Monday, July 7, 2014

July 7, 2014

Mom, Dad, and Family!

Happy 4th July!  Sounds like everything went great!  How were the parades?  I bet Rylie did great at dancing in the Tooele one.  I think last time I was in that parade was almost a decade ago when the homeschoolers in the valley put together a float headed by the Jensen family, I think.  That's pretty much all I remember about it.  Did y'all pick up lots of candy and frisbees?  (I always thought the frisbees were a weird idea...I don't know anyone who eats frisbees.)

The parade down here was pretty fun.  Brother Francis (chiropractic friend to Brother Robbins) is over the YM in the stake and wanted all the scouts to hold all the state flags in the parade.  Unfortunately...we don't have 50 scouts in the stake.  So he asked President Hobbs if our zone could be in the parade.  Lo and behold, the 26 missionaries of the Ontario Zone held state flags in the Ontario 4th of July Parade.  It was pretty cool actually.  I held Oklahoma (there are a lot of Utah missionaries).  But we had a blast!

We had a pretty good day for the rest of the 4th.  We taught a couple lessons, got back to the apartment at 6pm and planned for the upcoming week.  Things went good.  So nah, I didn't see any fireworks.  But we heard them.  They sounded beautiful.

How'd Ricky and Landon do in the talent show?  I mean, I know they were great, but tell me about their perfomances.  Did Robyn perform or was she just dressed up for fun?  If she did...tell me about it! :)  Was the BBQ good?  Did you eat enough for me?  Did you throw any parties and stuff?  How was the rest of the week?

This week was pretty good!  Really good actually.  The Cortez family is doing great.  They're on track for baptism.  Emily left to go to Michigan to visit her dad though and wont be back for a month.  But things are going great.  What's cool is it's actually easier to teach the whole family when we're reading a lot from the Book of Mormon (which makes our job really easy).  We also have recently started working with another less active member who has some pretty rough stuff in his life right now.  His name is Brother Zuniga.  Pray for both him and the Cortez family.

I also went on exchanges for the first time out of my ward.  I went into the Tongan ward with one of my Zone Leaders, Elder Ercanbrack.  Elder Ercanbrack is a new Zone Leader and is an awesome guy.  We found out recently that we also have some mutual friends from Grantsville.  We're pretty good friends, so the exchange went well.  The exchange went really really well.

It was crazy though.  The exchange started with a bad planning session that night.  It was bazaar, because at the time, we both thought our plans were pretty good for the next day.  The next day came and we realized we had forgotten to do almost half of the planning.  We were kind of appalled at ourselves, really.  It's not like either one of us to have a bad planning session.  So we ended up coming back to the house at about 11am and realized we had nothing to do for the next 6hrs.  But Elder Ercanbrack went into the bedroom and said a prayer.  I also said one as well.  He got up and walked over to the study and grabbed a Book of Mormon and said "We're going to place this today."  I thought "Great!  I'm for it." Those next six hours were so slow.  Probably some of the slowest I've had out in the field yet.  I'm talking way too slow.

Finally, dinner came with the Motelau family.  Elder Ercanbrack and I had this awesome dinner message prepared and it was going to be great.  Well...everyone but Cione was gone.  So we ate dinner...with only Cione.  Which was actually okay because he's an awesome kid.  But in the morning,  Elder Ercanbrack and I had set some language goals (because we're both rather sarcastic and casual).  We promised each other that we wouldn't make any casual remarks and that we would be appropriate all day.  But when dinner came, it's like we just forgot everything that we had promised.  We were just joking around and as we became casual, the Spirit left.

When dinner was coming to a close we realized that we still had to share a message, but the Spirit was gone.  We both realized that something had to change.  So we apologized for our language and talked about language.  We pulled out the Missionary handbook and talked to him about the things missionaries should be saying and apologized some more.  We bore testimony about language and how important it is.  Slowly the Spirit started to come back.  After we were done repenting (and there is nothing more humiliating to a missionary than to tell someone else that he had not represented the Savior correctly) and had finished our message, Cione got a little emotional and talked about the struggles he had had with language as well.  He told us some personal stories and said "I feel like my family was supposed to be gone during this dinner.  I feel like that message was specifically just for me.  And I needed to hear it by myself."  It was a really powerful experience and hopefully by the time we left, we had done more right than wrong.  I think the Spirit was there when we left.

We then left to go to our next back up (because our after appointment fell through during dinner) and the family we went to visit was also gone.  We started back to the car, which was parked in front of someone else's house.  Elder Ercanbrack stopped and said "We're parked in front of his house, might as well go knock on his door.  Well, we did.  A man answered and Elder Ercanbrack, holding the Book of Mormon, said "We're missionaries, and we would like to share an important message with you."  The man responded "Don't waste your time." and closed the door.

So onto the next door we went.  No one was home, so we decided to go back to the car and do something Else Elder Ercanbrack had in mind.  On our way back, the Spirit prompted me to go back to the other man's house again.  Obviously the Holy Ghost has a sense of humor.  But I couldn't walk back to the car.  Elder Ercanbrack stopped at the car, but didn't get in as I stood in the driveway.  "If you're getting a prompting, we should follow it."  He told me.  So very slowly, we walked back up to the man's door.  We stood there for a while.  "Just follow the Spirit,"  he said and knocked on the door.  Obviously Elder Ercanbrack also has a sense of humor.  Well the man answered the door again and I'm not 100% sure exactly what was said.  I remember we told him we had an impression to come back to his house.  He wasn't to happy at first.  But he listened as we talked.  We asked him if we could give him the Book of Mormon that Elder Ercanbrack had taken from the house that morning.  He accepted it and by the end of the conversation he shook our hands and said "I'm Jim.  I'm glad you came back."

I don't think I'll ever be able to deny the church is true.  I know it's true too deeply to.  This past week has been a blast and everyday I'm more and more happy I'm a missionary.  I know the church is true.  I know the Book of Mormon is true.  Like, completely.  The scriptures are so important.  I wish I would have read them more and paid more attention to them before I came out on my mission.  I know prayer works, as I see prayers answered everyday.  Always pray.  Read often.  And never miss church.  I love and miss you all.  I pray for you all.  Always, always, strengthen your testimony through reading the scriptures, praying, and attending church to receive revelation.

Elder Russell

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