. After about 3 hours, he came storming out of the room with his hair all messed up, his tie undone, his shirt untucked, and a crazy desperate look in his eye saying, " I can't memorize this stupid thing!!!!" I made him stop and take a break. We missed an appointment. Finally after about 5 hours, he got it and was able to say it, without help
, word for word. It was pretty hilarious for me. I just cleaned the house, ate lunch, called people, organized stuff, and played hymns on the guitar.

Well that's about it for the week. The gospel is true. You know that I know it.


ps - Elder Hoyt (now Kurt) came back to Jersey and we went and visited the Bello's with him and he came to church in Passaic. He's doing great back in UT.

                                                                  Jazmin's baptism
                                                                   Jazmin's baptism
                                   Hermana Rosado and I (she makes the best MANGU ever)
                                                           Santiago Twins and I
                                                          Hermano Navarro and I
                                                         Laluz family (dominican)
                                                 Hernandez family (peruvian dominican)

December 2, 2013, Passaic

Listening to Elvis Presley's "Here Comes 'a Santa Claus" in the library. Nice X-Mas jam. It's fun still being in the states for X-Mas, even though I've practically living in Little Mexico. Instead of everything smelling like coffee and cinnamon, everything smells like tortillas and cheap beer. The good times are killing me.

THANKSGIVING was a blast. We went over the legendary Garcia family's house for Dinner, and afterwards for a 2nd dinner with the Santiago twins, Carmen and Isbeth. Also, I failed to mention that around 2:30 we had a HUGE Thanksgiving lunch with the Dunnings (Senior couple in Paterson). All the food was excellent. At the Garcia's house, we had pernil (marinated pork chunks that you eat with tortillas), salad, and a bunch of different kinds of Mexican sodas. It was delicious. I need to start snapping photos of ALL the different food I've eaten. The Santiago twins gave us something a little different, a little more traditional. They did a turkey, an amazing Panama style rice, potato salad, a fresh salsa with limes, cilantro, onion, tomato, and mango, baked ham, and for dessert: a half dark chocolate, half flan cake. Ooh. Bonus: we got to take home ALL the leftovers.

We had a PACKED week. Transfer conferences were on Tuesday (a new zone (11) was created) and a bunch of our wonderful missionaries were transferred. The delightful thing about being a zone leader is you get really close to your whole zone, and then when they leave, you MISS THEM. Sister Jorgensen (served in Passaic the entire time I've been here) left down to zone 10 (the Southern abyss, many NJMM missionares refer to it as "banishment") and she was HILARIOUS. Also, Elder Townsend, my Caldwell buddy, and 2 of the Paterson North trio left. Life goes on. Friday was Mission Leader Council. Our new monthly focus is ALWAYS REMEMBER HIM. I'm really excited for this monthly focus, as it's something I really need to work on, especially at this time of year. I am reminded of a scripture that we were to share with a less-active member in Mosiah 3. "
5 For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the aLord bOmnipotent who creigneth, who was, and is from all deternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a etabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty fmiracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the gblind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.
6 And he shall cast out adevils, or the bevil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.
7 And lo, he shall asuffer btemptations, and pain of body, chunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can dsuffer, except it be unto death; for behold, eblood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his fanguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.
8 And he shall be called aJesus bChrist, the cSon of God, the dFather of heaven and earth, the eCreator of all things from the beginning; and his fmother shall be called Mary.

It is a beautiful description and profecy of Christ from the majestic King Benjamin (I think Mosiah 1-5 are some of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon). Christ came down in a "tabernacle of clay" to minister to us and to give His life for us. Don't forget Him. "Look unto me in every thought; Doubt not; fear not." D&C 6:36.

We also had lots of success with contacting on Friday evening. Although it was freezing, Elder Nielsen and I were with Giovanny running around Passaic talking to everyone. We contacted a young family from Mexico: Alfonso and Mari, and their kids Aldo and Destiny, and then we SAW and TAUGHT them yesterday. We had a wonderful discussion about the Restoration of the Gospel, and they are very positvely responsive. Missionary work is the greatest.

We will be going to the temple on the 13th. FRIDAY the 13th. 

The gospel is true. Merry X-MAS.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November 25, 2013, Passaic

It's cold, in the 20's and 30's. The temperature just seemed to drop out of nowhere and now the streets are bare and it smells like exhaust on every corner. 

I'm NOT leaving Passaic. I'll stay for another transfer with E. Nielsen, which will be my 5th transfer here (in total about 7.5 months). That's a long time, but I wanted to stay so we can baptize Jasmin and her daughter Andrea. I'll tell you about them:

Jasmin just got here 2 weeks ago from D.F., Mexico. She is the daughter of Andrea Salas (recent convert) and we have been consistently teaching her since the week she arrived. She responds so well to the discussions, always has good questions and concerns but she's already ready to be baptized. She accepted the invitation in the first visit, but we confirmed it in the 2nd. She'll be baptized on December 8th with her daughter, Andrea, who is 9 years old. Before we even met her, she had read 530 pages of the Book of Mormon (there are around 650 pages in the Spanish Book of Mormon). She felt the spirit as she read and she knew it was true, THANKS to Hermana Guadalupe Garcia (Jasmin's aunt) who is a strong member and a dear friend of mine, who constantly spoke to her about the church and about how it was the most wonderful thing in her life. In a few years, I won't be surprised if the entire extended Garcia family is baptized. They are humble, Mexican people with an unbelievable ability to feel the spirit and recognize the need for spiritual growth.

We had the branch Thanksgiving Dinner on Saturday night. We had a few investigators there, as well as less-actives, and TONS of active members. We make jokes around here that the head-count at activities is DOUBLE than that of normal sacrament meeting attendance: Hispanics love their parties. 
It was great fun though. Hermano Lazaro (looks like a Mexican bear) hired a mariachi band and I was in heaven. They played multiple old classic Rancheras (typical Mexican music). The band consisted of a singer that played the guitar, a bass player (HUGE, 6 string acoustic bass... I need to get one), and two trumpet players. IT was the raddest thing ever. DAD and CHRIS - remember how we used to always change the radio station to the Hispanic music station? Well... I am now in love with all that type of music. Make fun of me, if you dare. Anyway, the band played a song called "El Rey" that Elder Dahl and I learned to sing (I don't even remember how) and as the band was playing it, I was sitting in my chair singing LOUDLY with the band and bobbing my head, acting like a depressed Mexican drunk and all the members were howling with laughter. It was pretty great. All those songs are always from the eyes of some depressed guy singing about how his girlfriend just left him. Unrequited love. Where would we be in music without it?

The Acosta family came to church yesterday again and Jose had his LONG hair in a bun, trimmed up his beard, and was wearing slacks and dress shoes. He's such a cool guy. We found out the other day that he's a fist fighter, a pretty big, scary one too. 

