Monday, October 31, 2016
My new companion Elder Chen
Happy Halloween from Oregon!
This week was a tougher one. I got my new companion, Elder Chen. He is
from mainland China, a "small" city of 500,000 people named Jongchu.
That's my guess at spelling, I'm not sure. He found the gospel when he
was 19 on a two year student exchange trip to Italy. In Pisa, he was
taught the gospel and baptized! Now 5 years later, he was finally able
to get permission from the Chinese government to serve a mission. It's
been interesting as he has only been serving one more month than me,
so we are both pretty new and trying to figure out what the heck we
are doing still. President told us he is placing a lot of trust in us
to do well even though we are both so young in the mission.
Our cultures are VERY different. Elder Chen grew up in communist China
and I grew up in good ol' PG with the most patriotic family I've ever
met. Go America! So, this week was a very big learning experience for
me that still continues. His English is patchy, and he takes
figurative language very literally so I have to be careful with what I
say. Our personalities can clash at times, which proved to make a
rough start, but we are both willing to put in the work!
We taught Matt and Laura this week and both lessons had an incredible
spirit! Unfortunately neither of them came to church, which was
disappointing. But we aren't giving up! Elder Chen and I are both
dedicated and anxious to find more people to teach. We have kicked
into high gear this week, working very hard with the members! I'm
excited to see what happens. It's time to turn the Woodhaven area
I hope everyone has a good Halloween! Yesterday we were told our
costumes were absolutely amazing and then offered to come party with a
ton of drunk people. We told them we were the real deal and they were
like, "right on guys! You can still come join us!" We declined
unfortunately. Halloween may be boring...it's P-day, but we
can't be out after dark. Oh well, it's not like anyone would be
interested in talking anyway!
I was reading some of my family history on FamilySearch and found an
awesome quote from my third great grandfather, Nelson Merkley Sr. He
said, "boys, you need to work while you work and play while you play."
I love that! Someday I'll have that on my wall. If we focus on the
work and save the play for later, we will be successful. If we play
hard when we are supposed to, we can have fun and be happy!
I'll end with my testimony that I know God lives. He know us, and
loves us. Turn to Him and pour out your heart. He hears you. Remember
God called the Prophet Joseph by name. He knows you personally. Build
your relationship with Him. Study the Book of Mormon. It is so good
and truly the living waters of today.
I love you all! Thank you for the prayers and support! Now crank up
that Christmas music!
The most vibrant rainbow I've ever seen! The picture doesn't do it justice.
Our new OPM shirts we got!
Monday, October 24, 2016
One of our favorite families! We love them.
BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO
Hey everyone! Today is transfers, and I had to say goodbye to Elder
Bang. I'm going to miss him so much! He's become a dear friend. My new
companion is named Elder Chen from China! He is a little shy and
doesn't know much English, but I'm really excited to be his companion!
It will be awesome to spend Thanksgiving with him!
This last week was a slow one! We spent a lot of time meeting with
members trying to set up lessons to get referrals from them. Tuesday
was Laura's son's birthday, so we dropped off a birthday present to
him! He wrote us a very nice thank you card.
Wednesday we just stopped by a less active member to say hello and
found out he was really struggling. He asked if I could give him a
blessing and it was such a spiritual moment for all of us! I'm so
grateful I'm a worthy Priesthood holder. It has blessed my life and
the lives of those around me.
Friday at the senior center I was dubbed, "most trusted volunteer"
by the staff. They are so funny I love going there and serving! They
make me so happy. I've become quite a hit there, and the ladies love
all of my different ties. So far my blue with yellow polka dots is the
favorite. I guess I love it so much because I can feel my grandma Beth
when I'm there. She would have loved it there, and hit it off with all
those ladies. It makes me feel closer to that incredible woman I got
to call grandma.
Saturday we spent the morning at ultimate frisbee like always. It's so
fun! We played in a mud field this week and it was awesome! We were
all covered by time it was over. It made me miss my football days!
After that we went and helped at the middle school taking down a
haunted house they build in the gym every year. It's a legit maze
built with wood that stands at 10 feet tall. Taking it down was a
feat! We were there most of the day helping, but it was a nice change.
Saturday night we had the ward chili cook off event! I got to be a
judge! It was a lot of fun.
Sunday was our mourning day where we just went and visited all of our
favorite families so Elder Bang could say goodbye. It was a little
sad, but I'm excited to have a new adventure.
