Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cooking the hot dogs fell to me, and I'm a PRO!

Every week here is crazy but this week has been CRAZY!

Last Wednesday was transfers and me and Elder Goates stayed together covering the same two wards which i'm super happy about! They did move us out of the barn though but they haven't finished aquiring new housing for us so now we're about 6 miles out of our area living with our zone leaders in kind of a half barn. One of our Zone leaders has bronchidus so for them it's been a blessing for us to live with them so we can go on splits now and then so their area doesn't shrivle up and die.. And BTW for anyone unfamiliar with Arizona, LOTS of things shrivle up and die here. Infact I have seen birds in mid flight die and fall to the ground. Over the summer our bike routes were obstacle courses of dead birds we had to swerve around that had fallen into the roads bike lanes.

On Thursday night one of our wards threw a Halloween Party that we were invited to serve the food at. We were serving Senoran hot dogs (we were combined with the spanish ward so the food was legit) but we also had the opportunity to help prepare. The duty of cooking the weiners fell to me and after cooking 270 of them I'm a pro. At one point the grill was really hot and I kept getting burned by grease from the weiners and I almost gave up because no where in my call letter did it say I'd be required to burn my arms for a Halloween Party.

We had the opportunity to teach multiple lessons this week. We also are now teaching some guys who moved to Arizona a month ago from China and randomely showed up to church two weeks ago. They came to America because they are helicoptor pilots and their program sent them here for more training. They're airport is a mile from our chapel and every day they fly over our chapel and as they come back in, it's a location point they use as they come in to land. After a month of flying over it they wanted to check it out so they just showed up!

Thus far on my mission I've spent the majority of my letters writting about all of the positive aspects of serving a mission. It's seriously the greatest experience I've had in my life! I have not written very much about the difficulties or challenges that come while serving a mission and I'd like to talk about a few of those this week.

The most difficult challenge I've had as a missionary has been waking up at 6:30am. Especially because we're supposed to work out from 6:30 to 7. I LOVE working out. But not when I'm tired. The other challenge is that especially when you feel discouraged you really don't want to wake up and face another day with the exact same challenges.

Talking to strangers in the street is hard. Just because you have a name badge on doesn't mean it makes it magically easy or even easier. Rich people are also pretty rude and and are usually comfortable where they're at. We get looked at funny, yelled at, "anti'd", ignored, and accused.

Another challenge can be a companion you don't like/relate to/or get along with. You are with them 24/7 and especially if you're like me and really enjoy alone time now and then, it can be almost clastrophobic.

These are some of the biggest challenges of serving a mission. They are universal challenges every missionary faces. On top of these there are personal challenges unique to every missionary. There are also happy missionaries and depressed missionaries. Everyone goes through the same experience. So why does one missionary come home saying it was the best two years of his or her life while another comes home feeling like they wasted 2 years? We cannot control the experience. But we can control our attitude. Wether it's a mission, a calling, a particularly difficult semester, an unexpected medical emergency, or whatever, YOU control your attitude and with that control you also control wether you learn and grow or sink and fail. I believe you can be happy and successful regardless of your circumstances. How is that possible? Listening to and following the enticings of the spirit of God. The Holy Ghost teaches a man to be happy, to be grateful, to pray, to serve, to think of others instead of self, to build and create, to be obedient, to accomplish, to succeed regardless of the obstacle. As a missionary, if I am listening to and following the spirit, I am happy.

Family and friends, brothers and sisters, I testify that you can find greater happiness in life by following the spirit. Do those things that are right and true. Point your life towards God. I testify that Christ fulfilled His purpose in life and because He did, you can too. Some problems we can fix. Other problems we cannot fix here in this life. But I testify that because of Jesus Christ, we all can ENDURE the challenges we can't fix until we leave this life for an inconceivably better one.