Life is sweet in Passaic. I will stay here for Thanksgiving, the temple trip to Manhattan, Christmas, and New Years. It's going to be marvelous.

I love every last one of you and I miss you. The gospel is true.


ps - Bayley - you're on a mission and I couldn't be prouder. Love you tons.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 12, 2013, Passaic, NJ

Hey everyone. This week was wonderful.

1. I'm probably getting released from being a zone leader in 2 weeks. Sad day, I will miss zone 3 and Passaic.

2. We taught Jo-Jo Acosta (14) about the power of God and trusting in him. He's a boxer, a really cool kid and he's really starting to trust us and enjoy the time when we come over and teach the family.

3. Saw Maria again this week: Maria has lots of family problems, fights all the time with her mother-in-law (who lives upstairs), has 5 kids, a husband with an alcohol addiction, and lots of desires to better her life. Her good friend is Hermana Bravo (who lives in the other elders' area) and she has SEEN a  huge difference in the 3 short years that the Bravo family has been in the church. 

4. We visited and taught the Ascencio family which consists of Tio Elias (Uncle Elias) and Angel (Elias' nephew). They are HILARIOUS. They're always trying to speak Spanish in a hard-core gringo accent saying things like "como estarrrrrr elderrrrrrrrressss?" Hah, also they call us REBELDERES (rebel elders). Angel is 18 and preparing to go on a mission. Elias is in his 40's, returned missionary. Great family, very strong testimonies.

5. We MOVED this week into a part of Clifton (we cover Clifton and Passaic). IT's a nice little 2 bedroom house (we live on the first floor). It has an amazing vibe to it and we hope to be getting some framed pictures of Christ to put on the walls. Elder Nielsen and I worked HARD this week, because time was taken out to move out and carry stuff from house to house. But turned out well.

6. Jason's dad came up to us the other day out of the blue and said "Hey I want to get baptized. But I want to study a little more with you first." AWESOME. Today is his birthday, and we're going to give him a card and set him with a date.

No time. Gotta run.

Christ lives, we are redeemed!


November 4, 2013, Passaic, NJ

"White tongues hang out, God is good."

This past week at Zone Conference I played the first religious song I've ever written. It actually ended up being a medley of that song (Untitled at the moment) with hymn 163 "Lord Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing" (favorite hymn, go listen to and sing it). I really like the way it turned out and I got lots of good feedback from Elders and Sisters, asking for lyrics, recordings, etc. I'm working on it. 2 weeks ago I laid down my first recording on the tapes the family sent me for Christmas last year. More to come. Some songs are religious, some are not. My goal is, by April, I want to have about 7-8 religious songs recorded, sent to Chris so he can digitize them and put them on CD's, and then distribute them before I'm gone. I realize the power of music like I never have before.

MORE on music: Sister Dunning (senior sister) and myself are in charge of the entire Christmas Fireside in Union City this year. I have been calling and texting like crazy, recruiting missionaries to sing, play, speak, and participate in the program this year. It will be on the 15th of December. 1) I work with our zone, 2) I need to work in my area and keep finding prepared people like the Acosta family (more on them later) and 3) now I have to organize a speech and music program for all the Hispanic members in our mission boundaries. It's going to be awesome. Elder Blanco, Elder Romrell, and I are going to be doing a trio spanish song with guitar and trumpet. We'll see how the composing goes for it. I'll keep you updated.

Anyway, let's move on to the Acosta family. I know I've talked about them before but I just wanted to discuss them a little more: THEY ALL came to church yesterday. One reason why I love church is because it's such a rich environment for revelation and establishing relationships. It can be stressful when you have a family of 6 that come, but it's so worth it when you work through your members and they strive to shepherd your investigators through classes and meetings. I loved watching Hermana Laluz (Dominican gospel principles teacher, returned missionary from 20 years ago) start to fellowship Sofia, talk to her about nursing (they're both studying and in the medical field), and embrace her warmly when the family left after church. ALSO, Jo-Jo is good friends with the Relief Society President's oldest son. They box together and hang out at school. Man, life is good. They loved church and we'll be helping them progress toward baptism in the coming weeks. We had an amazing lesson with them the other day as we read Enos and talked about the importance of praying correctly and striving to better our personal prayers; making them more heartfelt and sincere.

E. Nielsen and I set a goal to speak in spanish whenever we're not in the apartment and it's gone well, so far. It could be better, but we're striving to be more obedient, up our Spanish, and be better examples for the whole zone. We love zone 3.

Christ is our King and Savior. I watched a baptism in darkness the other day and it was still incredibly inspiring and spiritual. A whole family was baptized in one month (De la Cruz family!) and everyone, except for Richard, was baptized in darkness, meaning the light to the baptismal font was burned out. It turned out to be a cool metaphor to me. As those people were baptized, it seemed as if the font literally lit up, especially as they rose from the water. Richard baptized his little sister Sara yesterday and I was close to tears as they embraced in the water after she came up out of the water. The priesthood is real and it is GOD'S power.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

October 28, 2013, Passaic

Elder Townsend, new missionary

1. Tanner - write me man.

2. It's getting colder. I like it and I don't. I get moody when the weather
is changing drastically like this.

3. Family, how are you? Thanks for the email, Dad. Those pictures of you
and Jed mountain biking are AWESOME. Hey, also, I was wondering if for
X-Mas I could just a little something from each of your brother's and
sister's family. At least a photo of each person. Because I don't even
remember what some of them look like... Talk to them, and let me know. MOM,
you too. I wanna see if Marlo, Duane, and/or Bonnie have changed at all.

Alright let's kick into the letter now:

This past week was the baptism of the de la Cruz family. Here's their quick
As I I've told you: Richard got into the church because his GF Jennifer is
a strong member. He got baptized about a month ago. His family started
investigating shortly after and they all received witnesses by the power of
the Holy Ghost that this IS the true gospel of Jesus Christ and His
restored church. His mother, Jacqueline, and sister, Shantal, got baptized
in Paterson yesterday and we got to go see the baptism. Also, a
companionship of sisters in our zone baptized a 9-year-old Ecuadorian boy.
But anyway, it was really cool to see almost the entire family get
baptized. Elder Nielsen and I were having a short discussion about how the
gospel changes lives and how even when we teach people that don't get
baptized during the time that WE are teaching them, we've got to have the
faith that they will join the church later on. So, it was really cool,
because E. Nielsen was the first missionary to teach the de la Cruz family
and I got to teach Richard a couple of times and prepare him for baptism.
Lots of missionaries helped this family become members of the restored
Gospel of Christ.

Other marvelous note: I got to give Richard the priesthood yesterday, and
ordain him to the office of Priest. He's an amazing person.