I know this gospel is true and the Book of Mormon is the evidence of
that truth! Read it and cherish it every day. It will truly bless your
life. I love you all! Have a great week!
Taking down the butcher room of the haunted house
Me and my soul sister Amy!
Me pulling elder Bang out of the spider webs at the haunted house
Homemade pancakes from scratch!
Our favorite member, Amy!
Our disco ball we got from a member
Taking down the butcher room of the haunted house
Monday, October 17, 2016
A meme I made that has made it all around the mission now! It's funny because there's dogs everywhere.
Holly growing out of ivy! Haha couldn't help but think of Natalie Cole's Christmas album.
Hey everybody! What an awesome week!
I'll get to why this week's subject is what it is in a bit. First, I wanted to share some other things!
So here I am, literally face to face with an apostle, for two and a half hours. We locked eyes too many times to count, each time the spirit was so strong it was almost pushing me against my seat. What a privilege it was! Of all the things he spoke about, the thing that stood out to me most was his diligence in listening to the spirit. Contrary to popular belief, Apostles don't travel with a solid itinerary. Elder Ballard got up and said, "I don't know how long this meeting will go, what we will talk about, or who will speak. This is the Lord's work, so I'll let Him decide our meeting." Each time he shared something, he said, "I feel impressed to share this" or "I have an impression to let my son speak now." I'm sure as an Apostle, he hears the spirit loud and clear often, but it was so profound to me that his whole life is impressions and promptings. It made me think maybe we all get as much direction as the Apostles and Prophets do, we just don't have the faith or spiritual capacity to hear it as well as they do. After the meeting, we each got to shake his hand and say hello! It was amazing. They took photos of us shaking hands, but I haven't got them yet! I'll send them when I do.
After an incredible morning,evening we had our open house at the church! Lots of members came, and we were worried that no non members would come. After a little while, we had two people come to learn more! They are both new investigators now, so we are pumped about that!
Yesterday, we performed in church with one of our members Amy! It was a cool experience and everyone said they loved it, so hopefully that means it was good. I'll send our recording of it!
I'm so thankful for this gospel and the true joy it brings me. In the whirlwinds of life, it is difficult to hold on, and as members of the church, we sometimes think we have the strength to do it ourselves because we have the gospel, but I testify that we need the Savior more than ever. We need the living waters found in the Book of Mormon daily. I hope each of us takes the beautiful advantage we have of being a member of the church and dive into the Book of Mormon. It will change your life! No matter who you are, what you're going through, or the things you've experienced, the Book of Mormon applies to you. READ IT!
I love all of you! Have an incredible week.
The last of Fall before the rain came!
Musical number by Elder Hall and Amy Livingston with Elder Bang on guitar!
Monday, October 10, 2016
THE RAIN CAME.
Holy cow I've never seen rain like this! It has literally rained all this week. It's amazing! I love it! The streets have become rivers, almost quite literally. The funny thing is, it's totally normal. I found out this week you aren't a real Oregonian if you use an umbrella. It's kind of like wearing sketchers in New York City. Everyone knows you're a tourist! So you just get wet. It's ok though, because honestly I love it and as long as you're wearing a jacket, it doesn't matter.
Besides being so wet this week, we did actually do missionary work too! Matt is really progressing, but has slowed down. His wife is an inactive member that doesn't motivate him, so he isn't making the progress he could, but we aren't letting up!
Laura is doing so good. We love visiting with her. She wasn't able to watch conference last Sunday which we were bummed about. Then we metand found out she had listened to most of it on her own! We were so pumped! She's so awesome. We are making real progress!
We met with Frank this week, and his son showed him a lot of anti stuff and he's questioning if he should still meet with us. It's so frustrating! We were so close to setting a date with him for baptism and now have hit a huge wall. I hate anti stuff! It's difficult though, because one of the local church's doctrine is anti-Mormon content. I don't know how people think their church is true when it's teaching to hate others. It doesn't make sense!
This weekend we are doing a huge open house at the church for anyone that wants to come learn about family history, emergency preparedness, or ask a Mormon a question, all complete with homemade bread and jam. So this last Saturday, we got permission from the local Walmart to stand at the entrances for a total of 8 hours inviting people to our event and proselytizing. We were supposed to have 4 two-hour shifts, but the other elders didn't show up to replace us, so we sat outside Walmart for 5 hours! Luckily we had a canopy and free lunch from some members. We talked to two non members and probably 50 members. Haha it wasn't super effective as we had thought it would be, but if anything it inspired members and made for some prime people watching. Oregonians are weird enough, but then you add Walmart weird and it is almost better than Disneyland people watching.
