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.


July 8, 2013, Passaic, NJ

It is HOT. New Jersey has been reaching the hundreds (I think? Feels like it...) and it's been SUPER humid. And we're still walking. I love it and I hate it. It's nice to be out on the streets but it's the sort of humidity that my dad explained when he was in Hong Kong: you finish taking a nice cool shower and as you're drying off you start sweating again. Any sort of material sticks to your skin and 5 minutes of walking turns your back and armpits into small rivers. It's great. There's an awesome Mexican hermano named Hno Garcia (from Vera Cruz) that comes out with us and as soon as he leaves his house he says "Ay feisimo!" (This is horrendous!") I die of laughter every time. Just picture a middle aged, portly Mexican guy with a goatee complaining about the heat as he teaches and contacts with us. Hahaha. Hhis family has an amazing story about how they joined the church. Here it is, summarized:

They have a 20 year old son. No one in the family has papers. They meet the missionaries, start investigating the church. Their son wants nothing to do with it. Shorty after beginning to investigate, their son gets arrested and thrown in jail for a false charge. He was in jail for about 1 year and a half. Started reading the Book of Mormon while in jail. Read all of the Book of Mormon and the Bible. Started teaching other inmates he was around. Started a group and they would meet and talk and do a church service. Finally, when he finishes his time, he gets deported to Mexico. Gets baptized a few weeks later. Becomes a strong member in the ward with about 5 callings. Turns in his papers to serve a mission. Is now serving in Mexico on a mission. Hasn't seen his family for about 3 years. 

Hermana Garcia read us one of the letters he sent them when he was in jail. Just amazing. I almost cried. I love being able to establish friendships with these amazing people. They are the most God-loving people I have ever met. I love being a missionary. ALSO: we see them a couple of times a week and they always make us AMAZING food. And the other day, they were showing us some Ranchera, mexican music that they liked and then Elder Dahl and I were making Mexican whoops and cat calls and singing the words to "El Rey" by Jose Alfredo Jimenez (seriously, check it out!) and the whole family was dying of laughter. Awesome.

Zone 3 had an amazing past 7 days. We beat the rest of the mission in teaching total lessons and one of our companionships found 15 new investigators, including a Dominican family of 8. Super awesome. Interesting fact: before I was a zone leader, I would see numbers from other missionaries and see that they were doing better than MY companionship and I would get angry (my carnal side was pretty dominant). NOW, I see that everyone in the zone does really well and I rejoice! I don't think I've ever felt this much love for other missionaries. Elder Dahl and I represent them and we work hard to help our zone to progress and teach and bring people to Christ. I love it so much. I love our zone and every single member in it. Speaking of, the Paterson elders in our zone have a baptism tonight! Yes! I love the success of other missionaries...

As for us, we are doing a lot of finding this week. It's been a little slow, but we've been going back to the basics: working with members and street contacting. We've seen a little success with it, but we continue onward. We know there are prepared people out there. Just the other day we were teaching an investigator and instead of going to our next appointment afterwards, we saw a Mexican man helping his daughter ride a bike. So we stopped and talked with him, and right as we did, his friend waltzed up to him to chat with him too. The friend, we found out, was actually a really talented Mariachi singer that played in clubs in New York and stuff. He showed us a video of him singing. WE asked if we could visit these guys and they replied yes! Whoo! The father of the bike-riding-girl was super kind and seems really prepared.

Anyway, you're all bored of me droning on like this. I know this is the Lord's work. I'm so grateful for my testimony and faith. It's what drives and motivates me to follow Jesus Christ, even when life is rough. Hermano Bello (an amazing member: from Puebla Mexico, but grew up in Brooklyn) gave an incredible testimony yesterday that hit me hard: He was mentioning how his brother was sending him anti-videos and using scriptures to try and tear down the church and all sort of negative things and Willy Bello just said: "Brother. You attack what I love most in life, what has changed me most for good."

Don't attack the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I will defend it until I die.


ps - shout out to Bayley, who is the greatest pre-missionary ever (you too Tanner) who is leaving to Argentina on a mission in a few months.

Monday, July 1, 2013

July 1, 2013, Passaic, NJ

                                   Me with two Salvadorian pupusa makers. Awesome ladies

"Hey everybody. I'm doctor Nick."