The Acosta family is progressing little by little. They didn't come to
church yesterday because Sofie was sick, but they will be coming next week.
I learn so much from E. Nielsen as we teach them. He teaches with a power
that comes from his over-arching surge of sympathy, compassion, sincerity,
and love. I admire him and am trying to be like him. Last night, we read
part of the story of Enos with them and talked about how we can receive
answers for our prayers. Then, this morning, I was reading in 1 Nephi 15
(just started the Book of Mormon in Spanish again - 2nd time) and there's a
part where Nephi says to Laman and Lemuel:

"Have you inquired of the Lord? And they said unto me: We have not; for the
Lord maketh no such thing unto us. Behold, I said unto them: How is it that
you do not keep the commandments of the Lord? ... Do you not remember the
things which the Lord hath said? - If ye will ... ask me in faith,
believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments,
surely these things shall be made known unto you." ASK GOD. Ask Him about
everything. Give Him your questions, doubts, weaknesses. He'll answer.

I know the church is true. May God bless you all.


Shantal and Jaqueline's baptism

Thursday, October 24, 2013

October 21, 2013, Passaic

Can someone send me Jaeho's email address? I really wanna talk with him.

Thanks so much for all your emails these past weeks, everyone. It's nice to hear what's going on in everyone's life.

This past week was another amazing week for our zone. We've been finding new people like crazy and striving to follow our zone goal of contacting 1 person after every single appointment. It's been really good, we've had lots of contact with everyone in the street these past few weeks. We found a lady from Veracruz, Mexico, who has talked to the missionaries in Passaic before but was really skeptical about what we teach and how we are "just another church". So we broke it down for her, explained how the gospel was lost and restored and how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is what she needs to be happier. After a little persuasion and long-suffering (D&C 121) she set up a return appointment with us for Thursday.

We had another awesome lesson with Edwin, our new 19-year-old Mexican investigator. We met at his house, and Hermano Bello actually was working, but it turned out to be such an incredible lesson. Elder Nielsen = spiritual giant. I have much to learn from him. We taught Edwin about the Restoration of the Gospel and explained Priesthood authority to him in the way that a child could understand (PMG). He loved it and told us that after the lesson he was questioning his Lutheran church. He said he felt "different" as if his "perceptive [had] changed". It was amazing. I love WATCHING the spirit change people and enlighten their minds, right before our eyes. 

This week really wasn't that exciting. We had about 130 people at church yesterday (insane for a BRANCH) so that was cool. Also sometimes we get to help take the tithing to the bank with Gus (Colombian, 1st counselor, coolest, slightly balding guy on the block), so that was fun. Also, Presidente Lazaro, the elders quorum President, gave me a pair of ostrich and crocodile cowboy boots. They are super rad but a little wide for my jeans to be tucked into them. I'll send you a photo soon.

(family): COOOOOOL that Greg Moffat is the new bishop. Let him know how much I love him and Steve Harper and Dan Daley. Man that's gonna be a powerhouse bishopric. Good luck to them all. Who is the new Elders quorum President?

Love and blessings to all. The gospel is true and we have been redeemed!


October 16, 2013, Passaic

NEWS: our mission got 22 baptisms last week. That's a record for us! Zone 3 contributed with 4 of those. I got to interview one of them, a sweet, 10-year-old girl, named Nikki, who's living with her aunt and uncle in the Fardale area (very green, very rich). I actually went on an exchange on Friday, so it was convenient that she needed to be interviewed for her baptism on Saturday. 

I was with Elder Page for the day, an 18-year-old, 1st transfer missionary from Centerville, UT. He's awesome, and he's gonna be an auto-mechanic. He's a bean pole, has lots of freckles, and light brown hair. Looks more like a lizard than I do, in fact. The exchange was wonderful, we drove into the depths of West Milford and Ringwood, NJ which reminds me of Lothlorien (or Sundance). It's really strange being away from the city for a short period of time, but it was beautiful up there with the leaves having changed. We taught several lessons and had a miracle lesson / encounter with a woman in her 50's named Michelle. She took care of her insane, 88-year-old mother, who is blind, and mostly deaf. When Michelle was SHOUTING at her, telling her that "church people" had come in to help out (cleaning the basement, people have no shame in asking you to do menial things), her mother said, "I don't need to pray, it's Friday. I don't pray on Fridays," with following phrases like "Tell them to go out and get a job!" with strings of curse words in between. Mouth like a sailor. Elder Page and I were dying of laughter.

On Sunday, we confirmed Richard de la Cruz a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Monday: we went to Paramus (had to get special permission from the assistants and sister Jeppson because EVERYONE has been leaving their respective areas for really absurd reasons, so Pres. Jeppson had to crack down and say NO MORE LEAVING your areas). We went the spectacular yet worldly Garden State Mall. That thing is MASSIVE, it's not even funny. I went to Macy's and bought a new suit. IT's the coolest suit ever, but I had to order the pants online. So I'll be able to wear it in a week or so.

Tuesday (yesterday) was transfers!! Here's the lowdown: 
-Elder Dahl left (sad). HOWEVER! He went to Paterson, which is in our zone, so I'm now Elder Dahl's zone leader. Fun. 
-Elder Braxten Nielsen, from Roosevelt, UT, is my new companion. He just came from serving 1 transfer as a zone leader in Newark. He is a cowboy, rides rodeo, loves roping, cowboy boots, and just being cool. We get along really well. I was actually his zone leader about 2 transfers ago, him being in Paterson. Pretty strange that we are companions, but man we are doing excellent and on the car ride home from transfers, we set a bunch of goals to better our zone and our companionship. It's going to be an amazing transfer.
-We lost the two companionships serving in Fardale. Bummer. The good news is we got two more companionships doubled-in to Paterson spanish and English, AND Elder Murray (my buddy from Perth Amboy) is Elder Dahl's companion, serving as a district leader. Our zone is STACKED.

You all know how much I love each and every one of you. More so, I love my Father in Heaven. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the CHURCH of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Missionary work is the work of the Almighty.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October 7, 2013, Passaic

This week was memorable. 

On Monday, we had one of the most spiritually intense lessons I have had on my mission. We went to see our investigators, the Acosta family. Jose (father) and Sofie (wife) were just hanging out the living room when they let us in, Sofie cradling Alana (2) in her arms and singing a lullaby. 

We started to discuss and teach the importance of coming to church. We taught that for about 10 minutes as the lesson became focused on Sofie, who was obviously the more engaged of the two (but honestly they're both great listeners). Jose quickly jumped in and began talking about sins, and what people tell you do, the faith of your fathers, and family, which then lead into him beginning to weep in front of us as he spoke for about 45 minutes without stopping about his family, his feelings of exclusion, sin, past mistakes, the idea that God chooses the way for us and we can't change that, Jesus Christ, and more topics. We just let him speak his mind. It seemed like he had a lot on his chest. After sitting and listening for a while and striving to discern his needs, Elder Dahl simply pulled out the Book of Mormon, read Alma 36, and talked about repentance and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. And when Jose read a verse, even with his dyslexia, the spirit testified to all of us that what he was reading was true. We made bold promises, promises in the name of Christ, and we testified with all our hearts of the power of repentance and change and forgiveness. It felt like we were rebuking his doubts and fears and sorrow with the power of our words. The spirit was strong.

