Monday, May 27, 2013

We Missionaries Are Protected

May 27, 2013

This week was so fantastic!!!

Missionary work is so rewarding. I am LOVING it. I've never felt sweeter feelings.

Like I said, this was a special week for me. So much good happened! I feel acclimated and now that I hardly feel stress and my work and ability to teach is improving! I told this to Emily but I woke up at 3:00 this morning to use the bathroom and when I got back in bed I couldn't stop smiling cause I was so excited to be a missionary again today :') The people I meet here and talk to on the streets are SO special. I can feel a little how Christ feels towards them all and when people open up and talk about their life it's unreal how special the moment becomes to me. Also when I hear someone pray for their first time EVER.

For example, last night me and my companion ran into a lady name M. She was moving out of her apartment to get away from her psycho ex-husband who gives mormon's a bad name by being a bad one. Well we talked for a few minutes and she opened up her life story to us. We didn't have much time but I really felt strongly that we didn't meet by coincidence so I told her that it was by no coincidence we had met her and then I told her I felt like I should share a scripture with her and so I did and she got really happy and invited us to eat dinner with her in the next few days!! We found out she'll be living out of our zone though so it wouldn't work but she's going to start praying again and hopefully go back to church! (I don't know if she was ever baptized.)

CRAZY story: I was on exchanges this week with one of our zone leaders and I went out to his area. While we were biking around talking to EVERYONE, we heard some man a few blocks away screaming at his wife the most vile things I've literally ever heard in my life. Me and the zone leader looked at each other and decided to confront the man. It wasn't hard to find him cause he was screaming so loud. When we found him he had cornered his wife at a bench for a bus stop and was yelling at her how she was an idiot and was stupid and was worse than dirt and how he was going to abuse her. We went up to him and asked him what he was yelling at her for. He screamed that she had forgotten the address of where they were going to and she was so stupid for it. My companion told him that he was out of line and his wife wasn't and idiot but he was an idiot. HE GOT SO MAD. (How could he get madder than he was before??? :S) He got up in my companions face and yelled, "I'M GOING TO PUNCH YOUR F*ing FACE IN!" (We were on the sidewalk of a super busy street so a punch would lay my companion out into the road.) As calm as anything my companion said the coolest thing ever. He said, "Sir, I'm a representative of Jesus Christ. You'd better think about what you do." The guy shut up, got on his bike, and left. Seriously we missionaries are protected when we are on the Lord's errand. We tried to talk to the wife after the husband left but she didn't want to talk. A minute later a bus came and she left her bike on the sidewalk and got on the bus and left. My heart nearly broke witnessing how this daughter of god was treated. It doesn't take too much to see that she has probably been treated that way her whole life.

I wish I could tell you all about everything that happened this week. My testimony has specifically grown in these areas: Christ is the only foundation that can bring true peace. Joseph Smith was called by God to restore his church and gather Israel for the final time. We live in the last days and with the missionary effort that is bursting forth we know that the second coming is nigh. To be a missionary at this moment is unreal. Any analogy I try and think of just doesn't do it enough justice. It's so much better than if I was playing in the final game winning seconds of the super bowl.

I love all of you.

Have a great week. Know that I'm doing better than amazing :) Heavenly Father is so good to us.

Love Elder Janis

I forgot to mention the most important thing this week!!!! On Saturday I had my first baptism! M was baptized!! I wasn't super involved in teaching her but it was still so nice to watch her make that covenant!

THANKS to everyone who prayed that her fathers heart would be softened! Because it was! In fact he even was willing to be at the baptism and give the closing prayer!

J is letting us visit him again too.

H and J are getting married this saturday and getting baptized the week after (June 8th). They are so awesome!! They're following the word of wisdom perfectly and have so much faith!!!

(The pic in the apartment is of me, my companion Elder Carter, Elder Latimer, and our district leader Elder Egbert)

Monday, May 20, 2013

How Do You Like Your Steaks?

April 20, 2013

Tell sis wells that I'm in the Staply stake and I cover the Gilbert (used to be called the Madera ward), Islands, and Cooper ward. That would be REALLY cool to go on splits with Wendel!!!

I cant believe Spencer Riggs got called to Scottsdale!!! I already told Dad this but that area is the area EVERYONE wants to go to because it is the prettiest, has celestial weather, and the members and people are wonderful. He's so blessed to be going there! In our mission the scottsdale area is referred to as the celestial kingdom. Yuma is referred to as outter darkness. :D

So here's what's been up in the desert:

Members feed us so good. I consecrated a section of my journal to documenting each meal I'm fed. So far the highlights have been: Ribs, mashed potatos, Chicken curry, enchiladas, shredded beef sandwiches, HUGE steaks (this family fed us stakes as thick as my palm and as wide as a frisbee. The first thing I thought when I saw them heaped up on top of each other on this huge pan in the middle of the table was... I'm so glad I chose to serve my mission.) The food is such a bonus hahahaha. Who wouldn't want to serve a mission when for 2 years every single night a family prepares a feast for you as the 2 guests of honor. It's wonderful.