Yesterday in sacrament meeting, my heart was full. Every second was meant for me. From the hymns, to the talks, I was drinking from the living waters every second. Shoutout to Maddie and her favorite hymn, #169 for bringing the spirit so strong! I love the hymns. One of the speakers said, "the miracle of service is that it takes our problems and puts them into perspective." How grateful I am to be serving a mission and receive this perspective! It's been a powerful, eye opening experience so far, and I'm so grateful I am learning how much of a blessing serving a mission really is. I end with inspiring words of a favorite hymn.
The Lord is my light; then why should I fear?
By day and by night his presence is near.
He is my salvation from sorrow and sin;
This blessed assurance the Spirit doth bring.
The Lord is my light; tho clouds may arise,
Faith, stronger than sight, looks up thru the skies
Where Jesus forever in glory doth reign.
Then how can I ever in darkness remain?
The Lord is my light; the Lord is my strength.
I know in his might I’ll conquer at length.
My weakness in mercy he covers with pow’r,
And, walking by faith, I am blest ev’ry hour.
The Lord is my light, my all and in all.
There is in his sight no darkness at all.
He is my Redeemer, my Savior, and King.
With Saints and with angels his praises I’ll sing.
The gorgeous fall colors here! Enjoy!
The sun broke through for the first time in a week, so we documented the event!
My new haircut, thanks to Amy. She's amazing!
The freshmen football game!
My fun letters I got from the primary! I love every one of them!
Our senior center getup, hairnets included
My weekend relaxation. Diet Coke, hot tamales, and ibuprofen.
Monday, October 3, 2016
My George Washington helmet hair. Haha it happens a lot.
, we had dinner at a member's home who don't speak hardly any English. We had a difficult time understanding each other, but their willingness to serve and our many prayers got us through! It was a very fun night full of laughs and good Chilean food.
at the senior center, I dropped a bowl and it shattered. I "cracked" a joke and all those cute old people laughed and laughed! Later, a little lady came up to me and said, "thank you for breaking the bowl. It just reminded me that nobody is perfect, and we can still be happy if something goes wrong." I was so warm with emotion. We didn't teach anyone, but I know breaking that bowl was my good deed for the day.
night we had dinner with some members. Their five-year-old Penny said to me, "Man, you have a big face!" I about fell over laughing! I guess I have a big face. Kids don't lie.
, we borrowed the projector from our ward mission leader and had some missionaries over to our apartment. We made a big breakfast and watched general conference. It was so fun. I swear, every word of this conference was for me. In the past, I've always gotten things out of conference, but this weekend I felt like every speaker had a whole paragraph that was written just for me. It's funny how the Lord knows just what you need to keep going, and He gives it to you in the exact moment you need it most.
Hey all! I hope everyone enjoyed General Conference! I LOVED it. I'll get to that in a bit though.
We taught Laura this week, and had a lesson about baptism. We brought some members over that have a son the same age as her son. They really hit it off, as 7 year old's usually do. Laura is doing so well! I'm praying she decides to get baptized!
We went on exchanges, and I went with our district leader. It turns out that our personalities really don't match. I had a very difficult time getting along with him, and I'm thankful that it was only 24 hours. I'm still praying for help to get along though!
Now for General Conference!
Yesterday, we watched conference with Matthew at his house. He really liked it! Later after conference, we played games with some members. We ended up playing Bean-Boozled, a game with jellybeans. The game is there's a good flavored bean and a bad flavored bean but they look the same. You can get peach or vomit, Chocolate or dog food, Banana or dead fish, Coconut or rotten milk, etc. well, I ate dog food, vomit, dead fish, and rotten milk. It was so funny, I've never laughed that hard! The downside is that I'm still tasting them today. It was so fun though!
My favorite thought comes from the first talk of themorning session of conference. Sister Carol F McConkie told a story about President Eyring and his father. Although in terrible pain and uncertain of his days, the answer received from heaven as to why he was suffering was, "God needs brave sons!" Heavenly Father needs each of us, especially on our missions, to be brave! He needs us to face hardship and trial with courage, pressing forward without hesitation. I'm so grateful for these words. It may become my new motto!
Thank you all for your prayers. I feel them every day! I hope everyone has a fantastic week. Love you all!
Our sweet conference setup!