We walked out feeling like we had been working in a field for 8 hours, absolutely exhausted. But we felt great and talked about that lesson for the rest of the night.

Tuesday was zone meeting. We didn't have enough time to prepare it but it went surprisingly well. This month's theme is FAITH. I had this crazy idea to tear up an old shirt, write faith on it, put it on a pole, and wear my old army jacket I found at a less-active member's thrift store. So we did. Elder Dahl carried the banner and a real sword he had. He represented US, the saints, the Fighters of Faith. I wore a BK crown (which we actually gave them out to all the zone) and represented the government, or the world, of FEAR. Our goal is to find more people this month  to join us in this grand revolution of FAITH. It was funny, spiritual, and got everyone pumped. Viva la REVOLUCION de la FE!!!!!!!

ALSO, on a really lame note, I got sick for two days. Then Elder Dahl got sick the day after I recovered. Now everyone in the apartment is sick but me. I spent my time sleeping, eating home-made smoothies and oranges, and blowing my nose.

CONFERENCE was incredible. It's better than X-Mas. Who cares about material possessions, right? Honestly, it was a weekend of revelation, love, inspiration, and learning. I realized that I need to improve my studies, correct with loving kindness, teach my zone about Christ-like service, listen to the spirit, and many more things. I need to improve, is what it all comes down to. That's what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. BECOMING MORE PERFECT. I love knowing that we have a loving Heavenly Father woh cares for us and demands only the best from his imperfect children. And why does he require so much? He knows we can give it. He wants us to hold NOTHING back. I love the gospel and I love all of you.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

September 30, 2013, Passaic

I'm sick of trying to create clever names for my "subject". Bleh. I'm just going to jump right into my letter.

RICHARD GOT BAPTIZED YESTERDAY by Elder Dahl. I don't even remember if I've told you about him. Oh wait, yes I have. Anyway, he's 21, Dominican, dating Jenni Bello (19), an active member, prepping for her mission. Last week at District Conference, he cried like 4 times and KNEW he needed to be baptized. So he did and it was great. We techincally only taught him 2-3 times and the Paterson elders 2-3 times more, but he was taught everything again in about 1 week and a half. He told the Paterson elders during an appointment as they taught ALL the commandments. "Of course I'm going to live all the commandments. I'm just getting baptized no matter what happens." Super awesome. And when I walked into church yesterday, there was this amazing, electrifying feeling in the chapel. I saw Richard in a white shirt and tie sitting with his ENTIRE family. You could tell they were happy to be there. All 3 of this sisters cried at the baptism. OH and Andrea bore her testimony at the baptism, which made it 10x better and more spiritual.

Other than that, we had a really busy week: Another amazing mission leader council with a new focus on FAITH, LOTS of teaching appointments, creating baptismal program and asking a bunch of people to participate in it, giving the final combined priesthood/relief society class (and basically just doing a little sketch/fake role play that made everyone laugh), teaching Jason (investigator.. more info on him later), exchange with Elder Harris, the new assistant. He's awesome. He's from Delta, UT, and we listen to the same music. FINN - he listens to old school rap and then Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Simon & Garfunkel, etc. We get along really well and he's an amazing teacher.

The gospel is true. Being a missinary is the greatest opportunity I've ever had to grow and learn and CHANGE lives.


Last day in Plainfield

Passaic day of service—we just cut down bushes and cleaned up trash

September 23, 2013, Passaic

We had District Conference yesterday in the Paterson District. IT was a really good meeting, though some of the female speakers spoke for a REALLY long time, so the district Presidency kept their talks to 5 minutes each. President Jeppson got up there, stood with power and authority and said in a thunderous voice: "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God... and I'm a mormon. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." He is the human closest to God that I have met. 

After the conference, we went up to talk to Richard de la Cruz (21, Dominican), one of the Paterson Elders' investigators (though he attends church in Passaic). WE know him pretty well and he actually loves us. The reason why he attends in Passaic is because he got to know the church through his girlfriend, Jenni Bello (18), who is our member. She talked to him about the church little by little and tried pushing him to get baptized, but he quickly lost interest. So she decided to put the preaching on hold and just be an example and invite him to church every week. He had been coming 2-3 months consistently when he came up to us after a wedding last week and said he was seriously thinking about getting baptized. We were excited, to say the least. THEN, after the conference yesterday, he came up to us and told us that NOW he was ready and wanted to be baptized. So we set him right then and there to be baptized September 29th. Pretty amazing. EXPERIENCES LIKE THIS make your mission the most sacred and wonderful time of your life. The gospel changes lives.

Another cool story: Last night, E. Dahl, Diaz, Daniel, and I had the opportunity of having a part in one of the greatest gifts Christ gave us: the act of USING the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I haven't had a lesson like this one in a long time, so it was wonderful to show our love and help this man, named Jose. 
Jose is a member's boyfriend, from Puerto Rico. He is not a member, he's actually a former investigator who came to church a few times in the past. Needless to say, in the past month he found himself working too much and with negative influences which lead him to make some negative choices. He came to US finally, believing that we could help him get out of what was slowly destroying his life. We told him when we went to teach him last night, that it was Jesus Christ and His Atonement that would heal him, not us. The spirit guided the entire lesson as we praised him for his humility and desire to change, invited him to repent, and watched him cry and feel "Godly sorrow" right then and there. We left the appointment smiling, him too actually. I remarked to elders in the car, "One thing I loved about that was we SAW, first-hand, the gift of the Atonement on that man's face. We are in an eternal work, we are literally changing people's lives and helping them to USE the Atonement through personal repentance." Just amazing. This is why we are here.

OTher than that, everything is going SMOOTH. We love LIFE because we get to teach people how to make everything better. I love you all and I'm grateful for your membership, activity, and love for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.


September 16, 2013, Passaic

Passaic Pasttimes

1. Coke or water pong.
2. Drink Pre-workout and lift a lot of weights (elder Dahl and Diaz exclusive)
3. Body waxing, in the apartment
4. Getting your eyebrows done at a salon (don't judge)
5. Uno! and Dominos (Dominican style)

Just a list of recent things. I failed to mention "the-constant-battle-between-elders-and-the-infamous-lunch-coma".

