May 10, 2017
Wednesday, Day 412
Day 52 back in NY
This morning we had a conference call with the mission. President Smith shared some wonderful miracles taking place in the mission and it was just so great to hear all that was going on. We then had a 15-minute study before going out to do laundry and grocery shopping. After coming home we went to the church to play catch with the mini nerf football. I did a couple backflips to see if I was still in shape… which I'm not, I landed them... but I was tired haha… after maybe 10-15 minutes we went inside the church and did emails for a while. We set up times with our families to FaceTime on Mother's Day. We then went home for dinner. About 6pm we took off to our first appointment, funny guy... Brother D… we came by because last week he said to come by again next week then next month and every month following to come by just every 3rd Wednesday. So we came by like he said last week and he wasn't expecting us. We knocked on his door and this is what he said when he opened the door "Oh you must have not heard me last week. I told you not to come by this week." We looked at each other funny because he told us to come by, well he let us inside anyway and we read together from Enos and talked about saying meaningful prayers. It was a great and short spiritual message. But he's a man of few words and on our way we were so he could get back to painting. We tried stopping by a couple people, the first guy wasn't home; the second guy was, but told us to text him sometime to remind him about the baptism we invited him to this weekend and to set an appointment with him. We then were doing our last look up for the night and had no success finding the guy, we asked for directions from a guy and he pointed down the road. We walked to a corner where we estimated he was pointing and looked around. Finally we called the guy and he answer, he said he was at work, so as we made our way back to the car, Elder Murray, still on the phone with the guy, an older couple was walking towards us with the biggest smiles on their faces and their hands out front waving to us. With great enthusiasm they asked how we were doing. We were in shock, but with great excitement to see them so happy to see us we briefly exchanged words as we passed each other. The older man pointed at us and said "we like you guys!" And on they walked…
It seemed to have happened all so fast! We didn't have enough time to realize that they were a couple we tracted into the other day while it was raining.
We were out knocking doors and it was raining, not too bad but it was wet and we had an umbrella. We knocked this couples door and the wife opened the door and said, "hello can I help you?" We introduced ourselves and she recognized the rain and said "oh please come in its raining!" At that point it was only sprinkling and I had our umbrella down. We came into her home and stood only there just inside the front door. Her husband came from the other room, not to thrilled to see us. We explained again who we were and began to talk about the Book of Mormon, we asked if they knew anything about our church and the woman said she used to teach and one of her students was a Mormon but that she moved back to Utah. They expressed no interest but were very generous, even just to let us in and out of the rain. The husband stood back folding a blanket and said they had no time now because they were getting ready for a party, but thanks for stopping by he said (showing he didn't want us there any longer). We thanked them, shook their hands, and were on our way.
It was just so cool how we happened to run into them and they were so excited to see us! After this quick and very unexpected encounter, I prayed in my heart that if Heavenly Father wanted us to speak with them more then what we were able to in that moment, that He would allow us to see them once more.
To conclude our night we went to the church and planned the lesson that we would be teaching for seminary! Apparently we are schedule to teach seminary every once in a while! So we are a little excited for that!
May 11, 2017
Thursday, Day 413
Day 53 back in NY
This morning we woke up at 5:30 and washed our faces, got dressed, and took off to a members home to teach seminary. There were only 3 kids in the class and we talked about Light. The Light within our Father in Heaven and Christ. We read from 1John 1:1-8. We had a couple flashlights and a candle on the table in front of us and we turned off the lights in the room and shut the blinds to show the darkness. Then we talked about physical properties of light. We then talked about spiritual light and compared the two. We came home for a little bit and then left to the NewBurgh chapel where we had Zone conference. From 8-3:30. It was such a great meeting I learned a lot from the Spirit as to how I can improve myself, my prayers, my teaching, and other specific things like how to most effectively teach and help others apply and learn from the Book of Mormon. About 7 hours of pure spirit! My goal today was to truly take what I leaned and felt and bring the information and revelation from my head to my heart and apply them continually. Generally I go to meetings and conferences and learn a lot and want to apply those things, but I always struggle to do that.
