Monday, May 28, 2012
Friends and Family,
It has been kind of a crazy week with transfers and sending my companion home. My new companion is from Rigby, Idaho of all places and this is her last transfer, so I told her she has to stop by the house sometime and give you a first person account of some of our adventures together. She is a great girl and a wonderful example to me that the gospel is beautifully simple and simply beautiful. She has a very positive attitude and a lot of love in her heart. We haven't had a lot of time in our area this week but we did run into a referral(Richie) that Sister Bustamante and I had contacted in the past. He didn't seem very interested when we stopped to see him but I thought the apartment complex would be a good place to knock a few doors on Sunday because it's right near the church. We didn't knock on his door but he happened to come out and we talked to him for a while. He didn't want to set an appointment but he promised to read the pamphlet we gave him and mentioned that he is home 90% of the time because he just got home from a drug rehab and is afraid that if he goes out he will relapse. I really hope we can start teaching him because it is hard to know how much the gospel can help people and then they don't want to learn or accept it. Another cool experience I had this week had to do with my MTC companion. A man came in saying that he was a member of the Community of Christ and that while visiting their temple in Independence he stopped by the Liberty Jail Visitors' Center. None other than Sister Castellano and her companion took him on a tour and when they heard he was from California suggested that he come here when he got home. Of course my companion and I were on shift when he came and got to take him on a tour. Long story short he ended up referring himself and I think Elder Hardy may have convinced him to attend the institute classes. It's such a small world.. and not just in Rexburg. I also had the pleasure of meeting my friend Chelsey Hillman's aunt who was here on vacation so it was really fun to chat with her. I'm excited about this transfer. I think that Sister Olsen and I are similar in some ways and total opposites in others so hopefully we can use that to make a good team. We finally have a pretty good idea of what is going on with the members in our ward so we want to start using them as much as we can. Our district leader suggested family mission plans and we want to get those going when we have meals with the members because I think it is a really good idea. As for an update on Tom - he hasn't returned any of our calls since he came to the baptism and we haven't seen them at church. One family in our ward knows them pretty well, and they said that he is kind of processing everything and doesn't like to be pushed. Right now we are kind of just letting him know that we are here for him. He has backed off when he was investigating in the past as well and I'm sure that he will get there, but I'm just not sure when or how we can most help right now without seeming like we are pressuring him. It's so good to hear from all of you and I hope everyone is doing well. I love you all so much. Have a great Memorial Day!
Monday, May 21, 2012
Family and Friends,
Good news! Tom ended up coming to a baptism this weekend and I think he really felt the spirit. He hadn't been returning our calls so we weren't entirely expecting him to make it, but he came with his wife which is nothing short of a miracle! He had never been to one before and didn't really know exactly what would be happening so I think he was apprehensive. Now he knows and I think it diminished some of his fear. The only problem is that he just does not think he is ready and he wants to come to church for a while and kind of ease into it. Meeting with us and having lessons makes him feel pressured. The few times that he did meet with us he did everything we asked and it resulted in powerful answers so I'm really hoping he will warm up to us. I can kind of relate to him because he feels like he has to be perfect to be baptized which is the same way I have felt about any major events in my life, but that's not the case. Anyway, so we keep reaching out and we keep praying. My companion is going home in two days! I am so curious to know who I'll be with next transfer. I'm fairly certain I'll stay in Malibu since we were flushed in but I guess you never know. It will be interesting to learn a new way of doing things and be with a different personality seeing as Sister Bustamante is all I know so far in the field. Sometimes I'm really tired and I get frustrated because I don't feel like a lot is happening, but the longer I'm here the more I'm realizing that I don't know how else I would be learning what I am without serving a mission. I admire girls who seem to get life all figured out without it. I'm not sure how they do it to be honest! I want to help as many people as I can while I'm here, but I agree with my dear cousin Elder Pickering when he said that his greatest convert on his mission was himself. When our faith is tried and we endure it well we can look back and recognize how the Lord was involved every step of the way. I love you all!
Monday, May 14, 2012
Family and Friends,
I got to talk to my mom yesterday! It was so wonderful to hear everyone's voices and I think if anything it made me less homesick to talk to them and just know that they really are still alive up there and they'll all be there when I get home :) Sometimes I think I got the most difficult traits from both parents. There's my mom's gift/curse of loving so deeply. It's a gift because you really care about people. You form deep and lasting relationships and you would do anything for them. It's a curse because if you're missing someone or if someone hurts you. It HURTS. Then there's dad who quite simply worries too much. This is a gift because it is impossible to become complacent. You're always working to do your best and wondering how you can improve. It's also a curse because it can be discouraging. Did you know that it is impossible to become perfect by tomorrow or even next week? ;) Anyway, yay for heredity! I was able to receive some great advice from my father, and some similar advice from my mission President yesterday that has given me a new perspective. Not surprisingly I opened a letter from a good friend today with more of the same words that I needed. It just goes to show that our Heavenly Father knows us inside and out. If we are willing to humble ourselves and ask for some help every once and a while he is waiting there with exactly what we need to keep going. I was hesitant to ask for advice because I felt like I knew what the answer would be. "Forget yourself and go to work." So if I knew the answer I should just be able to do it myself and problem solved right? False. It doesn't work that way because I didn't truly understand the problem. The discovery is that there is more than one way to forget yourself and I was focused on the wrong one. The first way that we forget ourselves is to sacrifice. We aren't concerned about serving ourselves or self gratification and therefore our concern turns outward to others. The second(this is the one I was unaware of) is turning our focus from perfecting ourselves to bringing others to Christ. It is a righteous desire to do and become better, but I reached the point where I was so concerned about becoming all of these things that I felt like I had to become that I was actually self focused. Not to mention completely overwhelmed. I felt like I was running a million miles an hour in every direction but not really accomplishing anything. The fact of the matter is that if my focus is on serving others and bringing them to Christ then those changes in myself that I have been pounding away at (to no avail) will come naturally. Novel idea! I wish I could say I have this mastered this but alas I discovered it yesterday and have 21 years of the other mindset behind me.. Still, I feel that now I have a direction to run in and like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Instead of thinking that the best thing I can do for others is become perfect myself I now know that by helping others change I will change in the process. *Sigh of relief* Life is hard and it's because it was supposed to be, but we are designed to succeed and we have the knowledge of a Savior who has made that possible. He has made it possible not just in a grand eternal perspective but from day to day. As for our area! We invited Tom to be baptized and he said YES! He received his answer and the spirit was so strong as he told us. The problem is that he struggles with anxiety and he seemed ok with setting a date for his baptism but now isn't returning our calls... He has known that he needs to be baptized for a long time but each time a date has been set in the past he has backed out. Please pray for him and for us to be able help him replace his fear with faith. I love you all so much! I will be eternally grateful for the many wonderful women in my life and their examples of selfless service and sacrifice as mothers.