Anyway, we had an amazing week. We taught a LOT, saw all of our progressing investigators (miracle), and baptized Andrea yesterday. Here's the crazy miracle part of it:
We went to teach Andrea at the Garcia's house on Tuesday. We taught about faith in Christ, reading Alma 32:15-16, and committed her to the 22nd of September for baptism, as she was still feeling uneasy about her date. The whole family was there as well as her brother Juan, who is not a member, and isn't really "investigating" anymore. We went over again on Thursday. We watched Finding Faith in Christ, explained to her that she needed to take this step of faith and be baptized.
Elder Dahl: "Hermana, how do you feel about your baptismal date?"
Andrea: looks over nervously at Lupe (her sister) and sheepsihly says, "I feel like they already baptized me."

We were a little confused but then Lupe coaxed Andrea into telling us about a dream that she had on MONDAY night. She didn't want to tell us about it because Juan was there and she knew he would "judge" her for it, in a sense.. She told us that she woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't tell if she was awake or dreaming. HOWEVER, what she saw made me glad. She said she saw her and Elder Dahl and I all in white and we were baptizing her. I was holding her head and Elder Dahl was holding her arms. She said that she KNEW this was a sign from God and that she would not wait anymore. So we asked her when she wanted to be baptized and she replied that it did not matter anymore. So we we set her back with her original date for September 15, and boy did she get baptized. It was a really beautiful service with the entire Garcia family tearfully testifying of the Restored Gospel. Some days are just happy. I actually got to baptize her, which was even greater of a blessing.

Other updates:
-We saw MIguel again. He's quitting his job because his bosses are racist Japanese people (his words, not mine). Hopefully this opens up windows for him to go to church and commit more to the gospel.
-Hermano Navarro (old, African/Ecuadorian hermano) drives stick-shift like a madman, barreling through residential streets at 45 miles an hour. He's like 70-years-old, ex military, is sealed to his family but they're still in Ecuador, and loves God with a fiery passion. He picked our inv/less-actives: incredibly beautiful twin sisters from Panama and after seeing them he said he would pick them up every week "with anticipation!" HAH. THAT's how you work the system, if you've got attractive investigators.
-Giovanny Rosero (19-year-old Ecuadorian kid) is our best friend. He came out to teach 4 appointments with us for about 4 hours.  He works at a factory and is prepping for his mission. He's such a good example to me of enduring to the end. He is the provider for all his siblings and he stays stalwart in the gospel, reading his scriptures, praying, and taking his brothers and sisters to Church every week. We went to go teach an inactive mexican family and the father was yelling at their 2 dogs and 2 cats saying "Ay these animals never listen to you when you tell them to do stuff. HOW MANY TIMES MUST I TELL THEM!?" We were all busting up after the appointment saying "Hey man, they're dogs, they don't understand you." Haha. Elder Dahl and I feel like our spanish is boosted every time we spend time with Giovanny (cause he's only been here for 3 months, so he's got a gnarly accent).

I love the Lord. The gospel is the truest thing I'll ever know. GOD IS THE SOURCE OF TRUTH.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

September 9, 2013, Passaic

1. We BAPTIZED Carla yesterday. She was so happy and she said she felt so calm and peaceful. However, Elder Dahl and I realized that we need to work REALLY HARD on getting the ward really integrated in her life. Pictures next week.
2. Steven Mongie (Lydia's dad) called me on Thursday. At first it was a bit of a shock but he told me he was in town for business but his colleague got sick and so he invited me to administer a blessing with him. I wasn't able to so we delegated it to the missionaries in Hoboken. But I talked to him for a couple minutes on the phone. It was nice and felt completely normal/comfortable. Lydia: your dad is a wonderful person.
3. Elder Dahl and I taught the young men / young women class yesterday. Guess what the topic was? Sexual Purity and Good Friends. Hmm.. I wonder why the teacher was "sick"... Anyway, we practically just threw down on them and read them a few Book of Mormon scriptures about sexual purity and staying away from negative influences. It was rad and pretty hilarious and I realized that I don't want to ever be a high school teacher. Kids are punks and ask dumb questions.
4. I am happy. LIFE IS GOOD.

I love you all. Sorry this was short. Thanks for all your support and emails and letters and whatnot.


Bek - I sent you a letter today. Love you tons.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

September 3, 2013, Passaic

Last week of the transfer... and I'm staying with Elder Dahl

Found out on Sunday night that E. Dahl and I are staying together for a 3rd transfer. Heyoo! It's gonna be great, although he's the only other companion that I've had that will be with me for longer than 2 transfers. We're excited to stay together because we've been working really hard for the past 3 months in Passaic but have not seen the success that we wish. HOWEVER, as I mentioned in the last letter, we have two ladies that are getting baptized soon.

Carla (Puerto Rican mother) will be baptized this Sunday and she's so happy and excited. She consistenly tells us that she used to curse, get mad at people, get frustrated easily, yell at her son, and she would never pray. "But ever since you guys have been coming over, I don't do any of that bad stuff anymore." She's so innocent and kind and hilarious. She's been reading the children's Book of Mormon with Jacob and she admitted to us that she liked it better than the actual Book of Mormon because it was so much easier to understand. We laughed and committed her to read them together so she could get the story and the scriptural aspect out of her reading. This week, we taught her the law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom. She laughed at both and said she was already living them. When we committed her to live the Law of Chastity and she was busting up saying, "I'm a divorced woman.. NO SEX FOR ME!" I was dying after that comment. We also kifed her iced tea and bought her lemonade instead. She was totally fine with it.

Andrea: from D.F., Mexico. Has several children there. Walked up to her boss this week and simply told him that she would not work another Sunday. Also her boss was shocked in unbeilief, she was even more so. She told us before that she used to PLEAD to be able to work on Sundays. In rain and shine, sickness and health, she would work Sundays, so she could have a a few extra dollars to send to her daughter in Mexico. "I don't really know why I did it but I feel really calm and peaceful about the decision of telling him that." We freaked out with massive smiles plastered over our faces and told her that was the spirit that told her that tell her boss that. The spirit guided us to promise her that her daughter would have everything she needed and MORE, with the spiritual blessings that she would receive. The times we go to that building, climb into the rickety elevator, knock on apartment #9, and sit down with a humble Mexican family and their aunt/sister/sister-in-law, are sacred times that I cherish more than my own possessions.
Andrea is getting baptized on the 15th of September.

Other than the progres we've seen with Andrea and Carla, the week was a little slow.We contacted people, talked about transfers, dicussed our investigators, played Polish ping pong at nights in the apartment, and attended Mission Leader Council. The new monthly focus will be LOVE. Zone meeting is going to be great tomorrow, but we're a little nervous as we are still brainstorming ideas.

The gospel is true, Jesus Christ lives, and Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God.

Happy Fall,


Thursday, August 29, 2013

August 26, 2013, Passaic

TIME . . .

... doesn't really exist in the mission. It's just 2 years of liminal space (Nad remember when we talked about that?).