So in a quick planning session Elder Murray and I, prior to going back to our area, we talked about our desire to apply what we learned together. We set an appointment with J, (he's an awesome guy who served as a firefighter for 27 years in The South Bronx) and planned to speak with him about a question he brought up to Elder Murray in a previous appointment before I came along. "Why do bad things happen to good people?" It was such a great lesson, the spirit was there so strongly and he began to open up more about his question and a personal experience he had. It was such a great visit!
After dinner we drove over to the college campus and made the goal to pass out 2 copies of the Book of Mormon and use the Book of Mormon more to teach people in the 30 minutes we had. We started up some stairs and said to each other we should come running here tomorrow… We continued walking forward after coming up some stairs, we then actually decided to turn around and walk the way we came and as we did that there was this girl walking (facing us) in the opposite directing as us, so before she passed us we walked kind of at her and she stopped and we talked to her. It was such an awesome contact, we approached her with the question… what brings you peace? She thought and gave her answer and we tied the Book of Mormon into her answer and in our response. She began to show some interest. We explained the Book of Mormon, reading from the introduction, and promised her blessings and answers to questions if she read and prayed about the Book of Mormon. She accepted a copy and we parted ways. A couple minutes later we realized we didn't get any of her info... we repented and made a point to ask for the phone number of the next person we talked to. Shortly after we came up to this guy named Aqib (Ahh-key-b) and we also talked to him about the Book of Mormon and had a quick but cool experience with him as we testified of the Book of Mormon and how as we've applied it's teachings in our lives we've come closer to God and have become better people. He also accepted a copy and we made an effort to find another person in the last couple minutes we had as we walked back to the car. We didn't run into anyone on the way back but we felt successful in our total efforts. If felt good to end our night with that.
May 12, 2017
Friday, Day 414
Day 54 back in NY
Well we did what we said we would do… we woke this morning at 6:30am and went for a run from our apartment to the campus, up the stairs, and circled back to our apartment and were back just on time at 7 to get ready for the day. We started our planning and just barely getting into it we received a phone call. It was from a member of our Branch who was having some demolition going on in her home and she asked if we could help her out. We told her we could after we had our studies. After studies we went over to her place and cleaned up as someone she hired to take out a couple walls in her basement did the job. He knocked out the wall and we carried out the wood and sheetrock, then swept and vacuumed. When we finished helping out we went just down the street to this members aunt’s home who we had planned to help her move out of her home. One of her sons was there from New Jersey, so the 3 of us guys carried out all the heavy awkward items. We carried from upstairs, out to the UHAUL; solid wooden chests, dressers, nightstands, safes...etc. lots of up and down stairs with heavy furniture. We spent about 3 hours getting all the heavy stuff out for them. Something I absolutely love about serving others is the love developed in that time of service. I had never met or spoken to this woman or her son, but in the few hours we spent together and the little interaction we had from keeping busy to help get as much as we could done for them, I just developed such a love for them. And I feel they felt the same, she made us lunch and kept offering water, and her son was also so appreciative and was interested in us, so it was just so great being so them and having the opportunity to serve them. We came home about 4pm and we're dead tired... We cleaned up and got ready, then quickly had lunch. After lunch we had weekly planning for about 3 hours and then went around and did some look-ups, made some phone calls, then ended our night at the college campus. We had the goal to pass out 2 copies of The Book of Mormon in the 30 minutes we had left of the night. We achieved our goal! It was awesome, both people were very receptive and we had solid conversations and were able to have meaningful discussions about the Book of Mormon. Great way to end the night!