Funniest story of the week: Me and my companion were teaching Gloria, an older white woman who recently started praying because she had a life critical situation with her blood pressure and kidneys. Well she's super agnostic because she had a very abusive childhood and those experiences led her to believe that there is no God because no loving God would allow her to experience the pain she's felt. She's one of my favorite people in the world though because she has the most extreme personality that I've ever seen!!! She's handicapped now but she told us that back a few years ago if someone accidentally bumped into her at the store or something she would freak out at them and start attacking them hahahaha. She's SO fun to teach because she is VERY bold with us and asks very direct, personal, and deep questions. She really wants to know everything about our message and it's a throw down every time we go over to teach her because as bold as she is, we're bold right back and we have a lot of good times :) Well the funny thing that happened was Elder Carter got a call from our dinner appt (the family that fed us the huge steaks) in the middle of our lesson so he went out to take the call. It was at a time that the spirit was very strong and Gloria was in the midst of tears. While Elder Carter was on the phone I shared Joseph Smith's experience in the Liberty jail (D&C 121) with Gloria where Joseph cried to God asking him to stop hiding himself and to help him because his trials were so severe. Then I read God's loving response where he says, "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. Thy friends do stand by thee and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands." I choked up a little as I read it cause the spirit was so strong. Immediately when I finished reading, Elder Carter popped his head in and said, "I'm super sorry, but..... Elder Janis.. How do you like your steaks??" Me and Gloria busted out laughing cause we both knew his timing couldn't have been worse hahahahaha. It was okay though because the spirit came back super fast and we finished the lesson with a powerful invitation to pray to know if the book of mormon is true and if God is real.

Blessing of the week: Every day we're required to do 20 OYM's (Open Your Mouth) which means you talk to 20 different people out on the street, at the grocery store, or under bushes if that's where they're hiding from you ;) It's usually super uncomfortable and awkward but I'm getting better at it and I'm starting to have fun with it. Yesterday I saw this guy and went over to talk to him and we began a discourse of a religious nature. As I was occupied, my companion on the other side of the street was stopped by some guy in a jacked up truck who rolled his window down, gave him $20 for our dinner, and drove off. My companion said he was on the phone and only said he wanted to pay for our dinner but there was a big pack of beer in his front seat. It was so weird! But it's a blessing because money is super tight as a missionary (we have $115 for a month of food and other needs like laundry and cleaning supplies) and if we hadn't stopped to OYM that other guy we wouldn't have received that money.

I love you so much mom. You're such a wonderful mother.

Love Elder Janis

(Elder Janis and his companion met the sister of someone in our Katy Ward and she took this picture and sent it to his wife who sent it to me. Bonus!)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I Have Young Men Who Will Pray For Me!

May 13, 2013

I'm so glad yesterday was such a good mothers day!!! I totally forgot to ask on skype: Did you get breakfast in bed?!?!!

Mom, your support, faith, confidence, and trust in me is so helpful i cant even tell you how much it means to me. I force myself to smile A LOT and it really helps :D This is what I told Emily about it: Being positive and happy has NEVER been harder in my life. Something one of the MTC presidents wives said that has stuck with me was this, "Smile. Always smile. EVEN when you don't want to." I took that to heart and it helps soooooooooooo much. When I'm stressed out, overwhelmed, homesick, tired, angry, upset... basically when I'm at my lowest I somehow remember that quote and so I smile and it makes me feel loads better :) SO SMILE! :D

I know this gospel is TRUE. It's been confirmed to me over and over and over. I can't tell you how many times my heart has burned within me testifying to the truth I bear testimony to every day. What an amazing experience to be able to fly in to a place you've never been before and bear your testimony to everyone you meet. It's such a blessing! And it blesses them too.

Here's the work me and my companion have going on right now: We have quite a bit of work going on right now and hopefully before the time I get transferred in 5 weeks we will have baptized Madison who's 12 (her mom supports her getting baptized but her Dad doesn't. Please pray for her that her dad will soften his heart!!), Joe who's an 84 yr black man (his wife Margret is listening to the discussions too but she has Alzheimer so I don't know if we can baptize her... Joe is tough too cause he's been baptized 3 times in his life and he doesn't understand that only our church has the priesthood authority directly from God to authorize any holding that authority to administer that ordinance.. He came to church for the first time ever yesterday though and had a really good experience so pray for him too! :) ), Josh and Heather (young couple trying to change their lives. They came to us because they want to change their lives and get custody of their kids back. They're awesome!), Paul (super cool black guy who's got a lot to overcome but is doing awesome and goes to church every week), and Gloria (Older white woman who's been agnostic forever but since she had an accident and is in the hospital is praying now :D). Gloria is funny cause in the hospital a pastor came by and asked if he could pray for her and she told him, "No! I have young men who will pray for me!" The pastor left and immediately she called us and told us what had just happened and asked us to pray for her and that she would pray (for the first time ever!!!) too.