This week flew by. Lots of appointments, lots of people spoken to, lots of food consumed, (including Lomo Saltado and Papa a la Huan Cahina (sp?)), and lots of fun.

We finally taught Miguel and Chary again. Chary (less-active) served us up some biscocho (what Dominicans call "cake") from her daughter's birthday party yesterday. Hispanic people eat weird cake; it's always got chunks of preserved fruit and cheap frosting. But eh, it's great. I realized, sadly enough, that food is just food now. I like GOOD food, but I'll really eat anything. All it is really, is something to get us through the day. Anyway, Miguel hasn't been reading so we told him and to read the intro to the Book of Mormon and pray about it. He said he would. Every day I'm finding out quicker and quicker that all you have to do to gain a testimony of the church, (EVEN IF YOU JUST HAVE THE DESIRE TO DESIRE TO BELIEVE IN IT) is read the Book of Mormon, little by little and pray about it. It's that simple. Study the things you have doubts about and they will come clearly to you, by the power of the holy Ghost.

We've been working really hard with Carla. In the second lesson we had with her, we set her with a baptismal date for the 1st of September. For those of you who have served missions and done role plays, it was EXACTLY LIKE A ROLE PLAY. She just smiled a replied like a robot missionary, "No, that's too soon". We then tried to work out her doubts, told her what she needed to do, and promised a bucket-load of blessings. So she's still set for this Sunday but we're not sure if she'll make it. She doesn't have the strong desire yet. But she's amazing and is progressing little by little.

ANDREA came to church yesterday! She was so happy to be there too. She stayed for the first two hours and then left to work. Bummer that she couldn't stay as the Relief Society is starting to play (and will be playing in the future) a huge role in her conversion. She'll be baptized, just not right now. She needs a few more weeks, HOWEVER, we had an awesome exchange on tuesday where Portugese speaking, Elder McEwan, and I taught her about our purpose on this earth and how the gospel of Jesus Christ is SO crucial. I love working with newever missionaries that are still learning their language. (side note: Elder McEwan, is a tall, waterpolo player from Miami, Florida, who is a Pandora hipster, and visa waiter, waiting to get to Brazil). I would teach a few points and then Elder McEwan would testify in his new Portugese. And oh man, everytime he would open his mouth the spirit would just fill the room. When we committed Andrea to be baptized on the 15th of September, the spirit was at it's peak, I think that's why she accepted the date. And then after we said "in the name of Jesus Christ, amen" everyone was smiling, and Hermano Garcia (we were teaching in their home) looked up at us with his huge, loveable smile and said "Gracias elderes. Muy bonito su mensaje hasta que quiero yo bautizarme otra vez!" (Thanks Elders, that was a wonderful message - so much that I want to get baptized again!) Haha, that family is amazing.
So many miracles are happening. It's a wonderful time to be a missionary.

I know the church is true. I love EVERYONE.


August 19, 2013, Passaic

This week was great but no tengo ganas de escribir para nada hoy. (I
don't feel like writing at all today).

CHRIS - I read The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock yesterday. I
actually read it out loud to my companion and he laughed the whole
time (I was reading like Anthony Hopkins).

Anyway, like I was saying, this past week was really good. We ate like
pigs though. Passaic is an area where EVERY missionary that passes
through gains weight. But it's alright because we wrestle and work out
a bunch. EVERYONE: You wouldn't believe it, but I actually think I'm
getting stronger, due to the fact that we wake up at 5:45 and run and
lift. I feel pretty good, but then our 3 nightly dinners kind of throw
it off.

Not a whole lot to talk about . . . 

We taught Miguel (Dominican baseball player) again this week. It was a
good lesson. Hno. Matos, from the High Council came with us and
seriously explained the spirit better than I've heard anyone else do
it before. Member missionary work is the raddest, most heart-warming
thing in the universe. We also got contacted by 3 drunk guys, 2
Mexicans and a Guatemalan (first one I've met in Passaic). We would
ask them a question like "Can we come visit you guys tomorrow?" and to
every question they would blurt out the ridiculous, spanglish answer,
while swaying back and forth "CLARO QUE YES!" which is like "Of
course!" IT was hilarious. We then set up an appointment to talk with
them at the church but I suppose they were so drunkt hey didn't
remember because they didn't show. Anyway, hilarious.

On Friday we committed a super inactive 23-year-old girl to come to
church. She didn't show up. A little frustrating, but HEY. That was
the first time we actually got a lesson with her and the lesson went
well. She'll come eventually.

There's a lot more to talk about but no TIMEE>>>>> I love you all. I
know the church is true, the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and
that God is our very Father.


ps - You're all amazing. Go to WORK.

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 12, 2013 Passaic, NJ

Melina Bello and I

Great great great big week with tons of miracles. It's the first INTENSE success we've seen in Passaic, which made me happier than I thought I could be. 

HOWEVER. First item of business is: OSWALDO AND GUILLERMINA MANZANO GOT MARRIED AND BAPTIZED in Plainfield yesterday. They are MY FAMILY. If you think you are happy, COME on a mission, meet a family, and get them baptized. THEN tell me how you feel. You have no idea. Elder Leon and I taught and baptized O+G's two kids and O's brother, Feliz. We were waiting for G to get a form of identification so they could take out a marriage license, get married, and get baptized. We worked really hard but didn't see a whole lot of success. I then left, Elder Bell came in and with TONS of help from lawyer, Elder Mortensen (senior missionary) they got married yesterday at 5 o'clock and baptized into the kingdom of God at 6. Life is wonderful. Now, let's get back to Passaic, home of ruffians and brigands.

1. Met a Dominican baseball player named Miguel a couple of weeks ago who played for the Diamondbacks in Arizona. He was moving into his new apartment in Passaic, when we passed him and Elder Dahl gave a fist-pump and yelled "Go DIAMONDBACKS!" (he's from Phoenix). The guy stopped and yelled something back to us. We ran back to him and contacted him and started talking to him about a weird mix of baseball/Arizona/the gospel. It worked. We saw him again on Wednesday and found out his sister that lives with him was baptized about 15 years ago in the DR but went less active soon after. He's 22, prays beautifully, loves our message, and accepted a baptismal date for the 1st of September. 
2. Elder Packer (Assistant to President Jeppson) came on an exchange with us on Tuesday and we saw all of our investigators that needed an extra push. He's an incredible missionary and it was great to have him with us to see how he worked. We saw Andrea and Juan, taught a powerful lesson about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and then committed them to come to church. They came and they were happy. More progress to come with them.
3. Isbeth Santiago, our investigator from Panama read Mosiah 24 (the chapter we left for homework) and didn't understand it. So instead, she read 1 Nephi chapters 1-14. She LOVES the Book of Mormon and knows it's true. We're planning on setting her with a date for the 25th of August. When we teach her and her twin sister Carmen they act like they're 16. They giggle, make jokes, complain, and talk about how life is hard. We're just there to teach them the gospel and make them feel good about themselves.
4. Our new investigator Carla (Puerto Rican lady) came to the other Elder's baptism on Saturday night. She brought her 6 year old son, Jacob too. They both loved it and Jacob was asking tons of questions about baptism after. After the service, we showed her the chapel and the spirit was super strong. She felt great and said she was coming back, but couldn't make it to church on Sunday. But she's coming next week!