Love Elder Taylor Janis

Monday, October 21, 2013

I Ate Raw Eggs This Week At Our Zone Meeting

The best experience of the last two weeks was when we were inviting our 9 year old investigator to be baptized. He was a little stubborn and asked why he should choose to be baptized anyways? So I told him that he could be washed clean of all of his guilt to which he replied, "then YES!!!! It's like a dream come true!"

I ate raw eggs this week at our zone meeting. I had made a bet with one of the Elders we live with that we could get more investigators than him that day and it's a good thing he didn't accept because we got more :) Anyways, I thought it would be awesome to pump everyone up at our zone meeting by starting off with a raw egg challenge so I convinced him to do it with me and we both drank 2 raw eggs. It really wasn't that bad and if you've done it before you know that they don't really have a taste. But everyone got super pumped so it worked!

Yesterday at church me and Elder Goates had the opportunity to participate in the primary sharing and singing time! Waaaaayyyy too much fun for missionaries! We were each made a team captain and given a tie to be used to keep score of the games. If my team answered a question right and then sang the song well, we got to cut Elder Goates tie twice! I got way into it which was super fun but I probably went a little over board. The biggest mistake I made was giving a piece of chocolate I had been given for helping the primary to one of the kids in the front row. MAYHEM. I may have accidentally made enemies with all the primary teachers and leaders..... BAD MISTAKE.

I've been thinking recently about how experience truly is the best way for us to learn and grow. And that's what this life is all about. This life is an experience we couldn't have as spirit children that will transform us (if we allow it to) into true heirs of the kingdom of God. We will progress to become what we never would have been able to without this experience.

I have such a strong belief in this church and its truthfulness. I am so thankful for that testimony. It gets me through the hardest times. I absolutely know that anyone is able to receive a witness of the truth of the gospel if they truly want it. It takes faith, sacrifice, and obedience. The blessings are happiness, confidence, and purpose. The purpose of our life becomes clear as we draw closer to God.

With all my love,

Elder Janis

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I Can't Wait to be Old and Baptizing All My Old Buddies

October 7, 2013

Wasn't conference incredible??? I was thinking of you the whole time. I felt like a huge focus of the conference was how challenges are essential to our progression. It's almost unbearable to listen to President Monson speak while he goes through this difficult time but it gives me so much strength to know that even a prophet has challenges.

Yes, I got the package with the squirt guns, subway card, brownie mix, cups, and my FAVORITE OATMEAL!!!!! Strawberry and Cream oatmeal..... Yesssssssssssssssssssssssss........ You ROCK. :) I also got the 2nd package!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so grateful for you putting that together! The packages always seem to come at the least expected and most needed moments :D Elder Goates has been sick most of this week and I was struggling a little as I've had to stay in the apartment for most of the week. It's very unusual that my last two companions have had sicknesses that have put them up for so long. The Lord is teaching me a very important lesson of patience, love, and service. I have such a strong desire to serve the Lord and build up the area I'm serving in and it kills me to not be pounding the streets as much as possible but this is what the Lord is requiring of me right now and I am grateful to learn the lessons he wants me to learn. Elder Goates is getting better quickly now too so we should be able to start working consistently this coming week.

I had the sickest experience this week at our weekly planning session with our zone. The zone leaders asked me to give a 5 minute motivational speech/pep talk at Zone meeting on Tuesday but because Elder Goates wasn't well enough to go, I gave it on Friday. I'll have to write it up and send it in my next letter cause I forgot to bring it with me :/ I got so pumped up though. As I was practicing the speech I was having a fun time experimenting with different voices. My two favorite I seriously considered using for my speech was the voice of a black southern preacher calling down Hell fire and the voice of Arnold Schwarzenegger. I ended up using my own voice though and it still went well :)

Even though we were in the apartment most of the week, we were able to build up more work this week than in previous weeks! We have 3 new investigators, 2 of which are progressing really well! We will be extending a baptismal date invitation on Tuesday which I'm confident they'll accept. Also we taught our 90 year old investigator G** last night and halfway through our message he interrupted us to tell us he's ready to be baptized!!! This will be my 2nd 90+ year old baptism and it's such a wonderful thing to be a part of. I may need to be a life guard again for this one because he asked his 89 year old friend to baptize him :D HAHA. I can't wait to be old and baptizing all my old buddies :)