May 13, 2017
Saturday, Day 415
Day 55 back in NY
This morning just before studies a couple surprises came. I picked up phone, which had been ringing, and on the line was Brother Walker, our 2nd counselor in the Branch Presidency. (Yesterday we had asked him if he would conduct a baptism for today, Saturday, after going back and forth with it for a bit and helping him realize he had to because neither the Branch President or 1st counselor were around to do it so he needed to). Pay back for having him conduct on short notice, I picked up the phone and Brother Walker asked me to give a 10-15 minute talk during church tomorrow. I laughed to myself and accepted his request. I asked what topic I should speak on and he said to choose whatever I'd like. Completely forgetting it was mother's day tomorrow I prepared a talk on the Book of Mormon and how powerful a tool it is. Later this evening the 1st counselor checked with me to see if Brother Walker had asked me to speak and if I was told to speak on something with Mother's Day as the focus... well I was asked to speak but not given a topic so I chose my own and realized then it was mother's day and I needed to change my talk… After studies the Sisters in our Ward called and said they had a big favor to ask of us, after having some things fall through in the baptism schedule we were asked if one of us would give a talk on the Holy Ghost and the other baptize A. Elder Murray offered to speak since I would be giving a talk on Sunday and said that I could baptize Amani. So I quickly grabbed my baptism clothes and to the church we went. The font was full, the chairs were set, pictures were taken… it was a good turn out and a great baptism. It was such a neat experience to be in white and in the water to baptize this girl. She was so excited and the Spirit was so strong.
After the baptism we went to visit a blind member in our branch. Our message was on the Spirit. After talking about it for a little and sharing scriptures we invited him to choose something he could do to invite the Spirit more often in his life.
Leaving his house we did a good chunk of look-ups. We had a little bit of time toward the end of the evening so we started praying and discussing ideas for a Branch Mission Plan. After some time we developed our idea into a brief plan. At 7pm we then met with the sisters to discuss the idea and planned to introduce it in Branch Council tomorrow.
After our little meeting we left the church and went to the college campus and contacted some people, we were able to give 2 copies of the Book of Mormon out.
May 14, 2017
Sunday, Day 416
Day 56 back in NY
Happy Mother's Day!
Since I found out around 9pm last night that I should speak on something for Mother's Day, I rewrote an entire talk for this morning. We got to church at 9:15 for branch council, we didn't have time to get to our part to discuss the plan which we came up with so that will be next week. We were sitting down ready for church to start and Sister Olsen came over and asked what our plans for dinner were, we didn't have any plans we said and she said okay what time do you want dinner then you coming to our home. We thanked her and said that 5 would work for us. Brother Walker stood up to conduct and as he was announcing the program for this morning he said my name and said I would be giving the opening prayer... (So now I'm thinking, this guy really didn't like us asking him to conduct the baptism yesterday because now he's surprising me with saying the opening prayer and giving a talk... and I wasn't even the one on the phone to ask him to conduct!) haha well I thought alright no problem I'll give the prayer and talk. The opening hymn ends and I stand up to make my way to the pulpit and a woman walked past me on her way to the pulpit, my companion grabbed me and I sat down. I guess I wasn't asked to give the prayer any way, (brother Walker must have been nervous and said my name or something). After the sacrament was over I stood and gave my talk on mothers. For the time I was given and having to rewrite it all this morning I thought I did pretty well. After church we came home and had lunch and companionship study. At 2:30 we went to the church and Elder Murray FaceTime his family. I stayed in the beginning of his call and spoke with his family for a minute then let him have the time to himself. While he was on his call I was in a nearby room reading the Book of Mormon and at times couldn't help but hear parts of their conversation, his family is so sweet and funny! It was fun to be able to listen to parts of his call he has a wonderful family. After his call, we did a couple look-ups before we went to dinner. On the way to the Olsen's we talked about his call with his family and how it was. Sister Olsen made a wonderful dinner! We had roast beef sandwiches and potatoes with vegetables. Our plan was to eat and then take off to the church to FaceTime my family. Well our dinner conversation carried longer and in a direction unexpected so that didn't workout but it ended up working out just fine. Sister Olsen asked how long I had been out and I just told her a little over a year. She then asked what month I came out to the mission on, I said October of 2015 and she said "oh so you are finishing up here pretty soon" I smiled and replied, "not really" and went on to explain that I had returned home for a little while and I have just less than a year left now. One of her boys said, "why'd you go home? Did you get food poisoning or something?" I thought for a short second and felt to bare my testimony, I explained briefly my little understanding of repentance and the change that took place and my current undertaking of repentance. It was a pretty cool little teaching moment. Well once dinner was over and our conversation transitioned, dessert was served and our time was extended past our schedule. Sister Olsen then offered that I could stay here and use their wifi. So I did! I ate my pie and went over to the couch where I then FaceTime my family! It was so fun to see them all again, it always is so nice. Even though it's only been 8 weeks since I last saw them it was a fun reunion! We shared some great and fun experiences with each other. *Not that it was ever a race, but josh thought he'd have me beat with baptizing someone before me. (Because Josh had the opportunity to baptize his girl friend Mother’s Day evening) But I surprised them with my unexpected experience on Saturday of having the opportunity to baptize A, so we had a good laugh out of that. It's always so fun talking to my family! I can't believe Akayla is already walking!