Monday, May 7, 2012
Family and Friends,
I would have to say that this week has been my best yet here in the CLAM. I'm excited to report that we now have a progressing investigator! One of our part-member families has come to church twice now. We met them by calling and offering service/wanting to get to know them and they asked us to help them set up some shelves in their garage. That was more than a month ago and we weren't able to really get ahold of them after that, but they ended up at church two weeks ago and we were able to set an appointment. We had our first lesson with them this last week and they are even feeding us tomorrow before our second. Tom and Leah are a young couple; she hasn't been active for years and he has investigated off and on since they were married but was raised Jewish and feels an obligation to stay that way. He said that he has really struggled with the idea of personal revelation and thinks that it is an arrogent concept but he seems open to trying. We weren't sure how open he would be since in the past he has gotten frustrated with the Elders and asked them to stop coming around, but I could really feel the spirit in our lesson and he said that he wants to investigate this seriously now that his wife is going to have a baby. The timing is in the Lord's hands but I really think that he's ready. He mentioned that he doesn't want to be the person who gets baptized and then stops showing up after a few months. He wants to be sure that it's the right decision for him and then really live it. I'm glad that's his mindset because we don't have to walk him through what it means to be truly converted. He gets it! He just doesn't quite feel like he has experienced it yet. They came to all three hours of church yesterday and stayed after to talk with people. Luckily our ward is extremely friendly so I think they feel quite welcome. I'm hoping and praying that he will receive and recognize his answer. I'll keep you posted. I also had my favorite tour so far in the Visitors' Center this week. Some Elders brought in one of their investigators, which isn't uncommon and they are always great tours, but it is a little sad to get to know them just a little bit, teach them just once, and then send them on their way hoping they get baptized. In this case they brought in a 17 year old boy with his girlfriend's family. Everyone participated a lot which always brings the spirit and we decided to end with the Joseph Smith film even though it is a little lengthy and could have been a bit much for someone who has only had one lesson. After the film everyone shared their testimonies and I was kind of taken aback when one of the Elders said "So Alfredo, when you receive your answer that this is true will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the Priesthood Authority of God?" My heart skipped a beat just because that has never happened on a tour before, but somehow I wasn't surprised that he smiled and said "yes" with almost no hesitation. I was already grinning from ear to ear when on his way out Alfredo thanked me for something I had said that really helped him to understand. I don't know what it was, but I'm so glad that he conveyed that to me because sometimes I wonder what is the spirit and what is just me wanting to say this or that. I think I'm coming to realize that I'm not naturally someone who wants to dominate a gospel discussion or has a lot of wisdom neccessarily so when I do have something that I want to share, something that won't leave my mind until I do, that that is probably the spirit. I'm so grateful to have that gift as a constant companion and I know that the real teaching and learning is truly by and through the spirit. Without it I don't think 19 year old boys and 21 year old girls could possibly do this work. Well, I love you all! I know I always say this but I am truly grateful for each one of you. I have had such amazing examples in my life and it makes a difference every day.
|A P-day Hike to Topanga Canyon|
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Sister Cole is a ninety something year old woman that is a direct descendant of John Taylor. She can't come to church but we visit her when we are near her home and she is great... also a little senile. The last time we saw her she was telling us that people sneak into her house at night, steal things, and ruin her furniture. When you look around it is clear that any damage that has been done was performed by her two large dogs.
S. Cole: "I'm so glad you're here, one of my dogs died this week." (I think I'm a curse in this area. I visit people and their dogs keel over)
S. Bustamante: "Oh really? :( How did he die?"
S. Cole: " Well it was those people with all their shenanigans and their dope you know. They probably fed him some."
Me: "Who do you mean when you say "those people?"
S. Cole: "Well those people that break in at night! Now they're not mexicans. They must be European because they're practiced! They know I'm old and slow you see so one will ring the doorbell and while I hobble over to get it the other will run in the back and take what they want. They usually work in twos or threes that's why they're successful. Now I have been around long enough to know a thing or two but you know I'm so old and I'm just not what I used to be... (long pause) He was such a personable dog. I just don't know what would posses them to do that. They've already taken anything of value and torn apart all the furniture."
Sigh. I just love the elderly.