I also had the opportunity to go on exchanges with one of our zone leaders. He came into my area and Elder Goates went into the zone leaders area. The highlight of the exchange was going on splits with a priest after dinner. We drove over to a part-member families home and found the nonmember husband smoking on the drive way. We got chatting and he told us all sorts of stories from his career in the Navy. He's a really cool guy! He grew up in LA and then moved to detroit. Yikes. Joining the Navy was something everyone told him he would never be able to do but he did it anyways and he accomplished his goal. We shared Alma 7:11-13 with him and set up a time to come back and teach.

From conference, one powerful thought has really stuck in my mind. In our lives, we have challenges we can solve and challenges we cannot solve. Some challenges will not pass until we pass to the next world. The atonement gives us the power to endure these challenges until we do pass. I would encourage anyone who is going through a challenge to rely on the atonement to help them ENDURE their challenge until it passes, for it surely WILL pass IF we persistently ENDURE. What solace this can bring to the troubled heart. It surely has brought peace to mine.

Being a missionary is the best. Seriously THE BEST. I mean, we're fed delicious meals daily, meet super funny people all day, baptize old men, and develop the strongest friendships with missionaries, members, and investigators. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. Love you all!

Love Elder Janis

Gummy Bears at District Meeting

September 30, 2013

I love to laugh. I have laughed a lot this week. I find humor in lots of things most people might not find humor in. But that's okay because at least I benefit :) Last Tuesday in District Meeting we were training on how to teach more effectively on Facebook and I had brought a bag of gummy bears to throw to people that responded to questions and we got derailed for a minute cause I wanted to see who all could catch one in their mouth. In our district there are 5 companionship's: Elder Goates and myself, the Zone Leaders (Elder Stiles and Kloepfer), Elder Kauhi and Lavulavu (they live with us), and 2 sister companionships. All the elders caught a gummy bear in their mouth. Sisters turn: Sister Hudson nailed it. Sister Spendlove caught it in her hand then ate it. Still counts. Next was sister Madsen and she did NOT want to try! I didn't care though, this was a District unifying activity and NO ONE was going to leave without trying to catch a gummy bear in their mouth! I told her to open her mouth as wide as she could and lean her head back. I threw the gummy bear from across the room and, BOOM. Perfect shot. Sister Roth was last and she missed it. Wat. At least she tried :)

We met an AWESOME guy this last week! In our area there's a retirement community that's super nice and gated and there was a less-active member inside we needed to contact. The guy at the gate let us in because we were "with the church". Bad idea >:D Now all our sins inside the development would be upon his head! Anyways, while we were biking through we saw a guy doing yard work and asked if we could help him (we're not allowed to proselyte in the neighborhood but we are allowed to offer service). He said "no" but he continued talking to us until it got to the point where we were illegally proselyting. He was going through a pretty tough time in life and had had a pretty hard life up to that point. I wanted to share Heleman 5:12 with him so I pulled it out. Right as I opened my mouth to start reading, this guy drove up in a golf cart and identified himself as the owner of the development. Next thing he said was, "Get out right now or I'm calling 9-1-1. This is a no soliciting neighborhood." Elder Goates replied, "We're not selling anything". That made the guy even madder! "You guys need to get out right now" he said. To the rescue the guy we had been talking to stepped up and retorted back, "no they don't." They went back and forth for a minute and eventually we just said we'd leave so we hoped back on our bikes and left.

The work is starting to pick up! We came in to this area with just 1 investigator but we have a few more now and more on the horizon! I love this area and the members are SO cool! If you ever wonder where all the good people in the world have gone to, they're right here in Chandler Arizona and at any Janis/Scott house :)

I love you all. You're all wonderful. I feel strengthened by your prayers. You're all missed. Keep the faith. Share missionary experiences you have with me!

Love Elder Janis