After facetiming my family, we went to stop by and see if Teddy was around. After a quick chat with him before he left on a delivery run we made our way home for the night.
May 15, 2017
Monday, Day 417
Day 57 back in NY
Today was probably about the slowest day of the year... I don't know what makes it feel that way but it just was so slow... District meeting was this morning and it was good! We reviewed the goals we set and made more goals. Around 12:30 we had lunch. When we finished eating, we left and went around looking up some people and maybe it was that, that made it slow. Nobody was answering the doors. Around 5 we went to visit Jackson when we pulled up he was getting ready to leave. He said what car are we taking, yours or mine, we said his. So we hopped in his truck and went for a drive, we went to Lowe's to pick up a spray pump to kill poison oak. After Lowe's he pulled off and he got us milkshakes. (He's so awesome! We love Jackson). While outside having our milkshakes he brought up some questions he had about the church. So we sat and answered his questions, some of which I've heard but never have answered so pray that the Spirit helped us explain it and him to understand it. After a good while we got back in the truck and he took us back to his place, we then said a prayer with him in the drive way and off we went back on the road in our car.
We decided to go to the campus to contact people. After about 45 minutes and passing out a couple copies of the Book of Mormon we went home for dinner at 8:30. And stayed home to finish off the night.
May 16, 2017
Tuesday, Day 418
Day 58 back in NY
Today was a great day! *I struggled a bit this morning staying awake and focused. My mind was wondering and I hated it! Before studies began I got a text from President Smith, he said "I'm available this afternoon or evening to FaceTime." I wasn't sure what for but I told him 4:15 works for me. After studies I said a prayer and told Heavenly Father that we had a lot of service to do today and that during this time I want to be focused on the people we are serving. I asked him to clear my mind once we began serving and to help me keep it clear, clean, and focused. About 10:30 we went to Sister M's and in her basement we took down her ceiling. It was the ceiling like schools have in classrooms. After clearing out the ceiling and cleaning up the mess, we then went back outside and began cleaning up her yard, pulling weeds and dead trees. We got a lot done and when we finished she had lunch ready for us. We went inside and ate and shared a little message about the sacrament. When we left we went to Brother H's. We were going to help him till the ground for his garden. We went to his neighbors first to load the tiller and drive it over to his yard. After helping out his neighbor C asked if we could come by and help move rocks. (C is 68 years old... and he's got a sweet Harley!) We told him we would love to, he grabbed his wife and she came out and we asked where she'd like the rocks. We told them we could come by tomorrow at 6:30pm to help, she said perfect, I'll make dinner, do you like steak? My jaw dropped, my eyes widened, and I looked like a dog as I said yes.
|Elder Murray likes frogs|
We left Brother H's home and looked up a couple people before going to the church. Once we got to the church President Facetimed me. He's so inspired… I can not tell you how great this man is. I had been emailing him a little bit about how I've been doing since back in the mission and we've talked once in an interview and a couple times briefly on the side. But he felt the need to FaceTime me today, so he did and he asked what was on my mind. I shared with him some things that were bothering me and we also talked about my FaceTime call with my family and the baptism of Miranda and I told him about baptizing A. We had an awesome chat for a bit and we closed in prayer, I can't express enough how grateful I am for his love and true concern for me.
Afterward Elder Murray and I talked for a bit about how my chat with President was and we set some goals to help each other out when we have those times where we feel down and out of focus. We then went tracting for a half hour and then we went to the campus and contacted people for a while. We were able to pass out 4 copies of The Book of Mormon. Before going home for dinner and companionship study. It was definitely a great day; we wore our selves out today!
Patience. Love. Faith