That's the update for this week. The gospel is true. J. Smith was a prophet. I'm eternally grateful for the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the Book of Mormon, for music, food, friends, family, companions. 


ps - We wrestled last night in our apartment because our landlord and their family left yesterday for Puerto Rico. They'll be gone for a month. I got a scraped ankle, bashed knee, carpet burns on my elbow. I almost got choked out by a beefy Salvadorian's shoulder. It was great fun but I get really competitive when fighting. PEACE.

We go hard in Passaic
We offended the sisters . . . buying back our love
Bowling on P-day
Nightly planning when we've been working 67 hours straight
Mu buddy Elder Gitlins went home a few weeks ago

August 5, 2013 Passaic, NJ

This week was NUTS. Just really really crazy. Let's just say
1. There was almost a fist fight in our apartment (won't say WHO). It ended with an Elder threatening to beat the snot out of another and storming outta the room angrily. Good thing we're missionaries, because he went straight to his room to pray. Me and the other Elder in the apartment just said "RE-LAX. You guys need to chill." It was pretty scary as I'm just a sensitive cat.
2. Chests got waxed for Elder Wood's birthday, (it hurt so bad, good thing I just a had a little patch.. so now I'm hairless), Elder Hoyt (missionary that just died (finished his mission)) left behind a Brazilian waxing kit. So last week Elder Dahl waxed his stomach (he bled) and this week for Elder Wood's birthday, we waxed his chest. It was hilarious, I'll send photos someday.
3. Ate a ridiculous amount of fatty food. I feel like a chunst ox. On Friday, we ate Bistec a lo Pobre (Peruvian dish.. I think that's the name ) with a Peruvian hermana. BIstec a lo pobre is a thin steak, peruvian style, on a bed of rice, with a fried egg on top, and fried bananas. Also, we had a soup for the appetizer with huge chunks of Peruvian corn and chicken. Pretty impressive meal. THEN, immediately afterward we went to the Garcia's house (one of my favorite member families.. I've mentioned them before). The ridiculous thing was we called hermano Garcia the night before and told him that we wouldn't be able to eat. Welppp... we get there and there was a whole pizza that they had ordered for us. Ay. I ate 3 pieces and then wanted to die. Elder Dahl almost hurled but we kept at it. THEN. We went to see Gus and Kat (awesome Columbian and Peruvian couple). They're both younger (in their 20's) so they had all 6 missionaries in the Passaic branch over and we had a little party for Gus and Elder Wood, for their respective birthdays. It included eating Chinese food and an ice cream cake. We literally felt like committing suicide after the night was over. Also, the night ended with Elder Diaz slamming the ice cream cake ( made my the sisters) into Elder Wood's face. IT was awesome.

That almost concludes my letter. Sorry there wasn't very much spiritual stuff in this letter but here's a quick snap of events that also happened this week. (you all know I know this church is true :))

We got a call on Monday from an inactive sister in the branch. We tried to contact people to visit her, (we had appointments) but nobody could, so we canceled our appointments and left to see her. The 4 of us elders went. She was crying, devastated and basically told us about a bunch of domestic violence problems she had recently had. We listened for about an hour and a half and then talked with her about the the love of God. We bore our testimonies and told her that she needed to seek him. We ended with a prayer and we left the house with the spirit. And then, almost every day that week, we visited her and did everything we could to uplift her. Her name is Carmen Santiago from Panama. One night we went over with 2 Dominican sisters in the branch, one, the Relief Society President, the other the Gospel Principles teacher. ALSO, Willy Bello, the sunday school president came out to see her and was a HUGE help in fixing a bunch of the problems going on. He even brought Hna Santiago AND her twin, investigator sister to church yesterday. EVERYBODY: If you are reading this and you are a member, know that you can play an incredible part in the changing of a life. This sister was so broken down and depressed but with the help of faithful members who were willing to sacrifice their time, resources, and energy, a lost daughter of our Father was brought back and is currently on the path back into reactivity.

That is my life. I love it and I will never give it up.


PS - Thanks for all the emails. You're all great.

Monday, July 29, 2013

July 29, 2013 Passaic, NJ

Alrighty. I've now been in Passaic for about 6 weeks, going on 7. This area is awesome. I've had a couple of realizations lately that I've wanted to share:
1. Everyone has been and is being prepared by God. Just remember that some are more prepared than others.
 2. More often God wants us to say "I will do this" rather than "What should I do?" He'll always back us up if the decision is righteous. God is proud of us and wants us to ACT on what we feel is best.
3. Being a leader doesn't mean ACTING like you have authority. That's abusing and making a mockery of the priesthood, the very power that Christ used to create our bodies and the earth. Being a leader means always using your authority in way that is consistent with the will of Heavenly Father.

I've been thinking a lot about talents lately. Our Father in Heaven has given us all gifts and abilities. He gave them to us before this life and he expects that we use them. USE THEM. Do all you can to make them grow. You have them to 1. Bring joy into your life and 2. Bring joy into the life of others. God likes it when we're together, using our rich talents to make others happy.

This week was pretty gnarly. We went to another baptism yesterday (ZONE 3!!!!! HEYYOOOO!!) in Paterson. Those Paterson elders are destroying it over there. We're so proud to have them in our zone. Elder Brincklow and recently arrived Elder Bennett have been working really hard over there and are seeing miracle after miracle. I love being their boss, and proudly reporting to President about all the baptisms we're having in our zone. Get THIS:
-Our July monthly goal was 3 baptisms as a zone. We got 7.
-Our quarterly goal was 8 baptisms as a zone (from July to September). We already have 7. 
-We are going to have to readjust our goal. Makes us feel like a couple of kings. (I'm smiling as I'm writing this).

We had a lesson with our investigator Nesto (40-year-old Dominican man) yesterday. We invited him to be baptized on the 18th of August. He accepted. He originally had doubts of being baptized twice. We explained the Priesthood, the way Christ was baptized. After we asked him WHY he wanted to be baptized again (it's this little "answer-searching" game we do as missionaries where we ask a question looking for a specific answer. It's not a good idea cause if they get it wrong, it makes you look like a fool). He said because he wanted to be baptized how Jesus was baptized. He's humble and kind and loves his family. He's going to be baptized and it's going to be magnificent.