Strange week. It was pretty rough I'll be honest, but so worth it in
the end. Some things to update you on:

1. Our investigator Jose Ramirez did not pass his baptismal interview
last night. President Jeppson's 2nd counselor, President Crane
interviewed him. Jose has so much knowledge about God and the Bible
but he is completely lacking in faith. He has a hard time accepting
the fact (he actually just disagrees) that reading the scriptures
INCREASES your FAITH. And then comes knowledge, after we have
exercised our faith. He's brilliant, but a little confused. I love him
a lot though and it was hard to see him fail his baptismal interview.
We will probably have to drop him for a time as well because he needs
this time to progress on his own. We know that's what God wants us to
do. It's going to be hard, but all will be well. I know it.
And with that, our investigator pool becomes a little shallow and
shabby again. But THAT IS OK! We are excited to do some more
old-school missionary work and really focus on FINDING this week.
There are some pretty amazing people that Heavenly Father is preparing
for us. I'm excited to find them.

2. Got a ride home from a cop the other night. We were walking home
from our last appointment at about 8:50 and it started showering. We
walked on Monroe Ave, a larger, trash and business filled street, and
a police car pulls over. The officer askes where we were headed. We
told him. He told us to get in. We got in and IMMEDIATELY it started
pouring, torrents of water filling the streets and sidewalks. (At this
point we both felt like this was totally supposed to happen). His name
was Andrew McCleiczech (Mick-lai-a-check), a young officer with a
brand new car, 2 young children, a weak faith, and a good heart. We
told him we were missionaries. He replied he wasn't really interested
but he accepted a card, said he would call the number. As we walked
away from his car, he shouted at us. We both turned around and he said
"Say a prayer for me, please?" Of course we did. I love little
experiences like that.

3. Went to Mission Council on Friday (for all Zone Leaders and sister
Training leaders). It was really good. Our focus this month will be a
REFOCUS on the Book of Mormon. I'mm so so so excited. We also set a
Quarterly Baptismal goal for 94 people. 94 94 94. I can't wait to get
out and start 1. sharing the book of Mormon, and 2. inviting to
baptism. The Book of Mormon brings the spirit so it should work out,
no problem.

4. Elder Dahl has great Spanish. We get along super well. We've been
planning our zone meeting the past couple of days and we just keep
wanting to turn it into a dance party/giant skit/rap. We're both total
goons. But seriously, it's going to be great: funny and spiritual.
that's what makes a good training.

5 Had to give another talk yesterday. This time for about 20
minutes. Geez. Lame peopel keep putting me last on the program and
then everyone bails or speaks for 3 minutes. It was good though, I
felt like the spirit really directed it. I spoke on Prayer and using
it as 1) a way to receive correction and 2) a way to feel peace and
comfort. It turned our alright. OK I promise I'm not bragging but I am
in love with Spanish and I have been told by multiple people that I
sound like a native. That's the blessing of having native companions
for 9 months I guess. It makes me happy. If I ever make it home to
Utah again.. I want to work construction or something like that.
ANYTHING to work with hispanics and speak it for a while. Also I keep
picturing myself visting Sister Lievano like 4 times a week and eating
fresh pupusas, talking about soccer and cooking, and just hanging out
with her. Let her know, will you.

We're going to turn a huge focus to the branch these coming weeks in
using videos from the "Work of Salvation" broadcast to help them
participate fully in missionary work. We want to turn Passaic into a
total hard-working missionary branch, where that's like all they care
about. I am in love with missionary work. I want to see more miracles
every day. I'm so excited to humble myself and pray for those things
that God wants. This is His work. He's here by our side, helping us
out with it.


ps - I'm still sick. Lame lame lame. I had to take a nap tesyerday
which always makes you feel like a lazy piece of junk. Love you all.

Elder Key and I.
                                Last night with the Manzano family. Bryan (kid on his knees in
                               front) came out with his and he's an INVESTIGATOR. Awesome.
                                Me and Jose Mercado, one of my best friends, from El Salvador.

                                                    All mission Summer "chill'
                      These guys saw me with a camera and asked me to take a picture of them.
                                                    Elder Dahl in a new tight shirt.
                                Elder Leon and I after the Manzano's baptism (Plainfield area)
Elder Whitton and I after a hard day's work