Love Elder Taylor Janis

My district at the MTC! (Left to right: Sister Lowe, Sister Roth, Sister Ball, Sister Pooley, Elder Tambo, Elder Christensen, Elder Janis)

Me and mi amigos hahahahahahaha.

My district with one of our teaches brother Trone.

My trainer Elder Carter! Awesome guy! He has been on his mission for 3 months!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Arrived in Tempe, Arizona!

Dear Brother and Sister Janis,

We wanted to let you know that your son arrived safely and looks great.  Attached you will find two pictures that we thought you might enjoy having: one is your missionary, and the other one is the group of missionaries with whom he arrived at the Arizona Tempe Mission. We are so pleased to have Elder Janis serving in the Arizona Tempe mission. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

I laugh the most when I'm desperately tired :)

Here is what's been going on here at the MTC:

The MTC sucks and rocks. I've never had more difficult times and I've never had more excitement or felt the spirit stronger. One of my teachers (Sister Winters who served her mission in Louisiana and is one of my biggest role models even though she's a girl because of how strong her testimony is and how much love she has for EVERYONE. She reminds me of how I think Emily will become :) Sister Winters is the only member in her family and when she chose to serve a mission her dad kicked her out of the house.) said that it's because of the lows we experience that the highs are possible.

The food is awful. Spencer wrote in a letter to me: "I would recommend eating an apple with every meal to 'stay regular' if ya na i'm sayin'..." 

So I'm in a threesome since Monday. Elder Christensen's companion Elder Williams went home to work on some unresolved issues and will be back out as soon as possible. i really like being in a threesome mostly because my two companions are SO awesome! We've had very few issues and we get along perfectly. We're all here for the right reasons and want to be the best missionaries EVER. We're going to be unstoppable in Tempe.

The best advice i've heard here is SMILE even when you don't want to. Believe me, I havent wanted to. I get sooooo tired here and I get grouchy. I'm learning to control it though so mostly I laugh the most when I'm desperately tired :) It helps a lot to laugh here. I have a ton of inside jokes with my companions which helps a lot :)

MOM. THANK YOU FOR THE PACKAGE AND ESPECIALLY THE PICTURES. It was so special and meant a lot. I have such a great family, I love you all SO much.

Funny stories: After working out, Me, Elder Tambo, and Elder Christensen took showers. (When you close the residence doors they lock themselves.) Elder Tambo was the last to leave the room and closed the door assuming either myself or elder Christensen had a key. Elder Christensen was the first to finish his shower so he went back to the room to find the door locked. He came back to the showers and asked if either of us had a key. We didn't. Instead of getting mad at Elder Tambo we laughed super hard. We were stuck in the hallway in nothing but our towels (luckily we all had one!) for about 45 minutes while some other missionaries ran to the front desk to get a key :)

Second story: Friday last week was the longest day of my life. I was so tired that to stay awake in class I kept a partial amount of water in my mouth so if I dozed off, my mouth would open and it would drip all over me. Anyways, when the day was FINALLY over and we got back to our residence hall, I threw my stuff all over my desk and yelled, "I'M GOING TO BED AND THERE ISN'T ANYTHING EITHER OF YOU CAN SAY THAT WILL STOP ME!!!" Right then Elder Tambo walked in from the bano and said, "Elders, we have to do companionship prayer!" I dropped on the floor and layed on the ground feeling really badly for myself and how hard my trial was. I asked my companions if it was okay if I prayed from my position on the ground which they agreed to so I said the prayer curled up on the floor. I still managed to make it heartfelt but I felt so very pathetic. I got to sleep immediately after though and all was well.

The gospel is true. Christ is our redeemer. Following his commandments WILL bring happiness and blessings WILL be poured out upon us. I know this because God has promised this and God doesn't lie and I believe in Him.

(a few hours later)

I can't seem to be able to send pictures from the MTC computers but I'll get them to you guys ASAP!!! I got a lot of pictures today :)

OH BTW, tomorrow since it's fast sunday there is a moring devotional with all the missionaries and I have the opportunity to say the opening prayer! There might be an apostle there!!! I'll let you know how that goes :)