We also contacted a Mexican guy. He was wearing jeans, a white t-shirt, and was carrying soccer shorts and cleats in his left hand. He was walking quickly alongside us so we asked him where he was going. To play soccer with friends, he replied. He then asked us. We said, we're going to teach people about Jesus Christ. He smiled and said he had wondered what we were. He had seen us walking around for some weeks now. As we talked and walked we came to a place where we had to separate as he was going a different way than us. He shrugged it off and kept walking with us. We asked him if we could teach him about Christ. He said yes. He also said, I'm really lost man. I need you guys. 
It felt amazing to be there at the right time. God is watching out for his children. 



ps - ALL MY FRIENDS ARE MISSIONARIES. (corruption of Trevor Christensen's photo project "ALL MY FRIENDS ARE MONSTERS")

Monday, July 22, 2013

July 22, 2013, Passaic, NJ

We have been contacting and finding all week long. It's been long, fun, and memorable. I'm horrible at writing in my journal. I KNOW, it's bad. That's one of my goals for this week. The good news is Elder and Dahl and I had an awesome goal-setting session (secret love of mine) and we set about 15 goals a piece that are all attainable and will be extremely advantageous when we have them down. I'm excited.

How are all of YOU doing? I love each and every one of you.

Anyway, moving on...

Other than finding, knocking, contacting; we have been doing a boatload of baptismal interviews all in the Caldwell area. There's a missionary named Elder Hoyt, who is finishing his mission tomorrow, who had 2 investigators that were to be baptized on Sunday, so because he's the District Leader, Elder Dahl and I had to drive around and interview all of them. It was amazing. I did my first baptismal interview (never been a District Leader) and it went pretty well. I was a little nervous for it but it turned out to be wonderful. I interviewed Lidia Lopez, an 80-something-year-old Dominican woman. Her son is the Elders Quorum President in a  ward in the DR and she went off on that saying how wonderful and responsible he was. She is the sweetest nicest lady ever and was extremely prepared and READY to be baptized.
Then on Saturday, I interviewed Emily Ibarra, a 15-year-old Peruvian girl (who is a borderline soccer hipster: wears flowery shorts, likes Lana Del Rey and the XX, etc). She is awesome. Her little sister, Melanie, got baptized about 2 months ago and Emily told me that when she saw her little sister get baptized she made the decision shortly after to follow that example. Amazing. The spirt touches hard hearts, makes them soft, and then helps people to make life-changing decisions. Awesome awesome awesome.

Elder Dahl and I are best friends. I don't know how, but we are and it's hilarious and straight-up the best.

I'm in the end of 2 Nephi of the Book of Mormon. Still can't get enough of chapter 31. It blows my mind every time. And then from that straight into the book of Jacob. AMAZING.

I'm a little lost on what to write about. Our zone had 4 BAPTISMS. We partied hard last night (except for the fact that we set a goal to NOT drink Red Bull anymore) and our aprty consisted of us chatting in bed with the lights off but we all fell asleep while "waiting" for the text to see WHO was being transferred. So Elder Dahl stealthily set an alarm for 11:30 and we all woke up angry and groggy at 11:30. We forwarded the transfer text to the zone and then passed out again. WISDOM FOR FUTURE MISSIONARIES: You will never be so tired in your entire life. And you never really figure out why.

Life is good. I am happy. The Gospel is true. Being a missionary is incredible. I love Jesus Christ and his example. Thanks to all of you that have influenced me in one way or another. I love, admire, and appreciate you dearly. May Father in heaven watch over you.


Monday, July 15, 2013

July 15, 2013, Passaic, NJ

Got a bad haricut this week from MYSELF. I realize that I regret every single time I cut my own hair because I look like a weedy, balding, water-rat. Whatever, I guess I'll never learn.

This week was wondrous. Our zone (reppin' zone 3) continues to do better and better each week. I love every single member of our zone and I'm so glad that I have this chance to be a leader to influence and guide to the best of my abilities. I love how God helps us so much. I don't even realize it half the time and it makes me like I need to work harder to recognize revelation. I want to be great, so I DO what the Lord asks of me, to be able to bless other missionary's lives. It's a miracle to be able to pray every night, BY NAME, for the members of our zone. I love going over them in my head, seeing their face, and then thinking about what we can do (Elder Dahl and I) to help them to become better missionaries. Can't get over it. Love love it.

On Monday we went to the Paterson Elders' baptism. It was AWESOME. Rolando Rodriguez, 27 years old, Puerto Rican-American was baptized. It was rad. Elder Dahl and I were talking about it afterwards, and it seems like anytime anyone steps into a font to enter into a covenant with God, the spirit enters the room and pratically shouts at all of us when the person is submerged. It's incredible. When Rolando came up out of the water, he took a huge breath, smiled, looked around and then down, (you could tell he was just contemplating, basking in the spirit) flashed a golden smile at the congregation and let out a light, happy laugh, and then exited the font. It was unreal. I love baptisms more than anything.

On Wednesday, we had zone conference, which was just grand. President Jeppson gave a training on the Apostacy and the Restoration (kind of like the Apostacy Timeline from Brother Hyrum Smith, if any of you ex-missionaries have heard that, but BETTER because Pres. Jeppson is incredible) which opened up my eyes to the Restoration and how important it was. I pray that each of you will continue to stengthen your own testimony in the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's really what happened. I know it. We also received trainings on the BOok of Mormon as the keystone of our religion and more on the New Testament. Over all it was a really good meeting. I never even realize that meetings are six-eight hours long. I suppose that's a total blessing.

President Jeppson and Sister Jeppson always do the closing song at zone conferences. I believe it's called "They're Precious in His Sight" and President will play guitar and they both sing harmony with a descant part and everything. I used to be such a music critique and only listen to stuff that was COOL. But man, when you love people as much as you learn to love your mission president and his wife, you learn to love EVERYTHING they do, including singing songs that I would have deemed as "cheesy" before my mission. The song they sing is so pretty and is just perfect when they sing it.

Yesterday we went to ANOTHER baptism in our zone. Man our zone is the best. The Paterson SPANISH elders baptized a 15 year old kid. Just like the baptism last Monday, the spirit was felt, testimonies were born, and another one of Heavenly Father's children came back home. It was wonderful.

Not much other than that. Just a list of things I love:
-the mission
-new missionaries
-ambient, instrumental music
-missionaries that know about and have listened to good music, (not the ones that pretend they have)
-watcing missionaries in your care receive revelation in front of you
-Elder Dahl
-Oranges for breakfast
-hispanic people and spanish
-updates on shows in SLC
-that chord on "Lazy Eye" (Chris you'll know what I'm talking about) right after the guitar intro when the bass and drums come in. I wish I could listen to it.
-blue grass hymns
-when elders talk in their sleep

Thanks everyone.